Summary: When we take into consideration what will transpire in the judgement it certainly is not unreasonable to believe God has recorded, in heaven, the names of those who have been born again and He has also recorded what they have done as disciples.
THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE
Many years ago there was a very small country church that just had a sanctuary and one small class room. For heat there was a coal stove in the basement, and there was an outhouse located along a hedgerow at the edge of the churches property. Physical there was not much to brag about the church, but it was in this old church that many people developed a strong relationship with God.
There is one interesting story relative to that old church. It is a story, which was brought to mind by a lady at the church I now attend. She asked me if I would put together something about the Lamb’s Book of Life. As I sat there contemplating how I would approach her request my mind filled with an image of the old church. More specifically, I could see a church lady standing at the front of the sanctuary, and she was holding a massive book from which she called out names. You see, in that little old country church, so very many years ago, they called role every Sunday.
As I contemplated these things, while sitting in our churches comfortable upholstered pews, I could not help but smile at the thought of how people would react if we were to call role in church today. In my youth it was the norm; and, I can still feel the anxiety of waiting for my name to be called … and the fear that I had forgotten my memory verse. Yep, not only was your name called: you also had to stand up and repeat a bible verse from memory. Of course, there was always good old John 11:35, but you would be stretching your luck if you used it very often. Time sure has changed things; today people seem to prefer a church that expects nothing from them … except maybe some money.
So much for today, we need to return to the little old church, and to my mission to write about the Lamb’s Book of Life. What is interesting about my memory of the lady with her big book is how this scenario not only generated a since of foreboding, but how it also generated a sense of comfort. As a little child I was already somewhat aware of the Lamb’s Book of Life, and for some reason I kind of associated it with the big book from which the lady read our names each week. In my child’s mind, I took a great deal of comfort from knowing my name was written down in that book. Of course there was also the fact that having my name written in that book placed a heavy burden on me … I had to have a memory verse ready each Sunday. Still, when my name was read, and I had prepared a suitable memory verse, I had that glorious feeling of being right with God.
I probably should stop thinking about this and get involved in the service going on around me, but I have a feeling my memory of the lady with the big role book holds the key to my mission. In my young life I was not concerned with any questions about the book. The church lady had the book and my name was in it. I did not care how my name got in the book and I knew my name would not be erased from the book as long as I fulfilled my obligations. From my young perspective, God was glad my name was in the book and God expected me to have a memory verse ready each week … as long as I did my part I had a good relationship with God.
1. BASIC CONCEPT OF A BOOK OF LIFE
There can be no denying that the Book of Life is mentioned numerous times in scripture; but, is the Book of Life literal or symbolic? Of course when we say literal we are not necessarily talking about something physical such as the church ladies big book. That does not mean, however, that we do not consider a literal heavenly existence of some form of record, which God refers to as the “Lambs Book of Life”. Please understand, we are talking about a literal record, which exists in heaven; we are not talking about some church membership book. We do not presume to claim detailed knowledge of this book nor do we expect it to necessarily be in the form and fashion of an earthly text. In our humble understanding of scripture, we are talking about God literally having a heavenly medium in which the names of His true followers and their life history are recorded.
If we believe in the physical existence of a Book of Life rather than its being just symbolic then we must ask ourselves: why does it exist? Perhaps it would be helpful if we took into consideration the fact that our relationship with God has two distinct facets. (Matthew 28:16-20) First and foremost is our coming to the conviction that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, which results in our being spiritually reborn as a disciple of Jesus Christ. (John 3:1-16) The second facet of our relationship with God is the product of our spiritual maturity, which results in our working to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. If we combine these two facts with the realization that at the day of judgement Jesus will judge the world then a Book of Life begins to make sense. According to scripture Jesus will use the Book of Life to separate the goats from the sheep; and, Jesus will evaluate the work the sheep have done and He will reward us accordingly. (1 Corinthians 3:10-15) When we take into consideration what will transpire in the judgement it certainly is not unreasonable to believe God has recorded, in heaven, the names of those who have become born again and He has also recorded what they have done as disciples.