What Kind of Grade Would We Get in God’s Classroom?
Sermonette, Eric Snow, June 21, 2008, UCG Ann Arbor, MI
When we were in school, did we care about our grades much? Now, if the world is God’s giant classroom for true Christians, and God is the teacher, what kind of grade will we get? Would we pass God’s “final exam” when being judged? So then, if we’re saved by grace through faith, how can it be that we will be rewarded according to our works?
We Christians have to remember that our beliefs and behavior in this life not only affect whether we’re in God’s kingdom, but also how high or low of a position we’ll have in it. Therefore, we should aim to get an “A” under God’s grading system, not merely a “C” or “D.” We also have to make sure we don’t get an F or an “E,” a three-legged monster.
S.P.S. So because we are rewarded according to our works, we should aim for spiritual excellence, not just mediocrity.
Here’s the puzzle to solve: If we’re saved by faith in Christ’s sacrifice because of God’s grace, what’s our incentive to aim for spiritual excellence? What’s to keep us from (well) just barely scraping by to get into God’s kingdom?
So if we’re saved by faith, how can we be rewarded according to our works? Not the place to discuss the three stages of the salvation process, justification, sanctification, and glorification. (Justification is by faith alone, but not sanctification). After all, so long as we have the Holy Spirit present in us when we died, we’ll be in the first resurrection. Instead, our reward is mostly about a separate issue: Our good works determine what kind of job we’ll have for all eternity. Isn’t that something we should care about?
V. 11: Shows incidentally that the Kingdom of God isn’t the church.
V. 13: “Do business” isn’t merely passive belief, but implies actively doing good deeds. Our purpose in life is to develop the good habits of actual obedience, that we actual gain holy righteous character while following the Holy Spirit. True, “Good works” includes giving offerings and paying tithes, avoiding unclean meat, and observing the Sabbath and Holy Days. It also includes performing the spiritual disciplines of praying, fasting, meditation, and Bible study. It’s about obeying both the letter and spirit of the law, including the Ten Commandments. It also means helping the poor, serving others inside and outside the Church of God. It includes developing the fruit of the Spirit while avoiding the works of the flesh, etc.
V. 15: We’ll all have to settle accounts with God, during which He’ll judge us for what position we’ll have in the Kingdom, not merely whether we’ll get into it.
Vs. 16-19: So then, did we get a 4.0 or A, or a 1.0 or D? In this version of Christ’s parable, all the servants started from the same starting point (one mina), and their works determined whether they were put over 10 or 5 cities. The parallel version of this parable in Matthew portrays the servants as getting different amounts of talents at the beginning. According to that analogy, God would expect more of those to whom He gives more.
Vs. 20-21: This servant got an F, or an “E,” not a passing grade. When can works relate to salvation? Well, if a purported Christian has no works, then that shows he didn’t have saving faith. “Lordship salvation,” John MacArthur’s point.
I Cor. 3:8+: This reward isn’t salvation.
V. 12: Different qualities of what’s put on the foundation Christ laid: Will our good works survive through the testing period to come?
V. 13: A judgment day concerning our good works will come. So then, how well are we doing? Are we preparing for it by doing good works? Or our material desires and pursuits, our desires for entertainment and pleasure, taking priority in our lives?
V. 15: Do we want to be the guy who is barely saved? Do we want to get just a D for our activities in God’s “classroom”?
Conclusion: Good works should be a high priority in our lives presently so we would have a higher position in God’s kingdom. We should aim for spiritual excellence, not settle for spiritual mediocrity or worse. We should aim for A’s and B’s in while in God’s classroom during this life, and not settle for C’s and D’s. Furthermore, we should really make sure we do enough that shows we have saving faith, that we don’t get a spiritual F?