Today’s guest author is Geoff Wiklund who we have invited to write this week’s Easter reflection.
In John 19:28 the Lord Jesus, being in agony and separated from His Father, was on the cross, knowing that “all things were accomplished” and yet “so that Scripture might be fulfilled” said:
"I thirst!" Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth. So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.”
In this passage the words “accomplished” and “finished” are the same word in the original language – ‘teleō’ - meaning to end, to complete, execute, conclude, discharge (as of a debt); also to accomplish, make an end of, expire, fill up, finish, go over, pay, perform. Can you get any more complete than that?! This word was used as an accounting term meaning, “paid in full”.
We read in Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Jesus paid this debt in full! It was accomplished and finished. However, our foe the devil likes to try and deceive us that we have to do something more or that in some way there is more to pay.
Crucified with Christ
I recall that at the age of 26 I started going to Howick Assembly of God church with my father. It was a very different experience for me coming from a conservative background. (My previous minister had in fact renounced God and given away his Christian books the same year I went to Bible College!) In that service Ps Kevin Forlong advertised a Baptism Service coming up. He explained what full water baptism meant. In that moment I came to the realisation that I had tried to live a Christian life in my own strength. I had never ‘died to the old nature’ or been raised up in the power of the Holy Spirit. At the end of the service I approached the pastor to be baptised and when it happened a week later, my life was changed from that moment on.
I did not feel anything special in the pool - just wet. But two things happened. One, there were a number of prophetic words which at that time I thought were ridiculous. I was a sinful man and how could I possibly travel the world and preach the Gospel like they were saying? Why would I have a ministry to men? It all seemed a bit much. Now I look back in amazement, as all that was said came to pass and more.
The second thing was that I myself changed. I could never complete a sentence without swearing. All that was taken away. My desire for strong drink disappeared and I stopped drinking altogether. For the first time I no longer felt guilty for not keeping the standards I’d been brought up with and I understood that all my sin was paid for. But the enemy kept reminding me of all the things I had done. However, I loved what a preacher told me at the time: Remind the devil of where he is going and tell him to go there.
On the Monday after my baptism, I stood in front of my class at Intermediate school and before I spoke a word a student raised his hand. His question: “You are different Sir, what’s happened to you?” He and my students could sense there was something different in me.
What Jesus did for me that Easter years ago is as powerful today as it was then. He accomplished for you and me what we could not do, no matter how hard we keep trying.
As the Accuser of the Brethren accuses us before God day after day, we have an Advocate in heaven – one, Jesus – who stands on our behalf. In fact, Jesus stands between our condemnation and God, and tells Him that I have been forgiven my confessed sins; they were carried on the cross by Jesus Himself. And God, who is just, will dismiss the accusations against us.
Raised to New Life
Recently God really ministered to me out of this verse in Romans 5:20, “Moreover the law entered that the offence might abound, but where sin abounded, grace abounded much more…”
There was a particular spoken issue that someone took offence to and accused me of wrong thinking. I kept wasting my thoughts with arguments in my mind, trying to justify myself and feeling how unfair this situation was. The Holy Spirit made me realise that my focus was wrong. I needed to look at the abundant grace in the situation. As soon as I did that I found I could forgive and bless and move on. The grievance had no hold on me anymore. You see this stuff is not just theological but practical for everyday living.
So stop struggling in your mind and in your heart with situations and accusations that the devil makes as much use of as he can. Keep short accounts with God and realise that the work of forgiveness and even being justified is completed and finished. Focus on the grace which abounds (overflows) towards, and in, you. I am and it is a great burden off my shoulders!