Chapter 39: 3 Nephi 1–7

Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, (2009), 142–44


Introduction

There are many parallels between the time preceding Christ’s appearance in the Americas and the time preceding His Second Coming. For example, there was an increase in wickedness preceding the Lord’s coming to the Americas, but many people remained faithful. You and your students can be among those who remain faithful even as wickedness increases before the Lord’s Second Coming. As students identify the conditions and events described in these chapters that have parallels to the conditions and events in the last days, they can become better prepared to live faithfully.

Some Doctrines and Principles

  • Signs and miracles reward the faithful and proclaim the Savior’s coming (see 3 Nephi 1:4–23).

  • Disciples of Jesus Christ live according to the Savior’s teachings (see 3 Nephi 5:13–15).

  • Full conversion enables us to endure to the end (see 3 Nephi 6–7).

Suggestions for Teaching

3 Nephi 1–7. Nephite History Has Many Parallels to Our Day

Ask a student to read the statement by President Ezra Taft Benson on page 288 in the student manual. Have students read the chapter headings for 3 Nephi 1–7, looking for similarities to our time. Invite students to share what they find. In the course of discussion, help students see the intense opposition from Satan before the Savior’s coming. Explain that by studying 3 Nephi 1–7 and applying the principles contained therein, we can understand the signs of the Savior’s coming to the Nephites and be able to prepare for His Second Coming.

3 Nephi 1:4–23. Signs and Miracles Reward the Faithful and Proclaim the Savior’s Coming

Ask students to identify individuals in the scriptures who experienced great miracles as a result of their faith.

  • How can a miracle strengthen someone who is faithful?

Invite a student to read 3 Nephi 1:4–9.

  • Even though many great signs and miracles took place among the people, what reason did the wicked give for persecuting the righteous?

  • Why do signs usually fail to convince the wicked to change? (See D&C 63:7–11.)

Ask students to read 3 Nephi 1:10–14 silently.

  • What did the Savior say He would show the world by coming into the world? (See verses 13–14. He would show that He would fulfill all things that the prophets had spoken and all things that He had made known from the foundation of the world.)

  • How does fulfillment of prophecy strengthen faith?

Have a student read 3 Nephi 1:15–21.

  • Why do you think the nonbelievers responded initially with fear instead of faith?

  • Signs of the Savior’s birth gave light from the heavens to the earth. Why is light an appropriate sign for the coming of Jesus Christ into the world?

  • How does faith in the Savior bring light into people’s lives?

Read 3 Nephi 1:22–23.

  • What brought peace to the land after the signs of the Savior’s birth?

Invite students to reread 3 Nephi 1:8.

  • What does this verse teach about how we should look for signs in our day?

  • What do you think it means to “watch steadfastly”?

  • How can watching steadfastly help us prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ?

Help students understand that they cannot watch steadfastly if they do not know or understand what they are watching for. Encourage them to continually look for prophecies of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ in their study of the scriptures and to give close attention to the events recorded in 3 Nephi as a pattern for the last days.

Read and discuss 3 Nephi 1:4–9. Ask students to think about how they would respond if a similar threat were made against Latter-day Saints today. Invite them to silently ponder these questions:

  • Would you remain faithful?

  • Have you had experiences that would strengthen you in your effort to remain faithful?

3 Nephi 3. The Righteous Do Not Fear What the Wicked Can Do

Before teaching 3 Nephi 3, you may want to summarize the account from the last part of 3 Nephi 1 and all of 3 Nephi 2, as follows:

After the people saw the miraculous signs of the Savior’s birth, Satan sent forth “lyings … among the people,” but “the more part of the people did believe, and were converted unto the Lord” (3 Nephi 1:22). However, within a few years, many of the people, particularly the “rising generation,” were “less and less astonished at a sign or a wonder from heaven, insomuch that they began to be hard in their hearts, and blind in their minds, and began to disbelieve all which they had heard and seen” (3 Nephi 1:30; 2:1). “Because of the wickedness of the people of Nephi, and their many contentions and dissensions, the Gadianton robbers did gain many advantages over them” (3 Nephi 2:18).

Invite students to review Giddianhi’s letter to Lachoneus in 3 Nephi 3:1–10. Ask them to look for statements Giddianhi used to try to intimidate or frighten Lachoneus.

  • How does Satan use similar strategies today?

  • According to verses 11–12, what was Lachoneus’s reaction to the letter?

On the board, write Preparations of Lachoneus and Modern parallels. Ask students to search verses 12–25, looking for preparations Lachoneus and his people made so they would be safe. Have students write their discoveries on the board under Preparations of Lachoneus. Then, under Modern Parallels, have class members suggest ways each preparation could apply in our day. After they have written their responses, the board may look something like this:

Preparations of Lachoneus

Modern Parallels

Prayed for strength

Pray for strength

Lachoneus called the people to repentance

Church leaders call us to repentance

Built strong fortifications

Build strong testimonies

Gathered the people to one place

Gather together for strength; gather on the Sabbath day

Gathered to the center of the land

Avoid dangerous environments

Gathered provisions for the people

Prepare temporally

3 Nephi 5:13–15. Disciples of Jesus Christ Live according to the Savior’s Teachings

Ask a student to read 3 Nephi 5:13.

Write Disciple of Christ on the board.

  • According to this verse, what is the role of a disciple of Christ? What are some ways we can fulfill this role?

As students discuss this question, ask them to refer to page 291 in the student manual. You may want to write their answers on the board. (Note that by definition, a disciple is a follower [see D&C 41:5]. However, Mormon’s reference to himself as a disciple may also have specific reference to his call as a leader with apostolic authority, like the twelve Nephite disciples in 3 Nephi 12:1. In 3 Nephi 5:13, Mormon declares that he has been given authority to declare the word of the Lord among the people.)

To help students understand that we can also receive callings to be disciples, ask them to read Doctrine and Covenants 4:3–5.

  • What is needed to be “called to the work”—in other words, to be a disciple?

  • What qualifies us for the work?

Invite a few students to share their feelings or testimonies about what it means to them to be disciples of Christ.

3 Nephi 6–7. Full Conversion Enables Us to Endure to the End

Invite class members to turn to the statement by Elder Richard G. Scott on pages 293–94 in the student manual. (This statement is also available on the companion DVD A. If you use the DVD, preview the video clip so you can be prepared to pause it at appropriate times for discussion.)

Invite students to read (or listen to) the first three paragraphs in that statement. Before you read, ask students to listen for answers to the following questions:

  • How are those who are converted different from those who are not?

  • In what ways is being converted different from gaining a witness of the truth?

Ask students to keep in mind their answers to these questions as they study and discuss 3 Nephi 6–7.

Ask a student to read 3 Nephi 5:1–3. Ask the students to suggest words that describe the Nephites during the period mentioned in those verses. Then invite a student to read 3 Nephi 7:7–8, which tells of the condition of the people six years later. Ask students to suggest words that describe the Nephites after the six years. Write the following on the board:

Nothing could hinder them from prospering except …

(see 3 Nephi 6:4–5, 10–18, 20, 23, 27–30)

Ask students to search these verses and find words or phrases that identify what hindered the people spiritually. Write their responses on the board. Help them see that even though these people believed once, their unrighteous actions led them to forget their testimonies and return to wickedness.

Turn again to the statement by Elder Richard G. Scott in the student manual or on the DVD. Invite students to read (or listen to) the final paragraph. Have students identify essential elements of full conversion that will protect them from falling victim to elements of society that destroy faith.

Encourage students to nurture the cycle of conversion in their lives by exercising faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, and being consistent in their obedience. You may want to conclude by testifying of how these principles have brought blessings in your life.