Before departing out of the land, the prophet Nephi (the son of Helaman) passed the records to his oldest son, Nephi. The unbelievers plotted to put the faithful to death if the prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus Christ were not fulfilled by a certain day. As Nephi pleaded with the Lord on behalf of the believers, the voice of the Lord came to him and declared that the sign of His birth would be given that night. In fulfillment of the prophecy of Samuel the Lamanite, 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 more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord” (3 Nephi 1:22).
Think of some people in the scriptures or in Church history who have sacrificed their lives for the gospel of Jesus Christ. Why do you think they were willing to make that sacrifice?
As recorded in 3 Nephi 1, a group of faithful Nephites had to decide if they were willing to give up their lives to remain true to their beliefs. The chapter begins by explaining that Nephi gave the sacred records to his son, who was also named Nephi, and then departed out of the land (see 3 Nephi 1:1–3). It then relates the test of faith that many Nephites experienced.
Read 3 Nephi 1:4–9, and look for the challenging situation the faithful Nephites faced. How would you feel if you were Nephi and the time had arrived when the believers were about to be destroyed? Ponder for a moment why some people might struggle to remain faithful in this situation.
Read 3 Nephi 1:10–12, and look for what Nephi did in this critical moment. Read the Lord’s response to Nephi in 3 Nephi 1:13–14. You may want to mark the statement in 3 Nephi 1:13 that indicates this principle: The Lord will fulfill all the words that He has caused to be spoken by His prophets.
Try to imagine what it might have been like for Nephi just after the sign of the Savior’s birth was given. Write in your scripture study journal how you think you would respond if you had been there at that time. How do you think you would feel if you were Nephi and the sign had just occurred?
Read 3 Nephi 1:4, 14–15, 19–21, and look for additional phrases that emphasize the Lord’s consistency in fulfilling the words of His prophets. You may want to mark these phrases in your scriptures. As you read 3 Nephi 1:14, it may be helpful to understand that the Being who spoke fills two roles and was speaking from both perspectives: as Jehovah (who is the Father by divine investiture of authority) and as Jesus Christ, the soon-to-be mortal Son of God.
To see how prophecies of the Savior’s birth were fulfilled, write the prophecy given by Samuel the Lamanite in the left column of the following chart. Then write the verse from 3 Nephi 1 and a brief description of its fulfillment in the right column.
Samuel the Lamanite’s Prophecies
1st prophecy (Helaman 14:3–4):
2nd prophecy (Helaman 14:5):
3rd prophecy (Helaman 14:6):
4th prophecy (Helaman 14:7):
As you read 3 Nephi 1:16–18, notice how the wicked responded when the signs occurred. You may wish to mark some of their reactions. We learn in 3 Nephi 1:18 that some of the people “began to fear because of their iniquity and their unbelief.” Ponder the following question: How does sin and unbelief lead to fear?
Read 3 Nephi 1:22–23, and look for what the devil tried to do after the signs of the Lord’s birth had been given. Complete the following statement to express the principle you find in verse 22: When we face Satan’s lies, we can choose to ____________________________________________________________________________________________________.
Bishop Richard C. Edgley, who served in the Presiding Bishopric, offered counsel concerning how we can respond during our own tests of faith. Mark any of his words or phrases that encourage you to choose to believe despite the doubts that Satan may tempt you with:
“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. Be aware that faith is not a free gift given without thought, desire, or effort. … The Savior said, ‘Come unto me’ (Matthew 11:28) and ‘Knock, and it shall be [given] you’ (Matthew 7:7). These are action verbs—come, knock. They are choices. So I say, choose 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 [of faith] out of your heart by unbelief. 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, 31–33).
What lies and deceptions does the devil promote today to try to harden peoples’ hearts against the truth? Write in your scripture study journal what you can do to maintain your faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel even when the devil tries to cause you to doubt your faith.
Read 3 Nephi 1:24–25, and identify an additional challenge that some of the believers faced. Ponder what you can learn from the response of these people when they learned they were wrong.
A few years after the signs of Jesus Christ’s birth were given, some dissenting Nephites began to have an effect on the ability of the faithful to stand firm in the gospel. How can you stand firm in the gospel, even amid attacks against the Church in our day? Read 3 Nephi 1:27–30, and look for whether the “rising generation” of Lamanites had a positive or negative impact on the faith of others.
Notice that many of the Lamanite youth “became for themselves” (3 Nephi 1:29) and turned away from the gospel. Sister Kathleen H. Hughes, who served in the Relief Society general presidency, suggested a meaning of the phrase “they became for themselves”: “[This] 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).
You may wish to write the following principle in your scriptures next to 3 Nephi 1:29–30 or in your scripture study journal: If we give in to temptation, our example can have a negative impact on the faith and righteousness of others.
To help you understand how this principle relates to you, answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
When have you witnessed an example of the principle above? How can you remain faithful even if those around you choose not to?
While it is important to know that our example can have a negative impact on others, it is also important to remember that our example can help strengthen someone else. When have you seen the “rising generation,” or youth of the Church today, have a positive impact on the faith of others?
In your scripture study journal, make a list of some of the ways that you can have a positive influence on the faith of people in your own family, your ward or branch, or your peers. Choose two ideas from your list, and write specifically what you will do to accomplish this.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 3 Nephi 1 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: