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Covenants Bind Us to God, Teaches Elder Renlund at BYU

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All of God’s children who have come to earth “are beloved of God and guaranteed immortality because of the Savior’s resurrection,” taught Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at the weekly Brigham Young University campus devotional on Tuesday, March 5, 2024.

“But they do not want to remain simply beloved children of God,” he continued. “They want to become co-inheritors with Jesus Christ of all that Heavenly Father has. They want to receive eternal life, the kind of life Heavenly Father has. For these additional blessings to be realized, they each need to do something. They need to make and keep covenants with God.”

This path that leads to eternal life is called the covenant path, which begins for all with the covenant of baptism. Elder Renlund described the baptismal covenant as “a public witness to Heavenly Father of three specific commitments: to serve God, to keep His commandments, and to be willing to take on the name of Jesus Christ.

“The other facets that are frequently associated with the baptismal covenant  that we bear one another’s burdens, mourn with those that mourn, and comfort those that are in need of comfort  are fruits of making the covenant rather than part of the actual covenant. These facets are important because they are what a converted soul would naturally do,” he said.

The path continues with the five covenants encompassed in the temple endowment: the law of obedience, the law of sacrifice, the law of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the law of chastity and the law of consecration.

“These five covenants, however, are not separable,” said Elder Renlund. “You cannot choose to make a subset of the five; you make all five or none.

The final covenant of the path is made when “a man and a woman are sealed together in the New and Everlasting Covenant of marriage.”

Elder Renlund said, “During the sealing, a woman makes a covenant with her husband and a man makes a covenant with his wife. The tasks of mortality become joint. Husband and wife both enter an order of the priesthood that neither could enter singly and that is necessary to enter the highest degree of the Celestial Kingdom.”

Some may ask why we need multiple covenants. Elder Renlund said, “It is because the multiple covenants are not only sequential but are also additive and even synergistic in our relationship with God. Each covenant adds a bond, drawing us closer to and strengthening our connection with God.”

He adds, “The elements of the endowment and the sealing align with and reinforce all three aspects of the baptismal covenant. Each aspect of the baptismal covenant and the covenants of the endowment and sealing overlap and mutually reinforce each other.”

A career cardiologist, Elder Renlund likened the risk we face in moving away from God to the risk factors for a heart attack. He highlighted specific factors in his own life that increase the potential for him to have a heart attack, including gender, age and family history.

“I am male,” he said. “I am not going to do anything about that. I am 71 years old, and I am growing older. I cannot do anything about that, and I do not like the alternative. My father had a heart attack at age 77. I cannot choose healthier parents.”

“However, if I am wise, I control the things that I can control to minimize my risk of having a heart attack.” Elder Renlund, a former professor of medicine at the University of Utah, said that even a person with multiple risk factors “can mitigate the risk by taking appropriate measures.”

To demonstrate how covenants keep us close to God, Elder Renlund invited Gabriel Abello, Emma Rae Francis, and Kate McConlogue to join him on stage. His wife, Ruth, also helped with the demonstration.

“When we make the first covenant, baptism, we form a bond with God,” Elder Renlund began. Brother Abello stood, and Sister Renlund looped an exercise band around his arms just once. Elder Renlund compared the single band to the first covenantal bond, inviting Brother Abello to see how easy it was to slip a hand from out of the exercise band.

Sister Francis then stood, and Sister Renlund looped the band twice around her arms, representing baptism and the temple endowment. “When we have been both baptized and endowed,” Elder Renlund said, “we have less risk of wandering away from God.”

Finally, Sister Renlund looped the exercise band three times around Sister McConlogue’s arms, adding the sealing to a spouse to the other covenants.

“Now, compared to Sister Francis, it is even harder for Sister McConlogue to move away from God,” said Elder Renlund. “It is also harder for her to slip her hand out and separate herself from God. When we add the sealing of a spouse to baptism and the endowment, we further decrease our risk to separate ourselves from God because the bond is stronger and draws us closer. In other words, making multiple covenants along the covenant path helps us mature in our discipleship.

“This simple demonstration is metaphorically what happens when we make and keep multiple covenants with God; we are drawn closer to Him and develop a stronger bond with Him.”

However, God will never violate the agency of His children in inviting them to make covenants with Him. “We are not forced or compelled in any way to stay in a covenantal relationship with God even after we choose to make them,” Elder Renlund said.

Elder Renlund concluded his address by inviting students to look forward to the next covenant on their personal journey along the path. For those who are baptized but not yet endowed, the Apostle encouraged them to prayerfully prepare to receive their endowment. Those endowed but not yet sealed to a spouse can take advantage of their opportunities to date and prepare for marriage.

“Additionally,” he said, “I invite you to focus on the covenants you have made. Go to the temple often and participate in family history work. Conscientiously partake of the sacrament weekly. As you do, you will strengthen your connection with Jesus Christ.”

To those already married and sealed, Elder Renlund exhorted, “seek to become a better spouse by acquiring Christlike attributes. Become the spouse your spouse deserves. If you are blessed to be a parent, become the parent your children deserve. Let the multiple covenants draw you closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and strengthen your covenantal bonds with Them.”

“God established multiple covenants to bless us, not condemn us. Focusing intently on the covenants we have made and preparing for the next one is the best way to prepare to receive all that Heavenly Father has. It is how we think celestial.”

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