Students graduating from BJMBC can tell you all about it. Each one has to successfully pass their written and oral comprehensive reviews, which have put butterflies in the stomachs of the most diligent and sent others from the room weeping.
That is not the purpose, of course. We are not trying to traumatize our students right before we transfer their tassel from one side to the other.
No, the purpose is to see how hard they have worked over the last four years. How much have they retained? Did they really internalize these truths, thus allowing their profit to appear to all? Or have they simply crammed their way through the years, studying just for a grade on a test?
We want our students to graduate, not because they have passed tests, but because they have learned truth.
Other colleges want the same thing.
So when I read this article about "Recto University," where anybody who wants to can purchase a fake diploma from the Metro Manila college of their choice for about 12 US dollars, I was filled with righteous indignation.
But I was not surprised. Man, in his depravity, often looks for shortcuts to success.
They also look for shortcuts to heaven.
Remember the "Indulgences" sold by Johann Tetzel? "As soon as the coin in the coffer rings, the soul from purgatory springs!" Tetzel took it even further than that, claiming that indulgences were certificates of forgiveness for sins past and even future. Planning to rob a bank tonight? Buy an indulgence this morning. Bingo, you are already covered!
Indulgences were fake documents spawned by false dogma. Drive-through deliverance from sins.
But then, a couple of weeks after I read that article, something happened that really burned on my heart.
We were at the University of the Philippines, talking to people about the thing that matters most: their souls. Two men entered into conversation with us, one of them immediately saying, "I am a Christian too!" He even told us the name of the large evangelical church he attends here in Metro Manila.
But as the conversation went on, and Tim explained from the Word of God what it means to be a follower of Christ, and what Jesus means when He says, "Except a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of God," the man appeared genuinely baffled. He kept saying, "I've never heard this!"
So he told us his story.
Apparently his boss had wanted to have only "Christians" in his employ, so he sent all his employees to a short seminar at this particular mega-church. At the end of the seminar, they baptized them and sent them home with certificates.
Certificates of salvation.
I hope that someone out of that group was genuinely converted that day. I hope that the mega-church that held the seminar tried hard to explain clearly the Gospel.
But for this particular man, all they offered was a fake document.
So I would like to ask two questions today:
- Are you holding on to a fake certificate of salvation? Is your hope of salvation your baptism, your church membership, or simply a prayer copied from someone else's lips, not genuinely latched to a truth in your heart? Salvation is not mouthing a mindless prayer. It is not church attendance or church membership. It is not something we are born with. It is not baptism. It is faith in Christ alone, in His sacrifice on the cross. It is the substitution of Christ's righteousness for my sin.
- Do we, who care for the souls of others, ever give them fake certificates of salvation? Do we offer false assurance?
Like Luther, we need to nail some theses to the walls of our lives. There are no shortcuts to heaven. Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man cometh unto the Father but by me." He finished the job with His blood, sweat, and tears.
Don't trust in certificates.
Trust in Christ.
If you are not sure that your sins are completely forgiven, please read this document from our mission board called "What If."