Honoring Covenants

The Gospel and the Productive Life Teacher Manual Religion 150, (2004), 66–70


Introduction

Making and keeping covenants is an essential part of the plan of salvation. As we strive to reach our divine potential, we must receive the ordinances and covenants of the gospel through those who hold the proper priesthood authority. Help your students understand that though we live in a world where keeping promises is often disregarded, the Lord expects us to keep promises and blesses those who are willing to make and keep covenants with Him. When we make and keep covenants with the Lord and endure to the end, we receive the promise of eternal life.

Couple wearing lava-lavas leaving the temple

Principles to Understand

  • A covenant is a sacred promise between God and His children.

  • By honoring our covenants we can fulfill our divine potential.

  • Priesthood authority is necessary to receive the covenants and ordinances of salvation.

  • Honoring our covenants prepares us to receive eternal life.

Teaching Suggestions

A covenant is a sacred promise between God and His children.

Show a marriage certificate, a wedding ring, or a wedding picture. Ask what the object represents. Then ask:

  • What promises are made between two individuals when they get married?

  • What blessings can come to them when they keep these promises?

  • What will be lost if they do not keep their covenants?

Write covenant on the board. Ask students what the word means. Have a student read the statement from the Guide to the Scriptures on page 98 of the student manual. Invite students to write their answers to the following questions in the “Notes and Impressions” section of their student manual:

  • What are some of the covenants you have made?

  • How are words such as promises, contracts, and commitments related to covenants?

  • Who is affected when covenants are not kept?

  • In what ways are the covenants we make with God different than agreements we make with each other?

  • What preparation should precede gospel covenants?

Explain that covenants are two-sided. Have students read the explanation from Elder Jack H. Goaslind Jr. on page 98 of the student manual.

Write the following scripture references on the board. Have students read them and discuss what they learn from each scripture about covenants.

Share the following statement from President James E. Faust, a counselor in the First Presidency:

“Covenants are not simply outward rituals; they are real and effective means of change. ‘Being born again, comes by the Spirit of God through ordinances’ [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith (1976), 162]. We should always honor and keep sacred the saving covenants we make with the Lord” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 19; or Ensign, May 1998, 17).

Ask: How can keeping covenants help you resist temptation?

By honoring our covenants we can fulfill our divine potential.

Have students sing one verse of “I Am a Child of God” (Hymns, no. 301). Ask: What important lessons do we learn from this song?

Read and discuss Abraham 3:22–26 (Scripture Mastery, Abraham 3:22–23). Ask:

  • What did Abraham learn about his potential?

  • What does this help us understand about ourselves?

Share the following statements from President Spencer W. Kimball:

“Remember, in the world before we came here, faithful women were given certain assignments while faithful men were foreordained to certain priesthood tasks. … You are accountable for those things which long ago were expected of you just as are those we sustain as prophets and apostles!” (“The Role of Righteous Women,” Ensign, Nov. 1979, 102).

“We made vows, solemn vows, in the heavens before we came to this mortal life. …

“We have made covenants. We made them before we accepted our position here on earth.

“Now we made this commitment, ‘… all things whatsoever the Lord our God shall command us.’ We committed ourselves to our Heavenly Father, that if He would send us to the earth and give us bodies and give to us the priceless opportunities that earth life afforded, we would keep our lives clean and would marry in the holy temple and would rear a family and teach them righteousness. This was a solemn oath, a solemn promise” (“Be Ye Therefore Perfect” [devotional address at the Salt Lake Institute of Religion, Jan. 10, 1975], 2).

Ask:

  • How can understanding that we made covenants in our premortal life influence our decisions here in mortality?

  • How can making covenants help us live up to our potential?

Priesthood authority is necessary to receive the covenants and ordinances of salvation.

Share the following statement on the priesthood from President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, and have the students listen for what he said the “qualification of eligibility” is:

“The Lord has given [the priesthood] to men who are considered worthy to receive it, regardless of station in life, the color of their skin, or the nation in which they live. It is the power and the authority to govern in the affairs of the kingdom of God. It is given only by ordination by the laying on of hands by those in authority to do so. The qualification for eligibility is obedience to the commandments of God.

“There is no power on the earth like it. Its authority extends beyond life, through the veil of death, to the eternities ahead. It is everlasting in its consequences” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1984, 69–70; or Ensign, Nov. 1984, 52–53).

Ask students: What are priesthood keys?

Share the following explanation from the Guide to the Scriptures about priesthood keys:

“Keys are the right of presidency, or the power given to man by God to direct, control, and govern God’s priesthood on earth. Priesthood holders called to positions of presidency receive keys from those in authority over them. Priesthood holders use the priesthood only within the limits outlined by those who hold the keys. The President of the Church holds all priesthood keys” (“keys of the priesthood,” 141).

Have students read Doctrine and Covenants 132:7–14. Then ask: What promises and warnings are found in these verses?

Have them read Doctrine and Covenants 138:58. Then ask: How can vicarious ordinances affect those who have died?

Honoring our covenants prepares us to receive eternal life.

Ask:

  • How would you feel if you paid for one horse and ended up being given the whole herd?

  • How is this like the blessings God gives His children?

Draw two columns on the board. Label one Ordinances and the other Promises. List the following ordinances in the “Ordinances” column: baptism, sacrament, priesthood, temple endowment, temple marriage.

Have students read the following scripture references listed with the ordinances and find the promises we make. List the promises in the “Promises” column. Help students understand why receiving ordinances and making covenants is an important part of their lives. You may want them to complete this exercise in the “Notes and Impressions” section of their student manual so they can refer to it later.

  • Baptism. Read Mosiah 18:8–10 and Doctrine and Covenants 20:37. (We promise “to bear one another’s burdens,” “to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places,” to “serve [God] and keep his commandments,” to repent, to “take upon us the name of Jesus Christ,” and “to serve him to the end.”)

  • Sacrament. Read Doctrine and Covenants 20:77, 79. (We partake of the sacrament in remembrance of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and we renew the promises we made at baptism. Among those promises are to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ, to always remember Him, to keep His commandments, and to be witnesses of Him to show that we remember Him.)

  • Priesthood. Read Doctrine and Covenants 84:33–42 (Scripture Mastery, D&C 84:33–39) and 121:34–36 (Scripture Mastery). (Those who receive the priesthood promise to magnify their priesthood callings, obey the commandments, and live by every word of God [see Elder Carlos E. Asay’s conference address in Conference Report, Oct. 1985, 56–60; or Ensign, Nov. 1985, 43–45].)

  • Temple endowment and temple marriage. Share the following teaching from Elder James E. Talmage, who was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (Be cautious about discussing the promises we make in the temple endowment in more detail than that given in Elder Talmage’s statement.)

“The ordinances of the endowment embody certain obligations on the part of the individual, such as covenant and promise to observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the [human] race; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be made ready to receive her King,—the Lord Jesus Christ. With the taking of each covenant and the assuming of each obligation a promised blessing is pronounced, contingent upon the faithful observance of the conditions” (The House of the Lord [1968], 84).

Share your testimony of the great opportunity and blessing it is to receive the ordinances and make covenants with the Lord.

Suggested Student Assignments

  • Invite students to ponder the covenants they have made thus far in their life. Recommend that during their prayers and their next sacrament meeting they ask the Lord for understanding as to what He would have them do to honor and magnify the covenants they have made.