Yesterday afternoon, Samuel and Faith walked across a stage and officially graduated from James Valley Christian School. Their courses and work were completed almost two months ago…but there is something to be said about a walk across a stage or field, a handshake from the principle, a diploma in hand and the flip of a tassel. It brings finality. It brings completion. It brings a few tears to the eyes and a smile to the face. It is the final reward for a job well-done.
As I planned for their graduation party and the festivities of the weekend, I have to admit, it made my heart long for a different graduation. It made me pray, in earnest, for a host of possible graduates and it brought tears to my eyes and smiles to my face as I considered the ramifications of this graduation. For this graduation doesn’t involve a walk across a stage, but a walk from death to life. This graduate won’t receive a handshake or a record of merit but will be clothed in the robes of Christ’s righteousness. This graduation ceremony ends with the greatest words a soul could ever hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant…enter into the joy of your Master.” (Matt. 25:21)
It’s the Graduation to Glory and, in the end, it’s the only graduation that matters.
“All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord remains forever.” And this word is the good news that was preached to you.” I Peter 1:24-25
I love how the Gospel of Jesus Christ is described as good news. It’s good news because there was first bad news. We can’t understand just how “good” the good news is until we first understand how “bad” the bad news is.
The bad news is that we are all sinners. Sin isn’t just something we do, it’s who we are by nature, thanks to Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the garden. We were created by a holy God to enjoy Him forever and, instead, we are now born wanting to live for self and see sin as the path to true fulfillment and enjoyment. As a result, we are destined for hell. The wages of sin is death and we rightly deserve the wrath of God (Romans 6:23). Our sin has separated us from God…not just for a moment, but for eternity (Isaiah 59:2). That is the curse upon all of us and that is the destination of each one of our souls. We can bury that truth. We can try to run from that reality. We can even try to create a universe, in our heads, where hell does not exist and where life is what we make it. But, one day, we all will stand before a Holy God because He is reality and we cannot escape Him. Our “report card”, in the school of life, is filled with F’s…no matter how hard we try. We are in big trouble, and that is very bad news.
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:4-9
This is the good news! God sent Jesus, His own Son, to live the perfect life we couldn’t, to die the death we deserved, and make a way for us to be set free from our sinful self and be forgiven of every single wrong thing we have done or will ever do. If we repent of our sins. If we agree with God that we have broken His good laws and are unable to save ourselves. If we cry out for mercy and grace. If we believe that Jesus lived, died, and rose again so that we could be made right with God and we cling to Christ as our only hope and the only Savior of our souls…we are forgiven forever, loved completely, and filled with a permanent peace through the Holy Spirit who is our guarantee…our diploma, so to speak. In Christ, our report card of failing grades is transformed into a transcript that reads 100% in every subject. 4.0. Perfection!
We become Graduates to Glory.
On our graduation day, we will wear a gown of white (Rev.7:9) and a cap called the “crown of life” (James 1:12), which we will cast down at the feet of our King. Our hands will not be holding a piece of paper, but will be waving a palm branch of praise as we join with all of the other graduates in an alma mater song that will be the anthem of eternity:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!…Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Rev. 7:10,12
And as Graduates of Glory we will live Happily Ever After!