Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Final Exam

Have you ever failed an exam or even worse failed a class? I did! In college I changed my major a number of times before finally settling on Economics. During those "years of discovery" I took a little of everything, I took Marine Biology, I took Photography, I took Ceramics, I took College Trigonometry and did fine in all of them. Heck, I made a B in College Trig but there was this one class that kicked my fanny in college... Financial Accounting.

It was the Spring of 1986 when I finally decided I wanted to major in Business with a concentration in Economics so, like every good Business major, I signed up for Financial Accounting. No problem I thought, I will check this off my list of courses needed and be on my merry way! NOT. Even though it was 25 years ago I can still name my professor, I can still see her dark hair and I can still hear her voice! I found out quick that I went into this thinking I knew what I was doing but had no idea so I withdrew! Quickly! Whew!

But that's not the end of the story obviously. I waited for a year and in the Spring of 1987 I gave it another shot. A year of experience under my belt and a new professor and I knew I was going to make it. Things started off rocky and I never recovered I earned an F (although I did not think I earned it at the time). Wow, an F in college! I was not a slacker, I did go to class, I did attempt the homework and I took the exams. This was unfair! This was an injustice! This battle was not over!

Fast forward one more year. One more year of experience under my belt, a unsuccessful, full term of Financial Accounting under my belt, I was now ready. The Spring of 1988 I signed up again. New professor, new year, new attitude, this was going to be my revenge on Financial Accounting. I went to class, I did the homework, I went to study groups and at the end of the term when grades were posted I earned an F! What, there is no way! There is a conspiracy going on here!

After a heart to heart with my advisor I switched to a straight BS in Economics and was not required to take Financial Accounting ever again! Finally justice had been served! Well, sot of, the two F's on my college transcripts are still there to this day. More about that in a minute.

So where is all of this going? This week I was reading and came across a passage in II Corinthians:
II Corinthians 13: 5 - 5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?
I have been processing and chewing on this whole concept of easy believe-ism, saying a prayer and thinking that your eternity is set, you are going to heaven. Paul says to examine yourself, test yourself to see if you are in the faith. Is the test or exam really as simple as saying did I say a "sinners prayer", check yes or no? Did anyone in scripture say a prayer to guarantee their salvation? Did Peter say a prayer, did Paul say a prayer to "accept Jesus into his heart"? What about John or James or Timothy, are there any verses that teach this?

I know what you are thinking. Yes, In Romans is says so.
Romans 10: 9 - That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
I believed this too until I heard Clayton King explain it in his book Dying to Live. He explains that when Paul wrote this during the first century, the Caesar would throw lavish parties and banquets, everyone wanted to go. Caesar would intentionally invite Christians to see how they would respond to the invitation. If you decided to go you would be personally greeted by Caesar himself accompanied by two of his soldiers of course. In order to enter you would have to show the palms of your hands letting them know you had no weapons, you had to bow your head to expose your neck and declare "Caesar is Lord". If you did this you were allowed to enter the banquet and enjoy yourself. If you refused to say "Caesar is Lord" one of his soldiers would quickly draw his sword and strike your exposed neck killing you instantly!

So my question is would I do that if all I had to fall back on is the fact that I said a simple prayer? Would that be enough to give me confidence that I would go to heaven? I don't know and I cannot answer that for anyone else. What I can say is that before I "prayed the prayer" I had someone investing in me with the Word of God. I did not meet some guy in a mall, have him lay a heavy on me that I was going to hell and coerce me into praying a prayer. I spent time in God's Word before I ever prayed a prayer.

If we read a little further in Romans 10 we will see the following:
Romans 10: 16 - Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.
Faith comes by hearing the word of Christ, not by praying a prayer. Faith comes from studying the scriptures, wrestling with them, making sure you really believe what they say. As you read God's Word, His Holy Spirit will convict you, teach you and help you understand what it is He wants for your life. I would challenge each of us to examine our lives and see if we are in the faith. Is the evidence clear to you and to those around you?

Back to my Financial Accounting course. I graduated in 1990 with a BS in Economics and began working at the very college I graduated from. Two years later with a little more wisdom and a little more maturity I signed up for the accounting course again. I studied like never before, I gave it all I had and this time I passed it with a C.

Our Final Exam is coming, everyone will have to take it one day. There will be no do overs, no repeats, no grading on a curve. Are you studying, are you preparing, are you ready?


  1. Easy-believism has led to a pandemic of false converts. Works do not save as we are saved by grace through faith, but a truly new creature in Christ will produce fruit...maybe meager at times but it will be there

  2. Luther, you are spot on. I hope I am not conveying that I believe in a works based salvation. I believe it is completely based on grace. Thanks for your comments.

  3. I am a big believer in grace! If left to ourselves none of us would have a chance for salvation because we are all sinners. It is through grace alone that all mankind are raised up through resurrection. I also however really believe that in order to know God we must learn of him and in order to love God we must keep his commandments. How do we love the master we have not served? How will we know him when he comes if we have not read his words? To know God is to have life eternal. It is funny because I was just writing a blog post(not yet finished) for my blog and it was about this exact concept. That those who really love God, those who are his true disciples will show it through action and the giving of the only gift they really have to give, their will. Anyway, thanks for your post, I enjoyed it!