In the summer of 1831, while the Prophet Joseph Smith was overseeing the dedication of the land where the Saints were to build Zion in Independence, Missouri, some Church members turned away from the Lord’s commandments and committed serious sins. The Prophet returned to Kirtland, Ohio, on August 27, and on August 30 he received the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 63. In this revelation the Lord warned the Saints about the consequences of wickedness and rebellion, promised blessings to the Saints who are faithful in the last days, and exhorted His servants to remember the sacredness of His name.
Why do you think it is important that we live according to our beliefs as members of the Church of Jesus Christ?
Review the introduction to this lesson. Then read Doctrine and Covenants 63:1–2, 6, looking for what the Lord told the wicked and the rebellious.
Why do you think it is important that Church members open their hearts and listen to the Lord’s words?
Notice the phrase “let the unbelieving hold their lips” (D&C 63:6). At this time, some Church members had stopped believing in the truthfulness of the Church and were publicly speaking out against Joseph Smith and other Church leaders. One of the most vocal critics of the Church was a man named Ezra Booth.
Before joining the Church, Ezra Booth was a Methodist minister. He became interested in the Restoration in early 1831 after reading from the Book of Mormon. He traveled to Kirtland with John and Alice Johnson to meet the Prophet. Mrs. Johnson suffered from rheumatism, which had caused pain, swelling, and stiffness in her arm. When she first met Joseph Smith, she had not been able to raise her hand to her head for about two years.
“During the interview the conversation turned on the subject of supernatural gifts, such as were conferred in the days of the apostles. Some one said, ‘Here is Mrs. Johnson with a lame arm; has God given any power to man now on the earth to cure her?’ A few moments later, when the conversation had turned in another direction, [Joseph] Smith rose, and walking across the room, taking Mrs. Johnson by the hand, said in the most solemn and impressive manner: ‘Woman, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ I command thee to be whole,’ and immediately left the room. … Mrs. Johnson at once lifted [her arm] up with ease, and on her return home the next day she was able to do her washing without difficulty or pain” (from Haydn’s History of the Disciples, quoted in History of the Church, 1:215–16).
Think about how you might feel if you witnessed a miracle like this.
Soon after Ezra Booth witnessed this miracle, he was baptized.
Read Doctrine and Covenants 63:7–9, and identify what the Lord taught about signs and faith. Then complete the following principle: Faith does not come by .
After Ezra Booth was baptized, he received the priesthood and was sent on a mission to Missouri. He apparently began this mission with great expectations, assuming he would be able to convert many people by displaying signs and performing miracles. However, after preaching for a short time and not seeing the results he anticipated, Ezra Booth “turned away” and apostatized (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 1:216). The Prophet Joseph Smith made the following observation about Ezra Booth: “When he actually learned that faith, humility, patience, and tribulation go before blessing, and that God brings low before He exalts; that instead of the ‘Savior’s granting him power to smite men and make them believe,’ … then he was disappointed” (in History of the Church, 1:216).
Read Doctrine and Covenants 63:10–12, looking for additional principles about signs and faith. You may want to mark words or phrases in verse 10 that teach the following principle: Signs come by faith, according to the will of God.
In your scripture study journal, explain why you think we receive signs after we have exercised faith. List one or two examples from the scriptures of people who witnessed great signs or miracles but did not demonstrate lasting faith or righteousness. (If you need help, see 1 Nephi 17:43–45.)
It is helpful to remember that signs and wonders are not always outwardly spectacular. Often we may receive a sign or a witness of the truthfulness of the gospel in a quiet, personal way as we exercise faith. We can exercise faith by praying, studying the scriptures, fasting, giving service, and living the principles of the gospel.
In your scripture study journal, write how exercising faith has helped you or someone you know receive a witness of the truthfulness of the gospel.
As mentioned above, in addition to seeking signs, some Church members had also “turned away from [the] commandments” (D&C 63:13) and were committing serious sins. Read Doctrine and Covenants 63:14–19, and identify some of the sins they had committed. It may help you to understand verse 17 if you understand the following: A whoremonger is a person who participates in sexual sin. A sorcerer is someone who participates in activities that invite the influence of evil spirits. The phrase “lake which burneth with fire and brimstone” is used as a metaphor for the state of severe misery awaiting the wicked after they die (see Mosiah 3:27). This is also to what “the second death” in Doctrine and Covenants 63:17 is referring (see also Guide to the Scriptures, “Death, Spiritual,” scriptures.lds.org).
You may want to mark words in Doctrine and Covenants 63:16 that teach the following principle: If we look upon others with lust, we will not have the Spirit, but we will deny the faith. Lusting includes looking at pornography.
In the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 63, the Lord spoke of the destruction that will come upon the wicked in the last days, but He also made powerful promises to the Saints.
As you learn about the destruction and promises the Lord spoke of, answer the following statements by marking them true (T) or false (F) after reading the associated scripture references. You may want to mark in your scriptures important principles you learn as you complete this assignment.
____ 1. During the wars in the last days, wicked people will destroy one another. (See D&C 63:32–33.)
____ 2. The Saints will easily escape all of the judgments and destructions of the last days. (See D&C 63:34.)
____ 3. When Jesus Christ comes again, He will destroy any wicked people who are still on the earth. (See D&C 63:34.)
____ 4. Those who are faithful will eventually overcome all the challenges of this life. (See D&C 63:47–48.)
____ 5. Righteous people who die before the Second Coming will be resurrected when the Savior comes to the earth. (See D&C 63:49.)
____ 6. Righteous people who are living on the earth at the time of the Second Coming will never die. (See D&C 63:50–51.)
Statement 1 is true, and statement 2 is false. The following statement from the Prophet Joseph Smith explains why statement 2 is false: “It is a false idea that the Saints will escape all the judgments, whilst the wicked suffer; for all flesh is subject to suffer, and ‘the righteous shall hardly escape;’ still many of the Saints will escape, for the just shall live by faith; yet many of the righteous shall fall a prey to disease, to pestilence, etc., by reason of the weakness of the flesh, and yet be saved in the Kingdom of God” (in History of the Church, 4:11).
Statements 3–5 are true, and statement 6 is false.
Doctrine and Covenants 63:47 contains a promise from the Lord. Complete the following principle based on this verse: If we are , then we will .
In what ways can the Lord help you “overcome the world” in your daily life?
As the Prophet Joseph Smith explained, we will not be able to escape all of the difficulties that come in the world in this life. However, if we are righteous, we will “yet be saved in the Kingdom of God” (in History of the Church, 4:11). Study Doctrine and Covenants 63:49, looking for blessings received by those who faithfully overcome the world.
One way we can demonstrate our faithfulness is through the way we use the Lord’s name, as explained in Doctrine and Covenants 63:59–64. As you study these verses, look for words and phrases that teach the following principle: The name of Jesus Christ is sacred and must be spoken with care. You may want to mark in your scriptures the words and phrases that teach this principle.
In your scripture study journal, list some situations when you might appropriately use the name of Jesus Christ. Then answer the following questions:
Why do you think we use the Savior’s name when we pray and testify and perform priesthood ordinances?
When you use the Savior’s name, what can you do to remember that it is sacred and must be spoken with care?
This principle does not apply only to the name of the Savior. Think about some other words or subjects that “come from above” and are sacred. Then think about how you can make sure you speak about them “with care.”
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that the principle you have learned about the name of Jesus Christ also applies to the name of Heavenly Father: “There are no more sacred or significant words in all of our language than the names of God the Father and his Son, Jesus Christ” (“Reverent and Clean,” Ensign, May 1986, 50).
Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 63 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: