“It Is Finished” – A Past Tense Salvation

When we consider eternal salvation, as Primitive Baptists we simply take Jesus at his word on the cross when he declared “It Is Finished”! We must then ask, what did Jesus actually finish on the cross? Did Christ just do his part of salvation and now he is waiting and dependent upon the sinner to believe to actually be fully saved? No, the Bible teaches that Jesus completed all the requirements for eternal salvation on the cross. Let us consider together the many verses that present the “past tense” nature of our eternal salvation – that Jesus has “finished” our eternal salvation and we rest in Jesus’ finished work of salvation today.

But GOD FORBID that I should glory, SAVE IN THE CROSS of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Gal. 6:14 KJV) Was our salvation totally accomplished on the cross by Christ or not? The majority of Christianity does not truly believe that sinners were actually saved on the cross, but only that salvation was “made possible” on the cross. Jesus did “his part” for eternal salvation, but now the sinner must do their part by prayer, belief, baptism, good works, etc. If Jesus died on the cross, but your salvation was still “pending” or “in doubt” until you believed in Jesus, what are you actually saved by? Were you saved to heaven by Christ on the cross? In that system of theology, no, you weren’t saved by Jesus yet because you haven’t believed yet and your salvation might not be a reality. So if you were unsaved prior to your belief and you are now saved to eternal life after your belief, what saved you to heaven? Jesus didn’t actually save you, but instead, your belief saved you to heaven. Therefore, you are saved to heaven by your own action or work of belief (Jesus affirmed that belief is a work, John 6:29) and not saved by Jesus Christ. However, your work of belief as the means of your eternal salvation cannot be reconciled with the clear teaching in scripture that salvation is not of works, but solely by God’s sovereign grace (Eph. 2:8-9, 2 Tim. 1:0, Rom. 11:6, etc.)

These logical contradictions can be extremely confusing to those who desire to glory solely in Jesus Christ for their salvation. If it is actually our prayer, belief, or baptism that secured our eternal salvation, then we cannot glory in Christ alone, but we must also glory in our prayer or some other work we performed in our lives. God forbid. We only glory in Christ for our eternal salvation. This emphasizes why we must properly understand that eternal salvation was fully finished and completed by Jesus on the cross. Salvation is not a “well-meant offer” to all of the world for anyone to choose to accept or reject and thereby go to heaven or go to hell. Salvation is not a “pending transaction” that is up to the sinner to accept or approve this transaction and then they can actually go to heaven. No, the scriptures teach that eternal salvation was fully finished and was perfectly completed by Jesus Christ on the cross, and there is no pending transaction for the sinner to accept by belief. We just fully trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ for our eternal salvation.

It Is Finished

“When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is FINISHED: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost.” (John 19:30 KJV) The doctrine of our eternal salvation is summarized here in Jesus’ final declaration on the cross – that he “finished” (past tense verb) the work of eternal salvation of all the elect by his blood, death, and resurrection. The Greek word for “finished” here is “teleo” which means: “to end, that is complete; execute; conclude; discharge a debt; accomplish; make an end; expire; fill up; finish; go over; pay; perform.” (Strong’s) Notice there is no ambiguity or nothing pending or nothing left to do in the definition of this word; it is evident whatever work was undertaken by Jesus was perfectly completed and finished on the cross. This word is a legal and financial term that describes the notation that a debt has been “Paid in Full”; the debt has been fully discharged and is no longer owed but paid in full. The record of our debt of sin before God is stamped “TELEO” or “PAID IN FULL” by Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus exclaimed with his final breath on this earth that he had perfectly “finished” the work of salvation he came to complete.

What Did Jesus Finish?

It is evident that Jesus “finished” something on the cross. What then did Jesus actually finish? To answer that question, let us consider some verses that describe the work that the Messiah and that Jesus Christ would come to perform.

“24) Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to FINISH the transgression, and to MAKE an end of sins, and to MAKE reconciliation for iniquity, and to BRING IN everlasting righteousness, and to SEAL UP the vision and prophecy, and to ANOINT the most Holy. 27) And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall CAUSE the sacrifice and the oblation to CEASE, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.” (Daniel 9:24-27 KJV) What would the Messiah do in his life and death? Jesus Christ as the Messiah came: to finish the transgression (notice the word “finish” yet again), to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up the vision, and to anoint the most Holy. There would be no more need for the Old Testament sacrifices every day and every year because Jesus’ sacrifice would be the final sacrifice for all time (the Messiah would “cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease”, v.27). There would be no more sacrifice for transgression, sins, or iniquity after the Messiah because Jesus would bring in everlasting righteousness. There is no doubt from these verses that the Messiah would be successful in finishing the payment for our sins, transgressions, and iniquity.

“And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he SHALL SAVE his people from their sins. (Matt. 1:21 KJV) The angel speaking to Joseph prior to Jesus’ birth gives us the purpose of Jesus being born into this world. Jesus was born and became a man so that he “shall save his people from their sins”. There is no ambiguity and no possibility of failure in this declaration of Jesus’ work. Jesus “shall” (100% certainty) save his people from their sins. Notice who Jesus came to save; he came to save “his people”. Jesus had “his people” before he came into this world. Who then are “Jesus’ people”? God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit chose out (elected) a people before the foundation of the world. What was the basis of God’s election and choice? God chose his people by nothing more than his own free and sovereign grace. Those people were given to Christ in the covenant of redemption before the world began, and Jesus Christ covenanted to come into this world and save his people from their sins. Therefore, Jesus finished the work of saving his people from their sins. Furthermore, notice that the name “Jesus” is the Greek form of the Hebrew name “Joshua” and both names mean “Jehovah is salvation”. Jesus’ own name validates that he “is a Savior”, not that he’s a “possible Savior”. Jesus finished the work on the cross of saving his people from their sins.

“As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he SHOULD GIVE eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.” (John 17:2 KJV) Notice what this verse does not say. This verse does not say: that [Christ] should give eternal life to as many as believe on his name. That is the teaching of essentially everyone in Christianity today. Christ “offers” eternal life to as many as “believe” on his name. No, eternal salvation is not offered to anyone. Instead, eternal life is sovereignly “given” to everyone that was given to Christ. Who was given to Christ? The entire world was not given to Christ on the cross because you see the distinction in this verse between “all flesh” and then a smaller group given to Christ, “as many as thou hast given him”. So who then were given to Christ? His people (Matt. 1:21); the elect (Eph. 1:4); his sheep (John 10:27-28). Eternal life is also described as having been sovereignly given to the Lord’s sheep. “27) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28) And I GIVE UNTO THEM eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:27-28 KJV) Eternal life is not offered to the world for sinners to choose if they want it or not by belief. No, eternal life is sovereignly given to the sheep that were given to Christ.

Christ Finished the Work

“2) As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 4) I have glorified thee on the earth: I HAVE FINISHED the work which thou gavest me to do. (John 17:2-4 KJV) In his final public prayer before going to the cross, Jesus declared to God that he had “finished” (past tense completed action) the work that he was given to do. The Greek word for “finished” here is “teleioo” (close cousin to “teleo” in John 19:30) which means “to end, that is literally or figuratively to consummate; consecrate; finish; fulfill; make perfect”. (Strong’s) So what was the work that Jesus brought to an end, consummated, finished, fulfilled, and made perfect? Jesus finished the work that was given him to do. Jesus finished the transgression, made an end of sins, made reconciliation for iniquity, and brought in everlasting righteousness (Dan. 9:24). Jesus saved his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21). Jesus gave eternal life to the sheep and as many as were given unto him (John 10:28, 17:2). There can be no doubt that Jesus perfectly saved from thier sins the definite group of all his people, the elect, and his sheep that were given to him on the cross. That is what Primitive Baptists believe – that Jesus finished all the requirements for our eternal salvation on the cross, and there is nothing left for us to do to ratify or accept our eternal life.

“Much more then, BEING NOW JUSTIFIED by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” (Rom. 5:9 KJV) God’s people were “justified” (or declared righteous before God) solely by Jesus’ blood. The Greek word for “being” here essentially means “having been”, which describes a past tense completed action. Also, notice the current status of our justification before God. When Paul was moved to pen this scripture in the mid-1st century AD, what was the status of our justification? Was our justification “pending” until we accepted it by our belief or prayer? No, at the current time of this writing, even almost 2,000 years before we were even born, we were “NOW” justified by Jesus’ blood. Our justification before God was not completed by our belief, but it was completed by the shedding of Jesus’ blood on the cross of Calvary.

“For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of ONE SHALL many BE MADE righteous.” (Rom. 5:19 KJV) Jesus Christ “made” all the elect righteous on the cross. It is not by the obedience of millions of individual people praying a prayer or doing a work that they are individually made righteous. Salvation is not by the individual obedience of millions of God’s people individually. No, salvation is only by the obedience of One, the obedience of Jesus Christ. Then, it is by Christ’s obedience that we are “made” righteous. Righteousness is not offered to the sinner by you choosing to believe in Jesus. No, all of God’s people were fully “made” righteous by the work of Jesus Christ.

“Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself PURGED our sins, SAT DOWN on the right hand of the Majesty on high;” (Heb. 1:3 KJV) We have been “purged” (past tense completed action) from our sins by the work of Jesus Christ alone (by himself). The word “purged” comes from 2 Greek words – 1) G4160 (to make; do; execute; acquire, etc.) and 2) G2512 (a washing off; ablution; expiation; cleansing; purging; purification). Jesus Christ did not put a bowl of soap in front of the sinner and give an invitation to come and cleanse yourself if you choose to believe in me. No, Jesus perfectly “purged” our sins before God by himself by his blood. Jesus purged our sins “by himself” – not with the help of any man, or any preacher, or even us. No, we are saved and purged solely by Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus “sat down” in a position of rest by God the Father because he had completed his work. No son (especially not Jesus) would have the audacity to come and sit down by his father if he had not completed the work given to him to do by the father. Jesus would not have the audacity to come and sit down by God in heaven if the work of eternal salvation he came to do was not complete. When God finished the work of creation, he rested on the 7th day because he was done and finished. In like manner, when Jesus finished the work of salvation, he returned to rest on the right hand of God in heaven.

“12) Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he ENTERED in ONCE into the holy place, HAVING OBTAINED eternal redemption for us. 14) How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit OFFERED himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?” (Heb. 9:12-14 KJV) Jesus “obtained” (past tense completed action) our eternal redemption on the cross. Redemption is not “offered” to the sinner who might choose to believe, but eternal redemption was “obtained” by Jesus Christ on the cross. Jesus was “offered” one time to God. We don’t offer ourselves to Jesus or even offer our hearts to Jesus. The only offering for sins was that Christ was offered to God once for us on the cross.

“26) For then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but NOW ONCE in the end of the world HATH he APPEARED to PUT AWAY SIN by the sacrifice of himself. 28) So Christ was ONCE OFFERED to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.” (Heb. 9:26-28 KJV) Sin is not put away before God by your belief. The Greek word translated as “put away” here means “cancellation; absolution; put away; disannulling of a debt”. (Strong’s) Our debt of sin has been “disannulled” and fully put away by Jesus Christ. The majority of Christianity believes men are unsaved (still in their sins) until they believe. Therefore, if before belief your sins are still charged against you and then after your belief, your sins are put away and you’re now set for heaven, then what put away your sins? If that was the case, then your belief actually put away your sins instead of Jesus; you are saved by your belief, not by Jesus. Jesus has already been “offered” unto God one time to put away sin; we don’t offer ourselves to God as well.

“9) Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second. 10) By the which will we ARE SANCTIFIED through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE for all . 12) But this man, after he HAD OFFERED one sacrifice for sins for ever, SAT DOWN on the right hand of God; 14) For by one offering he HATH PERFECTED FOR EVER them that are sanctified.” (Heb. 10:9-14 KJV) God’s people have already been “sanctified” by Jesus on the cross once for all. There is only “one sacrifice for sins forever”. You are not making a sacrifice today by your belief that saved you from your sins. There are not millions of individual sacrifices by God’s children that save them from their sins. No, there was “one sacrifice for sins forever” and that is all that is necessary, the work is done. Now, Jesus has assumed a posture of rest at the right hand of God (he sat down) because he had finished the work that his Father gave him to do (John 17:4, 19:30). He would not have the audacity to come and sit down next to his father if the work that was given unto him was not perfectly and completely finished. If he came back before the job was done, he would be told by God (just like our dad would tell us), you get up and get back out there and don’t come back in until the job I gave you to do is complete. All that Jesus died for on the cross are “perfected” forever (same Greek word as “finished” in John 17:4 – to end, that is literally or figuratively to consummate; consecrate; finish; fulfill; make perfect). If all of God’s people are “perfected forever” by Jesus Christ on the cross, how can our belief make us any more perfect before God? Clearly, it cannot. We are perfected forever by the finished work of Jesus on the cross.

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we ARE HEALED.” (Isaiah 53:5 KJV) We are “healed” (past tense completed action) by Jesus Christ’s death. The Hebrew word for “healed” here means “to mend; to cure; cause to heal; to make healthy; to thoroughly make whole”. (Strong’s) If we are “thoroughly made whole” by the stripes of Jesus, what else is there left to do by the sinner in our belief? Christianity today makes eternal salvation as a medicine that’s in the cabinet available to everyone, and if you just choose to take the medicine by belief then you can be healed. We don’t have the option of choosing healing, but rather Jesus gives us healing. We are not healed or made whole by any sacrifice by ourselves. We are not healed by our prayer or belief, but we are healed by Christ’s stripes and blood alone.

He SENT redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name.” (Psalm 111:9 KJV) Redemption is not offered to anyone who is interested in it by belief. No, Jesus has “sent” redemption (past tense) to his people, not offered redemption to the believer. Notice again who Jesus sent redemption to: his people. The same “his people” that were given to Christ out of all flesh (John 17:2), and the same “his people” that Jesus saved from their sins (Matt. 1:21). Again, salvation and redemption is not a “well-meant offer” to anyone who will believe, but God sent redemption to his people by the death of Christ on the cross.

“1) Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2) Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is ACCOMPLISHED, that her iniquity is PARDONED: for she hath RECEIVED of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2 KJV) Notice the past tense of all these verbs that describe our finished salvation. The Hebrew word “accomplished” here literally means “ended” or “to fill; to be full”. The warfare of our sins is ended; the warfare is over because Jesus conquered our final enemy of death. The Hebrew word “pardoned” here means “to be pleased with; specifically to satisfy a debt; accomplish”. God is pleased with Jesus’ payment for our debt of sin and iniquity. Our debt before God is fully paid off by Jesus Christ on the cross. Then, the Hebrew word “received” here means “to take; get; fetch; lay hold of; seize; acquire; to win”. God has laid hold on double – both grace and mercy, giving eternal life – for our sins. There is no way you can put any type of pending status of our eternal salvation into these texts. Jesus Christ finished our warfare, pardoned our sins, and saved his people from their sins on the cross. When we hear and believe that message of what Jesus has already done for us, then we can receive comfort in the gospel.

What About Our Belief Then?

1) Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. 2) Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is ACCOMPLISHED, that her iniquity is PARDONED: for she hath RECEIVED of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isaiah 40:1-2 KJV) This is a message of “comfort” for the children of God, to declare to the sinner that their warfare is already accomplished and that they are already pardoned from their sins by Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, the denominational world in Christianity today presents a gospel of “fear” (not comfort and peace). If you don’t do this – pray, believe, be baptized, etc. – then God will send you to hell for eternity for not acting right. That “fear-mongering gospel” just tries to make people feel the flames of hell hot enough that they make a decision for Christ. No, the true good news of the gospel presents comfort to God’s people. The gospel gives “peace” to our soul, not a fear of hell. The gospel declares that Jesus finished the work of salvation on the cross; he has ended your warfare; he has pardoned your iniquity. Then, when you believe that message, it gives comfort and peace to your soul that you can rest totally in Jesus Christ and his grace for your eternal life, not in a work that you have performed.

In reality, our knowledge or acceptance or belief of a fact has no bearing on the reality of that situation. There have been many people over the last 4 years in America that have “rejected” in their own mind that Donald Trump is their President. Does their refusal to accept or believe this fact have any bearing on his legal standing or the fact that he is actually their President? No, of course not. Now, that Joe Biden is the President-elect, there are people on the other end of the political spectrum who vehemently declare “he’s not my President”. Well, does their “rejection” of believing that Joe Biden is now their President have any bearing on his legal authority to impose laws on them as their President? Clearly not. Now, consider there are many little children who are not old enough to even know cognitively who the President is. They have no knowledge of who the President is, but they are still under the legal authority of their President. This simple example can clearly show that neither your rejection nor your ignorance of a fact has no bearing on the validity of that fact.

In Christianity, for some reason, the majority of denominations hold that you have to believe something to cause it to occur or cause it to be true. Does your belief today “back date” your name in salvation to the cross of Calvary after you confess Jesus? No, that doesn’t make sense. Clearly, if you believe something, what you believe in already has to be a true event and fact for you to believe it. Otherwise, it’s just a hypothetical or fictitious event and you’re believing a falsehood. Therefore, when we believe in the fact that Jesus gave eternal life to all his people on cross, that does not make one eternally saved at that moment; we simply now know and believe what has been true all along. There are many children of God that may never know or might not even accept the truth that Jesus finished the work of salvation on the cross independent of their belief in that fact. But that has no bearing on the validity of the eternal salvation that Jesus finished on the cross. Even if a child of God is never blessed with the knowledge of the gospel to have the ability to believe in Jesus Christ for his eternal salvation, that has no bearing on the fact that every one of God’s children was saved from their sins on the cross and every one of them will be with God in heaven. The knowledge of what Jesus has done for us in the gospel is a great blessing in our lives today. When we hear the good news that Jesus has perfectly finished the work of salvation if we believe that fact it gives us comfort and peace in our soul.

“9) Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, 10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality TO LIGHT through the gospel:” (2 Tim. 1:9-10 KJV) Here we see the correct delineation of our eternal salvation is that solely by God’s grace in Christ Jesus, not by our works (v.9), and then our knowledge of that fact in the gospel (v.10). God has already saved us by his grace and Jesus finished the work of salvation on the cross (v.9). We have already been given “life and immortality” through the finished work of Jesus Christ. But now, the life and immortality that we “already have” through Jesus Christ, the gospel brings those facts “to light” through the gospel. The gospel shines light to give us illumination and vision to see what Jesus has already done for us on the cross. Light does not create anything; it just gives illumination and vision so we can see what is already there. The gospel does not “offer life and immortality” to the believer. Instead, the gospel gives “light” and vision to God’s people of what Jesus has already done for them by his finished work on the cross.

A belief in a “works salvation” (I have to pray, believe, be baptized, etc. to be saved to heaven) can be a great burden to the sinner’s soul. The gospel is intended to give peace and liberation and comfort to the troubled soul by the knowledge of what Jesus has already done for them on the cross. In Acts 15, we see some 1st-century Judiazers who were trying to place certain works as the conditions of salvation. In that day, in the aftermath of Judaism, they were saying the works required for eternal salvation were circumcision and even keeping the whole law. When this “works salvation addendum” was trying to be added to Jesus’ work on the cross, the matter was presented to the apostles, and they affirmed salvation by sovereign grace alone. “10) Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? 11) But we believe that through the GRACE of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.”  (Acts 15:10-11 KJV) A works salvation, in whatever form it takes (circumcision or the law; or even prayer, belief, or baptism) is always a “yoke upon the neck of the disciples” which we were never intended to bear. This is an “ox’s yoke” that was put around an oxen’s neck for plowing fields. Why would any man be wearing a big, heavy, cumbersome, ox’s yoke around a man’s neck? It’s evident that an ox’s yoke shouldn’t be around a man’s neck, and that yoke will only cause burden and pain and anguish for that man. Therefore, the apostles tell the “works salvation proponents” that it is “tempting God” (notice the severity of this accusation) to place any conditions on eternal salvation to be met by the sinner. No, the apostles affirmed that salvation is solely by grace and solely by the finished work of salvation on the cross.

“And ye shall know the truth, and THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE.” (John 8:32) There is liberty and “freedom” in the truth of the finished work of salvation in Jesus Christ. The truth of the gospel will provide comfort for the sin-sick child of God, knowing that “Jesus paid it all; All to him I owe; Sin had left a crimson stain; He washed it white as snow.” When we know and believe that Jesus has already finished the work of redemption, perfected us forever, healed us of sins, and ended our warfare, it gives us comfort to rest from our own works to try to “do enough” so we can go to heaven. Instead, we rest in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross as our only means and hope of salvation. Then, we feel the freedom of that “works salvation ox’s yoke” being lifted off our neck, and we have movement, liberty, and freedom without the bondage of a works salvation weighing us down. If this message of the finished work of salvation by Jesus Christ resonates in your heart, you ought to believe in Jesus and have peace and comfort in your soul. But just remember that your belief is not the means of your eternal life, but the gospel has simply brought to light and allowed you to see the completed fact of your eternal salvation solely by Jesus Christ on the cross. Therefore, God forbid that we should glory save in the cross of Christ Jesus our Lord for our finished work of eternal salvation. “He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord” (1 Cor. 1:31).


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