“Chapter 14: Honoring Covenants,” The Gospel and the Productive Life Student Manual Religion 150 (2017)
“Chapter 14: Honoring Covenants,” The Gospel and the Productive Life Student Manual
Receiving ordinances and keeping covenants are essential to Heavenly Father’s plan. The scriptures often refer to His people as a “covenant people.” The Lord’s blessings exceed our mortal expectations. To live in the presence of our Heavenly Father, we must receive all of the necessary ordinances and keep all of the required covenants.
A covenant is a sacred promise between God and His children.
By honoring our covenants we can fulfill our divine potential.
Priesthood authority is necessary to receive the covenants and ordinances of salvation.
Honoring our covenants prepares us to receive eternal life.
Mosiah 5:5: “And we are willing to enter into a covenant with our God to do his will, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall command us, all the remainder of our days.”
Doctrine and Covenants 42:78: “Every person who belongeth to this church of Christ, shall observe to keep all the commandments and covenants of the church.”
“[A covenant is] an agreement between God and man, but they do not act as equals in the agreement. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and men agree to do what he asks them to do. God then promises men certain blessings for their obedience.
“Principles and ordinances are received by covenant. Members of the Church who make such covenants promise to honor them. For example, members covenant with the Lord at baptism and renew that covenant by partaking of the sacrament. They make further covenants in the temple. The Lord’s people are a covenant people and are greatly blessed as they keep their covenants with the Lord” (Guide to the Scriptures, “covenant,” scriptures.lds.org).
President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “One of the most important concepts of revealed religion is that of a sacred covenant. In legal language, a covenant generally denotes an agreement between two or more parties. But in a religious context, a covenant is much more significant. It is a sacred promise with God. He fixes the terms. Each person may choose to accept those terms. If one accepts the terms of the covenant and obeys God’s law, he or she receives the blessings associated with the covenant. We know that ‘when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated’ [D&C 130:21]” (“Covenants,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2011, 86).
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency: “The Latter-day Saints are a covenant people. From the day of baptism through the spiritual milestones of our lives, we make promises with God and He makes promises with us. He always keeps His promises offered through His authorized servants, but it is the crucial test of our lives to see if we will make and keep our covenants with Him” (“Witnesses for God,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 30).
Elder L. Tom Perry (1922–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Our Father in Heaven understood the need for his children to be reminded of the promises he has made to us if we would obey his laws. In making such covenants, the Lord offered blessings in exchange for obedience to particular commandments. A plan was laid out for us from the very beginning. The central figure in his plan of salvation is our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ” (“Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper,” Ensign, May 1996, 53).
Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “A periodic review of the covenants we have made with the Lord will help us with our priorities and with balance in our lives. This review will help us see where we need to repent and change our lives to ensure that we are worthy of the promises that accompany our covenants and sacred ordinances. Working out our own salvation requires good planning and a deliberate, valiant effort” (“Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” Ensign, May 1987, 14).
2 Peter 1:4: “[Through Christ’s glory and virtue] are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature.”
Doctrine and Covenants 66:2: “Blessed are you for receiving mine everlasting covenant, even the fulness of my gospel, sent forth unto the children of men, that they might have life and be made partakers of the glories which are to be revealed in the last days, as it was written by the prophets and apostles in days of old.”
President Russell M. Nelson: “With each ordinance is a covenant—a promise. A covenant made with God is not restrictive, but protective. Such a concept is not new. For example, if our water supply is not clean, we filter the water to screen out harmful ingredients. Divine covenants help us to filter out of our minds impurities that could harm us. When we choose to deny ourselves of all ungodliness [see Moroni 10:32], we lose nothing of value and gain the glory of eternal life. Covenants do not hold us down; they elevate us beyond the limits of our own power and perspective” (“Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” Ensign, May 2001, 34).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin (1917–2008) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “God truly is our Father, the Father of the spirits of all mankind. We are his literal offspring and are formed in his image. We have inherited divine characteristics from him. Knowing our relationship to our Heavenly Father helps us understand the divine nature that is in us and our potential. The doctrine of the fatherhood of God lays a solid foundation for self-esteem. The hymn titled “I Am a Child of God” (Hymns, no. 301) states this doctrine in simple terms. Can a person who understands his divine parenthood lack self-esteem? I have known people who have a deep, abiding assurance of this truth and others who understand it only superficially and intellectually. The contrast in their attitudes and the practical effect of these attitudes in their lives are remarkably apparent” (“Fruits of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Nov. 1991, 15).
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “Investigators are not only hearing our testimony of Christ, but they are hearing echoes of other, earlier testimonies, including their own testimony of Him, for they were on the side of the faithful who kept their first estate and earned the privilege of a second estate. We must always remember that these investigators, every man, woman, and child, were among the valiant who once overcame Satan by the power of their testimony of Christ! So when they hear others bear that witness of Christ’s saving mission, it has a familiar feeling; it brings an echo of truth they themselves already know” (“Missionary Work and the Atonement,” Ensign, Mar. 2001, 11–12).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “All of the myriads of mortals who have been born on this earth chose the Father’s plan and fought for it. Many of us also made covenants with the Father concerning what we would do in mortality” (“The Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, Nov. 1993, 72).
The Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44): “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was. I suppose that I was ordained to this very office in that Grand Council” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 511).
Elder Robert D. Hales (1932–2017) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “An eternal bond doesn’t just happen as a result of sealing covenants we make in the temple. How we conduct ourselves in this life will determine what we will be in all the eternities to come. To receive the blessings of the sealing that our Heavenly Father has given to us, we have to keep the commandments and conduct ourselves in such a way that our families will want to live with us in the eternities” (“The Eternal Family,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 65).
President James E. Faust (1920–2007) of the First Presidency:
“For you to achieve your potential, you will need to honor four sacred principles in your lives. These four are:
“Reverence for Deity.
“Respecting and honoring family relationships.
“Reverence for and obedience to the ordinances and covenants of the holy priesthood.
“Respect for yourself as a [child] of God” (“Them That Honour Me I Will Honour,” Ensign, May 2001, 45).
Matthew 16:19: “I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
Doctrine and Covenants 84:19–21: “This greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.
“Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.
“And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh.”
Elder Robert D. Hales: “Think of it, brothers and sisters—the priesthood has been restored. It is here on the earth today. … The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve are modern-day Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. Under the direction of these prophets, seers, and revelators, who hold the keys in this dispensation, priesthood holders in the Church today have the legitimate right to act in the name of God. As his authorized agents, they are commissioned to go forth and bless others through the power and authority of the priesthood, making all priesthood covenants, ordinances, and blessings available today” (“Blessings of the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 33).
President James E. Faust: “Priesthood is the greatest power on earth. Worlds were created by and through the priesthood. To safeguard this sacred power, all priesthood holders act under the direction of those who hold the keys of the priesthood. These keys bring order into our lives and into the organization of the Church. For us, priesthood power is the power and authority delegated by God to act in His name for the salvation of His children. Caring for others is the very essence of priesthood responsibility. It is the power to bless, to heal, and to administer the saving ordinances of the gospel. Righteous priesthood authority is most needed within the walls of our own homes. It must be exercised in great love. This is true of all priesthood holders—deacon, teacher, priest, elder, high priest, patriarch, Seventy, and Apostle” (“Power of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 1997, 41).
Elder David B. Haight (1906–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
“On April 3, 1836, in the Kirtland Temple, the same heavenly beings that appeared to the Savior and his three Apostles on the Mount, appeared and conferred additional priesthood authority and keys upon the Prophet Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery for the building up of the Church preparatory to the coming of Christ to rule and reign on the earth forever. Moses appeared and conferred the keys of the gathering of Israel. Elias restored the covenants and authority given to Abraham. Elijah bestowed the keys and power of turning the hearts of the fathers to the children and of the children to their fathers. (See D&C 110:11–16.)
“These same keys of the kingdom held by Peter, James, and John, who served in the First Presidency in the dispensation of the meridian of time, [have been] conferred upon Joseph Smith and all subsequent Presidents of the Church” (“The Keys of the Kingdom,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 74).
Mosiah 26:20: “Thou art my servant; and I covenant with thee that thou shalt have eternal life.”
Doctrine and Covenants 6:37: “Be faithful, keep my commandments, and ye shall inherit the kingdom of heaven.”
Doctrine and Covenants 30:8: “Give heed unto these things and be diligent in keeping my commandments, and you shall be blessed unto eternal life.”
President Russell M. Nelson: “Temple ordinances, covenants, endowments, and sealings enable individuals to be reconciled with the Lord and families to be sealed beyond the veil of death. Obedience to temple covenants qualifies us for eternal life, the greatest gift of God to man [see D&C 14:7]. Eternal life is more than immortality. Eternal life is exaltation in the highest heaven—the kind of life that God lives” (“Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings,” 33).
Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin: “The ideals of faith, hope, and charity are most evident in the holy temples. There we learn the purpose of life, strengthen our commitment as disciples of Christ by entering into sacred covenants with Him, and seal our families together for eternity across generations. Receiving our own endowment in a temple and returning frequently to perform sacred ordinances for our kindred dead increases our faith, strengthens our hope, and deepens our charity. We receive our own endowment with faith and hope that we will understand the Lord’s plan for His children, will recognize the divine potential within each of us as children of our Heavenly Father, and will be faithful to the end in keeping the covenants we make” (“Cultivating Divine Attributes,” Ensign, Nov. 1998, 27).
President Henry B. Eyring: “I know that the keys of the Melchizedek Priesthood were restored by those who received them from the Savior. … I bear solemn testimony that this is the true Church of Jesus Christ, in which the ordinances and the covenants are offered, which if accepted and honored produce peace in this life and assure us eternal life in the world to come” (“Witnesses for God,” 33).
President Russell M. Nelson: “The Savior’s gift of immortality comes to all who have ever lived. But His gift of eternal life requires repentance and obedience to specific ordinances and covenants. Essential ordinances of the gospel symbolize the Atonement. Baptism by immersion is symbolic of the death, burial, and Resurrection of the Redeemer. Partaking of the sacrament renews baptismal covenants and also renews our memory of the Savior’s broken flesh and of the blood He shed for us. Ordinances of the temple symbolize our reconciliation with the Lord and seal families together forever. Obedience to the sacred covenants made in temples qualifies us for eternal life—the greatest gift of God to man [see D&C 14:7]” (“The Atonement,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 35).
Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, who served as Relief Society General President:
“Covenants—or binding promises between us and Heavenly Father—are essential for our eternal progression. Step-by-step, He tutors us to become like Him by enlisting us in His work. … How often do you reflect that your covenants reach beyond mortality and connect you to the Divine? Making covenants is the expression of a willing heart; keeping covenants, the expression of a faithful heart. …
“ … The doing is where we prove who we really are. Thus, every time we reach out with love, patience, kindness, generosity, we honor our covenants by saying, ‘Here am I; send me.’ …
“The spiritual integrity to keep our covenants comes from consistency in scripture study, prayer, service, and sacrifice. Such simple steps nurture our souls so we can say, ‘Send me to help a sister and her newborn; send me to tutor a struggling student; send me to love an outsider. Send me where you need me, when you need me’” (“With Holiness of Heart,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2002, 103, 105).
Edson is a newly baptized Church member. He loves the fellowship he has found in the Church and looks forward to attending meetings each Sunday. He tries very hard to keep the covenants he made at baptism. He is still trying to change some habits he developed during the years before he learned of the gospel. Because of these imperfections, Edson often feels unworthy to take the sacrament.
What part of the sacrament prayers could you discuss with Edson to help him better understand this holy ordinance? (See D&C 20:77, 79.)
What would you teach him to help him keep his covenants without becoming discouraged?
Moua has just gone to the temple to receive her endowment. She was excited and grateful for such a blessing. She was overwhelmed by the experience and was told that she was not expected to understand everything on her first visit. She had a strong feeling come over her testifying that the covenants she made that day were right. Now she wonders what she should do to more fully understand what happened and how she can learn more.
What advice do you have for Moua?
President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: “The First Presidency frequently report to the Quorum of the Twelve that when they have called a man and his wife in to counsel with them over whether or not they will accept a mission call the immediate answer is, ‘We’ve been to the temple!’ Meaning: We are under covenant. That word covenant is a powerful, motivating word” (The Holy Temple , 166).
Why do you think that the word covenant is so motivating to Latter-day Saints?
How do the covenants you have made influence your life?
What ordinances have you received? What specific covenants did you make with each ordinance?
Why is making and keeping covenants so important to achieving exaltation?
What are the differences between covenants with the Lord and contracts between people?
How can honoring covenants become a more significant part of your life?