The final exam

He will punish those who do not know God, and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

2 Thessalonians 1 v 8

These words written to the Church of the Thessalonians, in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (what a beautiful description) come in the context of Paul speaking about, what is elsewhere called the ‘day of the Lord’  when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels. It is an awesome picture as Christ returns and this present world order comes to its planned (by God) end.

How can we be prepared for that day so that we can face it without fear or shame?

The great Australian Evangelist John Chapman, affectionately known as Chappo, put it like this. At that day here will be an examination with just two questions which are known in advance!

Let me illustrate from personal experience. When I was a student in those heady years in the 60s, I was studying for a B.Sc. in Maths and Physics and being neither a mathematician nor a physicist, exams were always a challenge. In particular the final maths exams on which part of the final degree award depended always included a question on Simple Harmonic Motion in Two Dimensions and all those on the course knew that you only had to answer 2 questions to get a Pass! So I learnt how to answer that question rather like learning poetry! On exam day it was great to know that I was half way to a degree when I regurgitated my memorised answer! What a relief it was.

On the Day of the Lord there will be, according to Paul, just two questions and they are in the verse for today.

Did you know God?

Did you obey the Gospel?

Are you ready for that  final exam? How gracious is the Chief Examiner in informing us of the questions in advance!

Answer yes – with evidence – to both and you will escape the punishment of that day which will surely come.  

Answer no to either or both and ‘Punishment with everlasting destruction and being shut out from the presence of the Lord and the majesty of his power’  v.9 will be the result

The ‘yes’ answers open up a glorious prospect. ‘No’ answers are too terrible to think about but should serve as a warning.

Ask yourself what will my answer be to those questions in that ultimate final exam.

Tomorrow and the day after we will think about the knowledge or lack of same which lie behind our answers. What is it to know God and what is it to obey the gospel?

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