As the Savior continued teaching the people at the temple in the land of Bountiful, He declared that the law of Moses was fulfilled in Him and that He was the light and law that the people should look to. The Savior then explained to the twelve Nephite disciples that the people in the Americas were some of the “other sheep” of whom He spoke to the people at Jerusalem (see John 10:14–16). He also promised that those who repent and return to Him will be numbered among His covenant people.
Have you ever wondered why the Lord asks us to obey certain laws and commandments, such as paying tithing, observing the Sabbath day, or honoring our parents? As Jesus Christ continued to instruct the Nephites, He taught them the central purpose behind His laws and commandments. Watch for this purpose as you study 3 Nephi 15.
As the Savior finished speaking to the multitude, He perceived that some among them had a question. Read 3 Nephi 15:1–2, and write what the people were marveling and wondering about: ____________________________________________________________________________________________________
To understand why the Nephites were marveling and wondering at the Savior’s declaration that the “old things” of the law of Moses had passed away and “all things had become new,” it helps to understand that for centuries the Nephites had known and lived under the law of Moses. Their laws, rites, and church organization were based on the Mosaic law, which law was given anciently by the premortal Jesus Christ to prepare people for His coming and point them to His atoning sacrifice. Now the Divine Lawgiver was standing before them declaring that the Atonement had been accomplished (see 3 Nephi 11:10–14) and that in Him the law of Moses was fulfilled (see 3 Nephi 9:16–20; 12:46–47). His declaration that the old things of the law of Moses had “passed away” and new things were to take the law’s place suddenly changed how they were to worship God.
The Savior responded to their concerns by emphasizing a very important doctrine. Read 3 Nephi 15:3–5, 9, and highlight phrases in the Savior’s response that might have reassured the Nephites that the source of the law was not changing.
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What do you think Jesus was teaching the Nephites when He said, “I am the law”? (3 Nephi 15:9).
From the Savior’s teachings in these verses, we can learn that Jesus Christ is the object of all the laws and commandments of the gospel. Ponder why this truth would have been important to the Nephites as they learned that the old law of Moses was replaced with the higher law and experienced changes in their manner of worship.
Read 3 Nephi 15:9–10, and mark what the Lord wants us to do as a result of this doctrine. Use what you learn in these verses to complete the following principle: If we ____________________ to Jesus Christ through keeping _____________________________________________, He will give us _____________________________________________.
Think about commandments such as paying tithing, observing the Sabbath day, and honoring our parents, and answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How might a person follow the commandments and still not be looking to Christ?
In what ways might our obedience to the commandments change if our focus was on looking to Jesus Christ and not only on obeying the rules?
One way our obedience to the commandments might change if we looked to Christ is that our motivation to obey would change from duty, or even love of the rule, to love for the Lord.
Read the following statement by Elder Marvin J. Ashton of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “What a spiritual comfort and blessing it is to know that, if we look to our Savior Jesus Christ and endure to the end, eternal life and exaltation can be ours. … God becomes more approachable as we look to him. Looking to God teaches us to serve and live without compulsion [without being forced or pressured to do something]” (“There Are Many Gifts,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 21).
Choose a commandment that you may have wondered why you need to obey, and consider how keeping that commandment can lead you to Jesus Christ. You may want to set a goal to be more obedient to the commandment you chose and write a few ideas about how to accomplish it. Record your thoughts in your scripture study journal.
Have you ever felt forgotten or alone and wondered if Heavenly Father knew who you were? Although we may feel alone or sometimes feel less important than others, God cares for His people and manifests Himself to them. Watch for evidence of this truth as you study the rest of 3 Nephi 15 and the beginning of 3 Nephi 16.
As recorded in the New Testament and the Book of Mormon, Jesus Christ ministered among the people in the Old World and in the Americas. Read 3 Nephi 15:11–17 looking for what the Lord said He told those in Jerusalem about His people in the Americas.
“Other sheep” is a reference to other followers of the Shepherd, Jesus Christ. A fold is a sheep pen, but the word fold is used in this instance to mean a group of people with a common belief in Jesus Christ. According to 3 Nephi 15:17, how did the Lord say He would manifest Himself to His other sheep?
Jesus explained why Heavenly Father commanded Him not to give more knowledge of His other sheep to those in Jerusalem. Search 3 Nephi 15:18–20, and mark the Savior’s explanation. By seeing that the Father withheld greater knowledge of the Nephites from the Jews because of the Jews’ iniquity, we can learn an important principle concerning how we receive knowledge and truth from the Lord. Based on these verses, how would you complete the following principle? God gives us knowledge and truth according to our _____________________________________________.
The Lord told the Nephites that they were part of the other sheep about whom He spoke in Jerusalem. The Jews had thought He was speaking of the Gentiles (non-Israelites). They did not understand that the Gentiles would not “hear” the Savior’s voice (see 3 Nephi 15:21–23).
Read 3 Nephi 15:24, and look for how the Lord specifically assured the Nephites of His care for them.
Read 3 Nephi 16:1–3, and find out who else would hear the Savior’s voice. We do not have a scriptural record of whom else the Savior visited, but it is clear that He visited other groups and brought them into His “fold.”
How does Jesus Christ show that He cares for those people who do not get to hear His voice? Read 3 Nephi 15:22–23 and 3 Nephi 16:4, and look for how the Lord said He will manifest himself to the Gentiles.
From what you have studied so far in 3 Nephi 15 and 16, what evidence have you seen that God cares for His people and manifests Himself to them? ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Read 3 Nephi 16:5, and look for what will happen in the last days after the Gentiles come to a knowledge of Jesus Christ and His gospel.
Jesus promised to bless all of His children—the house of Israel and the Gentiles—by giving them His words as written by the Nephites. The writings of the Nephites would help convert the Gentiles, who would then help to gather the house of Israel in the last days (see 3 Nephi 16:4–5).
In your scripture study journal, answer the following question: What evidence from your own life have you found that shows Jesus Christ cares for all of us?
Have you ever wanted to be a part of a group, club, or team? Think of a specific example. What is required to become a member of such a group? The greatest group you can become a member of is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the covenant people of the Lord.
Read 3 Nephi 16:6–7, and look for what will happen because of the Gentiles’ belief and the house of Israel’s unbelief in the last days. It might be helpful to understand that there will also be unbelieving Gentiles in the last days who will scatter and mistreat members of the house of Israel (see 3 Nephi 16:8–9). The Lord will take away His gospel from the wicked and reveal it to the righteous, both Israelites and Gentiles, in the last days (see 3 Nephi 16:10–12).
Read 3 Nephi 16:13, and look for what is required to become one of the Lord’s covenant people. Using what you have learned in 3 Nephi 16:13, complete the following principle: If we _____________________________________________, then we will be numbered among His people.
Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
How do you know you are part of the Lord’s covenant people?
How has it blessed your life to be numbered among His people?
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied 3 Nephi 15–16 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: