-15 The Book of Life
#1. Can We See This Book as a Mirror? (Jam -25, Acts 14:8-10)
#2. Can We Be Blotted Out of this Book? (Psalm 69:28, Ex 32:32-33, Gen 17:14)
#3. What Is This Book of Life? (Luke 10:19-20, Heb 12:22-23, Rev 13:8, 17:8, , I Pet 1:23)
Please open your Bibles to the Revelation of Jesus Christ to John the Apostle, chapter (2X). The scene of this passage that I am going to read is the scene on the Last Day before the judgment throne of God. This is the day when God will have created the physical Hell, which is a "lake of fire". Today we are going to focus on one Book, which is called "the Book of Life".
Well, let us read in , and see for yourself if this is an important Book,
Revelation And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
The dead who are standing here are the spiritually dead. They are all the unsaved people who have just been killed in verse 9, and have been bodily resurrected to stand for judgment. The title of this sermon is: "The Book of Life". Does this seem to be an important Book? Absolutely Yes! From this verse we understand that it is a Book that is more important to us than anything else, other than God Himself. A little 3-year-old girl asked me this question: "Pastor, what is the Book of Life?" Now, if little 3-year-olds can understand the importance of the Book of Life, why is it that grown ups do not know the importance of this Book? I will tell you why! It is nothing else than rebellion against God, and rebellion against what God has said in His Word, the Bible. But did you notice that this verse makes a distinction between "books", plural, and "a Book", singular. The "books" have to do with the works of every individual who has ever lived, whereas "the Book" refers to "the Lamb's Book of Life", in which are the names of all whom God the Father has ordained unto salvation. The "books", plural, refer to works of men, and "the Book", singular, refers to the grace of God. Continue to read in ,
Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
Revelation 20:14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
The word Hell in these two verses is the Greek word "Hades", which is the abode of the dead bodies, and which the context shows it is "the grave". Death and the grave delivered up the unsaved dead that were in them. Then death and the grave were cast into the "lake of fire", which means that there will be no more death or the grave to escape the torments of Hell. What is the second death? From this verse and from Rev 21:8 it is clear that th second death is the "lake of fire". Now Rev 20:15,
Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Wow! Did you see that? It means that everyone standing there before the throne of God, old and young, men and women and children and babies, will be cast into Hell. All those whose names are written in the Book of Life, all the righteous, have all been raptured to be with Christ a little earlier on this day, according to I Thess 4. All the unsaved have been left on this earth and are in this passage standing for judgment, because none of their names can be found in the Book of Life.
When we read these verses in Rev 20:12-15, what concept do we draw in our minds about the Book of Life? To what conclusion are we coming when we hear this? Let me give you 3 choices. First, how many books do we envision in our minds? Do we see many books? That is wrong! There are not many books. Secondly, do we envision that the "Book of Life" and the "Lamb's Book of Life" are 2 different books in heaven, and that these two books were written before the foundation of the world? That is also the wrong answer! I am asking these questions because I have to undo in your minds the prior teachings that you have heard about the Book of Life. Thirdly, could it be that the Book of Life is a book here on earth which we can read, and where we can recognize our names in that Book? Yes! That is the right answer! This is the answer that harmonizes with other verses in the Bible. For example: We need books to keep records, or else we will forget those records. Does God need books to keep records? Will God forget if He does not write it down? No! Indeed, the Lord Jesus said that it would be the Bible, which shall be used to judge all mankind on the Last Day, not the many "books". Why then would God use the term "books" in Rev 20:12, if God does not need to write down anything? God does that because the term "books", plural, is used as a symbol to underscore the omniscience of God the Judge, who knows every secret thought, as well as every word and deed of every person who has ever lived. "All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Heb 4:13). The Lord Jesus said in John, chapter 12, verse 48,
John 12:48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the Word (the Logos) that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day (2X).
The Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Word made flesh, shall be the Judge, and He shall use the Bible to judge the unsaved on the Last Day. He shall use the Bible to judge the sheep and the goats. Now, did Jesus drop here a hint that perhaps the Bible might be that Book of Life? Let us consider this for the remainder of this sermon. The first question is this:
#1. Can We See The Bible as a Mirror? (Jam 1:23-25, Acts 14:8-10) Let me give two examples:
Please turn about 55 pages to your left (à), to the Epistle of James, chapter 1:23 (2X). There are two things that stand out in this passage of verses 19-26. The first is this: Christians must be swift to hear, slow to speak, and slow to wrath (2X). This is a command from God. The second is this: Christians must be doers of the Word, and not hearers only (2X). This too is a command from God. Then God gives us the "parable of the man and the mirror". Have you ever heard this "parable of the man and the mirror"? Here it is. First the unsaved man and the mirror:
James 1:23-24 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass (in a mirror): For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.
What is so special about a man who looks in a mirror and forgets what he looks like? What is that mirror? This mirror is the Word of God, the Bible. The Bible shows the man that he is a wicked sinner, deserving the wrath of God. But this man goes his way as before, and forgets what he read in the Bible. By this action he demonstrates that he is still unsaved, and God characterizes him as "a hearer of the Word, and not a doer". He heard the Word of God, but he has no intention to obey God.
The second man who looks in the mirror is one who did become saved. Verse 25,
James 1:25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.
The Bible shows this man that he is a wicked sinner, deserving the wrath of God, but this man is pricked in his heart. Next, this man believes that there is a way of escape through faith in Jesus Christ and this man continues to live his life as a disciple of Jesus in gratitude for Christ saving him. God characterizes this man as "a doer of the Word, and not a hearer only". This man lives his life swift to hear, slow to speak and slow to wrath, because he wants to live a life that is pleasing to God. God holds the Bible in front of us as the mirror for our soul, and asks us: what will you do with that info.
For the second example I would like you to turn about 170 pages to your left (à), to the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 14:8 (2X). Remember, our objective is to see ourselves reflected in this Book. We have here the account of a lame man at Lystra who was made whole when the Apostle Paul evangelized this region. What was so special about this man? Let us read Acts 14:8,9,10.
Acts 14:8-9 And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who steadfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed,
Acts 14:10 Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked.
What was this man's name? He has no name. Why did God not give him a name? Let us take a look at his problem. God describes this man's problem three ways: #1. He was impotent in his feet. #2. He was a cripple from his mother's womb. #3. He had never walked. What is the difference in these 3 statements? There is no difference. God described it 3 ways to make us understand that this man was absolutely, absolutely lame. The physical problem that this man had, was pointing to the spiritual problem that all people are born with. At birth we all were infected with enslavement to sin, and we all were in need of salvation. We all needed to be liberated from this birth defect, and we were unable to do anything about our sin problem. We cannot walk in God's ways until we become saved. Therefore this man had no name; this man was pointing to all of us before our salvation. The healing of this man was miraculous and instant. And so it is with our souls. When God saves us from our spiritual condition, He gives us our born again soul in an instant. Does it take a special faith to become healed or saved? No! It does not require from us a special faith. We receive the faith of Abraham (Rom 4) and God gives it to us as a free gift, as evidence that God has given us a new soul.
Can we see ourselves in the Bible? Absolutely Yes! I have given only two examples here, but every healing of the blind, the deaf, the dumb and the lame are also pictures of our salvation.
Please turn now about 100 pages to your right (ß), to the Epistle to the Ephesians 1:3 (2X).
Can we recognize our name written in this Book? Well, we need to learn to see that, and then we will understand that the Bible is that Book of Life that God writes about. It is not a mystical book in heaven, but it is here, on this earth, and we can read if our name is there. Take a fine Bible pen, any color, one that does not bleed through. Then put a little circle around the words us, and we, and ye, and ask yourself if these pronouns apply to you, personally. Let us begin with Eph 1:3,
Ephesians 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:
Ephesians 1:4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:
Praise God for electing us unto salvation. Do we believe these words? Why did God have to save anyone through election? Well, if God had not done that, if God would have waited until we choose to come to Him, then nobody would have become saved, and we would all be condemned to Hell. Do we believe that? Can we identify with the pronouns us and we in these verses? Go on with verse 5,
Ephesians 1:5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
Eph 1:6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.
Can we identify with these statements? Do we believe that God has placed us in Christ before the foundation of the world? We did not exist yet, but God the Son as our representative did exist, and He took it upon Himself to represent us in all things where we need a representation before God the Judg
Ephesians 1:7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
Ephesians 1:8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence;
Do we believe this? Do we believe that all our sins are forgiven, through the suffering and death of our Lord Jesus Christ, because God the Father has chosen us before the foundation of the world? Do we believe that Christ, in His wisdom, has worked out the best plan that there is for us? Continue V.9,
Ephesians 1:9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:
Ephesians 1:10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:
Do we believe that God the Holy Spirit has given us a new soul, and has made known unto us the Gospel, because the Lord Jesus Christ has suffered and died for our sins? Do we believe that there will be a Last Day when all the Saints will be gathered in one place, together with Christ? Continue …
Ephesians 1:11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the
purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:
Ephesians 1:12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.
Do we believe that God has made us heirs of the next universe, which is called the NH&NE? Do we believe that God has predestinated us to this glory not on account of anything we have done, but entirely by grace, according to His purpose and good pleasure? Do we believe that we can trust the saving work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross? Do we believe He really paid for all our sins?
Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Ephesians 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Do we believe all that God has written in the Bible? Do we believe that we have received our faith as a seal of God the Holy Spirit? Can we identify with all these pronouns in this passage? Then it means that this passage identifies with us. You could write your name there without changing the meaning of this passage. I do not suggest that you do this, but theoretically you could do this. Your name is there on this page of the Bible. Put a sticker here. We will come back to this place.
Now we must also deal with the various ways this Book of Life is written about in the Bible.
#2. For example: Can We Be Blotted Out of this Book? (Psalm 69:28, Ex 32:32-33, Gen 17:14)
Please turn almost to the beginning of your Bibles, to Exodus 32:32 (2X). God wrote in Ps 69:28,
Ps 69:28, Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous (2X)
What does it mean to be blotted out of "the Book of the Living"? Since this Book is in the singular, apparently is the same as the Book of Life. Can this still refer to the Bible? Absolutely Yes! "The Book of Life" is so named because God considers those alive whose names are in that Book. Therefore it may also be called "the Book of the living". In other words, everyone physically alive is written in that Book. Just think of the records in Gen 5 and in Gen 10 and 11 where all the nations of the world find their origin. Therefore, the Book of the living also refers to those who are, or were physically alive. In the physical sense then, "to blot out" means "to destroy from off the earth".
Moreover, "the Book of the living" also applies in the spiritual sense. For example, "The righteous are written in the Book of the living" (Psalm 69:28). The wicked were never in "the Book of the living" in a spiritual sense. But why then does God use the words "him will I blot out of My Book" for the wicked? God uses the words "blot out" for a specific reason: For example in Psalm 69:28, where it refers to Judas Iscariot, it is to indicate that there is no possibility of repentance.
We must bring these words in harmony with the words of Ex 32:32-33. In Ex 32 the children of Israel had grievously sinned by making a golden calf and by worshipping it. Now Moses pleads with God to pardon their sin and Moses said in Ex 32:32,
Exodus 32:32 Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book
which thou hast written. (But God said in verse 33)
Exodus 32:33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.
"Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book". That eradication would have included the entire congregation that the Lord had delivered out of Egypt, including Moses. There was none without sin. Did God mean that? Absolutely Yes! But in the case of His servants Moses, and Aaron, and Joshua, and Caleb, and a few others who belonged to the elect of God, the Lord Jesus Christ was their representative before the judgment throne of God, and He took the penalty of being blotted out in their place. But in the case of the wicked, or the reprobate, God speaks of "blotting out of His Book" like God is speaking about "Covenant breakers who shall be cut off". For example, God says in Gen 17:14, "And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant". In the OT economy, the uncircumcised man never was in the covenant, and yet God speaks as if he has been in the covenant at one time, but now he has broken God's covenant. The reason these words are found is because at one time, before the Fall, we all were in Adam, and we all were in the covenant in Adam. But when Adam fell into sin, we all became covenant breakers, because Adam was our representative in the flesh. Likewise God speaks about "blotting out", as if the wicked have at one time been in the Book of Life. Indeed we all were in the Book of Life before the Fall of Adam. But when Adam fell into sin we all were blotted out of the Book of Life, even though in the early years of my life I was never spiritually in the Book of the living. I did not understand what the Bible says, and I did not want to know what the Bible has to say. Initially everyone is in that category of having been blotted out of the Book of Life.
And that agrees with the Gospel of salvation. Please turn again to the Epistle to the Eph 2:1 (2X).
Let us see if we can again identify ourselves with the words of the Gospel in Eph 2. Again, circle the words us, and we, and ye, and you. God says in Eph 2:1,
Ephesians 2:1 ¶ And you (
hath he quickened),
who were dead in trespasses and sins;
Do we agree with this? If we are honest with ourselves we will say: Yes! We were living a rotten life, apart from God. Spiritually we were absolutely dead in trespasses and sins. Continue with V.2,
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
Eph 2:3 Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.
Do we believe this? Do we believe that Satan, the prince of the power of the air, was at work in us, and that he still is at work in all the presently unsaved? He held us captive through the enticements of this world. There was absolutely no escape possible. We were by nature children of the wrath of God.
Ephesians 2:4 ¶ But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,
Ephesians 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
Do we believe that God had mercy on us? Can we identify with that? Can we believe that we would not be here in Church, unless God had mercy on us? Do we believe that we were as dead in sins as the body of Christ was dead when He was laid in the tomb? Now continue with verse 6,
Eph 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
Ephesians 2:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.
Do we believe that God has made us spiritually alive with Christ? We did not exist yet, 2000 years ago, but since Christ is our representative, He guaranteed that we would receive a new soul in our lifetime. Do we believe that God has shown us the exceeding riches of His grace, and will continue to do so in the ages to come? Do we recognize His hand in our life? Now continue in verse 8,
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Ephesians 2:9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Do we believe that only by the grace of God are we saved, it is totally a free gift and undeserved, and that God gave us the faith of Abraham as evidence that we have been saved? Do we believe that we have NOT been saved because God saw through the corridors of time that we would turn to Him? Do we believe that we were saved because God chose us unto salvation before the foundation of the world, according to Eph 1, and it was entirely according God's good pleasure? Continue with verse 10
Ephesians 2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
Do we believe that we are entirely of God's workmanship? We have NOT become a child of God because of our desire to worship Him, because we had no such desire. Do we believe that we have been created in Christ, unto good works? Are we now zealous unto good works? (Titus 2:14) And when we do these good works, do we give God all the credit for giving us the desire to do them?
Can we identify with all these personal pronouns? Can we substitute our own name in all these places? Can we say heartily "Yes" and "Amen" to all these questions about what God has made us to believe and do we recognize that God has given us the desires to please Him? If so, then do we see our name in this Book, the Bible? If so, then do we see that our name is in the Book of life? Therefore when our name is not in the Book of Life, there is no way we can put it in there; a hopeless situation.
#3. What Is This Book of Life? (Luke 10:19-20, Heb 12:22-23, Rev 13:8, 17:8, 20:15, I Pet 1:23)
By now you and I are pretty sure that "the Book of Life", spoken of in the Bible, is the Bible itself. The little 3-year-old girl who asked me the question, also suggested to me the answer. She said: "Pastor, I think that the Book of Life is the Bible". Indeed, when we consider the Bible itself, we must admit that it is a "Book of Life". If God had not given us all these references to "THE Book of Life", then we would have called the Bible, without hesitation, the "Book of Life", because it teaches us which way to go for eternal life with God. But God does not always call it a Book, because God does not need a book to keep records. For example listen as I read fr. Luke 10:19-20,
Luke 10:19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you.
Luke 10:20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
Again, God uses the words "written in heaven" in Heb 12:22-23, just listen as I read,
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,
Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
What does it mean "written in heaven"? Does this refer to the "Book of Life"? Is there a mystical book in heaven where our names are written? Does that book contain white paper pages with black ink letters? Does God need such a material book with names, or can God remember without having such a book? You can see how ridiculous it gets. Let us be serious about it. When did God draw up this list of names? In Eph 1 God says that He has drawn up this list of names before the foundation of the world. At that time there was only God. Nothing else existed. No pen and paper existed. And even heaven itself did not exist yet. Where did God have this list of names? God had them in His mind. Therefore, when we read those words "written in heaven", we should not think of a material book in heaven, but it is "written in the mind of God, who is in heaven". Please turn to Rev 13:8 (2X). We have seen that a predestinarian atmosphere hangs around many of the references made to the "Book of Life". Indeed it is something written in the mind of God before the foundation of the world. We read,
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.
People whose names were NOT written in "the Book of Life" shall be worshipping Satan. Please turn to Rev 17:8 (2X), where we read about that same fact that all the unsaved shall be followers of S.
Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
From comparing these two verses it is clear that "the Book of Life of the Lamb" and "the Book of Life from the foundation of the world" are one and the same Book, and both these references refer to the Bible as the One Book, which is the Word of God. God says in I Pet 1:23 that "the word of God, liveth and abideth forever". Before the foundation of the world God knew what He was going to write in Eph 1 and in Rev 20. God knew already then the entire content of the Bible, the "Book of Life". Please turn to Rev 20:15 (2X), which is the capstone of all that we read about the "Book of Life"
Rev 20:15 And whosoever was NOT found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
Therefore we see that the salvation of NONE is dependent on good works, which might be written in those "books" referred to in Rev 20:12. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God, and all who are to be saved are saved purely by the grace of God, who elected some to eternal life, and wrote their names in His mind, and gave them to us to read and see in "the Book of Life", the Bible.
Please turn now to Rev 3:4 (2X). We read there about "he that overcometh". The question I have
Revelation 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
There were some in the church at Sardis who were truly saved, whose names were written in the mind of God from before the foundation of the world. Of them God says in verse 5,
Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Look at all these positives that God is saying of these truly saved people: #1. He that overcometh. How can anyone overcome, and be stronger than Satan? #2. He shall be clothed. By whom? He shall be clothed by Christ! #3. With white raiment, pointing to the "Robe of Christ's Righteousness". #4. His name shall not be blotted out of the Book of Life. #5. Christ will confess our name before the heavenly Father. #6. Christ will confess our name before all His messengers. Who are those overcomers? They are those who live by faith in Christ, and whose testimony in word and deed gives evidence that Christ lives in them. (I John 5:4-5). They are those who, by the will of God, are born of God, because they were chosen by God to be "in the Beloved" before the foundation of the world. (Eph 1:4-5). Thus the promise "I will not blot out", although negatively given, is meant to be an assurance that their names are immutably inscribed in heaven.
Revelation 3:6 He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.
Doesn't everyone have ears? Apparently not! To understand this sermon and the words God wrote in the Bible, and to believe and agree with those words, requires that we have spiritual ears, which only God can give you. The hymn we are going to sing reflects who these overcomers are.
By the sea of crystal, saints in glory stand; myriads in number, drawn from every land.
Robed in white apparel, washed in Jesus' blood; they now reign in heaven with the Lamb of God.
Out of tribulation, death and Satan's hand, they have been translated at the Lord's command.
In their hands they're holding palms of victory; Hark! The jubilant chorus shouts triumphantly.
Amen. Let us turn to the Lord in prayer.