THE ‘UNFINISHED’ WORK OF CHRIST
What the Saviour Continues to Do
‘The Finished Work of Christ’ is one of the dearest doctrines of all to Protestants. This doctrine teaches and proclaims that when Christ died on the cross, He did everything necessary to save us eternally. Nothing can be added to Christ’s perfect sacrifice, and nothing can be taken away from it. His death has procured our eternal salvation if our faith is in Him. ‘When Jesus therefore received the vinegar, He said, ‘It is finished’: and He bowed his head, and gave up the ghost’ (John 19:30). ‘But this Man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God’ (Hebrews 10:12).
Whilst the above is blessedly and eternally true - it is the literal ‘Gospel Truth’ - it is also true to say that the Bible teaches ‘The Unfinished Work of Christ’, that is, what the Lord Jesus is currently doing for His people. It is a paradox, but the Bible teaches that Christ’s saving Work is both an accomplished work and an on-going work, and it will be so until all of God’s people will have been saved to sin no more. According to the Bible, there are at least four facets to the continuing work of Christ:-
1. Christ is currently drawing sinners
A continuing work of Christ is that of drawing sinners effectually to Himself. In John 12:32 Jesus stated ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.’ For Christ’s work at Calvary in the past to be effective and actual in an individual’s life in the present, it has to be applied to the human soul. Christ today, by His Holy Spirit, is drawing sinners to Himself, convicting them of their sin and lost plight, and bestowing on them saving faith in Him. The Shorter Catechism states ‘Effectual calling is the work of God’s Spirit whereby, convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of God and renewing our will, He doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the Gospel.’ It’s as true to define a Christian as one who has been drawn to Christ by Christ, as it is to define a Christian as one who is justified by faith, redeemed by the blood or saved by grace. Peter’s full-orbed definition of a Christian is that a Christian is ‘Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ’ (1 Peter 1:2).
2. Christ is currently interceding for sinners
A second work which Christ currently performs is that of intercession. Jesus is praying for His people. This is one aspect of His High Priestly ministry. ‘(He) is even at the right hand of God, Who also maketh intercession for us’ (Romans 8:34). ‘Wherefore He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them’ (Hebrews 7:25). The best definition I have come across concerning Christ’s on-going intercession for His Own is this one:-
‘Christ’s intercession (is) that heavenly activity … whereby He makes sure that all who come to God through Him, pleading His name, trusting Him for forgiveness, access, grace to help in time of need, and ultimate glory, will not be disappointed … it is certainly and infallibly efficacious’ (God’s Words, J Packer, p.118):-
He died; but lives again
And by the throne He stands
There shows how He was slain
Opening His pierced hands
Our Priest abides and pleads the cause
Of us who have transgressed His laws.
3. Christ is currently preserving saved sinners
A third work of Christ which He continues to do is that of preservation. Salvation involves being kept safe. Christ not only saves, but He keeps His Own. If the barriers to our coming to faith in Christ were great - humanly speaking - so are the barriers to our persevering in the Faith: we face a continual battle against the world, the flesh and the Devil, all of which threaten to make shipwreck of us and drive us away from the Saviour. But the Bible teaches that Christ keeps His Own. ‘Jesus is stronger than Satan or sin.’ In John 10:28 Jesus affirms this concerning His Own sheep: ‘I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand.’ The Bible teaches the eternal security of the soul united to Christ. The Christ Who saves us is actually the King of kings. There is no higher authority than His. No natural or supernatural power is a match for Him. It is a no-contest! The Shorter Catechism, in explaining how Christ’s kingship is a facet of His being our Redeemer, states ‘Christ executeth the office of a king in subduing us to Himself, in ruling and defending us, and in restraining and conquering all His and our enemies.’ Christ is infinitely worthy of our confidence and trust and confident trust. He will not let us go. Some of the Apostle Paul’s last recorded words were the confident affirmation: ‘And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto His heavenly kingdom: to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen’ (2 Timothy 4:18). All of God’s children may make his words their own.
4. Christ is currently preparing a glorious home for His people
The fourth and final on-going work of Christ which we shall consider is that of preparing - specifically, preparing a home in heaven for all who belong to Him. Remember those famous words which the Saviour uttered in the Upper Room: ‘In My Father’s house are many mansions (lit. ‘abiding places’): if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you’ (John 14:2). Think of it: ‘I go to prepare a place for you.’ So Christ is currently preparing a place in glory - in God’s house - for all those He died to save. What must that place be like? The Christian’s glorious, eternal home will surely be greater than any mere words can encapsulate …
If you are a Christian then, and your faith is grounded solely on Christ’s finished work of redemption at Calvary, you can also rejoice and take great comfort from His on-going work on your behalf. Christ has some unfinished business! Our Saviour is active for our blessing. He graciously draws sinners to Himself. He intercedes on their behalf, keeping them in the good of His Calvary work. He keeps them from all evil, and, in amazing grace, He is preparing an exquisite home in heaven for them - a home in the Father’s House itself.
Thou art gone up before us Lord
To make for us a place
That we may be where now Thou art
And look upon God’s face
O think of the home over there
By the side of the river of light
Where the saints all immortal and fair
Are robed in their garments of white.
Timothy CrossLast Update: 2013-08-12 16:41