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“It Is Finished!”

The last words of a dying soul often tend to be heavy with meaning, weighted with such great significance in their heartfelt genuineness. Especially without the heavy sedation compassionately given by modern day hospice care, these last words picture for us a glimpse into the soul—a view of unobstructed insight into the most important matters of the heart as one awaits their final breath.

Stories are told of the torment of souls as they stand at deaths door not knowing what will meet them on the other side. With gut wrenching agony loved ones have watched them fight the inevitable slide into eternity. But there are also stories told of triumphant songs sung by souls prepared for what lays before them. Souls who willingly and joyfully step into glory with great anticipation and expectation knowing that their Savior awaits them with open arms. With sorrow they leave their loved ones behind but with great joy they look forward to the welcome embrace of their loving Shepherd.

It is the last words of this loving Shepherd that have arrested my thoughts in anticipation of the services of remembrance and celebration that lay before me. With pen in hand, and the unfamiliar sound of silence in my ears, I sit with an open Bible before me pondering His triumphant last words, “It is finished!” The apostle John records these last words of triumph (John 19:30). Words filled with meaning that plumb the unfathomable depths of life, love, and sacrifice of the Son of God.

Approaching this glorious time of the year my mind is flooded with thoughts as I ponder the steps of a Man who undeservedly walked a path and carried a cross that was not His own. A man who carried the weight of the world upon His bloodied back; a man who wore a crown fit not even the worst of kings let alone the King of Kings. He walked my path; He carried my cross; He wore my crown; He bore my sin with each step on His way to Mount Calvary to lay down His life on a cross made for me.

The passage that lays open before me is Isaiah 52:13-53:12 where it speaks of the “Man of sorrows” long before this undeserving world laid its eyes upon the “Word made flesh.” As we allow the Gospels to shed light upon these words of prophecy we see a bruised and broken Man whose “visage was so marred more than any man” yet robed with love and grace, with gentleness and humility as He endured the shame and disgrace that my sin demanded of me. It is in my place that I see Christ walk. It is in my place that I see Him die. It is in my place I see His love on full display unlike the world has ever seen. Such grace so undeserved yet so abundant and free.

Isaiah’s words are rich with theology and meaning. Each time I read through this passage I come to rest on verses 4-6, personalizing it as I read,  “Surely He hath borne [my] griefs, and carried [my] sorrows: yet [I] did esteem Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for [my] transgressions, He was bruised for [my] iniquities: the chastisement [for my] peace was upon Him; and with His stripes [I am] healed. Like [a] sheep [I] have gone astray; [I] have turned to [my] own way; and the LORD hath laid on [Jesus Christ all my] iniquity.”

These words cut to my heart to think of the consequence of my sin, my selfishness, demanding my own way. The flood of emotions rush into my heart as at times my eyes begin to overflow. What sadness and heartache to consider the suffering that my Savior chose to endure because He knew that I would choose my “own way” instead of His good and righteous way. My “own way” is the way of sin.

God tells us the consequence of sin is death(Romans 6:23). This death speaks of separation from God. If I would have continued my “own way” I would have been separated from God for all eternity. The reality is that God provided a way by giving His Son. The consequence of my sin brought about death as God sent His Son to die in my place as my substitute. “For [the Father] hath made [Jesus] to be sin for us, Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). The hymn writer, Charles Wesley so aptly put it:

“And can it be that I should gain an interest in the Savior’s blood?

Died He for me who caused His pain? For me who Him to death pursued?

 Amazing love! How can it be that Thou my God shouldst die for me?”

God’s love is nowhere on display more greater than on the cross of Calvary. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him.  Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation [the atoning sacrifice] for our sins” (1 John 4:9-10).

With great sadness I see the suffering my Savior endured in order to show His love for me. Yet it is also with great joy that I hear Him say, “It is finished!” Just before Christ breathed His last breath upon the cross He stated a single Greek word, “tetelestai,” which is translated, “It is finished!” It was a statement of triumph overflowing with rich meaning. What is so profound about this statement? What is finished?

This word, “tetelestai,” was used in everyday life back in Biblical times. It was used by a priest as he would examine a lamb brought for sacrifice and found it to be faultless. Jesus Christ was the perfect Lamb of God who was without spot or blemish. It was also used by merchants who would declare that a debt was “paid in full.”

The work that the Father had given Christ to do was now complete—it was finished. While hanging on cross, looking like a defeated victim, He celebrates victory—the greatest triumph in the history of all of God’s creation. With His death He paid our debt of sin in full. He bought our salvation with His blood—with His life. He had fulfilled every requirement that the law had required on the behalf of sinners. Christ’s atoning work was complete thus satisfying the justice of God.

You cannot add to a finished work. Someone once approached the great evangelist D. L. Moody and asked him, “Mr. Moody, what must I do to be saved?” He said, “I’m sorry, sir, you are too late. As a matter of fact, you are hundreds of years too late. All the doing has been done!”

Consider this Gift that has been given. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23). As with any gift, in order to enjoy it you must first believe that it is for you and then simply receive it as your own. The same is true for God’s Gift of eternal life—the gift of His Son. God made provision for the penalty of our sin but until we believe and receive this Gift it cannot take effect in our lives. The decision is left up each of us. In order to enjoy this gift the Bible tells us, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved” (Romans 10:9-10, 13).

Do  you see what Jesus did for you? Do you see His great loving sacrifice to provide for you the greatest gift anyone can ever receive? Do you see that “It is finished”?

During this Easter season my prayer is that you too would sorrow in what Jesus went through for you but that you would also rejoice in what He accomplished for you. “It is finished!” Your ransom has been paid in full as the Gift of eternal life is set before you. The decision is yours—choose life!

It is finished!”—the work is done! Simply believe it to be true and receive it on your behalf. Then with great joy you can sing:

“Man of sorrows!” what a name for the Son of God who came,

Ruined sinners to reclaim! Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood,

Sealed my pardon with His blood; Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Guilty, vile, and helpless we, spotless Lamb of God was He;

Full atonement! Can it be? Hallelujah, what a Savior!

Lifted up was He to die, ‘It is finished’ was His cry;

Now in heaven exalted high, Hallelujah, what a Savior!

When He comes, our glorious King, all His ransomed home to bring,

Then anew this song we‘ll sing, Hallelujah, what a Savior![i]

What will your experience be when death comes knocking? Will you with great joy look forward to the loving embrace of your Savior? Or are you unsure of what will meet you on the other side?

“Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

For more information please consider reading the article, “How do I get to Heaven?” or you can also write me at pastor@pibcny.com.

[i] Philip P. Bliss, “Hallelujah! What a Savior”

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Do You See the CROSS?

It is quite interesting to look out upon God’s awesome creation and see reminders of the CROSS—an amazing demonstration of the love of God in sending His one and only Son to pay the penalty of sin upon the CROSS. The Bible tells us that “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth [proclaims] His handywork” (Psalm 19:1). The created world in which we live is evidence that there is a God who made it all and reminds us of Himself by what we see.

Take a moment and look at the picture above and see the light of the sun casting its rays east and west and upon the waters below. Do you see the CROSS? The image of a CROSS is unmistakable. This picture is an illustration of the SON of God as the “Light of the world” humbling Himself so as to cast the rays of His light into the hearts of those who by faith trust Him as Lord and Savior.

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). This light is for all; from the east to the west and from the north to the south as it emanates from Himself on the CROSS upon which He died. And it was from that CROSS that He was buried and three days later He rose from the grave, victorious over death.

In this world, the CROSS is an instrument of cruel death—a very dark reality. But for those who place their faith and trust in Christ Jesus, the CROSS is a picture of life and light. It is upon this cruel instrument of death that our Savior died in our place taking away our penalty of sin and in turn giving us the gift of eternal life.

How do you see the CROSS? Is it just a religious symbol that Christians get all worked up over? Or is it a picture of God’s gift of eternal life and light to you?

If you see it is just a religious symbol, won’t you consider what the Bible says about how much God loves you. How sent His Son to die upon that CROSS to take your penalty of sin upon Himself? The Bible tells us, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Why was this necessary? “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) and “The wages of [this] sin is death; BUT the gift of God is eternal life” (Romans 6:23). We earn the payment of death because we all have sinned.  This death speaks not only of physical death but also of eternal death in the torments of hell being separated from the holy God for eternity.

So what can be done? The answer is simply, nothing! The reality is that payment has been made for you and me—Christ has DONE it all upon the CROSS. We must simply respond by faith trusting in Him to be the only way of salvation. We cannot save ourselves. The Bible tells us, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that NOT of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). In Romans 10:13 we further read, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Please think about these words and consider their eternal ramifications.

If, on the other hand, you see it as a picture of God’s gift of life and light to you then “Let your light [the light of Christ in you] so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). We have such a privilege of living as lights in this dark world. Be a light that reflects Christ and encourages others to step into the light by trusting Christ as their Savior.

As you walk through this life, look for reminders of God’s love in the form of a CROSS. Let it encourage you as gaze upon the light of the SON until it begins to glow in you.

For more information about having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ please read this article here.

Have It Your Way??

Pragmatism has been defined this way, “if it works it is true, if it succeeds it is good.” Unfortunately, this is the moral compass that drives much of our society. In the end the basis for truth is our own determination of whether or not we think it works. The reality is that this kind of thinking leads to a fluid moral system—“What’s right for you is not necessarily right for me.” Where does this lead us—where has this led us?

The simple truth is that we live in a generation of this “my way” kind of thinking. The popular slogan of a popular fast food chain saying, “Have it your way” catered to this “my way” generation. The sad reality is that this “my way” mentality is not new. Frankly it has been in the minds of every soul that have walked the face of this earth since the beginning of time. Where does it lead us—what does it get us in the end?

Consider what the Bible says about this “my way” mentality; “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

The Bible is clear about this “my way” mentality and what that leads to. “My way” is not “God’s way.” My way is selfish and self-serving. It is rooted in pride and self-glory. It seeks what is best for self and we are enticed by what “my way” can bring me, but when it is fully realized, the Bible says that it results in death.

James puts it this way; “But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his OWN lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.” (James 1:14-15)

In context, this “lust” is sin.  The natural progression of giving into temptation due to one’s own lustful desires will eventually end in death if left unchecked.  The biological imagery is very vivid and familiar.  As a person gives into temptation, sin is conceived.  It grows internally for a period of time before it manifests itself, eventually in the form of death.

Death is separation.  Physical death is the separation of the body and soul. Spiritual death is the separation that exists between a soul and God while physically alive. Eternal death is the separation that exists between God and a soul who died in the state of spiritual death.

My way” brings death which separates us from God. Back in the beginning, Adam and Eve went “my way.” They sought the way that “seemed right” to them but ultimately ended in death as their sin separated them from God.

The ultimate death that results from “my own way” is the death of the Son of God. I needed Him to die in my place because I decided that “my way” was best. “My way” is against God’s way. The prophet Isaiah put it this way; “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his OWN WAY; and the LORD hath laid on Him [The Messiah] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

Sin separates us from God BUT salvation reconciles us to God. Through faith in the death and resurrection of the Son of God in my place I can be forever reconciled to God because this is not “my way” but “God’s way.” Jesus said, I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me.” (John 14:6)

Consider the amazing love of God in sending His Son to die in our place. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son [Jesus], that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

“BUT God, Who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us [to make us alive] together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come He might shew the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Ephesians 2:4-7)

What a sad reality but also what a glorious truth! The sad reality is that my choosing “my way” resulted in the death of the Son of God as well as the death of many souls who die going their own way because they lived a life separated from God. The glorious truth is that God’s Son willingly died in our place, so that we would not have to experience the “death” that “my way” requires—we do not have to experience separation from God in this life and for all eternity. Is there a greater truth than this?!?

 

 

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Easter Services

HAVE YOU CONSIDERED THE CROSS AND ALL OF ITS GLORY?

“But God forbid that I should glory [boast], save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” (Galatians 6:14)

The cross, an instrument of death—glory?! These seem to oppose each other. But consider the glory of the cross as God sent His only begotten Son to pay the penalty of death that sin brought upon every living soul. It was on the cross that Christ bore our sins in His own body, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose [Christ’s] stripes [we] are healed” (1 Peter 2:24).

So again I ask, “Have you considered the CROSS and all of its GLORY?” If not, come and join us! If you have, come and join us as we celebrate the death of our Savior—His death that brought us life. Come join us and see the CROSS, but then come back and see the EMPTY tomb.

“O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55 & 57)

The reality is that Christ Jesus is RISEN, “Just as He said” He would. Christ’s words were true and His WORD is still just as true.

Easter Services:

  • Good Friday – 7 pm
  • SON Rise – 7:30 am
  • Fellowship Breakfast – 8:30 am
  • Sunday School – 10 am
  • Resurrection Sunday Worship – 11 am