Each month The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints publishes an international periodical called the Liahona (formerly the Ensign). Because I have found it beneficial for myself and others, I plan to provide you with a digest version of each month’s content and ideas for using it in your witnessing to LDS members. Because there are too many articles to react to each month, I will focus on only two. For each selected piece, I will unpack:
1. What it said
2. Why it matters
3. How to use it for witnessing, and
4. Provide links for further study
The Liahona’s monthly theme connects to an important topic to be discussed in LDS meeting houses and homes that month as part of their “Come Follow Me” focus. The theme of the February 2022 Liahona is “On the Covenant Path.” The LDS study materials for February 2022 include the Abraham accounts from Genesis and The Book of Abraham.
The emphasis of the LDS study is: Abraham was a maker and keeper of covenants, and you can be too.
Becoming a Covenant Person Among a Covenant People
by Neil L. Anderson, on print pages 6-11
The first article, in each Liahona, which expounds on the theme using stories of LDS members, is usually written by a member of the First Presidency or a member of The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
What it said:
Neil Anderson uses many decades of interactions with the Frenchman Regis Carlus and his two children, Charlotte and Morgan, “as a modern-day example of how the Lord helps individuals become his covenant people.” Charlotte’s steadfast commitment to make and keep covenants even in the face of financial, physical, and relational adversity is contrasted with her father Regis, who was unwilling to commit because of the “appeals of the world” and refused to “join the Church in this life.” Anderson closes his piece by stating, “I promise that His [God’s] grace and goodness will redeem us as we keep our faith in Him and do our very best to keep our covenants with Him.”
Why it matters:
Much of what Anderson writes about Charlotte’s character and commitment to God, covenants, her family’s welfare, and the LDS church seems admirable; however, what happens is that the message that comes through is that Charlotte was blessed, in this life and for life to come, because of her steadfast making and keeping of covenants. This message echos the prototypical Mormon Jesus + efforts = redemption emphasis that highlights not Christ’s commitment to us but Charlotte’s commitment to the church and covenants. Charlotte becomes an example of how to follow the example of Christ as we “do our very best” and “never give up in our efforts to be more like the Savior.”
How to use it for witnessing:
Why does God give us his grace and goodness and bless us? It’s not because we make and keep covenants with him, but rather because he makes and keeps covenants with us. Being a covenant maker like Charlotte won’t redeem you. Doing your best to be like Jesus won’t redeem you. Jesus redeems you. The redeemed then desire to follow Christ and his example of love to God and fellow man; however, neither that desire nor doing our very best redeems. Jesus redeems. Period. There is a cause and effect to redemption; however, it’s not the one LDS theology purports.
For further study:
Covenants Connect Us with God
by staff writers, on print pages 12-13
The second article, in each Liahona, is a “Gospel Basics” section that explores the monthly theme using several summary descriptions of subthemes interwoven into the content of the following articles.
What it said:
In perhaps a more precise way than I have ever heard or seen, this “Gospel Basics” section shows how critical making and keeping covenants, the priesthood, the temple, marriage sealings, and membership in the LDS church are to the LDS plan of salvation and exaltation. The five short sections emphasize the following:
- When covenants are kept, and all ordinances followed, one can return to live with God.
- Those ordinances must be performed by those holding proper priesthood authority.
- Those sealed in a temple marriage can return to God and live as families forever.
- Those who join the LDS church become God’s covenant people.
- When one keeps their covenants, God will give them power and strength.
Why it matters:
Although the LDS church has gone to great lengths to be considered Christian, the five points above show why Mormonism is not a Christian denomination. It also clearly shows why the LDS church still believes itself to be the one true church. Without following the list of requirements outlined, one will not receive the best that God has to give, which is a return to his presence and the ability to live as eternal families. Although Jesus or Christ is mentioned several times in the explanation of covenants, the focus is not on what Christ has done but on all that man must do for God. The theology espoused articulates the classic quid pro quo Mormon transactional theology that says, “God will give to you after you have given your very best to him.” Finally, as is demonstrated here, Mormonism still teaches that although salvation, in its LDS narrow sense of resurrection of all the dead, is a gift, it is the only free gift of God. Everything else, including receiving God’s strength and power, is based on human effort.
How to use it for witnessing:
Why does God give us his grace and goodness and bless us? It’s NOT because we make and keep covenants, hold or use priesthood authority properly, get sealed in a temple, or join a specific church. God gives us his grace and goodness to bless us because of Christ and Christ alone. When Jesus came to live and die and rise for us, he ushered in the new covenant.
By fulfilling the laws and ordinances and purposes of the temple and the priesthood, Jesus gave us direct access to all of God’s best gifts through himself. As a result, the practices of the Old Testament temple and the Aaronic priesthood became obsolete. However, before Christ returned to his Father’s side, he instituted two sacred reminders of his love for us and of his completed work.
In the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, what might be called “holy ordinances,” God shows us he is the one who did the necessary doing. In water, bread, and wine, with his powerful Word, he grants us the forgiveness of sins, entrance into the family of God, and assurance that those who trust in him will live with him in heaven forever. Through the working of the Holy Spirit and the gospel in Word and sacrament, God brings men and women everywhere to faith and seals them as a bride to Christ’s body, the holy invisible Christian Church. Our great bridegroom Christ has done all to bring us to himself.
For further study:
Check out A Humanitarian by Making a Wonderful Covenant, chapter 4 of the book and study of God—The Ultimate Humanitarian available on BeYePefect.org. Additionally, you can learn more about proclaiming Christ to Mormons through the gifts of baptism and the Lord’s Supper in chapters 15 and 16 of the book and study of God—The Ultimate Humanitarian on BeYePerfect.org.
Other February 2022 Liahona articles of note and value to read, digest, and discuss for witnessing are:
- Practicing Perfection by Camille N. Johnson, on print pages U2-U5, teaches that “the Savior, whose grace makes eternal perfection possible, gives us opportunities to practice perfection in this life.” Note: This article is only found in the United States print edition.
- Sacrifice, A Fruit of Righteousness by Adeyinka A. Ojediran, on print pages 43-45, espouses, “Abraham’s example teaches us that when we put the Lord first, blessings follow.”
Questions to Ask As You Witness
Here are some questions to hopefully spark conversation about covenants with your LDS friends, family, and missionaries.
- Why does God give us his grace and goodness and bless us? How does he offer these?
- What enables one to receive the best that God has to give?
- What does the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper teach us about what God has done for us?
- What covenant has God made and kept with us in Christ Jesus?
What questions and comments for witnessing do you have about these Liahona articles or the topic of covenants in general?
We would love to hear from you. Please contact us or share in the comments section below.