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The Covenant Path Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
July 12, 2021 9:48 pm

The Covenant Path Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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July 12, 2021 9:48 pm

Apostle D. Todd Christofferson gave an April 2021 General Conference message titled “Why the Covenant Path.” Bill and Eric take a closer look at the talk from the May 2021 Liahona magazine and break down what the LDS apostle says about covenants and the possibility of keeping promises that require total obedience.

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You hear a knock on the door and open it to find two friendly representatives from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church.

So what will you say? Will you send them away without a Christian witness, or will you engage them in a meaningful and Christ-honoring conversation? If you desire the latter, may we suggest the book, Answering Mormon's Questions, by Mormonism Research Ministries Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson. Answering Mormon's Questions is available wherever you find quality Christian books. Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism.

Are Latter-day Saints required to keep all the commandments of God in order to stay on what they call the covenant path? Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. Yesterday we began looking at a conference message that was given by D. Todd Christofferson. He is a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

This was a message that he gave in April 2021 and can be found in the May edition of the Liahona magazine beginning on page 116. The title is, Why the Covenant Path? The difference of the covenant path is uniquely and eternally significant. He begins his message by paying accolades to 17th President Russell M. Nelson, who talks about the Latter-day Saints' commitment to follow the Savior by making covenants with him and then keeping these covenants and how keeping these covenants will open the door to every spiritual blessing and privilege available to men, women, and children everywhere. The covenant path is an essential doctrine in the life of the member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It's absolutely essential that they stay on this covenant path. And what's interesting is covenant keeping is absolutely essential if the member hopes to receive exaltation in the celestial kingdom of God. In this talk, Christofferson says our overarching covenant commitment is to do God's will, quote, and to be obedient to his commandments in all things that he shall commend us, end quote, citing from Mosiah 5-5, which is a unique part of LDS scripture. The problem I think, Eric, when talking about this is sometimes when we are trying to emphasize the biblical doctrine of grace, we can neglect to emphasize the fact that as New Testament Christians, we also believe that we should strive to keep God's commandments. And that's really what covenant keeping is to the Latter-day Saint.

It's keeping all the commandments of God. Sometimes in emphasizing the grace that we read of in the New Testament, we neglect to emphasize that part. And so it's easy for many Latter-day Saints to accuse us of thinking that good works are not all that important in the Christian walk, when in fact they most definitely are important. The difference, of course, is that though we believe we should be striving to live a holy life in order to give God honor and glory for what he's done in our life, we don't believe that those good works have any bearing on our justification before God. In other words, our good works do not make us right with God. Our good works reflect the fact that we have been made right with God, and we have been made right with God by placing our faith in what Jesus did on our behalf. In other words, we believe that Jesus' sacrifice on the cross at Calvary was all sufficient in purchasing our salvation, and we are told that we merely must believe in what he did on our behalf, and we are therefore justified by that faith.

And that's exactly right. A simple way to think of it is, in Christianity, it's faith. And faith alone equals salvation.

But works come out of that. That's what we call sanctification. But in Mormonism, it's faith plus works equals your true salvation, which you've been saying is the celestial kingdom, exaltation, or eternal life, all synonymous terms. Well, when it comes to keeping covenants, as Latter-day Saints are told they must, let's look at some statements that have been made by LDS leaders regarding the importance of covenant keeping. And what's interesting is that Spencer W. Kimball, the 12th president of the church, in the book The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, this is found on page 497, he makes this interesting comment. He says, one breaks the priesthood covenant by transgressing commandments, but also by leaving undone his duties. Accordingly, to break this covenant, one needs only to do nothing. Now, we would put that into the category of the sin of omission, would we not?

And that's exactly what Kimball's talking about. But notice when he says that one breaks the priesthood covenant by transgressing commandments. Well, what Latter-day Saint lives a consistent life of not breaking God's commandments? If you find a Latter-day Saint who has accomplished that, basically you found a Latter-day Saint who does not feel that they have a personal need to repent. And I find that every Latter-day Saint I've talked to, at least, admits to me that they find repentance to be something common in their life, which of course means breaking commandments must also be common in their life, otherwise they would not need to repent of those commandments that they have violated.

But then Kimball also says this on page 57 of The Miracle of Forgiveness. Again, to many of the other sins, is that of the covenant breaker. The person baptized promises to keep all the laws and commandments of God. He has partaken of the sacrament and re-pledged his allegiance and his fidelity, promising and covenanting that he will keep all God's laws. Numerous folks have gone to the temples and have re-covenanted that they would live all the commandments of God, keep their lives clean, devoted, worthy, and serviceable. Yet many there are who forget their covenants and break the commandments, sometimes deliberately tempting the faithful away with them.

Now why does that statement become important to us in the context of this article or this talk that Kristofferson gave in 2021? It's because Kimball is making it very clear that if you make a promise in the temple, and he mentions the temple specifically, and you re-pledge your allegiance and fidelity when you're partaking of the communion or the sacrament, as it's often referred to in Mormonism, you have become a covenant breaker. Wouldn't you say, Eric, that every single member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fits that description at one time in their life? Probably every week, making it necessary to go and partake of the sacrament and re-pledge that allegiance, as it's referred to here in this statement by Spencer W. Kimball. They are all covenant breakers.

None of them are staying consistently on this alleged covenant path that D. Todd Kristofferson is mentioning here in this talk. Then you have 13th president, Ezra Taft Benson, where he also talks about the necessity of renewing and keeping your covenants. He says, quoting, Our agreement to keep all the commandments is our covenant with God. Only as we do this may we deserve his blessings and merit his mercy. Merit his mercy.

You've often commented, Eric, how that is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me, and it most certainly is because you cannot merit mercy at all. It must be unmerited. But notice the emphasis is on keeping all his commandments. Our agreement to keep all the commandments is our covenant with God.

Who, as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is doing that? I want to go back to The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer Kimball. I just want to give a couple of additional quotes. This is what Kimball writes on page 17. And then later in the book, he talks about the issue of perfection and he says perfection is an achievable goal.

This is what he writes on page 208. And then he quotes Matthew 5 48, which says, This is what he writes. I think there are many Latter-day Saints who hear that and say, we don't teach that anymore. I'm going to suggest to you that Spencer Kimball, on every page practically of his book, cites from unique LDS scripture. The Doctrine and Covenants and the Book of Mormon are his two favorites.

And I think he does a great job of exegeting those passages to say exactly what he's talking about. That you don't just make covenants and not keep them, but you make covenants because you're supposed to keep them. And if you don't keep those covenants, then all the weight of those sins can come back when you sin again.

Well, Mr. Kristofferson starts off this talk by citing the 17th president of the church. Well, here's what Russell M. Nelson said about the importance of obedience to covenants. He said this, Obedience to the sacred covenants made in temples qualify us for eternal life, the greatest gift of God to man.

Now, when I read that, I see something that smacks a little bit of self-refutation. In other words, you need to qualify yourself for eternal life, but what you are qualifying for is described as a gift. Normally, gifts are given without anything in return, but that's not the way it is understood in LDS theology. Even though exaltation must be worked for, it is simultaneously described as a gift. And the covenant is made weekly. The apostle Robert D. Hale said at a general conference talk in April of 2014, It's not just saying you're going to do it, though, it's actually doing that, and that's what Mormonism is all about. Join us again as we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-23 01:55:42 / 2023-09-23 02:00:13 / 5

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