Covenants: The (Unkept) Promises

By Eric JohnsonImage result for july 2012 ensign magazine covenants our most important promises

An article (with no listed author) was the main attraction in the July 2012 Ensign and Liahona magazine. Titled “Covenants: Our Most Important Promises,” it describes an ordinance as “a sacred, formal act performed by the authority of the priesthood. Some ordinances are essential to our salvation. As part of these ‘saving ordinances,’ we enter into solemn covenants with God.”

It explains how a covenant “is a two-way promise, the conditions of which are set by God. When we enter into a covenant with God, we promise to keep those conditions. He promises us certain blessings in return.”

It also says, “When we receive these saving ordinances and keep the associated covenants, the Atonement of Jesus Christ becomes effective in our lives, and we can receive the greatest blessing God can give us—eternal life (see D&C 14:7).”

Notice, this “two-way promise” requires fulfillment by both parties. There is where the Mormon promises to keep his or her end of the bargain. Failure to do so is not an option. By accomplishing this, God promises “certain blessings.”

But also notice the message delivered to the Latter-day Saints: “The Atonement of Jesus Christ is only effective based on the conditional obedience on your part. The verse quoted in the article, D&C 14: 7, reads, “And, if you keep my commandments and endure to the end, you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.”

So we learn that 1) covenant keeping is vital; 2) doing this makes the Atonement effective; 3) a person can have eternal life.”

The Promises Made as a Mormon

The article continues: “Because keeping our covenants is essential to our happiness now and to eventually receiving eternal life, it is important to understand what we have promised our Heavenly Father.” It then lists a number of places where you have made covenants.

First, there is “Baptism and Confirmation.” The article reads, “When we are baptized, we covenant to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments. We also promise ‘to serve him to the end’ (D&C 20:37; see also Mosiah 18:8–10).”

This first covenant has the Mormon convert promising at Baptism and Confirmation to “always remember Him, and to keep His commandments” and “to serve him to the end.”

The second covenant is the Sacrament. It says that it is here where

“we ponder the covenants we have made to take upon us the name of Jesus Christ, always remember Him, and keep His commandments. In turn, God extends the promise that His Spirit may be with us always (see D&C 20:77, 79).”

It is a place where a person not only renews his or her “baptismal covenants but all covenants entered into with the Lord.”

Next is the covenant made with the Priesthood. The article reports, “Heavenly Father gives His oath (guarantee) to bestow certain blessings upon those who keep the covenants associated with receiving the priesthood.”

Fourth is the Temple Endowment, where Mormons “promise to obey and sacrifice, to consecrate unto the Father, and His promise to empower us with ‘a great endowment.’” The final covenant in the article is being Sealed. It says, “As in other ordinances, individual faithfulness to our covenants is required for the earthly ordinance to be sealed, or made valid, in heaven by the Holy Spirit of Promise. Individuals who keep their covenants—even when their spouse does not—do not forfeit the blessings promised in the sealing.”

Having stressed the importance of keeping the covenants in each point, the article explains,

“The new and everlasting covenant is ‘the sum total of all gospel covenants and obligations’ we’ve made, and the resulting blessings include all that the Father has, including eternal life.”

To show how important obedience and following the covenants is, the article quotes Apostle Dallin H. Oaks as saying,

“The Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts—what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts—what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.”

Over and over again, the LDS leaders have stressed that their people should not just “go through the motions” but to be successful and obey. This is the heart of the LDS gospel.

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