Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 10, 1962
NUMBER 2, PAGE 4,12b

"It Is Finished!"


An earthly life, though brief as a mid-summer's night, is full and complete if it has been a life of faith and obedience. Jesus Christ was but thirty-three years of age when he exclaimed, "It is finished!" And it was. His work was done; his life was complete. There was nothing lacking, nothing wanting. He left nothing to be straightened out by others, no wrongs for others to right, no injustices for others to correct, no failures for others to mend. Paul, by way of contrast, speaks of himself as "the aged" ere the darkness of death descends upon him. But he, too, like his Master, could speak of a life well spent: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith." John the Baptist was even younger than Christ when his head was severed from his body; Peter went trembling with years to his cross and his crown. Stephen died young; Polycarp carried the burden of nearly a century of living to his fiery stake.

The worth of a life is not measured by its length. It is the quality, not the number, of our years which has significance. The teen-age youth whose heart is aflame with love for his master, and who even in childish immaturity has an unswerving devotion to truth and righteousness can meet death with far greater hope and assurance than can the ninety-year-old whose years have been selfishly or carelessly lived. The one could say "It is finished!" regardless of how early the sickle of death might cut him down; the other could never say, "It is finished!", even though he out-lived Methuselah.

What, then, is the basic difference? What gives worth and value and beauty to life without respect to days or years? What is the common denominator, the always present element, which enables a man to say "It is finished" regardless of whether death finds him at eighteen or at eighty-nine? Surely one thing present. In every such life is a deep sense of entrustment. Life is a trust, a stewardship, a sacred commitment. Man is not free "to live his own life," for his life is not his own; he has been "bought with a price." And because of that he must glorify God in his body.

Hardly anybody puts this feeling into words; hardly any one is actually conscious of it, or could define it or describe it. Yet it is certainly true that, expressed or unexpressed, realized or unrealized, the "sense of mission" dominates every life that is worth the living. The servants of God have understood that from the very dawn of time. Through all the long centuries of Old Testament history, this sense of mission is an unbroken thread in the lives of the faithful. Sometimes it was a prophet who felt the "burden of the Lord," and who was under a divine compulsion to speak; sometimes a common laborer in the field; it might have been a general in the armies; or perhaps a simple slave maiden serving in a foreign land. Whatever the circumstance, and whatever the age, or rank, or condition of life, the one who can bring his life to a close with the triumphant cry, "It is finished!" is one who has lived his life as one who shall give account. He has lived as one who looked "not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal."

Nowhere will this attitude manifest itself more clearly than in one's attitude toward the Bible, God's holy truth. A disregard of that message, unconcern toward it, or a careless handling of it is never to be found in the life of a dedicated man. The oft-repeated, and God-dishonoring clich that "we do many things without Bible authority" is a bit of blasphemy that never falls from the lips of an understanding man. It is the mark of a man void of understanding, and very likely void of any desire to understand.

In this issue of the paper we carry several articles on the Bible --- its inspiration, its usefulness, and its supreme authority. Either the Bible is a full and complete guide to us in our living, or it is no guide at all. If we are to accept it as the final and ultimate revelation of God's will for us, then we have no alternative but to study it with diligence and infinite care, with a determination to do exactly what it teaches --- not holding it loosely or thoughtlessly. But, on the contrary, measuring every decision of our lives, every act of worship, every word that we speak by the divine standard --- "what saith the law?" Or, as Paul put it by inspiration, "Whatsoever ye do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." (Col. 3:17)

Whether our years be few or many, whether they be crowned with worldly success and renown or be lived in poverty and obscurity, whether earthly happiness or earthly misery be our lot is not particularly important. One thing, and only one, really matters: Can we look back over the span of years when death rings down the curtain and say, "It is finished!" --- can we measure our lives by the divine standard of faithful obedience? The judgment of men means nothing; the judgment of God is the only thing that need concern us. With an eye single to that great day, and with a heart filled with gratitude to God for enabling us to know how to prepare for it, let us "work out our own salvation with fear and trembling."

— F. Y. T.