Christ’s Finished Work: Overcoming The World

People never change. Throughout the world people endlessly search for satisfaction and honor through the accumulation and enjoyment of all that the world offers. People accumulate the latest, biggest, desirable and most expensive of objects and they seek all kinds of pleasures, old and new. Despite feeling an emptiness in these pursuits, they assume what they need is more of the same. It all ends in futility: trying to catch the wind.

King Solomon tried everything “under the sun” so as to quench his thirst for satisfaction and honour. He did this by building a formidable armed force and impressive buildings, having a harem of hundreds of wives and concubines, trading with other countries and filling up the royal treasury, displaying his intelligence, knowledge and diplomatic skills, and having the respect of his own people and surrounding nations. Despite all his endeavors to seek fulfillment through these earthly means, instead of finding fulfillment he found a meaninglessness about these empty pursuits. His journey, described for us in Ecclesiastes, a book of the Old Testament, is one shared universally by millions around the world throughout history. Even in this century.

This emptiness of heart cannot be filled by anything but the love of God through Jesus Christ and his finished work! No one can overcome this thirst for satisfaction and honor except through faith in the Son of God, Jesus Christ. This is what the apostle John meant when he said in 1 John5:4,5: “For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world except the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” 

“The world” is of course not creation – the earth and the sky. It is a term that describes the world system of values that spring out of human pride and rebellion against God since the fall. Values like hedonism, materialism and status seeking. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride in possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world” (1 John 2:15-16). This anti-Christ world system seek to press everyone into its mold. The only ones who can overcome this and fight the temptations of this anti-God system is the Christian who has forged a faith relationship with Christ, who by faith has found a deeper satisfaction, honour, and filling up of that emptiness in our hearts with the love of God. 

Experiencing being filled with God’s love through the Holy Spirit, takes away that desperate search for love, honour and satisfaction in all the wrong places. We find our restless hearts rest and are at peace once we dwell in Christ’s love, and in the true Christian community. The crazy pursuit of more possessions, more money, more thrills subsides greatly. Paul expressed it this way: “May I never boast except in the cross of Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and me to the world” (Gal 6:14). Paul’s opponents in Galatia boasted in keeping the Law and sought honour through their obedience to rituals and rules. Paul is saying, This sort of thing no longer satisfies or brings true honour. Rather real satisfaction and honour comes by experiencing the cross and the new life in the Spirit. He does not care for the kind of joy and honour received from external keeping of the Law.

Christians who do not abide in the love of God and instead seek satisfaction and honor outside of Christ will be unhappier than even the people of the world. They have their feet on two boats – they will lose balance, get wet and drawn away by strong currents. They will need to call out in faith on the name of the Lord, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, save me from drowning.” By faith you overcome the anti-God world system. This faith is focused on Christ, who himself overcame the world when he was tempted by Satan in the wilderness, and throughout his ministry. 

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: New Creation

Most Christians would have heard of the term “new creation”. They will first encounter it in 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old have passed away; behold the new has come” (ESV).

When people decide to follow Christ, they will experience a spiritual transformation. Once dead in sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1), they will be made alive towards God. Their hearts of stone will become hearts of flesh. Their conscience will be cleansed, and renewed to a new sensitivity. This immediate and supernatural transformation is the work of the Spirit of God.

The old life of guilt, alienation from God and others have passed away and the new creation has come. They have entered into intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and this relationship is so deep and profound, it is termed “union”. They will realise that they have actually begun a life-long journey of transformation towards the likeness of Christ. 

This renewal is not merely individual, God is interested in forming a vast community of made-new people of all ethnicity, race and languages – a new society or humanity that has broken all barriers of race, gender and status, and that spans time and space. It is the church universal that is God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works so that the unbelieving world would see the grace and majesty and wisdom of God displayed in the church. A new creation indeed!

God’s new creation came to us in power through Christ’s death, resurrection and ascension. Whereas Adam failed by disobedience and his descendants suffered all the consequences, Christ the last Adam, the ideal Adam, succeeded by his perfect obedience to God, and became the first of a new humanity that will live under the abundant blessings of his finished work.  But there is still more. This humanity that will live in union with God forever will inhabit a new earth and heaven.

God also intends to redeem and renew the whole world he created, which has been “subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8: 20- 22)”. This earth was not as God created and intended it to be. It has been corrupted and polluted by the curse and by sin. This subjection of the earth to degradation is described as a groaning in pain like in the pains of childbirth. This wait will end at the “revealing of the sons of God” (verse 19), when the kingdom of God is finally birthed or consummated, at the glorious return of Christ.

I saw Heaven and earth new-created. Gone the first Heaven, gone the first earth, gone the sea. I saw Holy Jerusalem, new-created, descending resplendent out of Heaven, as ready for God as a bride for her husband.I heard a voice thunder from the Throne: “Look! Look! God has moved into the neighbourhood, making his home with men and women! They’re his people, he’s their God. He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” The Enthroned continued, “Look! I’m making everything new. Write it all down—each word dependable and accurate”(Revelation 21:1-5 The Message).

New creation is one of the blessings of Christ’s finished work and it gives us a wonderful hope to look forward to. Besides that it gives us a glimpse of God’s heart of love and his incredible intention for an eternal intimacy with us. This vision of hope will certainly strengthen us to weather the storms of life whether hardships, persecution, suffering, or death.

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: Ministry & Message of Reconciliation

What is the most important ministry of the church? It is the ministry of reconciliation, that God has entrusted the church with. What is the most important message of the church? It is the gospel, the message of reconciliation. What is the most important role of the church? That of being Christ’s ambassador. It is Paul who tells us this in this text 2 Corinthians 5:17-21:

17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 21 God made him who had no sin to be sinfor us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

These entrustments are gifts of God’s grace to the church and the world. These can only exist if Christ died and rose again to be exalted at the right hand of the Father. They are blessings of Christ’s redemptive work. Without the finished work of Christ, there is no ministry of reconciliation, because it was his redemptive work that made sinful man’s reconciliation with God possible. There is no message because the message is the message of the gospel of the finished work, of the beautiful exchange that took place on the cross of Christ (2 Cor 5:21) when Christ took our sins on his own self and bore the penalty of death that was due to us; and in exchange, he gave us his righteousness to us, so that we have right standing before God. 

All persons of the holy trinity were involved in the reconciliation process. The Father initiated the whole redemptive plan. Jesus Christ accomplished reconciliation by his death and resurrection from the dead. The Holy Spirit implements the reconciliation for without his activity and work in the world and through the church, reconciling sinful people to a holy God would be humanly impossible.

These sacred entrustments must be faithfully and diligently pursued and kept by God’s people, because the advancement of the kingdom, the health, growth and survival of the church, and the soon return of Christ are subject upon their faithful discharge.

As followers of Christ and members of the church, we can respond by committing ourselves to seek the reconciliation of sinners to God, by our exemplary lives in the home and workplaces, by our good deeds and kind acts, and by our persuasive sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ. By praying for the lost to know the Lord; by giving towards the church fund so that the church is resourced for outreach and missionary endeavours; and by getting enthusiastically involved in church programs that reaches out to the lost, we faithfully discharge these duties.

Lord Jesus, you came to earth to seek and save that which are lost. Embolden us to follow in your footsteps and engage in reconciling sinful people to God. Give us love to seek, courage to proclaim, and humility to lead people to You. Amen.

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: Love of God

The 1972’s revival, in my limited experience, was a revival of love. It was a crying revival, not a laughing revival (not that I have anything against holy laughter). It was a revival of tears – tears of contrition, and tears from being intensely flooded and overwhelmed by an outpouring of God’s love in the hearts of his children. “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Rom 5:5). This love is first God’s love for us, and in the recipients’ response, becomes their love for God. Revival is a love transfusion to the half-dead.

This love was made available only after Christ has completed his atonement on the cross and was raised from the dead, and ascended to the right hand of the Father. “Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). It is one of the many blessings of Christ’s finished work.

A love that grows

This love that we receive by the Spirit when we begin to follow Jesus is the starter kit. This love is not static. It is dynamic and it can grow richer and deeper or wax cold and fade. St Paul prayed for the church in Ephesus to experience and explore this love in greater measures and dimensions. He wanted the church to “have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with the fullness of God (Eph 3: 18,19). This not a conceptual, cognitive, head knowledge understanding of God’s love, but a love that is experienced in encounters with God, or in simple every day real life, where God’s action and presence is experienced.

A prayer experiment

When I was new to the faith, I prayed almost daily, St Paul’s prayer of Eph 3:14-19 for myself, for more than a month. I remember very intense and deep encounters with the Lord in prayer. I was baptized in God’s love a few times over. It felt like I was been washed and rinsed over and over in the cleansing waters of his presence and love. Why not pray this prayer and ask God for a broadening, heightening, deepening, and lengthening of your experience of his love? This is one prayer that God loves to answer. It will not be the same answer for everyone as it was for me. He knows what kind of experience each of us need. Try praying like this, and after a month, write in the comment box above, what you have experienced.

Transforming love

God’s love has the power to transform lives. Love casts out fear. Yet it constrains us towards discipleship and evangelism. It satisfies us and defines who we are as beloved children of God. We are not defined by what we own or have or possess. We are who we belong to, and who we are loved by. God’s love strips away the burden and yoke of having to meet people’s expectations of us, frees us from insecurities, worldly and fleshly desires and pursuits. It gives us hope and steadies us. I pray you will experience a growing love in these last days when the love of many Christians will grow cold.

Lord, thank you for the love of God that has been poured out in my heart by the Holy Spirit. Help me keep the fires going by gathering together with other believers in authentic relationships and God-honouring worship. Amen.

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: Kingdom of God

I must admit I was stuck here at “K” because the topic of the kingdom of God is immense. What do I include and what do I exclude? The kingdom is one of the greatest blessings resulting from the finished work of Jesus Christ. “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Col 1:13,14). This rescue was accomplished when Jesus died and rose again from the dead. Through his finished work, we are now dwelling and living under the rule, authority and power of King Jesus.

Kingdom future

We Christians are familiar with the Lord’s Prayer. One of the six petitions in this prayer goes like this, “Thy kingdom come”. It expresses a longing for a future, consummated kingdom in which a state of perfect peace, joy and righteousness is established by the rule and authority of Jesus after the complete defeat of sin, Satan, and death. Such a time will come at the end of this present age when heaven will declare: “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign forever and ever” (Rev 11:15). Until then, we expectantly watch for the signs of this impending world changing climax to this present age. Jesus himself said to his disciples about the signs of his return: “Even so, when you see these things happening, you know the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31). The apostle Paul reiterated the message of this future aspect of the kingdom when he told the church in Corinth, “I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Cor 15:50). There is no doubt that there is a future kingdom based on a renovated new heaven and earth: no more sin, Satan, sorrow, suffering, disease, or death. Jesus promised: “Fear not little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:32)

Kingdom now

It may seem puzzling but Jesus and Paul also spoke of a kingdom that is present now. Like a grain of mustard seed, the kingdom had a small beginning and had already established a beach-head on earth in the person of Jesus when he was born in Bethlehem. Once this grown up Jesus was tested by the Pharisees with a hot topic: “When will the kingdom come?” The people were expecting the coming of a political, powerful Messiah to overthrow Rome’s oppressive rule over their country, and establish a new glorious Davidic era. Jesus made it crystal clear to them, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, “Here it is,” or “There it is,” because the kingdom of God is (already) in your midst” (Luke 17:20,21 italics mine). When Jesus walked the holy land and served people with love and power, teaching, preaching and healing the sick and oppressed, the Spirit of God was demonstrating the rule of the kingdom through his words and deeds. Jesus himself once said to people amazed at the authority he had over demonic powers, “If I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of heaven has come to you” (Luke 11:20). When Jesus expressed the righteousness, peace, love and joy and other fruit of the Spirit he was also demonstrating the kingdom power and glory. “For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking, but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17).

The kingdom is already here: it came in the person of Jesus, and the momentum jumped when the Spirit fell on the Day of Pentecost and formed the church. The kingdom rule of Christ continued through the proclamation and deeds of thousands, then millions of disciples of Christ through the centuries, and it will continue till Jesus comes again in power and glory to consummate the kingdom of God. We the church will exercise “the powers of the age to come” (Hebrews 6:5) and other perfections of the heavenly state, but not in its fulness, because we still live in this present evil age in the midst of sin and imperfection. On this side of eternity, there will still be trials and temptations, sorrow and sickness, death and danger, persecution and martyrdom. While by faith we seek to draw down the powers and blessings of the age to come, and we can and will certainly see much of kingdom authority and blessedness in this life, it is only a down payment, the full sum of everything will be inherited when the future kingdom is gloriously put in place by divine intervention.

Practical implications

We are blessed indeed to be brothers, sisters, friends, subjects, aides of the King. He has all authority in heaven and earth, and he delegates it to us to use for the advancement of his purposes. If we ask anything in his name, he will do it (John 14:14). We are to pray for the spread of the gospel (Eph 6:18-20), for all people to come to a knowledge of the truth, and for those in authority and who govern over us (1 Tim 2:1-4). 

Living under his rule of love means we are blessed with righteousness (not ours but his), and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit, and are able to serve people inside and outside the church with spiritual gifts.

We are engaged in a serious battle with invisible spiritual forces (Eph 6:10-13) and this a battle that will not end until Jesus comes to consummate his kingdom. Jesus has already defeated Satan, but we are engaged in stubborn mopping up operations.

When the going gets tough, the weak who depend on Christ and have this hope of a future kingdom are the ones who will persevere in the midst of suffering, tribulation and persecution. Jesus was able to endure grave injustice, agonising suffering because of the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 13:1,2), and we can follow in his footsteps because we have a joyous and unshakeable kingdom promised to us.

To read my other posts about the A to Z of Christ’s Finished Work, go HERE.

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