7. Ordinances and Covenants, Doctrinal Mastery Core Document (2018)
7.1. An ordinance is a sacred act that is performed by the authority of the priesthood. Each ordinance was designed by God to teach spiritual truths, often through symbolism.
7.2. Some ordinances are essential to exaltation and are called saving ordinances. Only by receiving the saving ordinances and keeping the associated covenants can we obtain all of the blessings made available through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Without these saving ordinances we cannot become like our Heavenly Father or return to live in His presence eternally (see D&C 84:20–22). The saving ordinances are performed under the direction of those who hold priesthood keys.
7.3. The first saving ordinance of the gospel is baptism by immersion in water by one having authority. Baptism is necessary for an individual to become a member of the Church of Jesus Christ and to enter the celestial kingdom (see John 3:5).
7.4. After a person is baptized, one or more Melchizedek Priesthood holders confirm him or her a member of the Church and bestow upon him or her the gift of the Holy Ghost (see 3 Nephi 27:20). The gift of the Holy Ghost is different from the influence of the Holy Ghost. Before baptism, a person can feel the influence of the Holy Ghost and receive a testimony of the truth. After receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, a person who keeps his or her covenants has the right to the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost.
7.5. Other saving ordinances include ordination to the Melchizedek Priesthood (for men), the temple endowment, and the marriage sealing. In the temple, these saving ordinances can also be performed vicariously for the dead. Vicarious ordinances become effective only when the deceased persons accept them in the spirit world and honor the related covenants.
7.6. Other ordinances, such as partaking of the sacrament to renew our baptismal covenants, administering to the sick, and the naming and blessing of children, are also important to our spiritual development.
Related topics: The Godhead: The Holy Ghost; The Plan of Salvation: Life after Death; The Atonement of Jesus Christ; Priesthood and Priesthood Keys
7.7. A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and man. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and we agree to do what He asks us to do; God then promises us certain blessings for our obedience (see Exodus 19:5–6; D&C 82:10). If we do not abide by our covenants, then we will not receive the promised blessings.
7.8. All of the saving ordinances of the priesthood are accompanied by covenants. For example, we covenant with the Lord through baptism (see Mosiah 18:8–10). Men who receive the Melchizedek Priesthood enter into the oath and covenant of the priesthood. We renew covenants we have made by partaking of the sacrament.
7.9. We make further covenants as we receive the saving ordinances of the endowment and the marriage sealing in the temple. We prepare to participate in ordinances and make covenants in the temple by living the standards of worthiness the Lord has set (see Psalm 24:3–4). It is vital that we are worthy to enter the temple because the temple is literally the house of the Lord. It is the most holy of any place of worship on earth.