The Final Exam

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians  5 : 10
Subject: Baccalaureate; Graduation; School; Students

Today we honor those who are graduating from high school, college or university. We come here to celebrate with them the accomplishment which they have achieved. We also gather in this service of worship to remember that it is our Creator who has blessed us with the ability to learn, develop, grow and have a meaningful life.

Two students were talking one day and one said to the other, "No wonder Monette gets straight A's in French, her parents were born in Paris and they speak French at home." The other student said, "In that case, I ought to get A's in geometry, because my parents are square and talk in circles."

It may seem to most young people that their parents are unhip and that all of us older adults are a little out of touch with what's happening today. Actually, each of us have been where you are. We know your joys. We know your expectations. And, most importantly, we know a lot about what you are going to face in the years ahead.

Bob Zuppler was a great football coach at the University of Illinois. He was a contemporary of the great Knute Rockne. Once he gave his team a tremendous halftime speech. He then pointed to a door leading from the locker room and told them to go through that door and win the game in the second half. They quickly rose, ran through the door and fell into the indoor pool of the school. Zuppler, in his enthusiasm, had pointed to the wrong door.

Education, enthusiasm and ambition are not enough to get you where you ought to be in your life. You need more. As you graduate you go forth into a new arena of life. Some of you have high goals and great ambitions. Even those whose goals may seem a little less ambitious have a hope of success and happiness. Some of you really want to serve God and others with your life. That is a worthy duet of purpose! But waiting out there before you are many pits and stumbling stones.

Today I want to share some things, which you have no doubt heard before. But that is all right, you need to hear them again. At the Ohio State University graduation a few years ago, the featured speaker was an old judge who had become senile. He stood to read his comments and did fine through page one. Then, he turned the page and read page two - only the words were the same as page one. Then, he turned to page three - surprise, the words were the same as page one. As he continued, everyone at the graduation came to realize what had happened. The judge had his speech typed in triplicate. He had all three copies of the speech with him at the podium and was reading each page three times. He read seventeen pages, three times, for a total of 51 pages. The poor judge did not realize what he had done. The speech was a mistake, but perhaps it was for the best. Maybe hearing some of his comments three times made them stick!!! When God's message is clear, it can bring you to the path, which He has prepared for you.

Former Senator Dwight W. Morrow searched in vain to find his railroad ticket as he was on a train leaving New York City. I must find that ticket, he muttered. The conductor, who stood waiting beside him, said, "Don't worry about it Senator Morrow. We know you had a ticket. Just mail it to the railroad when you find it." The Senator replied, "That's not what I'm worried about. I must find that ticket so I can determine where I am going." Apparently the busy Senator was confused about his next destination. (Adapted from an Infosearch illustration)

I don't know all the places that you will go, but I do know one place that you will all eventually come to - you are going to arrive at The Real Test. I am talking about the final exam. One day you will stand before God, and every other test of your life will pale into insignificance at that moment. Will you be ready for that exam? To be ready, you must know three things.

I. The Investment

God is an investor. No one who invests does so without a desire for a positive return. All investors are concerned with results. The Bible states that we humans are created in the image of God. Interestingly, only humans are investors. We alone speculate and place our possessions in the hands of others seeking a return. Animals may hide their food, or even hoard up their food, but they do not invest in food futures, or buy farms. If you and I are concerned that our investments are handled properly and produce a good yield, how much more should the divine Creator of all things be interested in a good return on His investment? Well, let me assure you, God is concerned that what He invests in us will result in a good return! The bible is replete with stories, which speak of this principle.

A. The Vineyard Story of Isaiah 5

You will note that God had invested much in His Vineyard. The Vineyard was a symbol for Israel. Please notice that God expected results from His investment. "To whom much is given, much is required."

B. The Fig Tree Incident of Matthew 21:18-19

The fig tree was using God's space, drinking in the sunshine from God's sky, and pulling up resources from God's earth. The tree was using everything God provided, but yielding little or nothing in return. Note the frustration the Lord felt in this situation. Again, "To whom much is given, much is required."

C. The Foundation and Building of 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

Yet another illustration of responsibility.

D. The Land and Rain of Hebrews 6:7-8

As God pours out the rain of love and blessing on our lives, He has a right to expect fruit from us in return.

1. The Natural Investments

In essence, the Lord has invested in all of us to one degree or another. He has invested naturally. He gives us life, and in so doing he bestows upon us the ability to enjoy water, air, food sources, etc. These natural investments are not to be taken lightly. The very air we breathe is a blessing from God.

2. The Personal Investments

God invests in us personally. Our places of birth, family, health, education, abilities, national origin, etc., represent levels of divine investment in our lives. The way we look, our physical strength, our mental capacity are more or less different from all other people around us. God has given you unique characteristics that you develop or leave undeveloped to some degree.

3. The Spiritual Investments

Above and beyond all the investments, which God makes in us, He invests in us spiritually. He has granted to each of us the opportunity for salvation. He has given us the Bible. For some he has granted the blessing of a godly family, and spiritual leaders to guide and teach us. He has given each of us spiritual gifts by which we can serve. In addition, He has given us bible-believing churches, and many divine promises. Certainly the spiritual investments indicate the highest level of investment that God makes in us.

Stephen Olford penned the poem,

“His, by reason of creation

His, He paid the price for me;

His, by the life-giving Spirit,

His, because I want to be.”

I trust each of you can say that you are His because He has saved you and you belong to Him forever.

II. The Management

The Lord expects us to manage well that which He invests in us. Just think, you would be furious if someone mismanaged money that you placed in his bank. How much more should the God of heaven be concerned that all He invests in you is handled properly and wisely! Three issues are presented in the Bible, which are related to managing that which God has invested in us.

A. The Acknowledgement

The acknowledgement of what you have received is more important than the Investment. Throughout the Bible importance is placed upon understanding that every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father above.

In Acts 12:21-23 we read. On the appointed day Herod, wearing his royal robes, sat on his throne and delivered a public address to the people. They shouted, "This is the voice of a god, not of a man." Immediately, because Herod did not give praise to God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died. This should help us recognize the importance of giving praise to God for all our blessings.

B. The Employment

The employment of what you have received is more important than the Investment. Look at the lady with the two mites. She did not seem to have much, but what she had was properly employed and the Lord praised her above many who could do much more.

Look at David and Goliath. David had a sling and five smooth stones. He lacked size, armor, and assistance. But he employed what he had while others with greater gifts hid in the trenches.

The greatest among you today are not the ones with the greatest gifts, but the ones who properly employ the investment God has made in them.

III. The Judgment

The real test will come in the form of a divine judgment. You can be sure that the judgment of the world, and even your judgment of yourself, will not determine the worth of your life's work.

After President Herbert Hoover left office as president of the United States, a young boy came up and asked for his autograph. Hoover complied and signed the boy's book. Then the boy asked him to sign again right below it. The former President complied again, but then asked, “Why did you want me to sign twice” The young fellow replied, “With two of your signatures, I can get one of Babe Ruth's autographs.”

No matter how much you accomplish or how much you feel people think of you, you will always find that there is someone else the people love and appreciate more.

When President John Kennedy went to France, he was asked how he was enjoying the trip. Actually, his wife Jackie had been the real hit in the news on the journey. So, President Kennedy answered the reporters by saying, “I am glad to be the man who accompanied Jackie Kennedy on this trip to France.”

The ultimate judge of the worth of your life and mine will be the God who created us. What exactly is He going to judge?

A. Your Soul

Matthew 16:26-28 states, "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father's glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done."

B. Your Service

In Matthew 23:11-12 we read, "The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted." Jesus said the greatest among us are those who serve!

"Go give to the needy sweet charity's bread.

For giving is living," the angel said.

"And must I be giving again and again?”

My peevish, petulant answer ran."

"Oh, no," said the angel piercing me through, "Just give till the Master stops giving to you."

C. Your Soul Winning

Christ gave the Great Commission - the imperative for every believer to go forth and make disciples. Then, before His ascension, He told His disciples that each follower would be a witness after the Holy Spirit had come upon them. Paul said that those he had led to faith in Christ would be his crown of rejoicing when he came to the judgment. You should go forth to wider contacts with a desire to be a witness for Christ. Don’t join the world you will encounter by acting as they act, saying what they say and doing what they do. Share the Christ you have known from your youth with those around you. Do not ever be ashamed or your faith in Jesus Christ. In heaven, those you introduce to Jesus will thank you eternally for it!

D. Your Sincerity

The Bible tells us that God looks on the heart, not on the outward person. God studies your motives. In Corinthians we read that the judgment will involve God's burning, piercing eyes looking into the motive behind the things we did in His name.

His question will involve whether we looked at life as a matter of time or as a matter of eternity? In the end, God will judge us on whether we lived for the temporal or for the eternal. How do I know? Jesus said that we are to lay up treasures in heaven where moth cannot eat it, thieves cannot steal it, and rust cannot destroy it! Whatever you accomplish in this life materially or successfully will one day be stolen by others, will be turned to dust or become totally irrelevant in a later age. But, what you have done for Jesus will last forever. Be sincere in your faith and your conduct. It doesn't matter whether you parents know what you are doing. It doesn't matter if you preacher knows what you are doing. You can fake it before us if you want to, but God knows and sees your sincerity.


Sigmund Freud once told the story of a sailor who was shipwrecked on one of the South Sea Islands. When the natives found him they lifted him to their shoulders and marched triumphantly into their village. The sailor feared that he was to be their main dish for dinner that night. But to his astonishment they put him on a throne, put a crown on his head, and proclaimed him as their king. He was the absolute ruler. Every native was his servant. He greatly enjoyed his new station in life, but after a while he began to wonder about it all. He thought this must be too good to be true. So, he discreetly asked some questions, and he found that it was their custom once each year to make some man a king, a king for a year. He also learned that at the end of his year, the king was banished to an island where he would starve to death. Of course the sailor didn't like that too much, but being a resourceful man, he put his mind to work and he hit upon a marvelous solution. Since he was king, his orders were to be obeyed, so he put the natives to work building boats. When they had enough boats, he started transplanting fruit trees to the island where he was to be sent. He had the carpenters go there and build comfortable houses. He set the farmers to clearing the land and planting crops. So when his kingship was over he had a place of abundance rather than a place of death.

As you go forth into this wider, bigger world before you, there is one thing of which you can be sure - everything will change in time. You are young now. But sooner than you think, you will grow old. I had a man, I consider very young, say to me this week, "I hate getting old."

Hate it if you wish, but you can't stop it! Time will change hairstyles, clothes, technology, transportation, communication, housing, and everything material on earth. In this ever-changing world, there is only one thing you can be sure of, Christ will not change. He is the same yesterday, today and forevermore!

Lloyd Douglas tells of going to see and old man who taught violin lessons. As he entered he asked the old man, “What is the good news today?” The teacher took a padded mallet, struck a tuning fork hanging from a silk cord and said, “That is the good news for today. That is an ‘A’ note. It was an ‘A’ note yesterday, it is an ‘A’ note today and it will be an ‘A’ note tomorrow and forever.

The really good news is that Jesus Christ is the one unchanging note in eternity. You will meet Him one day. Maybe sooner than you think. Are you ready right now to meet Him? You can be, you should be, you will be, if you will commit all to Him and never let that commitment diminish. Then, you will be ready for The Real Test, the absolute Final Exam.