In BYU devotional, Elder McKay answers the question ‘What if there be no Christ?’

In the beloved and well-known Christmas classic “It’s a Wonderful Life,” George Bailey is shown what the world would be like without him. In a BYU devotional broadcast on Tuesday, March 24, Elder Kyle S. McKay explored the “frightening hypothetical” — “What if there be no Christ?”

To start with, the General Authority Seventy told BYU students gathered both in the Marriott Center and virtually, that “if there be no Christ, then there is no resurrection. And if there is no resurrection, death is the end. Or in other words, death has no end. Those who reject the doctrine of Christ embrace the idea of extinction, the doom of never-ending death.”

The secularist, anti-Christ pitch focuses on “eat, drink and be merry because this is it,” Elder McKay said. 

But the good news of the gospel is that individuals have potential that is “higher, deeper and fuller than simply living the life of a beer commercial. Our life is forever and the resurrection is real because there is a Christ,” Elder McKay declared.

Without Christ, there is no healing of sorrows, relief from pain or hope of deliverance, he continued. To the adage “Time heals all wounds,” Elder McKay countered, “No, it doesn’t. Time doesn’t heal anything. Jesus, with time and over time, heals all wounds.”

Christ will grant interim and ultimate victories over suffering and death, Elder McKay said, then telling listeners to remember that faith in Christ accelerates and magnifies all healing. “He took upon Himself all our infirmities so that He can come to us with healing in His wings (2 Nephi 25:13; 3 Nephi 25:2). If there be no Christ, there is no healing, no deliverance from suffering, no matter how much time may pass.”

Without Christ there would be no change or choice. “It is tremendous irony that Lucifer and those who sided with him got what they fought for,” Elder McKay said. “They lost their agency. They are eternally unable to choose happiness, liberty and eternal life.” 

“If there be no Christ,” all would be subject to the same fate. “What a relief it is to know that there is a Christ and that through His atonement our agency has been preserved, including our ability to choose to repent, to change permanently for the better in Him,” Elder McKay said.

If there was no Christ, no wrong could ever be undone. The wrongs committed both by and against individuals would remain forever. “Only a Christ, a Messiah and Deliverer, could undo the effects of the fall of Adam and Eve. Only a Christ can undo the effects of the fall of you and me,” Elder McKay explained. 

For those who truly repent, it is as though no sin had been committed. “Through the tenderness of His mercy, we are delivered from the just consequences we would otherwise deserve because of our sins,” he said.

But what about the injustices foisted that aren’t deserved? “In this, His justice is as tender as His mercy and it joins in perfect union and cooperation with mercy for our good and gladness,” Elder McKay said.

However, “if there be no Christ, there is no tender mercy, no tender justice; only cold, calculated, inflexible justice for our sins and the cold, random injustice of a fallen world.”

There must needs to be a Christ

Moving away from the hypothetical, Elder McKay then focused on the “joyous reality” that there is a Christ and Jesus is the Christ.

In what he called “a dissertation on the doctrine of Christ,” Elder McKay invited listeners to read King Benjamin’s final address in Mosiah 1-6 where he teaches the doctrine of Christ by establishing with “brutal candor” the people’s desperate need to be saved. 

Individuals can not attain their potential on their own, Elder McKay said. “We need help. We need a helper; we need Jesus, who is our Helper. This need for help, and especially the acknowledgement of a need for help, is the beginning of an understanding of the doctrine of Christ and the beginning of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Humility is one of the chief attributes of the faithful, the General Authority taught. “Only the humble recognize their frail and fallen state; their need for a Savior. Humility is a forerunner and magnifier of faith. I encourage you to live continually humble.”

Elder McKay spoke of the tragic death of his friends’ 2-year-old daughter, who climbed into their small wading pool, lost her balance and silently drowned. “I do not need to tell you, I cannot tell you, it is impossible to tell you, the grief and shock and anguish that that family went through at the death of that little girl,” Elder McKay said. 

Without Christ, there is no resurrection and that little girl stays dead, he said. “But there is a Christ and that little girl lives on. There will be a resurrection and a reunion. That sweet little girl continues to be an influence upon her family, and not merely through memories. Christ is kind, and He will deliver.”

Elder Kyle S. McKay speaks during a BYU campus devotional in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on March 23, 2021.
Elder Kyle S. McKay speaks during a BYU campus devotional in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on March 23, 2021. Credit: Ryan Campbell, BYU photo

Elder McKay then spoke of a temple sealing he attended of a beautiful young couple where Elder McKay was familiar with the groom’s dark past. “I searched his face, even squinting my eyes, trying to detect some residue of his dark past. But there was none. Only light and joy and love and hope. Why? Because there is a Christ, and His Atonement leaves no tracks, no traces. No matter how far or deep, you have fallen, Jesus has descended deeper and farther. During His descent, He became acquainted with your grief, and He was bruised by your iniquities. He did it so that He could rise above it all, and bring you back home where you belong.”

Throughout his life Elder McKay said he has experienced sin and sorrow, suffering and infirmities of mind and body, unfairness and injustice. “All of these and so much more have given me a sure knowledge that there must needs be a Christ.”

Elder McKay said he has also studied the scriptures, prayed, wrestled in spirit and basked in the Spirit and sought for relief, forgiveness, solace and testimony. “And in Jesus, I have found them,” he declared. “All of these and so much more have led me to a sure knowledge that Jesus is the Christ. With all my heart, I invite you to seek this Jesus.”

Watch the devotional: