Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Understanding Grace: The Finished Work of Christ

18 But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:18

 Whenever one ministers truth that seems to contradict the teachings or ideas of those who have gone before them, inevitably controversy ensues. Accusations are hurled their way. Books and articles are written to try and "correct" the supposed errors. Straw man arguments are created by lumping in fringe elements and their ideas with those teaching truth. This is why in recent weeks we have been studying understanding grace.

 Today, I want to share some exciting, glad news. When we speak of God's amazing grace we must include His finished work on the Cross. The cross is the reason we have this grace available. The cross was grace in action paying the price for our redemption. On the cross Jesus made one of the most powerful statements He had ever spoke.

30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit. John 19:30

 Jesus declared it was finished. What was finished? His work of redemption? The Old Covenant? The Law? Some ministers fuss and argue about what this statement means. Why this statement creates such strife is beyond me. I believe He knew what He meant when He said it is finished. 

 The phrase it is finished is actually one word spoken in Greek. It is the word tetelestai. You can study this word for yourself here. This word means complete. To conclude. It is done, it is perfectly complete.

  Yes, in His work of redemption Christ had to be resurrected in order to ensure complete victory. However, Jesus spoke the end from the beginning. So what was finished? All, was accomplished. Redemption, the Law, the Old Covenant all of it was finished in His perfect sacrifice. 

 The reality of the finished work is, all that we need to overcome in this life is already completed, and bestowed upon us. It is already ours based upon perfect redemption. Understanding the finished work means we realize that there is nothing we can add to the work of redemption. What amount of good works or steadfast faith can cause God to be more or less pleased with us? 

 It is absolute truth, Jesus plus nothing. Consider these passages.
All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Ephesians 1:3

 Grace to you and peace be multiplied in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, seeing that his divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and virtue; 2 Peter 1:3-4
 These passages are indicative of a complete redemption. That by virtue of this grace we already possess what we need for victory and total salvation now. By the continual acknowledgement of who we already are in Him we will see the fruition of it in our life. Our maturity comes by acknowledging what we possess and who we are by virtue of our union with Christ.

Understanding this gives us a better understanding of what weak faith is. The Word of God on many occasions describes a strong faith or a weak faith. I have heard many try to describe what a weak faith is.

 Some speak of a weak faith as a struggle to believe in the existence of God. If you are a believer, it is challenging for me to believe one struggles with the existence of God. However, if this is you, peace to you. Look upon creation. This is proof enough God is real. 

 Some have defined weak faith as one who struggles with receiving the promises of God in a certain area. It may be true that outside sources may try to weaken your stand. Circumstances and well meaning people may try to discourage your hope. There is help for this. Stay with what the Word says concerning your situation and never focus on anything else. Focus on the finished work and you will see the blessings of God. Maybe not the way that some present them, but as the Word promised them, you will receive.

 That stated, in context of many passages in Scripture what is weak faith? 
14 Receive one who is weak in the faith, but not to disputes over doubtful things Romans 14:1
 What is Paul teaching here? He mentions weakness in faith in this chapter, also in Galatians and 1 Corinthians. The weak in faith are those whose conscience are condemned by their participation in anything they perceive as secular or "Worldly". It is those who feel strongly that they must observe Old Covenant Laws and practices. Paul contrasts strong faith and weak faith in this chapter.

 Weak faith means one is not convinced of the finished work of Christ. They feel in their minds that there still is much to be done for their sanctification or acceptance. They feel that they're more holy or set apart by their good deeds. They also feel they're less holy and pleasing and acceptable to God based upon their bad deeds. They truly believe salvation has begun in them but they must complete it.

 We must understand the finished work. Because of Christ's sacrifice we are already pleasing and accepted by the Father. Regardless of your actions you are always acceptable and pleasing in your Father's sight. Now don't misunderstand me. He is not always pleased with our choices. He isn't pleased when we miss the mark and step out of love and forgiveness. He is however, by virtue of our union with Christ, always pleased with us, His beloved children.

 Salvation is complete in Him. When He died on that cross He paid the complete price. He took the penalty of sin which is death for us (Romans 6:23). The Cross is so much more than that. It is also Him defeating the powers of darkness on our behalf. It is Christ buying us back from the deception and influence of darkness. 

 There is nothing we can add or take away from the work of redemption. It is finished. Salvation isn't begun by Him and finished by you. There is so much more to say about this. For now rejoice in this truth. Salvation He started it and He will see it through to the end...
6 I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious expression of grace in your lives will faithfully continue the process of maturing you through your union with Him and will complete it at the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ!
Philippians 1:6 Passion translation

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