Thursday, August 17, 2017

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By : Lonnie Branam [ Sermon THE BOOK OF LIFE ]


Philippians 4:1-7

The subject of this study is set forth in verses 2.3 "I implore Euodia and I implore Syntyche to be of te same mind in the Lord. And urge you also, true companion help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also , and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life." We know the names of some of the members of this noted first century congregation. Two Christian women are mentioned by name, Euodia and Syntyche; and one man's name is listed, Cement. It is generally believed that he became one of the Elders of the Church in Rome, who lived in the second century and became very prominent in the church. Paul's first message to this church was, "Stop Euodia and Syntyche from quarreling and opposing one another. Whether it was over church doctrine or something else we do not know. Their feuding, wrangling and sqabbling was disturbing the church, and Paul wanted it stopped. Conflicts are common in the church an often result in  divisions. In a cartoon this notice was placed on a church bulletin board: "213 days without a split." Listen to the text again as recorded in the Amplified New Testament: THEREFORE, my brethren, whom I love and yearn to see, my delight and crown [wreath of victory] thus stand firm in the Lord, my beloved. I intreat and advise Euodia and I entreat and advise Syngyche to agree and to work in harmony in the Lord. And I exhort you too [my] genuine yoke-fellow help these [two women to keep on co-operating], for they have toiled along with me in [ the spreading of] the good news (the Gospel), as have Clement and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life." Here are two of Paul's skilled church workers, and they are in conflict with one another, arguing and disputing with one another.. Paul loved these two women for their work-sake.

These two women here addressed doubtless were influential members of this congregation. These good women helped the apostle in Christian teaching. Paul said, "These women labored with me in the gospel." They were skilled teachers and good students of the word. As women were not allowed to be Preachers in the church, as taught in I Timothy 2:12, it is evident that their service was of a more private kind, either in instructing the young or, more probably, in helping bring women to Christ and instructing female converts.  Whatever their disagreements may have been, their differences were of a kind calculated to mar their influence and disturb the faith of others in the church. The church in our present generation is very disturbed by a conflict over the work of women in the church. There is much disputing among women as to the proper role of women in the church. This is a quite a serious conflict, and the conflict is far from being resolved. Many other conflicts have beset the New Testament church and many of them  have never been resolved. The Lord's church has never been very good at conflict resolution. Paul concluded his thoughts on this troublesome matter by saying, "Finally brethren whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. The things which you learned and received and heard and saw in me, these do and the God of peace will be with you"(Philippians 4:8.9). If the church had followed these instructions, there would have been more peace and less conflict in the Lord's church for the past two thousand years.

Secondly, Paul made another very important statement about Euodia and Syntyche. After pleading with them to stop quarreling, and urging probably Ephaphroditus himself, the bearer of the Philippian letter, to help these two women whose names were in the Book of Life. God had recorded the names of Euodia and Syntyche in the Book of Life. That fact alone was a sufficient reason to resolve their differences and stop fighting and quarreling. The fact that Clement's name and the names of all other coworkers of Paul were in the Book of Life, it is necessarily implied that the names of all members of the church in Philippi were also in the Book of Life. The phrase Book of Life is mentioned several times in the Bible. It is first mentioned in Deuteronomy 32:32. Israel had sinned by worshiping a golden calf at the base of Mt. Sinai, and God threatened to destroy the nation and start all over with Moses. But Moss said to God, "If you will not forgive Israel for what they did, then blot me out of your book." But God answered Moses in this way, "Whoever sins against Me, him I will blot out of My Book." Malachi 3:16 says, "Those who feared the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord listened and heard them. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear the Lord." The Book of Life is God's book of remembrance. Jesus said to one of churches in Asia Minor, "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot his name from the book of life"(Revelation 3:5)." We learn here that the name of every Christian is written in the Book of Life, but is not written in indelible ink. It can be erased, blotted out and eliminated. Language could not more definitely indicate the possibility that Christians can be lost. Any other view renders the language not only misleading bu actually false, unless Christians are in danger of being overcome by evil in the world. The statement of Jesus is that Christians eternal salvation depends on their overcoming evil. If it were not possible for Christians to be overcome there would be no point in expressing this condition. This unquestionably means that such will be lost. In spite of this clear warning most all of Christendom is wedded to the belief that under no circumstances can a Christian lose his salvation. This is the almost universal doctrine in Christendom that once you are saved you will always be saved. The doctrine, "Once saved, always saved" is a direct contradiction of God's word.

The Book of Life is mentioned again in Revelation 20:12, "And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God and the books were opened. And another book was opened which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things that were written in the books. There are at least three books mentioned in this passage. One is said to be the Book of Life, and the others are simply called "the books,." plural. Some commentators interpret the "books" to mean God's books of remembrance or records that He keeps of men's conduct or actions, and the Book of Life is a record of the names of the righteous. Since according to John 12:48 all people who have lived on earth for the past 2,000 years will be judged by the words of Jesus, it seems probable that one of these books represent the Bible which contains the laws by which mankind shall be judged. Some will be judged by Patriarchal law, some by Jewish law, and some by Christian law. It would also be reasonable to conclude that one of the books record the conduct, actions and deeds of people, for the Bible states, "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad," (2 Corinthians 5:10). In addition to the books, another book was opened which is the Book of Life. In this same chapter the contents of the Book of Life are clearly revealed in Revelation 20:15, "And if any was not found written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the lake of fire." 2 Peter 3:10-12). The ultimate purpose of every human being is to get his name in the Book of Life and keep it in that book by living a well pleasing life to God.

I have covered most references to the Book of Life in the Bible. I think we are now prepared to answer the question, "What is the Book of Life?" Paul said that Euodia and Syntyche's names were in this book, but he was concerned about them. The first thing of interest I would say about the Book of Life is that it is called a book. The Hebrew word is sefer, the Greek word is biblos and the English word is book. The Book of Life The Hebrew word is much more comprehensive than our English word book. The Book of Life in the Bible is a book of records, a list of names from the time of Adam and Eve to our present time in 2009 A.D. God is the author of this book, and it is the greatest book ever written. It is a list of people who have found such favor with God that He has selected them at their resurrection from the dead to live forever in heaven among the angels of heaven, in a world of joy and happiness that defies our dreams or imaginations. To the honor of Jesus Christ this book is also called the Lamb's Book of Life. Every name in that Book was cleansed, made holy and acceptable to Jehovah by the blood of Christ, who tasted death fore every man. Before He died on the cross, the cleansing blood of Christ flowed back through all centuries to Adam and Eve and cleansed everybody it touched. God used His blood to forgive sin before it was shed in the Patriarchal age and the Jewish age. There is no name in this book that was not cleansed by the blood of Christ. It is also the Lamb's Book of Life. That the first thing I want to say about this Book. It is th registry of all people who will go to heaven. We may conclude that the Book of Life contains the list of all people whose conduct has caused their names to be written in this book and whose continued godly life has prevented their names from being blotted out and removed from this Book.

Now the question that comes to us all is how many books would it take to write down all the deeds of mankind both good and bad for thousands and thousands of years. How could paper last that long? The second thing want to say about the Book of Life is that it is not a literal book. It is a figurative title originating from the ancient custom of keeping geneological and other records. The geneology of Christ from Adam is carefully recorded in scripture. It is a universal practice for institutions that consist of individual membership to keep a record of its names in a book. Churches keep a list of members. This fact is a basis for the figurative idea of a Book of Life in which the Lord keeps a list of His people. But God needs no books to help Him remember. He has a perfect memory. God's infinite memory will enable Him to reward properly both bad and good just as if it is written had been kept. God never forgets. His knowledge of men's acts is just as accurate as perfect writing in a book or a computer. The reference to a book is for our benefit and comfort, not for God. It convinces us that God keeps good records and that He will forget no one.

Finally, how do we get our names in te Book of Life? It is clearly revealed in the text we have been meditating on. Listen to it again, "Help those women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also and with my other fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life. Who were Euodia, Syntyche, Clement and others who were in the Book of Life? Who were all these people, of whom it is said that their names were in the Book of Life. They were all members of the church that Jesus built in Philippi. Philippians 1:1 tells us who they were, "to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are in Philippi with the bishops(elders) and deacons." Paul wrote this letter to the church in Philippi and to people in our text said to be in the Book of Life. All these people said to be in the book of life were members of the Church in Philippi. The Bible clearly teaches that all people's names are added to the Book of Life when Christ adds them to His church. God sent a preacher to the persecutor Paul after he had been brought repentance. Ananias said to Paul, "And now, why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord." When a person meets the requirements faith, repentance and baptism, they become a member of Christ's church, and his name is automatically added to the Book of Life, as was Euodia, Syntyche, Clement who became members of the Lord's church in Philippi. No one is in the book of life who is not in the Lord's church.

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