David B. Haight (1906-2004), Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

Just run that through your mind for a second. Because we were there.

How great the wisdom and the love
That filled the courts on high
And sent the Savior from above
To suffer, bleed, and die!
(“How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Hymns, no. 195)

We chose to come here. And so we’re here assembled in this vast auditorium, where we can speak to each other and bear witness and bear testimony. I assure you that in those sleepless nights that I’ve had at times, when you attempt to solve all of your problems and to make new resolutions of things that need to be done, I have had those heavenly thoughts that lift us. God our Heavenly Father loves us, as we should love Him. He selected His Son to come to earth and bring the gospel of Jesus Christ, for whom this Church is named and which we bear witness to. I am honored to stand and bear witness today of the foundation of this Church and of our love for President Hinckley, who leads us today.
David B. Haight, “How Great the Wisdom and the Love,” Ensign, May 2004, 6

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We sit idly by watching as an insidious stream of profanity, vulgarity, demeaning behavior, a mocking of righteous ideals and principles, invades our homes and lives through most types of media, teaching our children negative values and moral corruption. We then become upset when our children perform differently than we would wish, and social behavior continues to deteriorate.

One newspaper headline reads, “The Battle Lines Are Clearly Drawn for America’s … Cultural War.” The article then asks: “Who determines ‘the norms by which we live … and govern ourselves’[?] Who decides what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, beautiful and ugly … ? Whose beliefs shall form the basis of law? …

“Our [cultural challenge] is about ‘who we are’ and ‘what we believe.’ ” (Patrick J. Buchanan, Salt Lake Tribune, 13 Sept. 1992, A15.)

Cal Thomas of the Los Angeles Times wrote that some see “the state as either equal or superior to God in human affairs. Theirs is an uninvolved god who trickles down blessings when we want them, but whose commands are to be ignored when he asks us to do something we don’t want to do.

“The fact is that our laws came from a standard of righteousness that was thought to promote the common good, or ‘general welfare.’ … That standard has been abandoned as biblical illiteracy has flourished, thanks in part to the state’s antipathy toward immutable and eternal truths.

“William Penn warned, ‘If we are not governed by God, then we will be ruled by tyrants.’ One’s view of God and his requirements for our personal lives determines one’s view of the role of the state in public life. …

“Benjamin Franklin … observed that if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without God’s knowledge, ‘can an empire rise without his aid?’

“The late philosopher-theologian Francis Schaeffer wrote that ‘God has ordained the state as a delegated authority; it is not autonomous. The state is to be an agent of justice, to restrain evil by punishing the wrongdoer, and to protect the good in society. When it does the reverse, it has no proper authority. It is then a usurped authority and as such it becomes lawless and is tyranny.’ …

“This is what the culture war is about. It is a conflict between those who recognize an … existing God who has spoken about the order of the universe, the purpose of the state and the plan for individual lives and those who think those instructions are unclear, or open to interpretation, or that God is irrelevant to the debate or doesn’t exist and we are on our own. …

“[Thirty years ago] students could still pray and read the Bible in school, abortion was illegal and ‘gay rights’ meant the right to be happy. … The issue now is whether we will become our own god.” (Cal Thomas, Salt Lake Tribune, 18 Sept. 1992, A18; emphasis in original.)

No wonder Isaiah, speaking under inspiration, declared, “Neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.” (Isa. 55:8.)

Unchangeable, God-centered principles and ideals adopted by our Founding Fathers not only form the basis of freedom but are the rivets that hold it together. There is a vast difference between principles that are unchangeable and preferences where there is a choice.

There should be no question about our standards, our beliefs—about who we are!
...
The only sure way to protect ourselves and our families from the onslaught of the teachings of the world is to commit to live the commandments of God, to attend our Church meetings where we can learn and be strengthened in our testimonies and partake of the sacrament to renew our covenants, to prepare ourselves to worthily enter the temple where we may find a refuge from the world and a place of renewal of our capacity to cope with the evils of the world.
David B. Haight, “Successful Living of Gospel Principles,” Ensign, Nov. 1992, 74

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Taken From the Talk: “The Sacrament—and the Sacrifice,” Ensign, Nov. 1989

[Note: This is one of the most powerful talks ever given by anyone!!]

Six months ago at the April general conference, I was excused from speaking as I was convalescing from a serious operation. My life has been spared, and I now have the pleasant opportunity of acknowledging the blessings, comfort, and ready aid of my Brethren in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve, and other wonderful associates and friends to whom I owe so much and who surrounded my dear wife, Ruby, and my family with their time, attention, and prayers. For the inspired doctors and thoughtful nurses I express my deepest gratitude, and for the thoughtful letters and messages of faith and hope received from many places in the world, many expressing, “You have been in our prayers” or “We have been asking our Heavenly Father to spare your life.” Your prayers and mine, thankfully, have been answered.

One unusual card caused me to ponder upon the majesty of it all. It is an original painting by Arta Romney Ballif of the heavens at night with its myriad golden stars. Her caption, taken from Psalms, reads:

“Praise ye the Lord: …

“He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

“He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.

“… His understanding is infinite.” (Ps. 147:1, 3-5.)

As I lay in the hospital bed, I meditated on all that had happened to me and studied the contemplative painting by President Marion G. Romney’s sister and the lines from Psalms: “He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names.” I was then—and continue to be—awed by the goodness and majesty of the Creator, who knows not only the names of the stars but knows your name and my name—each of us as His sons and daughters.

The psalmist, David, wrote:

“When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained;

“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? …

“For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Ps. 8:3-5.)

To be remembered is a wonderful thing.

The evening of my health crisis, I knew something very serious had happened to me. Events happened so swiftly—the pain striking with such intensity, my dear Ruby phoning the doctor and our family, and I on my knees leaning over the bathtub for support and some comfort and hoped relief from the pain. I was pleading to my Heavenly Father to spare my life a while longer to give me a little more time to do His work, if it was His will.

While still praying, I began to lose consciousness. The siren of the paramedic truck was the last that I remembered before unconsciousness overtook me, which would last for the next several days.

The terrible pain and commotion of people ceased. I was now in a calm, peaceful setting; all was serene and quiet. I was conscious of two persons in the distance on a hillside, one standing on a higher level than the other. Detailed features were not discernible. The person on the higher level was pointing to something I could not see.

I heard no voices but was conscious of being in a holy presence and atmosphere. During the hours and days that followed, there was impressed again and again upon my mind the eternal mission and exalted position of the Son of Man. I witness to you that He is Jesus the Christ, the Son of God, Savior to all, Redeemer of all mankind, Bestower of infinite love, mercy, and forgiveness, the Light and Life of the world. I knew this truth before—I had never doubted nor wondered. But now I knew, because of the impressions of the Spirit upon my heart and soul, these divine truths in a most unusual way.

I was shown a panoramic view of His earthly ministry: His baptism, His teaching, His healing the sick and lame, the mock trial, His crucifixion, His resurrection and ascension. There followed scenes of His earthly ministry to my mind in impressive detail, confirming scriptural eyewitness accounts. I was being taught, and the eyes of my understanding were opened by the Holy Spirit of God so as to behold many things.

The first scene was of the Savior and His Apostles in the upper chamber on the eve of His betrayal. Following the Passover supper, He instructed and prepared the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper for His dearest friends as a remembrance of His coming sacrifice. It was so impressively portrayed to me—the overwhelming love of the Savior for each. I witnessed His thoughtful concern for significant details—the washing of the dusty feet of each Apostle, His breaking and blessing of the loaf of dark bread and blessing of the wine, then His dreadful disclosure that one would betray Him.

He explained Judas’s departure and told the others of the events soon to take place.

Then followed the Savior’s solemn discourse when He said to the Eleven: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33.)

Our Savior prayed to His Father and acknowledged the Father as the source of His authority and power—even to the extending of eternal life to all who are worthy.

He prayed, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”

Jesus then reverently added:

“I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

“And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.” (John 17:3-5.)

He pled not only for the disciples called out from the world who had been true to their testimony of Him, “but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.” (John 17:20.)

When they had sung a hymn, Jesus and the Eleven went out to the Mount of Olives. There, in the garden, in some manner beyond our comprehension, the Savior took upon Himself the burden of the sins of mankind from Adam to the end of the world. His agony in the garden, Luke tells us, was so intense “his sweat was as … great drops of blood falling … to the ground.” (Luke 22:44.) He suffered an agony and a burden the like of which no human person would be able to bear. In that hour of anguish our Savior overcame all the power of Satan.

The glorified Lord revealed to Joseph Smith this admonition to all mankind:

“Therefore I command you to repent …

“For … I, God, … suffered … for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent; …

“Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, …

“Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments.” (D&C 19:15-16, 18, 20.)

During those days of unconsciousness I was given, by the gift and power of the Holy Ghost, a more perfect knowledge of His mission. I was also given a more complete understanding of what it means to exercise, in His name, the authority to unlock the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven for the salvation of all who are faithful. My soul was taught over and over again the events of the betrayal, the mock trial, the scourging of the flesh of even one of the Godhead. I witnessed His struggling up the hill in His weakened condition carrying the cross and His being stretched upon it as it lay on the ground, that the crude spikes could be driven with a mallet into His hands and wrists and feet to secure His body as it hung on the cross for public display.

Crucifixion—the horrible and painful death which He suffered—was chosen from the beginning. By that excruciating death, He descended below all things, as is recorded, that through His resurrection He would ascend above all things. (See D&C 88:6.)

Jesus Christ died in the literal sense in which we will all die. His body lay in the tomb. The immortal spirit of Jesus, chosen as the Savior of mankind, went to those myriads of spirits who had departed mortal life with varying degrees of righteousness to God’s laws. He taught them the “glorious tidings of redemption from the bondage of death, and of possible salvation, … [which was] part of [our] Savior’s foreappointed and unique service to the human family.” (James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, p. 671.)

I cannot begin to convey to you the deep impact that these scenes have confirmed upon my soul. I sense their eternal meaning and realize that “nothing in the entire plan of salvation compares in any way in importance with that most transcendent of all events, the atoning sacrifice of our Lord. It is the most important single thing that has ever occurred in the entire history of created things; it is the rock foundation upon which the gospel and all other things rest,” as has been declared. (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966, p. 60.)

Father Lehi taught his son Jacob and us today:

“Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth.

“Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.

“Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise.

“Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved.” (2 Ne. 2:6-9.)

Our most valuable worship experience in the sacrament meeting is the sacred ordinance of the sacrament, for it provides the opportunity to focus our minds and hearts upon the Savior and His sacrifice.

The Apostle Paul warned the early Saints against eating this bread and drinking this cup of the Lord unworthily. (See 1 Cor. 11:27-30.)

Our Savior Himself instructed the Nephites, “Whoso eateth and drinketh my flesh and blood unworthily [brings] damnation to his soul.” (3 Ne. 18:29.)

Worthy partakers of the sacrament are in harmony with the Lord and put themselves under covenant with Him to always remember His sacrifice for the sins of the world, to take upon them the name of Christ and to always remember Him, and to keep His commandments. The Savior covenants that we who do so shall have His spirit to be with us and that, if faithful to the end, we may inherit eternal life.

Our Lord revealed to Joseph Smith that “there is no gift greater than the gift of salvation,” which plan includes the ordinance of the sacrament as a continuous reminder of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. He gave instructions that “it is expedient that the church meet together often to partake of bread and wine in the remembrance of the Lord Jesus.” (D&C 6:13; D&C 20:75.)

Immortality comes to us all as a free gift by the grace of God alone, without works of righteousness. Eternal life, however, is the reward for obedience to the laws and ordinances of His gospel.

I testify to all of you that our Heavenly Father does answer our righteous pleadings. The added knowledge which has come to me has made a great impact upon my life. The gift of the Holy Ghost is a priceless possession and opens the door to our ongoing knowledge of God and eternal joy. Of this I bear witness, ...
David B. Haight, “The Sacrament—and the Sacrifice,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 59

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Taken From the Talk: “Ethics and Honesty,” Ensign, Nov. 1987

We attribute the rise of the American nation and its survival to two vital factors. First, God aided the efforts of those who established the republic. James Madison, who is considered the father of the Constitution and to whom President Benson referred this morning, wrote, “It is impossible for the man of pious reflection not to perceive in [the Constitution] a finger of that Almighty hand which has been so frequently and signally extended to our relief in the [establishing of our republic]” (The Federalist, no. 37, New York City: Modern Library, n.d., p. 231).

Second, through righteous conduct and example of its citizens. This is best expressed by Alexander Hamilton, a soldier turned statesman, who wrote that “it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force” (The Federalist, no. 1, p. 33).

The important human attributes needed for this new nation to really become a cooperating and workable republic of separate states would be manifested by a people who demonstrated by their lives a belief and desire to live in a society of justice for all mankind. Likewise, the Lord, through the Prophet Joseph Smith, also recognized that, like the new nation, the restored gospel would have difficulty enduring without men and women of similar integrity and conduct.

On March 1, 1842, Joseph Smith, at the request of Mr. John Wentworth, editor of a Chicago newspaper, composed thirteen brief statements known as the Articles of Faith, which summarize some of the basic doctrines of the Church. As the concluding statement, the Prophet wrote this inspired code of conduct:

“We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things” (A of F 1:13).

What an inspiring description of good people, God-fearing people, people committed to deal justly with mankind! These would be the type of people who could raise up a nation and help it survive, and the kind of people to comprehend the true gospel of Jesus Christ with the needed faith to proclaim it to the inhabitants of the earth.

We here today, and people throughout the nation and the free world, are indebted to freedom-loving individuals everywhere who had the faith and integrity necessary to build the foundations of our societies upon fundamental moral values. Only in an atmosphere of freedom and trust could values like honesty and integrity truly flourish and thus encourage others to pursue their rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Therefore, it is with great alarm that we read newspaper accounts and hear daily media reports that describe the decline of moral decency and the erosion of basic ethical conduct. They detail the corrupting influence of dishonesty, from small-time, childish stealing or cheating to major embezzlement, fraud, and misappropriation of money or goods.

Headlines and feature stories dramatically demonstrate the need for honesty and integrity in family relationships, in business affairs, and in the conduct of government officials and religious ministries. Recent cover stories from major national publications with titles such as “Lying in America” (U. S. News and World Report, 23 Feb. 1987) and “What Ever Happened to Ethics” (Time, 25 May 1987) emphasize the need for public concern over the direction in which we are moving.

Public virtue, which expects men to rise above self-interest and to act in the public interest with wisdom and courage, was so evident in leaders like George Washington, who, we used to declare, could never tell a lie, and Abraham Lincoln, known as “Honest Abe.” In the past few years we have seen “official after official—both on the national and the local political scene—put self-interest … above the larger public interest. …

“Men and women have … been removed from federal office and even gone to jail in our times because they exceeded the limits set by the framers [of our Constitution and God’s commandments]” (Charles A. Perry, “Religious Assumptions Undergird the Entire U. S. Constitution,” Deseret News, 27 Sept. 1987, p. A-19).

One reason for the decline in moral values is that the world has invented a new, constantly changing and undependable standard of moral conduct referred to as “situational ethics.” Now, individuals define good and evil as being adjustable according to each situation; this is in direct contrast to the proclaimed God-given absolute standard: “Thou shalt not!”—as in “Thou shalt not steal” (Ex. 20:15).

A recent Gallup Poll indicates that the vast majority of Americans want schools to do two things: teach our children to speak, think, write, and count; and help them develop standards of right and wrong to guide them through life. However, some teachers avoid questions of right and wrong or remain neutral or guide children into developing their own values, which is leaving many children morally adrift.

Many of our youth have either lost the knowledge of what is right and what is wrong or were never taught these basic values. President Harold B. Lee’s classic statement that “the most important of the Lord’s work that you will ever do will be the work you do within the walls of your own home” is most certainly true today. “Ours is the responsibility as parents to teach our children chastity … [and not only to be morally clean but to be] faithful [and] valiant, striving to live [all of] the Lord’s commandments” (Strengthening the Home, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1973, pp. 4, 7-8).

Some adults, including public officials and civic leaders, have also been led astray by longings for luxury and leisure.

The devastation that comes to the families and loved ones of those convicted of crimes such as stealing, fraud, misrepresentation, child abuse, sexual transgression, or other serious crimes is immeasurable. So many sorrows, heartaches, and even broken homes result from a false belief that people can set their own rules and do what they want to do as long as they don’t get caught.

Individuals may deceive and even go undetected or unpunished, but they will not escape the judgments of a just God. No man can disobey the word of God and not suffer for so doing. No sin, however secret, can escape retribution and the judgment that follows such transgression.

We declare: “There is only one cure for the evils of this world, … and that is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and … obedience to [His] commandments” (Mark E. Petersen, Improvement Era, Dec. 1963, p. 1110).

We run the risk of losing both our domestic freedom and eternal salvation if we circumvent by greed and avarice the ethical and moral strictures inherent in the Constitution of this land and the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The continued survival of a free and open society is dependent upon a high degree of divinely inspired values and moral conduct, as stated by the Founding Fathers. People must have trust in their institutions and in their leaders. A great need today is for leadership that exemplifies truth, honesty, and decency in both public and private life.

Honesty is not only the best policy, it is the only policy!

Someone said, “We have committed the Golden Rule to memory. May we now commit it to life.” The Savior’s teaching, “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12) should be the basis for all human relationships.

The Lord is very clear about the conduct he expects from the inhabitants of this earth. Nephi declared:

“And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; … should not lie; … should not steal; … should not take the name of the Lord … in vain; … should not envy; … should not have malice; … should not contend one with another; … should not commit whoredoms; … for whoso doeth them shall perish.

“For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; … and … inviteth … all to come unto him and partake of his goodness” (2 Ne. 26:32-33).

The time is now to rededicate our lives to eternal ideals and values, to make those changes that we may need to make in our own lives and conduct to conform to the Savior’s teachings.

From the beginning to the end of His ministry, Jesus asked His followers to adopt new, higher standards in contrast to their former ways. As believers, they were to live by a spiritual and moral code that would separate them not only from the rest of the world but also even from some of their traditions. He asks nothing less of those who follow Him today.

Do we really believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and virtuous? On this test may hinge the survival of our society, our constitutional government, and our eternal salvation.
David B. Haight, “Ethics and Honesty,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 13

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When Satan was cast down to earth with his innumerable hosts, he became “the father of all lies, to deceive and to blind men, and to lead them captive ... , even as many as would not hearken unto my voice” (Moses 4:4).

One of Satan’s methods is to distract and entice us so that we will take our eyes off the dangerous crevasses. He has succeeded to such an extent that many no longer recognize sin as sin. Movies, television, and magazines have glorified sin into what they think is an acceptable life-style: “[fornication], adultery, incest, ... serial marriages, drug abuse, violence and double-dealing of every imaginable variety, [that is] often portrayed as [normal] behavior; where people who do good are not … rewarded and those who do evil are not punished.” So stated a Los Angeles Times writer (see Salt Lake Tribune, 9 Aug. 1986, p. C7).

Assuredly we live in a time spoken of by Isaiah when men “call evil good, and good evil” (Isa. 5:20).

If any of you are walking in ice fields near open crevasses, do you see the warning signs? “Danger—don’t go near the edge”? Don’t trifle with evil. You will lose. We pray that you will not display the somewhat arrogant attitude of some who say, “I can handle it!” or “Everyone else does it!”
David B. Haight, “Spiritual Crevasses,” Ensign, Nov. 1986, 36

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims to the world that this church is a restoration of Christ’s church. A restoration was necessary because prophets and Apostles, who were the foundation of the Lord’s original church, were put to death or otherwise taken. The Church today is built on a foundation of prophets and Apostles, with Jesus Christ as its chief cornerstone. It is therefore not a reformation, a revision, a reorganization, or a mere sect. It is the Church of Jesus Christ restored in these latter days.

A distinguishing feature of the Church is the claim to continuous revelation from the Lord—“the making known of divine truth by communications from its heavens.” (James E. Talmage, The Articles of Faith, 12th ed., Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1924, p. 296.) Today, the Lord’s Church is guided by the same relationship with Deity that existed in previous dispensations.

This claim is not made lightly. I know there is revelation, as I am a witness to sacred things also experienced by others who administer His work.

The principle of revelation by the Holy Ghost is a fundamental principle of the Lord’s Church. Prophets of God receive revelation by this process. Individual members of the Church may also receive revelation to confirm truth. The Prophet Joseph Smith told us that “no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelation.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, sel. Joseph Fielding Smith, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1977, p. 328.)
David B. Haight, “A Prophet Chosen of the Lord,” Ensign, May 1986, 7