When the time drew near for the fulfillment of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy about the Savior’s birth, believers watched for the sign Samuel had said would come. Unbelievers threatened to kill the believers if the prophecy was not fulfilled by a certain day. Nephi, a son of Nephi and grandson of Helaman, pleaded with God in behalf of the believers. In answer to Nephi’s prayer, the voice of the Lord came to him, declaring that the sign would be given that night. When the sun set, there was no darkness, and a new star appeared. Despite Satan’s continued attempts to destroy the faith of the people, the majority of the people were converted to the Lord. But two years later, the Gadianton robbers began to lead many Nephites and Lamanites into wickedness.
Invite students to think of people who have sacrificed their lives for the gospel. (Some examples are Jesus Christ, Abinadi, some of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies, and Joseph and Hyrum Smith.) Ask students to explain why they think people are willing to make such a sacrifice. Give students a moment to ponder how they think they would respond if they were in a situation that required them to give their lives for the gospel.
Explain that five years after Samuel the Lamanite preached in Zarahemla, a group of faithful Nephites faced this possibility. As students study 3 Nephi 1 today, invite them to look for truths they can learn from how these Nephites acted in this situation.
Summarize 3 Nephi 1:1–3 by telling students that Helaman’s son Nephi gave the sacred records to his son Nephi and then departed out of the land. No one knew where he went.
Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from 3 Nephi 1:4–9. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the challenge the faithful Nephites faced.
What challenge did the believers face?
Why might some people struggle to remain faithful in this situation?
Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 1:10–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Nephi did at this critical time.
What stands out to you about Nephi’s response to this situation? Why?
Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 1:13–14 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s answer to Nephi’s prayer. Invite students to report what they find.
What did the Lord say He would “show unto the world”? (Students’ answers should reflect that the Lord will fulfill all the words that He has caused to be spoken by His prophets. Invite students to consider marking the phrases in their scriptures that teach this doctrine.)
Divide students into pairs. Invite them to read 3 Nephi 1:15, 19–21 with their partners, looking for phrases that emphasize that the Lord fulfills the words of the prophets.
What phrases did you find that illustrate that the Lord fulfills the words of His prophets?
How do you think you would have felt if you had been among the believers when the sign came?
How can knowing that the Lord will fulfill the words of the prophets help you when someone ridicules your standards or persecutes you for your beliefs?
Invite two or three students to take turns reading aloud from 3 Nephi 1:16–18. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the wicked responded when they saw the sign that had been prophesied.
What did the wicked know after the sign had been given?
Why do you think this knowledge led to fear among the unbelievers?
Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 1:22–23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Satan did to persuade people not to believe in the signs of the Lord’s birth.
What did Satan do?
How did the majority of the people respond to Satan’s lies?
What principle can we learn from verses 22–23 about how we can respond to Satan’s lies? (Help students identify the following principle: When we face Satan’s lies, we can choose to believe in Jesus Christ and be converted. You may want to write this principle on the board.)
What are some lies that Satan sends forth today?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Bishop Richard C. Edgley, who served in the Presiding Bishopric:
“Because of the conflicts and challenges we face in today’s world, I wish to suggest a single choice—a choice of peace and protection and a choice that is appropriate for all. That choice is faith. … Choose faith over doubt, choose faith over fear, choose faith over the unknown and the unseen, and choose faith over pessimism. …
“When logic, reason, or personal intellect come into conflict with sacred teachings and doctrine, or conflicting messages assault your beliefs … , choose to not cast the seed out of your heart by unbelief [see Alma 32:28]. Remember, we receive not a witness until after the trial of our faith (see Ether 12:6)” (Richard C. Edgley, “Faith—the Choice Is Yours,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 31, 32–33).
When have you, or someone you know, chosen to believe in Jesus Christ instead of Satan’s lies? (As students respond, invite them to explain how they or others were blessed for choosing to believe in Jesus Christ.)
Write the following question on the board:
Ask students to copy this question in their class notebooks or study journals. Give them a few minutes to write their answers. After sufficient time, invite a few students to share with the class what they wrote.
Summarize 3 Nephi 1:24–25 by explaining that some of the people misunderstood the intent of the signs and began to teach that it was no longer necessary to live the law of Moses. However, they soon learned that the law of Moses had not yet been fulfilled.
Invite two students to come to the front of the room. Ask one student to close his or her eyes and stand on one foot. Explain that this student represents someone who knows the truth but is not exercising faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and is not diligent in living the gospel.
Explain that in this demonstration, the second student represents influences that can lead someone to fall away from the truth. Ask the second student to push gently on the arm of the first student until the first student loses his or her balance or becomes unsteady. Point out that when a person is not striving to live the gospel, he or she is more likely to be deceived by the lies and temptations of Satan.
As students continue their study of 3 Nephi 1, invite them to look for how this demonstration can relate to a group of Lamanite youth, as well as to us.
Explain that a few years after the signs of Jesus Christ’s birth, Satan continued to attempt to make people doubt the truthfulness of the gospel.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 3 Nephi 1:27–29. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the influence that unrighteous people had on some of the Lamanite youth.
What happened to some of the Lamanite youth? (They “were led away by some who were Zoramites,” and they joined the Gadianton robbers.)
How does what happened to the Lamanite youth relate to our demonstration?
According to 3 Nephi 1:29, why did some of the Lamanite youth believe the Zoramites’ “lyings” and “flattering words”? (If students do not mention Mormon’s statement that the youth “became for themselves,” point it out to them.)
What do you think the phrase “became for themselves” means?
Invite a student to read aloud what Sister Kathleen H. Hughes, who served as a member of the Relief Society General Presidency, said about the phrase:
“It implies to me that they looked to themselves first and indulged desires that prophets had warned them to avoid. They yielded to Satan’s enticements and allures” (Kathleen H. Hughes, “Grow Up unto the Lord,” Ensign, Feb. 2010, 18).
Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 1:30 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the influence of “the rising generation” (the youth) on others.
What effect did the rising generation have on the faith of those around them?
Ask students to state a principle that summarizes what we can learn from 3 Nephi 1:29–30. They may use different words to express their answers, but ensure they identify the following truth: If we give in to temptation, our example can have a negative impact on the faith and righteousness of others. You may want to encourage students to write this truth in their scriptures.
To help students relate this account to modern-day situations, ask the following questions:
What are some “lyings” and “flattering words” that might entice youth today to associate with unrighteous groups?
When have you seen youth have a negative impact on the faith of others?
Point out that although the youth mentioned in 3 Nephi 1:30 had a negative influence on the faith of others, youth can also have a righteous influence on those around them.
Encourage students to choose to exercise faith in Jesus Christ rather than give in to the devil’s lies. Assure them that they can strengthen the faith of others through the power of their righteous examples.