KINGDOM BIBLE STUDIES
"Teaching the things concerning the kingdom of God..."
THE LAMB'S BOOK OF LIFE
The Judgment Day
"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 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. If any man have an ear, let him hear" (Rev. 13:1,8-9).
The revelation of Jesus Christ – that's what the book of Revelation is all about. It tells you of the revelation of HIM. All the beasts, all the seven heads and ten horns, the blood flowing to the horses bridles, the battle of Armageddon, the pouring out of the vials, the breaking of the seals, the blast of the trumpets – all that is written in this book is nothing more and nothing less than the unveiling, the uncovering, the revelation of Jesus Christ in this Day of the Lord. This revelation has been taking place throughout the church age, but we have now come to that time to which all the ages have been converging – the dispensation of the fullness of times. It is my deep conviction that we are standing at the consummation of the age, the completion of all things that pertain to the church age. All the sages and all the prophets have prophesied of this grace and this glory that should come unto us.
According to the Emphatic Diaglott the correct rendering of the words "the book of life of the Lamb" is "the book of the life of the Lamb." It is the autobiography of the Lamb of God, the revelation 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, any more than the horns on the Lamb's head are literal horns, or any more than the Lamb Himself is a four-legged lamb covered with wool. We are touching spiritual realities fulfilled in and through a people – the body of the Christ.
Many years ago the Indian mystic, Sundar Singh, wrote, "When I was in Palestine last month I thought about many things and one thought that came to me was that our Lord did not write anything. It would have been a great thing if Jesus Christ would have written the Gospel Himself, but He did not write a single word, neither did He ask His disciples to write. He did not say to them, 'I am going to dictate, take down notes'. The writers in the Bible did not get inspiration by taking down notes but by living with the Word of Life. That is why our Lord did not ask His disciples to write anything. He says, 'My words are Spirit and they are Life'. It is easy to write words in book form but it is difficult to put the Spirit into words. His Life and Spirit can only be put into the hearts of people and not into the pages of books. Jesus Christ knew that He was going to work on the hearts and not merely through the pages of books. There have been a great many teachers who wrote their teachings for others because they were going to leave them, but Christ, who is also God, is not going to leave us. We have His great promise: 'I am with you always'. Afterwards the living witnesses who saw so many things were inspired by the Holy Spirit to write the Gospels, as they were eye-witnesses who had lived with Christ. The most important thing for us is that Jesus Christ lived in the hearts of His disciples and worked through them, and not only through them, for today He is working through the hearts of His people" – end quote.
Another has written: "Jesus Himself told the religious crowd of His day, 'Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me' (Jn. 5:39). The fundamentalists of His day were sure they understood the letter of the Word, but it only caused them to miss what God had really declared. There is a book within a book. John was exiled on the island of Patmos, he was caught up to partake of the realm of the Spirit in its fullest sense. He saw a book written within having seven seals (Rev. 5:1). The symbolism of this one verse alone, and the message it conveys, is too much for us to discuss at length in this article. However, John was brought into a place where he could see the intention of God written in the nature of a people. The number seven gives me the understanding that contained within this Book is the totality of God's character and the complete revelation of His will and purpose. As these seals are loosed within God's people they will begin to experience and express the fullness of all that God is. There has never been an expression of God at this level in the earth at any time except in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, for it pleased the Father that in Him should all fullness dwell. But now there is a people that has been sealed unto the day of redemption and when God begins to loose the seals there is going to be a many-membered expression of God at the same level of God's fullness. You will not know Him any longer through a glass darkly, or at a lower level of consciousness, or at the level of somebody else outside yourself. He won't be a cloudy image, ideal, philosophy, or doctrine. God has declared that they each shall know Me, from the least to the greatest."
This Book of the Lamb's Life tells a complete story. Each member of the Christ body is like a page or chapter in this blessed Book. Each one tells a portion of the story. Each contains only a measure of the revelation of God in His Christ, Head and body. The wonderful thing about it is, that while God revealed Himself in so many ways, in so many forms, through so many people down through the ages, He is now gathering together (compiling) the revelation that came forth and the experience of every one of them. It is all becoming focused in the glorious company of God's sons. The complete revelation of God is divided into hundreds and thousands, yea, millions of little pieces and fragments which were revealed through the lives of men and women by their experience of God on the earth. But now, in the end of the age, God is taking all the experience and wisdom and knowledge and power and grace and glory that men have received and is forming it in a company of sons and is about to stand this company up as the full and complete and total revelation of His personality in the earth. The experiences that Abraham had are ours. The experiences that Enoch had are ours. The experiences that David had have been made our very own. The experiences that Paul had are given unto God's people today. All the glory and gifts and power of the early church have been restored to the saints in our lifetime! I have witnessed this and have been a glad partaker of the reality. We have what Peter had. We have what the Church Fathers had. We have what Martin Luther and the reformers had. We have received all that the holy apostles and prophets and kings and priests of distant ages and generations experienced in God. We are associated with every revelation, every experience, every anointing, every calling, every ministry, every manifestation that history has recorded. God's Book of the Life of the Lamb is rolling off the presses in this glorious Day and soon will be distributed in all its corporate glory for the whole world to read and consider.
THE JUDGMENT DAY
"And I saw a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the heaven and the earth fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw 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 that were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:11-15).
The subject of judgment is a large one in the Bible, running through scripture from Genesis to Revelation, and it is so manifold in meaning, purpose, and application that it eludes simplification. The judgments of God run deep and are so vast and multi-faceted that they lie completely beyond the comprehension of the carnal mind and beyond the grasp of mortal man. As exclaimed by Paul, "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how UNSEARCHABLE ARE HIS JUDGMENTS, and His ways past finding out!" (Rom. 11:33). David prophesied, "...for He comes, for He comes to judge the earth; He shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth" (Ps. 96:13). Paul urged the Athenians to repent "because He has appointed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained, whereof He has given assurance unto all men, in that He has raised Him from the dead" (Acts 17:31). Judgment is inseparably related to the coming of Christ and His Kingdom. "I charge you therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His Kingdom" (II Tim. 4:1).
Through the cunning of the adversary, both the world and the popular church have been robbed of the blessed assurances of the time when God's RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENTS break forth in the earth. Most people know that the Bible tells of a "judgment day," but the average person, believer or unbeliever, regards it only with a certain sense of fear and dread. Because of this fear there is, to them, no more unwelcome tidings than that the Lord is coming to JUDGE THE EARTH. Many tremble inwardly at the thought of God's judgments, and in this mind put them far from them, preferring not even to hear the subject mentioned. At various times in the past many people have become terror-stricken when some unusual event or terrible calamity has occurred, because they have supposed that the event signaled the finale for our planet with billions of people suddenly thrust into eternal damnation. They have absolutely no idea of the wonderful blessings in store for a sin-weary world under the glorious reign of the sons of God filled with all the nature, wisdom, grace, power and glory of God!
There are many who preach what they call the "end-time message" who capitalize on this emotion of fear: "Christ is coming to judge and YOU ARE NOT READY!" That message sounds like something exasperated mothers shout as they shake their disobedient children: "You just wait until your daddy comes home!" Many souls have been scared into the altars and have lived in dread of the end of the age and the coming of the Lord ever since. One day, they expect, they will suddenly be yanked up through the air, taken to that great woodshed in the sky, and given the spanking of their eternal life. The threat of the Lord appearing as Judge is somehow supposed to produce righteous living among the saints. Yeah, "JUST YOU WAIT UNTIL YOUR DADDY (Jesus) COMES HOME!"
Then there are those who seem to be consumed with teaching and preaching about the terrible conditions that mark the end of the age: war, famine, pestilence, lawlessness, immorality, the great tribulation, the antichrist, the mark of the beast, persecution and trouble. Their main passion seems to be what the church system, the world bankers, the Jews, the Illuminati, the Russians, the politicians, and the wicked in general are doing in the world. Their whole life is absorbed in discussions about who is the antichrist, credit cards, Social Security numbers, bar-code marking systems, laser-tattooed identification numbers, conspiracies, wilderness hideouts, survival camps, and all sorts of carnal preparations for getting through the "great tribulation". Still others want to talk about the horrors of AIDS, the earthquakes, floods and storms that intensify from time to time, or some other manifestation of this dark hour. But I do not hesitate to tell you, beloved, that it is a total waste of time and effort and a misappropriation of spiritual energy to continually analyze the negative realm and curse the darkness. If we are really genuinely concerned about the darkness of this night, let us get up off our spiritual lazy bones and hasten to follow hard after the Lord. Pursue HIM with all your might! Let us repent of all our foolish preoccupation with the works of darkness and our fear of the night, which cannot triumph anyhow, and are already sentenced to destruction, and turn our eyes to the light of HIS glorious face. Christ is the ILLUMINATION OF THE NEW DAY. And only as we walk with Him can the curse and bondages of this present darkness be turned into the glad morning of peace, righteousness, and life we all long for. You add nothing to God's people when you glorify the darkness, but you become the hope of creation when you shine as His light!
Judgment is God's strange work. He uses it as a tool in His redemptive and restorative processes. Men make it the end. But judgment is always a means to an end – never THE END! No matter how an unbeliever is dealt with, whether he dies as a result of his sin, or by the direct judgment of God; whether he be cast into hell, or turned into the lake of fire – THIS IS NOT HIS END. All men will be raised up either into a resurrection of life or a resurrection of judgment (Jn. 5:29), but for the latter THIS IS NOT THEIR END. All judgments are limited – confined to a day, or to the limitation of prescribed ages. "Because He has appointed A DAY, in the which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man whom He has ordained" (Acts 17:31). "And the smoke of their torment does go up to AGES OF AGES (ages are in time, not eternity); and they have no rest DAY and NIGHT (time periods), who are bowing before the beast and his image..." (Rev. 14:11, Young's Literal ). The Concordant Literal New Testament reads, "And the fumes of their torment are ascending FOR THE EONS OF THE EONS. And they are having no rest DAY and NIGHT..." God's great goal lies BEYOND THE AGES, on the OTHER SIDE OF TIME AND JUDGMENTS, for "He planned for the maturity of the times and the climax of the ages (the end of all time periods and ages) to UNIFY A-L-L T-H-I-N-G-S AND HEAD THEM UP AND CONSUMMATE THEM IN CHRIST" (Eph. 1:10, Amplified). GOD ALL IN ALL is the grand goal (I Cor. 15:27-28). God does not reach His goal during any of His judgmental or disciplinary measures wrought out in time. These only break and mold and prepare His creatures for it. Let us not confuse the process with the goal. The process involves JUDGMENT IN TIME. The goal is ALL THINGS GATHERED TOGETHER INTO CHRIST – in eternity.
The end of divine judgment – no matter its form, no matter its subject – is to bring the whole universe into harmony with His will, nature and glory. With what optimism did the holy prophets and apostles regard the coming of the Lord in judgment! Note the expectation in Isaiah's spirit as he announces: "Yea, in the way of Your judgments, O Lord, have we waited for Thee. With my soul have I desired You in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek You early: for when Your judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Isa. 26:8-9). Here Isaiah assures us that the day when God's judgments are in the earth will be a most glorious and desirable day, a day in which the inhabitants of the world W-I-L-L LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS! How opposite to the idea entertained by many that when God's judgments come into the earth the inhabitants of the world will "get what they deserve" and be sent into oblivion or eternal damnation. If the desire of your heart is anything like the desire of my heart, this is a blessed thought and a wonderful assurance: the inhabitants of the world WILL LEARN RIGHTEOUSNESS! How my ransomed soul yearns to behold the wonder of such a thing! Every time I scan the headlines of the morning paper I am seized with an intense longing that the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Oft times as I watch the evening newscast my spirit is mightily moved within to intercede earnestly that the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. As I drive across our great land; as I walk the streets of our cities and towns, observing the condition of those about: neighbors, friends, relatives, strangers, the young and the old, my spirit groans with unutterable supplications that the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness! What a marvelous provision of our all-wise and loving Father that, to this very end, He has ordained judgment to come forth in the earth. Bless His name!
It is my deep and considered conviction that just as the "coming" of the Lord is progressive – past, present, and future – so is the unfolding of the "judgment day" past, present, and future. The question follows – When did the judgment day begin? Jesus answered the question in the plainest of language. "For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment unto the Son" (Jn. 5:22). "And Jesus said, For judgment I am come into this world" (Jn. 9:39). "N-O-W is the judgment of this world: N-O-W shall the prince of this world be cast out" (Jn. 12:31).
It is high time that the saints look into some of the things they have been taught. We have been told some funny stories. The preachers in the church systems love to speak loudly and preach long about what they term "the final judgment". This idea is on a par with Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny. The fact is, the term "final judgment" never appears once within the pages of God's blessed Book! The word "final" never appears therein at all. It is a word that has been added to judgment and taught to the people as a divine revelation of an event that is supposed to transpire somewhere out in the future. The Word of God does not teach that there is a "final judgment day" at some future time. The pen of inspiration has blazoned with unmistakable clarity the truth: "Be also patient; establish your hearts: for the COMING OF THE LORD DRAWS NIGH. Grudge not against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned (judged): behold (look!), THE JUDGE STANDS BEFORE THE DOOR" (James 5:8-9). Oh, yes, the Judge IS HERE! even now standing before the door or your mind and heart. Some of the modern translations bring out the truth so beautifully: "Be patient, you also; establish your hearts, because THE PRESENCE OF THE LORD HAS DRAWN NIGH; do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves shall not be judged. Look! THE JUDGE IS ALREADY STANDING AT THE VERY DOOR" (Young's Literal & Amplified).
The judgments of God are first and foremost not external, but internal; not future, but on-going. The Word of God, history, and our own experience shout aloud the truth that the soul's verdict is even now being written moment by moment, not by recording angels in heavenly books on some distant shore, but by each man himself on the fleshy tables of his own heart. The present life is to each of God's apprehended ones his "day of judgment" – his day of trial, testing, proving, chastening, his day of being brought by the processings of God to perfection in Christ. The apostle Peter's words are in harmony with this: "Judgment must begin at the house of God!" (I Pet. 4:17). Let all men know that the hour has come when judgment must begin at the house of God. JUDGMENT BEGINNING AT THE HOUSE OF GOD! This does not imply a sudden visitation of catastrophes, calamities, and troubles, but it means there will be a concentration of divine instruction and discipline, as the Father purifies each individual, until He can gather to Himself a FIRSTFRUITS.
It should be plain to even a child that the judgment day began with the coming of the Judge. The Judge is within you because the Christ is within you! It takes no extraordinary intelligence nor any exceptional spirituality to figure that out. Let us stop putting the judgment day out beyond the cemetery and believe what God's Word really says about it. To all who wait for a judgment day in some future time or age I now say, as our blessed Lord has said, "N-O-W is the judgment of this world: N-O-W shall the prince of this world be cast out" (Jn. 12:31). According to Genesis 1:26 Adam is the prince (ruler) of this world – and is it not old Adam in you, precious friend of mine, and in every other man on the face of the earth that is now cast out by the Christ? Far too many Christians want to put it out at some final end, but either satan is being bound and chained in your life today or he will never be eradicated from this planet! NOW shall the prince of this world be cast out! Jesus accomplished it judicially upon the cross two thousand years ago, and is accomplishing it experientially within men's lives today by the power of His Holy Spirit. It is happening now and shall continue to happen in God's progressive unfolding of His judgments through the ages until that wonderful consummation when God becomes ALL-IN-ALL!
What a judgment seat! What a Judge! What reality! Oh! what an unspeakably glorious and awe-inspiring scene John the beloved beheld as from his vantage point in the Spirit he saw "a great white throne, and Him that sat on it, from whose face the heaven and the earth fled away; and there was found no place for them" (Rev. 20:11). Who is it that sits there? It is clearly the Lord Jesus Christ. The One who fills that throne is without doubt the Son of man. And how does He sit there? In and through His body, the saints, unto whom judgment is given (Dan. 7:22). A throne is a seat of authority. The throne is called "great" because of its vast magnitude, its awful sovereignty, and the majesty of the One who fills it. It is called "great" because it is a many-membered one. It is called "white" because of the absolute purity and righteousness of its Judge and His judgment. White denotes light – that which reveals. So we see a seat of authority and great majesty, power, purity and revelation.
Observe, the heaven, and the earth, fly from the face of Him that sits upon the throne! "From His face (intelligence, illumination) the earth and the heaven fled away." Consider the scene! In its symbology the "earth" is that earth which we are, the carnal, earthly nature of old Adam. "The first man is of the earth, earthy" (I Cor. 15:47). "As we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly" (I Cor. 15:49). "Heaven" means height, eminence, elevation, exaltation. God dwells in heaven, the invisible realm of Spirit that transcends this gross material realm. When you touch God by the spirit, you touch heaven. When you experience God in the spirit, you experience heaven. When you know God in the spirit, you know heaven. When God is revealed to you by the spirit, heaven is opened and you behold heavenly things. There are many heavens, for there are many realms, dimensions, and levels on which God can be touched, experienced and known in the spiritual world. Most saints have passed through several heavens in their UPWARD WALK of progressive spiritual experience. But Jesus is greater than them all, for He "ascended up FAR ABOVE A-L-L H-E-A-V-E-N-S" (Eph. 4:10). God is so great in His fullness that even "the heaven of heavens (the super-heaven containing all other heavens) cannot contain Him!" (I Kings 8:27).
It is wonderful to know God in His heavens. Each heaven bespeaks of a sphere of life, a plane of relationship, a level of experience in God by the spirit. When the Lord unveils Himself to you on a higher plane, in deeper measures, in richer and fuller dimensions of His life and glory, and you experience Him in it, you ascend in Him to a higher heaven. But, thank God! there is a realm of HIS FULLNESS which lies above and beyond all heavens! When the Christ appears on His great white throne of judgment its effulgence exposes the darkness of the carnal mind, uncovers the deceitfulness of the wicked heart, revealing in stark reality the man of sin sitting in the temple of God "which you are." For us to become the sons of God, the image of God, this thing – self, carnality, and all that pertains to the fleshly nature – must be destroyed by the brightness of His coming, removed, taken out of the way. Blessed be God! Before the face of Him whose countenance is as the sun shining in its strength, none of the things of the flesh can stand, so they flee away, and no place is found for them! Our "earth" flees away from before the face of HIM who sits upon the throne!
Before the face of Him who sits upon the throne in the higher-than-all-heavens, the limitations of our present "in part" knowing of the Lord, every heaven of spiritual experience which is less than HIS FULLNESS, stands revealed as falling short of the image and glory of God. Before the majesty of His white throne, in the searching illumination of His eyes of flaming fire, none of our spiritual immaturity can stand, and all our heavens flee away, and no place is found for them! In the sovereignty and fullness of His throne there are no more "heavens", no more companies, groups, levels of servants, friends, bride, sons, prophets, apostles, pastors, kings or priests; no more Traditional Churches where the people know Him through sacraments, rituals and ceremonies; no more the Fundamentalist who knows Him as Saviour; no more the Pentecostal who knows Him as Baptizer in the Holy Spirit; no more the Faith people who know Him as Healer and Provider; no more the Deliverance people who know Him in gifts of the Spirit, signs and wonders; or still others who follow on to know Him in deeper measures. High above the earth realm, and far beyond all the heavens of spiritual experience lies the GREAT WHITE THRONE – and the invitation is extended: "To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne" (Rev. 3:21). But you will never know Him in the power, glory, and all-surpassing eminence of His throneship, my beloved, until YOUR EARTH and YOUR HEAVENS have fled away, and you have put on the Lord Jesus Christ in the fullness of His divine nature, to manifest Him in all His wondrous beauty and majesty. Can you not see that this process is going on all the time, as we are changed progressively from glory to glory, moving inexorably toward the final goal – GOD ALL IN ALL!
When we come to this thought of the great white throne judgment we approach a subject upon which there has been a fathomless sea of misunderstanding and a world of carnal conjecture. The idea generally entertained is of Christ coming to earth, seated upon a dazzling throne, and He summons everyone in rank and file before Him, to be judged. Adam would stand there, with mother Eve, and look in wonder upon his offspring. It would be the first time in which he has ever had the opportunity of seeing all his children together. What a sight he would then behold – far stretching, covering all the globe which they inhabit, enough not only to people all earth's plains, but crown her hill-tops, and cover even the ways of the sea, so numberless must the human race be if all the generations that have ever lived, or shall ever live, shall at once "appear" before the great white throne judgment! Everyone from before the Flood, from the days of the Patriarchs, from the times of Moses, and the Judges, and David, and from the Babylonian kingdom, all the legions of Assyria, all the hosts of Persia, all the multitudes of the Greeks, all the vast armies and citizens of Rome, the barbarian, the Scythian, the bond, the free, men of every color and of every tongue – what a vast assemblage would be mustered, what a spectacle would be held! I do not hesitate to say that though good and holy men have conceived the foregoing picture, it is, nonetheless, a myth, a religious superstition, entirely out of harmony with the whole Biblical portrait of judgment. This distorted picture arises from a carnal and too-literal interpretation of a few obscure verses of scripture which were supplied merely as symbols, to be understood by the spiritual mind and interpreted in wisdom and revelation from God.
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God..." (Rev. 20:11). Let us consider for a moment the absurdity of the traditional notions espoused by the church systems relative to the judgment day. It is difficult to estimate the number of human beings who have inhabited this planet, there are almost six billions of souls alive today, and the estimates have ranged from 80 to 120 billion people who have lived and died since the dawn of history. The vast majority of these never knew God, never saw or read the scriptures, never trusted Jesus, never even belonged to a church. Let us suppose for a moment that there are 100 billion lost souls scattered over the past millenniums who are suddenly resurrected and the great white throne judgment begins. As in any court proceedings, there should be witnesses and arguments for and against each defendant, and the records (evidence) of all the actions and deeds of each person should be read by the heavenly Scribes who have faithfully recorded them. Suppose the judgment moved swiftly and each individual took up only ten minutes of the court's time (this should not seem an extraordinarily long period, if, as some contend, our whole lives are to be reviewed before our very eyes). It would take at least 1,902,580 (one million, nine hundred and two thousand, five hundred and eighty) YEARS for this awesome judgment to be completed! That's almost TWO THOUSAND MILLENNIUMS! As someone has said, "Wouldn't you hate to be the last one in line?"
"And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened" (Rev. 20:12). As I have pointed out repeatedly, the first key to understanding the book of Revelation is the fact that the book is, in its entirety, a book of symbols. Any other approach will leave you hopelessly lost in a sea of confusion, and muttering like a mad man about things utterly ridiculous. "I saw the dead, small and great," John declared. When Jesus came this world was spiritually a cemetery. ALL were dead! NONE were living! "To be carnally minded IS DEATH," is the Spirit's own graphic and accurate definition of what it means to be dead (Rom. 7:6). "And you has He quickened who were dead in trespasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1). To the spiritually dead the apostle commands: "Awake you that sleeps and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light" (Eph. 5:14). Let us with pure minds and an understanding quickened by the spirit of wisdom and revelation from God consider these meaningful words: "And I saw the DEAD...stand before God." I saw the DEAD – S-T-A-N-D! And immediately the "books" were opened "and another book was opened, which is the book of life." Ah, the Book of Life – Living Ones! Men are judged out of the things written in the books. Every realm gives up their dead – whether it be the political realms, the scientific realms, the commercial realms, the intellectual realms, the religious realms – all the sea (multitudes of people, masses of humanity) and death and hell give up their dead. They give up all their unenlightenment, their errors, their darkness, superstition, ignorance, sin, sorrow, fear and death. All is yielded up to the penetrating power of HIS LIFE.
Heaven keeps a record of the deeds of men, and all the thoughts and emotions under which they act. Myriads of human beings have lived and died of whom the world knows nothing; but the lives they lived, the deeds they wrought, the thoughts and passions they indulged, still stand written where the memory of them cannot perish. Not a human being has ever breathed earth's atmosphere whose career is not traced at full length in the books God has ordained. Yes, O man! O woman! whoever you may be, your biography is written. An unerring hand has recorded every item, with every secret thing. There is not an ill thought, a mean act, a dirty transaction, a filthiness of speech, or a base feeling that ever found entertainment in your heart, but is there described in bold letters, by its true name.
Where is the record? and what are these "books" where the secrets of your heart are meticulously described? My words may come as a shock to some, but I do not hesitate to assert that they are naught but the BOOK OF YOUR OWN NATURE – THE GENETIC PATTERN OF YOUR VERY OWN B-E-I-N-G! In the sight of God you, and each and every man and woman on this planet, are a book; and indelibly inscribed within your mind and character is every thing that you are. "Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speakes" (Mat. 12:34). When your mouth speaks, the message inscribed in your inner nature is exposed and read by all who hear. Every outer action is a word, a sentence, a paragraph, a page of your book – the book which you are – known and read by all men. And think not, O man, that should your earthly body be laid in a silent and motionless tomb, that the Almighty must then resort to some celestial scrolls wherein heavenly angels have faithfully recorded your every thought and deed. NO! All is accurately recorded in the law of your own life, deep within the recesses of nature, in your soulish condition and spiritual state of being. And to deal with you in judgment God has but to "stand you up" and prompt you to speak or act – and immediately you will manifest exactly what is stored in the constitution of your inner reality. At once your "book" will "open", each line being made clear, and you will be judged by the things written in that book which you are. As someone has written, "What an aid to justice it would be if our courts could open such a book instead of relying on testimony! Written records, letters, photographic evidence, fingerprints, and all the minute details so dear to the detective, are far better evidence than that elicited from human witnesses. Men do not see anything alike. They color it with themselves. Even their truest testimony is tinged with their own ego. How interminable would be the session if sinners were to be judged according to the testimony of their fellows! None of this is needed. All will be confronted with the facts. The facts are written within. The scrolls will be opened. 'And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works' (Rev. 20:12)." When God, either now or in ages yet unborn, lays His mighty hand upon you, my friend, and summons you to STAND before Him, your book will open, and you will manifestly be shown to be exactly what you are, for "the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature (dead or alive, visible or invisible) that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do" (Heb. 4:12-13). In other words, God can see right through you. The substance of what you believe in and are will be exposed for all to see. You will not be able to help yourself. God will provoke you by His omnipotent ability to open up and reveal precisely what you are. Your heart is the evidence brought before His Court.
In harmony with these thoughts I share the true and penetrating words of Terry and Tykie Crisp from one of their recent and excellent articles. "There can be no doubt that all these things were attributed to Christ in the days of His flesh! He came to bring justice and judgment, to bring equity and fairness, to bring balance and truth to the inhabitants of the earth. He came to set the record straight! When the 'Word made flesh' opened upon a person's life, He could read them like a book! There was not a secret sin, or hidden motive that escaped His sight. He took them all into account and weighed them in the scales of divine justice. This is why He could look into the heart of a despised little publican by the name of Zacchaeus, and the life of a spurned Samaritan woman who had been married five times, and the life of a common harlot by the name of Mary, and grant forgiveness to them; and yet, speak words of anathema and condemnation upon the hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, who, as Jesus said, were like unto 'whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and all uncleanness' (Mat. 23:27). His judgment was not based on how men seemed to be, but by the true intents of their hearts. His was the determination of 'just weights and balances' (Prov. 16:11), the result of acknowledging the Spirit in all things. Therefore, when men stood before this 'Book of Life', RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT PROCEEDED FROM THE THRONE! He caused 'the dead', that is, those who were 'dead in trespasses and sins' (Eph. 2:1), to hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who heard and believed on Him lived, they passed 'from death unto life'! This was not just something reserved for the future, but was a present reality.
"The life that Christ manifested, and the words He spoke, 'stood men up' , so to speak, and brought them face to face with their own true characters; and because His ways were so radically different, they demanded a response. One could not come in contact with Christ, and walk away the same! He would either be drawn to the Light, to become quickened and raised up in the newness of life; or else he would be drawn back into perdition, being 'tormented in the presence of the Lamb'; but he would not, yea, could not be indifferent. A perfect example of this is found in John, chapter eight. Here we read where the scribes and Pharisees brought before Jesus a woman taken in the act of adultery; seeking, perchance, an opportunity to find fault with His judgments. 'Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: what do you say'? After they had repeatedly challenged Him on the matter, Jesus wisely turned the finger of accusation toward the accusers: 'He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her'. Verse nine says, 'And they which heard it, BEING CONVICTED (judged) BY THEIR OWN CONSCIENCE, went out one by one, beginning with the eldest, even unto the last'. Praise God! Their 'day in court' could not have been made any more real to them if they would have been brought before the council of the Sanhedren, the 'Supreme Court' of their day! They had just stood before 'THE GREAT WHITE THRONE', 'THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST'; and the verdict was not favorable! Being left alone with the woman, Jesus spoke, saying, 'Woman, where are your accusers? Has no man condemned you'? She said, 'No man, Lord'. And Jesus said unto her, 'Neither do I condemn you: GO, AND SIN NO MORE'. Hallelujah to the Lamb! It was immediately following this scene that Jesus declared, 'I AM THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD: he that follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life'. You see, when they came before Christ, the whole situation was elevated into judgment; and as a result, He 'brought to light the hidden things of darkness, and made manifest the counsels of the hearts' (II Cor. 4:5). He simply 'OPENED 'THE BOOKS', so to speak, and they were automatically condemned by what was written therein!" – end quote.
God is writing in you and in me every day. Everything that is going on in your life and in mine from day to day is becoming a part of the book. How important will this be in time to come? Let us read on... "And the books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the book of life" (Rev. 20:12). Think of it! The time will come when people will be judged by what is written in their life and in your life. Let us understand! "And the books (them) were opened, and another book (you) was opened, which is the book of life." Men will be judged by what is written in their books and what is written in your book – in your life. Adam will be judged by what is true in him and by what is true in God's Christ. Even now, my beloved, God judges the Adam in us by opening our book and by opening His book within us.
Without doubt, God is the great "book opener". I shall never forget an occasion many years ago when the Lord pressed this message home to my heart. In those days I was accustomed to changing the oil in my car. It never ceased to amaze me how a simple ten-minute job could invariably turn into a disastrous hour-long ordeal! This certain day I had a few extra minutes, so determined to utilize them by changing the oil. I crawled under the car and proceeded to try to remove the oil plug. But it refused to cooperate. It simply would not budge. I pushed on the wrench with all my might, I grunted, groaned, snorted and moaned as the minutes passed into an hour. The plug refused to yield and by this time was becoming damaged. Exasperation laid hold upon me. At that point I became exceedingly agitated and began to act very un-Godlike. And just as soon as my rage reached its most explosive pitch, and what was manifested was all of ME and none of HIM, I saw two feet walking slowly by the car. The feet belonged to my neighbor. I knew that this neighbor was a aware that I was a minister of the Gospel! Suddenly I realized that my "book" had just been "opened" and my neighbor had been permitted to read a very ugly and unsavory chapter! My heart smote me. "Oh God, No!" How ashamed I was that this man had read such a sordid scene! Humiliated and convicted (judged), at once I laid down the wrench and breathed the earnest prayer, "Father, FORGIVE ME! Help me somehow to get this oil plug out." No sooner were the words uttered than the Spirit whispered the words of wisdom: "Go to the other side of the car and pull instead of pushing." I crawled out from under the car and obeyed the prompting of the Spirit. In less than a minute the plug responded and the black oil flowed out. The message is clear – I could have drawn upon the Spirit earlier and prevented all the trouble – but God wanted to put His finger on something in my life! He opened my book and for me it was a "judgment day"!
The grand purpose for this "opening of our book" is so that all that is written therein may be exposed, revealed, displayed, and brought to judgment, dealt with by a concentration of divine discipline and instruction, as the Father processes each individual. The procedure is simple but very effective. The person abiding in some realm of death is caused to "stand" before God – brought directly into relation to the countenance and dealing of God. God arranges the circumstances, puts him or her into a situation, and the "book" is "opened" – the inner condition uncovered, the secrets and intents of the heart manifest in such a measure and expressed to such a degree that there need be no other record of his or her state appealed to. Some men are faced with a woman to reveal lust in their heart. Some men are given spiritual gifts and talents to uncover pride, arrogance, love of power, and greed that lurks within their nature. Others are given problems and difficulties to reveal anger, hostility, bitterness, or unbelief. Still others are brought to the wilderness of temptation, as was our dear Lord, just to reveal the spirit, mind and nature of the Christ that has been formed in them! You see, Jesus was not driven by the Spirit into the wilderness to see whether or not He would sin; the encounter with the adversary was designed to show that in the crucible of testing, because He was the Son of the Father with whom the Father was well pleased – He would not fail the test! The book that was opened there in the wilderness of Judea proved to be THE BOOK OF LIFE and Jesus was judged out of that book. The result was His sonship ministry and the redemption of the world!
It is written: "God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil" (Eccl. 12:14), for, "God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ" (Rom. 2:16). Ah – you will despair and shrink before God's judgments until you clearly understand that God does not open your book to destroy you – but to DELIVER YOU! God brings no man to judgment apart from the opening of his book. It is a divine law – God can never deliver you, nor any man, until the corruption in your heart has been drawn into outward manifestation, exposed, to be dealt with by God's stern and tender hand. When the inner nature erupts in some outward uncleanness, DO NOT DESPAIR! Thank God for exposing the deceitfulness and wickedness, cast yourself upon the tender mercies of the Lord, and yield yourself under His mighty hand that victory may be obtained in your earth. We must never be discouraged when the motions of the flesh and the carnal mind overwhelm us, but neither should we become complacent about it, for God will send forth judgment unto victory however long it takes and however severe the dealings. He will never terminate His judgments until every man is conformed into the image of the glorious Son of God.
Brother Bennie Skinner said in a message some time ago, "The scripture says that the saints will judge the world (I Cor. 6:2). God is preparing a mighty company of judges to judge the world in righteousness! 'And he that overcomes...to him will I give power over the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron' (Rev. 2:26-27). 'To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My throne' (Rev. 3:21). 'And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given unto them...' (Rev. 20:4,6). You say, "But I thought God was going to judge the world!" He is – but in and by His saints. You say, "But I thought all judgment has been committed unto the Son." That's right – in and through His body, His people in whom He dwells and through whom He moves and acts. Yes, the saints are going to judge the world. And how? By voting against evil? By demonstrating against wickedness? By marching, by carrying placards, by writing our congressmen, by pleading issues before the courts? No! The thing that is going to judge the world is what is true in them and in you and in me. Our very lives will be a judgment to this world. The time will come when the 'books' will be fully opened. God is writing in us now. He is inscribing His nature, His knowledge, His wisdom, His will, His power and authority on the fleshy tablets of our heart. Each one of us is a page in the eloquent book of the Lamb's Life. The life that is being fashioned and formed within our nature is the Book of Life. God is writing in us every day. Paul speaks of it in II Cor. 3:2-3. Paul says, 'You are the epistles of Christ – ministered (written) by us.' Paul's purpose was, as my purpose is, to serve God's elect, to teach, to instruct, to encourage, to bless, to strengthen by precept and example, so that the Lord's people can be written in by the finger of God. God wants to write in your life.
"God is not interested in you learning all the right doctrine – that's the letter. It's not as important to know the right doctrine as it is to have the right spirit. It is vastly more important to have the right spirit than to know all the doctrines correctly. I have known people who had all their theology down pat, they had a brilliant grasp of all the doctrines and could articulate them masterfully, but their lives were full of death. Their walk was void of life, joy, victory, wisdom, peace and the image of God. In their presence they had no ability to bless, strengthen or encourage you – all they could do was spout doctrines and quote chapter and verse to prove it. They were always looking for an argument and condemning everyone who did not agree with them. But that is not what is important! If I'm around you I want to edify you, I want to lift you, I want to bless you, I want to impart to you, I want to encourage you, I want to help you, I want to assist you to grow and develop into the nature and character of God. So my life is to be an instrument to write upon the fleshy tables of your heart, not in dead letter, by rules and laws and commandments, but in spirit, so that your life is transformed.
"Furthermore, God uses every experience of life to write the life of the Lamb in our book. God uses my wife to write in my book. God uses my children to write in my book. God uses my neighbors to write in my book. God uses my fortunes and my misfortunes to write in my book. God uses my enemies to write in my book. God uses circumstances to write in my book. God uses trials and testings to write in my book. God is writing in you, dear one, in everything that touches your life. That is why Romans 8:28 is so real, 'And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.' You say, 'Man, I wish I hadn't had that experience.' Don't say that! God arranged that experience. It seemed a horrible thing, a terrible thing you went through, and you wouldn't choose to go through such a thing in a thousand years. You would never have chosen that path, but God chose it for you, because God is writing in your book. God is writing in your book! He's not writing for nothing – one day your book is going to be opened! And there is only One who is worthy to take the book and open it and loose the seals thereof, and that is the Lamb in the midst of the throne. The Lamb! Oh, the wonder of it! The book is the book of the life of the Lamb. The opening of the book is the unveiling of the life of the Lamb, the revelation of His life written and engraven in the minds and hearts of those who share His nature. He is the One who is worthy to take each one of us and open us up. And it is only through Jesus Christ our Lord that we can be opened up as the Book of the Life of the Lamb.
"Most of us would rather remain a closed book. We wish to stay closed because of our unique personality, we are shy, reticent, humble, immature, or inexperienced. But I declare to you, my beloved, that when God has finished writing in you, when He makes you a living epistle that He knows is capable of being read and known of all men, then HE WILL OPEN YOU UP. When God begins to break and remove the seals from off of us things will begin to happen in the outer world. Why is there such darkness over the earth, and gross darkness over the people? Because the very light of God is concealed within us. Although we are the light of the world, the light is shut up. God must work mightily in us to release the light of our lives that His glory may arise upon His people and be seen upon them. And when that hour arrives nothing can stop God's judgments from coming in the earth. And when His judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness. Blessed be His wonderful name!" – end quote.
J. PRESTON EBY
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