The True Meaning of the Last Words of Jesus Christ on the Cross “It Is Finished”
That Sunday morning was just like any other as I opened my Bible and began my spiritual devotions, when I then saw Hebrews 9:28 that said: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation.” Thinking about it carefully, I couldn’t help but feel confused. “That can’t be,” I thought. “Didn’t the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ upon the cross mean that God’s work to save man was totally finished? When the Lord returns, we can immediately enter heaven and will feast with the Lord, so how come this says that the Lord Jesus will appear again to save man when He returns? What on earth does it all mean?”
The more I thought about it, the more doubtful my heart became … “This won’t do! I must find someone to fellowship this with,” I thought. Just then, I thought of my co-worker from the church, Sister Xiao Xue. We usually discussed the Bible together, and it just so happened that Sister Xiao Xue had just returned from attending a gathering elsewhere, and there was nothing she couldn’t help me to seek.
I went to Xiao Xue’s home, and when I saw that both Sister Xiao Xue and her husband Brother Xu were at home, I blurted out my question: “I am confused about something that I’d like to talk with you about. We all know that the Lord Jesus said “It is finished” when He was upon the cross. This meant that God’s work to save man was over, and as long as we believed in Jesus, then the Lord would no longer regard us as sinful, and when He returns, we will immediately be raised up into heaven. And yet it says in Hebrews 9:28: “So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation.” This says that God will appear again in the last days to perform His work to save us. How do you understand this?”
Xiao Xue smiled and said, “This question you ask just so happens to be one that I’ve been discussing with brothers and sisters on my trip away, and after a few days of fellowship, we finally came to a conclusion. In actual fact, when the Lord Jesus said ‘It is finished’ upon the cross, He didn’t mean that God’s work to save mankind was completely finished, for He had previously prophesied: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). ‘And if any man hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects Me, and receives not My words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:47–48). ‘He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches’ (Revelation 2–3). The Lord has already told us clearly that when He returns in the last days, He shall express the truth to the churches, tell us many mysteries and also perform the work of judgment. God is faithful, and everything that God has said shall come to pass.”
I contemplated Xiao Xue’s fellowship, and I thought, “Yes! God is faithful, and seeing as the Lord Jesus prophesied that He shall utter more words and perform more work in the future, then that must surely come to pass.”
Brother Xu continued, saying, “Yes, the Lord’s words can never just come to nothing. Moreover, we should also be aware that when the Lord Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ He meant that God’s work to redeem mankind was finished and that man would no longer be put to death by the law. Thinking back to the end of the Age of Law, mankind was being corrupted deeper and deeper by Satan, they were no longer capable of observing the law and were in constant danger of being put to death by the law. In order to save man, God incarnated in the form of the Lord Jesus and preached the gospel, healed the sick and cast out demons wherever He went. He performed many miracles and was ultimately nailed to the cross to redeem man from sin. Therefore, when the Lord Jesus said, ‘It is finished,’ He meant that as long as all those who accept His salvation confess their sins to Him and repent, then their sins shall be forgiven, they shall enjoy the grace He bestows, and they shall no longer be condemned and put to death by the law.
After listening to his fellowship, I suddenly saw the light, and said, “Brother Xu, your fellowship has made me understand. The Lord saying ‘It is finished’ actually meant that God’s work of redemption was finished, and that as long as we trusted in the Lord and confessed and repented, then our sins could be forgiven, and we would not be put to death by the law.”
Sister Xiao Xue then said, “Thank the Lord, it’s really great that you can come to this understanding. The Lord Jesus acted as a sin offering for man and He redeemed man from sin and forgave man his sins. This was the mercy of God, but it did not mean that we were then free of sin, because our sinful nature still remained deeply rooted within us, and we were still capable of being frequently subject to the bonds of our sinful nature and committing sin and defying God. After we believe in the Lord, for example, although we no longer commit obvious sins and we may appear to behave quite well on the outside, we still frequently lie and cheat others in life in order to protect our self-regard and our personal interests; when we encounter issues, greed and wicked thoughts can still arise in our hearts; in our interactions with other people, we can still belittle them and exclude them, to the point where we even put them in their place and rule over them. In particular, when our families encounter natural or man-made disasters, we can still complain, so much so that we can become negative and weak, and we shun and betray God. And then there are some who, after they begin believing in the Lord, still continue to follow the trends of the world, seeking wealth and fame and fortune. Such facts as these prove that our sinful nature has not been completely extirpated, and people who often sin in this way are still unable to enter the heavenly kingdom. Therefore, Hebrews 9:28 says: ‘So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and to them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin to salvation.’ It is therefore evident that God will appear again in the last days to save us.”
After listening to Xiao Xue and Xiao Xu, I was filled with emotion, and said, “Your fellowships have made me think of God’s words: ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, Whoever commits sin is the servant of sin. And the servant stays not in the house for ever: but the Son stays ever’ (John 8:34–35). ‘You shall be holy; for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:44). God is holy, and He surely will not permit filthy people to enter into His kingdom. Although our sins are now forgiven, we still live lives whereby we sin and then repent every day and we are still the servants of sin. We certainly aren’t qualified to enter into heaven, and so we still need God’s salvation!”
Xiao Xue smiled and said, “Yes indeed. We still live in a cycle of sinning and confessing, and we can’t yet enter into God’s kingdom. Therefore, when the Lord returns in the last days, He still needs to utter His words, express the truth and perform the work of judging and purifying man. The Lord Jesus has told us: ‘And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom comes; go you out to meet him’ (Matthew 25:6). Revelation 3:20 says, ‘Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me.’ All the prophecies in the Bible about the Lord’s return have basically all been fulfilled, and now is precisely the most crucial time when we will welcome the Lord. Only by being like the wise virgins and taking heed to listen to the Lord’s voice can we welcome the Lord and obtain the salvation of God who appears in the last days.”
After listening to Xiao Xue’s fellowship, I felt this information to be so important to me! When someone preaches that the Lord Jesus has returned and that He is expressing the truth and performing new work, then we must take the initiative to seek and study this way and know how to hear God’s voice like the wise virgins, and then we will be sure to welcome the Lord.
» Read more on our Knowing Jesus Christ page, or click on the related articles below:
• True Meaning of Jesus Saying “It Is Finished” on the Cross
• Does Forgiveness of Sins Mean Being Purified: How Can We Escape Sin?
• Can Believers Absolved of Sins Enter the Kingdom of Heaven?