CLICK HERE to read 2 Nephi 25.
After all those chapters of Nephi reminding the people of the words of Isaiah, now Nephi begin to testify to his people. He wants to expound upon the Scriptures so that they can learn. He says that “Isaiah spake many things which were hard for many of my people to understand” (verse 1) because the people did not understand the style of prophecy or covenant language. He also says that there was so much the Jews were doing wrong (which is why their family left Jerusalem, and why Jerusalem was about to be destroyed), that Nephi didn’t teach his descendants about the doings of the Jews. Without that piece of information, about what the covenant people were doing that was not covenant behavior, it made it hard for the Nephites to understand Isaiah’s preaching.
So Nephi reassures the Nephites, exhorting them to listen to his teaching because he knows they do not understand, but that Isaiah’s words are actually very plain and direct so that the people are capable of understanding them. He says, “they (Isaiah’s teachings) are plain unto all those that are filled with the spirit of prophecy” (verse 4).
What is the “spirit of prophecy”?
Revelation 19:10 teaches us: “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.
Anyone with a testimony has the spirit of prophecy.
When we testify, we are being a prophet.
A prophet is a testify-er.
All of us are to be a prophet, with a little p, by testifying of Christ. There is the Prophet with a capital P that leads the whole church, but we are all to be prophets (with a little p) by testifying of Christ. This was our premortal covenant, that the Lord would atone for us, and we would testify of it. Keepers of covenants are testify-ers.
Testifying is part of keeping our covenants.
This testifying is the spirit of prophecy.
Our “line upon line” comes through study, through obedience, and through testifying.
So as we gain and strengthen our testimony, we will have the spirit of prophecy, which does give us understanding of the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit does tutor us.
Nephi says he will testify about that testimony he has gained since his father, Lehi, took the family out of Jerusalem. He does this because he delights in sharing his testimony, because he knows it will help the people learn and they will strengthen their testimony. He says, “I shall prophesy (testify) according to the plainness which hath been with me from the time that I came out from Jerusalem with my father; for behold, my soul delighteth in plainness unto my people, that they may learn” (verse 4).
But he also delights in testifying because it is he delights in the Scriptures, which is truly “feasting” upon the words of Christ. As we feast upon the words of Christ, what is “out there” becomes “in here”, a part of us. As we testify of Christ, what we believe becomes what we know.
“Yea, and my soul delighteth in the words of Isaiah, for I came out from Jerusalem, and mine eyes hath beheld the things of the Jews, and I know that the Jews do understand the things of the prophets…” (verse 5).
Because Nephi understands, and because he experienced “the judgments of God” coming upon the Jews (verse 6), he taught his children what he knew.
We are to testify to our “people”, to our “generation”.
And when we testify, we testify in plain-ness and simple-ness in which “no man can err”, so that people “shall know of a surety” (verse 7).
So Nephi testified to his people, and he wrote his record to be passed down “for their good” (verse 8).
This passing down of testimony is important because it is an intervention of sorts, a way to help each generation develop and strengthen their own testimony. Without it, an entire generation falls. Nephi said, “And as one generation hath been destroyed among the Jews because of iniquity, even so have they been destroyed from generation to generation according to their iniquities…” (verse 9). But, Nephi says, never are the people destroyed without first being warned by prophets. Not just Prophets with a capital P, but also prophets, like you and me, who are testify-ers.
Those who listen and turn to the Lord are led to safety; while those who do not, those who harden their hearts, are destroyed “save it be those which are carried away captive” (verse 10).
Those who do not testify, and those who do not heed the testify-ers get destroyed and scattered.
Those who do testify, and those who heed the testimony of others, are protected and provided for – ransomed and led to safety.
This is why salvation is a family affair, and how we are to help all those “brothers and sisters” of this giant family on Earth.
We must testify to our “generation”.
So Nephi testifies of Christ to his people (verses 12-14):
“… when the day cometh that the Only Begotten of the Father, yea, even the Father of heaven and earth, shall manifest himself unto them in the flesh, behold, they will reject him, because of their inquities, and the harness of their hearts, and the stiffness of their necks.
Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name.
And behold it shall come to pass that after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold, Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for wo unto them that fight against God and the people of his church.
And we know that after the time of Christ, Jerusalem was again, indeed, destroyed. The city itself was conquered in AD 66, and the Temple destroyed in AD 70.
But Nephi continues, “the Jews shall be scattered among all nations… the Jews shall be scattered by other nations” (verse 15). This also we know from our own history, even recent history.
This scattering has a purpose, however. Nephi teaches that “the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind – and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things… And the Lord will… restore his people from their lost and fallen state. Wherefore, he will proceed to do a marvelous work and wonder among the children of men” (verses 16 and 17).
This same pattern fits us in our lives.
When we begin to believe, truly believe, even worshiping the Father according to the way He has designed, and looking only to Him, then He does restore us from our lost and fallen state.
And even then, He doesn’t just restore us.
He does more.
He moves us forward, with a “marvelous work and wonder”.
And He does it through the Scriptures (His words), by the power of the Spirit.
And He does it through our testimonies (our words), by the power of the Spirit.
His words and our words – that’s a covenant-in-process.
This is how we come to know anything: by the Spirit.
Just as no one knows Emily World without me sharing of it or seeing evidence of it, so no one knows of my mom’s world without knowing her and her sharing of it or seeing evidence of it in her life. In the same way, we can only know the things of God by the Spirit of God.
1 Corinthians 2:9-11 says, “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.”
We cannot know God without the Spirit of God.
We cannot have the Spirit of God without righteousness, which can only come through the atonement.
But because of the atonement, and by the Spirit, we can know God.
That knowing is our testimony.
When we testify, it is by the Spirit,and we are testifying of God – what is true about Him, how He works, and who He is.
And when we testify by the power of the Spirit, the Holy Spirit does testify with us, witnessing to those listening (or reading, like us reading Nephi’s words). So when we hear (or read) the things of God, the Holy Spirit does also testify to us, to our spirits, that it is true.
D&C 18:34-36 explains it: “And I, Jesus Christ, your Lord and God, have spoken it. These words are not of men nor of man, but of me; wherefore, you shall testify they are of me and not of man; For it is my voice which speaketh them unto you; for they are given by my Spirit unto you, and by my power you can read them one to another; and save it were by my power you could not have them; wherefore, you can testify that you have heard my voice, and know my words.”
When we testify, really testify, in plain and simple words, we are speaking HIS words.
When we read or hear HIS words, the Holy Spirit does testify to us that they are HIS words.
When we read or hear HIS words, we have heard HIS voice.
“And now, my brethren, I have spoken plainly that ye cannot err…. yea, behold I say unto you, that as these things are true, and as the Lord God liveth, there is none other name given under heaven save it be this Jesus Christ, of which I have spoken, whereby man can be saved” (verse 20).
As he closes this sharing of his testimony, Nephi says that the Lord has promised “that these things which I write shall be kept and preserved, and handed down unto my seed, from generation to generation, that the promise may be fulfilled unto Joseph, that his seed should never perish as long as the earth should stand… and they shall go according to the wil and pleasure of God” (verses 21 and 22).
That is why we must testify: because it is part of our premortal covenant, and because it is part of the covenant to which we belong now.
When we testify, the Lord is fulfilling the promises the Lord made to Abraham, Isaac, and Joseph… both in how He uses our testimony to strengthen others, and how He uses our testimony to strengthen us.
This is why we must “labor diligently” (verse 23) to testify, “to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God, for we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do” (verse 23).
And Nephi and his people, living before the time of Christ, continued keeping the Law of Moses that pointed to Christ, “until the law shall be fulfilled” (verse 24). And they knew and understood, before Christ ever came, that He would come, and that the law would be fulfilled in Him.
“We are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments” (verse 25).
And so we testify.
We must testify.
“And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins” (verse 26).
This is the plain and simple truth.
“And now behold, my people, ye are a stiffnecked people; wherefore, I have spoken plainly unto you, that ye cannot misunderstand” (verse 28).
The plain and simple truths of testimony are for those who need to turn to that plain and simple truth, who need to turn to God. Once we are a covenant people turned toward God, then He reveals Himself by the power of the Spirit, “line upon line”.
“And the words which I have spoken shall stand as a testimony against you; for they are sufficient to teach any man the right way; for the right way its to believe in Christ and deny him not…” (verse 28).
This is part of being a Prophet or a prophet; this is a part of testifying.
Jacob said, “And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and we would not be found spotless at the last day” (Jacob 1:19).
He said it again in the next chapter (classic Hebrew poetry in the parallels), “I, Jacob, according to the responsibility which I am under to God, to magnify mine office with soberness, and that I might rid my garments of your sins, I come up to the temple this day that I might declare unto you the word of God” (Jacob 2:2).
This is how we become like Christ: we testify.
This is how we take His name upon us: we testify.
We become like Christ by taking upon ourselves the blood (Jacob 1:19) and sins (Jacob 2:2) of our “generation” (2 Nephi 25:6,9), accepting the responsibility of their consequences if we do not testify to them, if we do not preach to them, if we do not share with them what we know.
This is why we must testify.
Then, as we testify, they have their own agency and become responsible to make choices in response to our testimony.
But they first need our testimony in order to respond to it.
Once they have it, then, like Jacob, we are cleansed from the blood and sins of our generation.
But this cleansing cannot be separated from our testifying.
We are cleansed through our faithfulness (to the premortal covenant, in which He agreed to atone for us and we agreed to testify of Him).
That is covenant keeping.
There cannot be covenant keeping without testifying, no matter how many rules you follow. Covenant keeping isn’t about rules, it is about testifying. Part of testifying includes the witness of our “good” behavior and positive interactions (charity), absolutely. But that is more than just following the rules. That’s loving. Loving Him, and loving others.
And part of loving others is sharing, testifying, prophesying.
“Wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out” (verse 29).
Prophets give everything they have and everything they are, whether they are a big P Prophet or a little p prophet. They give their whole being, so that He can fill them up with His righteousness (the Great Exchange of Isaiah 22). They speak His words and do His service. This is how to worship: to know He is so true and good, that we respond to Him by becoming as He is. This is how to worship: to testify of Him in ways that are inviting and uplifting, so that others are drawn to Him just as He invites us to Him.
“ye must keep the performances and ordinances of God…” (verse 30).
That’s plain and simple.