In his letter to the Philippians, Paul referred to fellow workers whose names were recorded in this book (4:3). When they received that news it must have been so uplifting! Imagine knowing that your name is recorded, so that when Christ returns for judgement and the book is opened, you know that eternal life awaits. Revelation refers to this book several times and it is clear that being written in the book meant the difference between eternal life or eternal oblivion.
This leads to the question, how do we get our names recorded?
One typical answer would be that we need to be the best disciples we can be, witnessing the hope of the gospel as often as possible in the things we say and in the kind of life we lead. If we do this consistently and for long enough, surely our names will be added. But that would be salvation on merit, rather than salvation by grace – we cannot earn our salvation, we can only earn the “wages of sin”.
Looking more closely, there seems to be no occasion when the name of a faithful servant is added to the book because of good behaviour. Instead, scripture references are about names being blotted out. Moses, for example, pleading on behalf of the people says,
“But now, if you will forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written” (Exodus 32:32, ESV).
This tells us whatever had happened up to this point, Moses’ name was in the book. Time and again the scriptures talk about blotting out, informing us that those who have committed to Christ already have their names in the book. And it is not names which God is seeking to remove, but sins. As David pleads,
“O God … according to your abundant mercy, blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1, ESV),
and this is what He does (Psalm 103:12).
All this is indeed uplifting and in keeping with the principle that God is not willing that any should perish. Let us keep our eyes on the coming of the Lord Jesus so that there is no reason for our names to be removed.
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