After Jesus Christ’s ministry among the descendants of Lehi, the people applied His teachings and enjoyed many years of unity, prosperity, and happiness. They united as “the children of Christ” and no longer referred to themselves as Nephites or Lamanites (4 Nephi 1:17). However, they eventually became prideful and increasingly wicked, and they again divided themselves as Nephites and Lamanites. Nearly 300 years after the Savior’s visit, almost all the people had become wicked.
Before class, write the following question on the board:
Refer to the question on the board. Remind students that being converted unto the Lord includes more than simply being a member of His Church. It involves “changing one’s beliefs, heart, and life to accept and conform to the will of God … [and] become a disciple of Christ” (Guide to the Scriptures, “Conversion, Convert,” scriptures.lds.org).
Invite students to discuss the question on the board in pairs. Then ask a few students to report their answers to the class.
Erase the question on the board, and replace it with the following incomplete statement: When we are converted unto the Lord, …
As students study 4 Nephi today, invite them to look for principles that help them understand the blessings they can receive as they are converted unto the Lord. (The incomplete statement on the board will help students identify two principles recorded in 4 Nephi 1:1–18.)
Explain that 4 Nephi is a record of several generations of Lehi’s descendants who lived after Jesus Christ’s visit.
Ask a student to read 4 Nephi 1:1–2 aloud. Invite the class to follow along, looking for what happened as the people became converted unto the Lord.
According to verse 2, what happened as the people became converted unto the Lord? (Help students identify the following principle: When we are converted unto the Lord, we avoid contention. Write this principle on the board. Invite students to consider marking the words in verse 2 that teach this principle.)
Why do you think becoming converted unto the Lord helps us avoid engaging in contention with others?
Write the following scripture references on the board: 4 Nephi 1:3, 5, 7, 10–13, 15. Divide the class into pairs. Invite them to study these verses in their companionships, looking for words and phrases that describe what the people experienced because they were all converted unto the Lord.
What words and phrases describe what the people experienced because they were converted unto the Lord?
Invite a student to read 4 Nephi 1:16–17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what ceased to exist among the people because they were converted unto the Lord.
What ceased to exist among the people? (You may need to explain that tumults refer to public commotions or upoars, that whoredoms refer to sexual sins, and that lasciviousness refers to lustfulness and immorality.)
What do you think the phrase “nor any manner of -ites” (verse 17) means?
What are some examples of names or labels that may divide people today?
According to verses 16–17, how were the people blessed because they were converted unto the Lord? (Help students identify the following principle: When we are converted unto the Lord, we are blessed with happiness and unity as the children of Christ. Write this principle on the board.)
To help students understand this truth, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Richard G. Scott (1928–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“Your happiness now and forever is conditioned on your degree of conversion and the transformation that it brings to your life” (Richard G. Scott, “Full Conversion Brings Happiness,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2002, 25).
Why do you think our happiness depends on how converted we are to the Lord?
Refer to the two principles written on the board and ask:
What would you enjoy the most about living in a society in which everyone was converted unto the Lord? Why?
Invite students to tell the class about a time when they were part of a group that was unified in righteousness, such as their family, a quorum or class, or a group of friends.
What was it like to be part of this group?
How can your efforts to become more converted unto the Lord influence the happiness and well-being of those around you? (Make sure students understand that our conversion and righteous actions contribute not only to our own happiness but also to the happiness and well-being of others. When members of a family, quorum, class, or other group are unified in righteousness, they can experience greater happiness than they would be able to experience on their own.)
Testify of the happiness that comes from true conversion and being united in righteousness. Encourage students to strengthen their conversion to the Lord and help those around them to do the same.
Summarize 4 Nephi 1:18 by explaining that the people lived in this happy and blessed condition for many years.
What do you think could destroy a society like the one described in 4 Nephi 1:1–18?
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 4 Nephi 1:19–20, 23–26. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what threatened the unity and happiness of the people. Invite students to consider marking what they find.
What influences began to threaten the unity and happiness of the people? (Students may mention various answers, but make sure they identify pride as one of these influences. Write Pride on the board.)
Divide the class into three groups. Assign each group one of the following scripture blocks: 4 Nephi 1:27–33; 4 Nephi 1:34–39; and 4 Nephi 1:40–45. (You may want to write these references on the board.) Ask the groups to read their verses together, looking for what resulted as the people were influenced by pride. After sufficient time, invite a member of each group to write the results they found on the board under the word Pride.
What principle can we learn from these verses? (Although students may use different words, they should identify the following principle: The sin of pride creates division, hardens hearts, and leads to wickedness. Write this principle on the board.)
How can the pride of a few people affect the happiness of a whole group?
Invite students to consider writing this statement in their scriptures next to 4 Nephi 1:24.
In what ways do you think pride is the enemy of unity?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency. Ask the class to listen for a way that pride can destroy unity.
“At its core, pride is a sin of comparison, for though it usually begins with ‘Look how wonderful I am and what great things I have done,’ it always seems to end with ‘Therefore, I am better than you.’
“When our hearts are filled with pride, we commit a grave sin, for we violate the two great commandments [see Matthew 22:36–40]. Instead of worshipping God and loving our neighbor, we reveal the real object of our worship and love—the image we see in the mirror” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 56).
Based on President Uchtdorf’s statement, how can pride destroy unity?
Ask students to think about times when they have seen pride damage happiness and unity. You may want to share your testimony that the sin of pride creates division and leads to wickedness.
Invite students to consider their roles in different groups to which they belong, such as their families, quorums or classes, wards or branches, and seminary class. (You may want to mention other groups as well.) Ask them to ponder whether they have done or are doing anything that manifests pride in their relationships with the other people in these groups. Encourage them to repent and to think of ways they can overcome pride and promote unity and righteousness in these groups.
Summarize 4 Nephi 1:46–49 by explaining that the Gadianton robbers spread throughout the land and the majority of the people remained wicked. A righteous man named Ammaron kept the sacred records and “did hide them up unto the Lord” (4 Nephi 1:49).
Testify that as we seek to become more converted to Jesus Christ and live with others in unity, we can experience happiness like that described in 4 Nephi 1:1–18. Invite students to act on any promptings they may have received to apply the truths discussed today.