To help students realize that God is in control and that His works, designs, and purposes cannot be frustrated (see D&C 3:3).
Before the Video
As God seeks to bring about His works, Satan constantly opposes them. When the Book of Mormon was being translated, Satan tried to prevent it from coming forth (see D&C 10:33). Help the students understand that the works of God will not be frustrated, because God’s wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil.
In order to get students thinking about how Satan opposes God’s plans, ask the following questions (do not provide insights or answers at this point in the lesson):
How much of a threat does Satan pose in our world today?
Does it ever seem that Satan is gaining ground in the world?
Is there a chance that Satan will win the war of good versus evil and triumph over the Lord and His plan of salvation?
Using the Video
The Work of God 13:26
“Look For” Activity
Have students look for evidences as they watch the video that God is in control and that His designs cannot be frustrated.
Show the Video
In this video, Martin Harris tells a young man about losing 116 pages of translated manuscript from the Book of Mormon. Although wicked men, prompted by Satan, conspired to alter the words of the manuscript, Martin stresses that God is in control and that His purposes cannot be frustrated—God will triumph and Satan will lose.
After the Video
Ask the students:
Did Satan succeed in his attempt to discredit Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon? Why not? (The Lord, knowing in advance what Satan would do, prepared a way to move His work along.)
What allows Satan to have influence on the mortal servants who uphold his work? (They choose to use their agency to sin; see also D&C 10:5, 19, 21.)
Refer again to the questions at the beginning of the lesson, and ask students if they have gained any additional insights to these questions. Have them read Doctrine and Covenants 3:1–3, and discuss what the Lord declares in these verses.
In order to understand more fully Satan’s effort to thwart the Lord and the Restoration, as well as the Lord’s plan to counter Satan’s attempt, read Doctrine and Covenants 10 with the students. Use the following questions and comments to help them understand:
Why would the Savior say he is wicked? (“At heart, Martin was not wicked and desired to do what was right. . . . His wickedness consisted in his selfish desire to gratify his own wish contrary to the will of the Lord, after he had been denied this request before it was granted. Moreover, he was wicked in that he violated a most sacred and solemn covenant and trust which he made with the Lord through the Prophet Joseph Smith” [Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 2 vols. (1953), 1:28].)
Joseph Smith was not without fault or sin during this time. How did Joseph sin? (Joseph set at naught the counsels of God [D&C 3:4], followed the persuasions of men [D&C 3:6], and feared man more than God [D&C 3:7]. It appears that Joseph gave in to pressure in an effort to appease Martin’s desire to show the 116 pages to some of his loved ones. Joseph had already asked the Lord twice to let Martin take the pages, and the Lord had refused both times.)
Verse 5: How can prayer help us conquer Satan and the servants who uphold his work?
How is it possible to pray always? (“Prayer does not consist of words, altogether. True, faithful, earnest prayer consists more in the feeling that rises from the heart and from the inward desire of our spirits to supplicate the Lord in humility and in faith, that we may receive his blessings” [Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine (1986), 219].)
Ask students to ponder how often they seek for answers in prayer. Ask them to consider how often they ask specific questions in prayer.
Verses 10–33: What was Satan’s evil design? (Tempt evil men to alter the words of the text of the 116 pages [vv. 10–11], tempt Joseph to ask the Lord for permission to translate the 116 pages over again [v. 15], and overpower Joseph’s testimony and keep the work from coming forth in this generation [vv. 12, 23, 33].)
Verse 19: What was the motivation for the evil men who stole and altered the manuscript? (The glory of the world.)
What kind of motivation do some people use to justify their sins? (Possible answers include selfishness, praise, and desire for acceptance among peers.)
Verses 22–29, 63: What are some of the tools Satan uses to get his servants to do his will? (Anger, deception, lies, flattery, contention.)
How successful are the servants of Satan? (They will be caught in their own snares [v. 26], they will face the justice of God [v. 28], they will be confounded [v. 42], they will not be allowed to destroy the work of God [v. 43].)
Verses 38–45: How did the Lord prepare to counter Satan’s efforts over two thousand years before the 116 pages of the manuscript were lost? (The Lord commanded Nephi to make two records covering the same time period: the large plates and the small plates of Nephi. Moroni included both accounts in the plates that Joseph Smith received. After the 116 pages derived from the large plates were lost, the Lord commanded Joseph to translate from the small plates. The small plates covered the same time period and contained greater spiritual views.)
Verses 55–70: We know that Satan cannot frustrate the works of God (D&C 3:1), but can he overpower us? What guarantee does the Savior give in verse 69 to those who follow Him? (“The gates of hell shall not prevail against them.”)
What are the conditions one must accept in order to receive the guarantee? (Belong to Christ’s Church [v. 55], fear the Lord and keep His commandments [v. 56], not wrest the scriptures or harden one’s heart [vv. 63, 65], come unto Christ [vv. 66, 67], repent [v. 67], endure to the end [v. 69].)
Share with the students the following quote by the Prophet Joseph Smith:
“The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
Bear witness to the students that God is in control and that His works, designs, and purposes cannot be frustrated.