Consecration – A Covenant People

CONSECRATION – A COVENANT PEOPLE

HIGH COUNCIL TALK – BAYVIEW WARD, 21 MARCH 2010

By Peter Gothe

Stake Theme –  D&C 82.14

14 For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

Story of Nauvoo Temple trips with youth.

Performing baptisms for the dead in the rebuilt Nauvoo Temple.  The importance of the saints receiving these endowments before leaving for the west.  Leaving the temple behind as they crossed the Mississippi River along Parley’s Way.

R. Quinn Gardner, “Becoming a Zion Society: Six Principles,” Ensign, Feb 1979, 31

Zion is the scriptural name given to the kingdom of Jesus Christ on earth. (D&C 105:32) It is composed of a society of Saints who have covenanted to live in righteousness, and who, through living fully the laws and ordinances of the gospel, are made “the pure in heart.” (D&C 76:54–70)

Zion embraces many concepts—a place, a people, a quality—and is central to much in the gospel plan. But the thoughts that follow are developed primarily around that quality that so sets Zion apart from Babylon—purity of heart. For only as covenant Israel actually becomes the pure in heart can her promises be fulfilled and a full Zion society be established.

The principles of the law of the celestial kingdom were beautifully re-enunciated by President Spencer W. Kimball in the welfare session of general conference in October 1977. Naming six “foundational truths” which undergird and govern present-day welfare services activities, he pointed out that “only as we apply these truths can we approach the ideal of Zion,” which is the “highest order of priesthood society.” (Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 78)

1. Love

“First is love. The measure of our love for our fellowman and, in a large sense, the measure of our love for the Lord, is what we do for one another and for the poor and the distressed.” (Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 77)

2. Service

“Second is service. To serve is to abase oneself, to succor those in need of succor, and to impart of one’s ‘substance to the poor and the needy, feeding the hungry, and suffering all manner of afflictions, for Christ’s sake.’ (Alma 4:13)” (Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 77)

One Sunday morning our advisor tried to penetrate our inattentive minds by putting both hands on his own head and asking: “Would you like to close your eyes so I can give myself a blessing?”

With youthful astonishment I blurted out, “You can’t bless yourself, silly!”

“Why not?”

“ ‘Cause it won’t work unless your hands are on someone else’s head.”

I knew it was true; I didn’t know why. But by the end of the lesson, this skillful teacher, in near Socratic orderliness, convinced us that you can bless yourself only by serving others.

3. Work

“Third is work. Work brings happiness, self-esteem, and prosperity. It is the means of all accomplishment; it is the opposite of idleness. We are commanded to work. (See Gen. 3:19.)

In a dramatic article entitled, “The False Gods We Worship,” President Kimball reasons with modern Israel: “I am afraid that many of us have been surfeited with flocks and herds and acres and barns and wealth and have begun to worship them as false gods, and they have power over us. Do we have more of these good things than our faith can stand? Many people spend most of their time working in the service of a self-image that includes sufficient money, stocks, bonds, investment portfolios, property, credit cards, furnishings, automobiles, and the like to guarantee carnal security throughout, it is hoped, a long and happy life. Forgotten is the fact that our assignment is to use these many resources in our families and quorums to build up the kingdom of God—to further the missionary effort and the genealogical and temple work; to raise our children up as fruitful servants unto the Lord; to bless others in every way that they may also be fruitful.” (Ensign, June 1976, pp. 4–5; italics added)

4. Self-reliance

“Fourth is self-reliance. The Church and its members are commanded by the Lord to be self-reliant and independent. (See D&C 78:13–14.)

“The responsibility for each person’s social, emotional, spiritual, physical, or economic well-being rests first upon himself, second upon his family, and third upon the Church if he is a faithful member thereof.

5. Consecration

“Fifth is consecration, which encompasses sacrifice. Consecration is the giving of one’s time, talents, and means to care for those in need—whether spiritually or temporally—and to build the Lord’s kingdom.

the Lord has not repealed the covenant of consecration made during the temple endowment. This covenant is in full force and should be actively applied by Latter-day Saints.

Helaman tells us of a faithful group who grew “firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ … even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God.” (Hel. 3:35; italics added)

We have been taught that when we can master the principle and covenant obligations of consecration and freely give our hearts and will to Christ, the full Zion society and earthly reign of the Savior can begin. (See Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1975, pp. 165–66)

6. Stewardship

“Sixth is stewardship. In the Church a stewardship is a sacred spiritual or temporal trust for which there is accountability. Because all things belong to the Lord, we are stewards over our bodies, minds, families, and properties. (See D&C 104:11–15.) A faithful steward is one who exercises righteous dominion, cares for his own, and looks to the poor and needy. (See D&C 104:15–18.)” (Ensign, Nov. 1977, p. 78)

“It is required of the Lord, at the hand of every steward, to render an account of his stewardship, both in time and in eternity.” (D&C 72:3; italics added)

Ultimately, how we manage the affairs of our family and priesthood responsibilities determines how happy we are as citizens of the kingdom. “And whoso is found a faithful, a just, and a wise steward shall enter into the joy of his Lord, and shall inherit eternal life.” (D&C 51:19)

President Kimball, the one who is calling us to lengthen our stride in establishing Zion, brings the vision into practical focus:

“As important as it is to have this vision in mind, defining and describing Zion will not bring it about. That can only be done through consistent and concerted daily effort by every single member of the Church. No matter what the cost in toil or sacrifice, we must do it.” (Ensign, May 1978, p. 81)

Keith B. McMullin, “Come to Zion! Come to Zion!,” Ensign, Nov 2002, 94

Principles of love, work, self-reliance, and consecration are God given. Those who embrace them and govern themselves accordingly become pure in heart.

As we meet with Church members around the world, one challenge seems universal: having enough time to do everything that needs doing.

But life is not a struggle with time—it is a struggle between good and evil.

In 1872, the prophet Brigham Young counseled the Saints on this very subject. Said he: “Stop! Wait! When you get up in the morning, before you suffer yourselves to eat one mouthful of food, … bow down before the Lord, ask him to forgive your sins, and protect you through the day, to preserve you from temptation and all evil, to guide your steps aright, that you may do something that day that shall be beneficial to the kingdom of God on the earth. Have you time to do this? … This is the counsel I have for the Latter-day Saints to day. Stop, do not be in a hurry. … You are in too much of a hurry; you do not go to meeting enough, you do not pray enough, you do not read the Scriptures enough, you do not meditate enough, you are all the time on the wing, and in such a hurry that you do not know what to do first. … Let me reduce this to a simple saying—one of the most simple and homely that can be used—‘Keep your dish right side up,’ so that when the shower of porridge does come you can catch your dish full.” 1

The establishment of Zion should be the aim of every member of this Church. It can be safely said: As we seek with all our hearts to bring forth and establish Zion, the vexations of too little time will disappear. There are joys and blessings by enlisting in this noble cause. One’s personal life is transformed. The home is no longer a hotel but a place of peace, security, and love. Society itself changes. In Zion, contentions and disputations cease, class distinctions and hatreds disappear, no one is poor—spiritually or temporally, and all manner of wickedness is no more. As many have attested, “Surely there could not be a happier people among all the people … created by the hand of God.” 5

The covenant of consecration encompasses sacrifice; circumscribes love, work, and self-reliance; and is fundamental to the establishment of God’s kingdom. “Zion cannot be built up,” the Lord said, “unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom.” 20 The covenant of consecration is central to this law. We shall one day apply it in its fulness. This covenant embraces the “giving of one’s time, talents, and means to care for those in need—whether spiritually or temporally—and in building the Lord’s kingdom.” 21

Neal A. Maxwell, “Consecrate Thy Performance,” Ensign, Dec 2008, 26–30

We tend to think of consecration only as yielding up, when divinely directed, our material possessions. But ultimate consecration is the yielding up of oneself to God. Heart, soul, and mind were the encompassing words of Christ in describing the first commandment, which is constantly, not periodically, operative (see Matthew 22:37). If kept, then our performances will, in turn, be fully consecrated for the lasting welfare of our souls (see 2 Nephi 32:9).

Be Fully Submissive

Spiritual submissiveness is not accomplished in an instant, but by the incremental improvements and by the successive use of stepping-stones. Stepping-stones are meant to be taken one at a time anyway. Eventually our wills can be “swallowed up in the will of the Father” as we are “willing to submit … even as a child doth submit to his father” (Mosiah 15:7; 3:19).

A stumbling block appears when we serve God generously with time and checkbooks but still withhold portions of our inner selves, signifying that we are not yet fully His!

Ironically, inordinate attention, even to good things, can diminish our devotion to God. For instance, one can be too caught up in sports and the forms of body worship we see among us. One can reverence nature and yet neglect nature’s God. One can have an exclusionary regard for good music and similarly with a worthy profession. In such circumstances, the “weightier matters” are often omitted (Matthew 23:23; see also 1 Corinthians 2:16). Only the Highest One can fully guide us as to the highest good which you and I can do.

Consecration Returns to God What Is His

In striving for ultimate submission, our wills constitute all we really have to give God anyway. The usual gifts and their derivatives we give to Him could be stamped justifiably “Return to Sender,” with a capital S.

Meanwhile, certain realities remain: God has given us our lives, our agency, our talents, and our opportunities; He has given us our possessions; He has given us our appointed mortal spans complete with the needed breaths (see D&C 64:32).

No wonder President [Gordon B.] Hinckley … stressed our being a covenant people, emphasizing the covenants of the sacrament, tithing, and the temple, citing sacrifice as the “very essence of the Atonement.”2

In pondering and pursuing consecration, understandably we tremble inwardly at what may be required. Yet the Lord has said consolingly, “My grace is sufficient for you” (D&C 17:8). Do we really believe Him? He has also promised to make weak things strong (see Ether 12:27). Are we really willing to submit to that process?

Sequicentennial of the Pioneers arriving in the Salt Lake Valley – 1997. Watching the pioneer reenactment as the wagon trains and handcarts entered the Salt Lake Valley in 1997.  Greeted by Elder Ballard.  Emotional arrival.  Consecration of pioneers built upon covenants made in Nauvoo Temple.

Blessings come from obedience to law.

Blessings predicated upon faithful covenant keeping.  Personal progress happens because of personal obedience.

D&C 130.20-21

20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—

21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

Stake Theme –  D&C 82.14

14 For Zion must increase in beauty, and in holiness; her borders must be enlarged; her stakes must be strengthened; yea, verily I say unto you, Zion must arise and put on her beautiful garments.

D&C 82.15

15 Therefore, I give unto you this commandment, that ye bind yourselves by this covenant, and it shall be done according to the laws of the Lord.

Testimony

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