“Articles of Faith: What Abraham’s Covenant Means to You,” New Era, Apr. 2006, 32–36
You are a child of the covenant. Does that phrase sound familiar? You probably hear it at church every once in a while, but do you know what it means? Do you know why it’s even important?
President Gordon B. Hinckley has said to the youth, “You have taken upon yourselves a covenant in the waters of baptism. This you have renewed each time you have partaken of the sacrament. These covenants will be added to when you are married in the temple. You cannot hold them lightly. They are too great a thing.”1
Being a child of the covenant means you are a descendant of ancient patriarchs who made covenants with God and whose posterity God promised to bless. Abraham, Isaac, and Israel received great blessings in this life and in eternity. These same blessings are yours—if you, too, make and keep covenants with God.
A covenant is an agreement between two people who each promise to do something for each other. The most important covenants we make are with God. God promises eternal blessings, and He sets the terms that allow us to receive those blessings. If we want His promised blessings, we must choose to be obedient to the terms of God’s covenants (see D&C 130:21). One of the eternal covenants we make with God is at baptism. If we keep the promises we make at baptism, God promises us remission of our sins and eternal life (see 2 Ne. 31:17–20; Mosiah 18:8–10).
The Savior Jesus Christ made eternal covenants possible. His Atonement allows us to be resurrected and to repent so we can live with Heavenly Father again. Without the Savior’s sacrifice, we would not have the priesthood, have the saving ordinances of the gospel, or be able to live eternally with our families.
God has made covenants with His faithful children ever since Adam (see Moses 6:51–52; Abr. 1:2–3). Abraham was a faithful priesthood holder who inherited God’s promises, along with additional blessings that were only offered to his posterity. The main blessing offered to Abraham and his children was the promise of eternal life. Eternal life is more than immortality; it is being able to live in an eternal family and enjoy the life God enjoys. Through obedience to priesthood laws and ordinances, especially eternal marriage, Abraham was promised eternal seed, or posterity (see Gen. 22:17). That posterity includes you and all Church members.
The Lord renewed His promises with Isaac and Jacob, Abraham’s son and grandson (see Gen. 26:1–4; Gen. 28:10–14; Gen. 35:9–13; Gen. 48:3–4). Jacob, later named Israel, was the father of the tribes of Israel.
In this dispensation, parts of the Abrahamic covenant specific to salvation and eternal life were renewed with the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 124:58; D&C 132:30–32). The gospel restored to Joseph Smith in the latter days is called the new and everlasting covenant. After the Savior appeared to the Prophet in the Kirtland Temple, the prophets Moses, Elias, and Elijah returned to restore the keys necessary to gather Israel and to establish and seal eternal families through the priesthood (see D&C 110:11–15). In this and other ways, many promises made to Abraham (see Abr. 2:9–11; Gen. 17:1–10, 19; Gen. 22:17) and his children are being fulfilled in these latter days (see 1 Ne. 15:12–18), including the gathering of the scattered Tribes of Israel to their lands of promise.
Abraham and his seed (posterity) would be a great nation and would be as numerous as the stars and the sand.
All who receive the gospel will be Abraham’s seed.
The blessings of the priesthood will remain with Abraham’s seed, and they will bless the families of the earth “with the blessings of the Gospel, which are the blessings of salvation, even of life eternal” (Abr. 2:11).
Christ and kings would be born through Abraham’s lineage (see Gal. 3:16).
This covenant would be eternal.
Everyone who is baptized into the Church is the seed of Abraham. That means you are the seed of Abraham.
Your patriarchal blessing will tell you about your lineage—how you are linked to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—and it will give you guidance on keeping your covenants and describe some of the blessings Heavenly Father promises you for your faithfulness. Whether you are a literal descendant of Abraham or you are adopted into the House of Israel through baptism, it is your righteousness, not just your lineage, that determines your blessings (see Gal. 3:6–9).
As a worthy member of the Church, you, like Abraham, have been promised many blessings for your faithfulness and obedience and for keeping your covenants. Three of the major blessings promised to you are:
The blessings of the restored gospel.
The right to receive the priesthood (see Abr. 2:9–11).
Eternal life, which includes the blessings of eternal marriage and eternal families.
To be children of the covenant means you have made certain agreements with God, and you are entitled to great blessings if you keep your promises (see D&C 82:10).
In return for the blessings God promised, Abraham’s posterity is under covenant to take the gospel to all the nations and families of the world so they can also enjoy the blessings of the priesthood. The Lord told Abraham: “Thou shalt be a blessing unto thy seed after thee, that in their hands they shall bear this ministry and Priesthood unto all nations” (Abr. 2:9). This is part of the covenant you made when you were baptized and that you renew each time you partake of the sacrament.
“We are a covenant people, and that is a very serious matter,” says President Gordon B. Hinckley. “Each time we partake of the sacrament, not only do we do it in remembrance of the sacrifice of the Son of God, who gave His life for each of us, but there is an added element that we take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ and pledge ourselves to keep His commandments, and He pledges with us that He will bless us with His Holy Spirit. We are a covenant people, and great are the obligations which go with that covenant.”2
If we remain faithful to our covenants, our Savior Jesus Christ has made it possible for us to live with Him, with Heavenly Father, and with our families eternally. That is why it is so important to be faithful children of the covenant.
“We are … children of the covenant. We have received, as did they of old, the holy priesthood and the everlasting gospel. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are our ancestors. We are of Israel. We have the right to receive the gospel, blessings of the priesthood, and eternal life. Nations of the earth will be blessed by our efforts and by the labors of our posterity. The literal seed of Abraham and those who are gathered into his family by adoption receive these promised blessings—predicated upon acceptance of the Lord and obedience to his commandments.”
—Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “Children of the Covenant,” Ensign, May 1995, 33.
Here are a few things you can do now to honor your covenants and receive the blessings promised to Abraham’s posterity:
Thoughtfully and worthily partake of the sacrament.
Live worthy of the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
Serve others with a willing heart.
Pray daily for opportunities to share the gospel and to bear your testimony.
Obey your parents.
Live worthy of future temple covenants.
Seek to do Heavenly Father’s will in all aspects of your life.
The children of the covenant will bless “all the families of the earth” with the blessings of the gospel (see Abr. 2:11). To learn more about joys of sharing the gospel, read “Elder, They Will Love You” (New Era, July 2001) by Elder LeGrand Richards (1886–1983) at www.lds.org in the Gospel Library.