Covenants

A Way of Life, Elder Russell M. Nelson

One of the most important concepts of revealed religion is that of a sacred covenant. In legal language, a covenant generally denotes an agreement between two or more parties. But in a religious context, a covenant is much more significant. It is a sacred promise with 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. We know that “when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”4

Through the ages, God has made covenants with His children.5 His covenants occur throughout the entire plan of salvation and are therefore part of the fulness of His gospel.6 For example, God promised to send a Savior for His children,7 asking in turn for their obedience to His law.8

In the Bible we read of men and women in the Old World who were identified as children of the covenant. What covenant? “The covenant which God made with [their] fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”9

In the Book of Mormon we read of people in the New World who were also identified as children of the covenant.10 The resurrected Lord so informed them: “Behold, ye are the children of the prophets; and ye are of the house of Israel; and ye are of the covenant which the Father made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham: And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”11

The Savior explained the importance of their identity as children of the covenant. He said, “The Father having raised me up unto you first, … sent me to bless you in turning away every one of you from his iniquities; and this because ye are the children of the covenant.”12

The covenant God made with Abraham13 and later reaffirmed with Isaac14 and Jacob15 is of transcendent significance. It contained several promises, including:

  • •Jesus the Christ would be born through Abraham’s lineage.
  • •Abraham’s posterity would be numerous, entitled to an eternal increase, and also entitled to bear the priesthood.
  • •Abraham would become a father of many nations.
  • •Certain lands would be inherited by his posterity.
  • •All nations of the earth would be blessed by his seed.16
  • •And that covenant would be everlasting—even through “a thousand generations.”17

Some of these promises have been fulfilled; others are still pending. I quote from an early Book of Mormon prophecy: “Our father [Lehi] hath not spoken of our seed alone, but also of all the house of Israel, pointing to the covenant which should be fulfilled in the latter days; which covenant the Lord made to our father Abraham.”18 Isn’t that amazing? Some 600 years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, prophets knew that the Abrahamic covenant would be finally fulfilled only in the latter days.

Excerpt from Elder Russell M. Nelson’s April 2009 General Conference Address, Covenants. Elder Russell M. Nelson is a Member Of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. View Elder Russell M. Nelson’s full address here.