Finally we reach the Relief Society, This years Relief Society talks focus on the issue of Covenant keeping. The first talk was by Linda K Burton, Relief Society General President, and was entitled The Power Joy and Love of covenant Keeping. Linda begins with the story of a Woman preparing for Baptism she commends this women for her desire to be made clean, giving up her old life in order to make covenants with God.
“She was so anxious to give away all of her sins that she might be washed clean and feel the redeeming love of the Savior. I was inspired that morning by her desire to become both physically and spiritually clean.”
Now in Mainstream Christianity it is taught that once a person has given themselves to Christ, they are washed clean entirely, permanently. I pity this lady that Linda speaks of, as in LDS theology, the cleansing she so desperately sought after would be a temporary thing, she would be clean only for a moment, until the next unholy thought or word then she would again be stained by sin. Of course this can then be rectified by the taking of the Sacrament.
Speaking of the Sacrament Linda then goes on to say…
“Why does the Savior put so much importance upon the sacrament, dear sisters? What importance does this weekly renewal of our baptismal covenants play in our lives? Do we recognize the ability of the Savior to completely cleanse us every week as we worthily and thoughtfully partake of the sacrament?”
This is an interesting teaching of the LDS Church. When Jesus died on the cross what did he really do?
Did he die to pay the price for all of our sins or just some of them? And if you say just some of them, was his sacrifice therefore not sufficient?
When we are told in the Bible that Jesus died for our sins, it wasn’t just talking about those we have already committed. God knows that we sin, we can’t help ourselves. Seriously how long do you think you can go without sinning, an hour? really? What about those sinful thoughts! A day? I don’t believe you! We all sin, the Bible tells us that we have a sin nature, we are corrupt, the bible tells us that we are ( or were if you are saved ) in sinful flesh, ( or a sinful nature,)
Ephesians 2:3 (NASB)
3 Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the [b]mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.
Those who have not been freed by Christ are slaves to corruption.
” Peter 2:19
19 promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved.
We all sin, and Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient to cover all of our sin…..
13 When you were dead [a]in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, 14 having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.
Does this sound like something that needs to be renewed once a week? This verse talks about having been taken from death to life. You can’t then go back into death again.
It says He has Cancelled the Certificate of Debt! God knows every sin you will ever commit, and if He says your debt against Him is cancelled, He is including the sins you do not yet know about, because He does know about them.
He has taken this Certificate of Debt against you ( if you are His ) and nailed it to the cross! Where were your sins dealt with? On the cross 2000 years before you committed them.
So what is the Sacrament?
A sacrament is a visible manifestation of the word. The bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are considered sacraments in that they are visible manifestations of the covenant promise of our Lord: “In the same way, after the supper he took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you,'” (Luke 22:20).
It’s not the sacrament that cleanses you but the blood the saviour spilled for you 2000 years ago, there he nailed your sins to the cross. As I said this talk is about covenant keeping, Linda goes on to share a story of a Mother with young children who finds it hard to focus on a Sunday. With this I can relate, as a Mother of Two young Children, and the idea of preparing yourselves as the woman in the story does, for the taking of the sacrament, is definitely good advice, any Christian would agree as it says in Corinthians,
1 Corinthians 11:28
28 But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
Linda goes on to discuss trial and tribulation, and how God can use the tribulation in our lives to bring about good. She illustrates with a story of a historic Tabinacle in ProvoUtah, which was destroyed by fire, the shell of this building was later used in creating an LDSTemple. A building of much greater standing. To the Women experiencing Trial in their lives she says this…
“Sisters, I testify that the Lord has a plan for each of our lives. Nothing that happens is a shock or a surprise to Him. He is all-knowing and all-loving. He is eager to help us, to comfort us, and to ease our pain as we rely on the power of the Atonement and honor our covenants. The trials and tribulation that we experience may be the very things that guide us to come unto Him and cling to our covenants so that we might return to His presence and receive all that the Father hath”.
As a Christian I agree that the Lord can and does use tribulation and hardship in our lives and turns it around for good, I agree that these times of trial should lead us into His loving arms. But the only covenant I cling to is the one that Jesus made, in his blood to bring about my salvation.
Now a Christian reading this post might be unaware of the covenants within Mormonism. When someone is Baptized into the LDSChurch they are entering into a covenant relationship but unlike the covenant relationship Christians enter as they are converted, The Mormon will be expected to hold to promises that he/She has made.
(At Baptism I Covenant with the Lord to:
1. Come into the fold of God (become a member of the Church
of Jesus Christ).
2. Be called his son or daughter (take upon me the name of Christ).
3. Bear others’ burdens, that they may be light; mourn with those that
mourn; and comfort those in need of comfort (help others).
4. Stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things and in
all places (testify of Christ and set a good example at all times).
5. Serve God and keep his commandments.
When I Keep My Baptismal Covenants the Lord Covenants to:
1. Forgive my sins.
2. Pour his Spirit more abundantly upon me (give me the companionship
of the Holy Ghost).
3. Redeem me that I might be numbered with those of the first resurrection
and have eternal life (permit me to enter the celestial kingdom to live
with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ).
When it says here “keep his commandments that means a number of things, including obeying the word of wisdom, (Not drinking tea/ coffee/alcohol ) and tithing, going to the temple, daily family prayers, family home evening, fulfilling your calling and home teaching. All of these may not be commandments but their certainly expectations within the Church.
There are also further covenants made in the temple. As all three of this years Relief society speakers are speaking on this issue of Covenant keeping. I want to just take a look at this issue of covenants from a Biblical perspective.
What does the Bible say about making covenants?
A covenant is a contract or agreement between two or more parties. The Bible is a covenant document. The Old and New Testaments are really Old and New Covenants. The word “testament” is Latin for Covenant.
A Covenant requires blood…
Hebrews 9:16-22 For where a [q]covenant is, there must of necessity [r]be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a [s]covenant is valid only when [t]men are dead, [u]for it is never in force while the one who made it lives.18 Therefore even the first covenant was not inaugurated without blood. 19 For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled both the [v]tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22 And according to the [w]Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.
There are many references to a New Covenant in the New Testament, but ( correct me if i’m wrong) there is no mention of New testament Christians making ongoing Covenants or vow’s to God. in fact in James 5:12 we are specifically told not to. 12 But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.
Luke 22:20 And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.
2 Corinthians 3:6 who also made us adequate as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.
The New Covenant we are under is clearly different from the Old Covenant of keeping Laws and ordinances
Hebrews 9:14-16 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through [a]the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse [b]your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?15 For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.
We find no mention of Covenants that we are to keep in the New Testament, Why is this?
Romans 2:29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.
Ezekiel 11:18-20 When they come there, they will remove all its detestable things and all its abominations from it. 19 And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within [a]them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.
Hebrews 8:10-12 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel After those days, says the Lord: [g]I will put My laws into their minds, And I will write them on their hearts.
This is our Covenant with God, When someone becomes a Christian, the bible says that God gives us a new heart, He writes His laws on our minds and hearts. We’re not required to make further Covenants with God, He has given us His Covenant Promises And he has given us His word, He has also given us The Holy spirit, His Statutes and ordinances are written on our hearts. not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.(2 Corinthians 3:6)