KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
THE LAMB'S BOOK OF LIFE
The Book of the Life of the Lamb
How the Book Is Written
The Law Written Within
On that far away Patmos, in august symbol and awesome sign, John the Revelator in spirit beheld "the dead, small and great stand before God; and the BOOKS were opened: and ANOTHER BOOK was opened, which is the BOOK OF LIFE: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books" (Rev. 20:12). From our infancy we have all been accustomed to hear about the Lamb's book of Life, but how many of us know where the idea came from, and exactly what it stands for? Is it not possible that some of us have an inadequate and even a perverted notion as to the proper interpretation of the metaphor? I feel that there is some danger of missing the true and full import of a grand and inspiring reality by ignorance of the original conditions out of which it sprung. It is my purpose in this writing to set forth as clearly as I can, under the Holy Spirit's guidance, what those conditions were. Then let us see whether our use of this scriptural language is worthy of the theme. After that let us reapply its message to our own lives.
Like many of the sweetest passages in the New Testament, the inspiration of this one is derived from the Old. References to the Book of Life are to be found in various parts of the Hebrew scriptures. In the second book of the Bible, Exodus, we read how the children of Israel had sinned grievously. While Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving instructions from God, the Israelites made a golden calf and began to worship it. When Moses returned, he was shocked at what he saw. He knew God would be well within both His holiness and His justice to wipe out the entire sinful nation! But Moses begged God to forgive Israel: "Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, Oh, these people have sinned a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin – but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written" (Ex. 32:31-32). Moses boldly approached the Lord God, asking to have his own name blotted out of God's "book" if God would not forgive Israel their sin of idolatry! The Bible alludes to this "book" – the Book of Life – on only a few occasions. But the Book of Life does exist, and it is vitally important to every son of God! Having one's name in the Book of Life is so important that Moses used this as a kind of bargaining point with God for Israel. What is this book? Why would the all-knowing God need it? Is it like some spiritual computer system, containing the names of God's people? Is your name now written in it? How can you know? And if your name is there, what is the risk of it actually being blotted out, as Moses asked for his name to be if God would not forgive Israel?
Why the Book of Life? God is a God of order and structure. He gives us physical figures and patterns for things that are to be found in the spiritual or heavenly realm (Heb. 9:9,23). These types help us understand God and the wonder of His great plan and purpose. This leads us to what God's Book of Life is. First, understand that the phrase book of life cannot simply refer to the Bible. Revelation 22:19 shows that these two books are separate: "If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life." Obviously, all of the people who will be born into the family of God do not have their names written in the Bible. There must be another, separate book – the Book of Life. Many ancient societies kept extensive genealogical records and registered citizens for different purposes (Neh. 7:5,64; 12:22-23). In the same way, the fact that God has a Book of Life shows that God is aware of all His creation, particularly those people with whom He is specially working. Paul wrote that the believers in Philippi should "help these women and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life" (Phil. 4:3). "For our citizenship is in heaven," he explained (Phil. 3:20). You can be sure these saints were encouraged by this acknowledgment.
A preacher from the 19th century penned these instructive words: "Those Israelites who returned from the Babylonian captivity were enrolled by families in a great book kept for that purpose. The names in this roll were supposed to constitute the new Israel, the nation which was henceforth a spiritual community, a church and a kingdom in one. To this nation was committed the task of rebuilding the sacred city of Jerusalem, and reinstituting the ancient worship of God on Mt. Zion. Babylon, with its heathenism and oppression, had been left behind; the kingdom of liberty and holiness lay before. God had wrought a mighty deliverance for His people. In order to realize the jubilation with which this event was hailed you must imagine yourself to be one of the long procession of Jewish exiles making their way back across the Syrian desert to the little spot they called home. For many weary years they had been afflicted in the cruel city of the plains; they were now free to go back to the land of their fathers and their holy city, Jerusalem. 'And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.'
"But, when they got home, these people were disgusted by the paganism and poor moral quality of their kinsmen whom they found already there, people who had escaped being carried away to Babylon. This was the reason why they were so particular about the book of names. They refused to worship with or include in their fellowship those who had intermixed with foreign peoples, and degraded the service of God by heathen rites. They therefore became very strict about the qualifications for citizenship in the new Jerusalem which they had now to build. Only those whose names were on the roll as being qualified by character, training, and descent for membership in the new kingdom were admitted to the altar, or allowed to dwell within the walls. How far these rigorous regulations were actually enforced we do not know, but while the enthusiasm of the restoration lasted, they were no doubt observed to a considerable degree.
"But this ideal of a City of God and a Book of Life was never forgotten, and it supplied a good deal of the imagery of primitive Christianity, particularly the book of Revelation. Henceforth Babylon became a synonym for the spirit of the world, and the Book of Life a metaphor to signify those who were included in the Church of Jesus. Now here is a rather difficult thing for us to grasp – primitive Christianity believed in a state of existence which could be both earth and heaven. This is what to us seems so puzzling. We cannot imagine heaven and earth becoming one, but they could and did. Thus the beloved apostle John says: "I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven." A close examination of all that follows shows clearly that in this view heaven and earth now become merged into each other, and there was no longer to be any talk of a material and a spiritual, a hither and a yonder. To describe his vision he finds himself compelled to use the old familiar language about the Holy City and the Book of Life. We have seen where he got it, but we see also that he idealizes it. The Book of Life is no longer the roll of those who came back from Babylon and were found worthy of citizenship in the reconstituted kingdom of Judah; it is the number of those who belong to Jesus in earth and heaven" – end quote.
We have entertained such carnal notions when we come to the book of Revelation. The book of revelation is a book of revealing – and we are in an hour of revealing. The Holy Spirit must teach us the very first principles of this book – it is a book given by signs. "He sent and sign-i-fied it unto us..." (Rev. 1:1). The Lord communicated it unto us in the form of signs and symbols, that is what the Greek word means, and no symbol is ever to be taken in its literal form. We must pass the signs in order to get to the language of the Spirit. It is significantly wonderful that the Lion of the tribe of Judah is not a four-legged lion, nor is the Lamb in the midst of the throne a four-legged lamb! The Lamb has seven horns – not literal horns, of course – for the horns are mere figures representing the seven-fold spirit of power and life which emanates from the mind and nature of the Lamb. I am sure my readers understand the simple truth that the various beasts in the Revelation are not literal beasts, the cities are not literal cities, nor is the great harlot a solitary physical prostitute. One and all are but symbols and figures of deep spiritual realities, positive or negative, as the case may be. May I reverently inject another thought? The "dead" who "stand" before God and are "judged" out of the "books" are not the physically dead in the outward cemeteries, nor are the books such as you have in your library. If they were, the underlying principle of the book's symbology would collapse. If the "Lamb" who opens the "book" in chapter five is not a four-legged lamb, it should not be difficult for anyone to understand that the "book" is not a two-covered book! And if that "book" is one of the Revelation's wonderful symbols, does it not follow that the "books" in chapter twenty are likewise word-pictures in the form of symbols? The religious commentaries that have been written on this book will avail you nothing, for they have been written as an attempt of the natural mind to decipher the meanings of the symbols rather than discovering the language of the Spirit and understanding out of the realm of the Spirit.
I don't know what you see in your mind's eye when you think of the Lamb's book of life. I know what I saw for many years. A scene was set in heaven. There was a great court lighted by the glory of God. In this court were massive marble tables, somewhat larger than the table pictured in the scenes of Jesus and His disciples at the Last Supper. At these tables were seated a host of clerical angels, resplendent in white. Upon the tables were massive books, not unlike record books you find in the office of the County Clerk at the Court House. Each angel had an inkhorn and a quill and was busily engaged in the business of writing names in the ledgers. Every time someone on earth received Jesus as Saviour their name was entered in the ledger. I imagined that more than fifty years ago, when as a young child, I came to the saving-knowledge of Jesus Christ, one of these mighty angels removed his quill from the inkhorn and meticulously inscribed in the book my name – JOHN PRESTON EBY. What joy flooded my soul in the contemplation of my very own name written in heaven in the Lamb's Book of Life! However, in my early walk with God, it also seemed to me an easy matter to have one's name blotted out of that blessed Book. I was raised with a strict "pentecostal" and "holiness" mentality – and there was no security in our relationship with God. According to our tradition one could be saved by faith one moment and lost and doomed for hell the next moment by disobedience. You could be lost eternally simply by going to bed at night with unconfessed sin in your life. If you thought and evil thought, or committed some sinful act, and should die in the night before it was confessed and made right – you would "bust hell wide open." I do not hesitate to tell you, my beloved, that such an absurd and unscriptural concept IS HELL! But because of my struggles with youthful temptations and the flesh life, I was quite certain that God had appointed one particular angel exclusively to my case, and he was engaged in nothing else but writing my name in, and blotting it out again from the Book of Life!
THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE LAMB
"And I stood upon the sand of the sea, and saw a beast rise up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads the names of blasphemy. And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 13:1,8). According to the Emphatic Diaglott the correct rendering of the latter part of this passage is: "The Book of the Life of the Lamb." Now, what is meant by this term – THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE LAMB? The wise man said, "...of the making of many books there is no end..." (Eccl. 12:12). The book stores are filled to overflowing today with all types of books dealing with every aspect of earthly life. Even in the church world there are books setting forth every kind of viewpoint relating to God, the Bible, doctrine, Christian experience, and church order. However the subject material of most of these books largely contains a message of religious tradition and spiritual death. But God is also producing a book – a book containing a message of life. For the past two millenniums God, by His Holy Spirit, has been writing portions of this Book in the minds and hearts of His people.
There is a branch of literature known as biography. Biographies are the histories of individual lives, an account of a person's life, written or told by another. If the author of the book is the person about whom it is written it is called an autobiography – the story of one's own life written by oneself. The Book of Life is called "The Book of The Life of The Lamb." If I were to give you a book entitled THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF GEORGE WASHINGTON, you would understand at once that it is a biography or an autobiography of the life of the first president of the United States, George Washington. That book should contain everything you always wanted to know about George Washington! Each and every detail of his life would be there: where he was born, who his parents were, where he was raised, the schools he attended, the girls he dated, who he married, how he became general of the army, and finally president of our great nation. In the same way, THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE LAMB is the autobiography of God's Lamb, the record of who He is, what He is like, and what He does. Everything you always wanted to know about the Son of God is contained in this wonderful Book of the Life of the Lamb! It is not a literal book, of course, for the sons and daughters of the Most High are the LIVING RECORD AND REVELATION of the life of the indwelling Lamb. It was to the apostle Paul that the revelation was given that the Book of Life, the Book of the Lamb, the Book of the Son of God is a people. "Forasmuch as YOU are manifestly declared to be THE EPISTLE OF CHRIST ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. Who also has made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter kills, but the spirit gives life" (II Cor. 3:3,6).
Throughout the march of the ages men and women have recorded an innumerable multitude of life-stories of the mighty ones who have trodden this earth and influenced the events of history and the destinies of men, movements, nations and empires. Each and all of those biographies were meaningful to someone, often to many, but never in all the history of the world was a life lived out before the universe of mankind that was so overwhelmingly important, so all-embracing, so transcendental in its nature and so far-reaching in its results as the life of Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, in His earthly life and ministry, in His death, resurrection and ascension IS THE FIRST CHAPTER OF THIS GLORIOUS BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE LAMB!
This beautiful truth has been ably elucidated in a splendid article by Terry and Tykie Crisp, a portion of which I quote: "The first chapter of the Gospel of John opens by saying, 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God...in Him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shines into darkness: and the darkness comprehended it not...AND THE WORD WAS MADE FLESH, AND DWELT AMONG US (Jn. 1:1-14). By revelation of the Spirit, John declared that the Word of God was made manifest for all the world to read. Within this glorious Word was Life; Life with the potential of illuminating and enlightening the darkened, death-filled realm of men. This Word, Holy Record of the Life of God, was not written upon stone, papyrus, or golden parchment; but the Word was MADE FLESH TO DWELL AMONG MEN! Unlike any other book in the world, this 'Book' was alive and the name of this 'Book' was JESUS! 'Wherefore when He comes into the world, He says, Sacrifice and offerings you would not, but a body you have prepared me. Then said I, Lo, I come (IN THE VOLUME OF THE BOOK IT IS WRITTEN OF ME,) to do Your will, O God' (Heb. 10:7).
"For thirty long years, this glorious Book was being written. During this time, He was virtually unrecognized for what He was! 'He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not' (Jn. 1:10). Though He was 'prepared before the face of all people' (Lk. 2:31), no one could 'open the Book', so to speak, and 'read' into His life. Contrary to the old adage, 'You can tell a book by its cover', He was a different story altogether! Even those closest to Him had absolutely no idea what was going on inside of Him! He remained in obscurity, from the curious gaze of men, until the appointed time of the Father. He was God's great enigma to mankind! Line upon line, and precept upon precept, He increased in wisdom and stature, 'waxing strong in spirit, and filled with wisdom' (Lk. 2:40,52). Through the common, day-to-day experiences of life, He was steadily learning obedience, and was being made perfect through the things He suffered. There was not a single temptation faced by man in which He in some way was not tested; not an area that went untouched. He was 'in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin' (Heb. 4:15). He was challenged and confronted, in one form or another, with every issue that would face mankind. Every trial, every test, and every temptation He faced simply served to complete another chapter in the 'Book'; for as He overcame them, the lesson was then recorded in His spirit, and sealed. Unbeknown to the world around Him, He was being prepared for the Throne.
"To give unwavering evidence of Father's wise judgment in sealing the Christ, and to prove that the 'writing' was unquestionably finished, that nothing could be added to, and nothing had been left out, He immediately and intentionally placed His 'Book of Life' into the hands of His greatest critic, to be 'proof-read' for the next forty days and nights! Praise God! You can bet that the ancient accuser did everything in his power to find fault with this 'Holy Scroll' – to find perhaps a 'sentence' that expressed the will of flesh; maybe a thought that was inconsistent with the general theme of divine purpose; or at least a 'punctuation mark' that was 'out of place' with the mind of God; but the final analysis was GOD THROUGH AND THROUGH! He was, in the truest sense, a WALKING BIBLE, right down to the last jot and tittle! Every answer Christ gave to the tempter's tests began with 'It is written....' His replies left the cynical old 'side-winder' speechless. There was no denying that God was the Author, and He was the Finisher of this blessed Volume! It could well be said that from cover to cover, 'In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily' (Col. 2:9).
"Following this examination in the wilderness, the 'Book of Life' was offered to the public. We read where He went forth 'in the power of the Spirit' (Lk. 4:14); and soon thereafter, returned to His home town in Nazareth. As His custom was, He entered into the Synagogue on the Sabbath day. But something very significant happened that day; something directly connected with our story. As He stood up to read, there was delivered unto Him the book of Isaiah. Luke 4:17 says, '...and WHEN HE HAD OPENED THE BOOK, He found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord...and He began to say unto them, THIS DAY IS THIS SCRIPTURE FULFILLED IN YOUR EARS!' What a timely event! For even as He OPENED THE BOOK of Isaiah in the sight of the people, THE 'BOOK OF LIFE' WAS BEING OPENED BEFORE THEIR VERY EYES! He was the living fulfillment of all He had declared! From that day forward, the 'seals' were 'loosed' and there was a manifestation of life that freely flowed from this OPEN BOOK, bringing deliverance and restoration to the groaning creation around Him. Every problem, every trouble, and every crisis known to man was covered in this heavenly Record. What ever the need, there was a 'chapter' devoted to it! HE HAD, AND WAS, AND IS THE ANSWER!" – end quote.
Ah, Jesus never carried a copy of the Old Testament when He taught the multitudes. I have in my library many Bibles including the Literal Bible, the Comparative Bible, the Analytical Bible, the Emphasized Bible and the Amplified Bible. But Jesus Himself is the EXEMPLIFIED BIBLE! He is the PERSONIFIED BIBLE! He is the true picture of His Father, the Living Word of His Father. He is the full and complete revelation of His Father. He is the full and abundant Life of His Father unto all who believe in Him. It is the Life of the Lamb. And Jesus in His humanity was the first chapter of this marvelous Book of the Life of the Lamb. And now the Lamb of God living out His Life in us is the completion of the Book! Through that blessed company conformed to His image the world shall now, at last, read "the rest of the story"!
Again I would share some blessed insights from the nineteenth-century sermons of R. J. Campbell. "Now what do we think about the Lamb's Book of Life today? Well, I will tell you what it is not. It is not a list of those whom God has agreed to admit to heaven because they firmly believe that someone else has done all that was necessary to get them there. It is God's roll of honor. It is the glorious company of those who have suffered with Christ. It includes all whose lives have been willingly and cheerfully offered on the altar of love. The very phrase 'the Lamb's Book of Life' is a declaration of this, and distinguishes it from every other list of names that was ever written. Those whose names are in the Book of Life are life-givers. They are the servants of Jesus, working in the spirit of Jesus to minister more abundant life to the world. They are believers, it is true; for no work worth doing has ever yet been done apart from the dynamic of faith. But they are not merely believers in the conventional sense; they are living sacrifices, filling up the measure that is behind of the sufferings of Christ in the service of creation. When we speak of the Lamb's Book of Life we must never forget this. It is not merely the roll of those who have escaped something; it is the designation of those who have achieved something. No mere pious acceptance of the redeeming work of Christ; no comfortable acquiescence in the belief that He has given everything, and you have only to take, will qualify you for a place in the Book of Life. The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world is still being slain on the altar of human hearts, and wherever that divine sacrifice is offered new power and hope stream into this dark and sorrowful world.
"You may be feeling that this explanation of the Lamb's Book of Life is not so sweet and beautiful as the one to which you have been accustomed, and which you greatly value. You may be feeling that this explanation of the Lamb's Book of Life is not so sweet and beautiful as the one upon which you have been taught to dwell, and which has been such a blessing to you in your spiritual life. You may be saying to yourself, 'I do not like this. I want to owe everything. I do not want to think anything else, nor can I readily believe that my place in that Book of Life has anything to do with my self-sacrifice, or anything else but the love of Jesus.' We have got to see that the sacrifice of Jesus is no use unless it makes us like Jesus. It has to be repeated in us. As Paul has it, we have to become willing to be delivered unto death for Jesus' sake that the Life of Jesus may become manifest in us. There is no salvation that is not this, and the gratitude and reverence that we really owe to Jesus are gratitude and reverence for having made this possible. THE LIFE HAS GOT TO BE MANIFESTED IN US! I put it to you again: which is worthier of Jesus, to believe that He has got us into heaven – a heaven from which all others are shut out – or to rejoice that He has shown us wherein true life consists? I do not care three straws whether I go to heaven or not – using the word for the moment in its conventional sense. But I do rejoice and thank God for that great Master and Redeemer of mankind who has shown me at an unspeakable cost what it is to live out His life among men. I wish I could live it, but I am frail and earthly, whereas He was divinely strong, and the light of God shone in all He said and did. And yet, no sooner have I realized this than my heart rises in loving thanks to Him once more for the assurance that human weakness and imperfection can and shall be transformed into divine strength and holiness by the power of the indwelling Spirit of God" – end quote.
How pitiful that the people of earth for the most part have never read this beautiful epistle of Christ, this glorious BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE LAMB. They have poured over the books of religion, the books of man's theology, the books of hypocrisy, the books of fleshly wisdom, forms of godliness, dead doctrines, static creeds, empty rituals and ceremonies, and man-made rules and regulations. But precious few have ever seen THE BOOK OF THE LIFE OF THE LAMB! Oh! What a wonderful gospel shall fill the earth beneath and the celestial realms above when God opens His holy Book of Life! The Book of Life is that blessed company of the sons of God, elect, chosen and transformed into the image of Christ throughout the ages. This Book is being carefully written word by word, sentence by sentence, paragraph by paragraph, page by page, and chapter by chapter in the nitty-gritty of our daily experience with God until the full revelation of the Christ shall be set forth therein. Time's clock is striking the hour and the time is drawing wonderfully nigh for the manifestation of the sons of God, the opening of God's Book of Life People, and what a manifestation it shall be! All creation from time immemorial has groaned and travailed for the manifestation of God's sons, to deliver creation at last from the bondage of corruption.
God has a MESSAGE for the world – the revelation of Jesus Christ! This message is being written in flaming words of glory upon the pages of the lives and hearts and minds of men and women who are dying to that impudent and death-dealing devil of self, in order to walk and live by the spirit of HIS LIFE. I am terribly at a loss of words to express the glory of God's BOOK OF LIFE COMPANY, but I can assure you that once it is fully ready, prepared and published it shall become the world's "best seller" throughout the ages to come! As the pen is mightier than the sword, so this Book, above any that has ever been written by the finger of man, shall alter the course of history, and the dark covering that has been cast over the minds and hearts of the people for ages and dispensations will be completely destroyed by the flood of transforming light and wisdom and knowledge and glory and power shining forth from the living pages of God's eternal and incorruptible BOOK OF LIFE!
HOW THE BOOK IS WRITTEN
I want to help you grasp why you are here – you are being prepared to reveal the invisible God to the visible creation. God created all things in all the unbounded universe and the last, crowning work of creation was the bringing forth of man into the world. God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion" (Gen. 1:26). No man has seen God at any time. He is the immortal, the invisible God. He is the eternal mystery. No material substance is able to penetrate Him. Thoughts tumble into confusion, whenever they wish to approach Hiss nature. He is the shaper who has no shape. He is the former who has no form. He is the speaker who has no audible voice. His incomprehensibility lies in His shapelessness. In His shaping lies His revelation. Man in God's image is the shaping of God, giving God form, that His nature can be expressed on the physical and visible plane. Man in God's image was the government of God established over all things in the heavens and in the earth. And the government of God over the material creation, including all life forms, was the image of God in man. Thus man was the connecting link between the invisible and unknowable God and the visible creation. Man as God's image was the revelation of the invisible God to the visible world. Jesus Christ, the last Adam, is the express image of God's person and in Him you are the image of God, the government of God, the revelation of God, the Book of the Life of the Lamb to be known and read of all men and every creature everywhere.
You are not just anybody. You came out from God. There is a strange and wonderful statement in Hebrews 10:7. "Lo, I come (in the VOLUME OF THE BOOK it is written of me) to do Your will, O God." These words are attributed to Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God. This is, however, a quotation from Psalm 40:7. Therefore, the "volume of the book" referred to was written before the Psalms. The five books of Moses were written before any others, except, perhaps, the book of Job; and in these earliest books of the Bible Moses pled for God to have mercy upon the children of Israel, "and if not, blot me out of YOUR BOOK which You have written" (Ex. 32:32). These words speak of a Book written by God Himself which was older than Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers or Deuteronomy. God wrote the law of His life in His Christ (Head and body) long before the Bible was written! The scripture indicates that the revelation Jesus was sent to bring to pass on earth was fully recorded in the "Volume of the Book" long before Jesus ever started to walk out His script in the earth realm. The nature of God written in the Christ, the Logos, the Word, which was in the beginning with God, was the heavenly reality of that Book of Life that would be written and opened on earth. Each elect member of the Christ body has a ministry to fulfill which was fully recorded in the "Volume of the Book" a long, long time ago. In that long ago your spirit rejoiced in celestial realms with your heavenly Father. Obviously you did not exist there in your present physical form in that time when "the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7). And yet you were there – in spirit – because you are a son of God. Locked within the mind of the spirit within you is the secret knowledge of that primordial time and all that transpired there in the counsels of God, but the outer mind of soul and body remembers nothing of that realm, for these are formed in and of the earth. We can identify with the prophet David when he said by the Spirit, "Your eyes did see my substance (embryo), yet being imperfect; and IN YOUR BOOK ALL MY MEMBERS WERE WRITTEN, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them" (Ps. 39:16). Unfathomable mysteries lie locked up within these enigmatic words; but it is clear that all you were to be in the earth realm was written, encoded, programmed in your spirit before the foundation of the world. Before there was a physical embryo of Jeremiah in his mother's womb, there was a spirit Jeremiah that God knew. "Before I formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the womb, I sanctified you" (Jer. 1:5). I believe the same thing is true about every member in God's great family of sons and daughters, for He is the Father of the family both in heaven and in earth; you have a great past and a marvelous future! You came from God. You were with God in spirit when all the sons of God shouted for joy at the announcement of God's great plan – His election in man. You have no remembrance of it in your conscious mind, but sometimes you know things that you have no way of knowing. In those times our dull mind receives the signal from the eternal knowing within beyond the powers of the brain, and we know that we know though there is no physical evidence for our knowing. When our spirit was quickened by His Spirit that hidden inner life began to fructify and we were quickened to that world from whence we came. There is a spiritual knowing without any mental input. As soul and body are brought under the influence and rule of the spirit within the message of the Book of Life, the Volume of the Book, is transcribed from the spirit onto the fleshy tables of the heart of the outer man. The Book of Life from heaven is thus published in an earth-edition capable of being seen and known and read of all men.
Your calling, the reason Christ quickened you, was to make you consciously a part of Himself, to bring you into a calling unto glory, to a place where God by His Spirit could express Himself through you, so that you could bring the revelation of God into the earth. Your life and everything that is happening to you is designed to train you for a royal position in God. The only reason God sent you here from the realm of Spirit, lowered into the bondage of corruption, was to process you that in your visible, physical, material form you might become the image of God, the revelation of the invisible God to the material world. As one brother said, "God didn't send you here to make you happy, although joy is certainly a fruit of His Spirit. But Jesus didn't come to tickle you and make you happy – that's what you do with babies – you tickle them to get them to laugh. When you do this you are saying, Listen, little one, there is no way I can intelligently communicate with you, there is no way we can have conversation, so just let me make you laugh. If you are still wanting God to thrill you, excite you, fill you with Pentecostal exuberance and Charismatic effervescence, and make you laugh you are demonstrating the fact that you still have no ability to think or act in the Kingdom of God." You are being groomed to occupy a position in God. There is a people in this hour that is being raised – raised how? – not out of the cemetery, but out of the grave of the carnal mind (for to be carnally minded is death), out of the grave of soulish consciousness, out of the grave of sin, weakness, limitation, fear, and frustration, raised up into the place where they can become the manifestation of the total personality of God in a physical body upon this earth. This is what Jesus Christ came into this earth to reveal. He came forth "the brightness of His glory, the express image of His person" (Heb. 3:1). And we note that this word "person" is actually the Greek word HUPOSTASIS meaning the substance, or the substratum, what lies under. All the life and inner nature of the Divine was expressed through our Lord Jesus Christ, all of God's mind, will, emotion, attitude, desire, nature, character, wisdom, knowledge, power, authority and glory. It is as though the Divine was clothed in a garment and you must unbutton it to see the reality that lies beneath. And yet there is no need to unbutton it for the glory erupts, it breaks through, it emanates and radiates through the outer form. This is the glory of sonship. This is the opening of the Book of the Life of the Lamb that His life may be seen and known and read of all men.
THE LAW WRITTEN WITHIN
"For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be my people. In that He says, A new covenant, He has made the first old. Now that which decays and waxes old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:10,13).
Herein is an arrangement that will work – the old covenant was written and engraven in stone and the people were unable to keep it. Israel began well, accepted the covenant, and promised obedience. But there was no power to continue, to fulfill it; no power to conquer temptation, or overcome the evil heart; to remain faithful. Just as the old covenant was the law written and engraven in stone, and one could hold high this stone tablet and say, "Here is the covenant of our God," so the new covenant is the law of God inscribed in the minds and hearts of a people – not merely a law, but that law inscribed in a people – so that you can point to that people and say, "There is the covenant of our God!" The people with the law of God in their heart IS THE COVENANT, THE BOOK OF GOD'S LAW OF LIFE. I heard of a man who collects presidential signatures. The autographs are valuable, some of them priceless – not because of the ink or paper that was used but because of the person who wrote them. These presidential signatures are all appropriately framed and hung with dignity and honor. God has made a covenant with mankind that has been written by His finger and signed in blood. This is not a mere document but an agreement – signed in our Lord's own blood. His blood is His life and it is His life formed in His people which constitutes His signature with His blood. YOU ARE THE COVENANT. Never forget that!
We speak of "signing on the dotted line" and there's something awesome about it. Watch a head of government sign a bill into law; watch a bride and groom sign a marriage license; watch an executive sign a 100-million-dollar contract – each time you will notice the solemnity, the weightiness, the finality. When I sign on the dotted line, that's it. The hospital may now proceed with my surgery; the army has me for four years; my spouse is now endowed with all my earthly wealth; I will pay $800 a month for the house. They've got it in writing. God has graciously allowed His covenant with man to be put into writing and signed with His signature – within a people. That is an awesome thing for God to do, for now His covenant can be known and read by all men. In the integrity of His holy heart He is bound to keep all His word, fulfill all His purpose, develop all His life, display all His wisdom, nature and glory in and through this people who are His covenant written upon the fleshy tables of their hearts. Now He can be held to His word, for He has invested His signature onto the document. But that's exactly what He intends: that His word be viewed as final, permanent, binding, and therefore reliable and trustworthy. What hope and faith this should inspire in our hearts!
The Lamb's Book of Life, God's New Covenant – seek it not in the starry skies, nor in the sweet bye and bye – seek it in a life transformed. This is His monument – not in cold stone, not in chiseled marble, not in plaques of bronze, not in ancient parchments, not in weighty documents, but given by the very finger of God upon human hearts and in human lives. Here is the covenant that will last when time is obsolete, when the sands of the ages have run out, when the elements have melted with fervent heat. Andrew Murray once asked, What does it mean to have a law in the heart? It means this: to have the knowledge and the will and the nature and the power of God inspired into us. For example, when I speak of an acorn, how do I know it will grow up into a mighty oak tree that may stand for a hundred years? Because the law of the oak tree has been written in the heart of the acorn. The acorn may be small, and the oak tree may be spreading its branches for a hundred years to come, but it was in the acorn. Even so with Christ, the Mediator of the Covenant, the One on whom I can depend to make the covenant true. Christ Jesus is to see that the Spirit of the Lord God shall be and live in me, rule in me, conquer in me, and work out all His blessed purposes in me. Christ, the High Priest, is Mediator of the Covenant for this blessing too – a life that lives out the law written in the heart. And may I add – as the Lord Jesus is the surety for us of the covenant, so we in Him are the surety for the rest of creation.
Ray Prinzing wrote, "'Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that reads it' (Hab. 2:2). What is the table upon which He is writing? 'For this is the covenant that I will make...I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts' (Heb. 8:10). The vision is not being written out with pen and ink. We praise God for the writing ministries that He is using in this hour, confirming from heart to heart of that which He is speaking within. But the reality of the vision is not being written with pen and ink, but by the Spirit of God into the tables of our heart and mind. We can send forth printed messages that speak of the vision, but the vision itself is that which God is uncovering and engraving in your own being until you BECOME THE MESSAGE. A living message, having become that which was written within" – end quote.
Paul Mueller has shared some precious insights into this wonderful Book of God, which I am constrained to share at this point. He writes: "There is a wonderful truth that is about to break in upon the minds and hearts of the Lord's elect, and that is the blessed truth that it is God's intention to write His complete word upon the tables of our hearts. The entire scripture, including the Gospel of Christ and the inspired word of truth divinely ordained for our growth unto perfection, the manifestation of the sons of God, and the propagation and administration of the kingdom of God, is all to be written upon the tables of our hearts. The fact is, the Bible as we now know it will one day become obsolete for us. The blessed book that we carry around, study and sometimes memorize, is to be imparted into our lives so that we are truly 'epistles...known and read of all men.' This is not to downgrade the Bible or to denigrate its effectiveness, authority, and inspiration. The book we call the Bible is, for the most part, the inspired word of God, and we are truly and deeply grateful for all it means to us. However, our respect for the Bible will not alter the great truth that it is God's intention that we become His living word. Every truth that has been given by the Spirit will eventually become a part of our lives, so that we will not need to turn to chapter and verse for guidance and truth, but rather, that truth will be written and engraved upon our lives so that we do by nature all the truth the Bible contains to the glory of God.
"Paul wrote to the Corinthians, setting forth this truth, 'You are those who are openly shown to be a letter which exhibits Christ, this letter having been ministered (written) by us, not having been written with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets that are human hearts' (II Cor. 3:3, Wuest). OH TO BE A LETTER WHICH EXHIBITS CHRIST! That is the real intent and purpose of the dual function of the Word and the Spirit. And when we have put on the garment of the fullness of Christ, we will have become an epistle which exhibits Him. We should then understand and know that God is daily writing His truth upon our hearts, and He will continue to write upon our lives until we become all that the written word contains. It is also a great truth to know that the law of God, once written upon tables of stone, is now being written upon the tables of our hearts. The same finger of God that wrote the stone tablets is now writing upon the fleshly tables of our hearts. This is the new covenant, the covenant of the New Testament. The great distinction between the Old testament and the New is that the law which was written on stone tablets, and which could not be kept by unregenerate man, is now being written upon our hearts SO that by the power of the indwelling Christ, we are thus enabled to fulfill all the law because we have a new nature, the very nature of Christ.
"The laws and covenants of God were not intended to be repeated on the pages of the book we call the New Testament. The old covenant clearly states that the next time the Lord writes His laws and covenant, it would be upon the hearts of His elect and chosen ones. The highest fulfillment of anything is to become that which it contains and reveals. When we have become the promised living epistles, manifesting the very Life of Christ, we shall then be able ministers of the new covenant. Then the law shall go forth of Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Mic. 4:2). It will not be the dead letter read from the pages of a book, but the living, anointed truth of God coming forth from lives that have been transformed by the power of that word. Many nations shall then desire to come up to the house of the Lord, where dwells those living epistles. Then shall they learn the ways of the Lord from kings and priests who express the experiences of the Spirit. Then, many peoples and nations shall walk in the paths of the Lord, for they will have witnessed the grand fulfillment of the new covenant within an anointed and holy people.
"When we have become fully processed and are ready to rule and reign with Christ, we will then become in the fullest sense possible epistles of Christ, 'known and read of all men.' Each kingdom ruler will be like streams of water in a dry place, and like the shade of a great rock in a wearisome land. The presence of Christ will flow out of their lives like streams of water gushing from an overflowing fountain. The glory, power, and life of the Spirit will be so manifest that all who had ears but could not hear will then hear and understand the truth of God clearly. Eyes that once were blinded to revelation and reality will be opened by the power of the Spirit that is flowing out of the elect. The minds of those lacking true judgment and the ability to apprehend will then be able to comprehend fully God's abundant, redemptive love for them, as well as all His living truth. Then the tongue of the stammering will be quick to speak plainly. The multitudes will receive the anointed message of Life coming from those living epistles" – end quote.
Hallelujah, what a day! As the Father opens His Book of Life, He is actually sending forth His creative Word in a positive, triumphant outflowing which will not cease until every mountain has been made low and every valley has been filled, till every man and every creature and every order in every realm of heaven and earth have been purged and transformed and filled full and every heart beats in unison with the heart of God. As this ministry of Life advances every mind shall be brought into harmony with the divine wisdom and eternal purpose, and the glory of the Lord shall fill the earth as the waters cover the sea. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord and every creature shall know the triumph of His Life within until all death is swallowed up into HIS VICTORY and God becomes All-in-all, everything to everyone, the indwelling and controlling factor of life. May God hasten it and perform it. Amen!
To be continued...
J. PRESTON EBY
Part 2 |
If you would like to receive these studies write to:
J. Preston Eby
P.O. Box 371240
El Paso TX 79937-1240
All writings are distributed on a free-will offering basis.
Pathfinder Homepage | Elwin's Articles | Margit's Articles | Other Links