These are my notes from a talk I gave at church a few years ago. The subject was remembering the oath and covenants we have made. Here are my notes from my talk. Due to time limitations, I was not able to speak on all of these notes. The one’s that were missed are in strikeout.
I first met my wife a little over nine years ago [in] my condo. This was shortly after I had stopped praying for the kind of wife I thought I wanted, stopped trying so hard to find her, and started praying for someone who needed me as much as I needed her. Being in a singles ward I had many times poked fun at the others who had met and married in very short periods of time, but only a few weeks later I found myself getting engaged.
My wife and I were married a few months later on a brisk, cloudy, November morning in the Bountiful Utah temple. The temple ceremony was certainly beautiful; especially in a spiritual sense. I had seen them done a few times before, but to be the one kneeling at the altar, getting sealed to someone I had come to love so much in such a short time, was a very different experience from watching.
Once we changed back into our more worldly wedding attire, and finally emerged from the temple we were greeted by our friends and family gathered outside the main entrance in anticipation, all dressed up in their Sunday best, and poised with cameras in hand; hoping to capture some small glimpse of the beauty and sacredness of a temple marriage.
While the day was full of all kinds of wonderful events, documented with many beautiful pictures and memories, the most important part of that day was the covenant my wife and I had made together between us and our Heavenly Father. The real beauty of this covenant is that it has the power to seal us and our children to each other, not only in this life but far beyond into the next.
In “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles proclaim that “marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children.” In D&C 132:19, we also learn that marriage is a “new and everlasting covenant, and it is sealed unto [us] by the Holy Spirit of promise . . . and if [we] abide in [this] covenant . . . [it] shall be of full force when [we] are out of the world”. While this Eternal Marriage or sealing is often seen as the crowning covenant for exaltation and eternal life, the other covenants we make with God are just as important to our exultation.
When I was in High School, people used to talk about how we couldn’t drink or smoke or do drugs or other such things because it was against our religion; talking as if the church was too restrictive, or that it was against our religion. However, I have a better reason why we don’t do these things; because we have made covenants with God that we will not do them.
We are a covenant-making people:
We are a covenant-making people, just as in the Old Testament, the Israelites were the covenant people of the lord, we today also become the covenant people of the lord because of the covenants we make with him through the power of the restored Priesthood.
We can trace many of these covenants back to Abraham, as recorded in Genesis 17 where God made a covenant with Abraham containing several promises. Including that Abraham’s posterity would be numerous, entitled to an eternal increase, and also entitled to bear the priesthood. All nations of the earth will be blessed through this covenant.17
These covenants are sacred promises made with God. He fixes the terms. Each person may choose to accept those terms. As it says in D&C 130:21, “when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”
When we are baptized we covenant to serve the Lord, keep the commandments of God, and remember the Savior always5, In D&C 20:37, and “take upon [us] the name of Jesus Christ”, and in return we receive a “remission of [our] sins”. In Mosiah 18:8-9 we also learn that we covenant to “bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light.” and that we “are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort”. When we partake of the sacrament, we renew that covenant, along with any others we have made.
This covenant allows us to be adopted into the Abrahamic covenant as sons and daughters and become brothers and sisters. Ultimately, in the temple, we may become joint heirs to the blessings of an eternal family, as promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their posterity.
More Covenants that we make:
When we receive the priesthood we receive it with a covenant and promise. In D&C 84:33–40:
“33 For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining [the Melchizedek, and Aaronic] priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies.
34 They become the sons of Moses and of Aaron and the seed of Abraham, and the church and kingdom, and the elect of God.
38 And he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him.
In the first half of verse (D&C 84:33) 33 the Lord identifies priesthood holder’s part of the covenant: “For whoso is faithful unto the obtaining these two priesthoods of which I have spoken, and the magnifying their calling …”
The Lord then gives his promised blessing for keeping our part of the covenant to be, “sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of [our] bodies”.
Verse 34 goes on to reinforce inclusion in the Abrahamic covenant. Today, incredible blessings flow from this oath and covenant to worthy men, women, and children throughout the entire world.
The convents we make in the temple also have certain obligations, such as promises to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, and devote our talents and material means to the spreading of the Gospel and the building up of the church.
The payment of tithing is another distinguishing part of the covenants we make as revealed in D&C 64:23: “Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.”
We can also make personal covenants with God through righteous prayer and doing all we can to help fulfill the things we desire that are for our benefit.
Covenants are sacred (optional if time permits):
A covenant is a sacred promise. We promise to do some things, and God binds himself to do things for us in return. God does not take his promises lightly, and so we should not take our covenants lightly.
In Mormon 9:29 we are warned to “see that ye do all things in worthiness, and do it in the name of Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God; and if ye do this, and endure to the end, ye will in nowise be cast out.”
Further in D&C 78:11-12, we are commanded “to prepare and organize yourselves by a bond or everlasting covenant that cannot be broken. And he who breaketh it shall lose his office and standing in the church, and shall be delivered over to the buffetings of Satan until the day of redemption.”
This means that our family and marriage relationships are not to be frivolously discarded at the first sign of disagreement or when times get hard. Even those who merely decline callings, neglect neighbors, or moderately adopt worldly ways are at risk. If we are not keeping our part of our covenants, we have no promise.
A lasting eternal marriage cannot be achieved without a commitment to make it work. If you want something to last forever, you must treat it differently. You shield it and protect it. You don’t treat it as common or ordinary. If it ever becomes tarnished, you polish it until it gleams like new. It becomes special because you have made it so, and it grows more beautiful and precious as time goes by.
Choose Ye this day (and every day):
In Joshua 24:15 we are told to “choose you this day whom ye will serve.” When we make covenants we are saying we chose to serve the Lord, but that is not the end of it. Every day we all make choices that either helps to re-enforce the convents we have made or that drive wedges between us and our ultimate potential, to return to live with our Heavenly Father. These choices range from lusting after things we cannot or should not have, to wasting time with things that do not matter when we should be doing things that help build our testimonies, enrich our spirits, and help others in need.
Renewing our Covenants:
Each week we make a choice to come here and partake of the sacrament.
When we partake of the sacrament we renew whatever covenants you have made with the Lord. For example, if you have been baptized only, that is the covenant you renew. If you have received the Melchizedek Priesthood, you also renew that part of the oath and covenant related to your having received that priesthood. If you have been to the temple, you also renew the covenants made there
President Spencer W. Kimball has been quoted as saying, “Remembering covenants prevents apostasy. That is the real purpose of the sacrament, to keep us from forgetting, to help us to remember … [that which we have] covenanted at the water’s edge or at the sacrament table and in the temple.”3 President Kimball further said: “The Savior emphasized that the tangible bread and water of the Sacrament were to remind us continually of the sacrifice he made for us and for renewal of our covenants of righteousness.” (also see 3 Ne. 18: 1-11, 28-29)
The structure of the sacrament prayers is elegantly simple. Each comprises three logical parts. Also arranged in a kind of chronological order. First, the prayer consecrates the emblem and explains its significance; as made by Jesus in the past. Second, it reminds us of our part of the covenant, and we strive to keep today. Third, it reveals the Lord’s part of the covenant, his promise of his Spirit to be with us, and help us in the future.
Rewards of Covenant Making:
In Mosiah 3, King Benjamin taught the people about Jesus Christ.11
After listening to the beautiful teachings, the people were humbled and desired with their whole hearts to be free of sin and to be purified. They repented and professed their faith in Jesus Christ. They made covenants with God that they would keep His commandments.12
Mosiah 4:3 says: “The Spirit of the Lord came upon them, and they were filled with joy, having received a remission of their sins, and having peace of conscience, because of the exceeding faith which they had in Jesus Christ.”
Keeping covenants is the path to true joy and happiness. It brings us comfort and peace. They are a protection from the evils of the world. Keeping our covenants will help us in times of trial. In D&C 101:39, it says the covenant people of God “are accounted as the salt of the earth and the savor of men”
Summary and closing:
I would encourage all of you who have not had the opportunity to take part in all of the sacred ordinances that Baptism, the Priesthood and the Temples have to offer, to prepare yourselves today by making good choices that will bring you closer to your Heavenly Father, to choose to follow the example set by his son Jesus Christ, so that once you have made these Oaths and Covenants, you will be able to keep them as you continue making good choices with help from the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Jeremiah 31:33 says “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel … I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
When we realize that we are God’s people because of the covenant we have made, we will also come to know who we are and what God expects of us.37 When we allow his law to be written in our hearts, we become committed to the covenant and remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. Even the sting of death is soothed and our spiritual stamina is strengthened.
The greatest compliment that can be earned here in this life is to be known as a covenant keeper. The rewards for a covenant keeper will be realized both here and hereafter. Mosiah 2:41 declares that “ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it.”