How to Pass the Final Exam

by | Oct 1, 2015

Scripture: Romans 2:1-16

Did you eagerly look forward to getting your driver’s license? I know I did. I could hardly wait until I was old enough. But I also heard there was a test I had to take and pass in order to be issued a license. “Oh no!” I thought. “What’s on the test? Is it hard?”

I learned that there were booklets explaining the rules of the road and describing the type of questions on the test. By studying and learning the basic laws, it was possible to pass. So, I studied for the test and guess what? I passed! Yeah!!!

Did you know that there is a test you will have to pass if you wish to enter heaven? The Bible makes it clear that when we die and go to stand before God, He is going to examine each of us.

Again, if you are anything like me, you want to know what the test questions will be in order to pass this all important and final test. For this exam is only taken once and cannot be repeated! Paul tells us there are four criteria that God will use for the final exam.

These criteria are found in Romans 2:1-16.

I. How Did We Respond to God’s Truth? (Rom. 2:1-5)

The Bible teaches that every person has some conception of the difference between right and wrong. Various people in our life contributed to this knowledge. Such knowledge is called “truth” (John 7:17—“thy word is truth”).

For example, if you know that murder is wrong, or that stealing is wrong, or that lying is wrong, you know some aspects of what God calls “truth.”

Sadly, most of us find it easier to apply the truths that we know about right and wrong to others, judging their attitudes and actions, rather than judging our own. We find it easy to justify why it was all right to “bend the rules” in our situation.

However, Paul tells us that it is hypocritical to hold other people to a stricter standard of behavior than to that which we hold ourselves (Rom. 2:1-2). God expects every person to live in the light of the truth that they know. When people do not live according to the truth they know, God normally does not bring immediate judgment upon them.

Instead, since He is loving, merciful, and kind, he has His Holy Spirit convict the wrong-doer (John 16:8) and gives them innumerable opportunities to repent and stop doing what they know is wrong (Rom. 2:4).

God is very patient and kind and is not willing that anyone fail the final exam and perish (2 Pet. 3:9). But, there is a limit to his patience.

The writer to the letter of Hebrews warns that,

“if we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth [do what we know is wrong], no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb. 10:26-27).

God will judge each of us according to His truth.

II. Did Our Deeds (Works) Measure Up to His Requirements? (Rom. 2:6-10)

The second criteria is found in Romans 2:6. Paul says, “God will repay each person according to what he has done.” This statement is very similar to Psalm 62:12, “You will render to every man according to his work,” and to Proverbs 24:12 which asserts the same truth in the form of a question, “Will he [God] not render to all according to their deeds?”

What you do matters and has eternal consequences! Paul emphatically declares that we are not brought into a relationship with God by “works,” lest anyone should boast (Eph. 2:8-9). We are initially saved by grace through faith alone.

However, when we say we are saved by grace through faith “alone,” we run the risk of devaluing works. Too many people wrongly understand the word “alone” to mean that “works” (what we do) has nothing to do with our salvation.

This is one of the serious theological errors that the apostle James sought to correct. James says faith and actions must work together (Jam. 2:22). He also says,

“A person is considered righteous by what he does and not by faith alone” (Jam. 2:24).

The faith that saves always produces obedient works. Paul speaks of the inseparable connection between saving faith and works in Galatians 5:6. He says, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

No, “works” do not save us; but neither does a faith that does not produce obedient works save us. The presence or absence of saving faith in our hearts is disclosed by the presence or absence of our obedient response to the truth that God has revealed to us.

Paul further tells us in Romans 2:7 that to all who “by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor, and immortality,” God will “give eternal life.” Here are the expected good works that must accompany saving faith.

Persons who are saved by faith persist in doing good. In other words, they are careful to align their attitudes, goals, and behavior to the truth of God’s Word as they understand it.

The phrase, “seek glory, honor, and immortality,” means that they are endeavoring to do everything in their life in a manner that will bring glory to God, that will honor God, and that will eventually result in their being physically resurrected with Christ and thus gaining physical immortality (I Cor. 15:54).

On the other hand, Paul tells us in Romans 2:8-10 that for all who refuse to live according to the truth and “are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger.”

God will judge each of us according to our deeds.

III. Are We Prepared for God’s Impartial Judgment? (Rom. 2:11)

God chose in His sovereignty to give more knowledge of the truth to some people than to others. For example, He entrusted His truth first to the Jews. They were to be a nation of priests sharing it with the rest of the world (Exod. 19:6). He gave the Jewish people privileges that no other people on the face of the earth have had.

However, along with great privilege comes great responsibility. God said, “To whom much is given, much is required” (Luke 12:48). This is why Paul indicates the Jewish people will be held accountable to God before the Gentile people are held accountable. He writes,

“There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, and then for the Gentile;

 

but glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile” (Rom. 2:9).

All will be judged, and God’s judgment will be totally impartial. He will show favoritism to no one.

IV. Have We Kept Our Conscience Clear? (Rom. 2:12-16)

God will judge persons by how they responded to their God-given consciences. Those who had knowledge of God’s law (His Word) will be judged for either sinning against or obeying what they knew.

Those who did not have the knowledge of His law (His Word) will be judged for either sinning against or obeying the truth they had (Rom. 1:20, creation; Rom. 2:13-15, conscience).

God’s judgment will examine not only the deeds of every person, but also the motives behind those deeds. “This will take place on the day when God judges people’s secrets through Jesus Christ,” says Paul (Rom. 2:16).

Conclusion

Are you making preparation for your final examination?

  1. Remember, the first question you must answer correctly is, “Am I living according to the truth that I know?”
  2. The second question deals with your works. “Is my life producing the good works of obedience?”
  3. The third question is, “Am I prepared to meet a God who will show me no partiality?”

Are you ready to give a strict account of your attitudes and behavior on earth?

  1. The last question is, “Have I kept my conscience clear?”

In the secret place of your interior life of thoughts, motives, and goals, have you honored God and always sought to please Him?

If you are not able to answer each of these questions to God’s satisfaction, you should immediately repent lest you face the final exam unprepared. The refusal to repent, says Paul, merits God’s wrath and righteous judgment (Rom. 2:5).

By God’s grace, let’s purpose to be fully prepared to pass our final exam “with flying colors.”

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