LIFE IN THE SPIRIT

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Location: Horsham, Pennsylvania, United States

John is a PA/NJ Architect with his own practice in its 41st year working on a wide variety of projects. He works on churches, convenience stores, residences, and academies as well as industrial projects. He has helped in numerous property acquisitions and worked with real estate investors. Acutely interested in politics since a teenager with many articles published over the last 55 years, he served as a guest on a Talk Radio show discussing race relations and on "It's Your Call" TV show with Lynn Doyle dealing with the subject of interethnic marriage. John is a "Tentmaking Evangelist" (Architect). An Evangelist with the Anchor Bay Evangelistic Association (non-denominational). Co-Founder of Kingdom Gospel Ministries, a ministry now in its 35th year with a mission to reconcile people of different racial, ethnic, and economic situations, and the producer of three weekly radio programs - a Sunday morning verse-by-verse Bible Study on Radio Delaware Valley, a weekly message from current events in California, and a weekly radio drama on the Wilkins Radio network. He also has archived many, many radio programs and written articles on the Internet.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

IT IS F-I-N-I-S-H-E-D !!!

(this message was delivered on Good Friday, April 22, 2011, at St. David Roman Catholic Church in Willow Grove. Some additional material I would have presented with a longer time frame is included here in italics. Many thanks to those of you who came or who prayed for me – the message was very well received and for that I am most grateful. I do hope it is a blessing to you.)

In John 19:30, Jesus said “It is finished”. Greetings my friends in the wonderful name of Jesus Christ. Good Friday is the time of year when some see Christ as a victim and as weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. We just heard that only God could have withstood the suffering and abuse that Jesus took on himself.

Jesus spoke the truth that caused many to become extremely angry with him. They tried to push him off a cliff and Jesus escaped their grasp on any number of occasions. He certainly could easily have escaped this time as well. I pastor I heard a couple of weeks ago remarked that everything surrounding the arrest of Jesus reinforced his authority.

When he identified himself by saying “I AM He”, the mob fell back – in fact there is a painting in THE LIFE OF JESUS CHRIST by J.J. Tissot published in 1899 that he showed on the screen with Jesus standing alone with hundreds of people on the ground around him. Priests, elders, soldiers, even Judas himself. Simply walking away would have been a cakewalk. But Jesus did not come to walk away - he came to die, so he submitted to the soldiers and went willingly. Further, he told them to take him but leave his followers alone. And so they did, even though Peter had sliced off the ear of the high priest’s servant. And wasn’t it just like Jesus to restore that ear before they left, just so the soldiers knew he had the authority of heaven operating through him? Man is so sinful that the soldiers went about business as usual after first-hand experiencing the power of Christ, as did the synagogue rulers who just a few days later conceived the lie that the disciples stole the body even though they knew he was alive However, Judas had the sense to regret betraying Jesus even before then.

Jesus came to show us God in the flesh, to teach us what God is really after as opposed to what the religious systems of that day demanded, to teach by example how to do the works of God, and of course to suffer, to die, and to be resurrected.

When every single one of the prophecies concerning Christ had been fulfilled, and his suffering was complete, Jesus Christ said “IT IS FINISHED”. Three days later God the Father raised him from the dead and we now can live in eternal life because of that resurrection.

However, this phrase “IT IS FINISHED” has some ramifications we need to look into briefly.

The first is that there are a growing number of people who teach that everyone in the world is saved from eternal damnation because of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Rob Bell is one of these in his book "Love Wins". I would, just like the apostles desired and just as you would yourselves, that all men would indeed be saved, as the Lord is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

However, it is imperative that all people appropriate the sacrifice of Christ to cover their own sins. We have to choose to be crucified with Christ and not to walk away. If we died with him, we shall be raised to newness of life. This wonderful deposit of a new life in Christ is simply one that God will not make unilaterally.

It is like going to the bank. Sometimes I joke with the teller when they ask me for my ID when making a deposit. I tell them that if anyone wants to put funds in my account to let them and for sure not to stop them! Of course, the reason that they are strict about knowing who is making a deposit is that some folks will deposit a bad check into your account, find a way to withdraw the cash, and you are left with covering a bad check.

Jesus Christ will not make a deposit of his blood and his righteousness into your account without your express permission. He is a gentleman and does not force his way on you. Just as he allowed that mob who saw his glory to go their own way, so he will allow you to go your own way. He gave us a free will, and he does not force himself on us. He desires a love relationship with us and while he woos us and pursues us, love does not force itself on another.

You see, the Holy One who will make the deposit of eternal life and His Holy Spirit into our account when we ask him to is the same one who will make withdrawals. And he requires our signature to do that.

That is the mystery of “It is Finished”. HIS work is finished. He is sitting in heaven at the right hand of God the Father. However, as Paul wrote in Romans 12:1, I beseech you therefore brothers by the mercies of God that you present your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable unto God which is your reasonable service. God expects us not to simply store up his righteousness in the bank of heaven until we die – he wants us to bless this world and the people in it by causing us to be poured out as an offering, just as he himself was poured out.

Many do not understand the full meaning of what it is to be poured out. Like the crowds of the day, they loved seeing the miracles, being part of getting free food, free healing, and free deliverance, but when he said they must east his body and drink his blood, they made themselves scarce in a real hurry. Many today want Christ for the goodies, but are not willing to be crucified with him, to give up earthly pleasures when required, and to stand for the truths of the gospel no matter what the cost. Jesus wasn’t thrilled about the pouring out either. He asked the Father to remove that cup if it were possible. He did not enjoy his suffering. The Bible says he ENDURED the cross, despising the shame. He was willing to die for the joy set before him. We must be willing for him to make withdrawals from our account – suffering and persecution when it benefits the kingdom of God.

When I taught teens in a Pakistani New Life Church, I learned that when someone in Pakistan was killed for the sake of Christ, it was a celebration for someone to be so honored as to be counted worthy to give their life for the sake of the gospel. Most of us flee not only suffering, but even perhaps shutting off the TV when the Lord simply wants to have a heart-to-heart talk with us. We really have to understand that along with the wonderful benefits of our faith, we must be willing to take up our cross daily to follow him. Otherwise, the work he called us to is not finished.

This living sacrifice of our lives is acceptable to God, and the good things done in us come through the power of the same Holy Spirit who raised Christ from the dead.

Yes, Jesus said “It is finished”, and his work indeed is – however, what we have to do is not yet finished, but we should certainly aim to finish it as well.

Paul said in Acts 20:24, “However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me--the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.” We all know the steep price Paul paid to follow the Lord,
But he willingly followed through and was faithful.

He later wrote to Timothy, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” I would hope that each of us could say the same before we leave here to live with Christ in heaven.

In order to do that, we have to have our character conformed to that of Jesus Christ. And as I noted when I was with you last year on Good Friday, the last words of Christ before he ascended were to preach the gospel in the whole world once we are filled with his Holy Spirit. To begin in our own city and proceed to our region, our nation, and finally to all the nations of the world. So remember this afternoon the finished work of Jesus Christ as you work to run your race and finish your course so that the whole earth may be filled with the glory of the Lord.

For our Easter Drama - laying Saturday, April 23, 2011 through Friday midnight, April 29, 2011, log on to our website - www.kingdomgospelministries.org and hit the HEAR A DRAMA NOW link in the lower left corner!

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