Unveiled: The True Meaning of “It Is Finished” Spoken by the Lord Jesus on the Cross
By Xiang’ai, Heilongjiang Province
Many brothers and sisters believe that what Jesus meant by saying “It is finished” when He was on the cross was that God’s work to save mankind was completed. But was this really the case? What exactly did He mean by saying “It is finished”? The following article will uncover the true meaning of the words “It is finished” that the Lord Jesus spoke upon the cross. Please read on …
At seven o’clock in the morning, Wang Xue was hurrying to her daughter Hui Min’s house. Half an hour before, Pastor Zhang had come to Wang Xue’s house to tell her that her daughter and son-in-law had accepted Eastern Lightning. This came as a great surprise to Wang Xue, and she thought to herself: “The members of Eastern Lightning testify that the Lord Jesus has returned and that He is expressing His words and performing a stage of work to judge and purify man. And yet the Lord Jesus clearly said ‘It is finished’ when He was upon the cross, and this shows that God’s work to save mankind has already finished. How can the Lord possibly return to do a new stage of work? My daughter and her husband are quite familiar with the Bible, and they pursue the truth quite diligently; they are thoughtful and insightful people, so they won’t have made this decision blindly. How could they have accepted Eastern Lightning? What’s going on here?” Wang Xue was extremely baffled and she wanted to understand the reasons behind this as soon as she could, and so she hurriedly set off for Hui Min’s house.
30 minutes later, Wang Xue arrived at her daughter’s home. As soon as she was inside, Wang Xue got straight to the point, and she said to her daughter, “Pastor Zhang came to find me at the crack of dawn this morning and said the two of you had accepted Eastern Lightning. Is this true?”
Li Jun, who had been reading in the study, overheard his mother-in-law and came out of the room. Hui Min saw her mother wearing a rather stern expression, so she took her mother’s hand and sat down. Smiling, she said, “Yes, mom, we’ve accepted Eastern Lightning. Lately, Li Jun and I have been reading the words of Almighty God and we’ve seen Almighty God’s words reveal all the truths and mysteries of God’s salvation of mankind, such as the mystery of God’s six-thousand-year management plan, the mystery of God’s incarnation, the mystery of God’s three stages of work, how God performs His work of judgment to purify and save man in the last days, and the end and final destination for mankind, and so on. The more we read Almighty God’s words, the more we feel that these words are the truth, that they have power and authority and that they are the voice of God! Mom, the Lord Jesus whom we’ve yearned for for so long really has returned as the incarnated Almighty God. Why don’t you investigate it yourself!”
Wang Xue listened to her daughter and her expression softened a little. She said, “Hui Min, our church is now desolate, so if you go looking for a church which has the work of the Holy Spirit, then I won’t stop you. But Eastern Lightning preaches that the Lord has returned and is performing a stage of work to judge and purify man. How is this possible? When He was on the cross, the Lord Jesus very clearly said ‘It is finished.’ This shows that God’s work to save mankind is over, and so long as we confess and repent to the Lord then our sins can be forgiven, and when the Lord returns, He will immediately raise us up into the heavenly kingdom. He won’t be performing any new work. This is often preached by pastors and elders, so how could you have forgotten it? How could you have accepted the way of Eastern Lightning?”
Li Jun smiled and said, “Mom, we’ve always followed the pastors and elders of the religious world, and believed that what the Lord Jesus meant by saying ‘It is finished’ when He was on the cross was that God’s work to save mankind was finished, and that when the Lord came again He would immediately raise us up into the heavenly kingdom and would not perform any new work. But does this view accord with the original meaning of the Lord’s words? Does it accord with the facts of God’s work? When the Lord Jesus was on the cross, He only said these three words, ‘It is finished.’ He did not say that God’s work to save mankind was totally finished, and yet pastors and elders just go by these words spoken by the Lord Jesus to decide that God’s work is now over and that when the Lord returns He will not perform any new work. By saying this, aren’t they making too much of a subjective assertion? Aren’t they just interpreting the Lord’s words by what they themselves wish? Mom, think about it. If the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ meant that God’s work to save mankind was over, then how would the Lord Jesus accomplish the work in fulfillment of His prophecy, that when He returned He would separate the goats from the sheep, the wheat from the tares, and the good servants from the wicked servants? The Lord Jesus also prophesied: ‘I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come’ (John 16:12–13). ‘He that rejects me, and receives not my words, has one that judges him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day’ (John 12:48). And it is recorded in 1 Peter 4:17, ‘For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God.’ These words tell us clearly that when the Lord returns He will express the truth and perform His work of judgment. If we go by the understanding of the pastors and elders, that the Lord Jesus saying ‘It is finished’ on the cross meant that He had then completed His work to save mankind and that He had no need to perform any further work, then how would these prophecies ever be fulfilled? Wouldn’t the Lord’s prophecy that He would return to express the truth and perform His work of judgment then just come to nothing? Looking at it this way, wouldn’t it seem that the religious world’s interpretation is negating the Lord’s words and negating the Lord’s salvation in the last days? Therefore, we cannot determine that God’s work to save mankind is finished on the basis that the Lord Jesus said ‘It is finished’ when He was on the cross; this is our imaginations and it does not accord with what the Lord meant. If we delimit God’s work in accordance with our own wishes, then we will be apt to defy God!”
Wang Xue pondered the verses Li Jun had talked about, and she fell into deep thought: “Yes! All these years, I’ve listened only to what the pastors and elders have said, believing that what the Lord Jesus meant when He said ‘It is finished’ on the cross was that God’s work to save mankind was completed, and that He would never again perform any new work. But the prophecies of the Lord that my child and her husband have just mentioned do indeed say that when the Lord returns He will express the truth and perform His work of judgment. So what exactly did the Lord mean when He said ‘It is finished’ on the cross?” Thinking these thoughts, Wang Xue told them of her puzzlement.
Seeing Wang Xue begin to seek the truth, Hui Min and Li Jun smiled cheerfully, and Hui Min said patiently, “Mom, when the Lord Jesus said ‘It is finished’ on the cross, He was actually saying that His work of redemption in the Age of Grace was finished. As long as we accept the Lord Jesus’ work and confess and repent to the Lord, then our sins can be forgiven, and we are then qualified to pray to the Lord and enjoy the abundant grace and truth the Lord bestows on us—this is the result achieved by the Lord Jesus performing the work of redemption. But God’s work to save mankind did not come to an end because the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption was finished. Let’s read a couple of passages of Almighty God’s words together, and after we’ve read them, we will have a better understanding.” Saying this, Hui Min then brought from her bedroom a book entitled The Word Appears in The Flesh. Opening it, she read: “To man, God’s crucifixion concluded the work of God’s incarnation, redeemed all of mankind, and allowed Him to seize the key to Hades. Everyone thinks God’s work has been fully accomplished. In actuality, to God, only a small part of His work has been accomplished. He has only redeemed mankind; He has not conquered mankind, let alone changed the ugliness of Satan in man. That is why God says, ‘Although My incarnate flesh went through the pain of death, that was not the whole goal of My incarnation. Jesus is My beloved Son and was nailed to the cross for Me, but He did not fully conclude My work. He only did a portion of it’” (“Work and Entry (6)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh). “For all that man may have been redeemed and forgiven of his sins, it can only be considered as God not remembering the transgressions of man and not treating man in accordance with his transgressions. However, when man, who lives in a body of flesh, has not been set free from sin, he can only continue to sin, endlessly revealing his corrupt satanic disposition. This is the life that man leads, an endless cycle of sinning and being forgiven. The majority of men sin in the day only to confess in the evening. This way, even if the sin offering is forever effective for man, it will not be able to save man from sin. Only half the work of salvation has been completed, for man still has a corrupt disposition” (“The Mystery of the Incarnation (4)” in The Word Appears in the Flesh).
When she’d finished reading, Hui Min gave fellowship, saying, “The words of Almighty God are very clear. The work of redemption performed by the Lord Jesus only completed one half of God’s work to save mankind. Although our sins were forgiven after undergoing the Lord Jesus’ redemption, we no longer committed obvious sins and we had some good external behaviors, we had not totally cast off the bonds of sin; we are dominated by corrupt dispositions such as being arrogant and conceited, selfish and contemptible, crooked and deceitful, and we often tell lies and cheat others for the sake of protecting our own interests and prestige. When we see someone who is better than us, we feel jealous and we don’t want to listen to them; if someone threatens our interests then we hate them, to the point of wanting to exact retribution on them; we also follow the evil trends of the world, we cling to wealth, covet vanity and we adore fame and fortune; when natural disasters or man-made calamities befall us, or if something unfortunate happens, we misunderstand and blame God, and we even judge and condemn God’s work based on our own conceptions and imaginings, and so on. Behaving in this way is enough to prove that only our sins are forgiven in our belief in the Lord, yet the satanic nature and corrupt dispositions within us remain deeply rooted. These are the root cause of us committing sins and defying God. If we do not solve our sinful nature, then we will be unable to control ourselves from sinning and defying God, or from betraying God and opposing God. God’s words in the Bible clearly state: ‘You shall therefore be holy, for I am holy’ (Leviticus 11:45). Also, chapter 12, verse 14 in Hebrews says ‘holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.’ God is holy, and the heavenly kingdom permits no stained human being to enter. So how could we who so often commit sins and defy God ever be worthy to see God’s face? How could we ever be worthy for God to lead us into the heavenly kingdom? Therefore, we still need God to return in the last days to perform a stage of new work and to solve the problem of the root cause of our sins. Only in this way will we be able to cast off our satanic and corrupt dispositions and attain God’s purification and salvation. This is also the fulfillment of the prophecy in the Bible that says, ‘Who are kept by the power of God through faith to salvation ready to be revealed in the last time’ (1 Peter 1:5).”
When she had spoken, Hui Min flipped to a page in The Word Appears in the Flesh and said to Wang Xue, “Mom, we will understand better once we’ve read two passages of Almighty God’s words. God’s words say: ‘A sinner such as you, who has just been redeemed, and has not been changed, or been perfected by God, can you be after God’s heart? For you, you who are still of your old self, it is true that you were saved by Jesus, and that you are not counted as a sinner because of the salvation of God, but this does not prove that you are not sinful, and are not impure. How can you be saintly if you have not been changed? Within, you are beset by impurity, selfish and mean, yet you still wish to descend with Jesus—you should be so lucky! You have missed a step in your belief in God: You have merely been redeemed, but have not been changed. For you to be after God’s heart, God must personally do the work of changing and cleansing you; if you are only redeemed, you will be incapable of attaining sanctity. In this way you will be unqualified to share in the good blessings of God, for you have missed out a step in God’s work of managing man, which is the key step of changing and perfecting. And so you, a sinner who has just been redeemed, are incapable of directly inheriting God’s inheritance’ (‘Concerning Appellations and Identity’ in The Word Appears in the Flesh). ‘Though Jesus did much work among man, He only completed the redemption of all mankind and became man’s sin offering, and did not rid man of all his corrupt disposition. Fully saving man from the influence of Satan not only required Jesus to take on the sins of man as the sin offering, but also required God to do greater work to completely rid man of his disposition, which has been corrupted by Satan. And so, after man was forgiven his sins, God has returned to flesh to lead man into the new age, and begun the work of chastisement and judgment, and this work has brought man into a higher realm. All those who submit under His dominion shall enjoy higher truth and receive greater blessings. They shall truly live in the light, and shall gain the truth, the way, and the life’” (Preface to The Word Appears in the Flesh).
Having listened to her daughter, Wang Xue unconsciously nodded her head and thought to herself: “These words possess authority! It turns out that the Lord Jesus only performed the work of redemption, and even though our sins were forgiven, our sinful nature was not purged, so no wonder we live in sin all day long. Even though we want to cast off the bonds of sin, we can’t do it no matter how much we pray or try to exercise self-restraint. It seems that if we want to cast off the bonds of sin, then we truly need God to perform another stage of work!”
Li Jun got up and poured Wang Xue some water, saying, “Mom, Almighty God’s words explain very clearly why God is to perform His work of judgment in the last days and the results achieved by this work. Having been through the Lord Jesus’ redemption, only our sins have been forgiven, and yet our satanic nature was still deeply rooted within us and we are not yet qualified to inherit God’s blessings. Therefore, according to our needs as corrupt humanity, God will perform in the last days a stage of work upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus’ work of redemption, whereby God uses words to judge and chastise man, so that our sinful nature can be resolved and so that we are utterly saved from sin. Only by accepting God’s work of judgment in the last days can we see clearly the truth about our corruption by Satan, know our own God-defying satanic nature, experience God’s righteous and inviolable disposition and generate a God-fearing heart. We can thereby prostrate ourselves before God, hate ourselves and become willing to forsake our flesh and practice the truth. In this way, we will gradually be able to cast off the bonds of our satanic dispositions, be cleansed and changed, attain salvation and perfection, and become people who truly obey God and love God. Only then will God’s management plan to save mankind be totally finished, and God’s great work shall be accomplished. This precisely fulfills the words in Revelation which say: ‘And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said to me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give to him that is thirsty of the fountain of the water of life freely’ (Revelation 21:5–6).”
Li Jun and Hui Min’s fellowship surprised Wang Xue and sounded new and fresh to her ears. She thought: “What they are fellowshiping accords with the Bible and with the Lord’s words, and it sounds perfectly clear to me. It turns out that the Lord returning to express the truth and perform His work of judgment is precisely what we need, and it is done to save us utterly from sin, to enable us to attain God’s salvation and be perfected, and to become people who truly love and obey God …”
Hui Min saw her mother with her head lowered and not saying anything, and she gently shook her arm and asked, “What are you thinking, mom?”
Wang Xue relaxed her expression, raised her head and looked at Li Jun and Hui Min, and with a smile on her face she said, “Well, I never! You haven’t long accepted Almighty God’s work of the last days and you understand so many truths already. Listening to you both give fellowship today, I’ve come to understand a little too. The Lord Jesus only performed the work to redeem mankind, which was a part of God’s work to save mankind. By accepting the Lord Jesus’ work, we can only have our sins forgiven, but our sinful nature is not yet resolved, and we still cannot control ourselves from committing sins and defying God. We are simply unqualified to see God’s face or to be led by the Lord into the heavenly kingdom. If we want to cast off the bonds of sin, we still need God to come again and perform another stage of work, that of judgment and purification!”
Hui Min and Li Jun were thrilled to hear Wang Xue say this, and they kept thanking God!
Seeing her daughter and son-in-law’s happiness, Wang Xue spoke reproaching herself: “Ah, all these years I’ve listened to what the pastors and elders said, believing that what the Lord Jesus meant when He said ‘It is finished’ on the cross was that God’s work to save mankind was completed, and I’ve been longing with all my heart for the Lord to return and raise us up into the heavenly kingdom. In the end, I heard The Church of Almighty God testifying that the Lord had returned, but I didn’t seek or investigate it, and instead I clung to my own conceptions and imaginings, trying to advise you to keep to the Lord’s way, almost making a big mistake and losing God’s salvation of the last days. It seems that by understanding God’s words and approaching God’s work based on one’s own conceptions and imaginings, one is then capable of defying God at any moment and destroying one’s chances to attain God’s salvation! I now understand that if we want to be thoroughly cleansed and enter into the kingdom of heaven, then we must accept God’s work of judgment in the last days! But I’m not so clear on how God’s work of judgment in the last days purifies and changes people, so I want to keep seeking and investigating Almighty God’s work of the last days and read more of His words!”
“Thanks be to God! It just so happens that tomorrow the brothers and sisters of The Church of Almighty God are holding a gathering with us, so why don’t you come with us and hear them fellowship?” said Hui Min.
“Thanks be to God!”
The sun shone bright and beautiful outside and, from time to time, the joyful sound of Wang Xue’s family talking together drifted out through the window …