What Did the Lord Jesus’ Words “It Is Finished” on the Cross Really Mean
By Liang Xin
The bitter north winds hit land with fury, causing a precipitate drop in the temperature. Snowflakes started to flutter down.
In the room, Jingxin, Hu Li and Liu Xin were sitting around the table studying the Bible together. Noticing that Jingxin was somewhat distracted, Hu Li asked with concern: “Sister Jingxin, what’s the matter? Aren’t you feeling well?”
Jingxin was dumbstruck for a moment and then immediately said, “Yes, I’m fine. It’s just that a few days ago, an old classmate told me that thehas returned and is expressing the truth and performing a stage of judgment work to purify and save man. What she fellowshiped was really illuminating and also in line with the Bible, which I felt probably came from the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment and illumination. But it then occurred to me that the pastors and elders often preached that when the Lord Jesus said ‘It is finished’ upon the cross, He meant that God’s work to save mankind was finished. They said that we were forgiven our sins through faith in the Lord, and that when the Lord returned, He would immediately raise us up into the heavenly kingdom and would not perform any further work. So I was thinking about whether I should investigate or not.”
In a firm tone, Hu Li said, “Sister Jingxin, what the pastors and elders said is right. Since the Lord Jesus said ‘It is finished’ on the cross, this shows that God’s work to save mankind is over. The Lord has forgiven our sins, we are justified by faith and saved by grace, and He cannot possibly perform any work to save mankind when He returns. So I think there is no need to investigate.”
“Sister Hu Li, we must not speak so conclusively. It is the pastors and elders who say that ‘What the Lord Jesus meant when He said “It is finished” on the cross was that God’s work to save mankind was completed.’ The Lord Jesus has never said such things, nor has the Holy Spirit. We must approach everything in accordance with the Lord’s words!” said Liu Xin in all earnestness as she looked at Hu Li. “Actually, the Lord Jesus has long ago told us about the work He will do when He returns in the last days. Just as He said: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:47–48). And in 1 Peter 4:17 it says: ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.’ Revelation 2:7 says: ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’ Also, the Book of Revelation prophesies that the Lord shall perform the work of separating the sheep from the goats, the wheat from the chaff, and the good servants from the evil servants in the last days. From these prophecies we can see that, when the Lord returns, He will express the truth and do the step of His work of judgment, expressing the word of the Holy Spirit to all the churches to lead us to enter into all truths, and separating each person according to their kind. If we go by what the pastors and elders say, that the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ on the cross meant that God’s work to save mankind was completed and that He would not perform any work when He returned, then how would these prophecies ever be fulfilled? Could it be that the Lord Jesus’ prophecies would come to nothing? Obviously, what the pastors and elders say is not in line with the Lord Jesus’ words, nor does it accord with the facts of God’s work.”
Jingxin nodded and said, “That’s right. Thanks be to the Lord. Listening to your fellowship in this way has helped me understand somewhat. When the Lord Jesus was on the cross, He only said the words, ‘It is finished.’ He did not say that God’s work to save mankind was totally finished. Besides, the Lord also prophesied that when He returned in the last days, He would express the truth and perform His work of judgment, which further proves this. Looking at it this way, it seems that what the pastors and elders say simply does not accord with the Lord’s words. When it comes to the matter of welcoming theof the Lord, we mustn’t blindly follow the pastors and elders, but should make the Lord’s words our basis. But there is still one thing I don’t understand—since ‘It is finished’ spoken by the Lord Jesus on the cross didn’t mean that God’s work to save mankind was totally finished, then what did it really refer to?”
Hu Li frowned slightly, as if she was deep in thought.
Liu Xin turned on her tablet and said smilingly, “A few days ago when I was working in another place, I came across a preacher whom I hadn’t seen for years. She gave me a fellowship and read me some passages which explained this issue very clearly. How about we read them together?”
“That would be great!” said Jingxin eagerly. “Let me read it. ‘At the time Jesus’ work was the redemption of all mankind. The sins of all who believed in Him were forgiven; as long as you believed in Him, He would redeem you; if you believed in Him, you were no longer a sinner, you were relieved of your sins. This is what it meant to, and to be justified by faith. Yet in those who believed, there remained that which was rebellious and opposed God, and which still had to be slowly removed. Salvation did not mean man had been completely gained by Jesus, but that man was no longer of sin, that he had been forgiven his sins: Provided you believed, you would never more be of sin’ (‘The Vision of God’s Work (2)’). ‘To man, God’s crucifixion concluded the work of God’s incarnation, redeemed all of mankind, and allowed Him to seize the key to Hades. Everyone thinks God’s work has been fully accomplished. In actuality, to God, only a small part of His work has been accomplished. He has only redeemed mankind; He has not conquered mankind, let alone changed the ugliness of Satan in man. That is why God says, “Although My incarnate flesh went through the pain of death, that was not the whole goal of My incarnation. Jesus is My beloved Son and was nailed to the cross for Me, but He did not fully conclude My work. He only did a portion of it”’” (“Work and Entry (6)”).
Liu Xin fellowshiped, “After listening to the sister’s fellowship, I understood that when the Lord Jesus said, ‘It is finished’ upon the cross, He merely meant that His work to redeem mankind was completed, not that God’s work to save mankind was totally finished. In the later period of the Age of Law, as we humans were corrupted more and more deeply by Satan, we could no longer keep the laws or commandments and were faced with the danger of being condemned and cursed by the law. God could not bear to see mankind, which He’d made with His own hands, be destroyed, so He personally became flesh to do the work of redemption and was nailed to the cross for mankind’s sake, thereby redeeming humanity from sin so that we could be freed from the condemnation and curse of the law. From that point on, as long as we believed in the Lord and came before Him to sincerely confess and repent, then our sins would be forgiven, we would then be qualified to enjoy the abundant grace and blessings the Lord bestowed on us, and no longer be condemned by the law for committing sins—this is the true meaning of being graced and saved in our belief in the Lord, and is also the result achieved by the work of redemption on humans. Although our sins were forgiven after undergoing the Lord Jesus’ redemption, we no longer committed obvious sins and we had some good external behaviors, we haven’t rid ourselves of our sinful nature or attained purification. Such satanic corrupt dispositions as being arrogant and conceited, selfish and contemptible, crooked and deceitful, sinister and malicious, wicked and greedy, are still rooted deeply within us and often make us sin and resist God. For example, in our interactions with others, we often tell lies and cheat them when a matter infringes upon our own interests, prestige or status; when we see something we like, greed and wicked thoughts can still arise in our hearts; when we see someone who is better than us, we feel jealous of them and even hate them; when dealing with things, we always believe that our own views are correct, full of arrogance and self-righteousness, and refuse to listen to others’ opinions; as the servants of the Lord, we still follow the evil trends of the world, cling to wealth and covet vanity like the unbelievers; when encountering something that isn’t according to our wishes, we misunderstand and blame the Lord, or even oppose and contest Him, and in serious cases, we can even deny and betray the Lord. The list goes on and on. God’s words say: ‘You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:45). And the Bible says: ‘Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord’ (Hebrews 12:14). God is holy, and the heavenly kingdom permits no stained human being to enter. So how could we who so often commit sins and defy the Lord ever be qualified to see the Lord’s face and enter into the heavenly kingdom? Can we say that we have attained salvation and been obtained by God?”
“We certainly cannot!” Jingxin immediately answered. Hu Li also shook her head.
Earnestly and gravely, Liu Xin said, “Therefore, according to the needs of His work as well as the needs of us corrupt humanity, God will perform in the last days a stage of judgment work to cleanse our sinful nature and lead us into all truths, so that we can thoroughly cast off the binds of sin and become people who obey and fear God and who carry out. Only then are we qualified to . Let’s read a couple more passages.”
“OK!” said Jingxin joyfully. “Allow me to carry on reading. ‘A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance’ (‘Concerning Appellations and Identity’). ‘The sins of man were forgiven, and this is because of the work of God’s crucifixion, but man continued to live within the corrupt satanic disposition of old. This being so, man must be completely saved from his corrupt satanic disposition, so that his sinful nature may be completely extirpated, never to develop again, thus enabling the disposition of man to be transformed. This would require man to grasp the path of growth in life, to grasp the way of life, and to grasp the way to change his disposition. Furthermore, it would require man to act in accordance with this path, so that his disposition may gradually be changed and he may live under the shining of the light, so that all that he does may be in accord with the will of God, so that he may cast away his corrupt satanic disposition, and so that he may break free from Satan’s influence of darkness, thereby emerging fully from sin. Only then will man receive complete salvation. … Through the sin offering, man has been forgiven his sins, for the work of the crucifixion has already come to an end and God has prevailed over Satan. But the corrupt disposition of man still remaining within him, man can still sin and resist God, and God has not gained mankind. That is why in this stage of work God uses the word to expose the corrupt disposition of man, causing him to practice in accordance with the right path. This stage is more meaningful than the previous one, as well as more fruitful, for now it is the word that directly supplies man’s life and enables the disposition of man to be completely renewed; it is a much more thorough stage of work. Therefore, the incarnation in the last days has completed the significance of God’s incarnation and completely finished God’s plan of management for man’s salvation’” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)”).
Liu Xin went on with her fellowship, saying, “These two passages explain very clearly why the Lord is to perform His work of judgment in the last days and the results achieved by this work. In the last days, God has expressed all the truths necessary for us to be cleansed and attain true salvation, such as the mystery of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, the mystery of God’s three stages of work, how Satan corrupts man, the truth of man’s corruption by Satan, how God judges and cleanses man, what kind of person God saves and perfects and what kind of person He eliminates and punishes, and the end and final destination for mankind, and so on. After we accept God’s work of judgment in the last days, we can see clearly the truth about our corruption by Satan and our own God-defying satanic nature through the revelation of God’s words, know God’s righteous and inviolable disposition, and thus generate a God-fearing heart. Seeing how deeply we have been corrupted by Satan, we thereby can regret and hate ourselves, truly repent to God, and become willing to practice the truth and conduct ourselves in accordance with God’s requirements to satisfy God’s will. By constantly experiencing judgment and chastisement, trials and refinement, our conscience, reason, dignity and integrity as well as other things within normal humanity can be gradually restored, our corrupt dispositions are purified little by little, and in the end we are able to live by God’s words, become people who do God’s will, and be completely gained by God. When God has completed a group of overcomers, God shall bring the disasters down upon the world and He will begin to reward the good and punish the wicked. After all that is of Satan has been destroyed by the great disasters, God will openly appear to mankind and thus the kingdom of will be realized on earth. There will then be no more tears, death or grief in the world, and everything will change and become renewed. Only then will God’s work to save mankind be totally finished, and the prophecies in Revelation 21 that ‘And He that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. … It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely’ (Revelation 21:5, 6) will be completely fulfilled.”
Jingxin said excitedly, “Listening to you give fellowship, my heart feels brightened. It turns out that when the Lord Jesus said ‘It is finished,’ He meant that the work of redemption was finished. Although our sins are forgiven in our belief in the Lord, the satanic dispositions that make us sin remain rooted within us, so no wonder we often uncontrollably commit sins and oppose God. When the Lord Jesus returns in the last days, He shall express the truth and do judgment work to change and cleanse our satanic dispositions, allowing us to completely escape the bondage of sin and be purified and saved by God. It seems that God performing His work of judgment in the last days is precisely what we need. Thank the Lord! Today’s fellowship has really done us a lot of good!”
Hu Li also nodded and said, “It’s true. We still often live in a state of constantly committing sins and confessing, so filled with sins, and we even blindly followed the pastors and elders and thought that God would not perform any further work of salvation—we truly were so ignorant! I’m so glad that we have listened to your fellowship today; otherwise, we wouldn’t even know it when the Lord finished the work of judgment. Sister Liu, how can you understand so much?”
Smilingly, Liu Xin said, “Thank the Lord! Actually I’ve been investigating God’s work of the last days for some time now. What we’ve fellowshiped today was exactly what used to puzzle me. Only through the brothers’ and sisters’ fellowship on God’s words during this period did I come to understand these truths and gain some knowledge of God’s work of judgment in the last days. I feel confirmation in my heart that these words are the truth and the voice of God. Jingxin, Sister Hu, the Lord Jesus once told us: ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). Now the Lord has come back and He is expressing truths and performing the work of judgment to cleanse and save man. We must study and investigate it as soon as possible, for this is the only way for us to welcome the Lord’s return.”
Excitedly, Hu Li said, “Thanks be to the Lord. We are willing to seek and investigate God’s work of the last days!”
“Yes. Over all these years we have been yearning for the Lord Jesus’ coming, but because we had no knowledge about God’s work, we did not seek or investigate it when we heard the news about the Lord’s return. We have wasted a lot of time, so we must immediately investigate God’s work and follow His footsteps. Sister Liu, what else have you gained from investigating God’s work of the last days? Please share more fellowship with us!”
“Thanks be to God. May God lead us! …”
Heavy snow kept fluttering down, putting a white silver dress on the earth. The entire world had taken on a new look.