“Lesson 129: Doctrine and Covenants 123,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual (2013)
“Lesson 129,” Doctrine and Covenants and Church History Seminary Teacher Manual
While the Prophet Joseph Smith was imprisoned in Liberty Jail from December 1, 1838, to April 6, 1839, he wrote letters of comfort and counsel to the Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 123 is an excerpt from a letter dated March 20, 1839, that he wrote to the Saints. In this excerpt, the Prophet asked the Saints to collect and publish accounts of their persecutions and suffering and to help those deceived by false doctrines.
Note: The next lesson (“The Establishment of Nauvoo,” lesson 130) provides an opportunity for two students to teach portions of the lesson. You may want to select two students now and give them copies of the designated portions of lesson 130 so they can prepare.
Begin by reading the following statement:
“This may certify that I, Delia Reed, moved to Missouri in the year 1836. My husband died soon after we arrived and left me with seven small children. … When the troubles came on between the inhabitants and the Mormons, I, with the rest of our society, was obliged to leave the state. … I was obliged to sacrifice the most of my property [and] my family [became] scattered, and I had to gain a daily pittance among strangers” (Delia Reed, in Mormon Redress Petitions: Documents of the 1833–1838 Missouri Conflict, ed. Clark V. Johnson , 523; punctuation, capitalization, and spelling standardized).
Explain that this was an official statement Sister Reed gave to a judicial official. Then invite students to read Doctrine and Covenants 123:1 silently.
From what you learned in this verse, what might be one purpose for Sister Reed to have given this statement?
Remind students that from December 1838 to April 1839 the Prophet Joseph Smith and some other Church leaders were imprisoned in the jail at Liberty, Missouri. Around the same time, the Saints were driven from the state of Missouri during the harsh winter months because of Governor Lilburn Boggs’s extermination order. Explain that Doctrine and Covenants 123 is an excerpt of a March 1839 letter the Prophet Joseph Smith wrote from Liberty Jail giving counsel to the Saints during this difficult time.
Invite a few students to take turns reading aloud from Doctrine and Covenants 123:1–5. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Joseph Smith counseled the persecuted Saints to do. To help students understand these verses, you may need to explain that in verse 5 the phrase “concatenation of diabolical rascality” refers to a collection of wicked lies and the phrase “nefarious and murderous impositions” refers to evil and violent deeds.
What did the Prophet counsel the Saints to do in these verses?
Many of the Saints were obedient to the Prophet’s counsel and collected accounts of their persecutions. Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 123:6 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for reasons why the Saints were told to collect accounts of their persecutions and sufferings. You may want to explain that the phrase “enjoined on us” means “required of us.” You may also want to remind them that the Lord had previously promised to redeem the persecuted Saints and to “come forth out of his hiding place, and in his fury vex the nation” (D&C 101:89).
According to Doctrine and Covenants 123:6, why did Heavenly Father command the Saints to collect accounts of their persecution?
What does this verse teach that we must do before the Lord will fulfill His promises?
Invite students to write a principle statement that expresses this relationship between our efforts and the Lord’s promises. Ask a few students to share the principle they identified. The following is one way students might phrase this principle: The Lord will fulfill His promises after we have done our part. Write this principle on the board.
Why do you think the Lord expects us to do our part before He will fulfill His promises?
When have you seen this principle confirmed in your own life or in the life of someone you know?
Invite students to imagine that they have been given an assignment to write a report about the Church for one of their school classes. As part of the requirement, they need to include at least three sources.
What sources might you use for your paper?
Why does it matter what sources you use to write about the Church?
How do you know which sources accurately describe the Church?
Summarize Doctrine and Covenants 123:7–10 by explaining that when Joseph Smith recorded these verses, many lies were being spread about the Church. The Saints were told that it was their “imperative duty” (D&C 123:7) to respond to these lies and to collect and publish the accounts of their persecutions and sufferings.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 123:11–12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for additional reasons why the Saints were directed to collect and publish accounts of their persecutions and sufferings. Ask students to report their findings.
According to verse 12, how are many of the pure in heart blinded from seeing the truth?
How do you think lies about the Church affect those who are not of our faith?
According to verse 12, why are many people on the earth kept from the truth? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following truth: There are many who are kept from the truth because they do not know where to find it.)
How might publishing the truth about the Saints’ persecutions and sufferings at this time have helped people find the truth?
Remind students that there are still many people today “who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men” and who are kept from the truth only because they do not know where to find it (D&C 123:12). Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for something that keeps people from knowing the truth about the Church in our day.
“Far too many people have a poor understanding of the Church because most of the information they hear about us is from news media reports that are often driven by controversies. Too much attention to controversy has a negative impact on peoples’ perceptions of what The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints really is” (“Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet,” Ensign, July 2008, 62).
According to Elder Ballard, what is something that keeps people from knowing the truth about the Church in our day?
Explain that, similar to the Saints in 1839, we are directed to help others have a correct understanding of the Church—its members, leaders, beliefs, history, teachings, and practices.
What can you do to help others obtain a correct understanding of the Church? (Write students’ responses on the board.)
Invite a student to read the following statement by Elder M. Russell Ballard. Ask the class to listen for one way we can help others obtain a correct understanding of the Church.
“There are conversations going on about the Church constantly. Those conversations will continue whether or not we choose to participate in them. But we cannot stand on the sidelines while others, including our critics, attempt to define what the Church teaches. While some conversations have audiences in the thousands or even millions, most are much, much smaller. But all conversations have an impact on those who participate in them. Perceptions of the Church are established one conversation at a time. …
“Now, may I ask that you join the conversation by participating on the Internet to share the gospel and to explain in simple and clear terms the message of the Restoration. … This, of course, requires that you understand the basic principles of the gospel. It is essential that you are able to offer a clear and correct witness of gospel truths” (“Sharing the Gospel Using the Internet,” 61, 62).
Add Elder Ballard’s suggestion to those already listed on the board.
Invite students to consider the ways to help others learn truth that are listed on the board. Ask them to choose one that they feel they could use. Invite a few students to report which suggestion they chose and how they plan on using it to help others have a correct understanding of the Church. Encourage all of the students to act on the suggestion they chose to help others find the truth.
Ask students to think about a time when they have helped others have a correct understanding about the Church. Invite a few students to share their experiences with the class.
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 123:13–16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the Saints were told about their efforts to present an accurate account of the truth to others.
According to verse 15, why were the Saints told not to consider their efforts as “small things”?
What principle can we learn from the Lord’s counsel in verse 15 about the small decisions we make now? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: Our decisions to obey the seemingly small commandments of the Lord can have great influence on our lives in the future.)
How could a small decision to have a gospel conversation with someone have a large influence?
Invite a student to read Doctrine and Covenants 123:17 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how this verse relates to the truth written on the board earlier: The Lord will fulfill His promises after we have done our part. Invite students to share their insights with the class.
Why do you think it is important to cheerfully “do all things that lie in our power”?
Based on verse 17, what can we be assured of if we do everything we can to be obedient to the Lord’s commands? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: If we do all things that lie within our power to be obedient to the Lord’s commands, then we can have the assurance that God will use His power to help us according to His will and timing.)
What do you think it means to have the assurance that God will use His power to help us if we “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power”? What are some things you can do to have that assurance in your life?
Share your testimony that we can be confident that when we have done everything we can to obediently follow God’s commands, He will fulfill His promises.