Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, a General Authority Seventy, addressed BYU students in his devotional about the importance of Christ’s organized church on Jan. 24.
Elder Hamilton began the devotional by sharing photos of his mission, marriage and his current family, saying BYU has always been a very special place for him. “My remarks today are centered on a simple question: Why a church? Why do we need a Church, especially this Church?” he said.
According to Elder Hamilton, an organized church that can deliver the blessings of the Atonement of Jesus Christ is essential. The Church has always existed, he said.
Elder Hamilton said that while the church has social and humanitarian aspects, it is more than that. He said, “The Church of Jesus Christ is how we come to Christ. It is His Church. It teaches His doctrine. It provides His ordinances and covenants.”
Ordinances and covenants are what connects one to Jesus Christ, Elder Hamilton said.
“Jesus Christ is not just some distant or remote being looking down on us and cheering us on. He is with us every step along the way, every step on the covenant path,” Elder Hamilton said.
Immortality is a free gift, Elder Hamilton said, but eternal life is a conditional gift. He said eternal life is not just returning to live with God but becoming like God. This gift is conditioned on making and keeping covenants with God.
Elder Hamilton read from the Book of Mormon saying, “The church did meet together oft, to fast and to pray.” Partaking of the sacrament weekly is how people change, he said.
It is not possible to accept Jesus Christ and reject His Church or authorized messengers, Elder Hamilton said. According to Elder Hamilton, even though human beings are all “fallible,” when the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles speak in unity, they speak on behalf of Jesus Christ.
Elder Hamilton said he has encountered people who feel they are loyal to the Savior, but opposed to certain teachings of His Church. He said occasionally these people will say how they do not agree with the way the Church does certain things.
Elder Hamilton encouraged the audience to substitute the words “the Church” for the word “Savior” in those sentences because it puts a different perspective on things when one says they disagree with the Savior.
“Sometimes we just don’t know every reason and every rationale behind every point of doctrine or every Church policy. When this happens, we simply move forward in faith,” Elder Hamilton said.
Elder Hamilton said students must settle this important issue of an organized church deep in their hearts. He said, “The Savior Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ are inseparably joined together.”
Elder Hamilton shared the story of Khumbulani Mdlestshe, who he and his wife met while serving in Africa. Elder Hamilton said Mdlestshe was a convert who began serving a mission before learning that blacks were not permitted to hold the priesthood in the past. When Mdlestshe discovered this truth, he almost left the Church but was reminded by his mission president that he had a testimony of the restored Church and the past would not change that.
“We come to Christ as we move forward in faith. It is not blind faith. It is just faith. We trust, we hope, we believe and we act on our beliefs. We come to Christ through His Church,” Elder Hamilton said.