Covenants with God bind us to him and allow us to experience true happiness. Whenever the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been on earth, those who choose to align themselves with the gospel become covenant people.
In “Covenants with God Strengthen, Protect, and Prepare Us for Eternal Glory“, Sister Jean B. Bingham states “As we choose to make covenants and keep them, we will be blessed with more happiness in this life and a glorious eternal life to come.” Why do Latter-day Saints make covenants with God? Where do we make them? What is a covenant?
A covenant is a two-way promise, the conditions of which are set by God. When we enter into a covenant with God, we promise to keep those conditions. He promises us certain blessings in return.Understanding Our Covenants with God
Notice that a covenant has no negotiations. We do not get to set terms. The terms are set by God. We choose to accept those terms. This is actually a good thing. God, being omniscient and omnipotent, perfect in every way, knows the best terms for us to work with Him.
In the August 29 – September 4 Come Follow Me Old Testament lesson, in Proverbs 3:3-4 we read “Let not mercy and truth forsake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good understanding in the sight of God and man.” When we keep the covenants we have made and “bind them upon our neck” God will bless us and people will know there is something different about us.
Where Do We Make Covenants?
There are in general two places where we make covenants. The first is when we are baptized. This usually happens in a baptismal font in one of the church’s Ward/Stake buildings. The second place we make covenants is in the temple. These places are sacred, and where we make covenants become special to us.
I was baptized in the Orchard Park Ward on Baker Road in Orchard Park, NY. It was a winter day in February of 1978. I only remember one part of that day. I kept my eyes open as I was baptized. I saw through the water to the Elder who was baptizing me. That building is still there. The font is still there. That building means a lot to me as it was where my sins were washed away and I started down the covenant path.
I made my temple covenants in the Washington, D.C. temple. It was a long drive from our home in Western New York. I thought I was prepared, but I wasn’t. It was a lot of information over a two to two-and-a-half-hour session. I came out with a splitting headache trying to process it all. I remember my mother, the only other member of my family to have gone through the temple, asking me if I wanted to do another session. I couldn’t with the headache I had. Yet as I sat there near the reflecting pool, I knew that this place would hold a special place in my heart. Even today I get emotional thinking about the day I made those covenants with God.
Why Do We Make Covenants with God?
This may be the biggest question for Latter-day Saints. Why do we make covenants with God? Wouldn’t it be easier to not make the covenants and live life according to how we think and feel? What is it about covenants that are so special we would be willing to make and keep them?
Sister Bingham explains “Happiness is hollow if we exchange the blessings of eternal joy for momentary ease. no matter our age, that is the absolute truth: the key to lasting happiness is living the gospel of Jesus Christ and keeping our covenants.” (emphasis added). Why do we make covenants with God? Because we want lasting happiness in this life and the promise of glory in the next. We find peace and comfort knowing that we are on the covenant path progressing to exaltation. Our consciences are not worried about tomorrow, or what will happen in the coming years. We understand, not only who we are, but where we are going. Even “when the devil shall send forth his mighty winds, yea, his shafts in the whirlwind, yea, when all his hail and his mighty storm shall beat upon [us]” (Helaman 5:12) we have bound ourselves through covenants to the foundation of the rock of our Redeemer and that binding helps us not to fall.
Why did I make covenants with God? The testimony I have received from the Holy Ghost about the truthfulness of this work mirrors the testimony Peter gave Jesus at a time when “many of his disciples went back, and walked with him no more.” The twelve apostles were asked by Jesus, “Will ye also go away?”. Peter answered for all of them “Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.” (See John 6:66-69, emphasis added). I believe and am sure that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, and that He has directed the work of the restoration through the prophet Joseph Smith who through Christ’s direction organized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Does that mean there aren’t times when I have feelings of doubt or confusion? No. It is during those times that I remember Oliver Cowdery’s experience. In a time of doubt, the Lord told Oliver Cowdery “Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things. Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:22-23). This reminds me to remember that night in my dorm room, W-hall, Deseret Towers, on the campus of Brigham Young University where I did cry in my heart to know the truth. I received a witness that night that I cannot deny, nor will I deny.
We are a covenant people. We make and keep covenants for which God has set the terms in order to receive the blessings of peace in this life and exaltation in the next. As we walk the covenant path we strive to be more Christlike and begin to have an understanding and love for all mankind. Truly our covenants strengthen, protect, and prepare us for eternal glory.