It Was Not Finished

by David J. Stewart

“But BY HIS OWN BLOOD he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” —Hebrews 9:12

       I have often heard preachers make the mistake of saying that Jesus finished his work of redemption on the cross; this is not true. The gospel of Jesus Christ is defined as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1st Corinthians 15:1-4). 

The gospel is simple; Jesus died, was buried and rose again. However, not even one of these events had taken place yet when Jesus said,” It is finished.”

“After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst. Now there was set a vessel full of vinegar: and they filled a sponge with vinegar, and put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth. When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost” (John 19:28-30). 

What Was Finished?

All the PROPHECY concerning Christ up until that moment had been finished. The Bible makes this very clear...

Notice in John 19:28 that Jesus was very concerned that all the prophecies concerning Him be fulfilled. Jesus knew the Old Testament prophecies like no one else did. Jesus knew exactly what was supposed to happen next so I said, “I thirst.” After all the prophecies concerning Christ were fulfilled, Jesus then (and only then) said, “It is finished.” All of the prophecies concerning Christ had been fulfilled up to that moment on the cross, and now Jesus could give up the Spirit and die. Let us never say that the atonement was finished when Jesus said "it is finished." Jesus still needed to die, be buried, and rise again. Thank God, He did just that.

*Please note that I used the word atonement above, because many great men of God still do in their preaching, which is acceptable In my opinion. However, it ought to be pointed out to you, the reader, that atonement means to cover and is strictly an Old Testament word. It is the same word that is used for the pitch by which Noah was commanded by God to COVER the ark to make it waterproof.

Christ's work of redemption was completely finished at the heavenly mercy seat (the same as the Old Testament high priest in the earthly tabernacle). Hebrews 9:12,24 evidence this truth. Christ's virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious (substitutionary) death, burial and bodily resurrection were all necessary for our redemption; but it all led up the blood being APPLIED to the mercy seat in Heaven. Jesus died in our place, taking our sins upon Himself to redeem us with His own literal precious blood (1st Peter 1:18-19).

If the Old Testament high priest killed the lamb and went home, the sins of the people were not atoned for. The lamb's blood had to be carried by a bowl into the holy of holies and applied to the mercy seat (which rested upon the Ark of the Covenant).

Here are the eloquent words of Dr. Jack Hyles (1926-2001) concerning the importance of the blood being applied...

In the Old Testament, the High Priest killed two goats on the Day of Atonement. The blood of one goat was taken by the High Priest into the Holy Place to the Ark of the Covenant. On the top of the Ark of the Covenant was the Mercy Seat. Over that Mercy Seat were two cherubims beaten out of pure gold. Between the wings of those cherubims was the Glory of God. The blood from the goat that was sacrificed was applied to the proper place which was the Mercy Seat. If the blood did not get to the Mercy Seat, then it was the proper price, but not paid to the proper place. It would have been no more valid than that check written but not paid to the creditor.

If the blood of Jesus was left on the ground at the cross, that means it did not get to the Holy Place and is not valid. "What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus." It is not just the blood shed, but also the blood applied.

God told Moses to instruct the people to apply the blood of the lamb at the Passover. When He passed over and saw the blood of that lamb, He would withhold His judgment. God did not judge them based on His omniscience. He made a point of letting them know that He would not judge them only when He saw the blood. It was not enough that the blood was shed. The blood had to be properly applied.


The Importance of the Blood

The Blood Applied in Heaven