Tag Archives: Truth

What is Finished, with the “Finished Work of Christ”?

By Bill Snell

When Christ was on the cross drawing His last human breaths, He said, “it is finished”.  Well, was it, or wasn’t it?  If “it” was finished, what was “it”?

Understanding the glorious message of God’s abundant grace toward all believers isn’t new.  It may be new to many, but it certainly isn’t new like some modern, novel movement within the church that is fashionable for a short time.

This short excerpt from a message preached in 1861, in the Metropolitan Tabernacle, in Newington, England, by the Rev. Octavius Winslow, D.D., has become one of my favorite on this subject:

“What a spring of comfort flows from it to the true Believer amid his innumerable failures, flaws, and imperfections. What service do you perform, what duty do you discharge of which you can say, “It is finished”? Alas, not one! Your service is imperfect, your obedience is incomplete, your love is fluctuating, yes, upon it all are the visible marks of human defilement and defect. But here is the work which God most delights in, “finished.” “You are complete in Him.”

“If Christ’s Atoning work is finished, what folly and what sin to attempt to supplement it! What vast numbers are doing this! Away with your tears, your confessions, your duties, your charities, even your repentance and faith, if these things dare to take their place side by side with the finished work of Christ! See that you attempt to add nothing to it.”

Jesus cried out before His last gasps of breath on the cross, “tetelestai” – it is finished!  He meant what He said, and all created order was stunned by the proclamation.  If what He said was not true, He would not have been raised from the dead and our faith would be futile! (1 Cor. 15:17)

But, since He was raised from the dead, everything is different, literally “all things have become new” for those who are in Christ.

Please notice the chasm between what we were and what we are now as people of faith.  There is literally no grey areas.  Don’t dismiss the finality, the implications, and the metamorphosis of the New Creation in Christ:

1.             Either my sins are pardoned and fully dealt with or I am guilty and condemned. (Colossians 2:13-14)

2.             Either I am now the righteousness of God in Christ, or I am not righteous at all and I am separated from Holy God (2 Cor. 5:21)

3.             Either I am fully justified before God through the cleansing power of Jesus blood, or I am declared a sinner before the courts of heaven and I have no hope of entrance (Romans 5:1)

4.             Either I have been given all things pertaining to life and Godliness through Christ, or I have no Godliness and my righteousness is as filthy rags. (2 Peter 1:3)

5.             Either I am fully sanctified, having been placed in right relationship with God, fully reconciled to Him, or I have no relationship with God and I am without hope that I can ever sanctify myself for His purpose and pleasure. (1 Cor. 1;2; 6:11; Hebrews 2:11; 10:10,14)

6.             Either my sin nature (old man) died with Christ, or it is still alive, and I am owned and condemned by my sin (Romans 6:6)

7.             Either I am accepted in the Beloved, or I am rejected by Him (Eph. 1:6)

8.             Either I am a Son of the living God (Sperma), or I am a child of disobedience governed by Satan himself, and am an alien to the commonwealth of the Kingdom of God (Romans 9:8; 1 John 3:9)

9.             Either I am saved and have been granted eternal life, full and abundant, or I’m lost, and I am still in my trespasses and sins. (1 John 5:13-14; John 3:16)

10.          Either I am complete in Him and lacking in nothing, or I am incomplete and I am lacking in everything. (Colossians 2:10)

11.          Either I am in Christ and He is in me, or I am not in Christ and He is not living in me (Colossians 1:27)

12.          Either I am the temple of the Holy Spirit where the Great I Am lives in union with me, or I am nothing but a white washed sepulcher (1 Cor. 6:19-20)

13.          Either I am under grace as a recipient of the New Covenant between God and His beloved Son, or I am under the ministry of death, which is the Law, and grace is beyond my reach. (Romans 6:14; 2 Cor. 3:7-11)

 

Religions and religious minded men simply do not trust “the finished work of Christ” as being fully satisfying to the Father, and sufficient for our transformation as believers.

Mixture of human performance is therefore added to Christ’s completed work demanding to all that we must be diligent in doing our part so as to prove to God we are still believing, still trying, still confessing, still repenting, still doing our very best for the Master.  But what happens to those who fail in their efforts to please God?  Who determines who and what pleases Him by behavioral performance?  Do we grade ourselves on the curve?

The word is certainly clear about your part – simply believe and receive.  We are also instructed to walk by faith, not by sight.

As Dr. Winslow said, back in 1861,

“If Christ’s Atoning work is finished, what folly and what sin to attempt to supplement it! What vast numbers are doing this! Away with your tears, your confessions, your duties, your charities, even your repentance and faith, if these things dare to take their place side by side with the finished work of Christ! See that you attempt to add nothing to it.”

Here is my conclusion:

If Jesus didn’t do it for you, it didn’t need to be done!

If He did do it for you, it is because you could not do it for yourself!

This truth is a game-changer!  Application – live out your life as a Christian, fully secure, accepted in the Beloved, and bathed in the reality of Christ’s righteous, holy, sanctified, resurrected life in you.  He is your hope of glory, and nothing else.

A life based on human effort seeks to imitate God, but maturity and victory is a result of believing the truth about what Christ has done.  It is finished – everything!  You are complete in Him!

Confessions of a Happy, Confident Wife

Leslie Chambers

Have you ever wondered what people think of you? As my husband is Alan Chambers, the President of Exodus International, I have. At present, he is somewhat of a conundrum for a lot of people. There seems to be some confusion about who he is, what he is saying and what he stands for. Here it is in a nutshell: while he has repeatedly stated his biblically orthodox view of sexuality, he has also stated his belief that one particular sin is not somehow more offensive to God than another. As his wife, I have stayed out of most of the chaos, but there are a few things that I cannot be silent about any longer. So here it goes…

It literally astounds me that there are some who would still point Alan, or other same-sex attracted people, towards “heterosexuality”. Heterosexuality by definition is “sexual relations or attractions between opposite sexes”. Alan has openly admitted his same-sex attractions. As his wife, I can honestly say that the last thing I want him to pursue is heterosexuality. Why, you ask? How am I not threatened by my husband’s same sex attractions? If he pursued heterosexuality, wouldn’t I be more fulfilled in my marriage? Truthfully, I know plenty of marriages where “heterosexual” men and women have made very poor choices as they endeavored to fulfill their heterosexual desires. I do not want Alan to be more attracted to people of the opposite sex. I am thrilled that he is attracted to me and that I am the only person he chooses to direct his attraction toward. What wife doesn’t want that from her husband? Heterosexuality doesn’t guarantee that in any marriage. What would happen to the divorce rate if it did? He is a man after God’s own heart. He is the head of our household. He is my very best friend, my lover and he knows all of me. He is the father of my children, the very best son and son-in-law to our parents. Pursuing “heterosexuality” wouldn’t help him do any of those things better. None of them.

While we are talking about our marriage, there is a consensus between two polarized groups of people as to the probability of the demise of our marriage. Their differences lie in what will cause that demise. Some say it will be the inevitability of Alan’s inability to repress his “true gay identity”. Of these folks, some have pitied me. Some say the demise will come as a result of a “hyper-grace” mentality and at any moment Alan will take advantage of God’s good grace and sin all over the place. Of these folks, some have said that I must be on the verge of a total breakdown.

The truth is that both groups are making these assumptions based on the reality of their own personal lives.

I actually don’t need pity because I’m incredibly fulfilled in my marriage. As for “hyper-grace,” how can being in awe of God’s grace destroy my marriage? It is the hope for my marriage. The peace that comes with knowing that I am a daughter and Alan is a son of the King, the peace that comes with knowing I can trust the God who is in Alan and trust the God who is in me, far exceeds any insecurities that come with unrighteous thoughts or deeds either of us experience in our flesh. It is in God’s grace that our marriage is secure.

While we are talking about God’s grace, I’d like to comment on the belief that true repentance and forgiveness and right standing with God only come when we desperately seek Jesus and desperately try to or at least want to fix what is broken. This simply does not logically fit into my heart and mind as a mother. I do not need my children’s desperate pleas for forgiveness in order to forgive them. I do not require them to fix anything they break in order for them to be in right standing with me. Do I want them to recognize when they have done wrong. Yes. Is it good for them to apologize? Yes. Is it good for them to try to fix things they have broken? Yes. Is it good for them to change their minds, learn from their mistakes in hopes of not making them again? YES!! All the while, none of that is required for them to be my children. The moment they became mine, they became MINE and nothing can change that! If I, as an earthly mother feel this way about my children, how much more so does our Heavenly Father feel this way about us? There isn’t anything hyper about that. It’s simply giving God credit for being at least as good a parent as I am…. Knowing all the while He is infinitely better!

When it comes right down to it, I don’t feel “desperate” for Jesus at all. I am not desperate to fix things that I have broken or what is broken in my flesh. I have no ability to do either, even if I “desperately” wanted to. The definition of desperate is “without hope.” Microsoft Word lists the following words as synonyms for desperate: frantic, anxious, despairing, worried, and fraught to name a few. A Google search for desperate synonyms lists “atrocious, careless, dangerous, fool hardy, frantic, frenzied, heinous, and violent”. That does not represent how I feel towards my Savior. I seek Him with hope! Because of God’s good grace, I’m actually in agreement with the antonyms listed for desperate. They are: confident, content, satisfied, secure and unworried.

I am unworried about who Jesus is and who I am in Him. I am unworried about who Alan is in Him. Jesus in Alan is the hope for my marriage. That is Alan’s hope concerning me. That is my hope for my children. That is my hope for my friends and neighbors. That is the hope for the Church and for Exodus…. I am cleansed by God’s grace even if my efforts towards repentance of sin and my conscious need for Jesus falls short of what they should be. We can be confident, content, satisfied, and secure in Him. If we are relying on anything within our flesh or on anything we can do to earn or to receive any part of what He has to give away… we are without hope and should feel desperate!

Instead, show me a rooftop where I can shout… THANK YOU JESUS! Christ in me … I am confident of this, that He who began a good work in me and in Alan and in all of us who believe in Him, He will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!! He will do it. He has done it. Amen!

God on Mute?

 

Jeff Fitzgerald

Have you ever felt like God has hit the mute button and you can’t hear Him? Let me encourage you that He has not, but sometimes it sure feels like it. I am going through a time now where it seems like this is the case and I just can’t hear Him speaking. One thing we have to remember is just because we cannot hear Him does not mean He is not speaking. There are many times when I am speaking to someone on the phone and they cannot hear me speaking, I’m sure you have had a few of those conversations yourself.

Probably one of the toughest times of my life was when my Dad was battling cancer a few years ago. During a routine doctor visit the doctors discovered two tumors, one on each kidney. He had the choice to fight it from the inside by taking pills or through surgery. He chose surgery and everything went fine, or so we thought. Later that evening he had a stroke and his heart stopped. The doctors brought him back but immediately he went into an induced coma. I received a call from my mom about 11:00 P.M. and drove to the hospital, not knowing if I would ever speak to him again in this life. When I arrived at the hospital, he was in a coma of course. The strange thing was his eyes were open and we could speak to him. The only way he could communicate was by flicking his eyes. He could not speak or move. He remained in the hospital for two and a half years battling post-operative complications and would eventually pass on to be with Jesus. There were many nights I would cry to God and ask why did this happen? I believe you have healed him but why am I not seeing it?

I have discovered that it’s ok to ask tough questions. God is big enough to handle them. Even though my Dad is no longer here with us, he is with His creator and I will see him sooner than I think. Were there moments and days that I did not hear God speaking? Absolutely! Does that mean He had left me or was not speaking? Absolutely not!

A book that really helped me get through this time is called, God on Mute, by Pete Greig. Here is a quote from that book, “No matter how hard we try to deny it, “We all get hijacked eventually… The terror comes in many guises: a sudden trauma, a long-term illness, the loss of someone you love, the death of a dream. For the sake of public perception, Christians are good at recounting stories about answered prayer. But we are not so good at sharing our disappointments. Yet, we must make some sense of unanswered prayer. Why? “It’s precisely because we believe so passionately in the power of prayer that we must also make sense of unanswered prayer”. He goes on to say, “Ultimately, we must learn that God wants us to have faith for healing and faith for dying. No matter how long we live, we must eventually learn to trust God in a different way – to trust God when everything falls apart. Do we have the faith “to die well, to die faithfully, to die peacefully, to trust God and to love God in [our] most frightening days” (98). Pete continues: “There is faith for miracles, but also for pain. There is faith for God’s will when it’s our will too, but there is also the grace to trust God when His will is not what we would choose”.

We all have trouble with unanswered prayer. We can have all the faith in the world when our prayers are answered, but how do we handle the seemingly unanswered ones? We can pray as one desperate father prayed regarding his son. Did you know you can believe and still have unbelief at the same time? Don’t believe me? Check out Mark 9:15-27. Be encouraged today that when everything is saying God has left or He has forsaken you, the truth is He is right there with you holding you in His arms.

From Death to Life: A.K.A. Old vs. New

Bill Snell

 

Most have heard it taught that Christians are not under law but under grace (refer to Romans 6:14).  Grace teaching seeks to help the body of Christ understand why this is true, and why this is such incredibly good news.

Meanwhile, others point fingers reacting negatively because they believe that grace teachers are soft on sin, and serve to aid immature Christians to live lives of compromise and sin.

Since “truth sets us free” (Jn. 8:32), let’s compare the Law (Old Covenant) to the New, because the contrast is startling.  Understanding this contrast will help you walk in all that Christ died to give you.

The Bible calls the Old Covenant, “the law of sin and death” (Romans 8:2).  But, it was given by God, so why would it be classified such?

The Mosaic Law, also known in the Bible as the “law of sin and death”, was given by God to govern spiritually dead people.  The Law was never given to save.  Its role was to clearly present a holy standard that sinful man could never satisfy.  It awakened sin and condemned the sinner.  It is also discovered that it served as a tutor to reveal the sinner’s desperate need for the Savior.

Hear this well – the Old Covenant was never designed for the New Covenant believer, but only for those dead in spirit.

Ephesians 2 shows that those dead in spirit (sinners) are those under the governance of the Devil.  Sin and death itself are repercussions of being dead in spirit and are considered adversarial to God and His Kingdom – neither originated from the throne of God.

Continue to contrast the New Covenant with the Old and you will discover the following:

  • The Old is called the law of sin and death – the New is called “the law of the spirit of life” (Romans 8:2).
  • The Old was given to spiritually dead men and women – the New was given to those who are fully alive (believers).
  • The Old was sealed with the blood of bulls and goats, serving only to cover sin (Hebrews 10:4) – the New was sealed by the precious, sinless blood of God’s beloved Son to cleanse the believer of sin (removing its claim, punishment, condemnation, and death once and for all – Hebrews 10:10-12).
  • The Old was perfectly satisfied by Christ in every way and thus set aside (Matt. 5:17) – the New is given as a gift from God to all who would believe and is permanent and everlasting in nature, never to be replaced or improved upon (Eph. 2:8).
  • The Old had performance requirements for those it was intended, yet all failed – the New has no fleshly performance requirements whatsoever (it cannot be earned or purchased by any human effort or earthly currency; it is a gift from God by means of His unmerited favor).
  • The Old placed men in bondage to their sin – the New frees the believer from that bondage once and for all.
  • The Old contained over six hundred laws, all of which served to condemn – the New contains only one law, the law of love.
  • The Old was designed for natural, fallen man – the New is for supernatural spiritual man.
  • The Old is for those led by their fallen senses – the New is for those who live by the Spirit.
  • The Old is for the unrighteous, unjustified, unredeemed, non-sanctified “old man” – the New is for the righteous, justified, redeemed, and sanctified “New Creation”.

 

You get the idea!  The Old Covenant is not for the Christian.  It is as unnatural to the Christian as sin is.  They are like grave clothes for those who are alive and well.

Finally, the law of love that governs the New Covenant believer is not a law of “do anything you want without concern of repercussion”, nor is it a law of “my behavior doesn’t matter since God has forgiven me”.

Anyone who entertains these thoughts simply does not understand the Father’s heart, nor does he comprehend the extreme yet perfect substitutionary sacrifice of His Son.  Or, they simply are outside the camp all together.

Being under grace rather than the law is absolutely fundamental to growing and maturing as believers.

Dear friends, learn to walk by faith in the liberty that Christ died to give you as New Covenant citizens, and you will not be entangled again in the yoke of bondage (Gal. 5:1).

Hybrid Gospel

Jeff Fitzgerald

 

Technology is always advancing in this country. One of the more popular advances is the Hybrid automobile. If you haven’t heard of this you probably have been living in a basement somewhere for the last 10 years or so. Basically hybrid vehicle uses two different modes of fuel; one being the traditional gasoline powered and the other electricity. This technology has allowed people to save money on the ever rising cost of fuel in this country. The beauty of it is once the electricity runs out, you can switch on over to good old gasoline. Just as you can switch back and forth between the two sources, many preachers and teachers are using the same method when it comes to the gospel. They typically use a little bit of law or performance based preaching and also a little bit of Jesus. Unfortunately it works for the car, but not when it comes to the gospel.

One thing that we as New Covenant believers must understand is we were only invited to one covenant, not a mixture of the two. In the Old Covenant God only recognized two groups of people; Jews & Gentiles. There was not this “hybrid” race of people that God created hiding out somewhere in the hills of Israel. The Gentiles were never invited by the Jewish people to come and adhere to their laws. The Jewish people never took their law and evangelized the Gentiles. The law was strictly for the Jewish people. Period. Now God only recognizes two types of people; believers and unbelievers. What many people believe and teach is we need the law, not for salvation, but for daily living. Really? So if that is the case, why would we need Jesus? We could just pick right up where Moses left off. No thank you! Ok, back to the hybrid car. People can switch over to gasoline once their electricity runs out. In the same way, many believers attempt to switch over to Jesus when they feel dirty and distant. Once they do enough repenting, confessing, fasting, etc.. then they switch right back to their attempt at the law. This type of mentality is exactly what the Apostle Paul was fighting against with the Galatian church. Paul writes in Galatians 3:1-3, “You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” (NASB)

I found that when I attempted to live by the law I never focused on Christ and what He accomplished for me. That is the intention of the law! It has nothing to do with faith because it takes no faith to live by rules and regulations (Galatians 3:12). It takes faith to actually believe you are the righteousness of God 100% of the time! Yes even in the act of sinning!! I can see the eyebrows going up now! In fact, you will NEVER be more righteous than the day you received Christ! This “hybrid gospel” is not the gospel at all because it attempts to diminish the work of Christ by mixing it with the law. Want to know if you are being fed a hybrid gospel? Ask yourself this question as you are listening to the message; does this message make me Son conscious or does it make me sin conscious? If your answer is sin conscious, then you are being fed a hybrid gospel. I encourage you to really seek out messages and ministries that exalt Christ, not behavior modification. Here is a truth to meditate on today, “Old Testament prophets call your sin to remembrance, while New Testament preachers call your righteousness to remembrance. Old Testament preachers tell you what’s wrong with you, while New Testament preachers tell you what is right with you because of what Jesus has done, in spite of what is wrong with you.”- Joseph Prince

Fears, Peace and Phone Calls

By Abigail Dolbear

“Hello!” I answered excitedly as my phone rang.  “I just don’t know how to deal with this.”  Was all my friend said, and then there was silence.  I didn’t know quite what she was talking about, with so many things today that we find hard to rationalize or to settle in our minds.  Is she talking about some relationship issue, or the current status of our government, did something happen with her job?   I wasn’t quite sure so I asked.  “What do you mean?”  Immediately she said, “I can’t wrap my head around the shooting in Connecticut!  How could this happen!”

I’m sure I’m not the only person who has had this interchange; certainly we all have made some mention of this tragedy in our recent conversations.  Perhaps making mention of unbelief or sorrow.  This conversation along with unbelief and sorrow was riddled with fear.

When I first heard of the shooting, I was faced with fear as well.  As a Mom of three children, with our youngest in first grade, my first reaction was to protect them.  I immediately thought, I should pull my kids out of school.  Maybe I could work from home, we could figure it out.  Maybe we could take turns with other concerned parents.  My thoughts kind of spiraled out of control.  A little ridiculous as I think back on it!

As immediate as that first thought came to my head, another one followed.  It was a simple thought, DO NOT LET FEAR AND WORRY GUIDE YOU.  That was all.

The simple truth of this statement brought me peace.  I realized in a moment, that if I choose to be led around by fear, the enemy has won.  I choose the Spirit! I choose life!  I choose God’s perspective and will seek to move on his word alone.  I will not be moved by the worry and fear that the circumstances of this world bring!

As children of heaven, we’ve received not only a place in heaven with him, but also a place here, now, on earth.  This is a place of rest and peace that is secured by God himself.  A place where no matter what we face, we know that God never changes, that He is forever good and that His love for us is more than we can imagine.

I shared with my friend my own journey of thoughts and revelations and as our conversation concluded she felt relieved and secure.  She saw a tangible way to judge thoughts and motivations.  She concluded, if a motivation is inspired out of a feeling of fear or worry, it brings more fear and worry and will never bring peace.  However, when the Spirit inspires thoughts and motivations it will always bring life!

 

 

For those who are according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who are according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace. 

Romans 8: 5-6