Making and Keeping Covenants (Ensign 1980 Dec, Our Covenants with the Lord)
What is a Covenant?
It is an agreement between God and Man, where a man promises to obey the will and commandments of God, and God promises specific blessings upon the person covenanting.
A Covenant is more than a Contract/Agreement - It is unifying our self to God and his purposes.
In Hebrew the word da’ath (yada) is used when describing the covenant relationship between ancient Israel and their God. This same word is also translated as “to know”. What this really means is to know and be unified in their concerns, obligations, dedication and affections, to be one with in purpose and action. (Ensign 1980, August A covenant people: Old Testament Light on Modern Covenants)
Here are a few scriptures emphasizing this meaning.
Gen 4:1 Adam knew Eve his wife – meaning they were one in their concerns obligations and purposes as well as physically.
Many times in the Old Testament Israel was condemned because they “knew not” God. This means that they had ceased to identify with God’s causes, purposes and obligations and had thus become non-covenant people.
John 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might “know” thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. [This is life eternal that they might covenant with God and become one with him.
D&C 132:24 This is eternal lives—to “know” the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.
Why are Covenants important?
We must be committed to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Partial commitment and partial obedience does not cut it. D&C 76:77-79 (Not valiant receive terrestrial)
First Presidency Message July 2011 story of two boys on cliff. “Commitment is a little like diving into the water. Either you are committed or you are not. Either you are moving forward or you are standing still. There’s no halfway.”
Covenants are important individually:
- A covenant is a promise made by an individual that commits them to the work of the Lord. Knowledge alone is not sufficient, actual obedience is required for salvation.
18 Therefore wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead and cannot save you?
19 Thou believest there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe, and tremble; thou hast made thyself like unto them, not being justified.
- A person making and keeping covenants must sort out his values and feelings and actually change becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ through repentance and the atonement.
- The requirements of these covenants are not the kinds of things men and women naturally do, they require conscious and deliberate effort and obedience overcoming personal weaknesses through repentance and obedience.
19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.
Covenants are important as a people:
From the beginning of time and in all dispensations disciples of Jesus Christ have been set apart as a “Covenant People” and different from others. Through this group and organization of covenant individuals the lord’s work is accomplished on earth.
- Our Covenants bind us together as a people for we are a Covenant people.
- Strengthen and support us and help us believe in others who have made same promises.
- Common beliefs and values bring feelings of unity and connection
- An organization and group of individuals who can spread the gospel to others
Generally speaking a covenant may have four parts associated with it. (Very much like a treaty in Old Testament Times)
- The ritual/ordinance done through the priesthood – Symbolism involved
- The promise/oath – a promise/commitment to do something, action is required
- The name – the taking upon one’s self a new name or designation – you are different afterwards
- The blessing/reward/protection provided
- Baptism symbolizes death, burial, and resurrection, and can only be done by immersion
- Witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments to the end, and repent of our sins.
- Take upon us the name of Christ
- Always have his spirit to be with us/ forgiveness of sins.
- Ordinance of marriage
- Unity in sickness/health purpose and life, total fidelity
- Bound under one name – same name one household
- Eternal Union and Eternal Family, Eternal progression – Live life like God’s Life
- Ordination – to Melchizedek Priesthood
- Magnify our callings, and fulfill our stewardships
- Take upon us the name of our office
- All That God Hath or No forgiveness in this life or in the world to come
The Lord uses Covenants with us to:
- Increase our commitment to obedience
- Strengthen our faith – we have a promised reward
- Through the laws and ordinances of the gospel we are changed and converted so we no longer desire to do evil – thus making our covenants easier to maintain.
- Increases our responsibility to obey – we have a greater responsibility having covenanted to obey.
Two young brothers stood atop a small cliff that overlooked the pristine waters of a blue lake. This was a popular diving spot, and the brothers had often talked about making the jump—something they had seen others do.
Although they both wanted to make the jump, neither one wanted to be first. The height of the cliff wasn’t that great, but to the two young boys, it seemed the distance increased whenever they started to lean forward—and their courage was fading fast.
Finally, one brother put one foot at the edge of the cliff and moved decisively forward. At that moment his brother whispered, “Maybe we should wait until next summer.”
The first brother’s momentum, however, was already pulling him forward. “Brother,” he responded, “I’m committed!”
He splashed into the water and surfaced quickly with a victorious shout. The second brother followed instantly. Afterward, they both laughed about the first boy’s final words before plunging into the water: “Brother, I’m committed.”
Commitment is a little like diving into the water. Either you are committed or you are not. Either you are moving forward or you are standing still. There’s no halfway