It Was Not Finished
by David J. Stewart
April 2005 | Updated August 2014

“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 sincere mistake of saying that Jesus finished His work of redemption on the cross, but this cannot be 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 Christ died on the cross for our sins, was buried and bodily resurrected from the dead after three days. When Jesus exclaimed, “It is finished,” not even one of these events had taken place.

What Was Finished?

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

“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). 

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. The King James translators used the word atonement once in the New Testament in Romans 5:11 to signify that Christ had once and for all completed redemption. Christ's blood didn't merely cover our sins; but rather, Christ's precious blood washed them away forever. Gone, gone, gone, yes my sins are gone!

Christ's work of redemption was completely finished at the heavenly Mercy Seat (which was foreshadowed by the work of the Old Testament high priest in the earthly tabernacle). Hebrews 10:1, “For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices which they offered year by year continually make the comers thereunto perfect.” Christ's virgin birth, sinless life, vicarious (substitutionary) death, burial and bodily resurrection and His ascension into Heaven; but it all led up the blood being APPLIED to the mercy seat in Heaven. Jesus died in our place as the Lamb of God, taking our sins upon Himself to redeem us with His own literal precious blood (1st Peter 1:18-19). Jesus arose and ascended as our High Priest, sprinkling His liquid blood upon the mercy seat in the heavenly holy place to appease the wrath of God (Hebrews 9:24).

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.


Some preachers teach that Jesus suffered the torment of our sins in Hell for the three days while He was in the grave, but the Bible does not tell us this. The Bible says Jesus was in Hell, and the Greek word is Hades, which can mean either the place of torment or Paradise (as evidenced in the true story in Luke 16:19-31). I believe that Christ went to liberate the saints in Paradise (Abraham's Bosom), taking them to Heaven. There is much debate on this issue. Many good preachers deny any Old Testament place of Paradise, but the story Jesus told in Luke 16:19-31 about the rich man and Lazarus would be a misrepresentation and misleading if the Lord were telling a fictional story. When Jesus told parables, He always said so and afterwards explained the parable. In Luke 16:19-31 the Lord didn't say it was a parable, neither did He explain later what it meant. Thus, we know that we ought to accept this as a literal account of something that happened. Jesus said what He meant, and meant what He said (John 14:1-2).

When the Lord uttered the words, “It is finished,” He was simply signifying that He had completed everything that He was supposed to do up until that time. The Lord knew the Scriptures fully. He knew that it was critically important that every prophecy be fulfilled, just as it had been foretold throughout the Old Testament. In John 19:30 we plainly read, “When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished.” Jesus had just said in the previous two verses that He was thirsty, and now He is being given vinegar, which was prophesied in Psalms 69:21. With the fulfilling of this last prophecy, Jesus had completed everything that remained to be done. His earthly work was finished.

It's Ok To Teach That Christ Paid For Our Sins On The Cross

Please understand that to be saved a person needs only to receive what Christ did on the cross to pay for his sins. Don't confuse this with the need for Christ's virgin birth, His sinless life, deity, His resurrection, ascension and application of His literal blood to the mercy seat in Heaven. All of these things are 100% absolutely necessary for Christ's sacrifice on the cross to be valid. If Jesus had been born of a sinful man, then He could not have been the perfect and sinless Lamb of God. If Jesus had sinned even once, then He would have needed a Savior Himself and could not have been our Savior. If Jesus were not deity in the flesh, then He could not have lived a sinless life. If Jesus had sinned, then God Father wouldn't have accepted Him as the spotless Lamb of God (1st Peter 1:18-19). If Christ hadn't risen from the dead, then He couldn't be our High Priest and we couldn't be justified. So it is acceptable when preachers talk about Christ paying it all on Calvary, because they are speaking inclusively of all the things that I just mentioned.

The satanic religious cult of Jehovah's Witnesses (JW's) believe and teach that Jesus died on a stake (not a cross) for man's sins, but they deny His deity, deny the Godhead and deny Christ's bodily resurrection. JW's deny a place of eternal punishment in Hell. JW's propagate a false gospel of works-salvation. They preach another Jesus that is not God; but rather, Michael the archangel. JW's have a demonic spirit, not the Holy Spirit. Anyone who denies the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith are not saved. Someone once ask Dr. Bob Jones Sr. if a person could be saved and not believe in the virgin birth. Dr. Bob wisely replied that a person who is saved WILL BELIEVE in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ.

You don't have to become a theologian to be saved. It is easy and simple to be saved. If you see yourself as an unholy sinner in the eyes of a holy God, believing that Jesus is the risen Christ Who died on the cross to pay for your sins, then you are saved immediately and forever. When I got saved at age 13 I didn't know that Jesus was God. I learned ate age 19 that Jesus was God, when another Christian took a Bible and taught me. I believed that truth immediately, because the Holy Spirit living in me as a Christian (1st Corinthians 3:16-17; Romans 8:9; John 16:13) told me that it is true. When people deny these Biblical truths, that is, the doctrine of Christ, it is because they are unsaved and do not have God's Spirit in them.

We're Saved By God's Righteousness Through Faith In Jesus Christ

Philippians 3:9-10, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death.”

Anybody who says salvation comes by faith plus something is a false teacher. 1st Corinthians 15:1-4 defines the Gospel as three things; namely, Christ's death on the cross, His burial and His bodily resurrection three days later. To add anything to the Gospel is a false plan of salvation. Notice that the Gospel includes knowing that Christ died for “OUR SINS.” You must know that you are a sinner to be saved, but you don't have to try or commit to stop sinning to be saved as some heretics claim.

Whatever changes that God desires to be made in your life as a new believer is a matter of discipleship and not salvation. Beware of anyone who mixes and confuses discipleship with salvation. They are totally different and separate. It is very easy to be saved, so easy that even a small child who knows he or she is a sinner in God's eyes can be saved simply by relying upon Jesus, trusting that Jesus died on the cross to pay for their sins, was buried in a tomb, and has risen bodily from the dead.

The Importance of the Blood

The Blood Applied in Heaven