Before Jesus was hoisted on the cross, a great transaction was in progress. God had demanded holiness, righteousness, and obedience from men. Perfect law-keeping was his standard, and such worship was required for any to commune with the Holy God. However, there was none righteous, no not one. All sinned and transgressed the holy decrees of God. All proved to be converts and disciples of the devil. However, in undeserved love, Jesus came to earth as the God-appointed substitute for many. He lived a perfectly obedient life. He proved himself to be the perfect worshiper with whom the Father was well pleased. And as he walked on this earth, he earned one-hundred percent of the righteousness deserved, desired, and demanded by the Father. Jesus earned it all. He fulfilled the righteousness requirement. For anyone who would be married to him, there would be nothing left for them to pay.
Later, after Jesus was hoisted on the cross, a great transaction was completed. God had promised the damnation of all men who blasphemed him by disobeying his law and following Satan. Every person who disobeyed was sentenced to separation and damnation. Wrath was stored up by the Holy Judge, and in his own time it would be poured out upon the heads of sinful men. However, in undeserved love, the Father sent his only Son, not only to earn righteousness, but to perish as the sacrificial Lamb of God. Jesus was on the cross doing so. He was on the cross receiving one-hundred percent of the condemnation earned by his bride. He received it all. He paid it all. For his bride, there was no condemnation left for her to receive.
In his last minute on the cross, Jesus knew his work was done. He recognized the transaction was completed. Righteousness had been fully supplied; condemnation fully accepted. This being accomplished, he uttered forth his final words. They are recorded by John:
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said … “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:28-30)
What a cry of triumph! Misery had come to an end. Separation from the Father was about to be over. Jesus had come to earth, earned the righteousness of his bride, paid for her whorish transgressions, and was ready to rejoice in paradise with his Father. He had run the race. He had loved his own. He then exclaimed, “It finished!” What a glorious scream by the passionate Son of God.
Friends, do we think Jesus erred in his scream? Do we think he was wrong in his theological understanding? Do we really believe there is covenant-keeping work required by men in regards to our standing with God? Do we really believe their is purgatory ahead?Do we really believe we must add our works to his works?
No friends, we have not an errant Savior. We have not one who was over-selling his benefits. However, we do have devious accuser and a weak flesh. Satan desires to rob us of our confidence and joy, and our flesh is very susceptible to his lies. And this is nothing new. Consider the struggles of the Christians in Galatia. To them Paul writes:
O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified … Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? … For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles …. (Galatians 3:1-14)
Stu Epperson, Jr, my friend, wrote the following in his book The Last Words of Jesus:
Even Christians tend to miss the significance of the word tetestai. Like hamsters on a wheel we constantly clamor to gain the Father’s acceptance. Even though he has finished the work, adopting us into His family — we’re still trying to compete for a spot on God’s roster. So often believers tend to focus on what we do or have done for God. But these words of Christ shift our focus to what He has done for us. We simply get it backwards. As opposed to our efforts to finish and perform our way into God’s favor, it is Christ’s perfect effort that frees us to “walk in newness of life” (Romans 6:4).
Friends, remind yourselves of the truths presented in the Word. There is a holy God. He has given a holy Law which must be perfectly obeyed, at all times, internally and externally. In correspondence with this Law, there are temporal and eternal consequences based upon obedience and disobedience. Communion and blessing comes to those who obey perfectly. Excommunion and cursing comes to those who disobey in any regard at any time. Tragically, there is no one who has ever kept God’s holy Law. All have sinned. There is no one righteous. All are condemned.
However, God, in his undeserved love, has chosen to send his only Son to benefit many. Who are these “many?” They are those chosen before the beginning of time. They are those written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. They are those regenerated by the Holy Spirit. They are “whoever” and “whosoever” and “everyone” and “anyone” who calls upon the name of the Lord.” They are you, if you fall on your knees and call upon Christ to be your Savior and Lord.
For all who confess their sin and profess allegiance to the Son, there is no righteousness to earn and no condemnation to face. Yes, you are commanded, called, and compelled to worship. Yes, you should seek to please him in all that you do. Yes, the Law is still to be read and applied; you are called to obey. Yes, there is still the law of sowing and reaping, poor consequences still follow foolish and sinful choices. Yes, there is always the promise of loving fatherly discipline towards children of the Father. However, as you progress in sanctification, do not add anything to the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus earned it all. Jesus paid it all.
So friends in Jesus Christ, be encouraged today. Go on your way and respond in joyful adoration. Walk in your God-earned righteousness. Walk in the Spirit and enjoy the fruit that comes forth. And throughout the day, lift your voice and shout along with Jesus, “It is finished.” Scream it loudly. This is indeed a most glorious cry.
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