“So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!” And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.” (John 19:30)

As evangelistic opportunities arise, it is critical that we present the gospel clearly. We dare not speak confusingly when dealing with a person’s eternal destiny. To speak clearly though, we must be certain we understand three simple words Christ uttered on the cross.

We are sinners, and because of our sin we deserve to be separated from God forever. Jesus Christ, the perfect Son of God, took our punishment for us. He was crucified in our place. He was our substitute. And on the third day, He rose from the dead, proving His victory over sin.

But note carefully Christ’s declaration as He hung on the cross in our place. “It is finished!” Finished is the translation of the New Testament Greek word tetelestai. In New Testament times, receipts were stamped with the word tetelestai, meaning that the debts they represented had been paid in full.

On the cross, Jesus Christ did not make a “down payment” for our sins. He made the full payment. We are not accepted by God on the basis of Christ plus our good life, baptism, or religious efforts. We are accepted by God on the basis of Christ period. His death and resurrection verified the fact that God was completely and forever satisfied with His Son’s payment for our sins. Our debt of sin was “paid in full.”

Therefore, as we present the gospel, we must explain that we are sinners, that we must recognize that Christ died for us and rose from the dead, and that we must trust in Christ alone to save us. We must be satisfied with the thing that satisfies God. God was satisfied that His Son’s death on the cross—and that alone—paid our debt of sin. Christ spoke clearly on the cross. We must echo that message just as clearly. Christ alone is our salvation.

God cannot accept anything we do as payment for our sins. But instead, God has already accepted His Son’s death as full payment. And through trust in Christ alone, we can be totally right with God.

Ask God for an opportunity this week to share Christ’s words on the cross—“It is finished!”—with an unbeliever. Ask for the words to clearly communicate this wonderful message.