What Is the True Meaning of “It Is Finished” Spoken by the Lord Jesus Upon the Cross?
It was a morning in early winter. The red sun in the sky was shedding its soft rays.
Humming hymns of praise to God, Zhang Yue rode to the home of her cousin Li Chen to tell her and her husband Liu Zhen the good news about the’ return. At the sight of Zhang Yue, Li Chen was surprised and happy, and Liu Zhen was busy making tea.
Li Chen said happily, “Zhang Yue, we haven’t seen each other since you were transferred to another area to shepherd the church there. It just so happens that I have a question and I’d like to seek answers from you. Yesterday, a classmate of mine came to bear witness to Almighty God’s work in the last days for me again. She said that the Lord Jesus has really returned to express the truth and do the work of judgment beginning at the house of God. Her fellowship was well-founded, and was in accordance with the Bible. However, there is still one thing that I do not understand. Didn’t the Lord Jesus saying “It is finished” upon the cross mean that His work was finished? So how could He come to do the work of judgment?”
At this time, Liu Zhen passed a cup of tea to Zhang Yue and said, “Right, the Lord Jesus saying “It is finished” upon the cross was proof that God’s work of saving mankind was completely finished. As long as we hold on to the Lord’s name, when He returns He’ll immediately raise us up into the kingdom of heaven. He won’t come to do a new stage of work.”
Zhang Yue took the cup and said, smiling, “Li Chen, Liu Zhen, when the Lord Jesus was on the cross, He said, ‘It is finished,’ but He did not say that God’s work of saving mankind was completely finished. If we simply go by these three words spoken by the Lord to decide that God’s work is now over and that when the Lord returns He will not do any new work, aren’t we making too much of a subjective assertion by saying this? Let’s think about it. If the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ meant that God’s work of saving mankind was thoroughly completed, then why did the Lord prophesy, saying, ‘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). The words of the Lord Jesus tell us clearly that the Lord will return to express truth and to do judgment work, and that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truths. According to what we say, if the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus completed all the work of saving the human race and the Lord Jesus wouldn’t do judgment work, then how would these prophecies be fulfilled? Wouldn’t they fall through?”
After hearing this, Li Chen said, “Mmm, yes. My classmate said the same thing to me yesterday. Oh, right, at this point, I remember that, when the Lord returns in the last days He will do the work of separating people according to their kind, such as separating the wheat from the tares, the sheep from the goats, and the wise virgins from the foolish virgins. Now these works haven’t been done yet, so to say that the Lord’s work is totally finished is not at all appropriate.”
At this moment, Liu Zhen nodded and sat, saying, “That sounds about right. So what exactly did the Lord mean by saying ‘It is finished’?”
Zhang Yue said with a smile, “Here is a book, which explains this question quite clearly. Let’s read it together: ‘As man sees it, God’s crucifixion had already 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 fact, from God’s perspective, only a small part of His work had been accomplished. All He had done was to redeem mankind; He had not conquered mankind, let alone changed man’s satanic countenance. 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 exhaustively conclude My work. He only did a portion of it.”’ ‘For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of mankind sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even though the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition.’
“From these two passages we can see that, when the Lord Jesus said, “It is finished,” He just meant that His work of redemption was completed, and not that God’s work to save mankind was completely finished. The Lord Jesus did the work of redemption of the crucifixion and redeemed us from sin. We accept the Lord Jesus’ salvation, confess and repent before Him, and our sins will be pardoned. Then we are qualified to come before the Lord and pray to Him, can enjoy the grace that the Lord bestows, and will no longer be condemned by law. This is the outcome of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption. However, though our belief in the Lord pardons our sins, it can’t be denied that our sinful nature and satanic dispositions still remain within us. For example, in order to protect our personal interests, we are unable to stop ourselves from telling lies, committing fraud and deceiving. In our interpersonal dealings, we plot against each other for personal gain. We give in to vanity, lust for wealth, and follow evil worldly trends. When we suffer through trials, we still misunderstand and blame God, even distancing ourselves from Him or betraying Him. When God’s work does not conform to our notions, we judge and condemn God at will. We follow God yet follow and adore man at the same time. And so on. According to our behaviors and deeds, we still live under Satan’s domain, and we haven’t been truly changed and cleansed, and haven’t been fully gained by God. From this we can see that God’s work of saving all mankind hasn’t been finished yet. God said, ‘Be you holy; for I am holy’ (1 Peter 1:16). And in Hebrews 12:14, it is said, ‘Holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ Because God is holy, those who live forever in God’s kingdom are the people whose corrupt dispositions have been cleansed and who no longer commit sins. Whereas we are still utterly filthy and corrupt, and thus we are simply unworthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven. So the Lord prophesied that He would return in the last days to express His words and do the work of judgment and purification. His goal in doing so is to thoroughly save us from sin, allow us to completely escape the bondage of sin, and root our sinful nature. We will then become able to obey and love God, and become people who fear God. Only then will we be qualified to. Let’s read two more passages.”
Li Chen said happily, “Great, I’ll read.”
As she said that, she took the book from Zhang Yue’s hands and read, “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 you 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. You, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are therefore incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance.”
“Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering; He did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to become the sin offering and bear the sins of man, but it also required God to do even greater work to rid man completely of his satanically corrupted disposition. And so, now that man has been forgiven of his sins, God has returned to the flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment. This work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and they shall gain the truth, the way, and the life.”
Zhang Yue continued to fellowship, “These two passages clearly explain the reason why the Lord Jesus will do the work of judgment when He returns in the last days and the effect of the work of judgment among man. Though we have received the Lord Jesus’ salvation and our sins have been forgiven, our sinful nature still remains within us. During His judgment work in the last days, God will express all words to allow people to attain salvation, and especially point out the way for people’s dispositions to become transformed and purified. At the same time, God will thoroughly reveal people’s nature and substance which are corrupted by Satan, plus the truth of their corruption and the root of their sins. Then people will be able to understand that their nature is the very nature of Satan, and see that they are living in the likeness of Satan, the devil, so they will truly repent, willingly accept God’s judgment, chastisement, trials and refinement, and be led by God’s word to pursue the truth and the transformation of their dispositions. And they will gradually break from the bondage of their satanic corrupt dispositions, and become people who truly obey and love God. That is when God’s management plan to save mankind will conclude in its entirety. Just as it is recorded in Revelation, ‘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).”
Li Chen nodded and said, “It turns out that the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ meant that His work of redemption was finished; it did not mean that God’s work of saving mankind was finished. If we only believe in the Lord but fail to accept the Lord’s work of judging and purifying mankind when He returns in the last days, then in our whole life we won’t separate ourselves from sin! We will only be able to live within the cycle of sinning and confessing our sins, and not be able to shake off the fetters of sin. Ultimately we will be able only to be abandoned and eliminated by the Lord, falling into calamity to be punished!”
Liu Zhen also nodded thoughtfully and said, “Through your fellowship, I understand a bit clearer. What the Lord Jesus did was just the work of redemption, not the work of judging and purifying mankind. The Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ only meant that God’s work of redemption was finished. Accepting the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption only allowed us to be forgiven of our sins, but we cannot attain salvation. Only when we accept the work of judgment done by the returned Lord in the last days, cast off our corruption, achieve purification, and attain salvation from God, will God’s work of saving mankind be thoroughly completed. Zhang Yue, your fellowship about this question is quite enlightening.”
Zhang Yue smiled and said, “Thank God! In fact, when in another area I have accepted Almighty God’s work in the last days. Before I was also confused about the question we discuss today. It was only through reading Almighty God’s words and fellowshiping with some brothers and sisters that I understood it. I’ve come today in order to tell you the news of the Lord’s return. I didn’t expect that someone had spread it to you.”
Hearing what Zhang Yue said, Li Chen and Liu Zhen were a little surprised and looked at each other.
Then, Li Chen gave a pat on her thighs and said remorsefully, “I was so ignorant! Several times my classmate had come to testify that the Lord has returned and has carried out the work of judgment starting from the house of God. However, restrained by my own conceptions, I didn’t dare to accept the returned Lord’s work. This shows that lacking the truth is really pitiable. This time I will thoroughly examine Almighty God’s work in the last days. I absolutely can’t miss the opportunity of being purified and saved by God.”
“That’s right! As believers in the Lord, we are longing for His return. If the Lord really has returned, we’ll accept!” said Liu Zhen.
Holding the book The Word Appears in the Flesh, Li Chen asked, “Zhang Yue, is this book the words of the returned Lord?”
Zhang Yue nodded happily and said, “Yes.”
Liu Zhen got closed to Li Chen, “Let me read it too….”
At that time, the warm sunshine was shining into the house through the window, painting the floor a golden color.