Lesson #6 The Covenant Relationship is the top response of the parable of the sower.
This and the next lesson are related because they are both based on the parable of the sower. I think these should be separate lessons in order to provide the proper emphasis. Jesus tells us in Mark 4:12 that the parable of the sower is the most important parable of all because it is the key to understanding the other parables. The kingdom of God is in parable form. The kingdom of God on earth is Zion, therefore, the parable of the sower is the key to Zion. Why? Because it tells us that there are four responses to the word of God and that only the top response bears fruit. If you want to be part of Zion make the top response of the sower. Ultimately, the other three responses are burned (Hebrews 6:8; Alma 3:58-59, 90; John 15:1-6). Zion is a gathering of covenant people (D&C 83:17). Therefore, the top response of the sower is the covenant relationship.
This is important information in helping us to understand what the covenant relationship is. God is responsible for the parable of the sower. He sees us a making one of four responses in any situation or to any portion of His word. The four responses represent His classification system. As a result, the four responses are found in many places. Everytime you find the four responses in the word of God, you will then know the top or covenant response in that particular situation. For example, the four responses for resolving differences are: 1-reason; 2-contention, spreading rumors, backbiting; 3-blows, smiting; 4-war, murder. This is very revealing. If you want to be a covenant person you will only reason. You will never backbite. Everyone seems to agree that backbiting is the most common corporate sin among our people. This is additional evidence that as a group and not individually we do not yet live according to the covenant relationship. This is why we are constantly scattering. People who backbite are covenant breakers (Malachi 2:10, Romans 1:29-31) and they will not be part of Zion (Ps 15:1-3). Hebrews 6:16 says that an oath for confirmation is an end to all strife. "Oath" is a synonym for covenant. Again, covenant people do not backbite. See if you can find the four responses in Alma 16:138 (hint: the fourth response is implied as those who do not respond even to compelling). Also look for the four responses to Nephi, the son of Helaman as he was preaching from his tower (Helaman 3:1-113), and to Samuel as he was preaching from the wall in Helaman chapter 5. Alma preaches to four locations in Alma 3-10. They are types for the four responses. The people in Zarahemla represent the response #2 which most of our people apparently are in. Study carefully Alma chapter 3 as pertaining especially to us. The people of Gideon (Alma chapter 5) represent the top response. Compare Alma's words to them with his words to the people in Zarahemla. The reference to Melek (Alma 6:4-7) is short and they represent the third response because they received the word which is what the third response does initially. Because we are not told more they are a type for the third response. The people of Ammonihah are a very clear type for the fourth response (Alma 6:7-10:86). Looking for the four responses illustrates a principle. If you know a pattern exists and look for it you will find it. You only find what you are looking for.
I am aware of four major references to the four responses. A study and comparison of all of these including the three versions of the sower in Matthew 13, Mark 4 and Luke 8 will be very fruitful. Besides the sower, we have the Book of Mormon version of the sower found in Alma 16:152-173. We call this Alma's parable of the seed. The Book of Mormon version helps explain the sower. For example, the sower classifies some people as making the bottom or fourth response simply because they do not understand. This sounds unfair. However, Alma 16:153 says they do not understand because they resist the Spirit of God. The sower tells you about the four responses but does not tell you how to improve your response. The Book of Mormon version does. Hebrews 6:8 is a reference to the sower and therefore to the four responses to the gospel described in the first two verses. Verses 11 and 12 are a direct reference to the climax of the Book of Mormon sower, Alma 16:170. Both references use the same three words, diligence, faith and patience. The word order is different but that is not significant. Therefore, we have in Hebrews chapter 6, two references to the sower, one in the Bible and one in the Book of Mormon. This fits the pattern of two witnesses in ancient Hebrew law.
The other two major references to the four responses is Lehi's tree of life vision in 1N 2:41-88 and Ps 1:1-3, which is the Bible version of Lehi's vision. Can you find the three bad responses in verse 1? Verses 2 and 3 are an excellent description of the covenant relationship. Only two words distinguish the top response in Lehi's vision from the second response. They are "fall down". This means humility. So far, we have found 40 synonyms for humility in the Book of Mormon. Obviously, this is a very important attribute of covenant people.