4th October 2012

Opening The Books

“…I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books…. If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.”
Revelation 20:12-15 (NIV)

Things are being written about us, it seems, and they will matter in the context of eternity. In Revelation 20, the picture is drawn of an end to all deception, a removal of oppression, and a bringing out of records on people who have lived and died.

What are all these “books”? They appear to have been kept in God’s possession, suggesting they are not files of accusation (Revelation 12:10). One might imagine a sort of legal weighing of evidence for and against, or determining the balance of good and evil in a person’s life, but we already know that there can be no balancing of good and evil—that the presence of any amount of impurity taints the whole being and the whole of human society (Romans 3:23).

Whether these books are an exhaustive record of every action done by every human being, or a record of what is significant to our makeup, or of what God considers worth remembering… the book that we have now, the Bible, gives no clear information. There is, of course, the Bible itself; there is the seven-sealed book gradually undone by Jesus through the course of the events of the last days (Revelation 5); there is a poetic mention of destiny as a book in Psalm 139:16, and another mention of God writing down the sufferings of those who belong to him (Psalm 56:8); there is a book of remembrance for those who honoured God (Malachi 3:16-17); and that’s about all.

John, the visionary, only gave the title of one book, opened separately from the rest: the book of life. Whatever the other books record and whatever those records will determine, they do not tell who is saved and who is not. It is the book of life that says who stays to eternal life with God.

Those who believe and who do the work of Jesus have their names written there (Philippians 4:3; Luke 10:20); and in the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, to remain written in the book of life is treated as equivalent with eating of the tree of life, escaping the second death, sharing in the hidden manna, holding authority with Jesus, living in the new Jerusalem and having communion with Jesus.

God of the living, keep our names safe, and let more be added to your Book of Life.

Study by Fiona Jones 

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