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Covenants, Ordinances, and Blessings Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
September 29, 2021 9:53 pm

Covenants, Ordinances, and Blessings Part 3

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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September 29, 2021 9:53 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.

How fresh are your bananas? 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've been going through a devotional message that was given by Randy D. Funk of the First Quorum of the Seventy in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It was a devotional he gave at BYU-Idaho on September 22, 2020. It has been turned into an article, and it's found in the September 2021 edition of Liahona Magazine titled, Covenants, Ordinances, and Blessings. In this talk that he gave, which is in the article printed in the Liahona, he gives the illustration of what a unilateral acceptance is. And he mentions this in the context of while he was at law school, he had to describe unilateral acceptance.

The example that he gives is found on page 32. He says, I might say to you, if you bring me a dozen bananas, I will pay you $100. To accept my generous offer, 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. Now, of course, the illustration makes sense when he explains the need for keeping covenants, keeping ordinances, if you hope to receive exaltation in the context of Mormonism. But earlier in the week, I was citing the words of J.C. Ryle, who was an Anglican bishop in the Anglican Church in Liverpool, where he was talking about our need to have actions in our Christian walk. And there's a big difference between those who merely profess Christianity and those who really are Christians.

He said this, and I think it's necessary to bring this out again when we look at Mr. Funk's illustration here. Ryle said the holiest actions of the holiest saint that ever lived are all more or less full of defects and imperfections. I don't think most Christians would deny that. We are a fallen people, we are a sinful people, and even our best intentions are tainted by our fallenness. This is why I asked the question at the beginning of the show, using Mr. Funk's illustration of the bananas. How fresh are the bananas that Latter-day Saints bring to their God?

Are they not also fallen? Would that mean, then, that even their best intentions, their best actions would be more or less full of defects and imperfections? In this context, you could say the whole reason why they're looking for 12 bananas is because they want the $100. I do the ordinances, I do what I'm supposed to do because I want eternal life.

There's a contract involved, and this is exactly the point that is being brought out. But how fresh would a Latter-day Saint's bananas really be if those are illustrative of their works? And my wife really likes bananas, but she does not like bruised bananas. Or if you put bananas in the freezer, they become black and gross. And so the question is, as you're asking, how fresh are your bananas that you're delivering?

For $100, you would expect to have the very best. Well, he tells the story taken out of the Book of Mormon, found in Mosiah 18, 8, and 9, where Alma is explaining to the people what they must do if they hope to be numbered among the people of God. He says, you have to mourn with those who mourn, but 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.

He goes on to say, Alma then described their promised blessings. You may be redeemed of God and be numbered with those of the first resurrection that you may have eternal life and that the Lord may pour out his spirit more abundantly upon you. Notice, you have to meet that condition if you hope to receive eternal life. Now, I don't believe at all that if the people in the Book of Mormon really existed that they understood eternal life to be exaltation or godhood, because the Book of Mormon never talks about this. What Mr. Funk is obviously reading into the Book of Mormon is that somehow this is what it must mean, because that's what modern Latter-day Saints believe when it comes to this doctrine they have of eternal life.

But what does he say in the next paragraph on page 33, Eric? What did the people need to do to accept those remarkable blessings? In Alma's words, quote, you must be 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, end quote.

That's from Mosiah 18, 10. When he says and keep his commandments, would we be wrong in assuming that, based on the illustration he uses earlier, that you must provide a dozen bananas? What if I only provided 10?

And that was the question that I asked yesterday. You see, you have to keep the commandments continually according to D&C 2515. You ask any Latter-day Saint, how many commandments must you keep and how often must you keep them?

They will give you an answer that sounds very similar to what's found in Mosiah 18, 8, and 9. You have to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things and in all places, even until death. If you don't, you're not being a witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places. And it's God who set those terms according to what we get out of this article. But then Mr. Funk goes on to say, the covenants we make are sacred and binding on us and with God. We choose to accept his offered blessing when we exercise our moral agency to receive ordinances and, what? Keep the associated covenants, the 12 bananas.

We've got to go back to the illustration. We have to keep the associated covenants of providing God our 12 bananas. If we don't give God our 12 bananas, we don't get the $100 slash eternal life.

It's as simple as that. The last paragraph in that section on page 34, he writes, in other words, when we partake of the sacrament each week, we testify and witness anew that we will always remember Jesus Christ and that we are willing to keep his commandments. If we do always remember him and keep his commandments, his spirit will be with us. And he says, see third Nephi 18.7 and verse 11. How many of those commandments do you think he's inferring ought to be kept? I think he is inferring that you have to keep all 12 bananas worth of commandments. If you do not keep the 12 bananas worth of commandments, you do not get eternal life. I don't think for a minute that Mr. Funk is trying to give the impression that you only have to keep some of the commandments. LDS leaders have made it very clear you do not read that into those passages that talk about keeping the commandments.

In fact, many times they have made it very clear you have to keep all of the commandments. But then he has a section called Love and Mercy, and I have to be quite honest, folks. Whenever an LDS leader uses the word mercy, it makes me cringe, because their idea of mercy is something that must be earned. You cannot earn mercy. The very word implies it's impossible to earn mercy.

If you earned it, it's no longer mercy. What does he say in the first column on page 35? Thus central to the great plan of happiness is a Savior, Jesus Christ, who makes up the difference, overcomes the unfairness, and allows all, all who truly desire and do all they can to ultimately accept and receive the promised blessings of a loving Heavenly Father. Why does that sound so familiar to us? Well, in the book, Believing Christ, by Stephen E. Robinson, he tells the story of his daughter, Sarah, who wanted a bicycle. And he told her if she was to do her chores, that's the word that he uses, and if she was to save all her pennies, pretty soon you'll have enough for a bike. In the next paragraph on page 31 of Believing Christ, okay, she said, and she went away, I was off the hook.

A few weeks went by and I was once again sitting in my chair after work reading the newspaper. This time I was aware of Sarah doing some chore for her mother and being paid for it. Then she went into her bedroom and I heard the sound like clink, clink.

Well, unfortunately, when they go to look at the bicycle that she's wanting, it says on page 32 that Sarah noticed the price tag hanging down between the handlebars. And with a smile, she reached down and turned it over. At first she just stared at it, then the smile disappeared. Her face clouded up and she started to cry. Oh, daddy, she said in despair, I'll never have enough for a bicycle.

It was her first bitter dose of adult reality. Well, her father, Stephen E. Robinson, comes to the rescue and he asked her, how much money do you have? And she says, 61 cents.

Then I'll tell you what, dear, he said, let's try a different arrangement. You give me everything you've got, the whole 61 cents and a hug and a kiss and this bike is yours. Well, she's never been stupid. She gave me a big hug and a kiss and handed over the 61 cents.

Then I had to drive home very slowly because she wouldn't get off the bike. As I drove, he said, it occurred to me that this was a parable for the atonement of Christ. No, it isn't. You don't have 61 cents. We are fallen.

We are in debt. We do not have anything that we can give towards that atonement. It must be a free gift. It must be an act of mercy on behalf of our benevolent God. You cannot earn it.

This is the problem with this whole illustration. He might try to say there's love and mercy involved, but let's not forget folks up until that paragraph under the section, love and mercy found on page 35, Mr. Funk has been making it very clear that unless you provide the needed amount of works, keeping your covenants or in his illustration, if you don't bring a dozen bananas, don't expect the $100. Don't expect the blessing of eternal life. It goes back to that pull quote that's on page 35, where Russell M. Nelson says that God fixes the terms. Each person may choose to accept those terms. If one accepts the terms of the covenant and obey God's law, he or she receives the blessings associated with the covenant.

There seems to be a lot of doing here, Bill. You said you didn't like the idea of mercy being used by Latter-day Saints, because mercy is not something in Christianity that is merited, but in Mormonism you have to do certain things to get that, but also love. It says in 1 John 4.19, God loved us first, and so this is all us receiving the gift of God, and that's what Christianity teaches. The Bible teaches that we're saved by grace through faith, and it's not based on what we do. In that section, he also says another thing that really bothers me. He says, like the generous, merciful parent Heavenly Father is, He gives us much far beyond anything we merit. Well, no one would argue that, but the fact is, if you have to give anything, then you are meriting to a certain extent that mercy that you think your Heavenly Father is giving you.

But then, he plays with words. The next sentence says, thus exaltation is not earned, but it must be chosen, accepted, and gratefully received. Thomas Monson, who was a prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, made it very clear that exaltation is earned.

He said this in the Ensign magazine, May 1988, page 56. It is the celestial glory which we seek. It is in the presence of God we desire to dwell. It is a forever family in which we want membership. Such blessings must be earned. Must be earned. So when Mr. Funk says that exaltation is not earned, that is certainly a concept that Thomas S. Monson did not agree with.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-18 14:12:54 / 2023-08-18 14:18:27 / 6

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