The Book of Life

Scripture: 1 Chronicles 29:29, Ecclesiastes 12:12, Revelation 10:8
Date: 01/05/2013 
We need to know how to get our names written in the Book of Life.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

Happy Sabbath! Happy New Year! I hope that you have entered into the new year with renewed hope for your life and for our church. I think the Lord has blessed. We all marveled when we were in the office this week and we looked, and God never ceases to amaze us how He takes care of the finances, the many ways that He blessed. But of course, the most important thing we do here is we want to be a place where people hear and learn the gospel and that we can be a place where we can come together and worship God, to represent God, and then communicate that truth with the world that is perishing. Very important message.

I was listening to Sister Elizabeth’s children’s story, and I thought, “That’s a good idea to give the young people a word,” and I’d like to challenge all the young people, if you have a pencil and a piece of paper (no, do not get that piece of paper out of the hymnal), but if you happen to have a piece of paper, I can tell you a word that’s going to show up a lot today, and I’m guessing it’s going to be said more than 100 times. Here’s the word. You can start right now. Book. So I want you to count how many times you hear me say the work book (that would be two now) today in the message.

We’re going to be talking today about a very important subject that you find, really, from cover to cover in the Bible. Technically, the first time it’s referenced is in the book of Exodus and then all the way through to Revelation, and it deals with the theme of salvation. That would be the book of life. I don’t know if I’m going to be able to cover everything in one message, so we’ll see how the Lord leads, and if it looks like I have a lot left, then I’ll cut it short and we’ll finish up next Sabbath because I want to talk about this, and I want the Spirit to have time to lead and to guide in what we share because, quite frankly (you heard our scripture reading), if your name is not in the book of life, your situation is hopeless. We need to know something about that book and how to get our names written there.

There are a lot of books in the world. One of the biggest ancient libraries in history was the library of Alexandria there in Egypt, and it was probably built by the Ptolemies back about 300 years before the time of Christ, and various historians tell us that there were tens of thousands of manuscripts and scrolls. One report, and we don’t know whether this is exaggerated or not, Alexandria had a very famous port and the Greeks were so hungry for knowledge and they wanted to have a place where all the knowledge was gathered there at that library, that whenever a ship came into port to do commerce, they’d say, “You need to surrender your manuscripts to us. We will give them back,” and they had editors that were on duty full time there at the library that would take these scrolls, these books, from the different ships that came from all over the world. They would copy out all of the important information, they’d file them, and they’d give them back to the ships before they left harbor so that they could accumulate the world’s knowledge there. There’s probably some truth to that. I don’t know that they seized everybody’s ship manifest and copied it out, but they wanted to collect all that knowledge.

They had amassed an enormous library, probably one of the greatest in the ancient world, and then someone came along by the name of Julius Caesar, and he got into a war, and he actually burned his own ships there. (It wasn’t only Cortez that did that.) Caesar burnt some of his ships that were in the port of Alexandria, and some of the sparks allegedly flew, and the library caught on fire. A lot of the books were lost then, and they rescued some, and then later they were burned during some of the other battles that transpired. The last of it was supposedly burned up by the Islamic Mohammedans that went through raiding in the country.

You think about all the knowledge that was lost. When there’s a rare book and it’s lost, it’s kind of sad, isn’t it? Did you ever have somebody give you a rare book? Someone gave me a Bible that’s about 150 years old, and I have the Bible that my dad had during World War II, the little Army-issued New Testament and Psalms that they would give out to the soldiers for a little pocket Bible, and he gave that to me. Certain books are very rare.

There are actually some missing books from the Bible. Now, they’re not missing. We have the entire canon here, but there are books referenced in the Bible, and we don’t know where they went in history. For instance, you can read in 1 Chronicles 29:29, it talks about the book of Nathan the prophet—that good friend of David, probably the one who mentored Solomon—Nathan. We don’t know where his book is. Joshua 10:13 refers to the book of Jasher. That must have been an ancient book because Joshua was very early in the Bible. There is no record of the book of Jasher. We don’t know what happened to that. You can read in 2 Chronicles 20:34, it talks about the book of Jehu the son of Hanani. Don’t know where that book went. You’ll find all kinds of apocryphal books. People manufacture books and say, “Ah, we found this missing book!” But most of them are pretty dubious in their origins. But there are some rare books that have been lost. Let’s face it; there are a lot of books in the world. Even the Bible tells us there are almost too many books.

I found an amazing fact about the Library of Congress. I think I’ve shared this with you before. According to Guinness Book of World Records, the biggest library in the world today is the U.S. Library of Congress. It contains more than 151.8 million books. Well, not all of them are books. First built in 1800, the library, now housed in three separate buildings (because the library is expanding constantly), it contains 838 miles of bookshelves. Do you have enough bookshelves in your house? I know we don’t. We have books stuck everywhere. I went around to make Karen’s side of the bed yesterday, and I stubbed my toe on her pile of books under the bed. She likes to read. It says it has 34 million books. In addition to the books, this mega library houses 3.3 million recordings, 13.4 million photographs, 5.4 million maps, 6.5 million pieces of sheet music (how would you like to learn all that?), and 66.6 (there’s a biblical number) million manuscripts. The top things off the inventory—catch this—the inventory grows by approximately 10,000 new items every working day, and they have to have a full-time crew, paid for probably by your tax dollars, to chronicle all of that information.

Total number of books printed around the world every day exceeds 8 billion books a year. Makes you think what Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 12. He knew what he was talking about. Ecclesiastes 12:12, “And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.” How would you like to have to read the world’s compilation of books in one year? Now in all the books that they’re printing—they have also now, of course, the e-books on the Kindles and the Nooks and the iPads, and audiobooks, and I’m thankful for that, just coming to church this morning. I downloaded the whole book Desire of Ages, something I wanted to do this new year. It’s just amazing. My keys, I have just a couple of keys here. Someone gave me as a little Christmas gift a little jump drive, and I can put thousands of books on there to read—literally thousands of books, and audiobooks, fewer, but I can put the entire Great Controversy, Desire of Ages, all on here and listen as I drive along. There is no limit to information.

But some books are more important than others. By the way, speaking of multiplied books, John 21:25, one of the last verses in the Gospel of John. I’m going to give you a lot of verses today, and so I may post these notes. I’ll send them to the office and we’ll try to post them at the church web site. “And there are also many other things that Jesus did,” John says, “which if they were written one by one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books.” Talk about a lot of books! It says even the world itself could not contain all the books that could talk about Jesus. Why? Because He’s eternal.

God has books. Daniel 7:9. Here the prophet says, “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated”—this great judgment scene. “The Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books [plural] were opened.” If you’re keeping count, you can include the plural for book. So it talks about this great judgment scene. Court is seated. “Ten thousand times…” As a matter of fact, this is one of the largest numbers ever given in the Bible right here in this verse, and those are just all those that are attending this massive judgment, and there are books that are present in this judgment. Yes, it says God has books.

You read in Revelation 10:8, “Then the voice which I heard from heaven spoke to me again and said, ‘Go, take the little book which is open in the hand of the angel who stands on the sea and on the earth.’” It says that John ate that book and it was sweet like honey in his mouth but turned his stomach sour. A lot of kids have probably had that experience before, especially around Halloween. John is referring to something that he also saw there in Ezekiel, Ezekiel 3:3. An Angel hands a book to a man, “and He said to me, ‘Son of man, feed your belly, and fill your stomach with this scroll’”—scroll, book, same thing—“‘that I give you.’ So I ate, and it was in my mouth like honey in sweetness.”

In the Bible, when you find the word book, the Hebrew word book is cepher, and it means a writing or a document, a book, a bill, evidence, learning. In Greek (this will sound familiar), the Greek word for book is biblion. When you say “Bible,” Bible really means “books,” a collection of books, and it comes from that Greek word biblion, and it represents a roll or a scroll of a book, writing, or a document, and these are the common words that you find.

There are a lot of books that you find in the Bible, and God has books in heaven, evidently. For one thing, among the books, there is a book called the book of remembrance. You read about that in Malachi 3:16. You can remember John 3:16. Remember Malachi 3:16, 17. It says, “…those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them; so a book of remembrance was written before Him.” This book is being recorded before the Lord, called the book of remembrance “for those who fear the Lord and who meditate on His name.” This is a good book. You want your name in this book of remembrance. God says, “‘They shall be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘On the day that I make them My jewels. And I will spare them.’” The day when others are judged, these are spared who are in this book of remembrance, “‘as a man spares his own son who serves him.’” God will look upon those who are in this book the way that He looks upon His own Son. Isn’t that what the Christian counts on, that God will give us the righteousness of His Son and look upon us as His Son? These names are in this book of remembrance.

Kings often kept chronicles, and they would record different things that happened in the kingdom, and if someone showed them a kindness or a favor, it was written down. Do you remember, in the book of Esther, that Mordecai saved the king’s life by revealing a plot to assassinate King Ahasuerus? It was recorded, and it tells you that it is recorded earlier in Esther, but the king forgets what’s written there, and Mordecai is not rewarded until he reads it later. Esther 6:1, 2, “That night the king could not sleep. So one was commanded to bring the book of the records of the chronicles; and they were read before the king.” He probably thought it would put him to sleep because I’d think most of the court records would be pretty boring. “And it was found written that Mordecai had told of Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, the doorkeepers who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus.” Finally he ends up saying it’s time to reward Mordecai. It was delayed, but not because it wasn’t recorded. Sometimes judgment, both punishment and blessing, may be delayed, but be sure that everything in our King’s kingdom is recorded. Do you believe that?

There’s a quote from this famous book Great Controversy I’d like to read to you. This is, by the way, page 481. “‘A book of remembrance’ is written before God, in which are recorded the good deeds of ‘them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon His name.’” The good deeds are in this book. “Their words of faith, their acts of love, are registered in heaven. Nehemiah refers to this when he says: ‘Remember me, O my God, … and wipe not out my good deeds that I have done for the house of my God.’ … In the book of God’s remembrance every deed of righteousness is immortalized. There every temptation resisted, every evil overcome, every word of tender pity expressed, is faithfully chronicled. And every act of sacrifice, every suffering and sorrow endured for Christ’s sake, is recorded.” It’s like when David says, “Thou tellest my wanderings: put Thou my tears into Thy bottle: are they not in Thy book?” Everything that is endured and everything that we do because of our love for Christ, it’s all recorded, and God has a record of all that.

And of course you know there’s the other book, which has the record of the bad behavior. I’m not talking about Santa’s list. I’m talking about, God has a list. Isaiah 65:6, 7, “‘Behold, it is written before Me: I will not keep silence, but will repay—even repay into their bosom—your iniquities and the iniquities of your fathers together,’ says the Lord.” God says, “It is written before Me.” Ecclesiastes 12:14, “For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” How’s He doing that? It’s all recorded, “every secret thing.” You remember when Jesus said, Matthew 12:36, Be careful what you say, “for every idle word [that we] speak, [we] will give account of it in the day of judgment.” “For every idle word.” That always made me shudder because I have a tendency to sometimes just ramble and rattle and not always think about what I say, and sometimes we’re tempted to be frivolous and joke and jest, and God says every idle word we’ll give an account of. If it wasn’t for God’s mercy, we’d all be sunk, right? How many words does a man speak in a day? How many words does that make in a week or month or year of lifetime? It’s a lot of words to give an account for. I pray that God has a big eraser, or at least a prominent delete button, right?

Among the books that we’re talking about—we’ve talked about the book of remembrance, the book of records, and He has a book where the good deeds are and the bad deeds are—the Bible tells us that there is the most important book. You might think I would say the most important book is the Bible, and in most cases I would say that. But I want you to think about this. There may be another book more important than even the Bible, because there will be people in heaven that never owned a Bible. There will be people in heaven who never heard of the Bible. There will not be anybody in heaven whose name is not in a book. This is very clearly taught in the Bible. Everybody in heaven needs to have their name in this book, namely, the book of life. We heard about it in our scripture reading this morning.

Revelation 5:1, 2. It says, “I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll written inside and on the back.” As a matter of fact, we’re going to go to Revelation. I want to read this right out of the Bible. I often read these scriptures out of my notes. In your Bibles, go to Revelation 5. There’s this vision there. “And I saw in the right hand of Him who sat on the throne a scroll” (the word scroll there and book, same word), “written inside and on the back.” The Ten Commandments were written, it says, on both sides, two tables of stone written on the front and back.

“Sealed with seven seals.” When important documents were written and they were transferred from one king to another, they would roll them up, and where the two pieces met, they’d pour some wax to seal it in place like you might take a piece of tape and hold it in place. They’d put wax, and then they’d put an official seal they’d press while the wax was still hot into the melted wax. They’d press this seal, sometimes off a government official’s ring that was unique, and nobody could open that except the person to whom it was addressed. So here’s this scroll, this very important scroll, maybe a very large scroll, and it doesn’t have one seal, it has seven seals. And it needed it to be a person with great authority that could open that seal.

“Then I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, ‘Who is worthy to open the scroll and to loose its seals?’” Who is worthy to open this book? Who is authorized? “And no one in heaven or on the earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll, or to look at it. So I wept much,”—there is great sadness because this is a very important, it’s a book of hope and optimism, and it can’t be opened, can’t be accessed. “So I wept much because no one was found worthy to open and read the scroll, or to look at it. But one of the elders said to me, ‘Do not weep. Behold,’” Look. John often said “Behold,” like the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world. “‘Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.’”

So he says there’s a Lion, but when he looks, “I looked, and … in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and … the elders, stood a Lamb.” Jesus is that Lion and that Lamb. He is a King and He is a Sacrifice. “In the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as though it had been slain,” not just a Lamb, a Lamb that had been through a sacrifice, “having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent out into all the earth.” People always want to know what are those seven Spirits. If you look in Isaiah 11:2, it itemizes seven facets of the Spirit of God, and you can look at that on your own.

“Then He came and took the scroll,” this Lamb, “out of the right hand of Him who sat on the throne,” and He begins to unfold and open this scroll. The scroll ends up giving us the history of the plan of salvation in the world. But in another sense you might say this book that only Jesus could open is a book of life because it’s only Christ who can make life available to us.

Revelation 13:8, “All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb.” Did we just read about this scroll that only the Lamb could open? Here it calls it “the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”

This is important. I always want to rush through and get to the next thought, but I want to pause on this because there’s a misunderstanding of this phrase. It talks about the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Does that mean that back at the foundation of the world, everybody who was going to be saved, their names were all entered then? People who believe in predestination—do you know what I mean by that? That God has decided some are going to be saved and some are going to be lost, and He is up in heaven before the world was ever made because He’s all-knowing, He went eeny, meeny, miney, mo, and said “I’m going to save these people and I’m going to not save these people,” and He wrote the book of life before people were ever born and put their names there, and they are elect, they are saved because God has chosen to save them, and everyone else, it’s just too bad for them because this book was written from the foundation of the world.

It’s not what it’s saying. It is true Jesus, once men sinned, He is the Lamb who was slain back at the foundation of the world. In the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve sinned and they tried to cover their sin with fig leaves, God said, “No, you can’t cover sin with fig leaves. It’s going to take a sacrifice,” and a lamb was sacrificed, and that represented the Lamb of God, Jesus, and from that lamb or lambs that were sacrificed, maybe one for Adam and one for Eve, God made tunics of skin to cover their nakedness. Obviously, if there are skins, something had to die, right? So they were covered with these skins of these sacrifices. “Slain from the foundation of the world.” Back at the foundation of the world, when Adam and Eve repented of their sin, back at the foundation of the world, this book was opened, and their sins were struck out, and God entered their names in the book at the foundation of the world. It doesn’t mean that everybody who’s going to be saved is already predetermined. Do you understand that now? We’ll talk a little more about how and when peoples’ names are entered into that book.

By the way, I just read to you about the mark of the beast, and notice it contrasted one group having the mark of the beast and another group, their names are in the book of life. If you have the mark of the beast, your name is not in the book of life. If your name is in the book of life, you do not have the mark of the beast. We hear lots of people out in the world talking about the mark of the beast. Some are talking about the seal of God. Not enough are asking, “Is my name in the book of life?” because if you have that, you’re on the right side. So we need to know what that means.

Revelation 17:8, more of the same. “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world.” It says that there is this group of people that are going to wonder after the beast. Their names are not written in that book that was initiated at the foundation of the world. Revelation 20:12, “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God” (we read this), “and books were opened,” not just the book of life—book of record, book of remembrance. “And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and [Hell or] Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.”

“Now, wait, Pastor Doug. I thought we learned that we are saved by faith, we’re saved by grace through faith, and that it’s not of works.” We are saved by grace. We are saved through faith. But if you are saved, your works will demonstrate that you’ve been changed. It’s really easy; Jesus said you’ll know them by their fruits. If a person has the new heart, and if they have the Spirit of God, there’s going to be a difference.

There’s a really sad teaching that has sort of pervaded Christianity, this idea that the Lord saves you from your sin, but He does not save you from your slavery. What good would it have been for the Lord to save the children of Israel… Remember when they sacrificed the Passover lamb? Where were they? Egypt or wilderness or Promised Land? The lamb was sacrificed; they were still slaves in Egypt. But if God had said, “Your sins are now covered by the blood of the lamb,” and they can still hear the whip of the Egyptians snapping over their heads and they’re still slaves in Egypt, how much salvation is that? So if we talk about being saved from the penalty of sin, but in our lives we don’t experience salvation from the power of sin in the specific besetting sins that you and I struggle with, is that really salvation? Or did Jesus come to save us from our sins, not just the penalty and the record, but the power of sin in our life? So our deeds will show whether or not our hearts have been changed. Can you see that God is entirely just in saying…

By the way, it’s not Pastor Doug. It’s what God says. The last book of the Bible, New Testament teaching, “They were judged, each one according to his works.” Revelation 20:14, “Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” That can’t be misunderstood. How important is it for us to have our names written in that book? Only those who have their names in that book are not going to the lake of fire. Can we deduce that pretty clearly?

One of the last things you find in the Bible, Revelation 21:27, speaking of the city of God, “There shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie.” If there’s anything defiling, any liars, they’re not going in, “but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” Jesus talks about this book, and He says that if our names are there, we have cause to rejoice. Luke 10:20. They came back from one of their missionary endeavors, and they were so excited because the devils were being cast out, and Jesus said, “Do not rejoice in … that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” What book do you think Jesus is talking about? What writing is He referring to? They have eternal life. So if your name is in the book of life, what does Jesus say our attitude should be? Joy! If your name is not in the book of life, what should your attitude be? Terror! There’s no in between. God does not want you to be ambivalent about whether or not your name is in the book of life. You should be either very happy about it or very worried about it. So do you know if your name is written there?

Paul speaks of it in Philippians 4:3. “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” I like that one. It says that we are to be workers for Christ and our names are in the book of life. When the disciples went out preaching, He said, “Your names are in the book of Christ.” If you come to church once a week and you’re not involved in praying or ministry or something for the church at large, then I wouldn’t feel too comfortable about your name being in the book. You don’t just get your name in the book and come to the club once a week. It says the people who are workers for Christ, their names are in the book of life.

The Bible tells us there’s going to be a great judgment, and that judgment has begun already. Does everyone realize some judgment must take place before Jesus comes? Because when He comes, He is distributing rewards, right? “Behold, I come; My reward is with Me to give to every man….” Some judgment happens before He comes, because why would God put people in heaven or hell so to speak? Some people are raptured up. Others are destroyed by the brightness of His coming. Then later, for Him to open the books and say, “Let’s see if we got it right.” No. Some judgment happens at the beginning. Who does that judgment begin with? 1 Peter 4:17, “Judgment [must] begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel…?” There is this court evidence that is being evaluated even now. Everybody who has professed to accept Christ, the Lord takes them at their word, their names are entered, and then they’re later examined to see if they’re genuine or if they’re a counterfeit.

Ezekiel 9 talks about this. Ezekiel 9:3, “Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple.” This is in the house of God. “And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writer’s inkhorn at his side.” Angels are still using quills, feathers, and inkhorns. You know what an inkhorn is? It was a little vial you’d put your quill in. So what is an angel using? An angel feather to write with? They used to sharpen these quills, and they’d kind of wick up the ink, and then they’d write with it. Did any of you ever write with a quill pen? You know what I’m talking about. Is that because God is using real paper books in heaven? If you and I have e-books, are we more sophisticated than God? Is God using ink? Do those angels have black stains on their fingertips because they were dripping the ink and they have to blow on the scroll before they roll it up so it doesn’t smudge? So when we talk about books in heaven, does everyone here realize that God’s books are probably a little different than what we think of when we think of books? Is God chopping down trees up in heaven somewhere and making pulp? But He has a record. He’s just using words that we understand to know.

But I think it’s interesting that here He tells the angel, “Get your inkhorn,” whatever the tool is that he’s using, and He says, “Go through the midst of the city…, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations that are done….” This is a good mark. This is a mark you want, because everybody who gets this mark is saved. This is not the mark of the beast. This is more like the seal of God. It’s like you read in Revelation 7:2 about the 144,000. These angels are about to release the winds of strife that are going to wreak havoc on the world, and He says, Do not release these winds of tribulation until “we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” There’s this mark that is placed on them. Everybody that has the seal of God, their name is in the book of life. Do you think that’s true?

You notice in Ezekiel it says, “Begin at My sanctuary.” Judgment must begin at the house of God. So all of those who claim to be part of Christ’s church, claim to be followers of Christ, judgment begins with them because everybody else is automatically lost. Jesus said, “I didn’t come to condemn the world.” The world is already condemned. We’ve all sinned. The ones who have claimed to accept the forgiveness of God, they’re the ones who are being investigated. The others are already in darkness, right? Don’t need to spend time judging them before you come. If you’re only born once, your lost. You have to be born again. So everybody that’s already born once is automatically—. It says, “In sin my mother conceived me.” Already we have that carnal nature when we’re born. So there’s this evidence.

Then you read in Daniel 12:1, when that judgment is concluded, “At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble.” When that judgment is over, the angels release the winds of strife. “There shall be a time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered,” who? “Every one who is found written in the book.” Who’s delivered? Every one who is found written in the book. What book? The book of life. This is in the Old Testament. Daniel is talking about that.

Speaking of that judgment, again I’m quoting from the book Great Controversy, “Every man’s work passes in review before God and is registered for faithfulness or unfaithfulness. Opposite each name in the books of heaven is entered with terrible exactness every wrong word, every selfish act, every unfulfilled duty, and every secret sin, with every artful dissembling. Heaven-sent warnings or reproofs neglected, wasted moments, unimproved opportunities, the influence exerted for good or for evil, with its far-reaching results, all are chronicled by the recording angel.” So we have guardian angels, but there are also recording angels, and everything we say or do, good or bad, it’s all recorded. That’s why I’m so thankful that God has an eraser to deal with those things. It’s the blood of Jesus.

Can someone be in the book of life and then not be in the book of life? This goes against the Calvinistic ideas, but it’s pretty clear from the Bible. Look at Moses. Exodus 32:32. When the children of Israel sinned there by the golden calf, God said that He was going to destroy them for their stubbornness. And Moses intercedes. He says, “Yet now, [Lord,] if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” So the book of life goes all the way back to Moses, doesn’t it? “And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.’” I like the idea that Moses was interceding for God’s people, and he said, “I’m willing to offer my life. Take my name out of the book that they might be saved.” Isn’t that what Jesus has done for us? He faced the second death for us on the cross that our names might be kept in the book of life. Can a name be taken out of the book? Psalm 69:28, he said, “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” David refers to people whose names are there, but their names are blotted out. If you don’t believe Moses and David, how about Jesus? Revelation 3:5, He says, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white…, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” So it’s one thing to have your name there, but we want to abide in Christ and keep our names in that book. Amen?

So here’s the big question. How do we get our names in the book of life? Isn’t that what we all want to know? Let me tell you what it’s not. Suppose for a moment that you get a wonderful invitation in the mail to go on a cruise through all the most beautiful, exotic islands in the world, with the nicest people in the world. It’s called Paradise Cruises. So you get this in the mail, and it’s a special captain’s cruise. It’s an inaugural cruise, and he’s inviting select people, and you’re so excited, and you look at the brochure, and it says, “Wonderful opportunity!” You’re going to go on this cruise, and you find out the date when it departs. Paradise Cruise. Captain Jesus. And you want to go. There’s a little card that says, “RSVP.” You know what that means. You have to say, “Yes, I will be coming” or, “I will not be coming.” And you want to find out more about this cruise. You’re so excited. You go online and you look at all the places they’re going to go. Then you check out the other people who are planning on going, and you correspond with all of your friends, and you shop for the right kind of outfits, and you plan for the cruise, and you tell everybody about the cruise, and you talk about the cruise, and you show everybody your invitation to the cruise.

Finally, the big day for the cruise comes, and you go down there to San Diego. I just picked that because they have cruise ships down there. You come up to the gangplank, and there is a dignified person in a sharp uniform with carefully manicured white hair and mustache, and he has a big register, and as you come up one by one, people are being checked off. Every now and then you see somebody walking away with great sorrow, and other people are up on the deck of the ship, and they’re all waving and celebrating, getting ready for the cruise. The boat’s going to leave soon, and you get up there and you give him your name. He looks through the list and checks a couple pages and says, “Sorry, your name’s not here.”

“Why? No, no! I got my invitation. It’s right here!”

And He says, “Did you send in your RSVP?”

“Well, no, but I got my invitation!”

And he says, “Well, a lot of people got the invitation.” Many are called, but few respond with RSVP.

And you say, “But wait a second! I see all my friends up there on the ship. I know them; they know me!”

He says, “I’m sorry, but if you’re not on the list, you’re not on the list.”

And you say, “But wait a second! I bought all this luggage and these clothes for the trip.”

And he said, “Actually, the clothes are provided by the captain.”

And you say, “But wait a second. I’ve been telling all my friends that I’m going on this cruise.”

And He says, “A lot of people have been talking about it, but their names aren’t on the list.”

And you say, “But wait a second. I have my wallet right here. How much is it?”

And they say, “It’s a complimentary cruise. You can’t buy it. If you did not RSVP, we cannot let you on board.”

And right about that time, you look over your shoulder, and you find out that lightning has struck the hills above San Diego, and they’re having one of their famous brush fires with the Santa Ana winds blowing it towards the shore, and the captain says, “Sorry, gate’s closed. We have to leave now.” Do you get the picture? Wouldn’t it be terrible?

I heard about some friends that went to a famous wedding. They got an invitation. They were so thrilled, but they had forgotten to RSVP. The wife thought the husband did it because it was his family, his friends. He thought that she had done it because she usually did those sort of things, and neither of them had sent in the RSVP, and they could see everybody in there celebrating, eating, feasting, and they said, “You can’t go in.” Wouldn’t it be terrible if it was free and to not take it up? Well, it is free. God is providing your passage on Paradise Cruise. Jesus has paid for it with His own life.

So what do you do? How do you get on the boat? How do you get your name on the book of life? Ezekiel 18:21, “‘If a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes”—you didn’t know I was going to go here, did you?—“and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live. Do I have any pleasure at all that the wicked should die?’” says the Lord God, “‘and not that he should turn from his ways and live?’” So for one thing, there needs to be a change in the life. But how can we do that without God’s grace?

1 John 3:14, “We know that we have passed from death to life,” our names have gone from the list of death to the list of life, “because we love the brethren.” Do you want to pass from death to life? John 3:16. How do you get your name in the book of life? “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but…” Their names are put into the book of life. They “have everlasting life.” Jump up to John 5:24. “Most assuredly, I say to you” (Jesus is speaking), “he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment.” You got that? They will not come into judgment, why? “But [they have] passed from death into life.” How does that happen? You hear My word and you believe. You believe that God will come into your heart, that He will give you a new life, that He will change you, He will give you the power to be a new creature, that you will repent of your sins. Hear a lot of people praying these very trite sinner’s prayers, and they often leave out a very important component: confessing your sins to God, repenting of your sins, and then by His grace and power turning from your sins. He says you can know that you’ve passed from death to life. Are you seeing the fruits of the Spirit? Jesus said you’ll know them by their fruits. God wants you to have those fruits.

I was doing research on books this week, and some books are pretty expensive. One of the most expensive books that was ever bought was a Bible, but it’s not the most expensive. The Gutenberg Bible, 1987, sold for $4.9 million at a Christie’s auction house. Only 48 of those in the world. One of the original books came off the Gutenberg press, $4.9 million for one Bible. If you had a Bible worth $4.9 million, would you read it more or less because you’d be afraid to hurt it? Your Bible is worth more than that if you read it. What good is a Bible you don’t read? Then there’s a more expensive book. Christie’s Auction House auctioned a copy of James Audubon’s Birds of America, $11.5 million. That was in 2010. But there’s a more expensive book than even that. This is a book, it’s called the Codex Leicester. It’s a collection of the scientific writings of Leonardo da Vinci, originally owned by the estate of Armand Hammer. I don’t know if any of you remember him, that art collector and a very interesting character. But it was purchased by the Gates family, Bill Gates, $30.8 million for one book.

But there’s a more expensive book. It’s called the book of life. How expensive was that book? How much was paid for that book? Jesus gave His life—the life of the Son of God. You think about the life of the Creator. What could possibly be worth more than the life of Someone who can create any money? He can create as much money as He wants. If He gives His life, that’s the most valuable thing. He gave His life that your name might be on that list and you can go on that cruise. But you have to ask Him. You must believe.

I thought it would be appropriate at the beginning of this new year, that together we say, “Lord, I want my name in Your book.”

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