Lesson 4: The Things Which I Saw While I Was Carried Away in the Spirit

Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, (1999), 16–19


Purpose

To help class members understand Nephi’s vision of the future and how the warnings and promises in it apply to us today.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Read, ponder, and pray about the following scriptures:

    1. a.

      1 Nephi 12. Nephi sees in vision his descendants and the descendants of his brothers. He sees them war against each other and sees the wicked destroyed before the visit of the Savior. He sees them live righteously for a time following the visit of the Savior but then fall away into wickedness.

    2. b.

      1 Nephi 13. Nephi sees in vision the formation of the great and abominable church, the colonization of the Americas, the Apostasy, and the Restoration of the gospel in the last days.

    3. c.

      1 Nephi 14. Nephi sees in vision the blessings promised to the Gentiles who remain faithful, the cursing that will come to the Gentiles who do not remain faithful, and the ultimate victory of the Church of the Lamb of God over the great and abominable church.

  2. 2.

    If you use the attention activity, prepare the time line on a large piece of paper or posterboard or on the chalkboard.

Suggestions for Lesson Development

Attention Activity

As appropriate, use the following activity or one of your own to begin the lesson.

Refer to the following time line:

time line

Help class members place the following events on the time line. Depending on the knowledge of class members, you could write the dates on the time line and ask class members to identify the event that happened on each date. Or you could list the events on the chalkboard and ask class members to identify when each event happened.

  1. a.

    The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ (A.D. 33)

  2. b.

    The Great Apostasy (approximately A.D. 100 through A.D. 1800)

  3. c.

    The final battle between the Lamanites and the Nephites (about A.D. 385)

  4. d.

    The discovery of the Americas by Christopher Columbus (A.D. 1492)

  5. e.

    The Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ (A.D. 1820–present)

When class members have placed the events on the time line, explain that Nephi saw these events and others in his vision of the future.

Scripture Discussion and Application

Prayerfully select the scripture passages, questions, and other lesson material that will best meet class members’ needs. Discuss how the selected scriptures apply to daily life. Encourage class members to share appropriate experiences that relate to the scriptural principles.

1. Nephi sees the future of his descendants and his brothers’ descendants.

Discuss 1 Nephi 12. Invite class members to read selected verses aloud. Explain that in 1 Nephi 12, Nephi describes his vision of the future of his seed (his descendants) and the seed of his brothers. As you discuss this chapter, note how some symbols in the vision of the tree of life (the mist of darkness, the great and spacious building, and the river of filthy water) foreshadowed the downfall of Nephi’s seed.

  • How did Nephi describe the conditions on the earth that would precede the Savior’s visit to America? (See 1 Nephi 12:1–6.) How were these conditions similar to the conditions that will precede the Savior’s Second Coming? (See Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:27–37.) How did Nephi describe the conditions that would follow the Savior’s visit? (See 1 Nephi 12:11–12; see also the fulfillment of this prophecy, which is recorded in 4 Nephi 1:2–4.) What brought about this righteousness and peace? (See 4 Nephi 1:15.)

  • Nephi saw that after nearly four generations of righteousness, his seed and the seed of his brethren would again begin battling each other (1 Nephi 12:12–15). What did Nephi see happening to his descendants in these battles? (See 1 Nephi 12:19–20.) Why were Nephi’s descendants overpowered and destroyed? (See 1 Nephi 12:19.) How can pride and the temptations of the devil lead to destruction?

2. Nephi sees the formation of the great and abominable church, the colonization of the Americas, the Apostasy, and the Restoration of the gospel.

Read and discuss selected verses from 1 Nephi 13. Explain that 1 Nephi 13 is a record of Nephi’s vision of the following:

  1. a.

    The formation of the great and abominable church.

  2. b.

    The discovery and colonization of the Americas.

  3. c.

    The Apostasy and the loss of many plain and precious parts of the Bible.

  4. d.

    The coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the gospel.

The formation of the great and abominable church

  • What did Nephi see formed “among the nations of the Gentiles”? (See 1 Nephi 13:4–5.) Who is the founder of the great and abominable church? (See 1 Nephi 13:6.)

    Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “The titles church of the devil and great and abominable church are used to identify all churches or organizations of whatever name or nature—whether political, philosophical, educational, economic, social, fraternal, civic, or religious—which are designed to take men on a course that leads away from God and his laws and thus from salvation in the kingdom of God” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 137–38).

    Emphasize that the great and abominable church is a symbol of apostasy in all its forms. It is a representation of all false doctrine, false worship, and irreligious attitudes. It does not represent any specific church in the world today.

  • What are some of the characteristics of the “great and abominable church”? (See 1 Nephi 13:5–9. Answers may include that it weakens faith, desires worldly riches and sins, and seeks the praise of the world.) What symbol from the vision of the tree of life corresponds to the great and abominable church? (Compare 1 Nephi 13:5–9 with 1 Nephi 11:35–36.)

  • What evidence do you see of the great and abominable church working to destroy the Saints today? How can we ensure that we are not deceived by people or organizations that lead people away from God and His laws?

The discovery and colonization of the Americas

  • The Gentiles who “went forth … upon the many waters” are understood to be Christopher Columbus and other early explorers and settlers of the Americas (1 Nephi 13:12–13). What enabled these explorers and settlers to be successful in their endeavors? (See 1 Nephi 13:14–19.)

  • What role did these early explorers and settlers play in the Restoration of the gospel? (They prepared the way for the founding of the United States of America. The Constitution of the United States established freedoms regarding religion that were necessary for the Book of Mormon to be brought forth and the gospel to be restored. See D&C 101:77–80.)

The Apostasy and the loss of many plain and precious parts of the Bible

  • What was the book Nephi saw the Gentiles carrying? (See 1 Nephi 13:20–23. The Bible.) What did the great and abominable church do to this book? (See 1 Nephi 13:24–26.) Why? (See 1 Nephi 13:27.)

  • What consequences have resulted from the loss of “many plain and precious things” from the Bible? (See 1 Nephi 13:29.)

The coming forth of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration of the gospel

  • The Lord knew that the great and abominable church would try to destroy the word of God in the Bible. How did He ensure that His words would be preserved to come forth in the latter days? (See 1 Nephi 13:35–36.) What is this record that was kept by Nephi’s seed? (The Book of Mormon.)

  • What are the purposes of the Book of Mormon? (See 1 Nephi 13:40–41; see also Mormon 7:8–9; D&C 20:8–12. You may want to list class members’ responses on the chalkboard.) How have you seen these purposes fulfilled?

  • What are some doctrines that are difficult to understand in the Bible but plain and precious in the Book of Mormon? (Answers may include the Atonement, resurrection, and baptism. You may want to share examples of how these doctrines are taught clearly in the Book of Mormon. For example, you could have class members read Alma 11:42–45, which teaches plain and precious truths about the Atonement and resurrection, or 3 Nephi 11:21–26 and Moroni 8:11–12, which teach plain and precious truths about baptism.) How has the Book of Mormon helped make the Bible more understandable to you or increased your testimony of the Bible?

3. Nephi sees the blessings promised to the faithful; he also sees the destruction of the great and abominable church.

Read and discuss selected verses from 1 Nephi 14.

Divide the class into two groups. Have one group search 1 Nephi 14:1–7 to find the blessings promised to the Gentiles (non-Israelites) if they remain faithful to the Lord. Have the other group read the same verses to find the cursings promised to the Gentiles if they harden their hearts and turn away from the Lord. List these items on the chalkboard. Then ask:

  • What must we do to soften our hearts so that we can receive these blessings?

  • In what sense are there only two forces in the world today? (See 1 Nephi 14:10; 10:16.)

  • What will eventually happen to the great and abominable church? (See 1 Nephi 14:3–4, 15–17; 22:23.)

  • Nephi saw that even though the members of the Lord’s Church in the last days would be comparatively few, they would be able to overcome the persecution of the great and abominable church. What did Nephi see the Saints of God armed with? (See 1 Nephi 14:14.) How can we be “armed with righteousness and with the power of God”?

Conclusion

Explain that Nephi’s vision provides an overview of much that has occurred and will yet occur in the history of the earth. It also shows us that we must choose between only two options: following Jesus Christ or working against Him and thus following Satan. Remind class members that the blessings promised in 1 Nephi 14 are available to all of us if we choose to follow Jesus Christ.

As directed by the Spirit, testify of the truths discussed during the lesson.