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Publication TypeEncyclopedia Entry
Year of Publication1992
AuthorsThomas, Gloria Jean
Secondary AuthorsLudlow, Daniel H.
Secondary TitleEncyclopedia of Mormonism
Place PublishedNew York
KeywordsCovenant; Law of Moses; Sacrifice
Citation Key9495

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Author: Thomas, Gloria Jean

God requires sacrifice of his people both to make or renew covenants with him and to test their ultimate loyalties (D&C 98:12-15). When the Lord drove Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, he gave them the law of sacrifice, whereby they were to offer the firstlings of their flocks to him (Moses 5:5). From the beginning, offerings to the Lord that involved the shedding of blood were in similitude of the future sacrifice of Jesus Christ, who would come to atone for the sins of mankind (Moses 5:6-8). The Book of Mormon includes accounts of Lehi's people making burnt offerings in compliance with the Law of Moses (1 Ne. 5:9; Mosiah 2:3).

With the sacrifice of Jesus, "the performances and ordinances of the Law of Moses" were fulfilled (4 Ne. 1:12), and his death ended the practice of sacrifices on an altar. To his disciples in the western continents, Jesus said that he would no longer accept burnt offerings, but that anyone who believes in him should offer a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Ne. 9:19-20; cf. D&C 59:8).

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, sacrifice is required of those who wish to become the Lord's people (D&C 64:23). All are invited to come to Christ-rather than to a sacrificial altar-with humble, teachable spirits and repentant hearts, willing to sacrifice all things for the Lord and for one another (cf. Mosiah 18:8-9). The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that only a religion that requires total sacrifice has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary for salvation (Lectures on Faith 6:5-7). To appreciate the need to sacrifice, one need only recall Jesus' words to the rich young ruler: "Sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor…and come, follow me" (Luke 18:22).

Covenants made by Church members embrace the commitment to sacrifice all for the kingdom of God. Examples of willingness to sacrifice are legion among early Latter-day Saints who sacrificed homes, comforts, and even their lives for their beliefs. Prior to his martyrdom, Joseph Smith knew that he was going as "a lamb to the slaughter" (D&C 135:4). Sacrifices made by Mormon pioneers to establish the Church in the western United States have become legendary. And sacrifices are still required of Latter-day Saints. For instance, faithful members pay one-tenth of their income as tithing to the Church, contribute financially to mission funds, and give fast offerings for the poor. Missionaries spend one or two years preaching the gospel at their own or their families' expense while delaying education, employment, marriage, or retirement. Members serve their congregations-without pay-in assigned lay positions that make possible the operation of Church programs. It is service to others through formal callings and through personal concern for their Welfare that leads Church members to know that "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven" (Hymns, p. 27). [See also Consecration: Law of Consecration; Sacrifice in Biblical Times.]


Benson, Ezra Taft. "This Is a Day of Sacrifice." Ensign 9 (May 1979):32-34.

Hymns of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Salt Lake City, 1985.

Matthews, Robert J. "The Doctrine of the Atonement-The Revelation of the Gospel to Adam." In Studies in Scripture, ed. K. Jackson and R. Millet, Vol. 2, pp. 111-29. Salt Lake City, 1985.