After Nephi declared that the people must repent or be destroyed, corrupt judges incited many of the people against him. Some people boldly defended him. Nephi taught that the people who rejected his witness also rejected the testimonies of all the prophets who had come before him, all of whom had testified of Jesus Christ. As a testament that he was a prophet, Nephi revealed that the chief judge had been murdered. When Nephi’s words were verified, some people accepted him as a prophet.
What are some influences that try to persuade you not to believe the words of prophets?
As students discuss this question, ask a student to write their responses on the board. Invite students to look for insights about what they should do when they face influences like those they will read about in Helaman 8 today.
Remind students that Nephi boldly delivered a message of repentance to his people (see Helaman 7). Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Helaman 8:1–6. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the judges reacted to Nephi’s teaching.
What was the judges’ message to the people? (They tried to persuade the people to be angry with Nephi.)
According to Helaman 8:4, why wouldn’t the judges punish Nephi?
Ask a student to read Helaman 8:7–9 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for how some of the Nephites responded to the judges’ accusations against Nephi.
How did some of the Nephites respond to the judges’ accusations against Nephi?
What principle can we learn from this account about how we can respond to those who criticize the prophets or their teachings? (Help students identify the following principle: We can raise our voices in support of the Lord’s prophets and their teachings, even when it is not popular to do so.)
Ask students to read Helaman 8:10 silently to find how the words of these people made a difference.
What difference did it make when some people supported the prophet? Why do you think it is important for us to do this today?
What are some appropriate ways to speak out against evil influences and in favor of the words of prophets?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Ulisses Soares of the Presidency of the Seventy. Ask the class to listen for how one young man defended the teachings of the prophets even when it was unpopular to do so.
“I know a very faithful young deacon. … Inasmuch as he has sought to follow the counsel of his parents and Church leaders, his faith and determination have been tested every day, even at his young age. He told me one day he was surprised by a very difficult and uncomfortable situation—his friends were accessing pornographic images on their cell phones. In that exact moment, this young man had to decide what was most important—his popularity or his righteousness. In the few seconds that followed, he was filled with courage and told his friends that what they were doing was not right. Moreover, he told them that they should stop what they were doing or they would become slaves to it. Most of his classmates ridiculed his counsel, saying that it was a part of life and that there was nothing wrong with it. However, there was one among them who listened to the counsel of that young man and decided to stop what he was doing” (Ulisses Soares, “Yes, We Can and Will Win!” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 75).
Why do you think defending the teachings of prophets was worth the criticism this young man received?
When have you raised your voice to support the living prophets or their teachings, even though it may not have been popular to do so? How did this experience make a difference in your life? How did your words and actions influence others?
Encourage students to defend the prophets and their teachings in a respectful way when opportunities to do so arise.
Summarize Helaman 8:11–12 by explaining that Nephi reminded the people that just as God had given power to Moses to part the Red Sea, God had also given power to Nephi to know the judgments that would come upon the people unless they repented.
Invite a student to read Helaman 8:13 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and identify what Nephi said the people denied. Invite students to report what they find.
Show students the picture Moses and the Brass Serpent (Gospel Art Book , no. 16; see also lds.org/media-library). Ask students to explain what the picture portrays.
Invite a student to read Helaman 8:14–15 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Moses taught about the Savior. Invite students to report what they find.
What principle can we learn from Helaman 8:15? (Students should identify a principle similar to the following: If we look upon the Son of God with faith, having a contrite spirit, then we will receive eternal life. Invite students to consider marking the phrases in their scriptures that teach this principle.)
What are some ways a person can “look upon the Son of God with faith”?
To have a “contrite spirit,” as expressed in Helaman 8:15, is to be humble, repentant, and receptive to the Lord’s will (see Guide to the Scriptures, “Broken Heart,” scriptures.lds.org). Why is this attitude essential as we look to the Savior?
Ask a student to read Helaman 8:16 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for others who taught the truth expressed in Helaman 8:15. Then ask students to quickly search Helaman 8:17–23 for names of other prophets who testified of Christ.
Which prophets did Nephi mention who had also testified of Jesus Christ?
Point out that verse 18 indicates that thousands of years before Jesus Christ came to the earth, people knew they would have the opportunity to be redeemed through Him. Explain that the Savior’s Atonement is infinite and eternal—it allows individuals to receive the blessings of redemption regardless of when they lived on the earth.
Invite students to read Helaman 8:24–26 and identify what consequences the Nephites faced because they rejected the testimonies of prophets.
What consequences did the Nephites face because they rejected the testimonies of prophets?
Why do you think the Nephites faced such serious consequences for rejecting the testimonies of prophets?
Summarize Helaman 8:27–28 by explaining that as proof that the people were in a sinful state and that Nephi spoke the word of God, Nephi revealed that the chief judge had been murdered. Divide the class into pairs. Invite each partnership to imagine they are detectives on the case to determine who murdered the chief judge. Write the following questions on the board or include them on a handout for each partnership.
Invite the partnerships to find the answers to questions 1 and 2. When they have had enough time, ask:
When the five men discovered the murdered chief judge, what did they believe? What did they fear? (See Helaman 9:5.)
Invite the partnerships to answer the rest of the questions to complete their investigation. Then ask:
According to Nephi, what would Seantum say after confessing his guilt? (See Helaman 9:36.)
Invite a student to read Helaman 9:39–41 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for why some people believed Nephi.
According to Helaman 9:39–41, why did some people believe Nephi?
Invite students to summarize what they have learned from Helaman 9 about the words of prophets. Students may express several truths, including the following truth: The words of prophets will be fulfilled.
What experiences have strengthened your testimony that we have true prophets on the earth today?
Conclude with your testimony that the words of prophets will be fulfilled. Invite students to live according to the truths you have discussed today.