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By Chuck Collins
April 2, 2021

In the three hours Jesus was alive on the cross, he spoke seven recorded words, the "seven last words." This is the very last word before he died, according to the gospel of John: "It is finished" (19:30). These are three words in English, but one in Greek (teleiose): It is finished. What was he talking about? What is finished? What was obvious is that his suffering and humiliation are finished. After three long years of being misunderstood, hunted down by the authorities, slandered by his enemies and betrayed by his best friends - it's now over. The awful anguish and pain of crucifixion is now - finally! - at the end.

His word certainly means that, but in the context of the whole Bible, it means much more. This word is sandwiched by two other "finished" words: in Genesis 2 after God created the heavens and the earth he announced that it was finished, and in Revelation 21 the Alpha and the Omega announced the same thing when he finished the new creation, the new Jerusalem. When Jesus announced that it was finished, he meant that everything needed for a wholly sinful humanity to be at peace with a holy righteous God is now accomplished. Salvation, sanctification, and glorification is ours as a historical fact of the cross of Christ. Nothing can be added to the finality of Jesus' death for eternity. Nothing! Our faith to receive it comes after the fact of the Cross, and it is God's gift of the cross. Grateful obedience follows our acceptance of this wonderful gift, but it is in every way a result of the Cross and never the cause of it. Isn't this why one apostle said that he glories in nothing but the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ? All of human history and every plan that God has for his creation looks to the "it was finished" of the cross of Christ.

For years now I have wondered about an opening verse in Paul's epistle to the Ephesians: "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (1:3). Does EVERY really mean EVERY blessing? If we have been blessed in the past tense (once-and-for-all!) with every spiritual blessing in Christ, then why doesn't my life show it? I am more like a blind man patting the ground for his glasses than a sighted man gazing into heaven bursting-full of gratitude. A friend told me yesterday that he would be an Anglican if he knew Anglicans who showed the joy of the salvation that they profess every Sunday. The problem in Ephesus and our problem, is that, with Christ, we already have all that we need, but we don't know it. We are the man on an ox looking for an ox. So Paul goes on to pray that important prayer for the Ephesians, that the eyes of their hearts will be open so that they will know the hope, see the glorious riches of the inheritance, and experience the incredible great power that is certainly theirs because of Jesus' death and resurrection.

Either Jesus meant "It it finished" and Paul meant "every" spiritual blessing or they meant something else that is not clear to me. On the cross Jesus redefined religion. It is no longer a perennial searching for something in our future that is illusive and slippery, a grasping for some piece of God (some peace, some experience) that is not yet ours. Or, he accomplished our full redemption and set us free to explore it and live into its fulness.

Nothing is missing, all has been accomplished, the full price has been paid, and those who were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. I will never be more loved or have more of God than I have at this very moment.

Chuck is the Director for the Center for Reformation Anglicanism

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