Friday, February 1, 2019

President Russell M. Nelson on ordinances and covenants

President Russell M. Nelson (born Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became president of that quorum on July 15, 2015. Following the death of President Monson, he was set apart as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"With each ordinance is a covenant—a promise. A covenant made with God is not restrictive, but protective. Such a concept is not new. For example, if our water supply is not clean, we filter the water to screen out harmful ingredients. Divine covenants help us to filter out of our minds impurities that could harm us. When we choose to deny ourselves of all ungodliness (2 Ne. 9:48), we lose nothing of value and gain the glory of eternal life. Covenants do not hold us down; they elevate us beyond the limits of our own power and perspective."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Personal Preparation for Temple Blessings," General Conference April 2001
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

Ordinances and covenants are closely linked. In describing the work and power of the priesthood, the Lord taught Joseph Smith that the "power of godliness" is manifest through ordinances (see D&C 84:19-21). Covenants help us to reach and draw upon that divine power.

One who misunderstands the role of covenants could view them as restrictive and limiting; President Nelson teaches instead that they can be protective and elevating:

I like the idea of covenants functioning as a filter to screen out impurities from our minds and lives. They help provide the pure environment where spirituality and pure intelligence can grow. It becomes a conscious choice to "deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness" (Moroni 10:32) so that we can become like him. We are greatly blessed as we ponder and renew those covenants, particularly in the weekly ordinance of the sacrament and in the setting of the holy temples.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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