A costly mistake by the goalie at the end of their game against El Salvador cost the U.S. men’s soccer team the opportunity to play in the London Olympics. Because the Olympic team is made up of men under the age of 23, most of those on the team will never have an opportunity to play in the Olympics. One error—one mis-timed jump from the goalie—cost the entire team the chance to go for golden glory.
In a separate incident in Canada, a group of papermill workers received bills in the mail stating that they owed their former employer between $20,000 and $30,000 because of an accounting error by someone who administered their pension plans: a costly error indeed! What would you do if all of a sudden you owed someone $25,000?
Mistakes are often costly. What is true in the diurnal affairs of athletes and laborers is also true in the eternal affairs of every soul. Errors can be costly—even deadly. This past summer, a driver of a pickup truck made a costly mistake in operating his truck, causing the vehicle to veer off the main road, over the shoulder, and into a very large tree. The tragedy was compounded by the error of cramming 18 illegal immigrants into the truck before driving it into Texas. In all, about a dozen people died in that crash; several others were left in serious condition. Errors are costly.
How much more costly are those errors which affect the state of our eternal souls? The doctrinal error of disbelieving that Jesus is God the Son proves an eternally costly error for the unbelieving soul:
“He who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
More to the point of grace, however, is the fact that God knows our weakness. He understands that we are but dust. We are earthen vessels. We all make serious mistakes. From ages past, God has made a way to cover not just sins but also mistakes. Our mistakes and our sins of ignorance are atoned for by Christ. God has shown this desire to forgive frail creatures throughout history. God has always offered His people an atoning work that is so complete it overs sins of omission and sins of commission. God’s atonement covers more than just the sins we knowingly committed; it also covers sins committed in ignorance. God atones for every degree of sin.
Such mercy is indeed great. Ezekiel speaks of such a sacrifice in chapter 45. On God’s authority, the prophet says,
You are to do the same on the seventh day of the month for anyone who sins unintentionally or through ignorance; so you are to make atonement for the temple. Ezek 45:20.
The sacrifices of the Old Testament all pointed to God’s provision for His people—a provision great enough to cover for sins of which people were not even aware. The completion of the sacrificial system happened in Christ’s “once for all” sacrifice of Himself, and His was no less magnanimous than the Old Testament version.
The sacrifice of Christ for His people accomplished a complete redemption, forgiveness, and cleansing. Thank God!, Our forgiveness and cleansing is not contingent upon our remembering and reciting every sin. This is significant because, like infants, we don’t really have a clue about the damage our sins have done. None of us knows the depths of our own sins. Christ knows and yet cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
Making mistakes in our doctrines and beliefs may prove fatal, but getting doctrines right before God always proves to be life-giving, cool water for the thirsty soul.
- Was Karl Barth a Universalist? (Evangelicals & Universalism, part 2) (marccortez.com)
- A better sacrifice (wordsofgrace.wordpress.com)
- Intro to Hebrews 4 – How do You Know You Share in Jesus Christ? (mudpreacher.org)