Book of Life

“And the beast was allowed to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And he was given authority to rule over every tribe and people and language and nation. And all the people who belong to this world worshiped the beast. They are the ones whose names were not written in the Book of Life that belongs to the Lamb who was slaughtered before the world was made. Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful.” 
Revelation 13:7-10 NLT

We are spending a second day considering these verses from Revelation 13. “God’s holy people” were having a hard time, with the devil and his minions waging war against them, conquering them, imprisoning them and murdering them. But the scriptures describing John’s vision continue with a reference to those who weren’t Christians. John described them as being those “who belong to this world”. But surely that applies to everyone who lives on Planet Earth, whether Christian or not. Well, actually, it doesn’t. Because the word “world”describes the societal secular values with their anti-God bias.

A person of the world in the context of these verses is someone who is not one of “God’s holy people”. And we know exactly who these people are because their “names were not written in the Book of Life”.  So what is this Book? There are references throughout the Bible to a register kept in Heaven. Every one of God’s children has his or her name recorded in it. Jesus once said to His disciples, as recorded in Luke 10:20, “But don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” Moses was recorded as having a conversation with God about the Israelites’ bad and sinful behaviour. This is how the conversation went, “But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, erase my name from the record you have written!” But the Lord replied to Moses, “No, I will erase the name of everyone who has sinned against me.” (Exodus 31:32-33 NLT). In the Book of Revelation, the register is referred to as the “Lamb’s Book of Life”. (Revelation 21:27). So it is fair to assume that all of God’s holy people, Christians in the true sense, will have their names recorded in this register in Heaven. 

But those people whose names are absent from the “Book of Life” are not off the hook. Everything they do is recorded, also in a book. And there will come a day when these books are opened in God’s presence, but more about that when we get to Revelation 20. By default, those people who are not God’s people will be considered to be worshipping the beast. Though that does not necessarily mean that they set up an idol representing the devil and run a pseudo-religious service of worship to it, it does mean that they accept and endorse the world governmental system of which they are a part. A system a.k.a. the beast. It is a black and white scenario. Mankind is allocated into one of two kingdoms – God’s or the devil’s. There are no other options. And the gulf between these two kingdoms is getting wider and wider. Our verses today from Revelation 13 describe the ultimate position where the gulf between the two is almost impossible to bridge.

Once again, we face into the situation that we must pray without ceasing for our loved ones and those in our communities, for our leaders and our society. We pray that God’s grace will continue and that His love will touch them and draw them away from the kingdom of the devil, the kingdom of darkness, into God’s kingdom, the Kingdom of Light. We remember how we made that transition and share our testimony of grace with those whose ears are open to hear our message. 1 Peter 2:9-10 – “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.” 

Dear Father God. We thank You once again for Your love and grace, for we are now Your very own possession. Help us to share our messages of hope with those around us. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Clothed in White

“Yet there are some in the church in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes with evil. They will walk with me in white, for they are worthy. All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine. “Anyone with ears to hear must listen to the Spirit and understand what he is saying to the churches.“”
Revelation‬ ‭3:4-6‬ ‭NLT

What comes to our minds when we read about being clothed in white? The image of a TV evangelist perhaps, a man wearing a white suit. Another image is of a beautiful bride wearing an expensive creation of white lace and finery. White is a symbol of purity. And if we want to be counted among the “victorious” then we had better get used to the idea that we will be clothed in white, and it will be a garment whiter than any man-made product. The popular image is that a white garment will be some form of gown; Jesus is mostly portrayed in artist impressions as wearing a shoulder to ground loose-fitting robe. In Mark 9:3, we read, “Jesus’ appearance was transformed, and his clothes became dazzling white, far whiter than any earthly bleach could ever make them“. There will be something about the whiteness of our garments that will surpass anything we can imagine today. In his book The Great Divorce, C S Lewis describes the inhabitants of Heaven as being the solid bright people, exuding a dazzlingly white purity contrasting with the wispy dark and evil wraiths that were the ghosts on a day trip from hell.

But however we imagine what our Heavenly clothes will be like, of one thing we will be sure – they will be white. That is, of course, assuming that we don’t sully them with dirt that has stuck there through our contact with an evil world. It seems from these verses that the inhabitants of Sardis were already wearing their white Heavenly clothes, because Jesus warned them not to get them dirty. And in a sense we too are wearing our garments of white. Thankfully there is a process there for laundering. Our humanity sadly acts like a “dirt magnet”, our worldly behaviour soiling our white garments far too often. And only repentance and forgiveness, with washing in the blood of Jesus, will restore their whiteness – Isaiah 1:18 reads, ““Come now, let’s settle this,” says the Lord. “Though your sins are like scarlet, I will make them as white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, I will make them as white as wool”“. Only Jesus can restore the whiteness of our garments.

We also read that Jesus will never erase our names, the names of the victorious, from His Book of Life. What is this Book? It contains the names of everyone destined for Heaven. And we really do need our names to be there. The implication from today’s verses is that perhaps the names of some can be erased from it. Some people believe that once written in the Book of Life, the name can never be erased, regardless of subsequent behaviour, because it’s written in spiritually indelible ink. Others believe that those who fall away from the faith, who allow their clothes to be soiled by evil, and who reject God, will find that their names will disappear. But whichever viewpoint we believe, we really do need our names to be written in this Book of Life. Personally, the thought that a person can come to faith in God, confessing their sins and obtaining His forgiveness, with their names recorded in the Book, only to then live their lives in a sinful way, turning their back on God, but still expect their names to remain in the Book, is a somewhat bizarre assumption. But that’s just my opinion.

Jesus said He will never rub out the names of His victorious ones, removing them from His Book of Life. And more, He said that He will announce them publicly in the vaults of Heaven. Before God and the angels. I can imagine the scene. A doorway into Heaven opens up with Jesus waiting there, ready to announce my name. A hush descends on Heaven as God and the angels all wait to see who this is, who is about to come through the door. And Jesus, beaming away, His arm around my shoulder, announces my name before the gathered assembly. He then declares that I am His, an overcomer, victorious and with my name recorded in His Book. Wearing spotless, dazzlingly-white clothes. Is that a scene too far-fetched and too good to be true? Perhaps. But if the angels have a party every time someone is saved, then can we imagine what it must be like when that saved person finally reaches Heaven? We read in Luke 15:10, “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents“. 

So, fellow pilgrims, we must learn from the church in Sardis. Once again we have found a church where some are faithfully following Jesus, but others have fallen away, still going through the motions but the connection with their wonderful Heavenly Father has been lost. We too must be careful we fall into the right camp, wherever we worship. And we must be careful to keep our Heavenly clothes clean and white.

Dear Lord. We are so grateful for Your encouragement in our daily walks with You. Please help us to stay close to Your cross, worthy servants of the Living God. Amen. 

Book of Life

Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.
Psalm 69:27-28

David is bothered by his enemies again. And he spends time and ink in thinking and writing about what he would like God to do about them. “Let their eyes go blind”; “Pour our Your fury”; “Let their homes go desolate”; “Pile their sins up high”. Such sentiments appear in David’s thoughts. And he finishes this section appealing to God, that He would erase their names from the Book of Life. 

The Book of Life. A book where God writes down the names of His righteous ones. His sons and daughters. All those who, through Jesus, have an inheritance in Heaven. References to the “Book of Life” appear in both the Old and New Testaments. There are preconditions to having our names recorded in this Heavenly Book. Those who have overcome evil, those who don’t practise idolatry and dishonesty; those who are not sinners or unrighteous – these are all qualities that will ensure our names will be recorded. But why is it the Book of Life? I suppose another name would perhaps be the Register of God’s People. Or perhaps “Afterlife” would also be an appropriate reference. But whatever we call it, it is of paramount importance that our names are written in it. Imagine how we would feel, standing at the pearly gates, hoping to gain entry into Heaven, perhaps seeing people we have known waiting for us, but being turned away because our names are not written in the Book of Life.

There is only one way to ensure that our names are recorded. And that is through Jesus. It is through our acceptance that we have sinned, have repented of those sins, and that we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Saviour. In Romans 10:9-10, the Apostle Paul wrote, “If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” So there you have it. If your name is not written in the Book of Life, don’t waste any time. My name is there. How about yours?

Helicopters

The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit. John 3:8 NIV

Behind the trees this morning I heard the sound of a helicopter. First in the distance a popping noise and then, as it got closer, a swishing sound . It then appeared through a gap in the trees. So I looked it up on the “Flightradar24” App (if you are interested in flying then this is a great app to get and it’s free!) and was told that it was an “Airbus Helicopters AS355” but no information about where it had come from or where it was going was available. Of course, it must have started somewhere, and there will be a time when it has to land, if only to refuel. But the relevant data about its origin and destination was missing. 

The helicopter could be seen and heard but I couldn’t tell where it had come from or where it was going. In today’s Scripture, Jesus uses the analogy of wind. It can be heard but we don’t know where it came from or where it is going. It’s the same with our natural lives, we don’t plan either our origin or destination. That is, of course, unless we embrace the teaching of Jesus in John 3. But it is “sad but true” (to quote the title of the Metallica song) that most people seem unconcerned about their destination in life. They obviously cannot do much about their origins, but they can take steps to ensure the right destination.

In His discussion with Nicodemus, the Jewish leader who crept into Jesus’ presence after dark, Jesus explained the need for a spiritual birth. He said, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’” (John 3:5-7). So by being born again, we can determine our spiritual origins, and this starts us on the right journey through life. But how can we be sure that we are on our way to the right destination? We have a choice. We can either spend eternity with the devil and his demons in hell, or we can spend eternity with God and His angels in Heaven. A wrong choice and a right choice. A wrong destination and a right destination. And we can make the right choice by believing in Jesus, God’s only Son, to forgive us for our sins. On a cross at a place called Calvary He took upon Himself all our sins and gave us in exchange His righteousness. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5:21. And by being righteous in God’s sight we are assured of a future with Him in eternity.

So as Christians, we have an origin and a destination, and the spiritual App equivalent of Flightradar24 will record our journey between them. Not more “N/A” against the points of origin and destination. We have been born again through the Spirit of God, and assured a future in Heaven through our salvation. Our flight plan has been recorded in God’s Book of Life.

If you are unsure of where you are going and want to know more, please message me. It could be the most important decision you have ever made.