October 2013 General Conference Review, Relief Society session by Vicky Gilpin.

Sister_Burton_RS_Meeting_2013

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.

Linda says

“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)

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…..

 Colossians 2:13-14

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.

Baptizmal

Here is a list of those promises…

(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)

3 thoughts on “October 2013 General Conference Review, Relief Society session by Vicky Gilpin.”

  1. Good writing Vicki. I think you would make a great Relief Society president:) As a Mormon, a couple of questions:

    1. What role, if any, do we have in our own salvation after we have accepted Christ? Beyond exercising agency to accept Christ, are there no longer spiritual consequences for our decisions?

    2. In the US, some research shows that the lifestyle of Christians is essentially no different than non-Christians. Is it possible that the incredible capacity for self-deception that we have as humans leads to a false sense of salvation, we then going back to sinful behaviors, unrepentant and making a mockery of Christ’s atonement?

    Like

  2. Hi Charles, thank you for your comments and questions,

    your first question…

    1. What role, if any, do we have in our own salvation after we have accepted Christ? Beyond exercising agency to accept Christ, are there no longer spiritual consequences for our decisions?

    I think Romans gives a good answer to your question. Here it says that having believed in Christ we are now dead to sin, obviously we are still capable of sin but we are no longer slaves to sin as we were. We can choose to sin, but our desire is not to sin. If we do sin then Holy spirit convicts us in out heart and leads us to repentance.

    Romans 6:1-7
    (NASB)
    Believers Are Dead to Sin, Alive to God

    6 What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? 2 May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? 3 Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? 4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. 5 For if we have become [a]united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be [b]in the likeness of His resurrection, 6 knowing this, that our old [c]self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be [d]done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; 7 for he who has died is [e]freed from sin.

    2. In the US, some research shows that the lifestyle of Christians is essentially no different than non-Christians. Is it possible that the incredible capacity for self-deception that we have as humans leads to a false sense of salvation, we then going back to sinful behaviors, unrepentant and making a mockery of Christ’s atonement?

    I believe there are many who identify themselves as Christians, who are not. For example particularly in the UK, many people if asked their religion on a form, would state that they are Christian. They say this because England is and has always been considered a Christian country with the Queen as the head of the Church.

    That been said is it possible for someone to fool themselves into thinking they are a Christian? I don’t think so, the bible says that the Holy spirit witnesses with our sprit that we are children of God. (Romans 8:16)

    A genuine conversion will lead to a changed life, God is at work in us.

    Philippians 2:13
    13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.

    And as we walk in obedience, the fruits of the spirit should start to be seen in our lives.

    Galatians 5:22-23
    22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

    If someone were to supposedly come to Christ, and then ten years later, have no evidence for this in their lives, I would doubt that their conversion was genuine. After all becoming a Christian is not just a matter of making a decision, the Bible says that we are given new hearts, (Ezekiel 36:26 that we have circumcised hearts. (Romans 2:28-29) We are changed by God, into a new creation.

    2 Corinthians 5:17
    17 Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

    Like

  3. Thank you for your reply. I think your selection of scriptures is good. I know this is an old debate that precedes the formation of the LDS Church. My observation of the evangelical view is that there is a dichotomy. On one hand, a person claims salvation and receives the fruits of the Spirit, evidence of a true change of heart. On the other side, the person accepts Christs but fails, by his behavior, to exhibit a pattern of Christian living. The argument is that he was never really saved.

    It seems that Mormons place a greater emphasis on agency and its role in salvation. Even God will not rob us of agency after we recognize who He is and His ability to save us. Discipleship, is a choice – perhaps a lifetime of small choices. Given our guaranteed imperfections, we can (and must) repent and seek to overcome the flesh. I have seen instances where prayer has overcome a lifetime of alcoholism instantly. There are others who will wrestle with that, or other self-destructive behaviors, to the end of the days – but continue on, seeking his grace and exercising the degree of agency that they possess.

    Anyway, enjoy your writing and hope to meet you and Bobby in person some day.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s