To help class members earnestly desire to search the words of the prophets.
Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:
3 Nephi 26. The Savior expounds all things from the beginning until the time that He will come in His glory.
If the picture Christ Asks for the Records is available, prepare to use it during the lesson (Gospel Art Picture Kit 323).
If you use the attention activity, ask one or more Primary children or one or more class members to prepare to sing
“Search, Ponder, and Pray” (Children’s Songbook, 109). Or you could prepare to play a recording of the song or ask a class member to prepare to read the words of the song.
Suggestions for Lesson Development
As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.
Write the following words on the chalkboard: Search, Ponder, Pray
Invite the assigned people to sing or read “Search, Ponder, and Pray.” Ask class members to listen carefully and ponder the message of the song and how it relates to our study of the scriptures.
When the song is over, explain that this lesson illustrates how the Savior used the scriptures to teach valuable truths. As we search, ponder, and pray about the scriptures, we will have a greater understanding of these truths.
Scripture Discussion and Application
Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.
1. The Savior quotes some of Isaiah’s prophecies about the house of Israel.
Discuss 3 Nephi 22; 23:1–5. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud. Explain that chapter 22 records the Savior quoting an entire chapter of Isaiah’s teachings (Isaiah 54) concerning the glory of Zion in the latter days.
Isaiah exhorted the house of Israel, “Enlarge the place of thy tent … [and] lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes” (3 Nephi 22:2). What do the tent and the stakes symbolize? (See the quotation below.) What do you think it means to “enlarge the place of thy tent” and “strengthen thy stakes?”
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
“The prophets likened latter-day Zion to a great tent encompassing the earth. That tent was supported by cords fastened to stakes. Those stakes, of course, are various geographical organizations spread out over the earth. Presently, Israel is being gathered to the various stakes of Zion. …
“… Stakes are a defense for the Saints from enemies both seen and unseen. The defense is direction provided through priesthood channels that strengthens testimony and promotes family solidarity and individual righteousness” (“Strengthen Thy Stakes,” Ensign, Jan. 1991, 2, 4).
What can we do individually and as families to ensure that our stakes are a refuge and a defense against evil?
How did Isaiah describe the relationship between the Lord and the house of Israel? (See 3 Nephi 22:4–10. He described the Lord as the husband and Israel as the wife.) What can this description teach us about the Lord’s devotion to His people?
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “The imagery of Jehovah as bridegroom and Israel as bride is among the most commonly used metaphors in scripture, being used by the Lord and his prophets to describe the relationship between Deity and the children of the covenant. … Christ has, on occasion, been rightfully angry with backsliding Israel, but that has always been brief and temporary—‘a small moment.’ Compassion and mercy always return and prevail in a most reassuring way. The mountains and the hills may disappear. The water of the great seas may dry up. … But the Lord’s kindness and peace will never be taken from his covenant people. He has sworn with a heavenly oath that he will not be wroth with them forever” (Christ and the New Covenant , 290).
How did the Lord describe the place to which the house of Israel would be gathered in the last days? (See 3 Nephi 22:11–12; see also Revelation 21:18–21.) What are the promises made to those who will live in this place? (See 3 Nephi 22:13–17.) How can these promises give strength to those who are afflicted?
After Jesus had quoted these prophecies, He said to the people, “Ye ought to search these things” (3 Nephi 23:1). What does it mean to search the scriptures instead of merely read them?
Elder Henry B. Eyring said: “We treasure the word of God not only by reading the words of the scriptures but by studying them. We may be nourished more by pondering a few words, allowing the Holy Ghost to make them treasures to us, than by passing quickly and superficially over whole chapters of scripture” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1997, 115; or Ensign, Nov. 1997, 84).
How have you been blessed as you have studied the scriptures? (You may want to invite class members to share experiences in which particular passages of scripture have provided inspiration or insight or become meaningful as answers to personal problems.)
Why was it important that the people record the Savior’s words? (See 3 Nephi 23:3–5.)
The Savior commanded the people, “Search the prophets, for many there be that testify of these things” (3 Nephi 23:5). Of what do the prophets testify? How have you been strengthened by the testimonies of ancient and modern prophets?
2. The Savior commands the people to add to their records.
Read and discuss selected verses from 3 Nephi 23:6–14; 24; 25. Explain that after commanding the people to write the things He had taught them, Jesus continued to teach the people concerning other scriptures. If you are using the picture of Jesus asking for the records, display it now.
Jesus commanded the Nephites to add to their records a prophecy made by Samuel the Lamanite. In this prophecy, Samuel said that “many saints [would] arise from the dead, and [would] appear to many, and [would] minister unto them” (3 Nephi 23:6–13). Why do you think this particular record was important? (Answers could include that the fulfillment of Samuel’s prophecy bore witness of the reality of the Resurrection.)
After Jesus told the people to write Samuel’s prophecy, what did He command them to do? (See 3 Nephi 23:14.) In what specific ways can we more effectively teach the words of the Savior?
Jesus also commanded the people to write some of the words of the prophet Malachi (3 Nephi 24:1). Why were the words of Malachi absent from the Nephites’ records? (Malachi was an Old Testament prophet whose words were not included on the plates of brass because he did not live until nearly 200 years after Lehi left Jerusalem. See Bible Dictionary, “Malachi,” 728.)
What teachings of Malachi are of special importance to us? (Have class members read 3 Nephi 24:1, 8–18 and 25:1–6 to find answers to this question. You may want to divide the class into four groups. Invite each group to look up one of the following passages and describe what Malachi taught. Then discuss the passages as shown.)
3 Nephi 24:1; compare Malachi 3:1. What is the messenger sent to prepare the way for the Lord’s Second Coming? (See D&C 45:9. The restored gospel, including the keys and powers restored by heavenly messengers.) In what manner might Joseph Smith be considered a messenger for the last dispensation?
3 Nephi 24:13–18; compare Malachi 3:13–18. Why might some people believe that “it is vain to serve God”? (See 3 Nephi 24:14–15.) How can we remain steadfast in our faith even when evil seems to be prospering?
3 Nephi 25:1–6; compare Malachi 4:1–6. What does it mean to be left without root or branch? (Consider your roots to be your parents and ancestors and your branches to be your children and posterity. To be united with our roots and branches, we must receive temple ordinances.) Whom did the Lord say He would send before the Second Coming? When and where did Elijah return? (See D&C 110:13–16.) What keys did he restore? (The keys of the sealing power, which provide the way for us to be united with our ancestors and our posterity.)
3. The Savior expounds all things from the beginning.
Read and discuss selected verses from 3 Nephi 26.
What reason did the Savior give for teaching the prophecies of Malachi to the Nephites? (See 3 Nephi 26:2.) Which teachings of Malachi have been of special significance to you?
What did the Savior teach the people after discussing the prophecies of Malachi? (See 3 Nephi 26:1, 3–5. If necessary, explain that expound means to explain carefully and in detail.) Why should we teach the gospel “from the beginning,” as Jesus did?
In his record, Mormon included only “the lesser part” of what Jesus taught the people (3 Nephi 26:8). How does having only this small part try our faith? How can we receive “the greater things”? (See 3 Nephi 26:9.)
President Spencer W. Kimball said: “I have had many people ask me through the years, ‘When do you think we will get the balance of the Book of Mormon records?’ And I have said, ‘How many in the congregation would like to read the sealed portion of the plates?’ And almost always there is a 100-percent response. And then I ask the same congregation, ‘How many of you have read the part that has been opened to us?’ And there are many who have not read the Book of Mormon, the unsealed portion. We are quite often looking for the spectacular, the unobtainable. I have found many people who want to live the higher laws when they do not live the lower laws” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball , 531–32).
Invite a class member to read 3 Nephi 26:14, 16. What do these verses indicate about how the Savior regards children?
How did the Nephites who had witnessed these events treat each other? (See 3 Nephi 26:19–21.) How can we follow their example in our marriages, families, wards, and stakes?
Explain that the Savior showed us the importance of the scriptures by quoting them, commanding the people to search them, and adding to them. As we search, ponder, and pray about the scriptures, we will understand them more deeply and be able to teach them to others more effectively.
As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.