Sunday, April 5, 2009

Life Giving Fire of the Covenant

John A. Widstoe, in his book "Rational Theology", writes of the Temple Endowment: "Those who receive this information covenant to obey the laws of eternal progress, and thereby give life to the knowledge received." I love the thought that covenants give life to knowledge. What a powerful description of an eternal principle.

One of the most touching episodes of church history is the valiant effort the Saints put forth in finishing the Nauvoo Temple. Even though they realized that they would be leaving, they spared nothing in completing the sacred edifice because they knew it was God's command and that it would be a strength and protection to them.

Finally, in 1846, many of the Saints had traveled west but some still remained along the Mississippi River, in squalid and almost unbearable conditions. When word of the condition of the poor Saints came to Brigham Young in Winter Quarters, he rallied the Priesthood with these words:

"Now is the time for labor... Let the fire of the covenant which you made in the House of the Lord, burn in your hearts, like flame unquenchable." (Journal History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 28 Sept. 1846, 5;). They responded immediately and began the trek back East to rescue the trapped Saints.

Why has God provided the covenant mechanism to His children and why is it such an essential part of the restored gospel? I don't believe there is anything mysterious about its power. I think it is, quite simply, a way for the faithful to have a personal and individual relationship with God.

There are many ways to develop and strengthen our relationship with God - prayer comes to mind, for example. But the making and keeping of covenants with God binds us to Him in a way that transcends our daily discipleship, or rather, defines what our daily discipleship should become.

As we solemnly promise to be faithful and true, dedicating ourselves and our resources to the furthering of God's purposes, a change comes over our heart. We realize that we are an important part of the great mission of the Restored Gospel, which is that everyone in the world deserves a chance to hear that Christ lives, that prophets once again walk the earth, and that God's Kingdom has come anew.

It is a great blessing to understand that God's people have always been a covenant people. It is remarkable to realize that the power inherent in making and keeping Godly covenants is once again available to each of us if we lose ourselves and seek to do His will.

What a powerful force for good we could be in the world if give life to the truth we know to be true and to rededicate ourselves with a determination to serve him "like flame unquenchable."