When my boys were young, they would often bring home craft projects they made in Sunday school. One week, my oldest brought home a small, gilded booklet with an attached felt bookmark. His name was written in the tiny pages.
The title on the cover was, “The Lamb’s Book of Life.”
I thought of that little booklet recently as I ran across a verse in Psalms which mentions the book of life. It’s an imprecatory psalm wherein David asks for justice to be meted out to his enemies, “Let them be erased from the book of life and not be recorded with the righteous.” –Psalm 69:28
Then I followed a reference to Exodus, where Moses intercedes for the Israelites who had worshiped the golden calf,
“Now if you would only forgive their sin. But if not, please erase me from the book you have written.”—Exodus 32:32
The apostle Paul mentions the book of life, too:
“Yes, and I ask you, my true companion, help these women since they have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life. ‘’ Philippians 4:3
The book of Revelation mentions the book of life five times. Revelation 20:12 also talks about multiple books which are consulted at the end of the age—books in which are recorded the deeds people did during their earthly lives.
Another verse about a book written by God is from a passage in Scripture which is a favorite of pro-life people:
“Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” –Psalm 139:16
Since I am a proponent of the life-affirming mission, the word “life” tends to catch my attention, especially when it’s in the Word of God.
So, I’ve been reflecting on the word “life” and its levels of meaning.
On the surface, the work we do saves the lives of unborn babies—but that’s not all there is to it. We believe that human life is sacred and should be protected from womb to tomb. We also believe human beings are spiritual, eternal beings.
Jesus offers people eternal life through faith in him, plus abundant life on earth (John 3:16, John 10:10).
This means the life-affirming mission is multi-dimensional.
We hold out hope to women and couples in distress so that their children have a chance at life, but also so that parents can come to know the love of God.
In a best-case scenario, not only does Momma choose life for her baby—she also is spiritually adopted into God’s forever family.
Perhaps you know how wonderful such a scenario is because you’ve experienced it. The joy that is ours at such a rewarding moment is difficult to put into words.
A life saved. A client praying her first prayer of faith. A couple in a Life Skills class who decide to get married, or whose marriage is restored. A young father taking steps to become the dad he never had.
Such ministry successes are wonderful and worthy of relishing. I’ve written about how important it is to celebrate our victories.
At the same time, the Lord recently reminded me of an important truth.
Last weekend, I had the joy of launching a new ministry at my church. After months and months of planning and working and facing one roadblock after another, it finally happened.
Many were blessed. Lives were touched. It was what you might call a ministry success.
A couple of days after the event, while I was still coming down from Cloud Nine, the Holy Spirit dropped a Scripture into my mind.
I thought of something Jesus said to His disciples, when they had just returned from a successful and exciting ministry trip:
“…do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”—Luke 10:20
The 72 He had sent out returned full of joy, realizing that even demons submitted to them in Jesus’ name.
They were walking in a new authority. They were seeing dramatic results.
Is Jesus dumping a bucket of ice water on their victory parade?
Of course not.
Keep in mind, Jesus used hyperbole and contrast as effective teaching tools.
Four chapters later in Luke, He tells his disciples that only those who hate their father and mother—and even their own life—are worthy of following Him (Luke 14:26).
Jesus is basically saying, “I know it’s exciting when you see wonderful things happen in ministry. You’re full of joy about what you’ve experienced. I just want you to keep the right perspective. The fact that your name is recorded in heaven—that you have eternal life in Me—is by far the most wonderful miracle of all. Rejoice the most in that!”
Tweet This: Let’s celebrate marvelous outcomes, tell those stories & remind ourselves this is what the work is all about. Eternal life in God is ours.
So, by all means, let’s celebrate marvelous outcomes. Let’s tell those stories and remind ourselves this is what the work is all about.
Let’s also remember there’s an even greater cause for celebration.
We ourselves were lost and now we’re found. We were in the dark and now we’re in the light. We were estranged from God, and now we’re brought near.
Whether you are currently experiencing severe hardship or incredible success, keep this in mind—your name is written in the Book of Life.
Now that is worthy of celebration!