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What was 'finished'?
- Jacob Ninan
There are some Christians whose main theme now is Jn.19:30 where Jesus said, "It is finished." They point out that Jesus made this declaration on the cross to denote that everything pertaining to salvation was complete. Placing this along with the fact that our salvation is entirely by grace and not by anything we can do from our side (Ep.2:8,9), they come to the conclusion that there is nothing we need to do, now that we have been saved. Some of them teach that it would be wrong to confess our sins if we fall into them now, because our sins have already been paid for and it would be an insult to God to ask Him to forgive our current sins as if they were not forgiven already! Some of them say, even though mostly through implication rather than directly, that how we live now does not really matter because His grace is sufficient for us.
Here the whole point revolves around what exactly was finished on Calvary. In simple words, everything Jesus had to accomplish through His life and death was finished. He paid the price for the sins of the whole world (1Jn.2:2) so that the way into the Most Holy Place where God dwelt was now made open for people (Mt.27:51). In His life on earth Jesus had fulfilled all the Law (Mt.5:17) as our forerunner and given us an example to follow (Jn.13:15;1Pe.2:21). Jesus stripped Satan and his demons of their power (Co.2:15;1Jn.3:8) and gave us authority over them (Lk.10:18,19). Etc.
But even though Jesus died for the whole world, actually only a few are going to be saved (Mt.7:13,14), because only a few are going to humble themselves, acknowledge they are sinners, repent from their sins and turn to Jesus as their Saviour (Mk.1:15;Ac.2:38:3:19). This shows us that even though Jesus had finished His part in salvation, He had not finished 'our part'. Our part is something we have to do in order to participate in and to receive the benefit of what He had done. Therefore it is totally misleading to preach "It is finished" as if it means there is no part for us to do.
Of course, there is nothing we can do in order to earn our salvation. But to receive it as a gift there has to be an appropriate response from our side.
Even God has not stopped doing things from His part. When we go to Him in Jesus' name repenting from our sins and confessing them He forgives us and wipes our record clean. When we receive Jesus as our Saviour He causes us to be born again to become His children (Jn.1:12;1Pe.1:3). God continues to work in us giving us grace (help He.4:16) to do His will (Php.2:13). And then we are expected to work out (or live by) this salvation we have received (v.12). By the power of the Holy Spirit who now dwells in us, we are to put to death the deeds of our body so that we can do God's will (Ro.8:13). Whenever we fail, we confess it to Him and get forgiveness (1Jn.1:9).
Instead of dwelling in a doctrinal cloud that obliterates reality, let us respond to God's salvation in a realistic way.