Articles from January 2020

Tetelestai – “It Is Finished!”

Tetelestai is the last word that Jesus spoke while He was on the cross, right before He “gave up His spirit” and died (John 19:30). It is one of the most important words that Jesus ever spoke, because it explains to us the mission of Jesus in the world and the purpose of the cross.

Literally the word tetelestai means “it is finished.” The verb teleo means “to bring to an end, or to complete, or to finish.” This word appears only two times in the New Testament (John 19:28, 30). In John 19:28, John implies that all of the prophecies about Jesus were fulfilled or completed. In John 19:30, Jesus uses the term to describe the completed work that Jesus accomplished with His life and death. It is interesting that in New Testament times, the word tetelstai was often associated with the canceling of business debts. The word would often be written on documents or receipts indicating that a bill had been paid in full, or that a debt had been canceled.

It is also interesting to note the verb tense that Jesus uses. In Greek, Jesus used the perfect tense. This is significant because this tense implies an action which has been completed in the past with result continuing into the present. Unlike the past tense which only looks back to an event and says, “it happened,” the perfect tense adds the idea that “it happened and it is still in effect today.”

So what is finished?
Jesus was very clear that He came into the world to do the “work of His Father.” He said in John 6:38 – “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” So, what was the work that is now finished on the cross? Consider what has been completed on the cross:

  • The work of redemption that the Father had given to Jesus was accomplished.
  • Every prophecy of God had been fulfilled. (John 19:28)
  • Sin has been completely atoned. (1 Jn 3:5, 4:10)
  • Satan has been defeated & rendered powerless. (1 Jn 3:8)
  • Every requirement of God’s righteous Law had been satisfied. (2 Cor 5:21)
  • God’s holy wrath against sin had been appeased or propitiated. (1 Jn 2:2, Rom 3:25)

Payment to Whom?
There was a theory presented in the early Church by a Church father named Origen, who suggested that the payment that Christ made was to Satan in satisfaction for the bondage and debt on the souls of humanity as a result of inherited sin. This theory is known as the Ransom to Satan theory. In other words, Christ paid Satan so that Satan would release sinners from the bondage of sin and Satan’s kingdom. The problem with this view is that the Bible never speaks of sinners as owing Satan anything. Satan is nothing but a created being, who deserves nothing. Second, the Bible is clear that sinners have a huge debt that they owe to God who is holy. The death of Christ should be understood only as a means to satisfy the demands of God’s justice. A ransom was definitely paid, but it was paid to God alone (Mark 10:45).

What does this mean for us?
1. It means that sinners can have ALL of their sin debt paid in full! The work of Christ on the cross is sufficient to cancel every sin regardless of how little or how great the sin debt. The incredible payment of Jesus is sufficient to forgive the worst of sinners.

2. It means that forgiveness is a GIFT and that works play no part in our salvation. It is an affront to God for sinners to think that they can contribute to their salvation through their works. The atonement of Christ is not a cooperation between man and God. It is the sole transaction of God providing what is needed for unable and weak sinners (Eph 2:8-9).

3. It means that sinners can rest in the accomplished work of Christ. We must change our mindset about living holy lives. Living holy lives is very important. But our holy lives do not contribute to our salvation. Once our debt has been fully paid, through faith in Jesus Christ, the transaction has been completed and we have been fully justified. Holy living becomes the result of our forgiveness not the source. Certainly, if there is no holiness in our lives, our conversion should be questioned. But our salvation is solely on the work of Christ, so that no one can boast about anything except in the cross. We must no longer view God as some mean Father who continues to punish us when we sin. In Christ all of our sins have been fully paid in the cross of Christ. Therefore, we have the love of God lavished on us and we are truly “sons.”

4. It means that we must tell others about the good news. Since the work of Christ is complete, there is no other way to be saved. We have the good news and must share it with others that they too can have all of their sin debt “paid in full.”


Inviting Others to Church

On the first Sunday of January, we handed out invitation cards (five cards each person to be exact) for the congregation to use to invite others to Ebenezer. If you didn’t get your packet, please pick up some at the Welcome Center and join us in our mission. We continually stress the importance of thinking with eternity in mind. Simply inviting someone to church is one way to begin that process. If the truth were known, most of us have never invited anyone to come to church. And, to be honest, it is one of the easiest ways to be involved in the Great Commission. We don’t have to go overseas to do the Lord’s work. There are people in our own backyard who have never heard the Gospel or have heard a false Gospel and need to be saved. Consider why, who, and how to invite someone to Church.

Why should we invite anyone to Church?

To act like Jesus: Remember it was Jesus who invited you to come to Him (Matt 11:28-30). His invitation was probably through the voice of another human who reached out to you. Someone else was faithful to act like Jesus and invited you to church or shared the Gospel with you. Jesus came to “seek and save” the lost (Luke 19:10) and we must also seek out those who are lost. We do that when we invite them to church.

To obey Jesus: It was Jesus who gave us the Great Commission (Matt 28:19-20). We are to go into all the world, but often times we fail to go to our own neighbor. Inviting others to church is one way we can fulfill our responsibility to obey Jesus and introduce Him to a lost world.

To truly love others: If we love people genuinely, then we must be concerned for more than their physical welfare. Philanthropy, benevolence, and goodwill are wonderful, but if we truly love people we will be concerned for their souls. Since the Church is the “pillar and buttress of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15), by inviting others to church they will hear the truth. Ebenezer is very concerned with being faithful to Scripture. When newcomers attend our services, they will definitely hear that they are a sinner and that Jesus Christ saves. Introducing them to this Gospel message is the most loving thing you can do for any lost person.

To act out your faith: James says bluntly that “faith without works is dead.” He goes on to say “But someone will say, ‘You have faith and I have works.’ Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:14-18). When we invite others to church we are agreeing that faith in Christ is the most important part of life. We are actually putting feet to what we believe. If we never share the Gospel and never are concerned about inviting others to church we may have a real heart issue. Our own faith may be “dead.”

To see the greater purpose: When we invite others to church, somehow the Lord does a work in our heart and shows us that all of this isn’t just for me! We are often so egocentric that we forget that “church” has a much greater purpose. The Church is the bride of Christ saved by His blood (Acts 20:28). When the Church gathers, we gather to worship in truth and spirit. We gather to be equipped by the Word of God, and we leave to go into the world to share the “Good News.” When we fail to invite others on a regular basis, it is possible to lose sight of what church is all about. When we are engaged, we begin to see the greater purpose.

Who do I invite to Church?

In a word, EVERYONE! Sometimes we don’t think this way, but everyone will be blessed by being in church. This means that there is no one exempt.

We should start in our inner circle with our self and family. We should make a commitment to be in church on regular basis for ourselves. Then we should think about our family & relatives who need Christ. Next, we should be concerned about our closest friends. Then we should consider those who we see on a regular basis in our neighborhood or work. Finally, we should consider inviting simple acquaintances and, yes, even total strangers. We must be prepared to ask everyone we come into contact with to come to church with us. Make it a point to start to think differently. Strategically think through how you can invite others and be prepared on a weekly basis.

How do I invite someone to Church?

Most unchurched people will not understand why you are inviting them to come to church, and this is okay. We shouldn’t expect them, in their lost state, to have any desire at all to come to church. Furthermore, unchurched people may have attended church in the past and had a horrible experience (in their opinion, whether right or wrong). As we invite others to come to Ebenezer, we should be prayerfully sensitive to them, but we should not be afraid to diligently persist and ask others to come to church. It doesn’t have to be difficult to invite someone to come to church with you, even a total stranger. Here are a few things to consider when asking someone to come to Church:

Be in control of the conversation. This doesn’t mean to be domineering, but to speak with a mission. Ask the Lord to help you find a way to interject something into the conversation that will allow you to bring up spiritual things or church attendance. Then simply ask, “Hey, do you attend a local church?” If they respond yes, ask questions to confirm it. If you discover that it is not a sound church, invite them to your doctrinally sound church. If they are clearly a Christian and go to a sound, biblical church, give praise to God.

Always speak with gentleness & kindness. If they show no interest, do not “sting” them in return.

God may still be working on them for the future. You want to make sure that while you are truthful, you are still sensitive that this whole “church” thing is the Lord’s work. And you certainly don’t want to do damage to the Lord’s work.

Being bad-tempered only brings dishonor to the Lord. Be like a bee who goes from one flower to the next looking for nectar. If the bee doesn’t find nectar he simply moves on the next flower. The bee doesn’t sting the flower where he finds no nectar. Remember that it is very possible that your invitation will be rejected. This should not discourage you. Jesus was greatly rejected and despised (Jn 1:11, Is 53:3).

Give them an Ebenezer invite card. Even if they don’t want the card, most people will take what you give them. The card has all our service times and information. They may throw the card away, but they may also keep it and check out the church. The Lord may use the information you give them down the road.

Be ready to defend & answer hard questions. The Apostle Peter reminds us, “in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Pet 3:15). It is possible that you will receive opposition and hard questions. The first thing to do is immediately pray for help (in your mind, like Nehemiah in Neh 4:2), then proceed to answer their questions to the best of your ability. If you are not equipped to answer their questions, point them to the website that is listed on the back side of the Ebenezer invitation card. has put together a wonderful video-based website designed to answer many hard questions that unbelievers ask Christians. If they continue in opposition, simply find a way out of the conversation and pray for them as you depart (Matt 5:44).

What do we do if they say yes?

I think we should be expecting that people will say yes to our invitation to come to church. Hopefully, before you ask, you are praying that God would prepare the person’s hearts to respond positively. And when they say yes, we should not act surprised, but be ready to befriend them as they are introduced to a group of people to whom they are totally new. You can imagine how fearful it might be for someone to come into a large group of people whom they do not know, doing strange things that they do not understand. So how do we respond?

  • Tell them that they can sit with you and that you will be looking for them. You may even offer to pick them up to make it easy.
  • Tell them what to expect; we will be singing, giving, praying and listening to a sermon & taking notes.
  • Be sensitive to them as they may have some very deep hurts that need healing.
  • Introduce them to others in the church so that they can see the warmth of the body of Christ.
  • Follow up with them afterward, helping them process what they experienced and possibly asking them questions about salvation. Don’t be afraid to probe with deep questions. If they are unchurched, they have probably never had someone be lovingly concerned about their spiritual welfare. It is not loving to ignore the fact that they may be on their way to hell!
  • Pray for them diligently – that the Holy Spirit would do His saving work in their heart.

Embrace the Mission

There is no reason why everyone of us, young people included, should not be actively inviting others to attend our worship service at Ebenezer. Wouldn’t it be exciting to see new faces and new people coming into a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ? Consider the joy that it would bring your own heart to know that the Lord used you to bring someone into the Kingdom of God, or to help another believer grow deeper in their walk with Jesus. Four times this year (once per quarter) we will be handing out packets of invitation cards. Please do not get disgruntled when they are handed out, but, rather, embrace our mission!