When the time drew near for the fulfillment of Samuel the Lamanite’s prophecy about the Savior’s birth, believers watched for the signs 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 the Lord on 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.
Suggestions for Teaching
Prophecies concerning Jesus Christ’s birth are fulfilled, and many Nephites are converted
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.
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?
Whom do you know who you believe would stay faithful in this situation? Why do you think those people would stay faithful?
Invite students to read 3 Nephi 1:10–12 silently, looking for what Nephi did at this critical time.
What impresses you about Nephi’s response to this situation? Why?
Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 1:13–14 aloud, and ask the class to give special attention to the Lord’s answer to Nephi’s prayer.
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.)
When the Lord spoke of coming into the world to “do the will, both of the Father and of the Son,” He referred to His Atonement. How does this message help us “be of good cheer”?
Invite students to read 3 Nephi 1:4, 14–15, 19–21 silently, looking for phrases that emphasize that the Lord fulfills the words of the 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 signs that had been prophesied.
What did the wicked know after the sign had been given?
Why do sin and unbelief lead to fear?
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? (He sent forth lies among the people.) What are some lies that Satan sends forth today?
What truth can we learn from the people’s response 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.)
To help students feel the truth and importance of this principle, share the following statement by Bishop Richard C. Edgley of the Presiding Bishopric. Consider giving students a copy of this statement that can fit in their scriptures.
“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)” (“Faith—the Choice Is Yours,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2010, 31, 32–33).
What can we do to choose faith over doubt, fear, and pessimism? (Answers may include that we can choose to pray and seek the Lord’s help, study the scriptures, keep the commandments, attend Church meetings, and serve others.)
Invite students to read 3 Nephi 1:24–25 silently and to identify an additional challenge that some of the believers faced.
What did some people try to prove about the law of Moses?
What impresses you about the response of these people when they learned they were wrong?
Write the following question on the board: When the adversary tries to get me to doubt, how will I maintain faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel? Ask students to copy this question in notebooks or scripture study journals. Give them a few minutes to write their answers.
Nephite dissenters and some of the Lamanite youth join the Gadianton robbers
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.
What does the first student need to do in order to stay steady? (The student should open his or her eyes and stand on both feet.)
Instruct the first student to open his or her eyes and stand with both feet shoulder-width apart. Explain that this student now represents someone who is “firm and steadfast in the faith” (Helaman 15:8). Then ask the second student to push gently on the arm of the first student again. Point out that when a person is striving to study the gospel and keep God’s commandments, he or she stays steady even when opposition comes.
Have the two students return to their seats. 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.)
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?
As students discuss this question, read what Sister Kathleen H. Hughes, 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” (“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?
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?
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.
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. Invite a student to come to the board and act as scribe for the class. Ask the scribe to write students’ answers to the following question:
What are some ways you can have a positive influence on the faith of your family, ward or branch, and community?
Encourage students to choose one or two ideas on the board that they will act on immediately. Assure them that they can strengthen the faith of others through the power of their righteous examples.
Commentary and Background Information
3 Nephi 1:2. Nephite record keepers
Helaman’s son Nephi gave his son Nephi “all the records which had been kept, and all those things which had been kept sacred from the departure of Lehi out of Jerusalem” (3 Nephi 1:2). At this time, the collection of sacred records included the large plates of Nephi, the small plates of Nephi, the plates of brass, and the 24 gold plates written by Ether.
The following chart shows how the sacred records were transferred from one prophet to another from about 124 B.C. (the beginning of the book of Mosiah) to about A.D. 1 (the beginning of the book of 3 Nephi).
King Mosiah (received the plates in about 124 B.C.; see Mosiah 1:15–16)
Alma the Younger (received the plates in about 92 B.C.; see Mosiah 28:20)
Helaman I, son of Alma the Younger (received the plates in about 73 B.C.; see Alma 37:2)
Shiblon, son of Alma the Younger (received the plates in about 56 B.C.; see Alma 63:1)
Helaman II, son of Helaman I (received the plates in about 53 B.C.; see Alma 63:11)
Nephi II, son of Nephi I (received the plates in about A.D. 1; see 3 Nephi 1:3)
Note that the designations “Helaman I” and “Nephi I” are not meant to imply that these are the first instances of these names in the Book of Mormon. The roman numerals after the names are used solely to improve clarity in this chart. Lehi’s son Nephi, who wrote the books of 1 Nephi and 2 Nephi, is not included in this chart.
3 Nephi 1:29–30. “The wickedness of the rising generation”
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency explained the impact one person who goes astray can have on a family:
“The young people of the Church … hold the future in their hands. The Church has always been one generation away from extinction. If a whole generation were lost, which will not happen, we would lose the Church. But even a single individual lost to the gospel of Jesus Christ closes doors for generations of descendants, unless the Lord reaches out to bring some of them back” (“We Must Raise Our Sights” [address to CES religious educators, Aug. 14, 2001], 1, si.lds.org).