Eternal covenants are binding agreements between God and His children. God gives the covenants through revelation to His prophets. We, with our moral agency, can agree to and enter into these covenants if we are worthy. There are many covenants and ordinances within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that Mormons can participate in. The life-saving covenants and ordinances are baptism, bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost, priesthood covenants, and temple covenants and ordinances, which include washings and anointings, the endowment, and temple sealings. These life-saving covenants, along with other gospel ordinances, provide the means whereby, if they are honored and kept, we can receive the blessings of exaltation from our Heavenly Father. In earlier times, and earlier in this dispensation, the righteous Saints were asked to consecrate all to the Kingdom of God. Today we consecrate a portion of our substance.
THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US
Mosiah 18:13—”And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God, as a testimony that ye have entered into a covenant to serve him until you are dead as to the mortal body; and may the Spirit of the Lord be poured out upon you; and may he grant unto you eternal life, through the redemption of Christ, whom he has prepared from the foundation of the world.
The covenant and ordinance of baptism is necessary to enter into the Church and Kingdom of God. It is also the gateway into the Celestial Kingdom. If we are faithful to our covenants by always remembering the suffering and sacrifice of our Savior, to take His name upon us, to remember Him and to keep the commandments to the end of our mortal lives (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:37, 77, 79; 2 Nephi 31:19-20), we can enjoy the blessings of eternal life. This should be our goal.
Doctrine and Covenants 52:15-16—15 — “Wherefore he that prayeth, whose spirit is contrite, the same is accepted of me if he obey mine ordinances. He that speaketh, whose spirit is contrite, whose language is meek and edifieth, the same is of God if he obey mine ordinances.”
We should pray and have a broken heart and a contrite spirit—but this is not enough. Drawing near Deity with our lips when our hearts are not focused on keeping the covenants is not acceptable to the Lord (see JSH 1:19). Obedience to our covenants is the true expression of our love; in this we can stand approved of the Lord. The Lord is displeased and the earth is defiled by the breaking and changing of the ordinances and covenants (see Isaiah 24:5).
Doctrine and Covenants 84:33-40— “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God. And also all they who receive this priesthood receive me, saith the Lord; For he that receiveth my servants receiveth me; And he that receiveth me receiveth my Father; And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him. And this is according to the oath and covenant which belongeth to the priesthood. Therefore, all those who receive the priesthood, receive this oath and covenant of my Father, which he cannot break, neither can it be moved.
The “oath and covenant” of the priesthood is among the most sublime bestowals of honor, blessing, and sacred obligation granted by God unto His sons on earth. Everything the Father has is to be shared with the faithful and elect holders of the priesthood of the Almighty, based on covenant obedience and righteousness. The Lord makes clear that this blessing—an integral part of the Abrahamic Covenant—is given “not for your sakes only, but for the sake of the whole world” (v. 48), and He makes this further promise to those who faithfully bear the glad tidings abroad: “. . . for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (v. 88).
Doctrine and Covenants 132:6-7—6 “And as pertaining to the new and everlasting covenant, it was instituted for the fulness of my glory; and he that receiveth a fulness thereof must and shall abide the law, or he shall be damned, saith the Lord God. And verily I say unto you, that the conditions of this law are these: All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations, that are not made and entered into and sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, of him who is anointed, both as well for time and for all eternity, and that too most holy, by revelation and commandment through the medium of mine anointed, whom I have appointed on the earth to hold this power (and I have appointed unto my servant Joseph to hold this power in the last days, and there is never but one on the earth at a time on whom this power and the keys of this priesthood are conferred), are of no efficacy, virtue, or force in and after the resurrection from the dead; for all contracts that are not made unto this end have an end when men are dead.”
Receiving and honoring the new and everlasting covenant of marriage is necessary for the highest degree of exaltation. We must be true and faithful to this covenant so that it can be sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise.
Doctrine and Covenants 136:2-4—2 “Let all the people of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and those who journey with them, be organized into companies, with a covenant and promise to keep all the commandments and statutes of the Lord our God. Let the companies be organized with captains of hundreds, captains of fifties, and captains of tens, with a president and his two counselors at their head, under the direction of the Twelve Apostles. And this shall be our covenant—that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord.”
As the Saints came West, the Prophet Brigham Young required commitment to their covenants in their daily lives. This is a key not only to righteous living but also enjoying life while in this mortal sphere.
MODERN PROPHETS SPEAK
“If you keep the covenants and commandments of God, you will have the joy promised by the Savior when he walked upon the earth. You will have ‘peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.’” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:23.)
(James E. Faust, Reach Up for the Light [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1990], 69.)
“This question may appear as a play on the words of the Lord when he said this is the true and living church. When I ask, ‘Am I a true and living member?’ my question is, Am I deeply and fully dedicated to keeping the covenants I have made with the Lord? Am I totally committed to living the gospel and being a doer of the word and not a hearer only? Do I live my religion? Will I remain true? Do I stand firm against Satan’s temptations? He is seeking to cause us to lose our way in a storm of derision and a tide of sophistry. We can have victory, however, by responding to that inner voice calling ‘Stand firm!’”
(Howard W. Hunter, That We Might Have Joy [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 149.)
“The priest at the sacrament table places all in the congregation under sacred covenant. The offering of the prayer is not a ritual to be thoughtlessly spoken. It is, rather, the voicing of an obligation and a promise. Cleanliness of hands, as well as purity of heart, should be taught to the priests who officiate at the sacrament table.” (“Reverence and Morality,” Ensign, May 1987, p. 46.)
(Gordon B. Hinckley, Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1997], 484.)
“At baptism, we covenant to serve the Lord and keep his commandments. When we partake of the sacrament, we renew those covenants. We may receive covenants of the priesthood and the crowning blessings of the endowment, the doctrine, and the covenants unique to the holy temple.”
Russell M. Nelson (“Children of the Covenant,” Ensign, May 1995, 32.)
“For Latter-day Saints, morality is one component which must not be missing when these issues are considered—otherwise sacred covenants are at risk! Keep your covenants and you will be safe. Break them and you will not.”
Boyd K. Packer (“Covenants,” Ensign, Nov. 1990, 84.)
Careful study—An in-depth study of the doctrines, principles, ordinances, and covenants of the Church requires searching the scriptures and the words of our living prophets (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:43-45; also D&C 21:4-6). This is reflected in the 2009 Pew study of Mormons: the most active in the Church are also the best educated.
Praying for understanding—Knowledge comes from our Heavenly Father by the Holy Spirit. He can reveal to us eternal truths that bring a comprehension of those things we seek to know and understand and appreciate( see Proverbs 3:5; Alma 17:2). Many times we need to pray to accept on faith, and in time we will have a witness (see Ether 12:6). We will be filled with gratitude, which will give us a desire to keep the covenants.
Keeping the covenants—We will know the truth of, and receive the benefit of, the covenants of God primarily by living the doctrines and commandments of God (see John 7:17). We can and will receive the blessings of eternal life by keeping the covenants and enduring to the end (see Doctrine and Covenants 101:38-40; 2 Nephi 33:4)).
Temple worship—The more we return to the temple, the more our understanding is deepened. Revelation to many truths can come as we seek enlightenment within the walls of the House of the Lord (see Doctrine and Covenants 97:23-16).
–This article was adapted from What We Need to Know and Do by Ed Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.