“It is Finished!”
I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. —John 17:4
The death of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment in history of the very mind and intent of God. There is no place for seeing Jesus Christ as a martyr. His death was not something that happened to Him— something that might have been prevented. His death was the very reason He came.
Never build your case for forgiveness on the idea that God is our Father and He will forgive us because He loves us. That contradicts the revealed truth of God in Jesus Christ. It makes the Cross unnecessary, and the redemption “much ado about nothing.” God forgives sin only because of the death of Christ. God could forgive people in no other way than by the death of His Son, and Jesus is exalted as Savior because of His death. “We see Jesus…for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor…” (Hebrews 2:9). The greatest note of triumph ever sounded in the ears of a startled universe was that sounded on the Cross of Christ— “It is finished!” (John 19:30). That is the final word in the redemption of humankind.
Anything that lessens or completely obliterates the holiness of God, through a false view of His love, contradicts the truth of God as revealed by Jesus Christ. Never allow yourself to believe that Jesus Christ stands with us, and against God, out of pity and compassion, or that He became a curse for us out of sympathy for us. Jesus Christ became a curse for us by divine decree. Our part in realizing the tremendous meaning of His curse is the conviction of sin. Conviction is given to us as a gift of shame and repentance; it is the great mercy of God. Jesus Christ hates the sin in people, and Calvary is the measure of His hatred.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
We are not fundamentally free; external circumstances are not in our hands, they are in God’s hands, the one thing in which we are free is in our personal relationship to God. We are not responsible for the circumstances we are in, but we are responsible for the way we allow those circumstances to affect us; we can either allow them to get on top of us, or we can allow them to transform us into what God wants us to be. Conformed to His Image, 354 L
Crossing the Finish Line: Sermon on Jesus’ Words “It Is Finished”
A heart at peace gives life to the body, but envy rots the bones. Proverbs 14:30
“One of these days I’m going to put it all on Facebook—not just the good stuff!”
My friend Sue’s comment—made casually over lunch with her husband—caused me to laugh out loud and also to think. Social media can be a good thing, helping us stay in touch with and pray for friends across the years and miles. But if we’re not careful, it can also create an unrealistic outlook on life. When much of what we see posted is a “highlight reel” of “the good stuff,” we can be misled into thinking others’ lives are without trouble, and wonder where our own went wrong.
Comparing ourselves with others is a sure recipe for unhappiness. When the disciples compared themselves to each other (see Luke 9:46; 22:24), Jesus quickly discouraged it. Soon after His resurrection, Jesus told Peter how he would suffer for his faith. Peter then turned to John and asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me” (John 21:21–22).
Jesus pointed Peter to the best remedy for unhealthy comparisons. When our minds are focused on God and all He’s done for us, self-focused thoughts fall gently away and we long to follow Him. In place of the world’s competitive strain and stress, He gives us His loving presence and peace. Nothing can compare with Him.
How can you use social media in a God-honoring way? How can a real relationship with God keep you from making unhealthy comparisons?
Tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4
Recently a student was asked to give a talk at his church, and he spoke of the importance of perseverance, but he didn’t know how to correctly pronounce that word. Throughout his talk, he kept talking about presseverance. His listeners smiled and nodded in agreement because they fully understood that perseverance really is press-everance. It’s the quality of pressing forward whatever comes.
We demonstrate our integrity when we stick with our commitments without wavering, even when grueling times arrive. The apostle Paul emphasized this quality over and over. He told the Romans that the quality of perseverance created hopeful hearts (Romans 5:3-4). He told the Corinthians about his own perseverance as he labored among them and faced great opposition (2 Corinthians 12:12). He told the Ephesians to be “watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints” (Ephesians 6:18). And he reminded Timothy, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance” (2 Timothy 3:10).
Let’s be true to our commitments to God and others as we “press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
Whenever God sends a trial with one hand, He gives grace with the other. J. Sidlow Baxter
1 Thessalonians 1:1-10
One of the characteristics of fallen human nature is the rejection of what’s best. This began all the way back in the Garden of Eden, when Satan tempted Eve to rebel against God and exert her right to determine her own course. Ever since, people have been pursuing their desires based on self-interest. It’s understandable that this is the world’s mindset; sadly, though, it is also the attitude of many Christians who attend church but consider serving an encroachment on their time.
Such self-centered reasoning is grounded in three misconceptions.
1. We don’t understand who God is. He’s the divine Creator of the universe and the sovereign Ruler over heaven and earth. He redeemed us from sin with the precious blood of His Son—in other words, He purchased us from slavery to sin. In that way, we become His slaves, who serve Him out of love and gratitude.
2. We don’t understand why we are here. We were created to worship and serve God. This is our destiny and the way we glorify Him.
3. We don’t understand the Lord’s great purpose in the world. He is building His kingdom, and we have been commissioned to be involved in this process by ministering to one another and proclaiming the gospel near and far.
God intended Christian service to be a divine privilege, a fulfilling opportunity, and an avenue of blessing. To say we can’t fit it into our schedule is a rejection of what God has commanded and ordained as best. But the truth is, what we forfeit by not serving is far greater than anything we could gain by selfishly pursuing our own way.
“Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfill all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power.” (2 Thessalonians 1:11)
God’s good pleasure withholds judgment! “It is of the LORD’s mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness” (Lamentations 3:22-23). “The LORD is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works” (Psalm 145:8-9).
God’s good pleasure is to do good to His people! “The LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly” (Psalm 84:11). “Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart” (Psalm 37:3-4).
God’s good pleasure forgives us! “Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea” (Micah 7:18-19).
God’s good pleasure is to bring about His will! “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. . . . So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it” (Isaiah 55:9-11). “The Lord . . . is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). When we live in God’s good pleasure, we are able to “delight” in Him. HMM III
Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe.
—1 Thessalonians 2:10
I am afraid of the pastor that is another man when he enters the pulpit from what he was before. Reverend, you should never think a thought or do a deed or be caught in any situation that you couldn’t carry into the pulpit with you without embarrassment. You should never have to be a different man or get a new voice and a new sense of solemnity when you enter the pulpit. You should be able to enter the pulpit with the same spirit and the same sense of reverence that you had just before when you were talking to someone about the common affairs of life. WMJ025
Lord, help me to be a man of impeccable integrity. Give me the grace to be the same man, whether in the pulpit, in a board meeting, caught in rush hour traffic or at dinner with my wife. Amen.
For me to live is Christ and to die is gain… having a desire to depart and to be with Christ which is far better.—Philippians 1:21, 23.
If I were annihilated this moment, I should bless God for having been allowed to live. Far more, if I were to have to toil and suffer in this sorrowful but glorious earth-life through unnumbered ages, and the sorrow and suffering continued to bring the living life with it that it has brought, I would gladly accept sorrow and suffering here on earth. How much more, then, when I expect, and am sure, that a very few years more will place me with these precious life-powers in a world fitted for highest life, with life intensified, and all the pure great life of ages gathered there, besides those whom I have dearly loved.
Our present life in Christ may be compared to that of the seed; a hidden life, contending underground against cold and darkness and obstructions, yet bearing within its breast the indestructible prim of vitality. Death lifts the soul into the sunshine for which a hidden, invisible work has prepared it. Heaven is the life of the flower.
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye that tremble at his word; Your brethren that hated you, that cast you out for my name’s sake, said, Let the Lord be glorified: but he shall appear to your joy, and they shall be ashamed.” Isa. 66:5
Possibly this text may not apply to one in a thousand of the readers of this little book of promises; but the Lord cheers that one in such words as these. Let us pray for all such as are cast out wrongfully from the society which they love. May the Lord appear to their joy!
The text applies to truly gracious men who tremble at the word of the Lord. These were hated of their brethren, and at length cast out because of their fidelity and their holiness. This must have been very bitter to them; and all the more so because their casting out was done in the name of religion, and professedly with the view of glorifying God. How much is done for the devil in the name of God! The use of the name of Jehovah to add venom to the bite of the old serpent is an instance of his subtlety.
The appearing of the Lord for them is the hope of His persecuted people. He appears as the advocate and defender of His elect; and when He does so, it means a clear deliverance for the God-fearing and shame for their oppressors. O Lord, fulfill this word to those whom men are deriding!