Unit 15: Day 4

Doctrine and Covenants 69–71

“Unit 15: Day 4, Doctrine and Covenants 69–71,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2017)


Introduction

In late October or early November 1831, Oliver Cowdery received an assignment to carry the manuscript for the Book of Commandments from Ohio to Missouri. In Missouri, William W. Phelps would print the book at his press. On November 11, 1831, the Lord appointed John Whitmer to be Oliver’s traveling companion and commanded him to continue in his duties as Church historian (see D&C 69). The next day, the Lord appointed six men to serve as stewards over the revelations (see D&C 70). In December 1831, the Lord commanded the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to serve a mission to dispel unfriendly feelings against the Church and to prepare the way for the revelations and commandments that were to be published (see D&C 71).

Doctrine and Covenants 69

The Lord reveals the importance of keeping histories

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Has anyone ever trusted you to take care of something valuable? What was it? How did that trust influence how you cared for the thing of value?

Read the section introduction to Doctrine and Covenants 69, and mark what Oliver Cowdery was entrusted with.

If these valuable items were entrusted to you, how would you care for them?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 69:1–2, and find the counsel the Lord gave in regard to these valuable items.

Why do you think it was wise to have more than one person care for these valuable items?

The Lord trusted John Whitmer with another important responsibility, in addition to helping Oliver Cowdery transport the revelations and money to Missouri. Read Doctrine and Covenants 69:3–8, looking for another duty the Lord assigned to John Whitmer. You may want to mark what you find.

Review what Doctrine and Covenants 47 teaches about John Whitmer’s appointment as Church historian and recorder.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. According to Doctrine and Covenants 69:8, why was it important for John Whitmer to keep a history of the Church?

    2. Why would these be good reasons for you to keep a personal history?

Consider writing the following principle in the margin of your scriptures: The Lord expects histories to be kept for the good of the Church and the rising generation.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. In your opinion, how does keeping Church histories and personal histories benefit the Church?

    2. How might they benefit the rising generation?

  2. journal iconDo one or both of the following activities, and then write a summary of your experience in your scripture study journal:

    1. Think about an account from either Church history or your family history that has helped you in some way. Share this story with a family member or friend.

    2. Ask a family member to tell you a family history story that has benefitted him or her.

Doctrine and Covenants 70:1–4

The Savior appoints stewards to care for His revelations

The Prophet Joseph Smith also recorded a personal history. Read the section introduction for Doctrine and Covenants 70, and mark what Joseph Smith’s history says about the Doctrine and Covenants.

copies of Doctrine and Covenants in multiple languages
  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. What are some ways the Doctrine and Covenants is a benefit to the world?

    2. How has the Doctrine and Covenants benefitted you?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 70:1, and identify the six names mentioned. Then read Doctrine and Covenants 70:2–4, looking for the responsibility that the Lord gave these six men.

What do you think the phrase “an account of this stewardship will I require of them” (D&C 70:4) means? While the responsibilities that the Lord gives to us may not be the same type of stewardships as these men, what does this principle suggest about what the Lord will require of us at the day of judgment?

From what you have learned in these verses, fill in the blank to complete the following principle: The Lord will hold us for the duties He has entrusted to us.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. How might this principle influence the way we respond to Church callings and assignments?

    2. What are some of your responsibilities that the Lord will hold you accountable for?

Doctrine and Covenants 70:5–18

The Lord explains how to meet the temporal needs of those in full-time Church service

Doctrine and Covenants 70:5–18 teaches that the men entrusted to be stewards over the revelations and commandments were to make the printing and distribution of Church publications their employment. In our day, General Authorities of the Church give up their livelihoods to serve full-time, so they receive a modest living allowance—enough for them to support themselves and their families.

Why is it appropriate for Church leaders who are called to full-time service to receive compensation for their needs?

Doctrine and Covenants 71

The Lord teaches the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon how to respond to critics of the Church

Have you ever heard criticisms about the Church? What are appropriate ways to respond to criticism of the Church?

To help you understand the background of the revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 71, read the following paragraph. As you read, look for how the Church and its leaders were being criticized at the time this revelation was given.

Ezra Booth was a former Methodist minister who joined the Church after witnessing a healing. He traveled as a missionary to Missouri, but he was disappointed when he couldn’t perform miracles to convince others of the truth. In addition, Brother Booth did not believe that Joseph Smith’s conduct was appropriate for a prophet or a spiritual leader. He became highly critical of the Prophet Joseph Smith, left the Church, and wrote nine letters criticizing the Church and its leaders. These letters, published in a newspaper called the Ohio Star, led some people to develop unfriendly feelings toward the Church and its leaders. The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded that Ezra Booth’s writings were “a series of letters, which, by their coloring, falsity, and vain calculations to overthrow the work of the Lord, exposed [Ezra Booth’s] weakness, wickedness and folly, and left him a monument of his own shame, for the world to wonder at” (in History of the Church, 1:216–17).

Symonds Ryder, another disaffected Church member, gave copies of some of the revelations to another newspaper, attempting to discourage people from joining the Church. The agitation caused by Ezra Booth and Symonds Ryder grew into a serious problem.

Read Doctrine and Covenants 71:1–4, looking for what the Lord told the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to do to calm the unfriendly feelings that resulted from the newspaper articles.

Notice in verse 1 the manner in which Joseph and Sidney were to proclaim the gospel. What principle can we learn from this instruction about how to respond to criticism of the Church?

  1. journal iconAnswer the following question in your scripture study journal: What can you do now to prepare to respond to criticism against the Church or its leaders?

You may want to write the following principle in the margin of your scriptures next to Doctrine and Covenants 71:1: When people criticize the Church, we can respond by sharing truths from the scriptures and following the guidance of the Spirit.

Elder Robert D. Hales

Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained how the Spirit can help us respond to criticisms against the Church: “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” (“Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2008, 73).

Read Doctrine and Covenants 71:5–11, looking for counsel and comfort the Lord gave to the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon as they responded to criticism against the Church. Also look for the promises the Lord gave them in verses 7 and 10.

Note that this revelation directed two Church leaders—the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon—to meet with those who were attacking the Church in public and in private and to seek to confound those people in the lies they were spreading. Generally, this is the responsibility of Church leaders, unless priesthood leaders direct or assign others to do so. However, youth of the Church should be prepared to respond to falsehoods about the Church in the manner described by Elder Hales above.

Elder Robert D. Hales

Elder Hales also gave counsel concerning our attitude toward those who criticize the Church or its leaders: “As true disciples, our primary concern must be others’ welfare, not personal vindication. Questions and criticisms give us an opportunity to reach out to others and demonstrate that they matter to our Heavenly Father and to us. Our aim should be to help them understand the truth, not defend our egos or score points in a theological debate. Our heartfelt testimonies are the most powerful answer we can give our accusers. And such testimonies can only be borne in love and meekness” (“Christian Courage,” 73–74).

Sidney Rigdon obeyed the Lord’s counsel and invited Ezra Booth to join him in the town of Ravenna, Ohio, where they would publicly discuss the letters Ezra had sent to the newspaper. Sidney also challenged Symonds Ryder to a public debate on the Book of Mormon. Both men declined the invitations. Sidney still testified of the truth in Ravenna and other locations.

  1. journal iconAnswer the following questions in your scripture study journal:

    1. How might the teachings in Doctrine and Covenants 71:8–9 be comforting to those who respond to criticism against the Church?

    2. According to verse 10, why shouldn’t we be overly concerned when people are critical of the Church?

Consider what you will do to better prepare yourself to respond to criticism against the Church.

  1. journal iconWrite the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:

    I have studied Doctrine and Covenants 69–71 and completed this lesson on (date).

    Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: