The Lambs Book of Life
James Smith, New Park Street Church, London, 1849
The Lord Jesus Christ is often represented in sacred Scripture by the figure of a LAMB, either to set forth the mildness, patience, and loveliness of his nature; or the design of his incarnation, which was that he might offer himself as a sacrifice to God, and so put away sin. He is pointed out to us as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; as bearing our sins in his own body on the tree. For this purpose he was appointed from everlasting, and manifested in these last times; therefore the apostle Peter assures us that we are redeemed by his precious blood, as of a Lamb without blemish and without spot; who truly was foreordained before the foundation of the world. He came to give his life a ransom for many. He had power to lay it down—and he had power to take it again. "He laid down his life for his sheep." He came that they might have life—and that they might have it more abundantly.
The Lord Jesus is represented as having a BOOK, which is called "the book of life." Phil. 4:3. In this book is recorded the names of all his beloved sheep. Therefore he bids his disciples "rejoice, that their names are written in Heaven." Luke 10:20. And we read of some "whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world." Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:15. Of others, that they "were written in Heaven." Hebrews 12:23.
This book is the 'family register', containing the names of the "the whole family in Heaven and earth, as named by the Father." Ephes. 3:13. Here is recorded "the eternal purpose and promise of God, to give life eternal to all who believe in Jesus." Ephes. 3:11; 1 John 2:25; Titus 1:2.
Here is found the contract between the Father and the Son in reference to our redemption, and the Savior's satisfaction. Hebrews 10:7-10; Isaiah 53:10, 11.
And in this volume is signified the will of the Father, that for the honor of Jesus, "every one that sees the Son and believes on him, shall have eternal life." John 6:37-40.
And in the judgment, this book of life will be produced and opened, and Heaven shall be awarded to all whose names are written therein. Rev. 20:12, 21:27. "Jehovah chose his people in Christ from the beginning," (2 Thes. 2:13.) "before the foundation of the world," (Ephes. 1:3, 4.) of mere grace. (Romans 11:5.)
Not because they would be holy—but to make them so; (Ephes. 1:4.) not because influenced by any works they would perform, (Romans 9:11-29.) but to the praise of his glorious grace. (Ephes. 1:6.) He chose them, fixed their names, predestinated them to sonship, (Ephes. 1:5; Romans 8:29, 30.) gave them to Jesus, (John 17:6, 9, 16,) and appointed them to obtain salvation by him, (1 Thes. 5:9, 10.) with eternal glory. (2 Tim. 2:10.)
They are the objects of his highest love, constant care, and unceasing attention. For them he prepared the kingdom before he made the world, (Matthew 25:34.) and blessed them with all spiritual blessings in Christ Jesus. He ordained them to eternal life, (Acts 13:48,) sanctifies them by the Spirit unto obedience, (1 Peter 1:2,) and raises them above all condemnation and guilt, (Romans 8:1, 33, 34.)
Nothing shall separate them from him, or divert his attention from them. He loves them just as he loves Jesus, John 17:23; he visits them with Jesus, John 14:21, 23; and is a Father unto them and they are his sons and daughters. 2 Corinthians 6:17, 18. Blessed are the people whom he has chosen for his own inheritance. Psalm 33:12.
Brethren, do you believe the glorious truth: that God has chosen his people in Christ, that he has blessed them with all spiritual blessings, that they are his jewels, his treasure, his portion?
Let me exhort you to give all diligence to make your calling and election sure. Make the prayer of the devout Psalmist your own, "Remember me, O Lord, with the favor that you bear unto your people; O visit me with your salvation; that I may see the good of your chosen, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance." Psalm 106:4, 5.
Do not cavil against a truth so plainly revealed—but believe it because God declares it; it is not a barren speculation—but a truth flowing with milk and honey, to the truly humbled heart
It opposes our pride, it destroys self-righteousness—but it administers the choicest consolation to the poor in spirit. To know that God loved me, thought of me, chose me, blessed me, and gave me grace in Jesus before the foundation of the world; (2 Tim. 1:9, 10,) can there be anything gloomy, distressing, or alarming in this? Surely not!
But can we know of a certainty that our names are written in the Lamb's book of life? Yes, beyond a doubt. It is the book of life, and if discovering the value and importance of eternal life, I come to Jesus for the blessing, determined to possess it or perish in pursuit of it—then my name is recorded there. No man can come to Jesus thus—except the Father draws him; the Father only draws those who are given to Jesus. Therefore if I thus come—I am drawn, and drawn because I have been chosen, and my name was written in the book of life.
If I believe in my heart the record God has given of his Son; receive Christ as my wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption; and rely simply and alone on him for life and eternal salvation; I have the faith of God's elect! This faith is the gift of God, it is only given to those who are chosen of God; and it is given to me, therefore I am the chosen of God. The election has obtained it—and the rest were blinded. Romans 11:7; 2 Corinthians 4:3, 4.
If I am called into fellowship with Jesus, and live upon him as the bread of life, if I receive from him grace, and use that grace to his honor—then my name is written in his book. It is only those who are predestinated, who are called. I am called, therefore I was predestinated to be conformed to the image of Christ.
If I bring forth good fruit in consequence of vital union to Christ; if my person, talents, and property are cheerfully devoted to the cause of God; my name is in the book of life. For believers are chosen, and ordained, that they should go and bring forth fruit, and that their fruit should remain. And I do bring forth good fruit which remains to the honor of God, therefore I am chosen and ordained.
If you are stripped of self-righteousness, if you loathe sin, if you love and follow after holiness, if Christ is precious to you, if his name is written upon your affections, memories, prayers, purposes, and actions; your name beyond a doubt, is written in his book!
This doctrine is calculated to afford you the strongest consolation. To be loved by God with an everlasting love; to have your name written his Heaven, among patriarchs, prophets, apostles, martyrs, and saints; to be appointed to a kingdom of eternal glory and inconceivable blessedness; to be the sons of God; the heirs of God; the brethren of Christ—and all this of grace, without the least thing in you to entitle you, or warrant you to expect such distinguishing honor; surely it is enough to constrain you to devote yourself entirely and forever to the Lord!
And is it possible that such a comfortable and holy truth should be opposed? Yes, men not submitting their understandings simply and entirely to the word of God; not forming their judgments from what God has said; but proudly reasoning upon what they think to be right and consistent for Jehovah to do—have denied or explained away this wholesome doctrine! And the principle of pride, which in some has led to the denial of the doctrine of eternal election, has in others led to the denial of the divinity of Christ, the atonement he made, and the glory to which he is entitled.
But we must receive the kingdom of God as a little child, and submit to be taught—without us choosing our lessons, or setting in judgment on the wisdom of our Divine Teacher. God has plainly revealed it, let us therefore receive and believe it, search out our interest in it, and put on as the elect of God, holy and beloved, humbleness of mind and meekness. This will be better than a thousand arguments, or lengthened controversy.
But do not some abuse this truth? Undoubtedly they do! But shall we therefore reject it? if so, we may reject all truth, for all is more or less abused. The legalist abuses one part, and the licentious abuses the other; but let us hold fast the whole truth, and be careful not to abuse any part of it.
We can have no occasion to be ashamed of the truth of eternal election—but let us remember we may be a shame to it. God's elect are holy, humble, and devoted to God. And those who can love and live in sin, who are proud and censorious, worldly and covetous—give no evidence that they are elected, except it is by Satan—to bring dishonor on God's cause; but they must give an account of themselves to God, and be judged according to their works. The judge of the earth will do right even in reference to such.
The doctrine of eternal election sanctions no sin, dispenses with no duty, nor affords the least ground of hope to the unholy or profane. It is a holy doctrine, revealed by a holy God, for the comfort of holy people, who are walking in a holy way, to a holy Heaven!
But is not this doctrine a stumbling block to unsaved sinners? Unsaved sinners have nothing to do with the doctrine of election; it speaks not one word to them. The gospel directs them to Jesus with the assurance that he will never cast out one who sincerely comes to him. And when they have believed in Jesus and found salvation by trusting in his name, then they are encouraged to believe, receive, and enjoy this holy doctrine.
It is not for us to make this doctrine the rule of our life; the precepts of the Word of God are the rule by which we are to walk. This doctrine of eternal election is a ground of strong consolation—but not a rule of conduct.
Neither are we to attempt to bend other portions of God's word, to make them agree with our views of this doctrine. The gospel is the mystery of God's will, it contains some things which are hard to he understood, and many which we cannot reconcile; a simple faith believes them, and a truly humble mind receives them on the authority of God, without needing to have everything "fit" in his limited mind. The message of God to sinners, and the choice of the elect in Christ, are different parts of one vast scheme; the infinite intellect of God grasps, and sees the harmony of the two—though we cannot. We know but in part—but by and by we shall know fully—even as also we are known. It is for us to receive, believe, obey, and adorn and circulate the truth—and leave the rest to God!
Election hinders the salvation of no man—but it secures the salvation of millions! The sinner is to come to Jesus and believe in him for salvation, as though no such doctrine was in the bible; and we are to exhort sinners so to do. Condemnation flows from sin—not from election! Hell is the fruit of sin and the consequence of rebellion against God. No man can trace his condemnation and punishment to any purpose of God; he can trace in to himself—and no further—he has destroyed himself!
But the Christian can trace his salvation to God's purpose of grace—but for which, we would have all been left in one common ruin. He who closes his ears and heart to the gospel, who rejects the Savior, and judges himself unworthy of everlasting life, must admit that his condemnation is just and inexcusable. And this is the case with all who die in their sins. It is proclaimed alike to all, it presents a remedy to sinners as sinners, it is unclogged by conditions. "Whoever will—may come and take of the water of life freely!" "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed!" John 3:19-20
Have you chosen . . .
Jehovah for your God,
Jesus for your Savior,
the bible for your guide,
saints for your companions,
holiness as your object, and
the glory of God as your end?
If so, it is because you have been chosen by God to life, holiness, happiness, and honor! Your name is written in the Lamb's book of life, and you are encouraged to rejoice in the persuasion that your name is written in Heaven, and that Jesus has appointed unto you the kingdom of heaven as your eternal inheritance!