Sunday School lessons for Gospel Doctrine Class

Sunday, July 4, 2021

“No Weapon That Is Formed against You Shall Prosper”


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Have you ever felt like you had to defend your belief in something to friends or family?  Have you ever felt that you had to defend your religious beliefs?  If so how was it different in defending your religious beliefs compared to other beliefs?  As Latter-day Saints, we come from a heritage of defense.  Joseph Smith even as a boy faced terrible critics, even enemies while trying to do God's work.  When one of our own though, attacks the prophet or leaders, it is particularly berating.  Joseph experienced this too as Ezra Booth publicly belittle him trying to destroy his character.  Ezra Booth had seen the prophet use the power of God to heal a woman, he had been invited to survey the land of Zion with him, he had enjoyed a relationship with Joseph that I am sure we all wish we could have been a part of, but he lost his faith and by doing so began to discredit the Prophet. He published a series of negative letters in an Ohio newspaper that were gaining a following.   He was discrediting the Prophet and this brought unfriendly feelings against the church in that area.  

 History and Background

Sections 71-75

In the fall of 1831, former Church members Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder tried to discredit the Church and its leaders and dissuade people from becoming members of the Church. They did so by speaking against the Church in public meetings and actively publishing anti-Mormon criticisms in local newspapers, which led to widespread antagonism. On December 1, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 71. In it, the Lord instructed Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to defend the Church and dispel falsehoods by proclaiming the gospel from the scriptures as guided by the Spirit.

After a month of preaching the gospel to dispel the falsehoods spread by Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder, Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon returned to Hiram, Ohio. On January 10, 1832, Joseph Smith received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 73, wherein the Lord instructed Joseph and Sydney to resume their translation of the Bible.

The revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 74 was received in 1830 before Joseph Smith moved to Ohio. It contains the Lord’s explanation of 1 Corinthians 7:14.

At a Church conference held on January 25, 1832, Joseph Smith received the two revelations recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 75 (verses 1–12 and 13–36). In these revelations, the Lord instructed the elders concerning their missionary duties and assigned them, mission companions.


Doctrine and Covenants 74 was received.October 1831

The Ohio Star newspaper began publishing nine letters from apostate Ezra Booth denouncing the Church and its leaders.November 1, 1831

A Church conference passed a resolution to publish the revelations of Joseph Smith as the Book of Commandments.December 1, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 71 was received.December 4, 1831

Doctrine and Covenants 72 was received.January 10, 1832

Doctrine and Covenants 73 was received.January 25, 1832

Doctrine and Covenants 75 was received.

Ezra Booth 
After returning from Missouri in September 1831, Ezra Booth began criticizing the Church and the Prophet Joseph Smith. At a conference of elders held on September 6, Ezra was prohibited “from preaching as an Elder in this Church” (in The Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, ed. Matthew C. Godfrey and others [2013], 61). Later that month, he and another dissident, Symonds Ryder, renounced their Church membership. In his letters to the Ohio Star, Ezra Booth denounced the Prophet Joseph Smith as an imposter, claiming that his revelations were a ploy to defraud people of their money. Joseph Smith’s history records that Booth’s letters, “by their coloring, falsity, and vain calculations to overthrow the work of the Lord, exposed [Booth’s] weakness, wickedness and folly, and left him a monument of his own shame for the world to wonder at” (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 154,

Symonds Ryder (or Simonds Rider) learned about the restored gospel from Ezra Booth. Symonds became a member of the Church after witnessing what he considered to be a miracle. Shortly after his baptism he was ordained an elder of the Church. Later accounts suggest that when he received an official commission to preach the gospel, he found that his name was misspelled on the certificate. Supposing that a revealed call would have been free from even small errors, Symonds began to question the extent of Joseph Smith’s prophetic inspiration. Symonds was further influenced by the failing faith of his close friend Ezra Booth, who returned disappointed from his mission to Missouri. More than anything else, his concerns over the principle of consecration seem to have led to his disaffection. (See A. S. Hayden, Early History of the Disciples in the Western Reserve, Ohio [1875], 220–21, 251–52.) After separating himself from the Church in the fall of 1831, Symonds Ryder gave copies of one of the Prophet Joseph Smith’s unpublished revelations to the Western Courier newspaper in an attempt to dissuade people from joining the Church. Ryder later claimed that new converts could learn from these revelations that “a plot was laid to take their property from them and place it under the control of Joseph Smith the prophet” (in Joseph Smith Papers, Documents, Volume 2: July 1831–January 1833, 144–45; see also Hayden, Early History of the Disciples, 221).

The Lord’s revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 71 came as a result of the agitation and negative publicity caused by Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder. 
(Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual) 


Part One Doctrine and Covenants 71 The Lord will confound critics of His work in His own time.

We may be concerned when we hear people criticizing or ridiculing the Church or its leaders, especially when we’re afraid people we know and love will be influenced by that criticism.  When the event in 1831 with Ezra Booth happened, the Lord's message to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon was one of faith, not fear.  The Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to respond to criticism of the Church by teaching the truths of the gospel “out of the scriptures, according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you” (D&C 71:1) This counsel serves as a pattern for all Church members when responding to those who criticize the Church and its teachings.

1 Behold, thus saith the Lord unto you my servants Joseph Smith, Jun., and Sidney Rigdon, that the time has verily come that it is necessary and expedient in me that you should open your mouths in proclaiming my gospel, the things of the kingdom, expounding the mysteries thereof out of the scriptures, according to that portion of Spirit and power which shall be given unto you, even as I will.

2 Verily I say unto you, proclaim unto the world in the regions round about, and in the church also, for the space of a season, even until it shall be made known unto you.

3 Verily this is a mission for a season, which I give unto you.

4 Wherefore, labor ye in my vineyard. Call upon the inhabitants of the earth, and bear record, and prepare the way for the commandments and revelations which are to come.

5 Now, behold this is wisdom; whoso readeth, let him understand and receive also;

6 For unto him that receiveth it shall be given more abundantly, even power.

7 Wherefore, confound your enemies; call upon them to meet you both in public and in private, and inasmuch as ye are faithful their shame shall be made manifest.

8 Wherefore, let them bring forth their strong reasons against the Lord.

9 Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you—there is no weapon that is formed against you shall prosper;

10 And if any man lift his voice against you he shall be confounded in mine own due time.

11 Wherefore, keep my commandments; they are true and faithful. Even so. Amen.

As you read and study this section of the Doctrine and Covenants what do you find that builds your faith in the Lord and His work? 

Why would sharing truths from the scriptures, as guided by the Spirit, be effective in responding to criticisms against the Church?

Elder Neal A. Maxwell (1926–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “The Lord has told us that ‘the sword of the Spirit … is the word of God’ (Ephesians 6:17); it can facilitate communication and penetrate as nothing else. Thus holy scripture and the words of living prophets occupy a privileged position; they are the key to teaching by the Spirit so that we communicate in what the Prophet Joseph Smith called ‘the language of inspiration’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1976], p. 56)” (“Teaching by the Spirit—‘The Language of Inspiration’” [address given at the Church Educational System Symposium, Aug. 15, 1991], 1).

What did the Lord instruct Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to do to calm the critical feelings toward the Church?

What principle can we learn from verse 1 about how we can respond when people criticize the Church and its leaders?
  When others criticize the Church, we can respond by sharing truths from the scriptures and following the guidance of the Spirit.

Why do you think it is important to respond to criticisms of the Church by sharing truths from the scriptures and following the guidance of the Spirit?  Following the Spirit’s guidance can help us respond to criticism while avoiding contention, which drives away the Spirit and often hardens others’ feelings.

Elder Robert D. Hales (1932–2017) the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, taught: “As we respond to others, each circumstance will be different. Fortunately, the Lord knows the hearts of our accusers and how we can most effectively respond to them. As true disciples seek guidance from the Spirit, they receive inspiration tailored to each encounter. And in every encounter, true disciples respond in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord” (Robert D. Hales, “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 73).

What impresses you about the instruction the Lord gave His servants in this situation?

**Point to Ponder:  Think about the importance of following the Savior’s example and the guidance of the Spirit when responding to those who criticize and attack the Church.

Part 2 Doctrine and Covenants 72:8–16 Bishops are stewards over the spiritual and temporal affairs of the Lord’s kingdom.

During this early period of organization, the Church was not divided into wards or branches with bishops or branch presidents presiding over each ward or branch as it is now. As of December 4, 1831, there were only two bishops—Bishop Edward Partridge in Missouri and Bishop Newel K. Whitney in Ohio. The responsibilities outlined by the Lord as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 72:9–19 related primarily to Bishop Whitney’s role under the law of consecration.

While we do not live the law of consecration in the same manner as the early Saints did, many of the duties outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 72 still apply to bishops today. Bishops are responsible for overseeing the distribution of food and supplies from bishops’ storehouses to members who are in need, and they receive and have responsibility for the funds of the Church in the form of tithing, fast offerings, and other donations (see D&C 72:10). Bishops serve as the Lord’s representatives when members render an account of their responsibilities and callings (see D&C 72:11). They look after the spiritual and temporal welfare of the Saints. In particular, they have a duty to seek out and care for the poor and needy within their ward boundaries (see D&C 72:11–12). As judges in Israel, bishops also have the solemn responsibility to determine and certify the worthiness of members to be baptized, receive the priesthood, serve missions, enter the house of the Lord, and serve in ward callings (see D&C 72:17). In addition, as common judges they are responsible for convening and conducting disciplinary councils in their ward in cases of serious transgression (see D&C 58:17–18). 
(Doctrine and Covenant Student  Manual) 

How can the Lord’s instructions to Newel K. Whitney, when he was called to be the bishop in Kirtland, help you appreciate the bishop who has been called to serve you?  (Doctrine and Covenants 72:8–16)

8 And now, verily I say unto you, my servant Newel K. Whitney is the man who shall be appointed and ordained unto this power. This is the will of the Lord your God, your Redeemer. Even so. Amen.

9 The word of the Lord, in addition to the law which has been given, making known the duty of the bishop who has been ordained unto the church in this part of the vineyard, which is verily this—

10 To keep the Lord’s storehouse; to receive the funds of the church in this part of the vineyard;

11 To take an account of the elders as before has been commanded; and to administer to their wants, who shall pay for that which they receive, inasmuch as they have wherewith to pay;

12 That this also may be consecrated to the good of the church, to the poor and needy.

13 And he who hath not wherewith to pay, an account shall be taken and handed over to the bishop of Zion, who shall pay the debt out of that which the Lord shall put into his hands.

14 And the labors of the faithful who labor in spiritual things, in administering the gospel and the things of the kingdom unto the church, and unto the world, shall answer the debt unto the bishop in Zion;

15 Thus it cometh out of the church, for according to the law every man that cometh up to Zion must lay all things before the bishop in Zion.

16 And now, verily I say unto you, that as every elder in this part of the vineyard must give an account of his stewardship unto the bishop in this part of the vineyard

In what ways have you or your family been blessed by the faithful service of a bishop or branch president?

What can we do to more fully sustain our bishop?  

President Gordon B. Hinckley taught:

“I carry in my heart a deep appreciation for our bishops. I am profoundly grateful for the revelation of the Almighty under which this office was created and functions. …

“… We expect you to stand as the presiding high priest of the ward, a counselor to the people, a defender and helper of those in trouble, a comfort to those in sorrow, a supplier to those in need. We expect you to stand as a guardian and protector of the doctrine that is taught in your ward, of the quality of the teaching, of the filling of the many offices which are necessary. …

“… You are to see that none goes hungry or without clothing or shelter. You must know the circumstances of all over whom you preside.

“You must be a comforter and a guide to your people. Your door must be ever open to any cries of distress. Your back must be strong in sharing their burdens. You must reach out in love even to the wrongdoer”
(“The Shepherds of the Flock,” Ensign, May 1999, 52–53).

Part Three Doctrine and Covenants 73  We can seek opportunities to share the gospel.

The Lord told Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to preach the gospel “inasmuch as it is practicable” (Doctrine and Covenants 73:4) while also working on the translation of the Bible.  After spending a month preaching the gospel in eastern Ohio, trying to counter the effects of Ezra Booth’s letters against the Church and its leaders, the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon returned to the John Johnson home in Hiram, Ohio. A few days later, on January 10, 1832, the Prophet dictated the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 73, “making known the will of the Lord” unto the elders of the Church until the convening of the next conference, which was held two weeks later (in Manuscript History of the Church, vol. A-1, page 179,

What are some ways you have found it “practicable”—or realistic—to share the gospel among their other responsibilities? 

The Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to resume working on the inspired translation of the Bible and to continue preaching locally until the next Church conference (see D&C 73:3–4). After the conference, however, they were to devote their time fully to “the work of translation until it be finished” (D&C 73:4). The Prophet and Sidney Rigdon worked diligently on the Bible translation from this time until July 2, 1833, when the translators wrote to the brethren in Missouri that they had, that day, completed the translation of the Bible. Portions of Joseph Smith’s translation are now contained in the Pearl of Great Price (the book of Moses and Joseph Smith—Matthew) and in increasingly more languages in the Latter-day Saint edition of the Bible. The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible had “a significant influence on the Church in the way it shaped the content of the Doctrine and Covenants. More than half of the current Doctrine and Covenants consists of revelations received during the three-year period in which Joseph Smith labored over the Bible translation. Many revelations were received as direct answers to questions Joseph was inspired to ask as his understanding of the gospel expanded during the effort to restore plain and precious parts of the Bible” (Elizabeth Maki, “Joseph Smith’s Bible Translation,” in Revelations in Context, 103, or

Part Four Doctrine and Covenants 75:2–16 God wants us to “labor with [our] might.”

The Lord’s instructions to several elders about how to share the gospel could inspire each of us to share the gospel more diligently.

2 Hearken, O ye who have given your names to go forth to proclaim my gospel, and to prune my vineyard.

3 Behold, I say unto you that it is my will that you should go forth and not tarry, neither be idle but labor with your might—

4 Lifting up your voices as with the sound of a trump, proclaiming the truth according to the revelations and commandments which I have given you.

5 And thus, if ye are faithful ye shall be laden with many sheaves, and crowned with honor, and glory, and immortality, and eternal life.

6 Therefore, verily I say unto my servant William E. McLellin, I revoke the commission which I gave unto him to go unto the eastern countries;

7 And I give unto him a new commission and a new commandment, in the which I, the Lord, chasten him for the murmurings of his heart;

8 And he sinned; nevertheless, I forgive him and say unto him again, Go ye into the south countries.

9 And let my servant Luke Johnson go with him, and proclaim the things which I have commanded them—

10 Calling on the name of the Lord for the Comforter, which shall teach them all things that are expedient for them—

11 Praying always that they faint not; and inasmuch as they do this, I will be with them even unto the end.

12 Behold, this is the will of the Lord your God concerning you. Even so. Amen.

13 And again, verily thus saith the Lord, let my servant Orson Hyde and my servant Samuel H. Smith take their journey into the eastern countries, and proclaim the things which I have commanded them; and inasmuch as they are faithful, lo, I will be with them even unto the end.

14 And again, verily I say unto my servant Lyman Johnson, and unto my servant Orson Pratt, they shall also take their journey into the eastern countries; and behold, and lo, I am with them also, even unto the end.

15 And again, I say unto my servant Asa Dodds, and unto my servant Calves Wilson, that they also shall take their journey unto the western countries, and proclaim my gospel, even as I have commanded them.

16 And he who is faithful shall overcome all things, and shall be lifted up at the last day.

What are some words and phrases that come to mind when you think of someone who labors with his or her might in sharing the gospel?  

What does it mean to “tarry” or “be idle” in sharing the gospel?  

What does Doctrine and Covenants 75:2–16 teach us about how the Savior supports those who serve Him faithfully?

What does the Lord promise to those who faithfully proclaim His gospel?

The Lord promised great blessings to those who faithfully proclaim the gospel, including honor, glory, and eternal life (see D&C 75:5). President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught of additional blessings that come to us as we faithfully share the gospel with others:

“Sharing the gospel brings peace and joy into our own lives, enlarges our own hearts and souls in behalf of others, increases our own faith, strengthens our own relationship with the Lord, and increases our own understanding of gospel truths.

“The Lord has promised great blessings to us in proportion to how well we share the gospel. We will receive help from the other side of the veil as the spiritual miracles occur. The Lord has told us that our sins will be forgiven more readily as we bring souls unto Christ and remain steadfast in bearing testimony to the world”
(Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball [2006], 259).


So, what would you do in a case like the one we've learned about with this lesson?  There is never any, one good answer, but it seems that often, including in this case that happened in 1831, a great deal of the Lord's answer is to defend the truth and correct falsehoods by proclaiming the gospel.  The Lord's work will always have critics, but in the end, nothing formed against it shall prosper.  Thus our lesson today is to help strengthen ourselves to defend the gospel by proclaiming it.   Think about a time when you, or someone you know, relied on the scriptures and the guidance of the Holy Ghost to respond to criticism of the Church and its teachings. Seeking the Spirit’s guidance to share truths from the scriptures when responding to those who criticize the Church and its teachings is a peaceful way to and God's way to handle adversity.


Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church
Doctrine and Covenants Commentary Hyrum Smith 
Revelations in Context Thechurchof
Church Educational System
History of the Church

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