2013 Book of Mormon: Chapter 3 (Institute lesson by hgellor)
DOCTRINES AND PRINCIPLES IN THIS LESSON:
•The Book of Mormon was written to persuade people to come unto Jesus
Christ (see 1 Nephi6).
•Marriage in the covenant is designed to raise up children to the Lord (see 1
•To receive eternal life, we must come unto Jesus Christ (see 1 Nephi 8; 11).
•By the power of the Holy Ghost, God reveals truth to all those who diligently
seek Him (see 1 Nephi 10:17–22; 11:1–8).
1 Nephi 6-11
The Book of Mormon was written to persuade people
to come unto Jesus Christ. 1 Nephi 6
What was Nephi’s intent in writing his record?
1 Nephi 6:4 For the fulness of
mine intent is that I may
persuade men to come unto
the God of Abraham, and the
God of Isaac, and the God of
Jacob, and be saved.
President [Ezra Taft] Benson explained that the phrase “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and
the God of Jacob,” refers to the Savior: “We must keep in mind who Jesus was before He was born.
He was the Creator of all things, the great Jehovah, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the
world, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He was and is the Holy One of Israel” (“Five Marks of
the Divinity of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Dec. 2001, 10).
What has the Book of Mormon taught you about Jesus Christ?
1 Nephi 6
5 Wherefore, the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write, but the things
which are pleasing unto God and unto those who are not of the world.
6 Wherefore, I shall give commandment unto my seed, that they shall not occupy these
plates with things which are not of worth unto the children of men.
“the things which are pleasing unto the world I do not write”
“The Book of Mormon is not to be peddled for
entertainment or TV fare. It's not meant to be
diverting. Mark Twain said, 'It's simply chloroform in
print.' Most people can't even get through it; they
think it's the dullest book in the world. We know it's
anything but that, but it isn't written as a best seller.
It isn't written for the sake of the story or the
thrills...When you pick up the Book of Mormon, you
[have to] shift your mind into another gear..."
(Teachings of the Book of Mormon--Semester 1:
Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book
of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988-
1990, p. 171.)
Neal A. Maxwell:
"No wonder these scriptures fail to please or to
impress the world. There are those who prefer
details on ancient agriculture to the 'bread of
life,' who prefer information on the rising of
dynasties to insights on the rising of Jesus from
the tomb. Perhaps this is so because the former
type of data is very interesting without being
very demanding. The second type demands both
faith and, thereafter, a certain behavior." (But for
a Small Moment, p. 38)
If you are keeping a journal, what do you
write in it?
The Plates of Nephi, which were of two kinds: the small plates and the
large plates. The former were more particularly devoted to spiritual
matters and the ministry and teachings of the prophets, while the latter
were occupied mostly by a secular history of the peoples concerned (1
Nephi 9:2–4). From the time of Mosiah, however, the large plates also
included items of major spiritual importance. (see Student Manual, p408
and 1 Nephi 6 and 9)
The Plates of Nephi (see 1 Ne 9:2-4)
SMALL PLATES LARGE PLATES
• contain the sacred history of [Nephi’s] people—
the ministry of the prophets and the revelations
of the Lord
• referred to as “these plates”
• contain the secular history – kings, wars,
contentions of Nephi’s people
• referred to as “other plates”
• 1–2 Nephi, Jacob,Enos, Jarom, Omni
•Lehi, Mosiah, Alma,Helaman, 3–4 Nephi
• abridged by Mormon
“I would like to move now to a discussion of Nephi as a record keeper. The writings of Nephi set
the pattern for the people of Nephi for a thousand years, and they provided the basic records
underlying the Nephite tradition of writing. The principle records created by Nephi were called
the plates of Nephi and are distinguished by us as the large plates of Nephi. (Now, that is not what
Nephi called them. That is what we call them, to distinguish them from other plates.) Nephi had
received the commandment to make these plates shortly after the family's arrival in the promised
land, which was approximately ten to twelve years after Lehi's group left Jerusalem. Any records
Nephi was keeping before were kept in some other manner. The plates Mormon used in his
compilation were not begun until ten to twelve years after they left Jerusalem. That record, Nephi
said, contained the book of Lehi, or Lehi's account. In it Nephi also put the more detailed history
of his people, including their wars, contentions, and prophecies (the prophecies of his father and
his own prophecies).
“This record is passed on from one king to another, becoming the official record of the Nephite
people for centuries. Finally, Mormon abridges it to produce the Book of Mormon. However, as I
already mentioned, the first 116 pages of translation of this abridgement were lost and not
retranslated. Instead, the Lord instructed Joseph Smith to translate Nephi's second record, which
covers approximately the same time period as the lost manuscript. What did Nephi call this
second record? Do you remember? He calls it by the same name as the first record—the plates of
Nephi. It might surprise us that they both have the same name, so we call it the small plates of
Nephi so that we can keep the two straight.
Regarding when the Plates of Nephi were written…
“When did Nephi start writing the small plates, if he started writing the large plates ten years after
departure from Jerusalem? Anybody remember? Thirty years after the departure from
Jerusalem, Nephi received a special direction from the Lord. Look in 2 Nephi 5. Nephi was
instructed to begin a new record. At this point, Nephi is no longer the exceedingly young man who
was being taken from the Jerusalem environment. He is a mature prophet/king in the promised
land, probably in his fifties, and certainly in his sixties by the time he finished this record.
“It took Nephi ten years to write the first twenty-seven chapters (1 Nephi, plus the first five
chapters of 2 Nephi). In 2 Nephi 5:34, he says, "Forty years had passed away." So Nephi gives us a
time period in which this was written. He is looking backward. Nephi is already aware of the big
contention that has developed between the Nephites and the Lamanites, and this is what he is
dealing with in his record. This is not his journal being written by the campfire at the side of the
trail as his family went through the Arabian Peninsula. This is something he is writing very
carefully, very deliberately, thirty years later, looking back. He is using his first record as a
resource and writing with very clear, mature, reflective purposes.”
How do you feel about Nephi’s record keeping?
For you, how important is keeping a record?
“For a wise purpose”
1 Nephi 9
5 Wherefore, the Lord hath
commanded me to make
these plates for a wise
purpose in him, which
purpose I know not.
6 But the Lord knowethall
things from the beginning;
wherefore, he prepareth a
way to accomplish all his
works among the children
of men; for behold, he hath
all power unto the fulfilling
of all his words. And thus it
“Nephi knew why he had to leave Jerusalem. He
knew why he had to return to get the brass plates.
He knew why he had to kill Laban, and he knew why
he had to return for the family of Ishmael. But why
he had to make a duplicate record of his history and
a record of his ministry, he did not know. Yet, Nephi
is completely content to follow the commands of
the Lord without knowing His plans. How different
is that from the carnal man, who will never follow
an order unless he understands why? Nephi never
seems upset by the Lord's apparent silence on the
matter. He never demands a reason. He just
faithfully keeps the command of the Lord at
considerable personal sacrifice. Imagine how much
work it must have been for him to record
everything written in 1st and 2nd Nephi! Then
imagine how much we would have lost had he not
been faithful or was not content in the knowledge
that 'the Lord knoweth all things’”
The small plates of Nephi covered approximately the same time period (600 to 200 b.c.) as the first
records in the large plates. There was no apparent need for Mormon to include both in his
abridgment. But the Lord knew that the translation of the first records from the large plates would
be lost centuries later, when Martin Harris took 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript to
show to his family members and friends. After these 116 pages of the translation were lost, the
Lord instructed Joseph Smith not to retranslate the same records (D&C 10:8–14). These records
are not found in the Book of Mormon today. Instead, the same time period is described through
the account from the small plates.
Words of Mormon 1
6 But behold, I shall take these plates, which contain these prophesyings and revelations,
and put them with the remainder of my record, for they are choice unto me; and I know
they will be choice unto my brethren.
7 And I do this for a wise purpose; for thus it whispereth me, according to the workings of
the Spirit of the Lord which is in me. And now, I do not know all things; but the
Lordknowethall things which are to come; wherefore, heworkethin me to do according to
Later, Mormon also used the same phrase:
What can you learn in these passages?
Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual, “For a Wise Purpose”
Marriage in the covenant is designed to raise up children to the
Lord. 1 Nephi 7:1-5
1 Nephi 7:1 And now I would that ye might know, that after my father, Lehi, had made an end of
prophesying concerning his seed, it came to pass that the Lord spake unto him again, saying that it
was not meet for him, Lehi, that he should take his family into the wilderness alone; but that his sons
should take daughters to wife, that they might raise up seed unto the Lord in the land of promise.
What did the Lord say Lehi’s sons should do before going into the wilderness toward the land of
promise? What reason is given for this commandment?
What would help a husband and wife be
more likely to “raise up [children] unto the
How would a temple marriage contribute
to the raising of children “unto the Lord”?
What can you do now to prepare for that
kind of marriage?
Elder Richard G. Scott of the
Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“When you have the required age
and maturity, obtain all of the
ordinances of the temple you can
receive. If for the present that
does not include sealing in the
temple to a righteous
companion, live for it. Pray for it.
Exercise faith that you will obtain
it. Never do anything that would
make you unworthy of it. If you
have lost the vision of eternal
marriage, rekindle it” (in
Conference Report, Apr. 2001, 6;
or Ensign, May 2001, 7).
Just as the Lord made the marriage covenant a prerequisite before Lehi’s sons could go to the
promised land, He also has made it a requirement for exaltation in the highest degree of the celestial
kingdom (see D&C 131:1–3).
“THE ONE” YET?
LIVE FOR IT.
PRAY FOR IT.
To receive eternal life, we must come unto Jesus Christ.
1 Nephi 8, 11
(see 1 Nephi 8)
Art by LEHI SANCHEZ
How did Lehi and Nephi
describe the tree of life
and its fruit?
•“Most sweet, above all
that I ever before tasted”
(1 Ne 8:11)
•“White, to exceed all …
whiteness” (1 Ne
•“Desirable above all
other fruit” (1 Ne 8:12;
•Having “beauty …
exceeding of all beauty”
(1 Ne 11:8)
•“Precious above all”;
“most precious” (1 Ne
•“Most joyous to the
soul” (1 Ne 11:23; 8:10)
•“The greatest of all the
gifts of God” (1 Ne 15:36)
GROUP 1: 1 Nephi 8
List all the important
GROUP 2: 1 Nephi 11
List the interpretations of
the symbols in the dream
that was revealed to Nephi.
As we might observe in the vision (1 Nephi 8), there were at least 6 different groups of
people that were described:
People who have partaken of the fruit
but were later ashamed (v.24-25)
People in the great and spacious building
who mock and point fingers at those who
were partaking the fruit (v.27)
People who pressed forward,
continually holding fast to the iron rod
until they partook of the fruit (v.30)
People who are feeling their way
towards the great and spacious
building (v.31) –they probably didn’t
even bother starting on the path. People who drowned in the fountain (v.32)
People who were lost (from the start
or after the mist (v.23)) from [Lehi’s ]
view, wandering in strange roads (v.32)
In your opinion, why is the tree an appropriate symbol of the love of God?
When Nephi asked to know the interpretation of the tree, the Spirit showed him the Savior’s
birth and ministry. How do the life and mission of the Savior reveal God’s love for us?
In your opinion, why is the fruit an appropriate symbol for the blessings of the Atonement?
What might be some “mists of darkness” today? How do these mists lead people into
How might these influences prevent people from coming to the Savior?
Why would the people in the “great and spacious building” be able to convince some people
to leave the tree of life? What are some modern-day examples of the building? How can we
receive strength to withstand persecution?
How did some people make it through the mist of darkness to the tree of life?
Where can we find the word of God? How does the word of God keep us from danger? How
does the word of God lead us to the Savior?
By the power of the Holy Ghost, God reveals truth
to all those who diligently seek Him. 1 Nephi 10:17-22; 11:1-8
1 Nephi 11
1 For it came to pass after I had desired to know the things that my father had seen, and
believing that the Lord was able to make them known unto me, as I sat pondering in mine heart
I was caught away in the Spirit of the Lord, yea, into an exceedingly high mountain, which I
never had before seen, and upon which I never had before set my foot.
2 And the Spirit said unto me: Behold, whatdesirestthou?
3 And I said: I desire to behold the things which my father saw.
4 And the Spirit said unto me:Believestthou that thy father saw the tree of which he hath
5 And I said: Yea, thou knowest that I believe all the words of my father.
6 And when I had spoken these words, the Spirit cried with a loud voice, saying: Hosanna to the
Lord, the most high God; for he is God over all the earth, yea, even above all. And blessed art
thou, Nephi, because thoubelievestin the Son of the most high God; wherefore, thou shalt
behold the things which thou hast desired.
In 1 Nephi 11, the visions that Nephi had seen include:
v.14-20 v.27 v.28 v.30
One interesting phrase that deserves some attention is: “the condescension of God”
It does not appear anywhere in the scriptures with the exception of 1 Ne 11.
President Ezra Taft Benson:
When the great God of the universe condescended to be born of a mortal woman, He submitted
Himself to the infirmities of mortality to 'suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and
fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death' (Mosiah 3:7).
"...It is at the extremity of His suffering, His greatest condescension, that we witness the majesty of
His mission. It was at this time of His greatest humiliation and lowest state that He gave greatest
glory to His Father in Heaven and then signaled the completion of His mission by simply uttering the
words 'Father, it is finished, thy will is done' (JST, Matt. 27:50). Indeed, He had descended to fulfill
His Father's will.
'It means to descend or come down
from an exalted position to a place of
"...And so the angel said to Nephi, 'Knowest thou the condescension of
God?' (1 Ne. 11:16). I believe we know something of His condescension-as
God the Creator, Redeemer, Exemplar. For instance, we know:
•He descended to be born of a mortal woman, even though He was
glorified and exalted.
•He descended to be baptized of man, even though He was perfect and
•He descended to minister to the humblest of the humble, even though He
•He descended to subject Himself to the will of the Father, suffering Himself
to be tempted, mocked, scourged, cast out, and disowned, even though He
•He descended to be judged of the world, even though He was the Judge of
•He descended to be lifted on the cross and slain for the sins of the world,
even though no man could take away His life.
"So what does this mean for us? Our understanding of Christ's
condescension should take us beyond our feelings of awe and deep
gratitude. As members of His Church, being called to represent Him and
testify of Him, our great opportunity is to try to emulate Him." (Ensign, Dec.
Like Nephi, we can have spiritual experiences in
which divine truths are revealed to us. Those sacred
experiences will be unique to us and specific to our
Prophet Joseph Smith:
“No man can receive the Holy Ghost without
receiving revelations. The Holy Ghost is a revelator”
(in History of the Church, 6:58).
“Having a knowledge of God, we begin to know
how to approach Him, and how to ask so as to
receive an answer.
“When we understand the character of God, and
know how to come to Him, he begins to unfold the
heavens to us, and to tell us all about it. When we
are ready to come to him, he is ready to come to
us” (in History of the Church, 6:308).
How does the Holy Ghost reveal truth?
What can keep us from receiving the guidance of the Holy Ghost?
Doctrine and Covenants 8
2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall
come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.
3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses
brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that we must avoid
anything that offends the Spirit:
“The Spirit of the Lord usually communicates with us in ways that are quiet, delicate, and
“The standard is clear. If something we think, see, hear, or do distances us from the Holy
Ghost, then we should stop thinking, seeing, hearing, or doing that thing. If that which is
intended to entertain, for example, alienates us from the Holy Spirit, then certainly that type
of entertainment is not for us. Because the Spirit cannot abide that which is vulgar, crude, or
immodest, then clearly such things are not for us. Because we estrange the Spirit of the Lord
when we engage in activities we know we should shun, then such things definitely are not for
us” (in Conference Report, Apr. 2006, 29–30; or Ensign, May 2006, 29–30).