Religion says “do” the Gospel says “done!” At the heart of the gospel you will find the final cry of Jesus on the cross: “It is finished.”
Τετέλεσται, in Greek, meaning: it is finished, paid in full; accomplished fully.
In this one statement, Jesus sums up the whole scope of the Christian message. In this one statement, Jesus triumphantly declares His victory over sin and death. It is finished! Christ Jesus has taken up our cause, undoing our fallen condition, and bringing us back home to the embrace of His Father!
It is Finished!
We are saved by grace, not works. Everyone knows that. But what about after salvation? Is the Christian life a life lived by grace, or by efforts?
The Gospel tells us. We are not only saved by grace, we live our whole Christian life by grace! There is not a moment of our existence that is not upheld, perfected, or completed by anything other than grace. It’s all grace!
Sadly, most of the church is unaware of this fact. I know this first hand from my own life. I grew up living in an endless cycle of works. While I had known that I am saved by grace, I thought the rest was up to me. Wasn’t it my job to keep myself from backsliding, pursue a relationship with God, and try not to sin?
When I was in high school I would wake up every morning, sometimes as early as 4:30am, in order to spend my “devotional” times with God. If I didn’t wake up, or if I slept through my bible reading, I would spend the rest of the day beating myself up, feeling guilty for how I’d fallen.
I felt like it was my job to sustain my relationship with God. I knew that I was saved by grace, but the rest was up to me. My Christianity was about my self-efforts, not about Jesus.
When I discovered the good news that “it is finished,” it was like shock therapy! My works-based relationship with Jesus could no longer stand in the light of this newfound grace.
Grace means freedom from performance! Grace means that His performance in my name and on my behalf is more important than my striving. 1
I will admit, it’s easy for me to fall back into a routine of self-efforts. My goal in life is to daily learn grace: that I may grow in trust, relying fully on Jesus to help me in my daily life.
Grace means Jesus is central. Grace means that my relationship with God is no longer about me. Grace means that in Christ we have a finished work, a completed covenant, given as a free gift to enjoy.
Your performance is overrated! What you do does matter, but not nearly as much as what Christ has done for you, in your place.
It’s important as we learn to walk in grace that we learn to walk the fine line between performing for God, and performing with God. On the one hand, you have striving to earn something from God, while on the other hand, you enjoy co-labouring with God. 2
At the end of the day, no matter how successful you are: you remain unconditionally loved, and upheld by grace. Jesus Christ is the “Author and Perfecter of your faith” the “Begin and End, the Alpha and Omega.” 3
“It is finished” > Your performance
What do you think? How do you live the life of grace in the midst of a world of performance? Let me know, comment bellow!
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- Which is not to say that efforts are not important—I work hard to achieve my dreams!—but that grace takes precedence over my efforts. Ultimately, His efforts, His accomplished work, His grace, matters way more than my self-efforts, hard work, and striving. ↩
- See 1 Cor. 3:9 ↩
- Heb. 12:2 and Rev. 22:13 ↩