“It is finished.”
False Assumptions because of the Cross
Ever wonder how “people of the book” can get so far away from God? Ever struggle with church members that cling to the old rugged cross to proclaim their forgiveness for continuing in their rebellious ways? The greatest truth in all of Scripture is that because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross eternal life has been obtained for all who believe in Him as the Son of God (John 20:31; Hebrews 9:12). No one can do anything to add to the finished work of Christ’s sacrificial death (John 19:30).
Unfortunately with this great truth comes great distortion. Some who have claimed faith in Jesus do little to nothing to develop their spiritual lives. They grow lazy and fat in their souls. The idea of spiritual exercise is repugnant to them. They have become pew potatoes and have no desire to lift a single finger for the kingdom. When you dare ask these individuals about their spiritual life they claim their faith in Jesus as proof of God’s approval of them, sing a couple verses of “There’s Power in the Blood,” and go back to their worldly, spiritually apathetic lives.
Of course, today’s generation is not the first to misapply the message of God’s grace and love for the sake of worldly pleasure. The Apostle Paul constantly battled against those that misapplied his gospel of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. In Romans, he builds his case against those that claim his teachings lead to lawlessness and increase in sin. In Galatians, he strongly defends justification by faith alone and then follows it up with the fruit of the Spirit for guidelines on how to live out faith.
Over the next four articles I will identify 4 false implications or misapplications of the death of Christ and offer a contrasting alternative that leads to the abundant life and the eternal impact God desires for followers of Christ. Conscious or not, those living by these false implications are in danger of trampling “underfoot the Son of God” and insulting the “Spirit of grace (Heb 10:28).”
False implication #1:
Because Jesus accomplished my salvation on the cross I don’t have to pursue God.
The thinking goes like this…
Jesus’ death shows God’s ultimate pursuit for us because we don’t naturally pursue Him (Rom 3:10-18). Therefore, since God did all the work (“It is finished.”), I do not have to nor will I pursue Him in my daily life. Instead of pursuing a personal relationship with God through Christ, these individuals replace God with other pursuits. Pick a popular god of this age, whether fame, fortune, power, or pleasure and go after it. Because Jesus took care of my salvation, I am free from seriously pursuing God, so I’ll pursue whatever fancies me. Such individuals spend their lives chasing after various dreams and desires but end up devastated, destroyed, and defeated because they neglected the greatest part of the doctrine of the cross: Jesus’ death reconciles us with our Creator so that we can walk with Him daily. When they fail to find fulfillment in their pursuits either because they attain them and they fail to satisfy or God withholds them, they become disenchanted with God and question His love and goodness.
Can anyone with an ounce of objectivity come to the conclusion that in response to Jesus’ death God wanted His children to ignore Him their entire lives and instead pursue relationships with other “gods”? People live out this implication when conflicts arise between their lives and the keys to maintaining their relationship with God. Have season tickets to your pro team? Ignore Sunday morning worship. Besides, it’s only a few games a season. God won’t care. Have a busy week ahead? Skip that discipleship course you started attending on Sunday nights. Feel overwhelmed with responsibilities at home, work, and church? Cut back on serving in the church and community. Want to replace your car, get new carpet, buy new clothes, go on that vacation, or eat out more often? Give up on giving and tithing. Have to get up early but don’t want to miss your favorite late night show? Set the alarm a little later and by-pass your quiet time. The world presents way too many opportunities for the person that uses Jesus’ finished work on the cross as an excuse not to pursue God.
True implication: Because Jesus’ death makes it possible to have a personal relationship with God, I will live each day pursuing God with all my heart, soul, and strength (Deut.6:4).
Paul tells us in Colossians 1:19-20 that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” This great act of reconciliation opens the path to a close, daily connection with God, but this connection is neither automatic nor forced upon us by God. Consider the rest of Paul’s thought in verses 21-23, “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”
Paul gives a huge condition to the confirmation of our reconciliation: we must continue in our faith. How do we continue in our faith in Christ? Don Whitney’s book, Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, suggests ten ways for Christians to stay connected with God and grow in our Christlikeness: Bible intake, prayer, worship, evangelism, serving, stewardship, fasting, silence and solitude, journaling, and learning.
The ultimate pursuit of us by God as demonstrated by Jesus’ sacrifice propels us to pursue God with a passionate pursuit. Anything less than everything falls short of “living worthy of our calling.” In Luke 9:23 Jesus challenges us, “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” In order to determine the intensity of the pursuit one must examine the gravity of self-denial.
Kyle Idleman, in his book Not a Fan, states, “(God) wants your love. He longs for you to passionately pursue him.” Why else would God give His only Son if not for the purpose of enjoying an intimate relationship with Him that begins the moment we believe in Christ and culminates in the return of Christ? John saw this vision at Christ’s return: “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them (Rev 21:3).”
Don’t wait another moment to pursue God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Join me in a passionate pursuit of God!