Continuing to emphasize the importance of Isaiah’s prophecies, Nephi explained that anyone who has the spirit of prophecy can come to understand and appreciate Isaiah’s words. He shared the purpose of his writing: “to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God” (2 Nephi 25:23). He invited all to believe in Jesus Christ and to “worship him with all [their] might, mind, and strength, and [their] whole soul[s]” (2 Nephi 25:29).
Suggestions for Teaching
Display a padlock that cannot be opened without a key (or draw a picture of a padlock and key on the board). Point out that when people want to keep valuable possessions safe, they often lock them up. They might keep the only key to the lock, or they might give a copy of the key to a trusted friend or family member.
Explain that Nephi knew that the prophecies of Isaiah were “of great worth” (2 Nephi 25:8). However, he did not keep them secret. He even taught about a key for anyone who wants to unlock the meaning of Isaiah’s words. Invite a student to read the first sentence in 2 Nephi 25:4. Ask the class to look for the key to understanding the words of Isaiah.
What key did you find? (“The spirit of prophecy.”)
To help students understand what it means to have “the spirit of prophecy,” read the following statement from the Guide to the Scriptures:
“A prophecy consists of divinely inspired words or writings, which a person receives through revelation from the Holy Ghost. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Rev. 19:10). A prophecy may pertain to the past, present, or future. When a person prophesies, he speaks or writes that which God wants him to know, for his own good or the good of others. Individuals may receive prophecy or revelation for their own lives” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Prophecy, Prophesy,” scriptures.lds.org).
Help students see that their understanding of Isaiah’s words will increase as they (1) seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost and (2) have a testimony of Jesus Christ and a desire to learn of Him. When they approach Isaiah’s words in this way, always looking for ways his prophecies testify of the Savior, they will be able to learn what God wants them to know, for their own good or for the good of others.
Point out that Nephi shared other ideas that can enhance our understanding of Isaiah’s words. Ask students to read 2 Nephi 25:1 silently, looking for the reason why many of Nephi’s people found Isaiah’s prophecies hard to understand.
What did you find? (They did not know “concerning the manner of prophesying among the Jews.”)
Based on what you have read of Isaiah’s words, what are some characteristics of the ancient Jews’ prophecies? (Answers may include that Isaiah and other prophets used symbolism and poetic language.)
When you read the words of Isaiah, why is it helpful to be aware of this manner of prophesying?
Explain that another helpful idea is found in 2 Nephi 25:5–6. Invite a student to read these verses aloud. Ask the class to look for experiences Nephi had that helped him understand the words of Isaiah.
Why do you think it helped Nephi to have lived in Jerusalem? Based on what you have read of Isaiah’s words, why do you think it was an advantage for Nephi to have “beheld the things of the Jews” and to “know concerning the regions round about” Jerusalem?
What can we do to gain some knowledge of these things? (We can study the culture, history, and geography of ancient Israel.)
Read 2 Nephi 25:7–8 to students. As you read, point out that Isaiah’s prophecies will be of great worth to us as we see that they have been fulfilled. To illustrate this truth, ask:
In the last few days, what prophecies have we studied that have already been fulfilled? (Students might remember prophecies about the Salt Lake Temple [see 2 Nephi 12:2–3], the birth of Jesus Christ [see 2 Nephi 19:6], and Joseph Smith [see 2 Nephi 21:1, 10].) In what ways do these prophecies become more meaningful when you see that they have been fulfilled?
To conclude this part of the lesson, express your confidence that students can grow in their understanding of Isaiah’s words as they seek the spirit of prophecy. Point out that they can enhance their understanding through a study of the ancient Jews’ manner of prophesying and the culture, history, and geography of ancient Israel.
Summarize 2 Nephi 25:9–19 by stating that Nephi prophesied about the Jews and their homeland in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. He said that the Jews who had been taken captive to Babylon after the destruction of Jerusalem would return to “the land of their inheritance” (see 2 Nephi 25:9–11). Jesus Christ, the Messiah, would live among them, but many would reject Him and crucify Him (see 2 Nephi 25:12–13). After the Savior’s death and Resurrection, Jerusalem would again be destroyed, and the Jews would be scattered and scourged by other nations (see 2 Nephi 25:14–15). They would eventually believe in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, and the Lord would restore them “from their lost and fallen state” (see 2 Nephi 25:16–19).
Ask students to think about how they might respond to someone who claims that Latter-day Saints do not believe in Jesus Christ. You might ask one or two students to briefly tell about experiences they have had when other people have challenged their belief in Jesus Christ. As students read and discuss 2 Nephi 25:20–30, invite them to look for passages they might be able to share in such situations.
Ask students to identify the “right way” in 2 Nephi 25:28–29. After they have found that “the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not,” write on the board Why believing in Jesus Christ is the right way. Then ask students to search 2 Nephi 25:20, 23–26, looking for reasons why believing in Jesus Christ is the right way. Invite them to write their answers on the board under the title you have written. Answers might include the following:
Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ.
Because of Jesus Christ, we can be saved by grace after all we can do.
Through the Savior’s Atonement, we can receive a remission of our sins.
Invite a student to read 2 Nephi 25:23 and 2 Nephi 10:24 aloud. Point out that these verses include the word reconcile, which means to bring people or things into harmony or agreement with each other.
In both of these verses, prophets encourage us to reconcile ourselves to God. What do you think this means?
Explain that both of these verses also include the word grace. Grace is a gift from Heavenly Father given through His Son, Jesus Christ. The word grace, as used in the scriptures, refers primarily to enabling power and spiritual healing offered through the mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
What do 2 Nephi 10:24 and 25:23 teach about the relationship between grace and our efforts?
Invite students to apply what they have learned by writing answers to the following question in their scripture study journals or class notebooks. You may want to write the question on the board.
What does it mean to you to be saved by grace?
To help students understand Nephi’s assertion in 2 Nephi 25:24–25 that the law had become dead to his people, explain that he was referring to the law of Moses. That law, with its system of ceremonies, rituals, symbols, and commandments, including animal sacrifices, was still in practice during Nephi’s time. Nephi and others knew that the law would be fulfilled through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. After the Atonement, the Savior’s disciples would no longer be required to keep the law of Moses. But the faithful Nephites continued to obey the law at this time, even knowing that the current law would someday be replaced.
When Nephi said that the law had become dead unto him and others, he meant that the law would not save them. They kept the law because they wanted to be obedient and because they knew the law pointed them to Jesus Christ, who would bring them salvation.
What can we learn from 2 Nephi 25:23–26 about the reasons why we should keep the commandments?
What will you do to “talk of Christ” and “rejoice in Christ”? (2 Nephi 25:26). What will you do to help others believe in Christ?
Ask students to share the passages they have found that would help them answer claims that Latter-day Saints do not believe in Jesus Christ. Ask them to tell about why they like those passages.
Express your testimony of the truths you have discussed today. You may also want to give students the opportunity to bear testimony of these truths.
Scripture Mastery—2 Nephi 25:23, 26
Note: Consider using the following teaching idea during the final section of this lesson. If you do not have time to use this idea in this lesson, you may use it in another lesson as a review.
To help students memorize 2 Nephi 25:26, one of the verses in this scripture mastery passage, write the following on the board:
That our children …
To what source …
For a remission …
Invite students to use the word cues on the board to recite 2 Nephi 25:26. After repeating the verse a few times, ask if anyone in the class is willing to try to recite the verse from memory. Then invite the rest of the students to recite the verse together without looking at the board. To conclude, you might want to suggest that there is value in listening carefully when parents, leaders, and teachers labor to persuade us to look to the Savior.
Give a piece of paper to each student. Invite students to write a letter to their future children, encouraging them to center their lives on Jesus Christ. Students may want to place their letters in their scriptures to preserve them for the future.
Commentary and Background Information
2 Nephi 25:23. The doctrine of grace
“The main idea of the word [grace] is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
“It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
“Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, ‘It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Ne. 25:23). It is truly the grace of Jesus Christ that makes salvation possible” (Bible Dictionary, “Grace”).
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said:
“My testimony to you is that the safety, peace, joy, and security we seek are found only in accepting and sincerely believing in the life and mission of Jesus Christ, the Son of Almighty God. As we embrace His teachings, we give up all of our sins, we repent, and we do all that is in our power to come unto Him in a true spirit of discipleship, knowing perfectly well that it is through His grace that we are saved, even after all that we can do. And as we give ourselves to Christ, fully and completely, we find safety, peace, joy, and security in Him” (in “Latter-day Counsel,” Ensign, June 2001, 74).
2 Nephi 25:26. “We rejoice in Christ”
President Gordon B. Hinckley noted that knowledge gained through the Restoration allows us to truly rejoice in our Savior:
“As a Church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say. Our faith, our knowledge is not based on ancient tradition, the creeds which came of a finite understanding and out of the almost infinite discussions of men trying to arrive at a definition of the risen Christ. Our faith, our knowledge comes of the witness of a prophet in this dispensation who saw before him the great God of the universe and His Beloved Son, the resurrected Lord Jesus Christ. They spoke to him. He spoke with Them. He testified openly, unequivocally, and unabashedly of that great vision. It was a vision of the Almighty and of the Redeemer of the world, glorious beyond our understanding but certain and unequivocating in the knowledge which it brought. It is out of that knowledge, rooted deep in the soil of modern revelation, that we, in the words of Nephi, ‘talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that [we and] our children may know to what source [we] may look for a remission of [our] sins’ (2 Ne. 25:26)” (“We Look to Christ,” Ensign, May 2002, 90–91).