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
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.
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.
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 , 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.
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.
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).
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)
“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.
What are some ways you have found it “practicable”—or realistic—to share the gospel among their other responsibilities?
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.
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 does the Lord promise to those who faithfully proclaim His gospel?
“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 , 259).