What does it take to get on the inside when it comes to church? That’s a question I asked myself when I first started attending a church. I don’t think I’m the only one.
Let’s take a look at the book of Proverbs to find an answer to that question, beginning with 14:9
Fools mock at the guilt offering, but the upright enjoy acceptance.
The Guilt Offering
When someone sinned in Old Testament times, they brought an animal to a priest who would sacrifice it as an offering to make things right with God – a guilt offering.
But not everyone participated in that offering. Some mocked or despised the offering. Some mocked because they did not take responsibility for their sin. Others made a mockery of the guilt offering because they trusted in their own righteousness. Either way those who despised the guilt offering did not enjoy its benefits. They remained on the outside, alienated from God because of their sin.
When sin stands between us and God, it doesn’t matter how often we go to church, how much money we give, or how many works we perform. No matter how religious we are, we are still just religious sinners.
But those who felt the guilt of their sin and brought their sacrifice to God found acceptance with God. At least, until the next sin.
The Limitation of the Offering
That’s the terrible limitation of the sacrificial system. We just keep sinning.
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins.
A Better Way
The good news is that the guilt offering of the Old Testament was not the final solution. It was just a taste of something much better.
But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
When Jesus came he was called the lamb of God. His death on the cross was the ultimate and final guilt offering, an offering so great it would atone for not just one sin, but all sins. Past, present and future. For those who honor the guilt offering, who do not trust in their own righteousness but receive the offering God has provided in Christ, it is possible to enjoy full and unconditional acceptance. Fully known and fully loved.
Are You on the Inside?
That’s how you get on the inside. Not by any effort of your own (that would be to mock the guilt offering); but by honoring the guilt offering God has provided in Jesus, the lamb of God.
Have you received it?
Tom Brown is the planting pastor of Vintage Faith Church in Wichita. Tom and his wife, Mandy, have worked together in ministry for 18 years and have four children. More about Pastor Tom Brown