We often read Nephi’s injunction to “feast on the words of Christ” as instructions to dig into the scriptures. I heartily endorse digging into the scriptures, but as I read that portion of Nephi’s sermon, I don’t think that is what Nephi meant. Nephi is telling us exactly what we are supposed to do after we “enter in by the way” – and I think that is to enter into a revelatory dialogue with God.
This is no stretch – just look at the text of 2 Nephi 32. I’ll paraphrase for fun (feel free to check up on me).
Verse 1 – Looks like you’re wondering what you should do after you get baptized and receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost… What’s your problem?
Verse 2-3 – Didn’t I just tell you you’d get the tongue of angels? How do you think angels even speak with power? – It’s by the power of the Holy Ghost (Duh!) And because Angels speak as inspired by the Holy Ghost they speak the words of Christ. Now that you have the Gift of the Holy Ghost, start feasting on the words of Christ (meaning Christ’s direct words to you through the Holy Ghost) because those words of Christ will tell you all of your further instructions now that you’ve entered in by the way.
See how that works? The words of Christ we are specifically told to feast on come directly to us from Christ through the Holy Ghost. The person that has entered in by the way has the Gift of the Holy Ghost so they can actually do that. So sure, Christ will certainly instruct us to study the scriptures – but the scriptures are not the specific “words of Christ” he says we must feast on. We must have a much more fresh and living feast than that (even if the direct revelatory words of Christ come to us while we read the scriptures).
Verse 4 – Look, if you’re not getting my point about your need to get revelation it is because you are not trying to get revelation hard enough. Unless and until you manage to get it you are in serious spiritual trouble.
Verse 5 – As I keep saying, it is the Holy Ghost that needs to be your guide now that you’ve been baptized and confirmed – nothing else. God himself will show you all the things you are supposed to do next through the Spirit.
Verse 6 – This is the entire doctrine of Christ. If there is more he’ll tell you when he personally visits.
Ok, so here it is. The entire doctrine of Christ (as laid out beginning in chapter 31) is to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repent, be baptized, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, then use the Gift of the Holy Ghost to get all further instruction. If we are not receiving direct instructions then we are in real trouble according to Nephi.
Verse 7 – I’d love to tell you more but the Spirit told me not to. But I will say that a lot of you people apparently don’t care enough to get your own revelation like I do. Further, you seem to insist on missing the point and looking to other sources for guidance rather than getting revelation.
Verse 8 - The Spirit tells me that you are so remedial that you are wondering what you ought to do to get revelation through the Holy Ghost. Here’s an idea – why don’t you try praying? (Duh!) I’m not even sure why I have to answer such dumb questions, but God seems to think I should.
Verse 9 – Ok, sorry about my impatience with y’all. Look if you pray always and really work at this things will work out wonderfully from you. I know because it has worked that way for me and I’m no different or better than you.
Perhaps you don’t read in the grouchy tone that I did this time around, but I think that regardless of tone, Nephi’s message here is clear. He expects anyone with the Gift of the Holy Ghost to have the same direct access to God that he had. He says if we don’t then we should try harder. What do you think?