Good morning Brothers and Sisters! I am so happy to be up here today.
I wanted to start off my talk by reading Alma 34 verse 32:
You wanna know what the purpose of life is? The big question that everyone wants to know the answer to?
This purpose of life is to prepare to meet God.-
The gospel teaches us how to prepare. Which is why it is so crucial in our lives. Even more crucial than that are covenants. Through covenants we learn- how to prepare to meet God.
Boyd K. Packer once said:
"Ordinances and covenants become our credentials for admission into His presence. To worthily receive them is the quest of a lifetime; to keep them thereafter is the challenge of mortality."
Through covenants and ordinances we learn what the Celestial kingdom will be like, which is the place where God will dwell. Covenants guide us along the path. President Nelson explained it better in his talk, Think Celestial:
"Because of Jesus Christ’s infinite Atonement, our Heavenly Father’s plan is a perfect plan! An understanding of God’s fabulous plan takes the mystery out of life and the uncertainty out of our future. It allows each of us to choose how we will live here on earth and where we will live forever. The baseless notion that we should “eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us” is one of the most absurd lies in the universe. Here is the great news of God’s plan: the very things that will make your mortal life the best it can be are exactly the same things that will make your life throughout all eternity the best it can be! Today, to assist you to qualify for the rich blessings Heavenly Father has for you, I invite you to adopt the practice of “thinking celestial”! Thinking celestial means being spiritually minded. We learn from the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob that “to be spiritually-minded is life eternal.” Mortality is a master class in learning to choose the things of greatest eternal import. Far too many people live as though this life is all there is. However, your choices today will determine three things: where you will live throughout all eternity, the kind of body with which you will be resurrected, and those with whom you will live forever. So, think celestial."
All the saving ordinances of the priesthood, such as baptism and confirmation, Melchizedek priesthood for men, the temple endowment, and the sealing, are accompanied by covenants. Covenants are a sacred promise between you and God, and it is binding. The promises you make guide you to align yourself with God and become more like him. It guides you to joy and success. And you will see that these things you do will also bring you joy after you die. Just like what President Nelson was talking about.
In return for making these promises, God will bless you spiritually and temporally now and after you die. I don't know about you, but these blessings are crucial in this crazy world. You cannot survive spiritually without these covenants.
Covenants allow us greater access to the power of the atonement. In fact, all of these ordinances and covenants are all about the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Here I would like to add what the scripture guide says about covenants because it was really good.
"An agreement between God and man, but they do not act as equals in the agreement. God gives the conditions for the covenant, and men agree to do what He asks them to do. God then promises men certain blessings for their obedience. Principles and ordinances are received by covenant. Members of the Church who make such covenants promise to honor them. For example, members covenant with the Lord at baptism and renew that covenant by partaking of the sacrament. They make further covenants in the temple. The Lord’s people are a covenant people and are greatly blessed as they keep their covenants with the Lord."
I will quote President Nelson who briefly described the covenant path:
"At baptism we covenant to serve the Lord and keep His commandments. When we partake of the sacrament, we renew that covenant and declare our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Thereby we are adopted as His sons and daughters and are known as brothers and sisters. He is the father of our new life. Ultimately, in the holy temple, we may become joint heirs to the blessings of an eternal family, as once promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their posterity. Thus, celestial marriage is the covenant of exaltation."
The first saving ordinance is baptism and confirmation and this is when you make your first covenant.
The key message of the restored gospel is that through faith in Jesus Christ, sincere repentance, and baptism by immersion by one holding authority, we can obtain forgiveness and a remission of our sins. Baptism symbolizes rebirth—the beginning of a new life. It is the first step on the path to becoming a member of His Church and preparing to receive the sacred ordinances and covenants found in the house of the Lord. As a missionary, this is all I focus on to invite others to do. To have faith, repent, baptism and confirmation, and enduring to the end.
When you are baptized you promised 4 things. Listen for the promises you make as I read these scriptures.
Mosiah 18: 8-9
And it came to pass that he said unto them: 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
……we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him and keep his commandments which he has given them; that they may always have his Spirit to be with them….
I will point out these 4 things for you:
-to strive to follow Jesus Christ
-to strive to remember Him and keep the commandments each day
-to share the gospel
-and serve others
I may have thrown you off when I started reading part of the sacrament prayer in the last scripture I read. Every Sunday we have the opportunity to renew our baptismal covenants through the ordinance of the sacrament and receive the blessings- How amazing is that?!
The Sacrament is a sacred ordinance, just like a temple ordinance.
In D&C 84: 20- "Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest."
Elder Holland talked about the sacredness of the sacrament in his talk: Behold the Lamb of God
"In addition to making time for more home-centered gospel instruction, our modified Sunday service is also to reduce the complexity of the meeting schedule in a way that properly emphasizes the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as the sacred, acknowledged focal point of our weekly worship experience. We are to remember in as personal a way as possible that Christ died from a heart broken by shouldering entirely alone the sins and sorrows of the whole human family. Inasmuch as we contributed to that fatal burden, such a moment demands our respect. Thus, we are encouraged to come to our services early and reverently, dressed appropriately for participation in a sacred ordinance. “Sunday best” has lost a little of its meaning in our time, and out of esteem for Him into whose presence we come, we ought to restore that tradition of Sabbath dress and grooming when and where we can. As for punctuality, a late pass will always be lovingly granted to those blessed mothers who, with children and Cheerios and diaper bags trailing in marvelous disarray, are lucky to have made it to church at all. Furthermore, there will be others who unavoidably find their ox in the mire on a Sabbath morning. However, to this latter group we say an occasional tardiness is understandable, but if the ox is in the mire every Sunday, then we strongly recommend that you sell the ox or fill the mire. In that same spirit, we make an apostolic plea for the reduction of clamor in the sanctuary of our buildings. We love to visit with each other, and we should—it is one of the joys of church attendance—but it ought not be pursued so vocally in space specifically dedicated for worship. I fear that visitors not of our faith are shocked by what can sometimes be noisy irreverence in a setting that is supposed to be characterized by prayer, testimony, revelation, and peace. Perhaps heaven is a little shocked as well."
And I, myself, am guilty for taking the sacrament casually each week and not recognizing the sacredness of it. We recently had a missionary meeting and we talked about the sacrament and they emphasized the sacredness. All missionaries in this mission have been asked to whisper in the chapel to keep the reverence, that we must do our fellowshipping and talking in the foyers. And we've been shown how to prepare our friends that we teach to prepare spiritually for the sacrament before each Sunday.
There are countless blessings that God will bestow for keeping your baptismal covenant. The main one is that the Holy Ghost will always be with you and the remission of sins. I can't imagine my life without the constant companion of the Holy Ghost. I won't name all the blessings for keeping your baptismal covenant, but think about all the blessings that come from keeping the commandments, serving others, and sharing the gospel.
Next on the covenant path, for men, is receiving the Melchizedek priesthood. Men receive the holy priesthood by an “oath and covenant.” This means that Heavenly Father gives them His oath that they can have the power and blessing of the priesthood if they covenant with Him 3 things:
-to magnify their callings
-be faithful in keeping the commandments
-and live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Everyone, men AND women, benefits from the power and blessings of the priesthood. And there are countless blessings that come.
Next on the covenant path is the ordinance of the Endowment in the temple. There are 5 promises you make:
-to keep the commandments
-to sacrifice to support the Lord's work and repent
-to follow the higher law Christ taught while he was on earth
-the law of chastity
-and dedicating your time, talents, and everything to build God's kingdom
The temple endowment ceremony communicates the concepts and covenants to facilitate greater power. Worship in the temple and learning the patterns and the process helps us to become more like Jesus. Anthony Sweat once said:
"As we act in faith, God promises to truly endow us with His power, even the power necessary to overcome the spiritual challenges of our day so that we can enter into the presence of God and receive a fullness of His exalted blessings. Let us go forth and truly receive our endowment—even our endowment of increased spiritual power."
The last saving ordinance on the covenant path is the temple sealing of marriage.
When an individual enters into the covenant of marriage in the temple, he or she makes covenants with both God and with his or her spouse. Spouses promise faithfulness to each other and to God. In return, they are promised exaltation and that their family relationships can continue throughout eternity.
There are some who may not have a chance to make this covenant. But God promises that those who didn't get a chance to make this covenant in this life, will in the next. Everything will be perfected in the end, because this is God’s plan. And it is a perfect plan.
The sealing ordinance is God’s greatest gift to His children. It enables us to return to live with Him and all of our loved ones forever. It offers marvelous blessings for this life and the next. It is a constant reminder that families are central to God’s plan and to our happiness here and in eternity. It provides peace, hope, and joy for all who faithfully receive it.
The covenant of eternal marriage is needed for the eternal increase of our souls, in other words to eventually become like God. Exaltation-This is eternal life—the kind of life God lives. He is perfect. He lives in great glory. He has all knowledge, all power, and all wisdom. He is loving, kind, and merciful. He is the Heavenly Father of every person on earth. We can someday become like Him. This is exaltation.
And Exaltation is the greatest gift that God can give His children. It is the reward for all those who prove faithful to the Lord. Those who do will live in the highest degree of the celestial kingdom.
And we know that the purpose of life is to prepare to meet God. To be with him in the Celestial kingdom, by making all these covenants.
And now I am back to the things I began with in my talk. It is amazing, and I am so glad that I get to share these things with you today. There are amazing things you can learn as you study the covenants you have made. And I can't tell you the blessings that come as you help those beyond the grave who did not get a chance to make these covenants as you constantly come back to the temple.
I know that God has a plan, it is a perfect plan. I know that Jesus is the Christ and achieved the atonement so that we can all overcome sin and death. I know that Families are forever. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.