At a conference of the Church held on January 25, 1832, the Prophet Joseph Smith received two revelations, which are both found in Doctrine and Covenants 75. The first revelation, recorded in verses 1–22, was given to a group of elders who had submitted their names for missionary service. The Lord instructed these elders concerning their missionary duties and assigned them mission companions. The second revelation, recorded in verses 23–36, was given to a second group of elders who wanted to know the Lord’s will concerning them. The Lord instructed these elders to ensure their families would be provided for and to accept a call to preach the gospel.
Suggestions for Teaching
The Lord addresses those who desire to preach the gospel
A few days before you teach this lesson, invite a student who has received a mission call, a student who may soon submit an application to serve a mission, or a recently returned missionary to help teach about sharing the gospel. Give the person a copy of the following teaching outline, and ask him or her to study Doctrine and Covenants 75:1–4 and prepare to teach that part of the lesson.
Following the class devotional, turn the time over to the student or returned missionary to teach what he or she prepared.
Suggested Teaching Outline for Doctrine and Covenants 75:1–4
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 75:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for whom the Lord was addressing in these verses.
Ask: Whom was the Lord speaking to in these verses? (Elders who had submitted their names for missionary work.)
Tell the class that there are actually two revelations combined in Doctrine and Covenants 75 and that they were given at a conference of the Church. The first revelation was given to a group of missionaries and explained how they could be more effective in helping others understand their message.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 75:3–4 aloud. Ask the class to look for the Lord’s counsel to the elders concerning their calling to preach the gospel. You may want to suggest that students mark what they discover in their scriptures.
Ask: According to verses 3–4, what did the Lord want the elders to do while preaching the gospel?
Invite a few students to explain what they think the phrases “go forth and not tarry,” “neither be idle,” and “labor with your might” mean.
After class members have responded, explain why you think those called to proclaim the gospel must know and teach the revelations and commandments the Lord has given us (see verse 4).
Ask: Why do you think it is important that the Lord’s missionaries serve Him in these ways?
Share with the class what you are doing (or what you did, if you have served a mission) to prepare to proclaim the gospel in the manner that the Lord described in Doctrine and Covenants 75:3–4. Conclude by sharing your thoughts on what the students can do to share the gospel in this manner at this time in their lives.
After the student or returned missionary has finished teaching, write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, the Lord will …
Ask students to read Doctrine and Covenants 75:5 silently and identify the promises the Lord gave to those missionaries.
What did the Lord promise to those who faithfully proclaim His gospel?
You may need to explain that the word sheaves refers to cutting stalks of grain and then tying them into bundles, or sheaves. Having “many sheaves” means having an abundant harvest.
What could be some of the “sheaves” that missionaries who are faithful in sharing the gospel receive? (The sheaves could refer to the people who accept their message [converts] as well as the eternal blessings listed in verse 5.)
Ask students to summarize the promises contained in Doctrine and Covenants 75:5 by completing the principle statement on the board. The following is one way students might phrase this principle: If we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, the Lord will bless us with honor, glory, and eternal life.
Why do you think those who faithfully proclaim the gospel will receive such great eternal blessings?
The Lord calls and instructs missionary companionships
Explain that after the Lord gave instructions and promises to the elders who were going to serve missions, He grouped them into companionships and gave each companionship specific instructions.
Divide students into pairs. Ask one student in each pair to silently read Doctrine and Covenants 75:6–12 and the other student to read verses 13–14. Ask them to look for answers to the following questions as they read:
To whom was the Lord speaking?
What blessing did the Lord promise them if they were faithful in proclaiming the gospel?
After students have read their assigned verses, invite them to share with their partner the answers to the questions above.
What additional counsel did the Lord give to William E. McLellin and Luke Johnson in verses 8–11 that can help us effectively proclaim the gospel? (Pray to receive the Comforter—the Holy Ghost—to teach us and for strength to remain faithful.)
Ask students to express a principle they learn from these verses. Although students may use other words, they should be able to identify the following principle: If we are faithful in proclaiming the gospel, the Lord will be with us.
What experiences have you or someone you know had that have assured you that the Lord will be with those who faithfully share His gospel with others?
Invite students to consider what they would say to a friend or family member who was struggling while serving a full-time mission. Ask them to use the principles they have learned in the lesson today and write a short letter of encouragement to that missionary in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Invite the students to share in the letter what missionaries can do to more faithfully proclaim the gospel and what some of the blessings are that come to those who do so.
After students have had enough time to write their letters, ask a few of them to share what they wrote.
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 75:15–22 by explaining that the Lord instructed the missionaries to bless the households of those who received them. He also taught them what to do when they were rejected by those with whom they shared the gospel. (You may want to explain that shaking off the dust of the feet as a testimony against those who reject the missionaries and their message is performed only in rare circumstances when the Lord expressly commands it.)
The Lord explains how the families of those He called to serve missions should be supported
Explain that the second revelation contained in Doctrine and Covenants 75 was given to a different group of elders. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 75:23 aloud, and ask the class to look for what these elders desired to know.
Explain that in the early years of the Church many men who were called to serve missions had wives and children who depended on them for support. Accepting the call to serve was a great sacrifice for the whole family. A natural concern for many elders would have been what would happen to their families if they accepted a call to preach the gospel far from home.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 75:24–28 aloud. Invite the class to look for the Lord’s instructions to the elders who were needed to preach the gospel but had families to care for.
According to verse 24, when a husband and father served a full-time mission, who should help support his family?
In verse 26, what did the Lord direct the elders to do if they were able to find a place where their families would be supported?
In verse 28, what did the Lord say to those whose circumstances would not allow them to leave their families to proclaim the gospel?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 75:29 aloud. Ask the class to look for the counsel the Lord gave to all of these men. It may be helpful to explain that an idler is an individual who is unwilling to work.
What phrase in verse 29 could you use to summarize the Lord’s counsel to the elders who were able to serve missions and those who needed to stay home to care for their families? (“Let every man be diligent in all things.” Make sure students understand that this phrase applies to all of us and that the Lord commands us to be diligent in all things.)
What does it mean to “be diligent in all things”? (To be consistent, persistent, attentive, and hardworking.)
The Lord assigns elders to serve as missionary companions
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 75:30–36 by explaining that at the end of this revelation, the Lord assigned more missionary companionships.
Conclude the lesson by inviting students to write what they can do today to be more diligent in their service to the Lord. Invite one or two students to share their thoughts and testimonies of the principles discussed in class today.
Commentary and Background Information
Doctrine and Covenants 75:6–12. William E. McLellin’s response to the call to proclaim the gospel
On October 29, 1831, William E. McLellin received a call to serve a mission to the eastern United States, and Samuel H. Smith was called as his companion (see D&C 66:5–8). William McLellin responded to the call; however, he ended his mission early and returned to Kirtland, Ohio, at the end of December 1831.
As found in Doctrine and Covenants 75:6–13, the Lord rebuked William E. McLellin for his murmurings, revoked the call to serve in the eastern states, and called Orson Hyde to replace him as Samuel Smith’s companion. However, the Lord mercifully extended another call for Brother McLellin to proclaim the gospel in the southern United States with Luke Johnson as his companion. Brother McLellin accepted the call to serve, but he did not continue faithfully. He soon claimed to be too sick to continue his mission. After leaving his mission, he traveled to Hiram, Ohio, and married Emiline Miller.
After serving additional missions and serving for a time as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, William E. McLellin was excommunicated on May 11, 1838, after confessing that he had stopped praying and keeping the commandments.
Doctrine and Covenants 75:20–22. “Shake off the dust of your feet”
The action of shaking or cleansing the dust from one’s feet is a testimony against those who refuse to accept the gospel (see D&C 24:15; 60:15; 84:92; 99:4). President Joseph Fielding Smith explained:
“When our Lord sent forth his disciples to proclaim the Gospel message he instructed them to shake off the dust of their feet as a testimony against those who opposed them. Likewise … the Lord instructed the elders that they had the same privilege. … The cleansing of their feet, either by washing or wiping off the dust, would be recorded in heaven as a testimony against the wicked. This act, however, was not to be performed in the presence of the offenders, ‘lest thou provoke them, but in secret, and wash thy feet, as a testimony against them in the day of judgment’ [D&C 60:15]. The missionaries of the Church who faithfully perform their duty are under the obligation of leaving their testimony with all with whom they come in contact in their work. This testimony will stand as a witness against those who reject the message, at the judgment” (Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. , 1:223; see also Commentary and Background Information for D&C 24:15 in lesson 31).
The dusting of one’s feet serves as a testimony against those who completely reject the Lord’s authorized servants. It is performed only in rare circumstances when the Lord expressly commands it. This act also serves as a witness of their rejection and that those who preached the gospel to them are no longer responsible for them before the Lord.