Christ’s Finished Work: Victory

Sometimes in Christian funerals, we hear mourners say, “He lost the battle to cancer (or whatever other disease or condition), but he fought bravely.” While this is a fact, the truth is more like, “Though he lost his life to cancer, he won the victory over death through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Victory, in the Old Testament, is the act of defeating an enemy or opponent in battle. It is the same in the New Testament except that the enemy is not flesh and blood as it often was in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, the enemy defeated is death. 

Death visited humankind with the disobedience of Adam. God the Creator had told Adam and Eve, in effect, “The day you disobey, death will be part of your life experience”. Both physical death, and spiritual death, which is separation from a loving relationship with God. Death became the hated and feared enemy of man. God too treats death as an enemy to battle with. 

It was the death and resurrection of Jesus that was the decisive battle that defeated death. Jesus became the first to be raised from the dead to live forever. When Jesus returns, all who believe in Jesus will be raised to life, and believers living during his return, will have their bodies transformed into spiritual bodies(1 Cor 15:51-52), and be taken up to meet him in the air, to join thousands of other followers who had died in Christ before his return .

1 Cor 15:54, 55 states: “When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: 

‘Death is swallowed up in victory. 

O death, where is your victory?

O death, where is your sting?’”

1 Cor 15:57 states: “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

In the Old Testament death was pictured as a huge greedy mouth swallowing the dead but the picture St Paul conjured is of death itself being swallowed up by the victory of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Because God raised Christ, he will also in time, raise all who put their trust in Jesus Christ. Death is already defeated but the consummation of this victory awaits Jesus return. Death, the enemy most feared by the human race: both rich and poor, educated and illiterate, powerful and lowly, will finally be eradicated and destroyed once for all when Jesus returns. Death will be swallowed forever never to re-appear. Thanks be to God for the finished work of Christ.

This is part of a planned series of writings on the topic, “The A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”. I am writing it alphabet by alphabet. Thus far the others that I have written can be found HERE.

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Christ’s Finished Work: Unity

The world is experiencing great divisions, polarisation and tribalism. People are no longer listening to each other, not trying to understand each other’s position. They hold rigidly to whatever they believe in and they refuse to budge. The vocal ones are usually deeply entrenched in their opinions and beliefs. They are even willing to cancel out others who disagree with them. The need for unity in diversity is never greater than in today’s divided world.

The New testament church faced similar tensions in their congregations because both Jews and Gentiles have come to know Jesus Christ and find themselves in the same congregation. Their disagreements and disputes in theology, practices and expectations caused tension and disunity. 

St. Paul pointed to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the solution to divisions in the church. “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were  far off (the Gentile believers) have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one (conflicting Jewish and Gentile converts) and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility”(Eph 2:13-16 ESV). The walls of hostility and division between believers of Jewish and Gentile backgrounds have been demolished by the power of the finished work of Christ. And so too all other divisions caused by differences in gender, status, beliefs, nationality, race or language. God wants to form a vast community of people in Christ who love each other with a love that covers the cracks of divisions.

Therefore we should be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace”(Eph 4:3). This unity was purchased and founded on the reconciling death of Christ. Maintaining unity is hard work and all believers must strive to do their part. It is worth the effort because unity is highly valued by God. It was so valuable he gave his only Son so that the gift of unity, a unity that first resided in the triune God may be established in the Body of Christ.

This is part of a planned series of writings on the topic, “The A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”. I am writing it alphabet by alphabet. Thus far the others that I have written can be found HERE.

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Christ’s Finished Work: Triumph

What is triumph? A great victory or achievement. A second definition is “the processional entry of a victorious general into ancient Rome”. The latter definition was exactly what St Paul had in mind when he wrote to the Christ-followers in Colossae: “And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15 NIV). It was obvious that he was using an analogy that the first century recipients of the letter would have understood: the triumphant processional entry of a victorious Roman general into the city of Rome after a successful conquest over some faraway country. As he enters in triumph and grandeur with his legion, to the adulation of thousands of people, he would have in the procession the chained, disarmed and defeated generals and rulers of the defeated country. They would be openly shamed and humiliated, while the glory of Rome and the victorious general would be magnified and celebrated. 

What then, in Paul’s mind, were these “powers and authorities”? To him they were the spiritual enemies of God: Satan and his lieutenants. They had been defeated “by the cross”: by Jesus’ death and resurrection. Satan had been stripped of his most potent armament. He has been disarmed of lethal weapons. The kilotons of power (sin and death) that Satan had over human beings have been nullified by the megatons power of the cross. Now all he can do is to deceive and influence people (including Christians) to believe his lies instead of being freed by God’s truth. In the end, Christ triumph will be manifested for all to see, and every knee that has now bowed shall bow before him.

As followers of Christ we can share and participate in this triumph over the enemy. We no longer need to fear the two weapons of the spiritual forces of darkness. We declare by faith that sin’s power has been nullified. “The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 John 3:18 NIV). The devil tempts us into sin like he did with Adam and Eve, but Jesus has disarmed him of this weapon through the forgiveness of sins, and through setting us free from the power of sin in our life. This is vital triumph.

His other weapon is death, and Jesus broke its power and freed all believers from the fear of death. “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death- that is the devil” (Hebrews 2:14 NIV). The resurrection of Christ is both proof and promise that God will also raise all followers of Christ to a resurrection of life when Jesus returns. This is triumph – beautifully poetic, powerfully effective, complete and final. All because of the finished work of Christ! Praise God!

This is part of a planned series of writings on the topic, “The A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”. I am writing it alphabet by alphabet. Thus far the others that I have written can be found HERE.

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Christ’s Finished Work: Salvation

For most Christians, the word “salvation” means the salvation of the soul from the wrath of God through the death and resurrection of Christ. However, with a careful reading of Scriptures we find that it is used of other things as well, such as being saved from physical drowning (Acts 27:31, Hebrews 11:7). We also discover that salvation has different shades of meaning depending on the context. 

First, it can mean salvation from the penalty of sin, referring to God’s once-for-all deliverance of believers from spiritual death, which is eternal separation from God (Rom 6:23). Christ’s finished work accomplished this deliverance from God’s wrath. “Since therefore we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God” (Romans 5:9). Thus, all believers in Christ have been saved. It refers to a past action.

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Christ’s Finished Work: Refreshing and Restoration

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:19-21).

An astounding miracle had happened at the Temple: a man lame from birth was healed and was walking, jumping and praising God. Crowds gathered around Peter and John who was used by God to heal the man. Peter seized the opportunity to declare that the Jesus they crucified has been raised from the dead, and it was not they, but this risen Jesus who healed the lame man. Peter than said these promises: If they would repent and believe in Jesus, their sins will be forgiven and wiped off completely like whiteboard ink. He also promised two more things that would be theirs if they responded to Christ’s finished work: first, times of refreshing; and second, the restoration of all things promised by the prophets of old. 

The latter blessing of the restoration of all things is in the future. It is set by God: “until the time comes”, the risen Jesus will remain in heaven. When the time comes, Jesus will return, and the promise of the restoration of the manifest, realized rule of the kingdom of God upon a new heaven and new earth will be fulfilled. All that the old testament prophets prophesied of the future kingdom will be actualized. God’s plan to unify all things in Christ, where things in heaven and things on earth unite (Eph 1:10) would be firmly established. Not only will the sons and daughters of God obtain the freedom and glory of the children of God, so will the whole of creation be set free from its bondage to corruption and futility (Romans 8:20-23). This blessing is made possible for the redeemed because of the finished work of Christ.

The former blessing is “that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” between the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost till the Day of the Lord Jesus return. The believers experienced a time of refreshing in the presence of God, but Peter prophesied that there would be more such “times” and seasons throughout the last days and all over the world where people repent and believe in the good news of God’s love and grace. In fact such times of refreshing would be a necessity for they are the empowering and sanctifying beauty treatment for the Bride to be ready to wed the Bridegroom. Until the Bride (comprising Gentiles and Jews who believe in Jesus) is ready, heaven will still retain Jesus. God’s time is contingent upon the Bride’s readiness not only in empowerment and sanctification, but also in the salvation of souls through the proclamation of the Gospel to all the peoples of the earth before the end comes(Matt 24:14).

This is part of a planned series of writings on the topic, “The A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work”. I am writing it alphabet by alphabet. Thus far the others that I have written can be found HERE.

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