Graduation Day is an event that brings a sense of accomplishment to both the graduates themselves and the family members. It is a time when one is formally acknowledged as having finished the course & takes part in the ceremony.
In the secular realm, we usually relate graduation day to the accomplishments in the educational field. There is a great analogy that can be made when comparing such a secular graduation ceremony to the commencement that will take place at the “graduation” of the believers.
First, there is the matter of who can attend and who cannot. In secular realm, only those who have at least met the minimum graduation requirements are allowed to take part and members of the family are there by invitation.
In the spiritual realm, the minimum requirement in order to participate in the graduation commencement was achieved when the “graduate” believed in the Person (who He is) and the Works (what He did on the cross) of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Just as a graduation candidate in the secular realm is disqualified and not permitted to attend and receive his “diploma” if he fails to meet the minimum requirements, so it is true in the spiritual realm “…unless he is born again”.
In the secular realm, the “cap & gown” worn by the graduates is what identifies them as being part of the class. In the spiritual realm, it is being clothed with the righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ that is worn by all who were born again.
No one without the appropriate clothing is allowed to take part (Matthew 22:12-13).
Unlike in the secular world, there is no Summer School for those who came close enough and are allowed to make up for their deficiencies and there is no means for one to repeat the course of life. Those who fail to graduate (to become born again) have another day & destiny set-aside for them (Rev.20: 15).
The Graduation ceremony in either the secular or spiritual realm is not the time to determine who is going to graduate and who is not. In the secular realm, this was already determined during the course of the individual’s academic life. In the spiritual realm, it was already determined during his life here on earth.
In addition to graduating and receiving one’s diploma, there are additional rewards and honors given to those graduates who excelled in different areas during their academic life. In the spiritual realm this is also true. Additional rewards and honors, above and beyond the benefits of salvation that are given to all believers, are also received for those who glorified God in the past-salvation spiritual life.
1 Cor. 3: 12-15 indicates that this will be the case when graduation day arrives for all believers. The issue at that time will not be if they are to “graduate” or not as only those who were born again will be present. None of their “deficiencies" (sins) along the way will be brought up, but any of their post-salvation “good” deeds that were done with either the wrong motivation or via human talents & abilities (“wood, hay or straw” 1 Cor. 3:12) will be destroyed (1 Cor. 3:15) & no eternal reward given.
While everyone at the graduation of the believers will receive their “diploma”, that is eternal life in Heaven in their resurrected bodies (1Cor. 3:15), only those who produced deeds of “gold, sliver, and precious stones” (1Cor.3: 14), under the filling (control) of God the Holy Spirit, will receive the additional rewards, recognition and associated privileges.
Graduation Day for the believers will be a time of joy for ALL who attend, as at the conclusion of the ceremony they will ALL enter into “...the kingdom prepared for you” (Matt.25: 34 NIV). At the same time, it will produce a time of joy for some and a time of regrets for others when those who identified & executed the post-salvation spiritual life receive additional rewards and privileges, while those who did not do so will receive “suffer loss “(1Cor.3: 15 NIV) of reward(s).
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (R) Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All Rights reserved.