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Martin Lloyd-Jones on John 17:4 and Jesus’ Fulfilment of the Law

31 July, 2008

Jesus, praying to his Father, says in John 17:4,

I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.

Here’s a bit of what Dr Lloyd-Jones says about this brief but amazing verse:

“‘I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do’, he says, and as we go on from that we see that he has done certain things for us which none other could ever do for us and which we can never do for ourselves. He has been telling his disciples about it in the earlier chapters, and here he sums it up.

What he has done for us is that he has satisified the law and all its demands.

It is amazing to me how people can look at and preach about Christ, his life and death and never mention the law. But unless the law of God is satisfied, there is no salvation. The law is opposed to us; it stands there and demands a perfect, absolute obedience and it threatens us with death if we fail in any one respect. If Christ has not fulfilled the law, we are yet in our sins, we are undone, we are damned and we are lost; but he has finished the work, the books have been cleared, the law has been satisfied, there is therefore now no condemnation to them that are in Christ Jesus.

Do you know that? Are you rejoicing in it? Are you ready to take your stand with Toplady and say:

The terrors of law and of God/ With me can have nothing to do,/ My Saviour’s obedience and blood/ Hide all my transgressions from view.

What a wonderful thing it is that here, just before he actually goes to the cross, he anticipates it all. He knows what he is going to do, and there is no uncertainty about it. He says, ‘I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.’ It is already done, it is complete.

We preach, therefore, a completed salvation. There is nothing left for us to do but to receive it; there is nothing that we must add to it; there is no good work or any merit that we must provide: it is all in Christ and in Christ alone.”

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5 Comments
  1. 31 July, 2008 12:28 pm

    I was listening to MLJ while working. He never gets old. This such a good quote.

  2. 31 July, 2008 3:40 pm

    What a blessing it is to read this article! This indeed is the Gospel, truly Good News!

    And yet, how many will nod their head in feign approval and then later try to add their own works to this “completed salvation. There is nothing left for us to do but to receive it; there is nothing that we must add to it; there is no good work or any merit that we must provide: it is all in Christ and in Christ alone.”

    I have seen this desire to add their own work even by some in Reformed circles.

    Paul warns us: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain–if indeed it was in vain? So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” Galatians 3:3-12.

    The temptation is strong when we are recognized as a Christian leader that we will both feel that we should and that we are able to perfect ourselves or add additional obedience or righteousness of our own. But, the warning is severe that if we do this, then we are under the curse to live by our own obedience and our own righteousness.

    As a final note, I love your web site and find that I am commenting a lot. If you want me to stop or slow down, just let me know. Thank you.

  3. 31 July, 2008 7:42 pm

    No. Bill we like you. I’ve just been buried in my work for this weekend’s youth camp plus sunday’s sermon. otherwise i’d be chatting more. brannan is out slaying dragon’s somewhere. so after this weekend i hope to get up some good interviews. one from matt morgan (berith olam’s website) and a few others including more book reviews.
    thanks Bill. You’re always an encouragement. stay faithful brother!

  4. 2 August, 2008 2:24 am

    I’m not actually slaying dragons; I’m doing something MORE draining and time consuming (and scary): moving across town while trying to get the old apartment ready to turn back over to the landlord–all with no car.

    ~B

  5. 3 August, 2008 8:55 pm

    yeah, but that’s not good copy.
    i just finished youth camp. tried doing vos on some of my young korean pcusa homies….lotsa deer in the headlight faces.

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