[Editorial Note: Throughout the month of April, we’ll replace our normal Key Connections with one Key Connection from the Puritan era. Today, we have an excerpt from William Perkin’s Exposition of the Symbole or Creed of the Apostles (Works 1.123-127). This is an edited and condensed excerpt, and you can find the original here.] Faith......
In the previous article, I addressed what Jesus finished on the cross. Jesus finished the long night of his suffering, the full course of obedience, the decisive battle with his enemy, and the complete work of his atonement.
Maybe you know these things. But do you know why you need Jesus Christ? Or do you know why Jesus finished all these things on the cross for you?
You Haven’t. But with Him you Will.
There was only one person in the history of the world who could ever truly say, “It is finished.”
No one will be able to say it when they die, because no one will be able to say it while they live. None of us will be able to say to God “I brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”
I haven’t been able to say this of a single day of my life.
As a Christian, you have begun the work of all the commandments, but you have not finished the work of any! I cannot identify a single day of my life that I could say, “I lived that day to perfection.”
Every Saturday, every Sunday, every day of the week, we are in the position of saying, “We have done the things we ought not to have done. We have not done the things we ought to have done.” And that will never change this side of heaven.
You may grow in your Christian life, but you will never move beyond being a believing sinner. Spurgeon says:
“We can find a thousand flaws in our best works; and when we lie dying, we shall still have to lament our shortcomings and excesses.” [i]
Sinners on earth can never say, “It is finished,” and neither can sinners in hell. Christ finished. You haven’t. But with him you will.
Why Christ Finished His Work for You
Here’s what you get when Jesus is yours. Or to say that another way, like the New Testament does, here’s what is yours “in Christ.”
1.) Jesus completed the work of atonement, so in Christ you are forgiven, accepted, and loved.
If you are in Christ, you don’t have to do something else to be loved and accepted. All that you need is in Christ. If he is yours then love, forgiveness, and acceptance are yours. You are accepted in the beloved (Ephesians 1:6 KJV).
2.) Jesus completed the full course of obedience, so in Christ you have already lived a righteous life.
Jesus has lived it for you. If your hope of heaven rested on your works, it could never stand. Your works are not complete; they’re not finished. If your hope depended, in any degree, on your own works, something you had to do in addition to what he has done, your hope could never stand.
But when your hope of heaven rests on Christ’s work, that hope is secure, because Christ’s work is complete, “It is finished.” Luther says:
The law says, “do this,” and it is never done. But grace says, “believe in this,” and everything is done already. [ii]
Some of us are living under the law and it is never done. You will never have joy as long as you live here.
In Christ you have already lived a righteous life. He lived it for you. You are complete in him (Colossians 2:10). Just as your sins were laid on Jesus and counted as his. His righteousness is draped on you and counted as yours:
God made him who knew no sin to be sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
3.) Jesus completed the decisive victory over Satan, so in Christ the devil is a defeated foe.
Some of you look at your family history and you can see the work of Satan, the destroyer, running over generations. You wonder if some kind of curse hangs over your family. You ask, “What does this mean for me?”
I say to you on the authority of Scripture, no curse can stand against you, if you are in Christ. How could it? He won the decisive victory over Satan on the cross.
Maybe you find yourself overwhelmed by the strong pull of temptation. Satan knows your weakness and he has been running rampant in your life because of it. You have failed so many times that you’ve got to the place where you can hardly imagine prevailing over this enemy.
General Booth was the founder of the Salvation Army. One day his granddaughter, Catherine, was getting ready to speak at an open-air meeting for the first time. She was nervous and said to her grandfather, “I don’t know if it will be much good, but I’ll do my best.”
The old general said to her, “Catherine, with Christ you can do better than your best.”
Let that be an encouragement when you feel defeated. You have done your best and you’ve failed. With Christ you can do better than your best. In Christ your enemy is a defeated foe, which is why the apostle Paul said, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).
4.) Jesus completed the long night of his suffering, so in Christ your suffering will lead to glory.
No suffering lasts forever. Weeping endures for a night, but joy comes in the morning. Look at the resurrection body and the new creation.
All this is your when Christ is yours—no more sin, no more pain, no more tears, no more death. Christ finished. You haven’t. But with him you will!
Photo Credit: Unsplash
[This article was adapted from Pastor Colin’s sermon, “Crossing the Finish Line,” from his series 7 Words from the Cross.]
[i] C. H. Spurgeon sermon, “Christ’s Dying Word for His Church”