After Nephi saw the Savior’s mortal ministry and Atonement in vision, he saw that after four generations of righteousness, his posterity would become proud and that they would succumb to the temptations of the devil and be destroyed. He was also shown the iniquity of those who follow Satan in the great and abominable church. He saw that they would remove plain and precious truths from the Bible, causing many to stumble spiritually. Despite these distressing scenes, Nephi’s vision also gave him reason for great hope. He saw that God would prepare the way for the Restoration of the gospel in the latter days. He also witnessed that the record of his people (the Book of Mormon) would come forth in the latter days to restore plain and precious truths that had been lost to the world.
Note: You may not have enough time to cover all of the material in this lesson. In your preparation, seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to know which parts of the lesson are most important and most applicable to your students. You may need to summarize portions of the lesson to allow enough time to teach the most important doctrines and principles effectively.
Suggestions for Teaching
Summarize 1 Nephi 12 by explaining that this chapter is a continuation of Nephi’s vision. In it, the angel showed Nephi how the symbols in the vision of the tree of life would apply to his posterity. He was shown that some of his descendants would receive all the blessings of the Atonement. However, Nephi also saw that his descendants would eventually be destroyed by his brothers’ posterity (the Lamanites). Invite students to read 1 Nephi 12:16–19. Have them look for the reasons the Nephites would be destroyed (see 1 Nephi 12:19). Remind students that as they exercise faith in Jesus Christ, they can overcome pride and temptation.
Ask students to raise their hands if they play a sport. Ask a few of them to share what sports they play. Explain that in sports, teams often prepare for games by studying opponents’ past games and strategies.
Why would it be helpful for a team to study an opponent’s strategies before they compete?
Explain that Nephi saw in vision the desires and strategies of those who would oppose the Church of Jesus Christ in the latter days. Encourage students to look for those strategies as they study this chapter, so they can be prepared to recognize them and not be deceived by them.
Invite a few students to take turns reading 1 Nephi 13:1–4, 6 aloud. Ask a student to identify the group that Nephi saw forming among the latter-day Gentiles.
To help students understand the content of these verses, share the following commentary by Elder Bruce R. McConkie of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask students to listen carefully and identify a definition of the great and abominable church.
“The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all … organizations of whatever name or nature—whether political, philosophical, educational, economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious—which are designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 137–38).
Be clear that the phrase “great and abominable church” does not refer to a particular denomination or church. It refers to any and all organizations that are designed to lead people away from God and His laws.
You may want to encourage students to write the phrase all organizations that are designed to lead people away from God and His laws in the margin next to 1 Nephi 13:6.
Why do you think it is important to know that Satan organizes his forces to lead us away from God and His laws?
Explain that Nephi described the great and abominable church. Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 13:5–9 aloud.
What things do those in the great and abominable church desire? (See 1 Nephi 13:7–8.)
According to 1 Nephi 13:5, 9, what do those of the great and abominable church seek to accomplish? Why? (You may want to write the following truth on the board: Satan and his followers want to destroy the Saints of God and bring them into captivity.)
How can knowing the desires and intentions of Satan and his followers help us combat them?
Inform students that later in this chapter they will learn about one of the ways the great and abominable church has tried to destroy those who seek God.
Testify that the Lord has ensured that His work will go forward in spite of efforts by the great and abominable church to cause people to stumble spiritually. He did so by preparing the way for the Restoration of His gospel.
The statements listed below summarize significant events that Nephi saw in his vision. Have students read 1 Nephi 13:10–19 and match each scripture reference listed below to the event it describes. (You may want to display these scripture references and statements on the board before class begins. Or you could create a handout that contains the scripture references and statements. Below, the scripture references are correctly matched to the statements. For this activity to be successful, you will need to change the order of the statements as you display them on the board or add them to the handout.)
|1 Nephi 13:12|
Columbus sails to the Americas
|1 Nephi 13:13|
Pilgrims sail to the Americas, seeking religious freedom
|1 Nephi 13:14|
Native Americans are driven from their lands
|1 Nephi 13:15|
Gentiles prosper in the Americas
|1 Nephi 13:16–19|
Although outnumbered, American revolutionary armies are victorious
As students share their answers, you may want to encourage them to write a key word or phrase in their scriptures next to each passage. For example, they could write Columbus beside 1 Nephi 13:12.
According to 1 Nephi 13:12, why did Columbus sail to the Americas?
According to 1 Nephi 13:13, why did the Pilgrims migrate to America?
According to 1 Nephi 13:15–19, why did the Gentiles prosper and win independence from “all other nations”?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Joseph F. Smith:
“This great American nation the Almighty raised up by the power of his omnipotent hand, that it might be possible in the latter days for the kingdom of God to be established in the earth. If the Lord had not prepared the way by laying the foundations of this glorious nation, it would have been impossible (under the stringent laws and bigotry of the monarchical governments of the world) to have laid the foundations for the coming of his great kingdom. The Lord has done this” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. , 409).
Testify that the Lord prepared the way for the Restoration by establishing a country with freedom of religion where He could restore His Church. Testify that the Lord has prepared, and will continue to prepare, a way for His restored gospel to enter every nation.
If you are teaching this lesson in a country outside the United States of America, ask:
How did the Lord prepare the way for the preaching of the restored gospel in our country?
Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 13:20–24. Ask him or her to identify the object that Nephi saw early American colonists “carr[ying] forth among them.” Hold up a copy of the Bible, and explain that it is the book in Nephi’s vision. You may want to invite students to write the Bible in the margin next to 1 Nephi 13:20.
Explain that the angel taught Nephi that the Bible is a record “of great worth” (1 Nephi 13:23). When the revelations in the Bible were originally recorded, they “contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord” (1 Nephi 13:24). Have a student read 1 Nephi 13:26–27 aloud.
What did the great and abominable church remove from the Bible? Why were these things removed?
Have another student read 1 Nephi 13:29 aloud.
What happened as a result of plain and precious things and many covenants of the Lord being removed from the Bible?
Have four students take turns reading aloud from 1 Nephi 13:34–36, 39. Ask the class to look for what the Lord would do to help people overcome the efforts of the great and abominable church.
According to 1 Nephi 13:34, what will the Lord bring forth because of His mercy?
According to 1 Nephi 13:35–36, what would be “hid up” to come forth unto the Gentiles? (You may want to suggest that students write next to 1 Nephi 13:35 that “these things” refers to the Book of Mormon.)
According to 1 Nephi 13:39, what else would the Lord bring forth in the latter days, in addition to the Book of Mormon? What “other books” has the Lord brought forth as part of the Restoration? (The Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible.)
Invite students to read 1 Nephi 13:40–41. Have them look for a description of what the scriptures of the Restoration will make known unto all people. After students share what they have found, hold up a copy of the Bible and share your testimony of its truthfulness. Hold up a copy of the Book of Mormon and place it with the Bible. Testify that the Book of Mormon and latter-day scriptures restore plain and precious truths that help us know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and help us know how to come unto Him.
Ask students to find a phrase at the end of 1 Nephi 13:41 that describes what the Lord will do with the record of the Jews (the Bible) and the records of Nephi’s descendants (the Book of Mormon). Testify that these records are “established in one” (1 Nephi 13:41) and have “grow[n] together” (2 Nephi 3:12) to help us know clearly how to come unto the Savior.
To help students appreciate how the restoration of plain and precious truths has influenced their lives, invite them to ponder the following question:
How has the Book of Mormon influenced your testimony of Jesus Christ and helped you come closer to Him?
After allowing time for students to ponder, invite a few of them to share their answers. You may also want to share your own testimony of the Book of Mormon and how it has strengthened your testimony of Jesus Christ and helped you know how to come unto Him. As you end class, urge students to study the Book of Mormon carefully throughout the year, looking for teachings and accounts that strengthen their testimonies of Jesus Christ and teach them how to come unto Him.
Commentary and Background Information
1 Nephi 12–14. Overview
The following chart helps us visualize significant events leading to the establishment of God’s kingdom on earth:
1 Nephi 13. What is meant by the term Gentiles in the Book of Mormon?
Gentiles means “the nations.” It refers to (1) those who are not of the house of Israel, (2) those who do not believe in the God of Israel or who do not have the gospel, regardless of their lineage, and (3) people who are not from or do not live in the land of Judah. For example, pilgrims and colonists in the Americas are called Gentiles in 1 Nephi 13:3–13. Those who brought forth the Book of Mormon are called Gentiles in 1 Nephi 13:34. The Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price were also brought forth by Gentiles (see 1 Nephi 13:39). The United States of America is called a gentile nation in 1 Nephi 13:34, 39.
1 Nephi 13:20–29. Plain and precious truths are removed from the Bible
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “Elements … missing from the Bible were both ‘plain and most precious.’ They were plain in their simplicity and clarity, being easy to ‘the understanding of … men’; they were precious in their purity and profound worth, their saving significance and eternal importance to the children of God” (Christ and the New Covenant: The Messianic Message of the Book of Mormon , 5).
Joseph Smith taught that “many important points touching the salvation of man had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 217). He also said that he believed the Bible “as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers,” and that “ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings: Joseph Smith, 207).
You may want to show students that these statements by Joseph Smith are included in the Bible Dictionary (see Bible Dictionary, “Bible”). You might encourage students to mark these statements in their scriptures.
1 Nephi 13:32–40. Plain and precious things are restored
President James E. Faust of the First Presidency said that the standard works of the Church have been a principal means of restoring lost truths:
“The Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ. It restored precious truths concerning the Fall, the Atonement, the Resurrection, and life after death.
“Prior to the Restoration, the heavens had been closed for centuries. But with prophets and apostles upon the earth once more, the heavens were opened once again with visions and revelations. Many of the revelations that came to the Prophet Joseph Smith were written down in a book that came to be known as the Doctrine and Covenants. This contains further insights about principles and ordinances and is a valuable source concerning the structure of the priesthood. In addition, we have another canon of scripture called the Pearl of Great Price. It contains the book of Moses, which came by revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and the book of Abraham, which he translated from a purchased Egyptian scroll. From these we learn not only a great deal more about Moses, Abraham, Enoch, and other prophets but also many more details about the Creation. We learn that the gospel of Jesus Christ was taught to all of the prophets from the beginning—even from the time of Adam” (“The Restoration of All Things,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2006, 67–68).
The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible also helps restore many plain and precious truths. The Joseph Smith Translation is “a revision or translation of the King James Version of the Bible in English, which the Prophet Joseph Smith began in June 1830. He was commanded by God to make the translation and regarded it as part of his calling as a prophet. …
“The Joseph Smith Translation has restored some of the plain and precious things that have been lost from the Bible (1 Ne. 13). Although it is not the official Bible of the Church, this translation does offer many interesting insights and is very valuable in understanding the Bible. It is also a witness for the divine calling and ministry of the Prophet Joseph Smith” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Joseph Smith Translation,” scriptures.lds.org; see also 2 Nephi 3:11; History of the Church, 1:238).
With continuing revelation in the Lord’s Church, the process of bringing the plain and precious doctrines and principles of the gospel to people throughout the world is ongoing. The inspired teachings of the Lord’s prophets and apostles are vital for understanding the plain and precious truths of the gospel.
1 Nephi 10–14. Overview of Nephi’s vision
Supplemental Teaching Ideas
1 Nephi 12. Nephi sees a vision of his posterity and their eventual destruction
Explain that Nephi’s vision in chapter 12 is a brief summary of much of the Book of Mormon. Display the following chart on the board, with the events in a different order. Invite students to match the events with verses in 1 Nephi 12.
|1 Nephi 12:1|
Nephi’s seed (the Nephites) and his brothers’ seed (the Lamanites) became a great civilization.
|1 Nephi 12:2–3|
There were many wars between the Nephites and the Lamanites before the coming of the Savior.
|1 Nephi 12:4–5|
There was great destruction before the Savior’s visit to the Americas.
|1 Nephi 12:6–8|
The Savior visited the Americas and ordained twelve disciples who would preside over His Church among the Nephites.
|1 Nephi 12:11–19|
After four generations of righteousness, the Nephites became proud and wicked and were destroyed by the Lamanites.
1 Nephi 13:20–29. Plain and precious parts of the gospel are removed from the Bible
Invite three students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Nephi 13:24, 26–27. Have students pause after each verse so you can ask the following questions:
What did the Bible contain when it was first written? (See 1 Nephi 13:24.)
What has been removed from the Bible? (See 1 Nephi 13:26.)
What are some of the reasons changes were made in the biblical text? (See 1 Nephi 13:27.)
Display the following list of doctrines on the board: premortal life, the need for baptism by immersion, eternal marriage, sealing of children to their parents, the spirit world, baptisms for the dead, and the three kingdoms of glory. Explain that these are examples of doctrines that are not taught clearly in the Bible. Mention that elements of the Fall, the Atonement, and the Resurrection are also unclear in the Bible. The Book of Mormon and other latter-day scriptures restore these plain and precious truths.