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Sacrifice in Mormonism

Members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (casually referred to as the Mormon Church) often use the word “sacrifice,” but what are they referring to when they speak of “making a sacrifice”?The LDS Guide to the Scriptures gives some good insight,

Jesus Christ MormonIn ancient days, sacrifice meant to make something or someone holy. It has now come to mean to give up or suffer the loss of worldly things for the Lord and His kingdom. Members of the Lord’s Church should be willing to sacrifice all things for the Lord. Joseph Smith taught that “a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things never has the power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation.” In the eternal perspective, the blessings obtained by sacrifice are greater than anything that is given up.

After Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord gave them the law of sacrifice. This law included offering the firstborn of their flocks. This sacrifice symbolized the sacrifice that would be made by the Only Begotten Son of God (Moses 5: 4-8). This practice continued until the death of Jesus Christ, which ended animal sacrifice as a gospel ordinance (Alma 34: 13-14). In the Church today members partake of the sacrament of the bread and the water in remembrance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Members of Christ’s Church today are also asked to offer the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Ne. 9: 19-22). This means that they are humble, repentant, and willing to obey God’s commandments.

Members also often refer to sacrifices they make in devoting their time, energy, and talents to the Church. Those who are not members of the Mormon Church may feel that Mormons sacrifice much more than that to adhere to the guidelines of the Church, by following the Word of Wisdom or the strict law of chastity.  But, as stated above, Mormons believe “the blessings obtained by sacrifice are greater than anything that is given up.”

The Prophet Joseph Smith explained the relationship between the principle of faith and the principle of sacrifice:

It is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has for the truth’s sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice because he seeks to do his will, he does know, most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice and offering, and that he has not, nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life (Lectures on Faith, [1985], 69).

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