If an individual makes a covenant before the Lord to keep and be judged by the law contained in these scriptures (picture in your mind the last iteration of the scriptures being held up for our consent in September); this will be something completely different than a request for us to accept these scriptures as binding upon us. The difference being, to accept the scriptures as binding requires us to accept everything in the scriptures as worthy of this binding. Accepting the scriptures as containing the law by which we will be judged promotes the idea that even though the scriptures might contain errors made by men, which include conjecture, or just history, or without value in increasing our knowledge of Jesus Christ or keeping His commandments, yet, the law by which we will be judged can be found within the covers of these scriptures.
A parallel concept seems to be that a person can already be living a higher law than is currently seen or understood by most in the scriptures. But when the time comes for the hand raising, or verbal assent in September, this person can in all honesty, and in full confidence raise his/her hand or speak “Yea” to sustain these scriptures as presently constituted, along with all the rest who may not consider themselves at such a high level. The analogy given is that if a person is required to run 50 yards to meet a requirement, but is currently running 10 miles per day in training for an olympic marathon, will, like all the rest of us trying to meet the requirement, be able to commit without any reservation to the obligatory 50 yards. The questions such a person should ask and answer for themselves are: Does the Old Covenant contain a fullness of scripture, and Does the New Covenant contain the idea of the fullness of the Gospel and live up to being the most correct book on earth?
Other scripture will undoubtedly be given in the future. In fact new scripture accompanies these editions. But more and greater scripture divulging higher doctrine and ordinance will not be given beyond that contained in these editions until these are accepted, and it is proven by our faith and works that we are ready for more.
It seems to me that anyone thinking they live a higher law than their fellows should be able to find allusion to what they think they have in the Old and New Covenants and the D&C and the Pearls of Great Price. And anyone thinking they haven’t as yet attained to things as high as they might like will find encouragement in keeping on. In other words, something for everyone at their own level of understanding.
In that vein of thought as expressed in the last paragraph, this anticipated Covenant may be substantially more complete for some than for others. For some it may be as simple as an adoption which makes them numbered among a particular house of Israel. For others it may provide a deed of land onto which they might move and accept the peace and security it will offer. And for even others it may mean that their covenant with the Lord will become as complete as it can be in this life, because they will, because of a land covenant, not rest until they have attained the rites of the Temple and Zion itself, and the promise of Eternal Life, or in other words the presence of the Lord, Jesus Christ, and of His Father. For some this will be the case. For others, they will stop short.
“The gathering to the New Jerusalem develops in time to the status of being “Zion” where God will visit. The growth is through refinement of the residents of the New Jerusalem.” (Was There An Original?: Paper by, Denver C. Snuffer Jr. P. 35.)
“It will be a physical and spiritual enterprise to be accomplished by the hard effort of those interested in welcoming the Lord’s return.” (Same paper as quoted above. P. 36)
Common consent is a hot topic these days. I don’t think it means what most assume it means.
It seems to me that common consent can be well explained by using the example of Alma. Alma had a unique experience in being impacted by the Spirit of the Lord while hearing the message delivered in King Noah’s court by the prophet Abinadi. He believed it! This belief required him to run for his life. While hiding out from the king’s soldiers he was enabled by the Spirit to write all the words spoken by Abinadi. Abinadi said he was commanded by God to speak the message to the king and his priests. In the process of delivering it, one believed – Alma – coming into a “common” mind with Abinadi (and God) on these particular issues, and “consenting” with/to the message which had originated with God. At this point it didn’t matter that neither the king nor his priests believed, nor were they granted a vote before Alma could believe, Common consent by Alma’s belief is now a reality, and not a single other person raised his hand to agree with him or confirm his choice.
The fruit of the matter then grows as Helam (he being one of the first) hears the same message from God, now authorized to be taught by Alma in a thicket, in hiding. Others then become of the same mind through the teaching of the message. No one voted. No one raised his hand to join in a vote of unanimous consent as to whether or not Alma taught truth. They Listened and they believed.
Common consent does not require a unanimous vote by a crowd or congregation, but can be as few as one Joining minds with an authorized teacher delivering God’s message.
I used to love it when I was presented in the temple, a portion of the covenant, and was then instructed by God’s representative at the altar to bow my head and say yes. I would reverently bow my head, and speaking to my God – not his representative – vocally say very clearly with those around me who were of a common consent,”Yes.”
I am indebted to John and Jennifer Willis and the blog post they put up last week at “A Little Peace In Paradise” web site for expanding my thinking on this matter. In it they used the example of Enoch and Mahijah (Whether in reality Mahijah ever believed Enoch’s message or not, Elder Neil Maxwell seemed to promote the idea that he did) coming into common consent with each other over a message given to Enoch by God.