A “Christianism” that we hear often from pastors is “Rest (or have confidence in) the finished work of the Cross. But what does this actually mean? It is the purpose of this article to dive into that very question. We’ll start first by stating plainly what it means and follow that up with supports from the Word.
Most people often hear this term as it relates to belief in the grace of God for the forgiveness of their sins. It’s often used when talking about how God has overcome our selfishness through Jesus Christ. After all, this is what most people would call “the Gospel” however, in Jesus’s own words “the Gospel” is that the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. This article doesn’t intend to dive into the difference between “the gospel” that is preached in churches, vs the gospel that Jesus told people to preach himself. Jesus preached “Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Just as John the Baptist preached before him when he was making the way straight for the Messiah. (Matthew 4:17 and especially Luke 4:43 for Jesus and Matthew 3:2 for JTB).
While it is certainly true that Jesus did go to the cross, died and was resurrected for the forgiveness of sins, including mine and yours. It isn’t true that all one needs to do for this salvation is simply mentally believe that this happened. Otherwise Paul wouldn’t have stated “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” (Philippians 2:12-13)
If you TRULY believe something, you act upon it…right? We know that James tells us that faith without works is dead (James 2:26). But we also know that it isn’t through works alone that one is saved but by faith (Ephesians 2:8-9, Hebrews 11 gives great examples of faith in action). In other words, the initial belief is the first step, but the faith in action is the second. Both are of equal importance, but one cannot have the works of God without faith first in God’s ability to do the works through you.
This is a conundrum for many believers. It almost seems as a paradox or even an oxymoronically statement that one is not saved by works alone but by faith, and that faith without works is dead.
Here’s what it means: We are to walk as Jesus walked, denying ourselves, taking up our “cross” (our mission that God has for us) and follow “the way, the truth and the life” that Jesus gave us example of.
Now, by man alone, this is not possible. If we try to do this of our own fruition, according to our own understanding, we will fail and fail hard. As it is written, “There is a way which seems right to a man, but it’s way leads unto death.” (Proverbs 14:12).
So how do we do this then? If man cannot do it alone? Let’s look again to Jesus. Jesus both is the way, the truth and the life, as well as the example of the way, the truth and the life that we should live ourselves.
How did Jesus live? How did He accomplish this? Jesus tells us plainly:
I use these verses often, he says it in other ways and in other places as well, but I use these verses often because it is so plain. Jesus, the son of God who came in the flesh as the Messiah, born of a virgin, God become flesh gives us the way that He, in the flesh, accomplished this task and points to how you will as well.
Many who are reading this now are reasoning within themselves, “But how can I do this? Jesus is the son of God, the Messiah, born of a virgin, the seed of God himself and I am only a man.” This is the right question to ask.
Jesus gives us the answer as well plainly when he says.
Jesus received the Holy Spirit at His Baptism (Matthew 3:16), and was immediately led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted and to overcome temptation (Matthew 4:1 – 11). Once he overcame the temptations of men, through the power of submission to God and the Spirit, the enemy left him, and His ministry began (Mattthew 4:11, 4:17).
Jesus tells us that this same Spirit, if we believe will be poured out on us as well (John 16:13, and in Acts the apostles discuss this further in Acts 2:17). He says that this Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit) will guide us into all truth (John 16:5-8, 13) and this truth will make us free (John 8:32).
Free from what? From hardship and persecution? No, in the world we will have these, especially if we walk the way, the truth and the life because we are not sons & daughters of the world but are sons & daughters of the Kingdom. Freedom from what then? Freedom from the laws of sin and death.
If you walk in the light, the darkness will try to remove you from the light. It will apply pressure, it will get you to step off of the truth and into the darkness. The world is in darkness and it has no light. We are the light that comes into the world to share the truth of the Kingdom, just as our teacher did, so must we.
This is the hardship and persecution that you will suffer. Depending on the type of warfare and strongholds in your area, some even suffer this to the point of physical death. But standing strong to this point, in opposition to the darkness, standing firm in the light, you are rewarded for this with the same gift that Jesus received and that is the resurrection. There is only life in the light, there is no darkness as God is in the light.
Your focus on this finished work of the cross, is a focus on the assurance of life, no matter what your physical or emotional senses show you before your eyes. We do not walk by sight but by faith. But you must resist the kingdoms of this world, the kingdom of darkness.
This saying is now where many will be to afraid to continue on in the fight. You have heard that it was said to honor your officials and governments. This is true, we are to honor them and treat them as they are, children of God who are lost in the darkness. But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we are not subject to the same laws of men, nor the systems of governance, nor the curse of sin and death.
Now hear me on this and do not forget it. If you move of your own fruition, in a way that Your Father did not instruct you to move, you do not have a guarantee of this protection. Though God may show you grace in this, it is not guaranteed that you will be saved from your decisions. But if you walk according to God’s instruction and it should bring you into conflict with the powers of the world, then know that certainly you will be saved.
By faith the men of Israel were saved from the fire when they wouldn’t bow down to the idol of Babylon. By faith, Daniel was saved from the lions den. By faith, Peter continued on in his ministry despite the opposition to it from the powers of darkness in the world and the angel set him free from his chains before his execution.
Now remember this and don’t forget it. Jesus honored the temple tax though He did not have need to do so, in order that He might not offend them and be accused out of order with God’s timing. And indeed God provided for Him a coin out of a fishes mouth. Won’t He do the same for you if you walk in the way? Therefore, don’t go looking for a fight but let God lead you naturally and obey His command and trust Him to fight for you.
Your life is more precious to God than you can even imagine, He protects those who walk with Him. Even Enoch was pulled from the evil time because He walked with God (Genesis 5:21-24).
This is the Kingdom. It is now. It will also be fully enacted for all who remain in due time. We are in that time, the hour before the Kingdom is restored to its former glory in heaven AND on earth. And this is the confidence that you can have: if you believe on the finished work of the cross, remember that Jesus was resurrected despite his death due to his obedience to God, you can withstand all things and there is only life for those who walk in the way.
All authority has been given to Jesus in Heaven and on Earth. He said all, He didn’t say some. Therefore, repent because the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.