When Jesus cried ‘It is finished!’ it was a cry of completion, of a course taken and accomplished. It was of the same nature as a signed completion document on a house purchase. Nothing more needs to be added to the transaction, although the purchaser may not yet have taken up occupancy, there is nothing to prevent them doing so. The redeemed people of God had been purchased, and fifty days later at Pentecost, God possessed his purchased possession through the coming of the Holy Spirit. Previously God had lived among his people, now he lived in his people.
When Jesus returned to heaven and sat down at the right hand of God, he shifted the director’s seat from the earthly stage, to a point where he had a fuller perspective and full control. It was not that the ones left on stage needed to write their own script, but with continuous, unhindered access to the director, they were to consult with him and interpret his directions for their own part in the story. Even the leading players among them were not given control of the plot, but they were to cooperate with everyone on stage to fulfil the director’s wishes.
One of the errors that has been creeping back into the church is that of priestcraft. Martin Luther and the other reformers reclaimed many truths, not least of which is the fact that every redeemed child of God has direct access to the Father through the one true eternal priest, ordained after the order of Melchizedek, the Messiah Jesus Christ. I heard recently of a local church where the members were told that only the bishop could hear what the Holy Spirit was saying. The form varies, but even if it is not explicitely stated, many churches work on the basis that it is the leader’s job (that is pastor, minister, bishop, elder or whatever) to hear from God on behalf of everyone else. The clear teaching of the nature of the New Covenant is summarised in the prophecy from Jeremiah quoted by the writer to the Hebrews:
“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.None of them shall teach his neighbour, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.” (Hebrews Ch 8 v10-11)
God promises to put his laws in the minds and hearts of all his people, not just an elite few. Before the Reformation, the priests insisted that they and only they had the keys of heaven and hell, and that the people could only come to God through them. It was not and is not a leader’s role to hear on behalf of the people, but to teach the people how to hear from God for themselves.
When everyone hears what the Spirit is saying to the Churches, the control remains firmly in the capable hands of Jesus. If the people do not listen for themselves but delegate that task to a leader, they are transferring the job of building the church away from Jesus to their fellow men and women.
Jesus has accomplished everything necessary in order to bring forth a glorious church that will be the wonder of creation throughout eternity. Please do not think that the many human imitations that we see on every street corner will astound and astonish anybody for even a minute. We can never build the church and, whatever else it may be, any group that is dependent on human organisation is not a true expression of God’s new creation.
As good as it was, the Reformation did not correct error for all time. Each generation needs to be corrected and reformed. We all have access to God to put ourselves under the searchlight of his word, and to ask him to speak afresh too all of us from the least to the greatest.