Grading on the Curve

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In some classes the professor does what is called grading on a curve. Sometimes this means fitting the class grades to a strict Gaussian distribution with a “C” grade as the mean and all the other grades evenly distributed around that point. In this case some people will get lower grades than they “earned” if the average was above a “C”. However, most of the time grading on a curve results in a boost to everyone’s grades. For example, if the class mean unadjusted grade is a 75%, a professor might move the average up 5% points, adding 5% points to everyone’s grades. In college I had two courses where the examinations were designed for a 33% to be a “C”. That means that if I only got 33/100 points on an exam, it would be curved up to where it looks like I received a 75/100 on the examination. The exams were designed so no one, or maybe the rare individual, received a 100/100 on an exam. Some people believed this manner of examination to be unduly harsh and unjust. Even having to struggle through taking such difficult exams, I appreciated the theory of that design. Making examinations difficult allows the professor to see a true range in abilities and learning. If a test is too easy, too many people get perfect scores and they do not learn anything and the professor does not appropriately judge their knowledge. I think it teaches an important point about the justice and mercy of God.

The Book of Mormon prophet taught this important truth about the role of the Savior in the balance between justice and mercy. Nephi wrote, “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne. 25:23). In the test of this life, God has designed what some see as an onerously difficult examination. Sometimes it seems like we are thrown into the test without preparation. However, we were prepared, we just do not remember all of the preparation. Because it is difficult, all of us fall short of perfection on the test. Only One ever received a perfect score – Jesus Christ. Because of Christ’s divinity and calling, he is able to provide the mercy to counteract the justice. He provides the curve that makes up our shortcomings. Through His grace we can be saved “after [above and beyond] all we can do.” Our Heavenly Father, through Christ, can take our imperfect scores and curve them up to perfection. However, in the school of life in order for our grades to be curved up we have to accept the curve. This means we have to do a set of things in order to receive the curve. We do this by faith in Christ and by receiving the necessary ordinances – baptism, confirmation, temple endowment, temple sealing. By these efforts are we able to fully accept the grace of Christ and receive His curve that will lift us to perfection and to home. We could not make it without Christ and His atoning sacrifice.

I Stand All Amazed

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“And again I say, hearken unto my voice, lest death shall overtake you; in an hour when ye think not the summer shall be past, and the harvest ended, and your souls not saved.
Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.” (D&C; 45:2-5).

We all sit condemned before the judgment seat of the Eternal God, our Father. He sits there gazing upon His children, who all like sheep went astray. All? Nay, not all. One Lamb is without blemish. He who is without blemish or imperfection or sin sits before the judge – He is the court-appointed counsel for us. Then comes the voice of the Eternal Father, “Where is He who was born in the lowliest of circumstances, He who descended below so that He might comprehend and be in all? Where is the Sacrificial Lamb who took upon Himself the sins and sicknesses of the world? Where is He who died and rose the third day so that all humankind will no more suffer the shortcomings and pains of mortality? Where is He, my most Beloved Son?”

The Redeemer stands up to take on His role as Advocate. As He approaches the judgment seat, he turns to view each of us; we see His glory and feel His love. In an instant He views each of us and loves us, in spite of and sometimes because of our shortcomings. His entire aim in approaching the judgment seat is to sit next to it in the mercy seat and plead on behalf of us.

He says, “Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life” (D&C; 45:4-5).

In other words, “I suffered and died as the sinless, unblemished sacrifice. My sacrifice pleases Thee. Because of my blood, let those who believe have everlasting life.” Similarly to many prophets in the scriptures, the Lord reminds His Father of the covenant they made. Our Father did not and cannot forget the covenant; the Savior simply is stating the whole covenant: “Here is what I did, here is what you agreed to do.” It’s a formality between the covenant parties. Restating both sides of the covenant is something we can and should do in our prayers. For example, “Thou hast said that that if I keep Thy commandments, Thou wilt bless me with Thy Spirit. I am striving to live Thy commandments, wilt Thou please bless me with Thy Spirit.” Prophets and saints throughout the ages have given prayers like that.

I love the words the Savior says on behalf of us. He stands between us and justice; He is our Advocate, pleading on behalf of us. The Savior experienced all of our sins and sorrows. He understands us perfectly. Is there anyone else we would rather have as our Advocate? No one understands us better or with more love than Jesus Christ. He is not only our Savior and our Creator, He is our eldest brother. He suffered, “even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit – and would that [He] might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink – nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and [He] partook and finished [His] preparations unto the children of men” (D&C; 19:18-19).

I am eternally grateful for Jesus Christ for His Redeeming love, mercy, and Atonement that provides me the opportunity as I surrender my will to His, to stand with my head held high before the judgment seat of God. The words of the hymn I Stand All Amazed are fitting:

“I stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me,
Confused at the grace that so fully He proffers me;
I tremble to know that for me He was crucified,
That for me, a sinner, He suffered, He bled and died.

“Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

“I marvel that He would descend from His throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine;
That He should extend His great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify.

“Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!

“I think of His hands, pierced and bleeding, to pay the debt,
Such mercy, such love, and devotion can I forget?
No, no, I will praise and adore at the mercy seat,
Until at the glorified throne I kneel at his feet.

“Oh, it is wonderful that He should care for me
Enough to die for me!
Oh, it is wonderful, wonderful to me!”