By Eric Johnson
Posted June 9, 2022
Seventy Adeyinka A. Ojediran (pronounced “oh-head-er-an”) gave a Sunday afternoon talk in general conference titled “The Covenant Path: The Way to Eternal Life”; it was recorded in the May 2022 Liahona magazine on pages 104-106. He followed the two top leaders of the church (Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks) who spoke on similar issues.
Proving ourselves in mortality
According to Ojedrian,
we are expected to return to God’s presence by proving that we will “do all things whatsoever the Lord [our] God shall command [us]” (Abraham 3:25). To help us the Savior came to redeem us and show the path to return to God. God’s children are invited to come to the Savior and be perfected in Him. . . . Accepting the Savior’s invitation means partaking of His ordinances and keeping our covenants with Him (105, ellipsis mine).
He said that eternal life is based on the individual’s success in keeping commandments of God while not breaking the promises made at baptism, in the temple, and every Sunday at sacrament service. In a nutshell, a person must prove oneself through successful achievement. How does one do this? In the above comment, he made an obvious allusion to Moroni 10:32, which says,
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
An illustration given by Seventy Kevin S. Hamilton in an earlier talk laid out the rules for a “if-then” statement:
Computer software developers use conditional statements to tell computers what to do. These are sometimes referred to as if-then statements. As in, if x is true, then do y. The Lord also operates through conditions: conditions of faith, conditions of righteousness, conditions of repentance (Liahona, May 2022, 50).
In other words, if a person is able to deny him or herself “of all ungodliness” and somehow can “love God with all your might, mind and strength,” “then is his grace sufficient for you.” Covenants (and ultimately commandments) must be kept in order to receive God’s grace, which is the polar opposite of what the Bible teaches.
Later, the seventy explains that “the Lord’s promised blessings are received through sacred ordinances and covenants.” He cited Russell M. Nelson who said in part that “your commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with Him and then keeping those covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege. . . .” Ojederan then stated, “God will not abandon His relationship with, or withhold His promised blessings of eternal life from, any faithful covenant keeper.”
He went on to say,
Covenants mark the path back to God. Ordinances of baptism and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, priesthood ordination, and the sacrament lead us to the Lord’s temple to partake of His ordinances of exaltation (105).
But covenants do not “mark the path back to God.” Just merely getting baptized and confirmed, having the priesthood, and partaking of the sacrament–even getting married in the temple–is not enough. Rather, successful fulfillment in keeping the covenants (and thereby the commandments) is what is required! He admits as much later in the talk:
As we take the sacrament, it shall be a testimony unto the Father that we do always remember His Son. And as we always remember Him and keep His commandments, we shall have the Spirit to be with us. Added to this promise, the Lord renews the promised remission of sin as we humbly repent of our sins (106).
He concluded by stating:
I testify that covenant keepers are promised “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23).
It’s not just making covenants but keeping the covenants that God requires to enter into His presence. As D&C 1:31-32 states,
31 For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; 32 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.
Success in repentance only comes through accomplishment. It seems that general authorities like to stress how their members ought to daily repent of their sins. But if repentance is nothing less than admission that we failed to keep what God has commanded us to do, how will daily repentance help?
This talk is more of the same “do go and be better.” It is a mantra that the LDS people know all too well, but the $64,000 question is, “How is this done?” Perhaps this general authority could have spent more time explaining how he finds success in keeping the covenants that he makes rather than stating the obvious LDS teaching that eternal life cannot happen without successfully following each and every commandment.
For other articles from this same general conference. click here.