In our day, the ancient Law of Sacrifice has been replaced by a new higher Law of Sacrifice, now requiring of us our own “broken heart and contrite spirit”. What is meant by this phrase? How do we know and show we have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? And why is this considered to be a sacrifice? I came across this quote (by a Brother Bryce Hammond in 2008) which better captured the intent of my thoughts: “When Christ came to earth, he restored the Melchizedek priesthood with its accompanying higher ordinances. The Mosaic law was also fulfilled in Christ at that time, and the type of sacrifices performed in temples were consequently changed. Blood sacrifices were no longer required. Intermediary animals were also now not required. All of the Lord’s covenant people [are now] able to approach the Lord directly and offer a self-sacrifice of their time,their talents, and everything that they [have], including the only true sacrifice we can give God, our individual will. The form of the sacrifice changed, but the meaning and symbolism remain[s] exactly the same.”
After his Atonement and Resurrection, Jesus Christ appeared and declared to the people in the new world (as recorded in 3 Ne 9:19-20) “And ye shall offer up unto me no more the shedding of blood; yea, your sacrifices and your burnt offerings shall be done away, for I will accept none of your sacrifices and your burnt offerings. And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me [instead] a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost [..]”
In our day, the ancient Law of Sacrifice has been replaced by a new higher Law of Sacrifice, now requiring of us our own “broken heart and contrite spirit”. What is meant by this phrase? How do we know and show we have a broken heart and a contrite spirit? And why is this considered to be a sacrifice?
I came across this quote (by a Brother Bryce Hammond) which better captured the intent of my thoughts: “When Christ came to earth, he restored the Melchizedek priesthood with its accompanying higher ordinances. The Mosaic law was also fulfilled in Christ at that time, and the type of sacrifices performed in temples were consequently changed. Blood sacrifices were no longer required. Intermediary animals were also now not required. All of the Lord’s covenant people [are now] able to approach the Lord directly and offer a self-sacrifice of their time,their talents, and everything that they [have], including the only true sacrifice we can give God, our individual will. The form of the sacrifice changed, but the meaning and symbolism remain[s] exactly the same.”1
Is joining this church a sacrifice? Many of us in this meeting have already taken the first step of baptism and membership into this his church. (Moroni in 6:2-4 records:) “Neither did they receive any unto baptism save they came forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, and witnessed unto the church that they truly repented of all their sins. And none were received unto baptism save they took upon them the name of Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end. And after they had been received unto baptism, and were wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost, they were numbered among the people of the church of Christ; and their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith.”
Today, we have renewed that baptismal covenant by partaking of the sacrament, promising to “always remember him, and [to] keep his commandments which he hath given [us], that [we] may always have his Spirit to be with [us].” As Christ taught in 3 Ne 9:20 “And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me [ie 'in Christ'] at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.” I find it interesting that some received this gift of the spirit and did not perceive or recognize it. They knew it not. The Spirit is here today to edify and to teach us. Did you realize that today as we partook of the Sacrament, we – you and I with a proper 'broken heart and contrite spirit' - were or could be baptized again with fire and with the Holy Ghost? Or did we 'know it not'?
- Our Stake Presidency has asked us to extent this invitation to you: Come early and “spend a few minutes in your seat each week before sacrament meeting begins [as well as during the sacrament ordinance itself]. Ponder the scriptures. Seek to know the Lord’s will. Take that time to consider how you can sacrifice your time, your talents, and anything with which you have been blessed, to help those around you and to help build up his kingdom.” As you do so, you will feel the spirit and receive direction and power in your individual lives.
Is magnifying our callings a sacrifice? Being a Parent is hard. So is being a good Son or a good Daughter. Being a diligent Home Teacher or Visiting Teacher is a difficult task. Being a Bishop or a Relief Society President or going on a Mission or even being a faithful Nursery or Cub Leader or any of the myriad callings you may be asked to fulfill .. is demanding and challenging. The new Law of Sacrifice (and of Consecration) requires us to sacrifice our time, our talents, and everything that we have to the building up of the Kingdom. By and large and although we are not yet perfect, the work is progressing both here in your ward and in our stake and throughout the world. Did you know the great work you are doing? Do you realize how far and high we have gone and great you are becoming?Or do we 'know it not'?
Those who show their willingness to sacrifice as the Lord has commanded will be accepted by Him. He taught: “All . . . who know their hearts are honest, and are broken, and their spirits contrite, and are willing to observe their covenants by sacrifice—yea, every sacrifice which I, the Lord, shall command—they are accepted of me” (D&C 97:8)
The church website defines Sacrifice this way: “To sacrifice is to give up something valuable or precious, often with the intent of accomplishing a greater purpose or goal. Sacrifice has always been a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a reminder of the great atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ for all who have lived or will live on earth.”
- Jesus Christ was “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev 13:8) He knew and understood, as did we, the sacrifice that would be required of him, and of us, when he accepted that role.
Elder M. Russell Ballard (Quorum of the Twelve) taught, “Our first lessons about the law of sacrifice, along with an understanding of all gospel principles, began in our premortal life. In the premortal world we were taught the fullness of the gospel and the plan of salvation (see D&C 138:56). We knew of the Savior’s mission, of his future atoning sacrifice, and we willingly sustained him as our Savior and our Redeemer. In fact we learn [from John] in Rev 12:11 that it is by “the blood of the Lamb” (ie Christ’s atoning sacrifice) and our testimony that we are able to overcome Satan. (CES Symposium on the New Testament, 13 August 1996, Brigham Young University)
- Adam and Eve were taught and accepted the Covenant of Sacrifice after the Fall (Moses 5:4-9) “And after many days an angel of the Lord appeared unto Adam, saying: Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me. And then the angel spake, saying: This thing is a similitude of the sacrifice of the Only Begotten of the Father, which is full of grace and truth. Wherefore, thou shalt do all that thou doest in the name of the Son, and thou shalt repent and call upon God in the name of the Son forevermore. And in that day the Holy Ghost fell upon Adam, which beareth record of the Father and the Son, saying: 'I am the Only Begotten of the Father from the beginning, henceforth and forever, that as thou hast fallen thou mayest be redeemed, and all mankind, even as many as will.'”
His plan for the redemption of mankind can accommodate EVERYONE, if they only choose to accept and live it as He would guide us back to be with and like him.
- By keeping the Covenant of Sacrifice and offering himself for the sins of the world, Jesus Christ was able to break the bands of death and hell and provide a path of redemption for all mankind (Mosiah 15:7-9). Jesus thus fulfilled the Law of Moses (3 Nephi 9:17-19, Alma 34:13-14) and kept the Covenant of Sacrifice that he had made personally. “Not my will but thine be done” was His (and should be our own) attitude of sacrifice.
- We keep the Covenant of Sacrifice at sacrament meeting by offering a broken heart and a contrite spirit (3 Nephi 9:20) and by seeking to help all to come unto Christ (Alma 34:27-28), thus hastening the work of salvation and helping build God’s kingdom on earth. Our attitude of sacrifice should be the same as he exemplified: “not my will but thine be done.”
In the fifty-ninth section of the Doctrine and Covenants, it clearly states that we “offer a sacrifice unto the Lord [our] God in righteousness, [again,] that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.”(D&C 59:8-10) And this we do on the Lord’s day, and these sacraments are unto the Most High.
- The Atonement is infinite and eternal and covers the sins of the whole world (Alma 34:10) if they but will ..
In General Conference (Apr 1915, just a few years before his death,) President Joseph F. Smith stated: “I believe in the salvation of the human family, and that it is the intention and desire of the Lord to save all his children, with the exception of the very few who will not be saved…the gospel is universal, and it is not merely for a handful of people known as Latter-Day Saints, but that God desires to save all men, and eventually will save all through their acceptance of the gospel of Jesus Christ and obedience to his laws. (Joseph F. Smith, Conference Report April 1915)
Elder Robert D Hales (BYU Fireside May 1978) said: “Do we understand, then, the law of sacrifice and its importance? Are we offering sacrifices of convenience at times and not doing what we need to do? Our spiritual covenants require sacrifice and full devotion to the Lord. On the Sabbath day when we go to the house of the Lord we should do so in reverence, for these offerings are a reminder to ourselves and to the Lord of our devotion. We shall be edified by having that spirit to be with us and we shall be able to touch the lives of others.”
In the end, it is for our own benefit that we are to 'make ourselves holy' or 'to sacrifice' and hence be blessed. As the hymn (Praise to the Man #27) teaches: “Sacrifice brings forth the Blessings of Heaven”. The blessings of heaven are that we may receive 'all that the Father hath' .. and become even 'as he is'. It will not be with gold nor silver nor any physical 'thing' that we are most blessed in the long run. It will be in repenting and being forgiven, in improving and refining ourselves, through obedience to gospel laws and principles and in becoming more like him. More holy. More loving. More Christlike. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own hands and prepared for you;” (D&C 78:17) How much Mercy and Harmony and Grace and Felicity. How much Hope and Faith and Charity.
As Mormon's son Moroni concluded (Mor 7:47-48) “.. charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him. Wherefore, my beloved [brothers and sisters], pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with [his] love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons [and the daughters] of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.”
1 Posted on Internet at: templestudy.com/2008/04/08/sacrifice-continues-in-the-temple by Bryce Hammond in 2008
2 The Lord's Country and Kingdom: Your Passport by R. Bruce Money in BYU devotional given 22 July 2014 at time 26:49 of 32:08. Audio only. http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=2194
3 Come Unto Christ by John Bytheway Deseret Book
Jan 2014 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20505218-come-unto-christ