What Calvinists call “the Finished Work of Christ”

by Terry Wane Benton

The Calvinists are often heard making of “the finished work of Christ” something that was never intended. They say there is nothing we can do to be saved. They say all doing is “finished” by what Christ did on the cross. But that is a misuse of the verses.

Sure, Christ finished the necessary provisions for salvation, but He does not force it on us so that we are all saved. Since God “would have all men to be saved” (I Timothy 2:4) and “is not willing that any should perish” (II Peter 3:9), would it be true that all men will be saved because Jesus “finished” the work? No! Jesus did not hear the gospel for us (Romans 10:17) and believed for us. We have to do that in order to cash into the finished payment of Jesus. We can’t say that “no man needs to repent” (Acts 17:30-31) because Jesus “finished” all that needs to be done. Repentance is necessary on our end in order to benefit from Jesus’ payment for sin on the cross (Luke 13:3; Acts 2:38). A billionaire may stipulate conditions for his paying all our house notes. He does the work of paying the cost, while we may be required to sign some legal papers. His requirement that we sign a document does not mean we paid the note. It means he paid the note on the condition of our signing of the paper. Signing the paper does not earn anything. It is simply a condition required to receive the benefits desired.

When the 3000 Jews asked Peter “What shall we do?” (Acts 2:37), Peter did not say, “Jesus finished everything so that there is nothing for you to do.” He told them what was expected of them in order to have “the remission of sins” Jesus paid for on the cross. Jesus “finished” the payment, but they had to sign up for the payment to be received. They believed, repented, and were baptized in Jesus’ name “for the remission of sins.”(Acts 2:38-41) They would not have received it if they did not sign up in this way. Jesus gave conditions. He pays our debts on the condition of a faith that repents and is baptized in His name. If we don’t meet the conditions, we don’t get the remission of sins. He finished His work on the cross to pay our debts, but we must meet His conditions. Meeting the conditions does not pay the debt. Jesus did that. Meeting the conditions meets the requirements for the reception of the payment. Grace provides the payment and offers the conditions, and we are required to meet the conditions through faith.

Do not allow someone to twist the meaning of “the finished work of Christ” so that you swallow the lie that there is nothing you must do to be saved. Peter was guided by the true Holy Spirit to speak the conditions that were necessary to receive the remission of sins. Those who teach the opposite of Peter are causing people to miss out on the free gift Jesus offers on His terms. Do not be deceived!

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