The Importance of the Finished Work10 min read

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As the Lord expired on Calvary, after appointing Mary a “son” to care for her, after receiving the bitter wine, the Lord cried triumphantly “FINISHED!” and bowed His thorn-crowned head and dismissed His spirit. No doubt this cry was mightier that any other, and to us it should mean more than most others because of its implications. That cry was associated with his mission being accomplished and Scripture being fulfilled (Jn. 19:28); therefore, it has great bearing on our lives and the doctrine of Christ. We will look at seven significances of the finished work, and by God’s grace it will grow all the more glorious in our sight.

#1. The Finished Work Assures Us of Redemption

Redemption means every believer is bought with a price; it involves an object, a price, and a redeemer. In Ephesians 1, we see the phrase “we have redemption,” and in 1 Corinthians 6, we see “ye are bought with a price.” Redemption is seen unmistakably as a completed action; there has been an object of redemption (sinners), a price to be paid (God’s wrath), and a Redeemer (The Lord Jesus). But without a full ransom paid, there would be no redemption; yet the Lord said “Finished!” – the price has been paid, in other words. Now we can truly know that we have redemption; we can have assurance. How? The finished work on Calvary. Without His work having been finished, we would still be in our sins. But God’s wrath has been paid in full, meaning it has no claim on our souls – ever.

#2. The Finished Work Makes Works Obsolete

And because He paid the price for our ransom in full, works are made obsolete in regards to meriting salvation. Imagine a slave, after being bought by such a price as Christ paid, trying to pay for that ransom with minute, worthless pennies. Isaiah says that our righteousnesses are as filthy rags in God’s sight (Is. 64:6). Proverbs 21:27 says “The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord: how much more when he brings it with a wicked mind!”

In ancient Greek culture, the word tetelestai (the word from which we get “finished”) was used for receipts: it was equivalent to saying “Paid in FULL.” The merits of the sinner are not the issue when it comes to salvation but their sin. It is the work of Christ that merits salvation, because He paid the ransom: He paid it in full, thus His almighty cry of the cross. In essence, one actually calls Christ a liar when he says works have anything to do with meriting salvation; for Christ said the work is finished, complete in itself. Ephesians says “we have redemption.” There is utterly no progression of earning that redemption by works seen in Scripture. In light of the cross, adding works is heresy in reality. One either has all of Christ or none of Christ. One either rests fully on self or fully on Christ. The finished work means full redemption and full ransom; there is nothing to add! May we so remember the importance of the cross work.

#3. The Finished Work Assures Us of “Eternal Security”

Not only are works obsolete, but even when we fall into sin, our salvation is not lost. This, again, is the truth of redemption. Ephesians 1:6 says “we are made accepted in the Beloved.” Our identity is now with Christ – being accepted is who we are, and the finished work of Christ brought us into that acceptance. This means that for us to be “unaccepted” as it were, we would have to be “unmade” accepted in the Beloved, which would require a work and person greater that Christ’s work and person. That, however, we know is impossible and an insult to the face of God. The work is finished, which means past, present, and future sins are dealt with; there is no sin too great for God to forgive, because all sins were paid for on Calvary. To believe one can lose his salvation is to believe part of Christ’s work is unfinished, that some sins are not covered (or unable to be covered) by His blood. To believe one can lose his salvation, therefore, one makes God a liar and exalts himself above the Most High. This contradicts all Scripture. It turns out this isn’t a mere matter of denominational difference, but of truth.

#4. The Finished Work Refutes Limited Atonement

We have refuted works-based salvation, we have refuted the teaching that salvation can be lost, and now we must refute the third heresy in regards to salvation – Calvinism’s teaching of limited atonement. 1 John 2:2 says “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Propitiation is the bearing away of God’s wrath through sacrifice; that is what Christ was fulfilling on the cross. The propitiation was set as a work for the whole world, and not only for believers, as John clearly says. That was the full work. And so, when Christ said “Finished!” He was saying that propitiation was complete, which means the sins of the whole world were propitiated, which means salvation is available for all. God does speak of election regarding salvation in His Word, but He never speaks of unconditional election to judgment. Instead, He says “God is not willing that any should perish” and “God commands every man everywhere to repent.” And how is it possible for every man to repent, as God commands? The finished work – payment in full. Limited atonement contradicts the finished work, for it implies based on 1 John 2:2 that part of propitiation was not complete, because propitiation was for the whole world.

#5. The Finished Work Satisfies the Father’s Will

This finished work not only points to salvation, but Christ’s mission on earth is seen as fully accomplished. Scripture contains many prophecies which the true Messiah would fulfill, along with many laws God set in place. These represent what the Father willed of the Son on earth. John 4 records the Lord’s words “My meat is to do the will of the Father.” Hebrews 10:7 says “Lo, I come… to do thy will, O God.” If Christ missed anything prophetically or lawfully, He would have proved to be no Saviour at all. But thankfully, at the end of it all, He could say emphatically “Finished.” Everything the Father desired – it was perfectly seen in the Son. O! May we learn to fulfill His will and be able to say as Paul “I have finished my course.”

#6. The Finished Work Extols the Son

John 17:4 records Christ saying “I have finished the work you have given me to do.” Why is this significant? Look at verse 5 – “Now, O Father, glorify me…” His glorification is dependent upon the finished work! Of course, He had glory that was rightfully His before His incarnation, but His exaltation is even higher because of the cross work (Is. 52:13). And so, much of what the New Testament says about His glory would be different if it were not for the finished work. Not only do we have tremendous gain, but Christ receives glory. Truly, the completeness of the cross is a vital doctrine, not only for our sakes, but for His. Let us therefore rejoice: He is no longer the Saviour in agony, but the Saviour in glory and exaltation! It is because of His work having been finished.

#7. The Finished Work Proves Christ’s Deity

Finally, the work being finished proves the Son’s deity. (It is interesting to note that we only see the cry “It is finished” in the “Gospel of the Son of God” – John). How do we know this? We know this by what we have been redeemed from – infinite wrath. Even the flames of the Lake of Fire can never fully bring justice to the wicked, for their sin is so great. Only eternal judgment is just. And in order for us to be redeemed from that wrath, Christ had to bear it for every man in full. He bore infinite punishment in a period of time, which means the punishment was even more intense and even greater than an eternal judgment for a sinner. But neither man nor angels are both eternal and infinite: only God is. Christ bore an unfathomable, infinite penalty, and He withstood it till the end. If a man or an angel bore that wrath, he would not be able to withstand that incomprehensible intensity of the wrath of God. Yet Christ bore that wrath in full, showing He must be greater than eternity. He cannot be anyone but God to bear such great judgment. Only an infinite God with power over eternity can overcome eternal wrath for numberless sinners with tremendous sins. If Christ is not God, Calvary could not have been a completed work. He must be God! There is no other possibility. But perhaps the question could be asked “If eternity is never ending, how can it be overcome?” We cannot fully understand, but we do know that the Lake of Fire had a beginning. God did not. God is not only eternal in that He lasts forever, but He has been eternal even from “eternity past.” He had no beginning and is infinite, which is how He could overcome eternity which did have a beginning. We cannot understand fully, but we can know it is true that the work is finished. Truly we can rejoice with Paul “Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift!”

What Does That Work Mean To You?

Perhaps you as the reader still have not come into the good of this finished work and are still in your sins, on your way to a lost eternity in the Lake of Fire. But after considering such truth of the Lord’s work, know that it is enough to save you, even now! It was precious work. It is precious to God: is it precious to you? “Is it nothing to you all ye that pass by? Behold and see if there be any sorrow like unto my sorrow, which Jehovah has afflicted me in the day of His fierce wrath!” Oh! friend, is it nothing to you? It is everything to God. It is enough to save. Why not repent and entrust yourself to the Saviour who bore such great wrath for you?

But perhaps you are a believer. What, then, does the cross mean to you? Can you say with Paul “For me to live is Christ?” Do the sweet words of the Lord’s sufferings touch your heart, perhaps even to tears as you consider His work? The cross should be everything to us! It must be! Did our Lord die so we could live unthankful and unholy? By no means. This is what we were bought from! Truly as believers our hearts should be stirred to worship in spirit (from the heart) and in truth (from the Saviour). Our hearts should melt as we consider that work. And truly as we consider that finished work, let us live as He suffered and died for us to live – in holiness.

A finished work! The deed is done –
Salvation by His precious blood.
Fulfilled in darkness: wrath was borne.
It’s done! How precious is the Son!

Redemption full – works obsolete.
The Father’s will He fully meets.
Everlasting God is He
To bear such wrath, great wrath for me.

The finished work – that precious blood –
Is once for all, it’s done, it’s shed.
“No condemnation now we dread.”
O let us praise – extol our Head!

What does that work now mean to you?
O may it warm our hearts!
O may we lift Him – may we view
His shining glory in sin’s dark.

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