Saturday, April 17, 2010
God has made covenants with His children from the time of Adam and Eve. When people make covenants with God, they know exactly what God requires of them as well as the blessings they can expect from Him. Individuals and groups who make and keep covenants with God are known as His covenant people. Within the gospel of Jesus Christ, a covenant is a promise or a sacred agreement between God and a person or a group of people. The terms of any covenant with God are set by God and revealed to his prophets. God sets forth the commandment and names the blessing that is promised for obedience to that commandment. We either decide to obey the terms of the covenant and receive the blessing or to reject the covenant with its blessing and sometimes to receive a penalty for disobedience. Abraham was a very righteous man who became a great Old Testament prophet. He recognized that worshipping idols as his father did was wrong. He refused to follow his father's example and kept the commandments of God. Then God made a covenant with Abraham and his descendants because Abraham was so righteous. The covenant that God made with Abraham is known as the Abrahamic covenant. God promised to give Abraham numberless descendants. He promised that all these descendants would be entitled to receive the gospel, the priesthood blessings and all the ordinances necessary for exaltation. The descendants would in turn use the power of the priesthood to take the gospel to all nations. In this way, God would bless all the families of the earth through the descendants of Abraham. God promised that He would renew His covenant with all the generations of Abraham's posterity if they were righteous. There are two different groups of people who are included in the covenant between God and Abraham. The first group includes all of Abraham's righteous blood descendants. The second group includes all those who are adopted into Abraham's family by accepting and living the gospel of Jesus Christ. God told Abraham, "As many as receive this Gospel shall be called after thy name, and shall be accounted thy seed [lineage], and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father" (Abraham 2:10). (See also 2 Nephi 30:2.) People who are baptized into The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints enter into the covenant that God made with Abraham and renewed with Isaac and Jacob (see Galatians 3:26-29). If they are obedient, they inherit all the blessings of that covenant. Being part of the covenant people of the Lord brings many blessings as well as responsibilities. The blessings include the right to be guided by the Holy Ghost, the right for males to hold the priesthood, and the right for families to receive the blessings of the priesthood. The greatest blessing of all is to gain eternal life in the celestial kingdom. The Lord's covenant people have the great responsibility to take the gospel of Jesus Christ to all the inhabitants of the earth. The Church is fulfilling this responsibility by sending full-time missionaries out into the world as well as by the missionary work done by members. Taking the gospel to the world is an opportunity which belongs only to the Lord's Church and His covenant people. The Lord requires His covenant people to keep the covenant by keeping His commandments. He said, "I, the Lord, am bound when ye do as I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise" (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10). Without righteousness, the covenant becomes void. The fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ is called the new and everlasting covenant and includes covenants made at baptism, during the sacrament, in the temple, and at any other time. This covenant is everlasting because God is everlasting and because the covenant will never change. God made the same covenant with Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and other prophets. It isn't a new covenant, but each time the gospel is restored to the earth, it is new to the people who receive it. (See Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 37:26.) Any person who accepts the new and everlasting covenant also agrees to repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost, receive temple endowments, receive the covenant of temple marriage, obey the commandments, and follow Christ to the end of their life. In return for a righteous life, Heavenly Father promises exaltation in the celestial kingdom. (See Doctrine and Covenants 132:20-24.) Heavenly Father loves all of His children and desires to bless all of them. He gave commandments for the benefit of His children. His faithful sons and daughters will forever share the blessings and beauties of both earth and heaven.