Does God Grade on a Curve?

If you don’t know, I am currently in my second semester at Talbot seminary. It’s been really interesting being back in school again. I finished medical school about four years ago so it has been awhile since I’ve had to do classroom-type work.

It has been an adjustment getting back into school mode again. And seminary definitely is a different kind of training. There’s a lot more reading, writing papers and my least favorite, class participation (Actually my least least favorite is role playing. Thankfully we haven’t had much of that yet). But I really, really dislike class participation. I rather memorize tons of obscure facts.

And the grading is different too. Throughout medical school we actually didn’t have grades. Some traditional med schools still give out letter grades, but most have adopted a pass/fail system where if you get above a certain percentage, then you pass. If you don’t, you fail and you have to retake the test, or sometimes retake the class.

Some schools have a grading-on-a-curve type system and award the top 10-15% an honors grade. But basically, once you get into medical school, almost everyone eventually finishes. There’s a joke, “What do you call a medical student who graduates at the bottom of their class? A doctor.” That’s comforting, right?

It’s interesting that in Talbot, they not only have letter grades, but the grading scale is much higher than I’ve seen anywhere else. In one of my classes, an A is a 94, and that’s an A minus. I’m glad that I’m doing this more for my own growth and for the benefit of the church, or else the Asian part of me would be giving me stomach ulcers.

We are going through Romans at my church, and the passage I just preached on yesterday (Romans 2:1-16) reminded me that God has an even more demanding grading system. It is pass or fail, except it’s more like you pass only if you get everything right. There will be a day of judgment where God judges our works,and I think many hold on to the hope that if I do more good than bad, then I’ll make it to heaven.

But Paul reminds us that God’s standard is not “good enough,” or “better than most.” God doesn’t grade on a curve. On the day of judgment, everyone will fall short of God’s perfect standard, no matter how much good we have done. Before a perfect and holy God, even one sin is enough to condemn us to eternal punishment in hell.

But the good news of the Gospel, and why Paul is eager to preach this message to all, is that while there is nothing we can do to earn salvation, God has revealed a righteousness, a way to be made right with God in Christ that is through faith. In God’s love, mercy, and grace, He sent His son Jesus to live a perfect life in our place, satisfying the requirements of God’s law, and died on the cross in our place, taking on the punishment for our sins.

Through faith in Christ, we have perfect obedience and forgiveness of sins, restoring our relationship with God. Judgment will be by our works, and all will be condemned. But salvation is by faith, praise be to God!

How good is good enough to get into heaven if we can be saved by our works?

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24

If you missed the sermon this past Sunday, feel free to download the podcast here! If you have any questions or thoughts regarding the sermon, please leave a comment or send me an email.

Super Important Message to Read!

Since I’ve been working on the book project, I’m learning a lot about marketing and building a following in order to actually get my message out. Currently I am reading Platform, a book by Michael Hyatt about this very topic. With the revolution of social networking, it definitely takes some intentional strategizing to get people to care about what I have to say amidst all the noise, distractions, and desperate sounding blog post headlines.

I’ve never felt older and behind the times trying to jump onto the social network bandwagon. I now have a twitter account and learned what a hashtag is and what RT stands for; I’m making progress. And along with revamping this weblog and trying to get it going, this has all taken quite a bit of time. All because of this book I am writing and the message that I want to get out.

It dawned on me (largely with the help of my wife) that as a Christ follower, I have had a message to get out for quite some time now. But, I probably spent more time this past month thinking about how to promote my book than I have over the last years thinking about how to share the Gospel in a way that will reach the most people.

Priscilla, thank you for reminding me the reason that I am doing all of this. Not for my own glory, not to spread my message, but ultimately to point people to God and the saving message of the Gospel. Christians, let’s redirect the energy that we are putting into planning and scheming for a better college, job, deal, more twitter followers, or whatever else and invest it into strategically advancing God’s kingdom. Knowing that we will one day be held accountable by God, how can we use all that we have been given to maximize God’s kingdom purposes? If interested, I’ll be preaching on this tomorrow at SBECC!

21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. 23 I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings. 1 Corinthians 9:21-23

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