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Some writers have said that these words of Jesus are the three most powerful ever spoken. He speaks these words while nailed to a cross, about to die (John 19.30). He gives his spirit to the Father (Luke 23.46), shouts with his last breath, and then leaves his body hanging, limp and bruised, on the cross. It is finished.


But not everything is finished. His spirit is not finished—it goes to the Father, who renews and resurrects it in a body, complete with the scars of his crucifixion.


Something needs to finish before it can be completed, and Jesus concluded his mighty act of salvation by physically dying. But, just as a seed germinates in the ground and from its death new plants are formed and developed, so also from the death of Jesus God prepares new lives—new people—with the old skin of their sins removed. The forgiveness was complete—it was finished!


But that was also just the beginning. Now people redeemed by the blood of Jesus are going to live a life that is truly new. It would not happen quickly or, probably, quietly.


However, the condemnation of sin, which we live under, was finished. Not because of any of our work on earth, but because we humbly repented from those sins and prayed to God for his Holy Spirit to grant us courage and energy to live a different life from our past. The old life and the desire to follow Satan and his temptations could be finished.


But were they? No, not entirely. There was still an “old man” lurking in the corner of our skin with its selfish desires. They were not finished, but they could be overcome by the power of God and his Spirit. The work of the Spirit continued.


Many years ago, when Joice and I worked in Papua New Guinea, we wanted to see the translation of the Scriptures for a group of people called the Kewa. In 1972, fifteen years after we started, Joice took a photo of Kirapeasi, the main translator, and me, holding a stack of manuscripts of the complete New Testament. It was finished!


But, of course, it wasn’t. The manuscripts had to be typed into a computer, analyzed, checked, proofread, and then finally printed. There would be a dedication and selling of the New Testament. People would be taught to read the materials. Finishing a New Testament for publication is a major event, but only one in a series of an ongoing work.


We both did study programs at universities and received diplomas as proof of our accomplishments. The degrees were finished! But of what value is a degree if you don’t put the material to use? We needed to apply what we had researched and learned to language programs with people, teaching others the principles we had worked hard to master. It was not finished!


We had two children in PNG and their births were hard for Joice. I am sure she thought, “I’m glad that is finished.” Of course, it wasn’t—it was only the beginning of their physical, social, and spiritual development, with marriages, children of their own, and “much more” to follow. As any parent knows, it doesn’t finish once the children are born!


With insight from the Lord over the years, we helped develop two major programs: the development of the Bible Translation Association of PNG and the Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics (now Dallas International University). However, and thanks be to God, they are not finished! 


When Jesus said, “It is finished,” he meant his earthly life. What happened after that is still far from finished and we have the privilege of continuing his work. 


There will be a day when Jesus comes back and only then we can say with love and confidence, “It is finished.” It is a powerful sentence, but two other great three-word expressions are:             

He is risen.

He is coming.

Karl Franklin


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