Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Covenant People of God

                Who are the covenant people of God?  Why is it important to know?  What difference does it make now?  Have you asked any of these questions?  Did you find the answers?  I hope you will understand this subject better after reading my post.

                God made covenants with Adam and Eve and continued making covenants to their posterity.  People who make promises to God – or covenants with Him – know and understand what God expects of them as well as the blessings they can expect for keeping those covenants.  People who make covenants with God are known as the Lord’s covenant people. 

                Moses wrote, “This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments:  thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
                        “Thou hast avouched the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice:
                        “And the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments;
                        “And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken” (Deuteronomy 26:16-19).

                Who are the covenant people of the Lord today?  The Jews are one part of the Lord’s covenant people; members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are another part.  Why are Latter-day Saints called a covenant people?

                “Within the gospel, a covenant means a sacred agreement or mutual promise between God and a person or a group of people in making a covenant.  God offers a blessing in exchange for obedience to particular commandments.  He sets the terms of his covenants and he reveals these terms to his prophets on earth.  If we choose to obey the terms of the covenant, we receive a promised blessing.  If we choose not to obey, he withholds the blessing, and in some instances a penalty also is given.

                “For example, when we join the Church we make several covenants with God….  We covenant with the Savior at baptism to take upon ourselves his name.  He promises that `as many as … are baptized in my name which is Jesus Christ, and endure to the end, the same shall be saved’ (Doctrine and Covenants 18:22).  We covenant with the Lord as we partake of the sacrament.  We promise to remember him and to obey his commandments.  We are promised that the Holy Spirit will be with us (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:77-79).  As members of the Church, we also covenant to obey the law of chastity, to keep the Sabbath day holy, and to be honest.  When we enter into the eternal marriage covenant, we make other sacred promises and are promised exaltation for faithful obedience (see Doctrine and Covenants 132).

                “God has also made special covenants with particular persons or groups.  He made special covenants with Adam, Enoch, Noah, children of Israel, and Lehi (see Moses 6:52; Moses 6:31-36; Genesis 9:9-17; Exodus 19:5-6; 2 Nephi 1).  He made a special covenant with Abraham and his descendants that affects members of the Church today.”  (See Gospel Principles, [1979], pp. 66-67.)

                Even though Abraham’s father worshipped idols, Abraham was a very righteous man and kept God’s commandments.  He was so righteous that God made a covenant with him and his descendants.  God promised Abraham that he would have numberless descendants – more than the stars in the sky or the sand on the shore.  He also promised them that they would all have the opportunity to receive the gospel, priesthood blessings, and the ordinances of exaltation.

                Through the power of the priesthood, the descendants of Abraham would carry the gospel to all nations and through them God would less all the families of the earth (see Pearl of Great Price, Abraham 2:11).  A further blessing would come if they were righteous, the establishment of his covenant with all generations of Abraham’s children (see Genesis 17:4-8).

                God’s covenant with Abraham was renewed with Isaac, the son of Abraham, and renewed again with Jacob, the son of Isaac.  God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, and the descendants of Jacob have been called Israelites and known as God’s covenant people.

                God is also our loving Father, and He makes covenants with righteous people, whether or not they are descendants of Abraham.  In fact, God told Abraham, “As many as receive this Gospel shall be called after they name, and shall be accounted thy seed [lineage], and shall rise up and bless thee, as their father” (Abraham 2:10).  “Thus, two groups of people are included in the marvelous covenant made with Abraham.  These are Abraham’s righteous blood descendants and those adopted into his lineage by accepting and living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
                “When we are baptized into the Church, we are adopted into Abraham’s family and have part in the covenant the Lord made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Galatians 3:26-29).  If we are obedient, we inherit the blessings of that covenant.  We have the right to receive help and guidance from the Holy Ghost.  We have the right to hold the priesthood.  We can gain eternal life in the celestial kingdom.  There are no greater blessings than these.”  (See Gospel Principles, p. 68.)

                Being covenant people of the Lord brings both great blessings and great responsibilities.  God promised Abraham that his descendants would take the gospel to all the earth.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seeks to fulfill this responsibility by sending full-time missionaries to every country that will allow them; in addition, missionary work is done on a local level by members of the Church.  This opportunity and responsibility “belongs only to the Lord’s church and to his covenant people.

                “As covenant people of the Lord, we must also keep all of His commandments.  If and when we break our part of the covenant, “the covenant becomes void.  The Lord has said:  `I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise’ (Doctrine and Covenants 82:10).  If we disobey the commandments after accepting the gospel, we will stand condemned before God (Doctrine and Covenants 132:4).  He has said:  `Refrain from sin, lest sore judgments fall upon our heads.  For of him unto whom much is given much is required; and he who sins against the greater light shall receive the greater condemnation’ (Doctrine and Covenants 82:2-3).
                “The fulness of the gospel is called the new and everlasting covenant by the Lord.  It includes the covenants made at baptism, during the sacrament, in the temple, and at any other time.  The Lord calls it `everlasting’ because it is ordained by an everlasting God and because the covenant will never be changed.  He gave this same covenant to Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and other prophets.  In this sense it is not new.  But the Lord calls it `new’ because each time the gospel is restored after being taken from the earth, it is new to the people who receive it (see Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 37:26). …

                “How blessed we are to be his covenant people.  To the faithful Saint, the Lord has promised:  `All that my Father hath shall be given unto him’ (Doctrine and Covenants 84:38).  The greatness of that promise is hard for mortals to understand.  The commandments he gives are for our benefit, and in exchange for obedience, we may forever share the blessings and beauties of heaven and earth.  We may live in his presence and partake of his love, compassion, power, goodness, greatness, knowledge, wisdom, glory, and dominions.”  (See Gospel Principles, 69-70).

                Is it any wonder that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seek to share the gospel with other people?  We have made covenants with God and have received promises of great blessings.  We desire to share these blessings with all of God’s children on earth.  When we keep our covenants and seek to share the gospel with our friends and neighbors, we are acting as covenant children of the Lord.  We desire all people to be blessed!

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