An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World

Gordon B. Hinckley declared, “It is the mission of this Church to stand as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world. We have had placed upon us a great, all-encompassing mandate from which we cannot shrink nor turn aside. We accept that mandate and are determined to fulfill it, and with the help of God we shall do it.” Many of our beliefs as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints set us apart from the world. Four of those are discussed in Chapter 2, An Ensign to the Nations, a Light to the World. The way we live as individuals can and does make a difference. President Hinckley reminds us, “Our individual contribution may be small, but it is not unimportant.” Every righteous life gives added light to an ever-darkening world. A righteous life can most easily be achieved if we “take on more of the luster of the life of Christ.” Not only will that bless us individually but, as President Hinckley teaches, that is also the only way we will be able “to hold up this Church as an ensign to the nations and a light to the world.”

Family – “As the integrity of the family crumbles under worldly pressures, our position on the sanctity of the family will become more obvious and even more peculiar in contrast, if we have the faith to maintain that position.” Gordon B. Hinckley

“So much of the Restoration focuses on fundamental principles pertaining to the family, including sealings of eternal families. Latter-day Saints therefore have no choice but to stand up and to speak up whenever the institution of the family is concerned, even if we are misunderstood, resented, or brushed aside.” Neal A. Maxwell1

“We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established. We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring. We must continue to project that voice throughout the world in declaring why marriage and family are so important, why marriage and family really do matter, and why they always will.” L. Tom Perry2

Virtue and Morality – “We do not set the standards, but we are commanded to teach them and maintain them. The standard remains abstinence before marriage and total fidelity in marriage. However out of step we may seem, however much the standards are belittled, however much others yield, we will not yield, we cannot yield.” Boyd K. Packer3

“The Lord has made it clear, and the experience of centuries has confirmed it, that happiness lies not in immorality, but rather in abstinence. The voice of the Church to which you belong is a voice pleading for virtue. It is a voice pleading for strength to abstain from that which is evil. It is a voice declaring that sexual transgression is sin. It is contrary to the will of the Lord. It is contrary to the teachings of the Church. It is contrary to the happiness and well-being of those who indulge in it. You should recognize, you must recognize, that both experience and divine wisdom dictate virtue and moral cleanliness as the way that leads to strength of character, peace in the heart, and happiness in life.” Gordon B. Hinckley4

“In a world ever growing in moral pollution, tolerance of evil, exploitation of women, and distortion of roles, you must stand guard of yourself, your family, and all those with whom you associate. You must be guardians of virtue.” Elaine S. Dalton5

Word of Wisdom – “Our physical body is the instrument of our spirit. In that marvelous revelation, the Word of Wisdom, we are told how to keep our bodies free from impurities which might dull, even destroy, those delicate physical senses which have to do with spiritual communication. The Word of Wisdom is a key to individual revelation. If we abuse our body with habit-forming substances, or misuse prescription drugs, we draw curtains which close off the light of spiritual communication. Narcotic addiction serves the design of the prince of darkness, for it disrupts the channel to the holy spirit of truth. At present the adversary has an unfair advantage. Addiction has the capacity to disconnect the human will and nullify moral agency. It can rob one of the power to decide. Agency is too fundamental a doctrine to be left in such jeopardy. Teach your children to obey the Word of Wisdom. It is their armor and will protect them from habits which obstruct the channels of personal revelation.” Boyd K. Packer6

“The Word of Wisdom is one of the recognized and distinctive practices of members of the Church. Generally, others not of our faith acknowledge that members in good standing abstain from tobacco, coffee, tea, and all alcoholic beverages. Scientific studies have confirmed that Latter-day Saints have less incidence of heart problems, all forms of cancer, and other diseases because of their adherence to the Word of Wisdom. In all love, we give you warning that Satan and his emissaries will strive to entice you to use harmful substances, because they well know if you partake, your spiritual powers will be inhibited and you will be in their evil power. Stay away from those places or people which would influence you to break the commandments of God.” Ezra Taft Benson7

The Sabbath Day – “Observance of the Sabbath is an indication of the depth of our conversion. Our observance or nonobservance of the Sabbath is an unerring measure of our attitude toward the Lord personally and toward his suffering in Gethsemane, his death on the cross, and his resurrection from the dead. It is a sign of whether we are Christians in very deed, or whether our conversion is so shallow that commemoration of his atoning sacrifice means little or nothing to us.” Mark E. Peterson8

“Examine your feelings about, and your behavior on, the Sabbath day. The Savior identified Himself as Lord of the Sabbath. It is His day! Repeatedly, He has asked us to keep the Sabbath or to hallow the Sabbath day. We are under covenant to do so. Faith in God engenders a love for the Sabbath; faith in the Sabbath engenders a love for God.” Russell M. Nelson9

From the beginning, prophets of God have taught that faithful observance of the Sabbath blesses every aspect of our lives. What an incredible example President Hinckley shares about the pioneers following the prophet’s counsel to keep the Sabbath day holy – even when it would seem logical to make an exception. They arrived in the Salt Lake Valley in late July, with planting season well over. As the saints gathered on Sunday for Sabbath services, “in the blistering heat of that July Sunday they sat on the tongues of their wagons and leaned against the wheels while the Brethren spoke. The season was late, and they were faced with a gargantuan and immediate task if they were to grow seed for the next season. But President Young pleaded with them not to violate the Sabbath then or in the future.” And they were blessed for keeping the Sabbath day holy because, as President Hinckley reminds us, “God will shower down blessings upon those who walk in obedience to His commandments.”

President Hinckley taught, “Unless the world alters the course of its present trends (and that is not likely); and if, on the other hand, we continue to follow the teachings of the prophets, we shall increasingly become a peculiar and distinctive people of whom the world will take note.” I love Russell M. Nelson’s reminder, “It is converted, covenant-keeping women whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world and who will thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.”10

President Hinckley gives us quite an extensive list of things we need to do. He also gives some pretty incredible promises if we will follow his counsel. “We must stand firm. We must hold back the world. If we do so, the Almighty will be our strength and our protector, our guide and our revelator. We shall have the comfort of knowing that we are doing what He would have us do. Beginning with you and me, there can be an entire people who, by the virtue of our lives in our homes, in our vocations, even in our amusements, can become as a city upon a hill to which men may look and learn, and an ensign to the nations from which the people of the earth may gather strength. The time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of this The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, and the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. It is a time to be found keeping the commandments. It is a season to reach out with kindness and love to those in distress and to those who are wandering in darkness and pain. It is a time to be considerate and good, decent and courteous toward one another in all of our relationships. In other words, to become more Christlike.”


1. Take Especial Care of Your Family – Neal A. Maxwell

2. Why Marriage and Family Matter – Everywhere in the World – L. Tom Perry

3. The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected – Boyd K. Packer

4. Reverence and Morality – Gordon B. Hinckley

5. Guardians of Virtue – Elaine S. Dalton

6. Revelation in a Changing World – Boyd K. Packer

7. A Principle With a Promise – Ezra Taft Benson

8. The Sabbath Day – Mark E. Peterson

9. The Sabbath is a Delight – Russell M. Nelson

10. A Plea To My Sisters – Russell M. Nelson

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