Elder D. Todd Christofferson: ‘Why the Church?’

Credit: Screenshot
Credit: Screenshot

Why does Jesus Christ use a church to carry out His and His Father’s work?

That was the question posed by Elder D. Todd Christofferson at the outset of his sermon in the Sunday afternoon session of general conference.

Elder Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles traced the history of God’s dealings with mortals beginning with the time of Adam “when the gospel of Jesus Christ was preached and the essential ordinances of salvation, such as baptism, were administered through a family-based priesthood order.”

“As societies grew more complex than simply extended families, God also called other prophets, messengers, and teachers,” he said.

Following the apostasy, the Lord re-established the Church, and now, through the Restored Church, the promise of redemption is made accessible to the spirits of the dead who in mortality knew little or nothing of the Savior’s grace, he said.

“How does His Church accomplish the Lord’s purposes?” he asked. “It is important to recognize that God’s ultimate purpose is our progress. His desire is that we continue ‘from grace to grace, until we receive a fullness’ of all He can give. That requires more than simply being nice or feeling spiritual. It requires faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism of water and of the Spirit, and enduring in faith to the end.”

The Church teaches its members divine doctrine as well as application, Elder Christofferson said. “We often test one another with our personal idiosyncrasies. In the body of Christ, we have to go beyond concepts and exalted words and have a real ‘hands-on’ experience as we learn to live together in love.”

One of the greatest blessings of being part of the body of Christ, he said, is being reproved of sin and error. “Repentance is individual, but fellowship on that sometimes painful path is in the Church.”

Elder Christofferson said two things must be borne in mind: that conversion is not to the Church, but to Christ and His gospel, facilitated by the Church, and that the family and Church serve and strengthen each other.

A major reason the Savior works through a church, he said, is to achieve what cannot be accomplished by individuals or smaller groups, such as meeting the broader need of caring for the poor and needy and taking the gospel to all the world.

The final reason he gave for the Lord to have established His Church is the most unique — “the Church is, after all, the kingdom of God on the earth.”

“With the keys of the kingdom, the Lord’s servants can identify both truth and falsehood,” he said, “and once again authoritatively state, ‘Thus saith the Lord.’ Regrettably, some resent the Church because they want to define their own truth, but in reality it is a surpassing blessing to receive a “knowledge as they [truly] are, and as they were, and as they are to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:24) insofar as the Lord wills to reveal it.”

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