Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Vol. 2, No. 7 Page 9 July 2000

Gospel Gazette, Bible Articles

Practical Exam

By Robert Rushmore

While attending culinary school in Pittsburgh, PA, classes involved “Practical Exams.”  These tests were individual exams consisting of preparing and cooking a dish from the previous quarter from memory.  Our chef graded them by judging the products’ appearance, aroma, taste, etc.  Since we did not know which recipe we were to prepare until class started, we had to memorize them all.  This made many students uneasy since practicals made up a large portion of our grade.

Ed, a classmate of mine, was assigned to prepare biscuits.  That sounds easy enough, but it proved difficult for him.  He gathered the ingredients, mixed and formed the dough and placed the biscuits in the oven, thinking all was well. When he went to remove them from the oven, however, he found that they looked more like crackers than anything else.  This should have meant a failing grade, but Chef Cole decided to let him try again.  As it turned out, he tried again at least once a week for the next two or three weeks because of the same problem.  Finally, he produced biscuits that looked, smelled and tasted as they should. He did suffer a penalty for retaking the practical, but he still managed to earn a decent grade, thus passing the class.

We can take this story about Ed and fit it to our lives in Christ.  Chef Cole’s willingness to allow Ed to retake his practical can be likened to God showing mercy and grace to all mankind, represented by Ed.  When Adam and Eve first introduced sin to the world (Genesis 3), it should have and did mean death for all mankind.  For Adam and Eve, the death was physical and spiritual.  The only death they passed on to us was physical death. Yes, they did bring sin into the world, but we, like them, have the choice to follow them into sin or follow Christ into eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:10).

Through God’s mercy and grace, we are given the opportunity of life. God sent us his Son to be our Savior. Christ lived on the earth and willingly died on a cross, all so we might be saved.  However, there is more to the story. God and Christ did their parts, and now it is our turn to do our parts, respectively. God cannot do everything for us. We must decide to follow him and become a member of our Lord’s body. Upon hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17), we must believe that Word (Mark 16:15, 16) and obey it. In order to obey it, we must repent of our sins (Acts 2:38), confess that Christ is the Son of God (Acts 8:36-38) and be baptized into his body for the remission of sins (Acts 22:16). Having done these things, we need to continue living our lives in Christ by being faithful servants of him (Revelation 2:10).

If we, as Christians, do stumble, we have a second chance.  Just as Chef Cole allowed Ed to retake his practical, God gives us a second chance by allowing us to repent of our sins, even after baptism (James 5:16; Acts 8:14-25).  We are not worthy of this gift, but by the grace of God we receive it.  If we stumble once, twice, three times or even a million, we have that opportunity to repent.

Even though we are allotted extra chances, there are catches.  For one, we must truly repent in our hearts to receive forgiveness from God.  He knows when we do or do not truly repent because he knows what is in our hearts. “And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men . . .” (Acts 1:24).  There is no fooling the Almighty.

We must also be wary of the end of time, whether our own physical death or the end of time as we know it.  Either way, the times are unknown.   “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow.  For what is your life?  It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away" (James 4:14).  “. . . If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee” (Revelation 3:3). We must remember that our time on earth is short and there are no second chances after death or the coming of Christ.  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgement” (Hebrews 9:27).

The second chance Ed got on his practical was nothing he could have counted on.  Likewise, we cannot count on having another chance to repent of our sins. We must strive to live our lives in Christ and be faithful to him until death.  After all, it is a commandment, “. . . be thou faithful until death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Revelation 2:10). Yes, we do have second chances, but we do not know how many we will have. We must live our lives as if there are no second chances.

By earning a passing grade on his practical, Ed passed the class.  Likewise, we can earn a passing grade for our lives on earth and pass the class of life.  Upon doing so, we will spend a blissful eternity in heaven with our Lord and Savior.  However, if we fail the class of life, we will spend eternity in a place of everlasting torment (Matthew 25:31-36).  Will you live your life in service to God, striving for righteousness, or will you turn from him to live in darkness, striving for nothing? The choice is yours.

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