The Test: Pass or Fail

[Ed’s note: I wrote this two years ago. At the time I had no idea that this picture would become part of a compilation called “brilliant answers by smart kids” that would wind up on viralnova, buzzfeed, etc. Now I see the picture everywhere and, occasionally, it links back to here. Thanks to those links, two years later and this post is still getting 5-10 hits a day. Let the gospel go out…]


Read: Ezekiel 37:1-38:23, James 1:19-2:17, Psalm 117:1-2, Proverbs 28:1

For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. (James 2:10)

find x

Relate: In college, unless I was the curve wrecker, I hated them. You know who I’m talking about. Lets say you have twenty students in the class and everybody is about average… except for that one girl who has no life. All she does is study every day from the moment she gets home until the moment she leaves in the morning. Everybody else gets a 70 or worse on a test. She gets a 98. The girl is wrecking the curve.

On the flip side are the curve helpers. I love these guys. Once upon a time they showed up for a class. Somehow, they score worse on multiple choice tests than they would if they filled in the answers randomly. When it comes to true or false questions, they flip a coin. Their coin isn’t very lucky. I love these guys. Did I say that already? There is nothing like scoring a 58% on a test and then finding out that is a B-. There must have been a lot of curve fodder in the room.

When it comes to our spiritual life, some people look at those like Mother Theresa and Billy Graham as curve wreckers and Adolf Hitler or Charles Manson as curve helpers. When it comes time to the judgment, I don’t want to be the one right in line after Mother Theresa. I don’t care how good I try to be, she’s gonna make my outlook pretty rough. On the flip side, if Bin Laden’s right in front of me, I think I’ll dance a jig right on the spot.

React: Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work that way. Making the grade into heaven is pass fail. Even worse, the test is incredibly hard. Life is made up of an infinite number of choices. There are hundreds, no thousands of moral questions presented to us each day. We are faced with opportunity after opportunity, choice after choice, decision after decision with how we will live our life. A skipped question counts as a wrong answer so we aren’t just graded on what we did. We are also graded on what we should have done. It gets even worse. According to James, according to God writing through James, the only passing grade is 100%. If we fail on even one question, we have failed them all.

The fact is, passing this test, the most crucial test in all eternity is the next thing to impossible. There is a curve wrecker, it can be done, but only once in all of history. Only one person has ever answered every question right. The rest of us seem to mess up over and over again. I might say, “Oh look I got 52% right and my neighbor Joe only got 49% so I must be doing pretty good.” It’s fun to compare ourselves with the Stalins in the world who are shooting in the low 30’s, not as much with the saints who are hitting in the mid to high 60’s. It doesn’t matter. Even if I were to answer only one of the 33 million questions wrong, I’ve failed. Perfection can be achieved, but I didn’t do it. No amount of correct answers from here on out will change that fact.

But here’s the good news. Right before it was time to turn in our tests, the curve wrecker came to me with an offer. He said we could switch names. He would take my failure, the wrong answers that I’ve earned, and the judgment I deserve and in return He would give me His perfect score. All I have to do is write His name on my life and in return surrender my name (life) to Him. Considering what is riding on this test, I’d be a fool not to take Him up on the offer. What about you? He’s making you the same proposal.


God, I thank You for Your Name. I am a failure. I have messed up time and time again. Holiness is required and I am covered in sin. Perfection is required and I have fallen short time and time again. I’m so sorry for this. I am so sorry and willfully chose to do evil over and over again. Forgive me. I give You my name. I give You my failures and mistakes. In their place I accept Your grace. I accept Your perfection. When people look at me, let them see Your Name shining through.

149 thoughts on “The Test: Pass or Fail

  1. Pingback: Smart Aleck Answers to Children’s School Questions | Michael Bradley - Time Traveler

  2. You know what I think is a sin, and just as bad as murder, me sitting here reading, hiding from the world, hiding from those I could help get to the pharmacy to buy antibiotics for pneumonia, hiding from the children in the court who don’t have a clue (or care) who Jesus is, etc.; And every day when I go home from work at just 2 p.m., I really could stop by an elderly home, wander through it, and find someone in a corner, and make his whole day, but I don’t. My hiding is like murder to the other souls out there.
    I love your blog (especially this posting, thought it was creative, funny and the ending I all but fell in love with) and it will be a pleasure to follow you. This road leads to The King.
    Peace, out.-Loretta

  3. Pingback: Respuestas hilarantes a exámenes | La nube de algodón

  4. Pingback: De har verkligen inte en aning om det rätta svaret. Men det som barnen hittar på gör dem till genier. | Newsner

  5. Sorry, it is don’t hate me because I’m smart. It was not so easy in life. I’ve really struggled. Sometimes in life, temptation leads me to be a curve helper. I’ve drank too much, spent to much, read and looked at stuff I shouldn’t have. I almost have lost against mental illness like deep depression and just wished I could end it all a few months ago. However, I put my strength in God, my only hope. God is good. Amen.

  6. Crying uncontrollably right now…as soon as I began to read that last paragraph. I thank God for allowing you to be a blessing to me today. In Jesus Christ name. Amen.

  7. Thanks so much for this thought-provoking post. I often think of this phase of my as taking “a blue book take-home final exam.” So much is riding on my completing the exam, as I am striving not only to finish my course, but to finish well, as Philippians 3:13 reminds us. Thanks for the encouragement.

  8. I am so glad that God’s ways and thoughts are not like ours at all. They are higher than than heavens are above the earth. I am so grateful to Him for the grace, mercy and love that He pours into our lives every day! I loved the analogy and I am so glad that I could “sign over my test’ to Him. Praise His name forever!

  9. WOW! WOW! WOW! At last! A true connection of spirits! I love it the way you put it! 100% is right! Mine was -100% until the Curve Wrecker stepped in! Right again–likewise, I would have been a fool not to take His offer! Ha Ha HalleluYah! 🙂

  10. ” To ransom a slave you sacrificed your Son! Without the sin of Adam, Christ would not have redeemed us, O HAPPY FAULT WHICH DESERVED SO GREAT A SAVIOR!” I am glad I am not perfect for then He found me! Thanks for this post so we will always be grateful! 🙂

  11. Just looking this one over- you are really good, BJ. Just because I am a nerd, even though no one else seems to think it was important, x = 5.

    • Dear Math,

      I appreciate your zeal and enthusiasm, but it is time to face the facts. Your ex is gone. Please stop asking everyone for help in finding her. Someone new will come along eventually.

      Your friend,
      A Student

  12. I have a test fantasy also. In it I’ve died and have been put on trial for all my sins. And I’m convicted. For everything. So now it’s time to go to my sentencing hearing. Of course, my defense attorney accompanies me to my sentencing hearing. But when I get to the hearing I find out that my defense attorney is ALSO the sentencing judge!! WHEW!!

  13. Pingback: 30 Brilliant Test Answers From Smartass Kids |

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