It Is Finished
Copyright © 1998 by Natalie Pappas
"It is finished!" With these three words Christ gave up His spirit and died. There is no question of what He finished. He finished the work of salvation for all who will believe (John 3:16). Somehow, though, some who are religious refuse to believe that Christ finished the work of salvation and insist on doing things their way instead of God's way.
The first recorded person to do things his own way was Cain. Offering up veggies instead of the required animal probably wasn't his brightest idea. When the Lord rejected the offering, Cain did not repent. Instead he became outraged and murdered his brother, who followed the Lord's instructions. The result is that we can look back and observe that Abel believed God but Cain didn't.
We see later in Scripture that Abraham believed God and offered up Isaac, believing that the Lord would raise him from the dead (see Hebrews chapter 11 for verification). We also read that Jonah believed God when he refused to go to Nineveh and preach. He didn't even want that pagan city to be saved and traveled in the opposite direction. The Lord, through circumstances of His own design, brought Jonah to the place where He agreed to do what the Lord asked of him, even if reluctantly.
Christ, unlike Jonah, was a willing participant in the Father's plan of redemption. Unlike Cain, He did things His Father's way (John 13-17). Like Abraham believed that Isaac would be raised from the dead, Christ believed He would be raised from the dead (John chapter 2). Unlike Isaac, who inherited a sin nature from Adam, Christ was able to satisfy all of His Father' wrath.
However, even though Christ was extremely specific about finishing the work of salvation, there are some who seek to cause trouble. They do not believe that Christ really finished the work His Father gave Him to do. So they say that believing in Christ's payment for their sins is not enough. They say that Christ does His part and we do "our" part. They say that we are to show how grateful we are that Christ did what He did by doing certain things and that doing these things qualifies us for the chance of salvation (see the Live Forever book, last page). This is nothing more than a different gospel. It is not the same gospel Paul defined at 1st Corinthians 15:1-11. Salvation is not a prize that God holds out, but a gift (see Ephesians chapter two). Gifts aren't won, gifts are given.
There are rewards for believers (as shown in 1st Corinthians chapter three), but the reward is not salvation. Believer's rewards are like the whipped cream on the ice cream you already are eating.
If you don't think believing the gospel is enough and that you have to prove yourself worthy of salvation, then Galatians is the book for you. Will you take salvation as God offers, as a free gift? Or will you insist on attempting to win your salvation? Be like Abel, Abraham, and Jonah. Believe God and be saved.