4 Nephi – Descent to Depravity

[sample of student work – to see up close, simply click on the picture]

Today our block of scripture was 4 Nephi.

I distributed a descending stairway that my husband and I had created. As a class, we were going to analyze step-by-step Mormon’s brief record of the Nephites/Lamanites 300-year descent into depravity. He takes only one chapter to do it.

We read the verses one by one and each student made notes of the downward steps the Nephites took over these three centuries. Four prophets recorded this descent, from which Mormon made his summary.

I think this activity was one of the most potent we have done all year. As the students saw the very first step down the stairs (that of “revolt” recorded in verse 20), we discussed how all opposition to God and his ways begins with a revolt against truth. It is the first step. It always has been. It always will be.

We read out loud each and every verse of this entire chapter, the students taking turns. Periodically we would stop to discuss a point or to hear the student’s thoughts and to let them make notes as each descent into sin was recorded by Mormon. We also noticed that there were three verses which could function as the equivalent of an equals sign in math.

Verse 18 was the first “=” sign we noticed…where Mormon explains that righteous living brings about blessings in all things.

Verse 28 seemed to be another “=” sign…where Mormon seems to point out that these downward steps open up Satan’s power over the hearts of man.

And finally, verses 42-46 delineate the final group of Nephites who succumbed to wickedness. Mormon then records that was when the disciples felt sorrow. Sorrow for the sins of the world – NOT sorrow for having been imprisoned themselves and being persecuted. But sorrow for the sins of the world.

Again, it was an interesting perspective shared in class that it wasn’t until the general members of the church succumbed, that the disciples of Christ then felt sorrow. Not while they themselves were being cast into prison. Not while they were being murdered. No. Mormons records that the disciples of Christ felt sorrow when the body of the church joined with those who hated God in all his forms. It was an interesting point raised.

By the end of the class, there was a different feeling in the air. Again, I think this will be one of the most memorable experiences these students will have had this year. I could see it in their faces and feel it in the air.

These students are deep thinkers and more valiant than so many people might think youth could be. I’m grateful for the association.

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Until tomorrow,

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