If there is one statement that would describe our membership in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, it would be: We are a covenant making people. Often in the Old Testament, the Lord refers to His "covenant people". The Index of the scriptures gave this definition, "A covenant is a sacred agreement between God and a person or group of people. God sets specific conditions, and He promises to bless us as we obey those conditions. When we choose not to keep covenants, we cannot receive the blessings, and in some instances we suffer a penalty as a consequence of our disobedience." The Bible dictionary gives this definition of "covenant". "Sometimes denotes an agreement between persons (1 Sam. 23: 18) or nations (1 Sam. 11: 1); more often between God and man; but in this latter case it is important to notice that the two parties to the agreement do not stand in the relation of independent and equal contractors. God in his good pleasure fixes the terms, which man accepts. The same word is sometimes rendered "testament."
The gospel is so arranged that principles and ordinances are received by covenant placing the recipient under strong obligation and responsibility to honor the commitment. Thus the severe consequences to Ananias and Sapphira, who deliberately broke their covenant and lied unto God (Acts 5: 1-11)."
Another example of a covenant is the one that God made with Abraham. God said, ""I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12:3.) The children of Israel also made covenants with God. Today we too make sacred covenants with God.
One of the covenants that we make with God is the covenant of baptism. As part of this covenant, we take upon ourselves the name of Christ. In essence, we become "Christians", and promise to follow Him. We also promise to keep the commandments. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma taught some other attitudes we should have about our baptismal covenant. To the people who had come to hear him teach he said,
" 8... Behold, here are the waters of Mormon (for thus were they called) and now, as ye are desirous to come into the fold of God, and to be called his people, and are willing to bear one another's burdens, that they may be light;
9 Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places that ye may be in, even until death, that ye may be redeemed of God, and be numbered with those of the first resurrection, that ye may have eternal life—
10 Now I say unto you, if this be the desire of your hearts, what have you against being baptized in the name of the Lord, as a witness before him that ye have entered into a covenant with him, that ye will serve him and keep his commandments, that he may pour out his Spirit more abundantly upon you?"
God promises us several things as His part of the covenant. One thing He promises is that when we repent of our sins, He will forgive us. He also promises that if we keep our part of the covenant, we will have the Holy Spirit to guide us. He promises that if we do these things, we will have eternal life. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught, ""Eternal life is not a name that has reference only to the unending duration of a future life; immortality is to live forever in the resurrected state, and by the grace of God all men will gain this unending continuance of life. But only those who obey the fulness of the gospel law will inherit eternal life. … It is 'the greatest of all the gifts of God … , for it is the kind, status, type, and quality of life that God himself enjoys. Thus those who gain eternal life receive exaltation; they are sons of God, joint-heirs with Christ, members of the Church of the Firstborn; they overcome all things, have all power, and receive the fulness of the Father" (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. , 237).
These blessings are available to all who enter the covenant, and keep their part of the agreement. This promise is so solemn that those who commit serious sins are excommunicated, or in other words, taken out from under the covenant until they repent.
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, other covenants are available for those who meet the worthiness requirements. Other sacred covenants are entered in to in the temple of the Lord. Another important covenant is that associated with the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood. Those who take upon themselves the solemn responsibility of the Priesthood, enter in to a holy and sacred oath and covenant with the Lord.
The making of covenants helps us to gain many spiritual gifts in our life, and helps us to develop faith. Elder D. Todd Christofferson taught, "Divine covenants make strong Christians. I urge each one to qualify for and receive all the priesthood ordinances you can and then faithfully keep the promises you have made by covenant. In times of distress, let your covenants be paramount and let your obedience be exact. Then you can ask in faith, nothing wavering, according to your need, and God will answer. He will sustain you as you work and watch. In His own time and way He will stretch forth his hand to you, saying, "Here am I." .. . I testify that God will keep His promises to you as you honor your covenants with Him. He will bless you in "good measure, pressed down, … shaken together, and running over" (Luke 6:38). He will strengthen and finish your faith. He will, by His Holy Spirit, fill you with godly power. I pray that you will always have His Spirit to be with you to guide you and deliver you from want, anxiety, and distress. I pray that through your covenants, you may become a powerful instrument for good in the hands of Him who is our Lord and Redeemer." D. Todd Christofferson, "The Power of Covenants
I am thankful for the covenants I have made, and especially for the many blessings the Lord pours out upon me as I fulfill my part of the covenant.