21 Mar It Is Most Assuredly Finished
“I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” -Galatians 2:21
As we have been remembering and celebrating together for the last several weeks, Jesus’ life, death and resurrection were all gloriously purposed. He came to earth to do what we could not do for ourselves. All of it, from the incarnation and virgin birth to the cross and empty tomb, was more than just a sign or display of God’s love – it is the very essence and proof of it. It was God’s love in action.
Jesus came as the redemptive hope for humanity, the one promised by God, the fulfillment of the shadows and prophecies of the Old Testament. He took on human flesh and humbly lived a perfect life of righteousness, thereby becoming the only suitable savior for us. He came to taste the worst suffering, agonizing separation from his Father and the cup of God’s wrath, to meet us at our moment of greatest need and desperation. He came to be fully God and fully man, as our intercessor in whom justice and mercy meet. And he came to bring us near to God, to make rebels and children of wrath into friends and children of God.
This love was costly, lavish, and unmerited. Our response to this good news about Jesus, to this gospel, should be nothing short of wonder, gratitude and faith. So often, though, we nod to God’s grace in admiration, and yet live as though it isn’t true. We intellectually assent to the doctrine that Jesus finished the work for our salvation at the cross, but functionally believe that God could not possibly love, forgive and save us unless we add something more.
We live like it honors God when we try to be better to demonstrate our worth before him, forgetting that it dishonors the work of Christ. If we could have earned God’s love and achieved righteousness by obeying the law, the apostle Paul says, then there was no point in Jesus’ death for us at all! If we could have achieved it by ourselves, Christ’s sufferings were completely in vain. Paul, who urged us not to nullify the grace of God and passionately asserted that the bountiful grace of God is sufficient, is the same man who considered himself the foremost of sinners. So when we wallow in our sinfulness, looking at ourselves with loathing rather than looking to Jesus in awe, we smite our God. We pridefully declare that what God has declared to be true is a lie, and that his grace is too small for us.
The Father sent his beloved Son to be the savior who clears our guilt and shame, puts our sins behind his back, and gives us new hearts with the law written upon them. It was the joy of God to bestow this grace upon us, and it is his joy when we receive it. His grace, offering to us the riches we do not deserve, is his most precious gift; it is so honoring to him when we humbly accept it with gladness.
This Passion Week, remember the work of Christ, completed in full for you. You cannot add or detract from it. Ask God to help you see Christ’s sacrifice as enough, and repent of your prideful self-pitying and striving that nullifies the grace of God. And rejoice! It is most assuredly finished.
Nothing in my hand I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.
Naked, come to Thee for dress; helpless, look to Thee for grace.
Readings for this week:
Galatians 2:15-21, 3:3-6
1 John 3:19-20, Romans 8:1
This post is sixth in a series celebrating Lent, for the purpose of preparing our hearts to treasure Christ more as Easter approaches. Each post in the series is coupled with art from local artist Kathryn Schermbeck. Our hope is that these words, reading guides, and pieces of art would lead you to worship as you remember the radical and costly grace of God.