Jacob relied on his testimony and the Lord to overcome the false ideas and arguments of Sherem, an anti-Christ. An anti-Christ is someone who vigorously or intensely opposes Christ and tries to destroy other people’s faith in Him, His true Church, His gospel, or the plan of salvation.
To thwart Sherem’s efforts, Jacob drew strength from past experiences that had increased his faith in Jesus Christ. He also relied on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, his knowledge of the scriptures and the words of the prophets, and his testimony of Jesus Christ. When Sherem demanded a sign that would prove Jacob’s words were true, he was smitten by God. Jacob concluded his record by describing how the Nephites trusted in the Lord as they fortified themselves against the Lamanites. Before Jacob died, he entrusted the small plates to his son Enos.
Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught: “One of mortality’s great tests comes when our beliefs are questioned or criticized. In such moments, we may want to respond aggressively. … But these are important opportunities to step back, pray, and follow the Savior’s example. Remember that Jesus Himself was despised and rejected by the world. … When we respond to our accusers as the Savior did, we not only become more Christlike, we invite others to feel His love and follow Him as well” (“Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 72).
Think of a time when your beliefs were questioned or criticized. As you study Jacob 7 you will learn how Jacob experienced criticism of his faith from a man named Sherem and how he successfully responded to this challenge.
Read Jacob 7:1–5, and look for words and phrases that indicate (1) what Sherem was trying to do and (2) how he sought to accomplish his goals. You may want to mark these in your scriptures.
According to Jacob 7:3, what effect did Sherem have on the people?
Notice in Jacob 7:4 that Sherem “was learned” and had “much power of speech.” Write in your scripture study journal why it is sometimes difficult to defend your faith against a person like Sherem.
Remember that not all people who question or criticize our faith necessarily have the same motives as Sherem. While some people, like Sherem, deliberately seek to destroy faith, others may question our faith because they are curious, or perhaps they have been misinformed concerning our beliefs.
As you read Jacob 7:5–14, ponder how you would respond to a person like Sherem. As you study Jacob’s response, you will see that as we rely on the Lord we can overcome challenges to our faith. You may want to write this principle in the margin of your scriptures near these verses. Look for ways Jacob demonstrated this principle in his encounter with Sherem.
In the chart below, read the verse or verses from Jacob 7:5–14 in the first column and match that reference to the statement in the second column that best describes how Jacob relied on the Lord in that reference. Write the letter of the statement on the line next to the scripture reference.
What Jacob Did to Rely on the Lord
You can check your answers to this matching activity by referring to the correct responses found at the end of this lesson.
How can you strengthen your testimony so that it will not be shaken when what you believe is questioned or criticized? Notice in Jacob 7:5 that Jacob demonstrated the following truth: We cannot be shaken in our faith if our testimonies are based on revelation and true spiritual experiences. Ponder the strength of your testimony of Jesus Christ and what you can do to strengthen it.
Jacob’s response to Sherem provides an example for us to follow as we respond to individuals who question or criticize our faith.
Answer three of the questions below in your scripture study journal to help you think about the things Jacob did to rely on the Lord and how these same actions have helped or can help you when others challenge your faith:
Notice in Jacob 7:5 that because of Jacob’s previous spiritual experiences his faith became unshakable. What are some experiences that have strengthened your faith? How can remembering or recording these experiences help you when someone questions or criticizes your faith?
In Jacob 7:8, Jacob stated that “the Lord God poured in his Spirit into my soul.” What do you need to do to be able to have the Spirit poured into your soul? How has the Holy Ghost helped you as you have dealt with questions or criticisms about your faith?
How can a daily habit of studying the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets help you in circumstances when others question or criticize your faith? (see Jacob 7:10–11).
When have you shared your testimony with someone who has questioned or criticized your faith? (see Jacob 7:12). What was the result?
Rather than seeking to prove the truthfulness of his testimony when Sherem sought for a sign, Jacob left the outcome in the Lord’s hands (see Jacob 7:14). How can it help you to know that you don’t need to prove the truthfulness of your testimony to those who challenge your faith?
Elder Robert D. Hales taught:
“When we do not retaliate—when we turn the other cheek and resist feelings of anger—we … stand with the Savior. We show forth His love, which is the only power that can subdue the adversary and answer our accusers without accusing them in return. That is not weakness. That is Christian courage.
“Through the years we learn that challenges to our faith are not new, and they aren’t likely to disappear soon. But true disciples of Christ see opportunity in the midst of opposition. …
“… 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” (“Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” 72–73).
What do you think it means to “see opportunity in the midst of opposition”?
Good can result as we respond to those who challenge our faith in ways that invite the Spirit of the Lord. Read Jacob 7:15–23, and look for the good that resulted from Jacob’s encounter with Sherem.
What evidence do you see in Jacob 7:21–22 that Jacob desired his experience with Sherem to help others?
According to Jacob 7:23, how did Jacob’s encounter with Sherem ultimately affect the multitude?
One principle we learn from Jacob’s encounter with Sherem is that as we respond to questions or criticisms of our faith in ways that invite the Spirit, we can help others turn to the Lord. Write answers to the following questions about this principle in your scripture study journal:
How can knowing this principle allow you to help others turn to the Lord?
How might you seek to apply this principle?
Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: What is one thing you will do to prepare for a time when someone challenges your faith?
If you have concerns about how to deal with specific questions or criticisms of your faith, study the manual True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, Elder Robert D. Hales’s general conference address “Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship” (Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 72–75), and other resources available on LDS.org and youth.lds.org.
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Jacob 7 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher:
Answers to the matching activity at the beginning of this lesson: 1) d, 2) c, 3) a, 4) e, 5) b.