Cross Verbs – Calling to Action :: 6th saying from the Cross

This is the 6th post of the series, Cross Verbs >> Calling to Action, which is a look at the 7 sayings of Jesus Christ from the Cross, with an “action” perspective, for faith without action is dead (James 2:17). What is of note is that each saying has a verb in it, implying an action of Jesus Christ, the Lord, and what’s more, is that his action calls for our action.

Saying Six: “It is finished.
The Cross verb today is “finish”.

Jesus’ word, “Tetelastai” which is to mean, “It is finished”, affirmed that the work that God has sent him to do, which was to reconcile mankind with God, was complete. There was nothing else left to be done. He finished the work so that we do not have to.

Points to ponder:
The Cross verb “finish” calls us to action – to first fix our eyes if Jesus and to stay on the course of our faith, keeping it and finishing the race, setting aside any weight that encumbers and pull us down and any sin that besets us.  Jesus finished the act of reconciling God with man and is the author and finisher of our faith. We can finish the work that God has given us to do which is to share the gospel of Christ, who saves all who believe in him, by grace, through faith in him, because Christ Jesus is a finisher. We are called to “finish” for it is only the finisher (and not the quitter) that receives the praise and the victor’s crown. Are you and I a finisher?

Prayer: Lord, let me not be a quitter, but let me be like you – being able to finally proclaim, “I have fought a good fight (as you did bearing our Cross), I have finished the course (as you boldly proclaimed – It is finished) and I have kept the faith (as you have demonstrated, how great your faithfulness is, in accepting us, an adulterous people).”  Lord Jesus, I thank you, that you who began the good work in me, would complete it, and I pray that you be with me (as you have promised) and help me be a finisher. 

John 19:30 (KJV)
30 When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.

Labor not in vain – Steadfast, Still and Surmount

According to the United States Department of Labor, Labor Day, which is annually celebrated on the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of the country.

To those who are citizens of God’s kingdom (Philippians 3:20), we ought to be able to celebrate Labor Day as well, which is possible as long as we have made contributions with our life that last the test of fire (1 Corinthians 3:14-15). The labor that stands the test of fire is the labour that in not in vain in the Lord.

In order for our labor to not be in vain in the Lord, the Bible teaches us the principles that are recorded in 1 Corinthians 15:58. 1 Corinthians 15:58 reads “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.
First, we need to be steadfast, that is we need to stand firm, which is only possible if the foundation we stand on is firm. There is no other foundation that is firmer than Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 3:11).
Second, we need to be still (Psalm 46:10), that is be unmoveable. We must not waver in our faith but be faithful, keeping the faith (Revelation 14:12; Acts 14:22) till we see Christ face to face.
Third, we need to surmount, that is abound, in the work of the Lord. With God, there is no unfinished business (Philippians 1:6) and God is able to make his grace abound toward us so that we may have sufficiency in all things and that we may abound to every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8).

Points to ponder:
Do you want your labor to not be in vain? In other words, are you steadfast, are you still and is your work surmounting? If Jesus Christ is not your foundation, I beseech you to believe and trust in him for when on Christ the Solid Rock, we Stand, we are steadfast and need not fear the sinking sand.

1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

2 Corinthians 9:8 (KJV)
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:

To rest or not to rest?

To rest or not to rest? – that is the question.

Genesis 2:2-3 records that on the seventh day, God rested. While we have heard several sermons about God resting on the seventh day, from which an extrapolation of the need and importance to rest, is exposited, it is important to note that the verses read that God “ended” his work and he rested. He “blessed” the seventh day and “sanctified” it (declared it holy), because it was the day when he rested.

The first thing to note is that we must complete the work that we have been tasked with i.e., just as God ended the work of making new things before he rested, we must end our work as well. The good news is that God who began the good work in us will bring it to  completion (Philippians 1:6) as we are ambassadors of his, making things new by presenting the gospel of Jesus Christ, for whoever is in Christ is a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17). Also when we rest, we must bless the Lord for having given us rest. Jesus said, the sabbath was made for man and not man for the sabbath (Mark 2:27) i.e., in other words, rest, that is important, is necessary so that man can take his mind and body off the things of this world, a chasing after the wind, and focus on God and the things above, blessing God and keeping the sabbath (rest) holy, just as God did. Well, the fourth commandment in the ten commandments is to “Remember the sabbath (rest) day, to keep it holy. ” (Exodus 20:8)

Points to ponder:
To rest or not to rest? –  that is the question. We must rest only when we end our work (and God will help being our work for him to completion) and when we rest we must bless God and keep our rest holy.

Genesis 2:2-3 (KJV)
And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.

Philippians 1:6 (KJV)
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

Mark 2:27 (KJV)
27 And he said unto them, The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath:

Exodus 20:8 (KJV)
Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.

Christian Verbs :: F is for Finishing

Two times, before Jesus affirms the words of finality “It is finished”, he expresses in the book of John that He was sent by God the Father to finish the work that God had ordained for Him (John 4:34, John 5:36). Then when Jesus prays for Himself, He states that He has glorified God the Father on earth and that He has finished the work, that God the Father had given Him (John 17:4). Then on the Cross, Jesus’ sixth saying was “Tetelastai” meaning it is finished; meaning that the access to the throne of God was opened and man could be restored into a relationship with God by simply believing in Jesus.

God has in deed finished the work of redemption for all mankind, by offering His Only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as a perfect offering for our sins, but His requirement (will) which is for all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4), i.e., to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9), is still pending. It is commissioned to all those who have come to the knowledge of the truth about Jesus; to you and me. As Christians (Christ-ones), we are called to finish the assignment (commission) that God has bestowed upon each one of us. There is no unfinished business with God. He is the author AND he is the finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

Like Jesus, can we be determined as well to finish the work that is assigned to us; in glorifying God (John 17:4), in calling all to repentance (2 Peter 3:9); in the great commission (Matthew 28: 19-20). Imagine for a moment, as to what our state would be when we meet Jesus face to face and He asks us about our work on earth. Would it be plight or pleasure? Today, can you/I say that “I have finished the race!”

John 17:3-4 (KJV)
And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.

2 Peter 3:9 (KJV)
9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Not fail nor forsake until …

1 Chronicles 28:20 records the charge that king David tell his son Solomon. He counsels his son to be strong and of good courage and to build (do) the temple of God according to the pattern God had written (1 Chronicles 28:19). He tells his son not to be afraid or to lose courage because he avers that God will be with Solomon and that God will not fail nor forsake Solomon until the work of God in building His temple is finished.

Our commission is to reconcile man to God so that their minds are renewed to not conform to the patterns of this world but to the pattern of Jesus Christ, God’s son. We are commissioned to build the temple of God i.e., reconcile man to God so that their bodies (which is the temple of the Living God) are presented as living sacrifices. Unfortunately, many times we are timid and fearful when it comes to acting on this commission. We can however take heart from the words of a king who said that God will not fail nor forsake until the work of building His temple (the people who come to his saving grace) is finished. And more importantly, we can take heart from the words of THE KING of kings, Jesus Christ, who said, “I will never leave (fail) you nor forsake you and lo I am with you even unto the ends of the world” (Hebrews 13:5-6; Matthew 28:20)

1 Chronicles 28:20 (KJV)
20 And David said to Solomon his son, Be strong and of good courage, and do it: fear not, nor be dismayed: for the LORD God, even my God, will be with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee, until thou hast finished all the work for the service of the house of the LORD.

Philippians 1:6 (KJV)
6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:

No unfinished business with God

Philippians 1:6 states that “He that began a good work (in them) will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ”. This is very applicable today when most of leave that which we start unfinished. With God there is no unfinished business.

With God there is only completeness and perfection in that completeness. Though circumstances and situations at times may make us believe otherwise, trust that God who begins anything in your life will always bring it to fruition accordingly to his Holy will and purpose. Isaiah 10:12 refers to the time when God completes his whole work, meaning that there is no half-done work in God’s efforts.

Point(s) to ponder:
Think off the good things that you have started that have been left unfinished? Take time to address them. Ask God for his wisdom to help you get through to completing the good work he has began in you!

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain

This morning meditation was from the first chapter of the epistle (letter) of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, the first Church founded by Paul in Macedonia. The letter starts with Paul’s thankfulness for the Church at Philippi, giving them words of encouragement to continue God’s work and exhorting them to meet and be filled with the Spirit of God.

He then shifts gear to talk about his Chains, as he was a prisoner for his allegiance to the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
According to the Apostle Paul, these chains (bonds in Christ) were not chains that burdened him, instead these were chains that built confidence in all those who belonged to the Son of God, making them bold to proclaim the word without fear.

He them expresses a dilemma, that he would rather be in the presence of God than to abide in the flesh, however, he realizes that to abide in the flesh was more beneficial to the church. Having said that, his focus in not on himself, but on Christ (Messiah a.k.a. Jesus), which he expresses saying “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).
Philippians 1:21 is also the theme chosen for the Austin Christian Fellowship of India (ACFI) for the year of the Lord, 2009.

Point(s) to Ponder :

  1. Is our suffering chains for Jesus (if we do suffer any at all), ones that make people focus on us, or are they ones that make others confident to focus on the Son of God?
  2. Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Philippians 1:21 have a few interesting ways in which “For to me to live is _____________ and to die is ___________” can be completed as shown below
    For to me to live is money and to die is to leave it all behind
    For to me to live is fame and to die is to be forgotten
    For to me to live is power and to die is to lose it all

    How will you and I fill in the blanks – “For to me to live is _____________ and to die is ___________”.