And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God. – Hebrews 10:11-12
There is no ambiguity in the true gospel. It is blunt, straightforward and offensive. Every human being is a sinner. They have corrupted nature and they willfully violate God’s Holy law. All sinners are under divine judgment and sentenced to eternal punishment in hell. But God offers them forgiveness and an escape from the judgment only through one mean. That is faith in His Son Jesus Christ. Not your works but Christ’s finished work on the cross. Salvation is not by faith plus our works. It’s not a cooperative effort between the sinner and God – God does a little, and you do a little. Christianity is not about what you ‘DO’ for God; it is about what God has ‘DONE’ for you. The most profligate, wretched, corrupt person on the planet who trusts only in Christ and His finished work on the cross will be saved. That is the blunt and stunning truth of the gospel.
Work of Christ is Finished, Not Continuing
There is only one purpose why Jesus came to this earth -to pay the ransom to the Father to redeem His people from Satan’s captivity, to save them from God’s wrath. He came to make reconciliation between God and man. He came to make propitiation for our sin against God. He came to die for and to purify His Bride, the Church. That was his mission on this earth. He did not come to preach a message of coexistence, tolerance, or ecumenism. Father assigned the Son specific task that had been planned before the foundation of the world. And, Jesus came to undertake that assignment. John tells us in his gospel, on the cross when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said “It is finished!” and gave up His spirit (John 19:30). He didn’t say, “I am finished”, rather He cried out “It is finished,” meaning “I accomplished the work which I came to do.” And, the writer of the Hebrews says, “After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven” (Hebrews 1:3). Christ finished His work and triumphantly returned to the Father.
When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He meant it. For anyone to add or detract from Christ’s words or finished work is the height of arrogance and the depth of depravity. Christ did not enter heaven to offer himself again and again, like the high priest here on earth who enters the Most Holy Place year after year with the blood of an animal (Heb. 9:25). But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, He sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12). In other words, the saving work of Christ was completed on the cross and stands complete. There is nothing more to be done by God, man, or any religious institution. His saving work is fully efficacious, today and forevermore.
The Enemies Of Christ
Throughout the entire life and ministry of Jesus, the religious leaders were His greatest enemies; The scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, the rabbis. Jesus called them hypocrites repeatedly (Matthew 23). He said they were like whitewashed tombs – looked good on the outside but on the inside were full of dead bones. Jesus told them that they were sons of hell who make more sons of hell by the influence they had through their deceptive teaching.
What was happening through Jesus’s entire ministry is continued to be happening today. There is a continuous war between God and Satan, between God’s truth and Satan’s lies. It is an endless battle. Satan is not just going to devise religions that are alternatives to Christianity, or that are anti-Christian; but Satan is very busy in creating false forms of Christianity -counterfeit religions. They twist the truth of Christ and promote a heresy. The only truth from God about salvation comes from Jesus Christ. All other sources are lies and deception, either earthly or demonic, or a combination. Jesus says nothing about Mary, nothing about the sacrament of the Eucharist, nothing about fasting, nothing about purgatory, nothing about infant baptism, nothing about confirmation, nothing about church membership, nothing about rosary. But Believe!
Scripture is crystal clear that Christ was resting at the right hand of God after the total completeness of His sin-bearing work on the cross. But, some people still cannot believe that the work of Christ is truly complete and finished. They believe something, but they don’t believe what they have to believe. They reject the message of faith for salvation. They believe that Jesus is the son of God. They believe Christ died for our sins. But, they are still trying to complete a finished work. They reason that such a grand gift as forgiveness from such a holy God must require some kind of payment from us. They believe in a system that teaches against the finished work of Christ, a system that pronounces anathemas on those who believe in the finished work of Christ. They refused to believe the finished work of Christ on the cross. They are the enemies of Christ.
Resting in the finished work
He who doesn’t believe in Christ Jesus has been judged already (Luke 3:18). Every sinner is already condemned. We were judged when we were born. The gavel fell and the verdict was rendered and sentence was passed already. The only way that verdict can be reversed and the slate cleaned and the sinner forgiven is by believing in Christ and His redemptive work on the cross. Jesus didn’t come to judge the world; He came to save. That means, the sinner does not need to run to Mary to find help or sympathy. There is no Co-Redemptrix, for Christ by nature is the savior. The redeeming work of Christ is completed, and no need to offer Him on the alter over and over and over again. Believe! that’s all it takes. To add anything to the finished work that Christ did for salvation is to negate God’s grace. We are saved by grace alone, through faith in Christ alone, not by returning to the sacraments, penance, indulgences, good works and other things.
What damns people to hell is not because of some deficient provision in the sacrifice of Christ. What damns people to hell is not because they sin and not because they break God’s Law, but because they do not believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ. That is the one unforgivable sin. The only “work” left for us to do today is to enter His rest by simply believing that all the work Christ has done to save us and to keep us eternally forgiven and righteous is finished. Only those who believe can enter his rest (Heb. 4:3).
Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. R.C. Sproul