One thing that Lesson 19 of the Gospel Doctrines Class covers is the baptismal covenant described in Mosiah 18 of the Book of Mormon. In that connection the teacher’s manual contains the following quote from President Joseph Fielding Smith. “A covenant is a contract and an agreement between at least two parties. In the case of gospel covenants, the parties are the Lord in heaven and men on earth. Men agree to keep the commandments and the Lord promises to reward them accordingly.”
Here again is an example of how Mormonism and biblical Christianity not only define words differently, but also view matters differently. The word gospel literally means good news and in the Bible it refers to the very specific good news that Jesus became our substitute, fulfilled all the commandments for us, died for all our sins so that now eternal life is God’s gift to us. The Bible, and historic Christianity, has always sharply distinguished between this good news of what God has done for us and his commands telling us what to do. In short, the biblical gospel has nothing to do with God’s commands. If it did that would not be good news – in light of verses like James 2:10 that state that even breaking one commandment makes us guilty of all.
Secondly, the way that the Bible describes the gospel covenant is all about what God does. It describes not an agreement between two parties but rather a unilateral action on the part of God. For example, Jeremiah 31:33-34 says: “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.” There is no mention of keeping the commandments or any other action on the part of man. God’s gospel covenant is 100% about what God does – especially his forgiving us of our sins. That deserves the description, “good news”.
Because of that good news I know that I am worthy before God – that I am nothing less than a saint in his eyes. Because of that good news I am eagerly looking forward to Judgment Day knowing that, solely because of what Jesus did for me, I will be eagerly welcomed by God. Because of that good news I have no doubts that I will be living in the very presence of Heavenly Father for all eternity. Thank you, Jesus, for doing everything for me.