The Lord commanded Lehi to send his sons back to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass from Laban. Laman and Lemuel did not see how they could fulfill this commandment, but Nephi had faith that the Lord would provide a way for them to accomplish what He required. Despite encountering repeated difficulties, Nephi faithfully persisted in doing what the Lord asked of him. As a result, he was led by the Holy Spirit and successfully obtained the plates.
“In Brazil, I met Aroldo Cavalcante. He was baptized at age 21, the first member of the Church in his family. His faith burned brightly, and he immediately began preparing to serve a mission. Sadly, Aroldo’s mother was diagnosed with cancer. Three months later, only days before she died, she spoke to Aroldo of her greatest concern: There were no relatives to help. Aroldo would need to take full responsibility for his two younger sisters and his younger brother. He solemnly made this promise to his dying mother.
“By day he worked in a bank, and at night he attended the university. He continued to keep his baptismal covenants, but his hopes for a full-time mission were gone. …
“Months later … , Aroldo studied the words that Samuel reprovingly spoke to King Saul: ‘To obey,’ he read, ‘is better than [to] sacrifice’ (1 Samuel 15:22). Aroldo received the seemingly impossible impression that he needed to obey the prophet’s call to serve a mission” (Neil L. Andersen, “Faith Is Not by Chance, but by Choice,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 65).
What thoughts or feelings do you think you would have if you were in Aroldo’s position and received the impression to serve a full-time mission?
What do you think would be the hardest part about acting on this impression?
As students study 1 Nephi 3–4 today, invite them to look for truths that can help them choose to obey the Lord’s commandments even when it may be difficult.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Nephi 3:1–4. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the commandment the Lord gave Lehi.
What commandment did the Lord give Lehi in 1 Nephi 3:1–4?
Remind students that Lehi’s family was likely about 260 miles (420 kilometers) from Jerusalem at this time. Returning would require approximately 14 days of traveling through unsafe territory. In addition, records such as the brass plates were apparently rare and extremely valuable, and the man who possessed the plates would need to be persuaded to give them up.
What thoughts and feelings do you think you might have had if you had been one of the sons of Lehi and had been told of the command to get the brass plates?
Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 3:5–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how Nephi and his brothers responded to this command.
Who did Nephi’s brothers assume this command came from? Why might that have affected their response?
Who did Nephi believe this command came from? How did that affect his response?
What truths can we learn from verses 5–7? (Students may identify a number of truths, including the following: The Lord will bless us if we obey His commands without murmuring. The Lord will not give us a commandment without preparing a way for us to accomplish it.)
As students continue their study of 1 Nephi 3–4 today, invite them to look for the way the Lord prepared for Nephi and his brothers to accomplish what He commanded them to do.
Divide students into groups of two or three. Invite half of the groups to study Nephi and his brothers’ first attempt to obtain the brass plates (see 1 Nephi 3:10–18). Invite the other half to study the second attempt (see 1 Nephi 3:22–31). Have each group answer the following questions. Write the questions on the board or provide them for each group as a handout.
After students have had sufficient time to complete this activity, invite a few students to report to the class what they discussed in their groups.
Invite a student to read 1 Nephi 4:1–3 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for Nephi’s answers to his brothers’ questions.
How did Nephi answer his brothers’ questions?
Have a student read 1 Nephi 4:4–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi did in the third attempt to obtain the brass plates.
What did Nephi not know as he began this third attempt?
In 1 Nephi 4:7, what is important about the phrase “nevertheless I went forth”?
How was Nephi blessed as he went forth with faith?
What principle does Nephi’s experience teach about the relationship between acting in faith and our ability to be led by the Lord? (Help students identify the following principle: In times of uncertainty, we can receive guidance from the Spirit if we go forth with faith.)
Invite students to think of a situation they are currently facing, or may face in the future, in which they could benefit from receiving the Lord’s guidance.
In the situation you thought of, how can a person go forth with faith?
How can we recognize when the Spirit is guiding us?
As part of the discussion of the previous question, it may be helpful to invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“In its more familiar forms, revelation or inspiration comes by means of words or thoughts communicated to the mind (see Enos 1:10; D&C 8:2–3), by sudden enlightenment (see D&C 6:14–15), [or] by positive or negative feelings about proposed courses of action” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Eight Ways God Can Speak to You,” New Era, Sept. 2004, 4).
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Nephi 4:8–18. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Spirit guided Nephi.
How did the Spirit guide Nephi?
What reasons did the Spirit give Nephi for the Lord’s command to slay Laban?
Summarize 1 Nephi 4:19–29 by explaining that Nephi dressed in Laban’s clothes and went to Laban’s treasury to obtain the brass plates. Acting as Laban, Nephi commanded Zoram, Laban’s servant, to join him in retrieving the plates and taking them to his brothers outside the walls of the city. When Nephi’s brothers saw Nephi, they thought he was Laban and began to flee. They stopped after Nephi called out to them.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 1 Nephi 4:30–38. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord continued to help Nephi.
How did the Lord continue to help Nephi?
Write the following statement on the board: As we act with faith in the Lord and diligently strive to obey Him …
How would you complete this principle based on what we have learned from Nephi’s experience with obtaining the brass plates? (Using students’ words, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following principle: As we act with faith in the Lord and diligently strive to obey Him, we can accomplish what He commands.)
To help students understand how this principle can be applied in our day, invite a student to read aloud the remainder of the account Elder Neil L. Andersen told regarding Aroldo Cavalcante:
“Undaunted by the obstacles before him, [Aroldo] moved forward with enormous faith.
“[To pay for his mission,] Aroldo saved every Brazilian cruzeiro he could. At age 23, he received his mission call. … Aroldo still did not have enough money to pay the full cost of his mission and the living expenses for his brother and sisters, but with faith he entered the MTC. A week later he received the first of many blessings. The bank that had employed Elder Cavalcante unexpectedly doubled the money he was to receive as he concluded his work. This miracle, along with others, provided the needed income for his mission and his family during his absence” (Neil L. Andersen, “Faith Is Not by Chance,” 65–66).
Based on what we’ve learned from the examples of Nephi and Aroldo Cavalcante, what are some ways we can choose to act with faith in the Lord and diligently strive to obey Him even when it may seem difficult?
Write the following questions on the board or provide them to students as a handout. Invite students to write responses in their class notebooks or study journals.
After sufficient time, invite several students to share with the class what they wrote in response to the first question. Consider sharing a personal experience as well.
Encourage students to apply what they wrote in response to the second question. Conclude with your testimony of the truths students identified in this lesson.