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Covenants, Ordinances, and Blessings Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
September 28, 2021 9:51 pm

Covenants, Ordinances, and Blessings Part 2

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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September 28, 2021 9:51 pm

Bill and Eric discuss an article in the September 2021 Liahona magazine written by Seventy Randy Funk on the requirements imposed by Mormonism for a person who wants to be a faithful member.

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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. In Mormonism, what are the ordinances of salvation and exaltation? 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. We began looking at an article in the Liahona magazine.

It's the September 2021 edition of Liahona. On page 30, there's an article titled Covenants, Ordinances, and Blessings. It was a devotional address that was given by Randy D. Funk of The Seventy. He gave this talk at BYU-Idaho, which is in Rexburg, Idaho, on September 22, 2020.

And as we mentioned yesterday, there seems to be quite an emphasis in the year 2021, especially when it comes to the importance for Latter-day Saints to keep their covenants and perform ordinances if they hope to receive certain blessings from their God. In yesterday's show, we were talking about an illustration that Mr. Funk gave about a person wanting a dozen bananas. And he says, if you bring me a dozen bananas, I will pay you $100 to accept my generous offer. He writes, you don't need to sign an agreement or even say you will bring me bananas.

You simply need to go to the store or marketplace, buy a dozen bananas, and bring them to me. The point that Mr. Funk is trying to make here, as he's going to go on in his talk slash article, is if you don't come through with the dozen bananas, you're not going to get paid the $100. Now, certainly, as he says, that's a generous offer.

But the fact is, the generous offer is null and void if you don't live up to your part of the bargain. And that's the whole point that he's trying to bring out. This man is a lawyer, and he's trying to show you how contracts operate, and he's comparing how worldly contracts work and also how it works with God.

He makes that comparison in this piece. But as we pointed out yesterday, Bill, this is not what Christianity teaches. We have a hymn, and it says, Jesus paid it all. All to Him I owe. This is not getting $100 for free. It's going to cost you two or three dollars.

And so yes, as you said, it's very generous, very nice for you to give me a $97 tip, but it's not $100 that comes free. No Latter-day Saint who holds to that illustration could say with a straight face that their salvation is based in the fact that Jesus is enough. They have to add something to what Jesus did.

And this is what Mr. Funk is trying to get across here. There's a section titled Ordinances of Salvation and Exaltation. What does he say there, Eric? We enter into those covenants necessary for salvation and exaltation by receiving sacred ordinances. As stated in the general handbook, quote, members make covenants with God as they receive the ordinances of salvation and exaltation. All who endure to the end in keeping their covenants will receive eternal life, end quote. Going back to his illustration of the dozen bananas, all who endured to the end in keeping their covenant by providing the 12 bananas will receive eternal life slash the $100. Do you see the connection that Mr. Funk is making here? You do your part, then and only then will God do his part.

All who endure to the end in keeping their covenants will receive eternal life. Now let's go back to his illustration of the bananas. If he said, bring me a dozen bananas, and I only bring him 10, do I get my $100?

Unlikely. That's not part of the illustration he's trying to make here. He's not saying we can fudge on our part of the deal. We have to stick to the terms that we agreed upon, and the agreement was, I provide 12 bananas, he gives me $100. If I give him only 10, I don't get the $100. That's what he's saying. You have to keep your covenant if you hope to receive eternal life. You have to provide the bananas if you hope to get your $100.

That's the illustration's point that he is making. He goes on in that section to say the ordinances of salvation and exaltation are baptism, confirmation and the gift of the Holy Ghost, Melchizedek Priesthood, ordination for men, and the endowment and sealing ordinances of the temple. Each of these five ordinances is performed vicariously in the temple for deceased ancestors because these ordinances are essential for all God's children. What if you only kept four of the five? What if you kept three of the five? Can you assume that God is still going to give you what you're seeking, in this case celestial exaltation, or according to his illustration, $100 for 12 bananas? You're not giving him 12 bananas, you're only giving him five. You're only giving him four bananas instead of 12.

So do you think you're going to get your $100 or your eternal life based on you not providing what you agreed upon? But the question is, Bill, are you capable of bringing a dozen bananas? And you're saying four, five, seven, we can minimize that, but how many commandments is a person supposed to keep? According to the Church, you're supposed to keep all of them.

First Nephi 3-7 says that the Lord gives no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commanded them. So if you have a dozen bananas that can be brought, and you only bring 10, you haven't done your part of the bargain, he does not owe you $100. So basically, Eric, what you're saying is, if we are really going to compare this illustration to how Mormonism works, it's not that the Mormon is supposed to bring 12 bananas, they have to bring all the bananas! You have to bring all the bananas that are necessary, that you can possibly find, do your best to get all the bananas, and then you get your $100 slash eternal life. Eternal life.

That seems to fit more the way Latter-day Saint leaders have explained this. If it was only 12 bananas, that's no big deal. Anybody can do that. I can find 12 bananas somewhere. But if you told me, hey, you got to bring all the bananas, that's going to be a little more difficult. That means I'd have to be running from store to store to store to store, and I'm not going to be able to do that. It's impossible to meet that task. That's the point we're trying to make.

I know what Mr. Funk is trying to do here, but I think this is where his illustration starts to break down. That's a brilliant point, because Latter-day Saints don't know if they've done enough to be able to earn salvation. You ask a Latter-day Saint, if you were to die right now, where would you end up, the celestial kingdom? And they say, I hope so, I'm doing my best, I'm trying. But there's not a 12 that they know about.

They're trying to do everything, and they never know if they've ever gotten to that point. He goes on in this section under Ordinances of Salvation and Exaltation to say, the record of Alma teaching at the waters of Mormon illustrates the relationship among covenants, ordinances, and blessings. Notice how God, through His prophets, sets the conditions, describes the promised blessings, and declares how we may receive those blessings.

Now, that comment, I think, connects with a pull quote that is found on page 35 at the very end of this article. Under a picture of the 17th president, Russell M. Nelson, is the title A Sacred Promise. If you go down into that pull quote, Nelson says, speaking of God, he fixes the terms. Each person may choose to accept those terms. If one accepts the terms of the covenant and obeys God's law, he or she receives the blessings associated with the covenant. Okay, that seems like a human contract, all right, put into the spiritual way, but would God be required to meet His end of the bargain if we fail to live up to those terms? What does the church manual Gospel Principles have to say about that?

Yeah, this was from page 81 of Gospel Principles. It says, Within the Gospel, a covenant means a sacred agreement or mutual promise between God and a person or a group of people. In making a covenant, God promises a blessing for obedience to particular commandments. He sets the terms of His covenants, and He reveals these terms to His prophets. If we choose to obey the terms of the covenant, we receive promised blessings. If we choose not to obey, He withholds the blessings, and in some instances, a penalty also is given. So Eric, what I'm getting from that is if I bring less than 12 bananas to the table, I don't get my $100. There's really no leniency in a contract like this. You either live up to your part of the bargain, and if you don't, don't expect God to live up to His part of the bargain.

He is not responsible. But he goes on in talking about this story of Alma teaching at the waters of Mormon. He writes, To those gathered at the waters of Mormon who expressed a desire to come into the fold of God, desire being an important first step, see Alma 32 27, Alma taught what was expected of them.

They had to be willing to bear one another's burdens, mourn with those that mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places, even until death. And he's citing from Mosiah 18 8 and 9 in the Book of Mormon. Notice carefully how he words this, desire being an important first step. It's not the entire concept. Certainly you have to have a desire.

That's a given. But he says desire being an important first step. What did Spencer Kimball say about desire on page 8 of his book The Miracle of Forgiveness? He writes, One church member of my acquaintance said, as she drank her coffee, The Lord knows my heart is right, and that I have good intentions, and that I will someday get the strength to quit. But will one receive eternal life on the basis of his good intentions?

Can one enter a country, receive a scholastic degree, and so on, on the strength of good intent, unsupported by appropriate action? Samuel Johnson remarked that Hell was paved with good intentions. The Lord will not translate one's good hopes and desires and intentions into works.

Each of us must do that for himself. We know that in recent times, Spencer Kimball's book The Miracle of Forgiveness has been harshly criticized by some, not just lay members, but even some other local leaders have criticized what Kimball has to say. Do you think any modern LDS leader would reject what Kimball said on page 8 of his book The Miracle of Forgiveness?

I don't think so, and also I don't think the standard works would object to what he has said. I don't think Mr. Funk would object to what Kimball has said there, because he makes it very clear. Desire being an important first step. And he goes on by quoting Mosiah 18, 8, and 9 to show that there are other things that you must have, plus desire. You must mourn with those who mourn, comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places. Eric, let me ask you, in light of what we've read so far, would you be standing as a witness of God if you did not be the example at all times? No. Would you be a witness of God if you were not an example in all places? No.

That's the point. What it says in Mosiah 18, 8, and 9 is you must stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places. So if you're not coming with your 12 bananas, but you're coming with 10 bananas, are you being a witness of God at all times, in all things, and in all places? And if you're a Latter-day Saint, how are you doing at that? You ask any Latter-day Saint, how are you doing at that? That's a good point, Eric, because our experience has told us that many times the answer to that question is what? Well, I hope so, I think so, or I'm trying, or just a flat-out no.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-18 20:50:19 / 2023-08-18 20:56:00 / 6

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