When Jesus Christ visited the people in the Americas, He taught the value and importance of the scriptures. He commanded the Nephites to diligently search the scriptures (see 3 Nephi 23:1–5). This command to search implies more than casual reading. He also commanded them to add certain details and prophecies to the records for the benefit of future generations (see 3 Nephi 23:6–14; 24–25). Some of these additions, particularly the prophecies of Malachi, can help us today in our efforts to prepare for the Savior’s Second Coming. As you prepare to teach these truths, consider how you might encourage students to increase the depth and diligence of their personal scripture study. You can also help students see how the prophecies of Malachi can help them prepare for the Second Coming.
The Savior commands us to diligently search the words of the prophets (see 3 Nephi 23:1–5).
Our obedience to gospel principles helps us prepare for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ (see 3 Nephi 24–25).
As we give heed to what the Lord has revealed, we prepare ourselves to receive greater revelation (see 3 Nephi 26:7–11).
Before class, write the following on the board:
Instruct students to read these verses silently. You may want to explain that although the verses refer specifically to the words of Isaiah and revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants, they apply to our efforts to study all scriptures. After sufficient time, ask students how they would answer the question on the board.
Why do you think the Lord places such an emphasis on searching the scriptures?
Read and discuss the following statement by President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994), the 13th President of the Church:
“When individual members and families immerse themselves in the scriptures regularly and consistently, other areas of activity will automatically come. Testimonies will increase. Commitment will be strengthened. Families will be fortified. Personal revelation will flow” (“The Power of the Word,” Ensign, May 1986, 81).
Why would other areas of Church activity increase as a result of regular and consistent scripture study?
Invite students to tell what time of day they usually read the scriptures. Ask what strategies and methods they use to make their time with the scriptures meaningful.
Share the following counsel from True to the Faith:
“Latter-day prophets counsel us to study the scriptures every day, both individually and with our families. …
“You will benefit greatly by following this counsel. Daily, meaningful scripture study helps you be receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. It builds your faith, fortifies you against temptation, and helps you draw near to your Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son.
“Develop a plan for your personal study of the scriptures. [Set] aside a certain amount of time each day to study the scriptures. During that time, read carefully, being attentive to the promptings of the Spirit. Ask your Heavenly Father to help you know what He would have you learn and do” (True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference , 156).
In what ways can you better fulfill the command to diligently search the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets?
Invite the students to develop a plan to improve their personal scripture study habits. Consider giving them some time in class to write out their plans.
Before class, write a paragraph on the board or on a piece of paper, but leave several key phrases out. Display the paragraph. Show students the places where writing is missing.
How do the deletions impact a reader’s ability to understand the complete message of the paragraph?
Explain that Jesus Christ has directed prophets to maintain accurate scriptural records. Ask students to read 3 Nephi 23:6–14, looking for the Savior’s concern about something that was missing from the Nephites’ record.
Why do you think it would be important for people in the future to know that this prophecy had been fulfilled?
Ask students to think of activities that require careful preparation over a period of time. Invite them to share their ideas. (Students might identify activities such as running a long-distance race or saving money for a mission or a college education.)
Read 3 Nephi 24:1 with students, explaining that it is a prophecy about the Savior’s Second Coming. Ask them to identify the word that describes the manner in which the Lord will come to His temple.
Explain that although the Savior’s appearance in the temple will seem to happen “suddenly,” it will be the culmination of much preparation by Him and His people.
According to prophecies, what would need to happen to prepare the Lord’s kingdom for the Second Coming? (Answers may include the restoration of the gospel and the priesthood, the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, and the preaching of the gospel throughout the world.)
Point out that just as the Lord’s kingdom must be prepared for His coming, each member of that kingdom needs to be prepared. In 3 Nephi 24 and 25, we find prophecies that the Savior commanded to be written for the benefit of future generations (see 3 Nephi 26:2–3). These prophecies had not been included in the brass plates—they were recorded by Malachi in about 430 B.C., approximately 170 years after Lehi left Jerusalem (see Bible Dictionary, “Malachi,” 728).
Explain that we can read 3 Nephi 24 and 25 as guides that can help us prepare for the Savior’s Second Coming. Give students time to read the chapters on their own and identify at least two gospel principles that help us prepare for the Second Coming.
After sufficient time, ask students to share the principles they have discovered. Ask them how they can apply the principles in their lives now. (You may choose to discuss tithing and temple work in more detail later in the lesson. If you do, you will probably not want to spend a lot of time discussing these principles in this activity.)
In 3 Nephi 24:8–11 the Lord commands His people to live the law of tithing. As you discuss the law of tithing with students, you may want to use some of the following resources: pages 333–34 in the student manual; “Tithing” in True to the Faith, pages 180–82; and “Tithes and Offerings” in For the Strength of Youth, pages 34–35.
Why is failure to pay tithing the same as robbing the Lord?
Have students scan 3 Nephi 24:9–12 and look for answers to the following questions:
What are some of the blessings promised to those who pay their tithes and offerings?
How does the commandment to pay tithing separate the righteous from the wicked?
Invite students to share how they have been blessed as they have lived the law of tithing.
Display some family history items, such as pictures of ancestors, pedigree charts, or family group sheets.
What are our obligations toward our ancestors?
Read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“The greatest responsibility in this world that God has laid upon us is to seek after our dead” (in History of the Church, 6:313).
Invite students to read 3 Nephi 25:5–6. You may want to point out that the angel Moroni repeated this prophecy the first time he visited Joseph Smith (see D&C 2; Joseph Smith—History 1:36–39). Referring to this prophecy, the Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “The earth will be smitten with a curse unless there is a welding link … between the fathers and the children” (D&C 128:18).
Who did the Lord say would come before the Second Coming?
Why was Elijah sent?
Suggest that students mark 3 Nephi 25:6, footnote c, or write D&C 110:13–16 in the margins of their scriptures, near 3 Nephi 25:5–6. Ask a student to read the section heading to Doctrine and Covenants 110. Then ask another student to read Doctrine and Covenants 110:13–16.
When and where did Elijah return?
You may want to share the following statements about Elijah’s return. The statement by Elder Russell M. Nelson is also available on the companion DVD A.
“It is interesting to know that on the third day of April, 1836, the Jews were celebrating the feast of the Passover, and were leaving the doors of their homes open for the coming of Elijah. On that day Elijah came, but not to the Jewish homes, but to the Temple in the village of Kirtland … to two humble servants of the Lord” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. , 3:84).
“Elijah’s return to earth occurred at the first temple built in this dispensation, where he and other heavenly messengers, under direction of the Lord, entrusted special keys of priesthood authority to the restored Church. …
“With that, natural affection between generations began to be enriched. This restoration was accompanied by what is sometimes called the Spirit of Elijah—a manifestation of the Holy Ghost bearing witness of the divine nature of the family. Hence, people throughout the world, regardless of religious affiliation, are gathering records of deceased relatives at an ever-increasing rate.
“Elijah came not only to stimulate research for ancestors. He also enabled families to be eternally linked beyond the bounds of mortality. Indeed, the opportunity for families to be sealed forever is the real reason for our research” (Russell M. Nelson, in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 43; or Ensign, May 1998, 34).
In what ways do temple ordinances turn our hearts to our ancestors who have died? In what ways can temple ordinances turn our hearts to our family members who are still alive?
Ask students to share how their lives have been blessed or can be blessed because of temple ordinances. Invite them to ponder what they can do to fulfill their obligations toward their ancestors.
Share your testimony regarding the blessings that result from temple ordinances.
Give students a few minutes to write questions that can be answered using 3 Nephi 26:7–11. Instruct them to save their questions until later in the lesson.
Read the statement by President Spencer W. Kimball on page 336 in the student manual.
What can we learn from President Kimball’s statement?
Why should we study and follow that which has been revealed before we expect to receive more?
Ask a student to read 3 Nephi 26:7–11. Then invite a few students to read the questions they previously wrote regarding these verses. Have the rest of the students look in 3 Nephi 26:7–11 for answers to these questions. After a discussion of the students’ questions, you may want to ask the following:
How does having “a lesser part” try our faith?
What must we do in order to have the “greater things” manifest to us?
Which article of faith best parallels the principle taught in 3 Nephi 26:9–10?
Share the following statement by Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (also available on the companion DVD B):
“Just as there will be many more Church members, families, wards, stakes, and temples—later on, there will also be many more nourishing and inspiring scriptures. However, we must first feast worthily upon that which we already have!” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 70; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 52).
Ask students to think about an experience when they were able to learn greater truths because they were faithful to the truths they had already been given. Invite them to share their experiences.