Soon after the Savior’s ministry among the Nephites, the twelve newly called Nephite disciples met together in mighty prayer and fasting. Jesus Christ appeared to them and answered their question concerning the name they should give the Church. He taught them about His gospel and commanded them to be like Him.
Suggestions for Teaching
Jesus Christ teaches the twelve disciples that His Church should bear His name
Divide the class into groups of three or four. If your class is small, have each student work individually. Ask each group (or individual) to imagine that they are going to start a new club or sports team. Ask each group to decide what type of club or sports team they will be creating, such as a science club or a football team, and then have them choose a name for their organization. Have each group write their name on a piece of paper. Then collect the groups’ papers. (This activity should be brief. It should not take too much time or attention away from the doctrines and principles in 3 Nephi 27.)
Read aloud the name on each paper. After you read each name, ask the class to guess, based on the name, the type of club or team it is.
What can a name communicate about an organization and the people in it?
Explain that soon after Jesus Christ’s visit to the Nephites, His twelve Nephite disciples united in fasting and prayer (see 3 Nephi 27:1). Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 3 Nephi 27:2–7. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the disciples’ question and the Savior’s answer.
What did the Savior say His Church should be called?
What reasons did He give for naming the Church after Himself?
Invite students to search 3 Nephi 27:8–12 silently, looking for the Savior’s description of His true Church. While they study, write the following incomplete statement on the board:
The true Church of Jesus Christ must be …
After students have had sufficient time to search these verses, ask them how they would complete the sentence on the board based on what they have read. (Students should be able to identify the following truth: The true Church of Jesus Christ must be called by His name and be built upon His gospel.)
Why do you think it is important for the Savior’s Church to bear His name?
What do you think it means for the Church to be “built upon [His] gospel”? (3 Nephi 27:10). Why do you think it is important for the Church to be built on His gospel rather than on the works of men?
Invite students to complete the following sentence in notebooks or scripture study journals: “Being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ is important to me because …”
Jesus Christ defines His gospel and teaches what we must do to stand guiltless before Him and His Father
Ask students to think about how they have felt when they have been caught doing something wrong. (Do not ask them to share these experiences.) Then ask them to imagine what it will be like to stand before the Lord to be judged. Encourage them to ponder the following question:
How will you feel before the Lord if you are guilty of sin?
Explain that the word gospel means “good news.” Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from 3 Nephi 27:13–16, and ask the class to look for good news in these verses. Also ask them to consider how this good news relates to the day when they will stand before God to be judged.
The Savior testified that He came into the world to do the will of His Father. According to 3 Nephi 27:14, what did Heavenly Father send Jesus Christ into the world to do?
Based on 3 Nephi 27:13–14, what is the foundation of the gospel? (Though students may use different words, they should identify the following truth: The foundation of the gospel is that Jesus Christ did the will of His Father in accomplishing the Atonement. You may want to invite students to write this truth in their scriptures next to 3 Nephi 27:13–14.)
Because the Savior fulfilled the will of His Father, what will happen for all mankind? (We will be lifted up before Him to be judged of our works.)
Invite students to search 3 Nephi 27:16 silently, looking for works we must do to receive all the blessings of the Atonement and prepare for judgment. Ask students to report what they find. Invite a student to write their answers on the board.
According to this verse, what blessings will come to those who repent, are baptized, and endure to the end? (Students’ answers should reflect the following truth: If we repent, are baptized, and endure to the end, we will be guiltless when we stand before God to be judged.)
Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 27:17–19 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what will happen to those who do not repent or endure to the end.
From what you have read, why do all of Heavenly Father’s children need the Atonement of Jesus Christ?
What good news is there for us as we think about standing before the Lord to be judged?
Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“The ‘good news’ [is] that death and hell [can] be escaped, that mistakes and sins [can] be overcome, that there [is] hope, that there [is] help, that the insoluble [is] solved, that the enemy [has] been conquered. The good news [is] that everyone’s tomb [will] one day be empty, that everyone’s soul [can] again be pure, that every child of God [can] again return to the Father who gave them life” (“Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign, Mar. 2001, 8, 10).
Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 27:20–21 aloud, and ask the class to look for the Savior’s invitation to us.
What is the Savior’s invitation in these verses?
To help students think about their efforts to accept this invitation, invite them to answer the following questions in notebooks or scripture study journals. (You may want to write these questions on the board before class or read them slowly so students can write them down.)
Why does the Savior want you to repent and come unto Him?
In what ways are you accepting the Savior’s invitation in 3 Nephi 27:20–21?
What can you do today to prepare to stand spotless before the Lord?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 76:40–42 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional insights about why the gospel is good news. (You may want to suggest that students write D&C 76:40–42 in their scriptures next to 3 Nephi 27:13.)
Earlier in the lesson, you asked students to ponder how they would feel before the Lord if they were guilty of sin. At this point in the lesson, invite them to ponder how they might feel before the Savior if they know they have been made clean through His Atonement and by obedience to the principles, commandments, and ordinances of the gospel.
If you could speak with the Savior at that time, what would you say?
Based on what you have studied today, how would you explain the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to a friend?
Jesus Christ instructs His disciples to become even as He is
Summarize 3 Nephi 27:23–26 by explaining that the Savior gave instructions to His twelve Nephite disciples and taught them about their responsibilities. Invite students to read 3 Nephi 27:27 silently, looking for the commandment He gave the disciples to help them fulfill their role as judges of the people.
Why would it be important for judges of the people to be like the Savior?
Ask students to review 3 Nephi 27:21.
What did the Savior command the disciples to do?
What is the relationship between doing the works of the Savior and becoming like Him?
As students discuss this question, write the following principle on the board: The Lord expects His disciples to do His works and become as He is.
What are some ways we can be like the Savior? What are some works we can do as we follow His example?
In what ways have you been blessed as you have tried to follow the Savior’s example?
Conclude class by testifying of the blessings that come as we strive to become like Jesus Christ.
Commentary and Background Information
3 Nephi 27:8. The name of the Church
The First Presidency stated:
“The use of the revealed name, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (D&C 115:4), is increasingly important in our responsibility to proclaim the name of the Savior throughout all the world. Accordingly, we ask that when we refer to the Church we use its full name wherever possible” (First Presidency letter, Feb. 23, 2001).
President Harold B. Lee taught:
“When he [the Lord] revealed the name by which the Church was to be called, he used some interesting expressions. He said, ‘For thus shall my church be called in the last days, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.’ (D&C 115:4.)
“The word the is significant: not just Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, because to say ‘The Church’ distinguishes this as the only true church on the face of the earth. He didn’t say Mormon Church; he didn’t say LDS Church, but the clear, firm, unequivocal statement, ‘even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’” (“The Way to Eternal Life,” Ensign, Nov. 1971, 13).
3 Nephi 27:13–21. The gospel of Jesus Christ
The Prophet Joseph Smith explained the central message of the gospel of Jesus Christ:
“The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 49).
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught:
“The word gospel means ‘good news.’ The good news is the Lord Jesus Christ and His message of salvation. [See Bible Dictionary, “Gospels,” 682–683.] Jesus equated the gospel with both His mission and with His ministry in mortality. In His mission statement, Jesus said:
“‘This is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me.
“‘And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross.’ [3 Nephi 27:13–14.]
“The Savior’s mortal mission we know as the Atonement.
“The Savior’s mortal ministry includes everything else that He did—His teachings, expressions of love, attention to ordinances, patterns of prayer, perseverance, and more. He lived to be our Exemplar, which He also equated to the gospel in His ministerial statement. ‘This is my gospel,’ He said, ‘… for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do.’ [3 Nephi 27:21.] Thus, faith; repentance; baptism by water, fire, and of the Holy Ghost; the gathering of the elect; and enduring to the end are all part of the gospel” (“Senior Missionaries and the Gospel,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 81).
3 Nephi 27:27. Becoming like Jesus Christ
President Ezra Taft Benson taught:
“That man is greatest and most blessed and joyful whose life most closely fits the pattern of the Christ. This has nothing to do with earthly wealth, power, or prestige. The only true test of greatness, blessedness, joyfulness is how close a life can come to being like the Master, Jesus Christ. He is the right way, the full truth, and the abundant life” (“Jesus Christ—Gifts and Expectations” [BYU devotional address, Dec. 10, 1974], 1, speeches.byu.edu).