When Jesus cried out from the cross, ‘It is finished’ or more correctly ‘It has been finished’ John 19:30, he was declaring that His sacrifice for sin was completed, the price fully paid, His death for our ‘life’. This was not, however, the end of His work on our behalf because in the midst of all the praise and worship in heaven, about which we were sharing yesterday, Jesus does not forget us. We are told that He ‘always lives to intercede for us’, Hebrews 7:25. He lives to intervene on our behalf in heaven, before the throne of God. His work on the cross paid the price, but His work goes on to ensure that we inherit and live in the good of all that He paid for.
From our pespective, the same truth applies. We are saved and set free from the law of sin and death the moment that we acknowledge Jesus as our Lord and Saviour, Romans 8:2, but then we are on a lifetimes journey to inherit all the ‘newness of life’ that Jesus bought for us on the cross. No wonder Paul spoke a great deal about Jesus and His resurrection when he was preaching the gospel, Acts 17:18. He knew that in addition to His sacrifice on the cross, Jesus’ work as our resurrected high priest in heaven was a very significant part of our salvation.
There is this ongoing mystery that when we become Christians, we are ‘a (totally) new creation; the old has gone the new has come!’ 2 Corinthians 5:17, and yet the encouragement is there to ‘continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to do His good purpose.’ Philippians 2:12. It’s like everything that we need ‘for life and godliness’ 2 Peter 1:3, has been banked for us, but we have to choose to draw on that deposit in every season of life, and at every moment in each of those seasons.
There is this wonderful collaboration between us and God. He is at work within us by the Holy Spirit but we have to yield and follow His leading. The enemy, who lost hands down at Calvary, now puts all his efforts into stopping us from inheriting all that is now legally ours in Jesus, by His lies and half truths. He gets us to focus on our failures rather than who we now are in Christ, but even more he uses any difficulties and troubles that life throws at us, to get us to doubt God’s goodness and grace in His plans for us.
Paul knew that it was so important for those early Christians to know that Jesus hadn’t just died for them and then left them to get on with their new lives alone. He wrote ‘Christ Jesus, who died – more than that – who was raised to life is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us’ Romans 8:34. No wonder that, inspite of all the trials and tribulations that he experienced, in answer his own rhetorical question, ‘Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness…….? he could write ‘No in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us’. Romans 8:31:39.
Our wonderful Saviour is praying for us nonstop in order that, like Paul, we would be able to respond to all that life brings in the power of His Spirit, fully availing ourselves of the abundant supplies of grace that He sends our way daily, 2 Corinthians 9:8. This then makes sense of the words that James writes to the scattered, and possibly persecuted, Jewish Christians of the first century, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance……..that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ James 1:2-4.
The scripture tells us that ‘in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose’, and that that purpose is ‘to conform us to the likeness of His Son’. This is so exciting! It means that in every situation in which I find myself, I can have absolute confidence that Jesus is praying for me, He is rooting for me, and He is pouring out grace, upon grace, upon me. All that I can receive of His goodness and presence is mine, because He wants me to make the right choices and respond as He would, in order that through all things, and all circumstance, I might become more like Him. Wow.
Paul agonising over the Galatian christians and their slide back into legalism, describes to them how that he feels as if he is in labour as he prays for them that ‘Christ is formed in you’. Galatians 4:19. We might not have a Paul in our life who is praying for us, but today let us lift our gaze again to that heavenly scene, and bring our thanksgiving to the Lord who is there, in the throne room of heaven, praying for us. Our thanksgiving will raise our faith, and enable us, like Paul, to find ourselves to be ‘more than a conqueror, through Him who loved us.’ Romans 8:37.