‘You cannot separate Jesus Christ from the Church,’ teaches Elder Hamilton at BYU devotional

‘Why a church?’ asks — and answers — the General Authority Seventy at the Jan. 24 BYU devotional

To answer “Why a church?” Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, a General Authority Seventy speaking at the Jan. 24 Brigham Young University weekly devotional, detailed the importance of — and the need for — an established Church to follow the Savior Jesus Christ.

After proposing the question, “Why a church?” he shared that many of his friends have told him they find spirituality on their own and do not need organized religion. In response, Elder Hamilton provided multiple reasons for not just a church, but Christ’s Church — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

According to the Pew Research Center, two-thirds of adults that are religiously affiliated reported a deep level of spiritual peace weekly, at minimum.

This not only illustrates the Church’s purpose now, but Elder Hamilton explained that the Church has always been around, organized by Jesus Christ himself, with apostles and prophets to guide and lead.

Today, the First Presidency teaches that the Church provides:

  • priesthood keys and authority
  • covenants and ordinances
  • prophetic direction
  • scriptures
  • gospel learning and teaching support
  • service and leadership opportunities
  • a community of Latter-day Saints
Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, a General Authority Seventy, speaks during a BYU campus devotional held in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. | Joey Garrison, BYU

Elder Hamilton said the Church is not simply a social club or humanitarian organization, although these are aspects of it. Rather, it is the way by which all come to Christ.

“We can think of the Church using the analogy of a prescription drug capsule. The Church is the capsule, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ is the medicine delivered inside the capsule. The Church delivers the blessings of the Atonement of Christ to its members who are faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.”

By making and keeping ordinances and covenants in His Church, all are able to draw nearer to the Savior and access the blessings of the Atonement. Elder Hamilton taught that a covenant is the sacred agreement made between an individual and Heavenly Father, whereas an ordinance is the sacred physical act which illustrates to Him you accept His covenant.

Beginning with baptism, continuously making and keeping covenants returns an individual to God and brings them closer to the Savior, he said. “Jesus Christ is not some sort of 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 explained that immortality is to live eternally as a resurrected being, a gift that is free. Eternal life, however, is conditional, because covenants must be made and kept with Heavenly Father. Such covenants, though, are only present in His Church.

Partaking of the sacrament each week allows for a rededication to keeping covenant promises as well as for all to gather in prayer, speech and song, as taught in the Book of Mormon. Elder Hamilton taught that by regularly gathering and participating in the sacrament ordinance, “we change,” becoming more like the Son of God.

In order to truly follow Him, though, means following Church leaders. “You cannot accept Jesus Christ and reject His Church or His authorized messengers,” Elder Hamilton stated. “You cannot separate Jesus Christ from the Church of Jesus Christ.”

He said the Savior’s plan, gospel and covenants remain unchanging. The very reason His Church exists is to reach His goal of bringing all immortality and eternal life.

This is why, Elder Hamilton taught, it is impossible to completely follow Him without following His Church and, therefore, His prophets.

Elder Kevin S. Hamilton, a General Authority Seventy, speaks during a BYU campus devotional held in the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah, on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023. | Joey Garrison, BYU

He continued to emphasize that Heavenly Father is a God of order. Because Church members do not go “bishop-shopping” or “ward-hopping,” Latter-day Saints should focus on what they can give, rather than receive, from their ward. Elder Hamilton called wards “a laboratory where we learn the gospel and learn to love and serve one another.”

He said he has heard others say the Prophet and Apostles can make mistakes and are simply human. While this can be true, Elder Hamilton reminded listeners that decisions which are made in Christ’s Church always require a unanimous vote. When the Prophet and Apostles speak in unity, they do so on behalf of the Savior, Himself.

On an individualistic level, all should remember to be humble followers of the Lord, Elder Hamilton said. This means changing one’s own heart and mind through repentance, which allows change in circumstances to follow.

He has met people who point out their ideas or perceived Church shortcomings and say they feel they are loyal to Christ — but not to some of His Church’s teachings. Elder Hamilton quoted President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, who said in April 2016 general conference, “There is no warrant for this concept in the government of God’s kingdom, where questions are honored but opposition is not.”

Elder Hamilton continued to explain that he will sometimes hear members say they do not support certain Church policies or do not agree with the way the Church does something. “Could I suggest an alternative approach?” he asked. “Substitute the word ‘Savior’ or ‘Lord’ or ‘Jesus Christ’ in place of ‘the Church.’ ... For me, personally, that seems to put a very different perspective on things.”

He taught Church leadership is up to the First Presidency, whom the Lord appoints, and those who hold the appropriate priesthood keys.

While every, single reason and rationale of all doctrine or Church policies may be unknown for now, it is important to move forward with faith, “trusting, hoping, believing,” looking to the prophet and apostles for guidance, said Elder Hamilton. explaining that such is not blind faith, but simply faith.

“My dear brothers and sisters, this is the message: We need a church, and this Church is literally His Church,” Elder Hamilton stated. “The Savior Jesus Christ and the Church of Jesus Christ are inseparably joined together.”

Related Stories
President and Sister Worthen on prophets, promises and logokophosis, at BYU devotional
BYU’s winter devotional/forum schedule to include 2 Apostles, 3 other Church leaders
Elder Peter M. Johnson shares 3 ways to more fully come unto Christ and receive His rest
Elder Andersen shares 6 ways individuals can allow faith in Jesus Christ to guide their lives
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed