Category: (1) Is Jesus the only way to Heaven?


a-whole-world-of-temporary-thingsIt goes without saying that the only things of eternal value in this world are those that are eternal. Life in this world is temporal, not eternal, and therefore, the only part of life that has eternal value is that which lasts through eternity. Clearly, the most important thing in this world that has true eternal value is having a relationship with Jesus Christ, as the free gift of eternal life comes only through Him to all those who believe (John 3:16). As Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Everyone is going to live somewhere for all of eternity, Christians and non-Christians alike. And the only eternal destiny other than the one in heaven with Christ is Hell – that provides everlasting punishment for those who reject Him (Matthew 25:46).

Regarding the abundant material things this world offers, which many tenaciously seek after, Jesus taught us not to store up for ourselves earthly treasures that can be destroyed or stolen (Matthew 6:19–20). After all, we brought nothing into this world, and we can take nothing out of it. Yet our core Christian values often get overlooked in our diligent quest for success and material comfort, and in the midst of these earthly pursuits we often forget about God. Moses addressed this issue 3,500 years ago as his people were about to enter the Promised Land. He warned them not to forget about God, for he knew once they “built fine houses and settled down” their hearts would become proud and they would forget about Him (Deuteronomy 8:12–14). There is certainly no eternal value in living our lives for ourselves, looking to get out of life all that we can, as the world system would have us believe.

Yet there can be significant eternal value in what we do with our lives during the exceedingly short time we are here on earth. Although Scripture makes it clear that our earthly good works will not save us or keep us saved (Ephesians 2:8–9), it is equally clear that we will be eternally rewarded according to what we have done while here on earth. As Christ Himself said, “For the Son of Man is going to come in His Father’s glory with His angels, and then He will reward each person according to what he has done” (Matthew 16:27). Indeed, Christians are God’s workmanship, “created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10, emphasis added). These “good works” pertain to serving the Lord the best we can with what He has given us and with full dependence on Him.

The apostle Paul discusses the quality of the works that can bring eternal rewards. Equating Christians to “builders” and the quality of our works with the building materials, Paul informs us that the good materials that survive God’s testing fire and have eternal value are “gold, silver, and costly stones,” whereas using the inferior materials of “wood, hay and straw” to build upon the foundation that is Christ have no eternal value and will not be rewarded (1 Corinthians 3:11–13). Essentially, Paul is telling us that not all of our conduct and works will merit rewards.

There are many ways our service to the Lord will bring us rewards. First, we need to recognize that every true believer has been set apart by God and for God. When we received God’s gift of salvation, we were given certain spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11). And if we think our gifts are insignificant, we need to remember that, as Paul told the church in Corinth, the body of Christ is made up of many parts. And “God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as He wanted them to be . . . and those parts of the body that seem weaker are indispensable” (1 Corinthians 12:14, 18, 22 emphasis added). If you are exercising your spiritual gifts, you are playing a significant role in the body of Christ and doing that which has eternal value.

Every member of Christ’s body can make meaningful contributions when we humbly seek to edify the body and to glorify God. Indeed, every little thing can add to the beautiful mosaic of what God can do when we each do our part. Remember, on earth Christ has no body but ours, no hands but ours, and no feet but ours. Spiritual gifts are God’s way of administering His grace to others. When we show our love for God by obeying His commandments, when we persevere in the faith despite all opposition and persecution, when in His name we show mercy to the poor and sick and less fortunate, and when we help alleviate the pain and suffering that is all around us, then we are indeed building with the “gold, silver, and costly stones” that have true eternal value.

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Will God forgive a murderer?

  Many people make the mistake of believing that God forgives “little” sins such as lying, anger, and impure thoughts, but does not forgive “big” sins such as murder and adultery. This is not true. There is no sin too big that God cannot forgive it. When Jesus died on the cross, He died to pay the penalty for all of the sins of the entire world (1 John 2:2). When a person places his faith in Jesus Christ for salvation, all of his sins are forgiven. That includes past, present, and future, big or small. Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins, and once they are forgiven, they are all forgiven (Colossians 1:14; Acts 10:43).

We are all guilty of sin (Romans 3:23) and deserve eternal punishment (Romans 6:23). Jesus died for us, to pay our penalty (Romans 5:8). Anyone who believes in Jesus Christ for salvation is forgiven, no matter what sins he has committed (Romans 6:23; John 3:16). Now, a murderer or adulterer will likely still face serious consequences (legal, relational, etc.) for his evil actions – more so than someone who was “just” a liar. But a murderer’s or adulterer’s sins are completely and permanently forgiven the moment he believes and places his faith in Christ.

It is not the size of the sin that is the determining factor here; it is the size of the atoning sacrifice of Christ. If the shed blood of the sinless Lamb of God is sufficient to cover all the sins of all the millions of people who would ever believe in Him, then there can be no limit to the size or types of sins covered. When He said, “It is finished,” sin was made an end of, full atonement and satisfaction for it were given, complete pardon was obtained, peace was made, and redemption from all sin was achieved. It was sure and certain and complete; nothing needs to be, or could be, added to it. Further, it was done entirely without the help of man, and cannot be undone.

The question “Can God save me?” has been asked by millions of people over the years. Not only can God save you, but only God can save you. To understand why the answer to “Can God save me?” is “yes!”, we have to understand why we need saving in the first place. When Adam disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden, his sin poisoned the rest of creation (Romans 5:12), and the sinful nature we inherited from Adam has separated us from God. Because of God’s great love for us, however, He had a plan (Genesis 3:15). He would come to earth as a human being in the person of Jesus Christ and willingly lay down His life for us, taking the punishment we deserved. When our Savior cried out from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), our sin debt was forever paid in full. Jesus Christ saved us from certain death and a horrible, godless eternity.

In order for us to benefit from Christ’s atoning sacrifice, we must trust in Him and His sacrifice alone as the payment for sin (John 3:16; Acts 16:31). And God will cover us with the righteousness of Christ the moment we do this (Romans 3:22). But for this imputed righteousness, we would not never be able to enter the presence of our holy God (Hebrews 10:19–25).

Our salvation affects more than our eternal destiny, however; “being saved” also has an immediate impact. The good news is that Christ’s finished work on the cross saved us from eternal separation from God, and it also saved us from the power that sin currently has over us in this life. Once we accept Christ, His Spirit indwells us and we are no longer controlled by the sinful nature. This freedom makes it possible for us to say “no” to sin and overcome our enslavement to the sinful desires of the flesh. “You . . . are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you” (Romans 8:9).

It doesn’t matter who you are or what you’ve done. Jesus Christ came into this world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and we are all sinners (Romans 3:23). Not one of us is beyond the reach of God’s saving grace (Isaiah 59:1). The apostle Paul is a great example of God’s far-reaching grace. Paul spent the first part of his life hating, imprisoning, persecuting, and even killing Christians. Then, one encounter with Jesus Christ turned Paul into one of the greatest Christian missionaries who ever lived. If God can save Paul, the “chief of sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15), He can save anyone.

Mankind is the crown jewel of God’s creation, made in His image (Genesis 1:26). God wishes all of us to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) and none of us to perish (2 Peter 3:9; Ezekiel 18:32). To those who believe in Jesus’ name, God gives the right to become children of God (John 1:12). What the Lord will do for His children is described in Psalm 91: “‘Because he loves me,’ says the LORD, ‘I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him’” (Psalm 91:14–16).

Many people speak about “having faith in Jesus,” but what exactly does this mean?

The Bible uses the phrase “faith in Jesus” synonymously with belief in Jesus as Savior. Romans 3:22–23 says that “righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” When we place our faith in Jesus, we believe in Him, and God grants His righteousness to us.

To have faith in Jesus means to trust Him. Simply. Fully. Without reservation. On one occasion, before Jesus healed two blind men, He asked them, “Do you believe that I am able to do this?” They answered, “Yes, Lord,” and He healed them “according to [their] faith” (Matthew 9:28–29). The men simply trusted the power and goodness of the Lord, and they received their sight.

When a person has faith in Jesus, it means that he or she believes who Jesus is (God in human form) and trusts what Jesus has done (died and resurrected). This faith in the person and work of Christ is what saves (see Romans 10:9–10; 1 Corinthians 15:3–4). “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (1 John 5:1).

John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The key is belief, in response to God’s love. Anyone who places his or her faith in Jesus has the promise of eternal life.

Without faith in Jesus, we remain in sin and cannot be accepted into God’s presence in His perfect heaven. With faith in Jesus, we are given access to the Father as God’s own children (John 1:12).

To have faith in Jesus is to reject all other ways of salvation. We cannot trust in Jesus and anything else. We trust in Jesus alone. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Salvation is exclusive. Jesus is the only way (John 14:6).

Are you ready to place your faith in Jesus? Do you trust Him to save you? There is no special prayer you must pray. However, you can respond right now with a prayer similar to this:

“Dear God, I realize I am a sinner and could never reach heaven by my own good deeds. Right now I place my faith in Jesus Christ as God’s Son who died and rose again to give me eternal life. I trust in Jesus alone. Please forgive me of my sins and help me to live for you. Thank you for accepting me and giving me eternal life.”

“Do you believe in Jesus?” seems like a strange question. It sounds like the same question as “Do you believe in Santa Claus?” or “Do you believe in aliens?” But the question “Do you believe in Jesus?” is asking far more than “Do you believe that Jesus Christ existed/exists?” The true meaning of the question is “Do you believe Jesus Christ is who the Bible says He is, and are you trusting Him as your Savior?”

So, do you believe in Jesus?

Do you believe that Jesus is God in human form (John 1:1, 14)? Do you believe that Jesus died on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins (1 Corinthians 15:3; 2 Corinthians 5:21), for which you deserve eternal separation from God (Romans 6:23)? Do you believe that the sacrifice of Jesus, God incarnate, is the only adequate payment for your sins (1 John 2:2; John 14:6; Acts 4:12)?

Do you believe these things? If so, great, but believing the facts about Jesus is only part of the equation. Biblical faith/belief is far more than believing certain things to be true. Biblical saving faith is also trusting/relying on those facts.

A chair is a good illustration. You can look at a chair and believe it is made of materials strong enough to support your weight, and you can believe that it was assembled correctly. But that is not biblical faith. Biblical faith is sitting in the chair. It is actually relying on the chair to hold your weight off the ground.

Are you trusting that Jesus is your Savior? Are you relying on His death as the full payment for your sin debt? Are you depending on His resurrection as the guarantee that you, too, will be raised to eternal life after death? Not that it could ever happen, but if the “chair” of Jesus Christ were pulled out from beneath you, spiritually speaking, would you hit the ground, or are you also relying on things in addition to the chair?

If you understand and believe what the Bible says about Jesus, and if you are trusting in those truths as the basis for salvation—you are saved! You “believe in Jesus” in the biblical sense.

If you are uncertain if you truly believe in Jesus but you desire to, or if you feel God drawing you to faith in Jesus, the next step is simple. Believe! Trust in Jesus! Rely on Him for your salvation. Allow God to turn you from sin to forgiveness and salvation.

If you would like to verbally express your new faith to God, here is a sample of what you can say: “God, I know that I have sinned. I know that my sin separates me from you. I know that if left unforgiven, my sin will separate me from you for eternity. I believe and trust that Jesus Christ is my Savior, that He died to pay the full penalty for my sins and that He rose from the dead on the third day. I am relying on His sacrifice alone to bring me into a right relationship with you. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for saving me. Help me to grow closer to you each and every day for the rest of my life.”

Jesus on the CrossJesus’ words, “It is finished,” appears only twice in the New Testament–John 19:28 and John 19:30.

“After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst.’ A jar full of sour wine stood there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth. When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit,” (John 19:28-30, emphasis added).

What Does Tetelestai Mean?

“It is finished,” which is one of Jesus’ most important statements, is translated from the single Greek word tetelestai. The grammatical structure of the Greek word, perfect passive indicative, is very important.

The perfect tense indicates that the progress of an action has been completed and the result of that action is ongoing and with full effect. The passive voice indicates that the subject of the sentence is being acted upon, and the indicative mood indicates a statement of fact or an actual occurrence from the writer’s or speaker’s perspective. While this may sound like more of a grammar lesson than most readers care for, this information is, again, very important to understanding the significance of Jesus’ words. Allow me to break it down.

What Did Jesus Finish?

Let’s begin by identifying what the “it” is. What did Jesus finished? Jesus gives us the answer throughout the Gospels, and the New Testament writers give us the answer throughout the epistles.

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them,” (Matthew 5:17).

Jesus obeyed the Father by being the perfect fulfillment of the Law of God and the prophesies regarding the Messiah. Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household,” (Matthew 10:34-36).

“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division,” (Luke 12:51).

Jesus did not come to preach a message of coexistence, tolerance, or ecumenism. Jesus made it clear that you are either with the one true God or against Him. Such truth was and is today the most divisive message the world has ever known. Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him,” (John 5:43).

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me,” (John 6:38).

Jesus came in the name of the only true God and to perfectly do His will. Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father,” (John 10:37-38).

Jesus came to perfectly do the works of His Father, so people could understand that He and the Father were one (John 10:30). Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day,” (John 12:46-48).

“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me,'” (John 14:6).

Jesus came as the light of the world, giving fallen mankind the opportunity to move from utter darkness into His marvelous light. He came to save people. Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world–to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice,'” (John 18:37).

Jesus came as fully God and fully Man to be the incarnation of the Truth of God. Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it–the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus,” (Romans 3:21-26).

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted,” (Hebrews 2:14-18).

Jesus came to make propitiation for our record of sin against God. Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person–though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die–but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation,” (Romans 5:6-11).

Jesus came to make reconciliation between God and man possible. Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish,” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Jesus came to die for and to purify His Bride, the Church. Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father,” (Philippians 2:5-11).

Jesus came to glorify His Father through His life, death, and resurrection. Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father.

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:14-16).

Jesus came to make a way, the only way, for people to find mercy, grace, and help in time of need. Jesus, the sympathetic Savior, finished the work given to Him by His Father.

Jesus Declared His Work Finished!

Having identified the “it” (the work God the Father had given God the Son to accomplish on earth), let’s take a look at what Jesus meant when He cried out that He had finished the work.

As I mentioned early in this article, having an understanding of the structure of the sentence in the Greek text is very helpful toward grasping the full weight of Christ’s forever-memorable words.

What Jesus did through His perfect earthly existence, sacrificial death, and glorious resurrection fully completed the work the Father had given Him to do. Not only did He complete His salvific work but also His accomplishment is fully efficacious today and will be forevermore. There is nothing more to add–nothing more to be done by God, man, or religious institutions. The undeniable, factual, historic, and eternal work of Jesus Christ has been completed–is complete–and will forever remain completed. “IT . . . IS . . . FINISHED!”

“It is finished!” Jesus finished the work given to Him by His Father, which culminated at the cross. At the cross, the gavel of the Supreme Judge of the Universe crashed upon His mighty bench when God the Father, pleased to crush His Son, poured the full cup of His wrath against sin upon His innocent Son.

“It is finished!” At the cross, the Great Exchange took place (2 Corinthians 5:21, Colossians 2:13-15). The eternal debt owed for the sin of mankind was paid in full. God the Father looked upon His perfect, precious, and priceless Son as if He had lived the filthy, detestable, sin-stained lives of fallen mankind. And, for those who repent and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, God the Father looks upon them as if they had lived His Son’s perfect, precious, and priceless life.

“It is finished!” At the cross, God kept His promise to crush Satan’s head through the bruising of His Son. The power of sin and death was vanquished once and for all time.

“It is finished!” Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross forever made man’s work to appease God, to please God, and to be reconciled to God, impotent and blasphemous.

The sin debt I owe to God was and is paid in full by my Lord and Savior, my Master and King, Jesus Christ, when He shed His innocent blood on the cross on my behalf! IT . . . IS . . . FINISHED!

Implications of Tetelestai

The implications of Jesus’ words on the cross are eternally positive for those who repent and receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior–by the grace of God alone, through faith alone, in Jesus Christ alone. However, the implications of Jesus’ words on the cross are eternally negative for any organization or individual who seeks to add to, detract from, or replace not only Jesus’ words on the cross but also the work He accomplished to the glory of God the Father.

Every man-made religion and each of their faithful adherents stand, right now, in the cross-hairs of God’s wrath. “For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him,” (John 3:34-36).

Roman Catholicism denies the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross through the practice and observance of the mass. During the mass, through the unbiblically magical art of transubstantiation (Jesus literally becoming the bread and the wine), Jesus must sacrifice Himself again and again for sin.

Jehovah’s Witnesses deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by denying Christ died on the cross and by insisting one must be a member of the Watchtower Society and obey the Law of God to receive their demonic brand of salvation.

Mormonism denies the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by adding their perceived righteousness and works to their ungodly salvation process. According to 2 Nephi 25:23, in the Book of Mormon, salvation is by grace, plus works. “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

Islam denies the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by seeing Jesus as nothing more than a prophet, second to their false prophet Muhammad. They also believe it was Judas (a treacherous false convert), not Jesus, who died on the cross.

But the implications of Jesus’ words on the cross extend beyond false religions and into American Evangelicalism.

Some churches deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by spending time and resources wooing the unsaved to the “Christian Club” instead of calling them to repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Oh, how many times I have heard the testimonies of professing Christians–testimonies that culminate with happy membership at a church and not with the bending of the knee in repentance and by faith at the foot of the cross.

Some churches deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross, diminishing the gospel as the power of God for salvation, by insisting Jesus and the gospel need the help of man’s innovation and perceived ability to make the gospel more palatable. This is demonstrated through gimmicks, sales pitches, bait and switch tactics, and playing to the primal desires of health, wealth, prosperity, ease, comfort, and happiness without accountability.

Some churches deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by teaching unbiblical mantras such as:

  • “Christians have to earn the right to share the gospel with someone.”
  • “Unbelievers need to see Jesus in you before they will hear what you have to say.”
  • “People need to hear more than ‘Jesus can forgive your sins and give you eternal life.’ They need help with the real problems they’re facing today.”

Some churches deny the efficacy of Jesus’ finished work on the cross by failing to distinguish service, helps, and hospitality from evangelism, which is the actual and literal presentation of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who are lost and bound for Hell.

And the list goes on . . .

When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. He actually meant what He said. He really meant it. For any group or any individual to add or detract from Christ’s words or finished work, regardless of the religious stripes they wear, is the height of arrogance and the depth of depravity.

But let’s conclude on an up note. Having read several commentaries on John 19:30, I was particularly moved by the thoughts of Bible commentator and Presbyterian minister, Matthew Henry. I will be adding the following to my open-air preaching Bible:

The dying word wherewith he breathed out his soul (v. 30): When he had received the vinegar, as much of it as he thought fit, he said, It is finished; and, with that, bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. Observe,

What he said, and we may suppose him to say it with triumph and exultation, Tetelestai- It is finished, a comprehensive word, and a comfortable one.

  1. It is finished, that is, the malice and enmity of his persecutors had now done their worst; when he had received that last indignity in the vinegar they gave him, he said, “This is the last; I am now going out of their reach, where the wicked cease from troubling.”
  2. It is finished, that is, the counsel and commandment of his Father concerning his sufferings were now fulfilled; it was a determinate counsel, and he took care to see every iota and tittle of it exactly answered, Acts 2:23. He had said, when he entered upon his sufferings, Father, thy will be done; and now he saith with pleasure, It is done. It was his meat and drink to finish his work (ch. 4:34), and the meat and drink refreshed him, when they gave him gall and vinegar.
  3. It is finished, that is, all the types and prophecies of the Old Testament, which pointed at the sufferings of the Messiah, were accomplished and answered. He speaks as if, now that they had given him the vinegar, he could not bethink himself of any word in the Old Testament that was to be fulfilled between him and his death but it had its accomplishment; such as, his being sold for thirty pieces of silver, his hands and feet being pierced, his garments divided, etc.; and now that this is done. It is finished.
  4. It is finished, that is, the ceremonial law is abolished, and a period put to the obligation of it. The substance is now come, and all the shadows are done away. Just now the veil is rent, the wall of partition is taken down, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, Eph. 2:14, 15. The Mosaic economy is dissolved, to make way for a better hope.
  5. It is finished, that is, sin is finished, and an end made of transgression, by the bringing in of an everlasting righteousness. It seems to refer to Dan. 9:24. The Lamb of God was sacrificed to take away the sin of the world, and it is done, Heb. 9:26.
  6. It is finished, that is, his sufferings were now finished, both those of his soul and those of his body. The storm is over, the worst is past; all his pains and agonies are at an end, and he is just going to paradise, entering upon the joy set before him. Let all that suffer for Christ, and with Christ, comfort themselves with this, that yet a little while and they also shall say, It is finished.
  7. It is finished, that is, his life was now finished, he was just ready to breathe his last, and now he is no more in this world, ch. 17:11. This is like that of blessed Paul (2 Tim. 4:7), I have finished my course, my race is run, my glass is out, mene, mene-numbered and finished. This we must all come to shortly.
  8. It is finished, that is, the work of man’s redemption and salvation is now completed, at least the hardest part of the undertaking is over; a full satisfaction is made to the justice of God, a fatal blow given to the power of Satan, a fountain of grace opened that shall ever flow, a foundation of peace and happiness laid that shall never fail. Christ had now gone through with his work, and finished it, ch. 17:4. For, as for God, his work is perfect; when I begin, saith he, I will also make an end. And, as in the purchase, so in the application of the redemption, he that has begun a good work will perform it; the mystery of God shall be finished.

Usage of Tetelestai

While doing some research for this article, I learned there were several ways the word, tetelestai, was used in Greco-Roman culture—all of them illustrative of Jesus’ finished work on the cross.

An artist might have said Tetelestai! when he finished a painting in order to announce, “the picture is perfect.” Jesus, the Master Artisan, declared from the cross that the picture of salvation He had drawn from eternity past was always perfect but now complete. It is finished!

A servant might have confidently said Tetelestai! when asked by his master if the work he had been assigned to do was complete. The servant would say, “Yes, master. I have finished the work.” Jesus, the Suffering Servant, completed the work His Father had given Him. It is finished!

A judge might have said Tetelestai! when he conferred a sentence or when issuing a ruling that a sentence had been completed. The judge would say, “Justice has been served.” There is only one Lawgiver and Judge–only One who is able to save and destroy. And as the Father turned His back on His Son, the Father was well pleased. It pleased the Father to crush His Son. It is finished!

A priest might have said Tetelestai! when he recognized an unblemished and acceptable sacrifice for God. The priest would announce to the person offering the sacrifice that the offering was acceptable according to the law of God. And, “Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need,” (Hebrews 4:14-16). Yes, our Great High Priest, Jesus the Lord, not only mediates for His people as a priest but also He Himself was and is the perfect sacrifice. It is finished!

A merchant might have said Tetelestai! after stamping a bill “the debt has been paid.” The Christian’s debt has been paid in full by the propitiation of Jesus Christ. By Jesus paying the Christian’s sin debt in full, “God [has] made [us] alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him,” (Colossians 2:13-15). It is finished!

A soldier might have said Tetelestai! as a battle cry toward a vanquished foe. The soldier would yell, “You are finished!” Jesus’ cry on the cross was not a cry of despair or defeat. Oh, no. When Jesus cried with a loud voice, He was declaring victory of the enemy–Satan, sin, and death. It is finished!

The Artist had the last word as to the meaning of the painting—not the art critic. The Servant knew if the work in the house had been completed and approved by the Master—not the stranger who entered the house. The Judge determined the sentence, its execution, and its satisfaction—not the convicted criminal. The Priest determined if one’s sacrifice was acceptable to God—not the penitent. The Merchant determined if a debt was paid—not the debtor. The Victorious Warrior determined the future of his combatant—not the defeated enemy.

Jesus Christ is the Artisan, the Servant, the Judge, the Priest, the Merchant, and the Victor—you are not. Your religion is not. Your intellect is not. Therefore, repent of any false ideologies that add works to Christ’s finished work. Repent of any arrogant notions, through manmade philosophies of ministry, which would presume to finish the work that Christ has already finished.

Jesus said, “It is finished!” And He meant it.

IT . . . IS . . . FINISHED! It is finished, indeed. Thank You, Lord Jesus. Thank You.

The Bible is full of references to the inheritance believers have in Christ. Ephesians 1:11 says, “In [Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will” (ESV). Other passages that mention a believer’s inheritance include Colossians 3:24 and Hebrews 9:15. Our inheritance is, in a word, heaven. It is the sum total of all God has promised us in salvation. Words related to inheritance in Scripture are portion and heritage.

First Peter 1:4 describes this inheritance further, saying that we have been born again “into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you.” According to the apostle Peter, our inheritance is distinguished by four important qualities:

Our inheritance in Christ is imperishable. What we have in Christ is not subject to corruption or decay. In contrast, everything on earth is in the process of decaying, rusting, or falling apart. The law of entropy affects our houses, our cars, and even our own bodies. Our treasure in heaven, though, is unaffected by entropy (Matthew 6:19–20). Those who have been born again are born “not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God” (1 Peter 1:23).

Our inheritance in Christ is unspoiled. What we have in Christ is free from anything that would deform, debase, or degrade. Nothing on earth is perfect. Even the most beautiful things of this world are flawed; if we look closely enough, we can always find an imperfection. But Christ is truly perfect. He is “holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Hebrews 7:26), and our inheritance in Him is also holy, blameless, exalted, and pure. No earthly corruption or weakness can touch what God has bestowed. Revelation 21:27 says that “nothing impure will ever enter [the New Jerusalem], nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful.”

Our inheritance in Christ is unfading. What we have in Christ is an enduring possession. As creatures of this world, it is hard for us to imagine colors of that never fade, excitement that never flags, or value that never depreciates; but our inheritance is not of this world. Its glorious intensity will never diminish. God says, “I am making everything new!” (Revelation 21:5).

Our inheritance in Christ is reserved. What we have in Christ is being “kept” in heaven for us. Your crown of glory has your name on it. Although we enjoy many blessings as children of God here on earth, our true inheritance—our true home—is reserved for us in heaven. Like Abraham, we are “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). The Holy Spirit guarantees that we will receive eternal life in the world to come (2 Corinthians 1:22). In fact, “when you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Ephesians 1:13–14).

Jesus prayed for His followers, “Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name” (John 17:11). We are secure, being guarded by the Almighty Himself, and surely our inheritance is equally secure. No one can steal it from us. John 10:28–29: “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.” See also Matthew 6:20.

As God’s children, “adopted” into His family, we have been assured an inheritance from our Heavenly Father. “Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Romans 8:17). This heavenly heritage is God’s purpose and will for us (Ephesians 1:11). We receive the promise of our inheritance by hearing the word of truth and believing in Christ (Ephesians 1:13).

One day, we will take possession of our portion, our heritage, our full inheritance. John Calvin writes of our inheritance, “We do not have the full enjoyment of it at present. . . . We walk . . . in hope, and we do not see the thing as if it were present, but we see it by faith. . . . Although, then, the world gives itself liberty to trample us under foot, as they say; although our Lord keeps us tried with many temptations; although he humbles us in such a way that it may seem we are as sheep appointed to the slaughter, so that we are continually at death’s door, yet we are not destitute of a good remedy. And why Seeing that the Holy Spirit reigns in our hearts, we have something for which to give praise even in the midst of all our temptations. . . . [Therefore,] we should rejoice, mourn, grieve, give thanks, be content, wait” (from Calvin’s Ephesian sermons, delivered in Geneva, 1558—59).

When we understand and value the glory that awaits us, we are better able to endure whatever comes our way in this life. We can give God praise even during trials because we have His guarantee that we will receive all He has promised: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

Revelation 21:4 gives us a brief but beautiful description of our inheritance: “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” God and man will dwell together. Everything will be made new. The bejeweled city, New Jerusalem, will be our residence. The river of life will issue from God’s throne. The healing tree of life with twelve kinds of fruit will grow there, too. There will be no night there, because the eternal light of the Lamb will fill the new heaven and new earth and shine upon all the heirs of God.

David writes, “Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; / you make my lot secure. / The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; / surely I have a delightful inheritance” (Psalm 16:5–6). And that is why “we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Matthew 26:26-27

The cross is so common in our culture that most people don’t think twice when they see one on a church. But unfortunately, familiarity with the symbol can actually get in the way of understanding what it truly means. So let’s stop to consider how Jesus became the bearer of sin.

We begin with Scripture written long before Jesus was born. Genesis, the first book of the Bible, explains how man chose to disobey God. Because Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit, their descendants are all born under the curse of death, having inherited a sinful “flesh” nature.

In Leviticus, God’s laws for the Jewish nation included observance of Yom Kippur, the day each year when the Israelites fasted, prayed, and sacrificed an animal to atone for sin. In essence, the goat would bear the wrongs done by the people and suffer the penalty that divine justice required.

Centuries later, Isaiah prophesied that a Savior would atone for transgression once and for all (Isa. 53:5, 8; Heb. 7:27). After another 700 years, John the Baptist identified Jesus as the Lamb of God who would take away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The Messiah had come, though He was totally different from what the people expected—so much so, in fact, that they rejected Him and requested His crucifixion.

In all, God gave 613 laws through Moses. But none of us can perfectly follow even the Ten Commandments. In fact, one reason He gave us these rules is to show us our need for a Savior (Ps. 19:7; Gal. 3:24). Meditate on those commands (Ex. 20:1-17), asking God to speak to your heart.

“I’m basically a good person, so I’ll go to heaven.” “OK, so I do some bad things, but I do more good things, so I’ll go to heaven.” “God won’t send me to hell just because I don’t live by the Bible. Times have changed!” “Only really bad people like child molesters and murderers go to hell.”

These are all common rationalizations, but the truth is that they are all lies. Satan, the ruler of the world, plants these thoughts in our heads. He, and anyone who follows his ways, is an enemy of God (1Peter 5:8). Satan is a deceiver and often disguises himself as someone good (2 Corinthians 11:14), but he has control over all the minds that do not belong to God. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

It is a lie to believe that God doesn’t care about small sins or that hell is reserved for “bad people.” All sin separates us from God, even a “little white lie.” Everyone has sinned, and no one is good enough to get to heaven on their own (Romans 3:23). Getting into heaven is not based on whether our good outweighs our bad; we will all lose out if that is the case. “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace” (Romans 11:6). We can do nothing good to earn our way to heaven (Titus 3:5).

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it” (Matthew 7:13). Even if everyone else is living a life of sin in a culture where trusting in God is not popular, God will not excuse it. “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient” (Ephesians 2:1-2).

When God created the world, it was perfect and good. Then he made Adam and Eve and gave them their own free will, so they would have a choice whether to follow and obey God. But they were tempted by Satan to disobey God, and they sinned. This separated them (and everyone that came after them, including us) from being able to have a close relationship with God. He is perfect and holy and must judge sin. As sinners, we couldn’t reconcile ourselves to God on our own. So God made a way that we could be united with Him in heaven. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Jesus was born to die for our sins so that we would not have to. Three days after His death, He rose from the grave (Romans 4:25), proving Himself victorious over death. He bridged the gap between God and man so that we may have a personal relationship with Him if we only believe.

“Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). Most people believe in God, even Satan does. But to receive salvation, we must turn to God, form a personal relationship, turn away from our sins, and follow Him. We must trust in Jesus with everything we have and everything we do. “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference” (Romans 3:22). The Bible teaches that there is no other way to salvation than through Christ. Jesus says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Jesus is the only way of salvation because He is the only One who can pay our sin penalty (Romans 6:23). No other religion teaches the depth or seriousness of sin and its consequences. No other religion offers the infinite payment of sin that only Jesus Christ could provide. No other “religious founder” was God become man (John 1:1,14) – the only way an infinite debt could be paid. Jesus had to be God so that He could pay our debt. Jesus had to be man so He could die. Salvation is available only through faith in Jesus Christ! “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

The decision to accept or reject Jesus as Savior is the ultimate life decision.  Why do many people choose to reject Jesus as Savior? There are perhaps as many  different reasons for rejecting Christ as there are people who reject Him, but  the following four reasons can serve as general categories:

1) Some  people do not think they need a savior. These people consider themselves to be  “basically good” and do not realize that they, like all people, are sinners who  cannot come to God on their own terms. But Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth,  and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). Those who reject Christ will not be able to  stand before God and successfully plead their own case on their own  merits.

2) The fear of social rejection or persecution deters some  people from receiving Christ as Savior. The unbelievers in John 12:42-43 would not  confess Christ because they were more concerned with their status among their  peers than doing God’s will. These were the Pharisees whose love of position and  the esteem of others blinded them, “for they loved the approval of men rather  than the approval of God.”

3) For some people, the things that the  present world has to offer are more appealing than eternal things. We read the  story of such a man in Matthew  19:16-23. This man was not willing to lose his earthly possessions in order  to gain an eternal relationship with Jesus (see also 2 Corinthians  4:16-18).

4) Many people are simply resisting the Holy Spirit’s  attempts to draw them to faith in Christ. Stephen, a leader in the early church,  told those who were about to murder him, “You stiff-necked people, with  uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist  the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51).  The apostle Paul made a similar statement to a group of gospel rejecters in Acts 28:23-27.

Whatever the reasons why people reject Jesus Christ, their rejection has  disastrous eternal consequences. “There is no other name under heaven given to  men by which we must be saved” than the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12), and those who reject Him, for whatever  reason, face an eternity in the “outer darkness” of hell where there will be  “weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew  25:30).