A Sermon Delivered On Sunday Morning, December 1, 1861, By Pastor C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.
When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, “It is finished!” and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)
1. My brethren, I wish to have you attentively observe the extraordinary clarity, power, and sharpness of the Saviour’s mind in the last agonies of death. When pains and groans attend the last hour, they frequently have the effect of unsettling the mind, so that it is not possible for the dying man to collect his thoughts, or having collected them, to utter them so that they can be understood by others. In no case could we expect a remarkable exercise of memory, or a profound judgment upon deep subjects from an expiring man. But the Redeemer’s last acts were full of wisdom and prudence, although his sufferings were beyond all measure and excruciating. Notice how clearly he perceived the significance of every scriptural type! How plainly he could read with dying eye those divine symbols which the eyes of angels could only desire to look into! He saw the secrets which have bewildered sages and astonished seers, all fulfilled in his own body. Nor must we fail to observe the power and comprehensiveness by which he grasped the chain which binds the shadowy past with the sunlit present. We must not forget the brilliance of that intelligence which threaded all the ceremonies and sacrifices on one string of thought, beheld all the prophecies as one great revelation, and all the promises as the heralds of one person, and then said of the whole, “‘It is finished,’ finished in me.” What sharpness of mind was what enabled him to traverse all the centuries of prophecy; to penetrate the eternity of the covenant, and then to anticipate the eternal glories! And all this when he is mocked by multitudes of enemies, and when his hands and feet are nailed to the cross! What force of mind must the Saviour have possessed, to soar above those Alps of Agony, which touched the very clouds. In what an extraordinary mental condition must he have been during the period of his crucifixion, to be able to review the whole roll of inspiration! Now, this remark may not seem to be of any great value, but I think its value lies in certain inferences that may be drawn from it. We have sometimes heard it said, “How could Christ, in so short a time, bear suffering which should be equivalent to the torments—the eternal torments of hell?” Our reply is, we are not capable of judging what the Son of God might do even in a moment, much less what he might do and what he might suffer in his life and in his death. It has been frequently affirmed by people who have been rescued from drowning, that the mind of a drowning man is extraordinarily active. One who, after being some time in the water was at last painfully restored, said that his whole life flashed through his mind while he was sinking, and that if anyone had asked him how long he had been in the water, he would have said twenty years, whereas he had only been there for a moment or two. The wild romance of Mohammed’s journey upon Al Borak1 is a fitting illustration. He affirmed that when the angel came in vision to take him on his celebrated journey to Jerusalem, he went through all the seven heavens, and saw all its wonders, and yet he was gone for so short a time, that though the angel’s wing had touched a basin of water when they started, they returned soon enough to prevent the water from being spilled. The long dream of the epileptic impostor may really have occupied only a second of time. The intellect of mortal man is such that if God wills it, when it is in certain states of mind, it can think out centuries of thought at once; it can go through in one instant what we should have supposed would have taken years upon years of time for it to know or feel. We think, therefore, that from the Saviour’s extraordinary clearness and sharpness of intellect upon the cross, it is very possible that he did in two or three hours endure not only the agony which might have been contained in centuries, but even an equivalent for what might be comprehended in everlasting punishment. At any rate, it is not for us to say that it could not be so. When the Deity is arrayed in manhood, then manhood becomes omnipotent to suffer; and just as the feet of Christ were once almighty to tread the seas, so now his whole body had become almighty to dive into the great waters, to endure an immersion in “unknown agonies.” Do not, I ask you, let us attempt to measure Christ’s sufferings by the finite line of your own ignorant reason, but let us know and believe that what he endured there was accepted by God as an equivalent for all our pains, and therefore it could not have been a trifle, but must have been all that Hart conceived it to be, when he says he bore—
All that incarnate God could bear,
With strength enough, but none to spare.
2. My discourse will, I have no doubt, more fully illustrate the remark with which I have commenced; let us proceed to it at once. First, let us hear the text and understand it; then let us hear it and marvel at it; and then, thirdly, let us hear it and proclaim it.
Let Us Hear the Text and Understand It.
3. I. LET US HEAR THE TEXT AND UNDERSTAND IT.
4. The Son of God has been made man. He has had a life of perfect virtue and of total self-denial. He has been all that life long despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. His enemies have been legion; his friends have been few, and those few faithless. He is at last delivered over into the hands of those who hate him. He is arrested while in the act of prayer; he is arraigned before both the spiritual and temporal courts. He is robed in mockery, and then disrobed in shame. He is put upon his throne in scorn, and then tied to the pillar in cruelty. He is declared innocent, and yet he is delivered up by the judge who ought to have preserved him from his persecutors. He is dragged through the streets of that Jerusalem which had killed the prophets, and would now crimson itself with the blood of the prophets’ Master. He is brought to the cross; he is firmly nailed to the cruel wood. The sun burns him. His cruel wounds increase the fever. God forsakes him. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” contains the concentrated anguish of the world. While he hangs there in mortal conflict with sin and Satan, his heart is broken, his limbs are dislocated. Heaven fails him, for the sun is veiled in darkness. Earth forsakes him, for “his disciples forsook him and fled.” He looks everywhere, and there is no one to help him; he looks around, and there is no man who can share his toil. He treads the winepress alone; and there is no one with him from the people. On, on, he goes, steadily determined to drink the last dreg of that cup which must not pass from him if his Father’s will is done. At last he cries—“It is finished,” and he gives up the ghost. Hear it, Christians, hear this shout of triumph as it rings today with all the freshness and force which it had almost two thousand years ago! Hear it from the Sacred Word, and from the Saviour’s lips, and may the Spirit of God open your ears so that you may hear as the learned, and understand what you hear!
All the types, promises, and prophecies were now fully accomplished in Christ.
5. 1. What did the Saviour mean, then, by this—“It is finished?” He meant, first of all, that all the types, promises, and prophecies were now fully accomplished in him. Those who are acquainted with the original text will find that the words—“It is finished,” occur twice within three verses. In the 28th verse, we have the word in the Greek; it is translated in our version “accomplished,” but there it stands—“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now finished, so that the Scripture might be fulfilled, says I thirst.” And then he said afterwards, “It is finished.” This leads us to see his meaning very clearly, that all the Scripture was now fulfilled, so that when he said, “It is finished,” the whole book, from the first to the last, in both the law and the prophets, was finished in him. There is not a single jewel of promise, from that first emerald which fell on the threshold of Eden, to that last sapphire stone of Malachi, which was not set in the breastplate of the true High Priest. Indeed, there is not a type, from the red heifer downward to the turtle dove, from the hyssop upwards to Solomon’s temple itself, which was not fulfilled in him; and not a prophecy, whether spoken on Chebar’s bank, or on the shores of Jordan; not a dream of wise men, whether they had received it in Babylon, or in Samaria, or in Judea, which was not now completely fulfilled in Christ Jesus. And, brethren, what a wonderful thing it is, that a mass of promises, and prophecies, and types, apparently so heterogeneous, should all be accomplished in one person! Take away Christ for one moment, and I will give the Old Testament to any wise man living, and say to him, “Take this; this is a problem; go home and construct in your imagination an ideal character who shall exactly fit all what is herein foreshadowed; remember, he must be a prophet like Moses, and yet a champion like Joshua; he must be an Aaron and a Melchizedek; he must be both David and Solomon, Noah and Jonah, Judah and Joseph. Indeed, he must not only be the lamb that was slain, and the scape goat that was not slain, the turtle dove that was dipped in blood, and the priest who killed the bird, but he must be the altar, the tabernacle, the mercy seat, and the shewbread.” Indeed, to puzzle this wise man, further, we remind him of prophecies so apparently contradictory, that one would think they never could be fulfilled in one man such as these, “All kings shall fall down before him, and all nations shall serve him;” and yet, “He is despised and rejected by men.” He must begin by showing a man who is born of a virgin mother—“A virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” He must be a man without spot or blemish, but yet one upon whom the Lord causes all our iniquities to fall. He must be a glorious one, a Son of David, but yet a root out of a dry ground. Now, I say it boldly, if all the greatest intellects of all the ages could set themselves to work out this problem, to invent another key to the types and prophecies, they could not do it. I see you, you wise men, you are poring over these hieroglyphics; one suggests one key, and it opens two or three of the figures, but you cannot proceed, for the next one stumps you. Another learned man suggests another clue, but that fails most where it is most needed, and another, and another, and thus these wondrous hieroglyphics traced of old by Moses in the wilderness, must be left unexplained, until one comes forward and proclaims, “The cross of Christ and the Son of God incarnate,” then all of it is clear, so that he who runs may read, and a child may understand. Blessed Saviour! In you we see everything fulfilled, which God spoke of old by the prophets; we discover in you everything carried out in substance, which God had proclaimed to us in the dim mist of sacrificial smoke. Glory be to your name! “It is finished”—everything is summed up in you.
All the typical sacrifices of the old Jewish law, were now abolished as well as explained.
6. 2. But the words have richer meaning. Not only were all types, and prophecies, and promises thus finished in Christ, but all the typical sacrifices of the old Jewish law, were now abolished as well as explained. They were finished—finished in him. Will you imagine for a minute the saints in heaven looking down upon what was done on earth—Abel and his friends who had long ago before the flood been sitting in the glories above. They watch while God lights star after star in heaven. Promise after promise flashes light upon the thick darkness of earth. They see Abraham come, and they look down and wonder while they see God revealing Christ to Abraham in the person of Isaac. They gaze just as the angels do, desiring to look into the mystery. From the times of Noah, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, they see altars smoking, recognitions of the fact that man is guilty, and the spirits before the throne say, “Lord, when will these sacrifices be finished?—when will blood be shed no more?” The offering of bloody sacrifices soon increases. It is now carried on by men ordained for the purpose. Aaron and the high priests, and the Levites, every morning and every evening offer a lamb, while great sacrifices are offered on special occasions. Young bulls groan, rams bleed, the necks of doves are wrung, and all the while the saints are crying, “Oh Lord, how long?—when shall the sacrifice cease?” Year after year the high priest goes within the veil and sprinkles the mercy seat with blood; the next year sees him do the same, and the next, and again, and again, and again. David offers hecatombs, Solomon slaughters tens of thousands, Hezekiah offers rivers of oil, Josiah gives thousands of the fat of fed beasts, and the spirits of the just say, “Will it ever be complete?—will the sacrifice ever be finished?—must there always be a remembrance of sin?—will not the last High Priest soon come?—will not the order and line of Aaron soon lay aside its labour, because everything is finished?” Not yet, not yet, you spirits of the just, for after the captivity the slaughter of victims still remains. But lo, he comes! Gaze more intently than before—he comes who is to close the line of priests! Lo! there he stands, clothed—not with linen ephod now, not with ringing bells, nor with sparkling jewels on his breastplate—but he stands arrayed in human flesh, his cross his altar, his body and his soul the victim, himself the priest, and lo! before his God he offers up his own soul within the veil of thick darkness which has covered him from the sight of men. Presenting his own blood, he enters within the veil, sprinkles it there, and coming forth from the midst of the darkness, he looks down on the astonished earth, and upward to expectant heaven, and cries, “It is finished! it is finished!”—what you looked for for so long, is fully achieved and perfected for ever.
His perfect obedience was finished.
7. 3. The Saviour meant, we do not doubt, that in this moment his perfect obedience was finished. It was necessary, in order that man might be saved, so that the law of God should be kept, for no man can see God’s face except he is perfect in righteousness. Christ undertook to keep God’s law for his people, to obey its every mandate, and preserve its every statute intact. Throughout the first years of his life he privately obeyed, honouring his father and his mother; during the next three years he publicly obeyed God, spending and being spent in his service, until if you would know what a man would be whose life was completely conformed to the law of God, you may see him in Christ.
My dear Redeemer and my Lord,
I read my duty in your word,
But in your life the law appears
Drawn out in living characters.
It needed nothing to complete the perfect virtue of life but the entire obedience of death. He who wishes to serve God must be willing not only to give all his soul and his strength while he lives, but he must stand prepared to resign his life when it shall be for God’s glory. Our perfect substitute put the last stroke upon his work by dying, and therefore he claims to be absolved from further debt, for “it is finished.” Yes, glorious Lamb of God, it is finished! You have been tempted in all points like as we are, yet you have not sinned in anything! It was finished, for the last arrow out of Satan’s quiver had been shot at you; the last blasphemous insinuation, the last wicked temptation had spent its fury on you; the Prince of this world had surveyed you from head to foot, within and without, but he had found nothing in you. Now your trial is over, you have finished the work which your Father gave you to do, and so finished it so that hell itself cannot accuse you of a flaw. And now, looking upon your entire obedience you say, “It is finished,” and we your people believe most joyously that it is even so. Brothers and sisters, this is more than you or I could have said if Adam had never fallen. If we had been in the garden of Eden, today we could never have boasted of a finished righteousness, since a creature can never finish its obedience. As long as a creature lives it is bound to obey, and as long as a free agent exists on earth it would be in danger of violating the vow of its obedience. If Adam had been in Paradise from the first day until now, he might fall tomorrow. Left to himself there would be no reason why that king of nature should not yet be uncrowned. But Christ the Creator, who finished creation, has perfected redemption. God can ask for no more. The law has received all it claims, the largest extent of justice cannot demand another hour’s obedience. It is done; it is complete; the last throw of the shuttle is over, and the robe is woven from the top throughout. Let us rejoice, then, in this that the Master meant by his dying cry that his perfect righteousness by which he covers us was finished.
The satisfaction which he rendered to the justice of God was finished.
8. 4. But next, the Saviour meant that the satisfaction which he rendered to the justice of God was finished. The debt was now, to the last farthing, all discharged. The atonement and propitiation were made once and for all, and for ever, by the one offering made in Jesus’ body on the tree. There was the cup; hell was in it; the Saviour drank it—not a sip and then a pause; not a draught and then a ceasing; but he drained it until there is not a dreg left for any of his people. The great ten thonged whip of the law was worn out upon his back; there is no lash left with which to strike one for whom Jesus died. The great cannonade of God’s justice has exhausted all its ammunition; there is nothing left to be hurled against a child of God. Sheathed is your sword, oh Justice! Silenced is your thunder, oh Law! There remains nothing now of all the griefs, and pains, and agonies which chosen sinners ought to have suffered for their sins, for Christ has endured all for his own beloved, and “it is finished.” Brethren, it is more than the damned in hell can ever say. If you and I had been constrained to make satisfaction to God’s justice by being sent to hell we never could have said, “It is finished.” Christ has paid the debt which all the torments of eternity could not have paid. Lost souls, you suffer today as you have suffered for ages past, but God’s justice is not satisfied; his law is not fully magnified. And when time shall fail, and eternity shall have been flying on, still for ever, for ever, the uttermost farthing never having been paid, the chastisement for sin must fall upon unpardoned sinners. But Christ has done what all the flames of the pit could not do in all eternity; he has magnified the law and made it honourable, and now from the cross he cries—“It is finished.”
Jesus had totally destroyed the power of Satan, of sin, and of death.
9. 5. Once again: when he said, “It is finished,” Jesus had totally destroyed the power of Satan, of sin, and of death. The champion had entered the fray to do battle for our soul’s redemption, against all our foes. He met Sin. Horrible, terrible, all but omnipotent Sin nailed him to the cross; but in that deed, Christ nailed Sin also to the tree. There they both hung together—Sin, and Sin’s destroyer. Sin destroyed Christ, and by that destruction Christ destroyed Sin. Next came the second enemy, Satan. He assaulted Christ with all his hosts. Calling up his myrmidons from every corner and quarter of the universe, he said, “Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen! Here is our great enemy who has sworn to bruise my head; now let us bruise his heel!” They shot their hellish arrows into his heart; they poured their boiling cauldrons on his brain; they emptied their venom into his veins; they spat their insinuations into his face; they hissed their devilish fears into his ear. He stood alone, the lion of the tribe of Judah, hounded by all the dogs of hell. Our champion did not quail, but used his holy weapons, striking right and left with all the power of God supported manhood. On came the hosts; volley after volley was discharged against him. These were no mimic thunders, but such as might shake the very gates of hell. The conqueror steadily advanced, overturning their ranks, dashing in pieces his enemies, breaking the bow and cutting the spear asunder, and burning the chariots in the fire, while he cried, “In the name of God I will destroy you!” At last, foot to foot, he met the champion of hell, and now our David fought with Goliath. The struggle was not long; thick was the darkness which gathered around them both; but he who is the Son of God as well as the Son of Mary, knew how to strike the fiend, and he struck him with divine fury, until, having despoiled him of his armour, having quenched his fiery arrows, and broken his head, he cried, “It is finished,” and sent the fiend, bleeding and howling, down to hell. We can imagine him pursued by the eternal Saviour, who exclaims:—
My bolt shall find and pierce you through,
Though under hell’s profoundest wave
You div’st, to seek a shelt’ring grave.
His thunderbolt overtook the fiend, and grasping him with both his hands, the Saviour drew around him the great chain. The angels brought the royal chariot from on high, binding the captive fiend to its wheels. Lash the chargers up the everlasting hills! Spirits made perfect come forth to meet him. Hymn the conqueror who drags death and hell behind him, and leads captives captive! “Lift up your heads, oh you gates, and be lifted up, you everlasting doors, so that the King of glory may come in.” But stop; before he enters, let him be rid of his burden. Lo! he takes the fiend, and hurls him down through illimitable night, broken, bruised, with his power destroyed, bereft of his crown, to lie for ever howling in the pit of hell. Thus when the Saviour cried, “It is finished,” he had defeated Sin and Satan; and he even vanquished Death. Death had come against him, as Christmas Evans puts it, with his fiery arrow, which he struck right through the Saviour, until the point was lodged in the cross, and when he tried to pull it out again, he left the sting behind. What more could he do? He was disarmed. Then Christ set some of his prisoners free; for many of the saints arose and were seen by many: then he said to him, “Death, I take from you your keys; you must live for a little while to be the warden of those beds in which my saints shall sleep but give your keys to me.” And lo! the Saviour stands today with the keys of death hanging at his belt, and he waits until the hour shall come which no man knows; when the trumpet of the archangel shall ring like the silver trumpets of Jubilee, and then he shall say, “Let my captives go free.” Then the tombs shall be opened in virtue of Christ’s death, and the very bodies of the saints shall live again in an eternity of glory.
‘It is finish’d!’
Hear the dying Saviour cry.
Let Us Hear and Marvel at It.
10. II. Secondly, LET US HEAR AND MARVEL AT IT.
11. Let us perceive what mighty things were effected and secured by these words, “It is finished.” Thus he ratified the covenant. That covenant was signed and sealed before, and in all things it was ordered well, but when Christ said, “It is finished,” then the covenant was made doubly sure; when the blood of Christ’s heart sprinkled on the divine roll, then it could never be reversed, nor could one of its ordinances be broken, nor one of its stipulations fail. You know the covenant was like this. God covenants on his part that he would give Christ to see of the travail his soul; so that all who were given to him should have new hearts and right spirits; so that they should be washed from sin, and should enter into life through him. Christ’s side of the covenant was this—“Father, I will do your will; I will pay the ransom to the last jot and tittle, I will give you perfect obedience and complete satisfaction.” Now if this second part of the covenant had never been fulfilled, the first part would have been invalid, but when Jesus said, “It is finished,” then there was nothing left to be performed on his part, and now the covenant is all on one side. It is God’s “I will,” and “They shall.” “I will give you a new heart, and I will put a right spirit within you.” “I will sprinkle clean water upon you and you shall be clean.” “I will cleanse you from all your iniquities.” “I will lead you by a way that you do not know.” “I will surely bring them in.” The covenant that day was ratified. When Christ said, “It is finished,” his Father was honoured, and divine justice was fully displayed. The Father always loved his people. Do not think that Christ died to make God the Father loving. He always had loved them from before the foundation of the world, but—“It is finished,” took away the barriers which were in the Father’s way. He would, as a God of love, and now he could as a God of justice, bless poor sinners. From that day the Father is well pleased to receive sinners to his heart. When Christ said—“It is finished,” he himself was glorified. Then on his head descended the all glorious crown. Then the Father gave to him honours, which he did not have before. He had honour as God, but as man he was despised and rejected; now as God and man Christ was made to sit down for ever on his Father’s throne crowned with honour and majesty. Then, too, by “It is finished,” the Spirit was procured for us.
’Tis by the merit of his death
Who hung upon the tree,
The Spirit is sent down to breathe
On such dry bones as we.
Then the Spirit which Christ had promised, perceived a new and living way by which he could come to dwell in the hearts of men, and men might come up to dwell with him above. That day too, when Christ said—“It is finished,” the words had effect on heaven. Then the walls of chrysolite stood firm; then the jasper light of the pearly gated city shone like the light of seven days. Before that time, the saints had been saved as it were on credit. They had entered heaven, God having faith in his Son Jesus. If Christ had not finished his work, then surely they must have left their shining spheres, and suffered in their own bodies and souls for their own sins. I might represent heaven, if my imagination might be allowed a moment, as being ready to totter if Christ had not finished his work; its stones would have been loosened; massive and stupendous though its bastions are, yet they would have fallen as earthly cities reel under the throes of earthquake. But Christ said, “It is finished,” and oath, and covenant, and blood firmly established the dwellingplace of the redeemed, made their mansions safely and eternally their own, and bade their feet stand immoveable upon the rock. Indeed, more, that word “It is finished!” took effect in the gloomy caverns and depths of HELL. Then Satan bit his iron bands in rage, howling, “I am defeated by the very man whom I thought to overcome; my hopes are blasted, never shall an elect one come into my prison house, never a blood bought one shall be found in my abode.” Lost souls mourned that day, for they said—“‘It is finished!’ and if Christ himself, the substitute, could not be permitted to go free until he had finished all his punishment, then we shall never be free.” It was their double death knell, for they said “Alas for us! Justice, which would not allow the Saviour to escape, will never permit us to be at liberty. It is finished with him, and therefore it shall never be finished for us.” That day, too, the earth had a gleam of sunlight cast over her which she had never known before. Then her hilltops began to glisten with the rising of the sun, and though her valleys still are clothed with darkness, and men wander here and there, and grope in the noonday as in the night, yet that sun is rising, still climbing its heavenly steeps, never to set, and soon its rays shall penetrate through the thick mists and clouds, and every eye shall see him, and every heart shall be made glad with his light. The words “It is finished!” consolidated heaven, shook hell, comforted earth, delighted the Father, glorified the Son, brought down the Spirit, and confirmed the everlasting covenant to all the chosen seed.
Let Us Proclaim It.
12. III. And now I come to my last point, upon which I must be very brief. “It is finished!” LET US PROCLAIM IT.
13. Children of God, you who by faith received Christ as your all in all, tell it every day of your lives that “it is finished.” Go and tell it to those who are torturing themselves, thinking that through obedience and mortification they can offer satisfaction. That Hindu is about to throw himself down upon the spikes. Stop, poor man! why would you bleed, for “it is finished?” That Fakir2 is holding his hand erect until the nails grow through the flesh, torturing himself with fastings and with self-denials. Cease, cease, poor wretch, from all these pains, for “it is finished!” In all parts of the earth there are those who think that the misery of the body and the soul may be an atonement for sin. Rush to them, stop them in their madness and say to them, “Why do you this? ‘It is finished.’” All the pains that God asks for, Christ has suffered; all the satisfaction by way of agony in the flesh that the law demands, Christ has already endured. “It is finished!” And when you have done this, go next to the benighted votaries of Rome, when you see the priests with their backs to the people, offering every day the pretended sacrifice of the mass, and lifting up the host on high—a sacrifice, they say—“an unbloody sacrifice for the quick and the dead,”—cry, “Cease, false priest, cease! for ‘it is finished!’ Cease, false worshipper, cease to bow, for ‘it is finished!’” God neither asks for nor accepts any other sacrifice than what Christ offered once and for all upon the cross. Go be next to the foolish among your own countrymen who call themselves Protestants, but who are Papists after all, who think by their gifts and their gold, by their prayers and their vows, by their church goings and their chapel goings, by their baptisms and their confirmations, to make themselves fit for God; and say to them, “Stop, ‘it is finished;’ God does not need this of you. He has received enough; why will you pin your rags to the fine linen of Christ’s righteousness? Why will you add your counterfeit farthing to the costly ransom which Christ has paid in to the treasure house of God? Cease from your pains, your doings, your performances, for ‘it is finished;’ Christ has done it all.” This one text is enough to blow the Vatican to the four winds. Only lay this beneath Popery and like a train of gunpowder beneath a rock, it shall blast it into the air. This is a thunderclap against all human righteousness. Only let this come like a twoedged sword, and your good works and your fine performances are soon cast away. “It is finished.” Why improve on what is finished? Why add to what is complete? The Bible is finished, he who adds to it shall have his name taken out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city: Christ’s atonement is finished, and he who adds to that must expect the very same doom. And when you shall have proclaimed it like this into the ears of men of every nation and of every tribe, proclaim it to all poor despairing souls. You find them on their knees, crying “Oh God, what can I do to pay for my offences?” Tell them, “It is finished;” the payment is made already. “Oh God!” they say, “how can I ever get a righteousness in which you can accept such a worm as I am?” Tell them, “It is finished;” their righteousness is already worked out; they have no need to trouble themselves about adding to it, if “it is finished.” Go to the poor despairing wretch, who has given himself up, not merely for death, but for damnation—he who says, “I cannot escape from sin, and I cannot be saved from its punishment.” Say to him, “Sinner, the way of salvation is finished once and for all.” And if you meet some professing Christians in doubts and fears, tell them, “It is finished.” Why, we have hundreds and thousands that really are converted who do not know that “it is finished.” They never know that they are safe. They do not know that “it is finished.” They think they have faith today, but perhaps they may become unbelieving tomorrow. They do not know that “it is finished.” They hope God will accept them, if they do some things, forgetting that the way of acceptance is finished. God as much accepts a sinner who only believed in Christ five minutes ago, as he will a saint who has known and loved him for eighty years, for he does not accept men because of anything that they do or feel, but simply and only for what Christ did, and that is finished. Oh! poor hearts! some of you love the Saviour in a measure, but blindly. You are thinking that you must be this, and attain to that, and then you may be assured that you are saved. Oh! you may be assured of it today—if you believe in Christ you are saved. “But I feel imperfections.” Yes, but what of that? God does not regard your imperfections, but he covers them with Christ’s righteousness. He sees them to remove them, but not to lay them to your charge. “Indeed, but I cannot be what I wish to be.” But what if you cannot? Still God does not look at you, as what you are in yourself, but as what you are in Christ.
14. Come with me, poor soul, and you and I will stand together this morning, while the tempest gathers, for we are not afraid. How sharp is that lightning flash! but yet we do not tremble. How terrible is that peal of thunder! and yet we are not alarmed, and why? Is there anything in us why we should escape? No, but we are standing beneath the cross—that precious cross, which like some noble lightning rod in the storm, takes upon itself all the death from the lighting, and all the fury from the tempest. We are safe. Loud may you roar, oh thundering law, and terribly may you flash, oh avenging justice! We can look up with calm delight to all the tumult of the elements, for we are safe beneath the cross.
15. Come with me again. There is a royal banquet spread; the King himself sits at the table, and angels are the servants. Let us enter. And we do enter, and we sit down and eat and drink; but how dare we do this? our righteousnesses are as filthy rags—how could we dare to come here? Oh, because the filthy rags are not ours any longer. We have renounced our own righteousness, and therefore we have renounced the filthy rags, and now today we wear the royal garments of the Saviour, and are from head to foot arrayed in white, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; standing in the clear sunlight—black, but comely; loathsome in ourselves, but glorious in him; condemned in Adam, but accepted in the Beloved. We are neither afraid nor ashamed to be with the angels of God, to talk with the glorified; indeed, nor even alarmed to speak with God himself and call him our friend.
16. And now last of all, I proclaim this to sinners. I do not know where you are this morning, but may God find you out; you who have been a drunkard, swearer, thief; you who have been a blackguard of the blackest kind; you who have dived into the very pig stye, and rolled yourself in the mire—if today you feel that sin is hateful to you, believe in him who has said, “It is finished.” Let me hold your hand in mine; let us come together, both of us, and say, “Here are two poor naked souls, good Lord; we cannot clothe ourselves;” and he will give us a robe, for “it is finished.” “But, Lord, is it long enough for such sinners, and broad enough for such offenders?” “Yes,” he says, “it is finished.” “But we need washing, Lord! Is there anything that can take away black spots so hideous as ours?” “Yes,” he says, “here is the bath of blood.” “But must we not add our tears to it?” “No,” he says, “no, it is finished, there is enough.” “And now, Lord, you have washed us, and you have clothed us, but we still wish to be completely clean within, so that we may never sin any more; Lord, is there a way by which this can be done?” “Yes,” he says, “there is the bath of water which flows from the wounded side of Christ.” “And, Lord, is there enough there to wash away my guiltiness as well as my guilt?” “Indeed,” he says, “it is finished.” “Jesus Christ is made sanctification as well as redemption for you.” Child of God, will you have Christ’s finished righteousness this morning, and will you rejoice in it more than you have ever done before? And oh! poor sinner, will you have Christ or not? “Ah,” one says, “I am willing enough, but I am not worthy.” He does not want any worthiness. All he asks for is willingness, for you know how he puts it, “Whoever will let him come.” If he has given you willingness, you may believe in Christ’s finished work this morning. “Ah!” you say, “but you cannot mean me.” But I do, for it says, “Ho, everyone who thirsts.” Do you thirst for Christ? Do you wish to be saved by him? “Everyone who thirsts,”—not only that young woman over there, not simply that grey headed old rebel over there who has long despised the Saviour, but this mass below, and you in these double tiers of gallery—“Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters, and he who has no money come.” Oh that I could “compel” you to come! Great God, please make the sinner willing to be saved, for he wishes to be damned and will not come unless you change his will! Eternal Spirit, source of light, and life, and grace, come down and bring the strangers home! “It is finished.” Sinner, there is nothing for God to do. “It is finished;” there is nothing for you to do. “It is finished,” “Christ does not need to bleed.” It is finished; “you do not need to weep.” “It is finished,” God the Holy Spirit does not need to tarry because of your unworthiness, nor need you to tarry because of your helplessness. “It is finished;” every stumblingblock is rolled out of the road; every gate is opened; the bars of brass are broken, the gates of iron are burst asunder. “It is finished;” come and welcome, come and welcome! The table is laid; the fatlings are killed; the oxen are ready. Lo! here stands the messenger! Come from the highways and from the hedges; come from the dens and from the kens3 of London; come, you vilest of the vile; you who hate yourselves today, come! Jesus bids you; oh! will you tarry? Oh! Spirit of God, repeat the invitation, and make it an effectual call to many a heart, for Jesus’ sake! Amen.