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Sixth Edition, 1915
By Dr. John Thomas (first edition written 1861)



Chapter 3


3. The Book Of Life




Even the few names in Sardis had to save themselves by their perseverance, upon the principle that "he who perseveres to the end shall be saved." Hence, the Spirit saith, "the victor, he shall be clothed in white garments." This is positive. But in order that he may be assured of the perpetuity of his clothing, that it shall never wax old, as garments are accustomed to do, it is added, "And I will not at all obliterate his name from THE SCROLL OF THE LIFE." In the English Version, this is rendered "book of life" without the definite article; but in my translation I have prefixed it to life as in the original. It is the scroll of THE life, that is, of a special life.

The first place in the New Testament where this phrase occurs is in Phil. iv. 3. Here Paul mentions certain "whose names are in a book of life;" among whom is Clement, one of his fellow-labourers; but, whether the same Clement, who wrote about "the due place of glory," can only be conjectured.

lt next occurs in Apoc. xiii. 8 and xvii. 8. In the former it is styled "the Scroll of the Life of the Lamb slain;" and in the latter, simply "the Scroll of the Life." It is next found in ch. xx. 12,15. In the former of these verses, it is termed "another Scroll which is of the life;" and in the latter as elsewhere. In ch xxi. 27 it is "the Scroll of the life of the Lamb;" and in ch. xxii. 19, the phrase is "a Scroll of the life," the article the being omitted before "Scroll." These are all the places where it occurs in the New Testament.

This is the most important of all books; for if a man's name have not been inscribed upon it, he cannot possibly be saved; for it is written that whosoever of the dead, small and great, standing before the Deity at the opening of the Scrolls, shall not be found written in the Scroll of the life, shall be cast into the lake of the fire. These are those who worship the Beast, by whom the saints have been overcome.

From these testimonies there would appear to be two scrolls, -- the one styled A scroll of the Life, and the other THE Scroll of the Life. These two scrolls are opened at the setting up of "THE GREAT WHITE THRONE" of judgment, at the epoch of resurrection. Certain things having been written in these scrolls, the resurrected are judged from them. These things are their works. One of these scrolls will present a very unseemly aspect -- a sort of EVERY-DAY BOOK OF LIFE, in which names of believers are inscribed with very disreputable mementoes appended to each. These will find no admission to "the other scroll, which is of the life" -- THE LEDGER OF THE LIFE, to which those names may be supposed to be transferred from the Every-Day Book, that are not condemned to obliteration. The dead constituents of the Angel of the ecclesia in Sardis, together with the few undefiled ones there, had all been written in the Every-Day Book of the Life; and their works inscribed under their respective names: and the general record of this scroll is read in the writing penned by John. He shows that the works therein recorded resolved themselves into two classes; the one signalized by the words "thou art dead" after their names, and the other by the sentence, "their garments undefiled." Now of these classes, the names of the latter alone will be transferred to the Ledger; while the names of the former will be obliterated or excluded. The confession of names in the presence of the Father and in the presence of his messengers, will be read, not from the Every-Day Book, but from the Ledger of the Lamb's Life, which contains the register of names inscribed there, from the foundation of the order of things extant.

This is styled the scroll of the life in allusion probably to the custom of oriental monarchs, who, as they had several books for the record of things, so they had a peculiar book, in which they entered the names and actions of all those who did them any special service, that they might reward them in due time. See Esther vi. 1-3, where it is styled "the Book of Records of daily affairs."

The Scriptures make very early mention of the existence of such a book before the Lord. Moses refers to it in Exod. xxxii. 32, saying, "If thou wilt, forgive thou Israel's sin; if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of hy book which thou hast written. And Yahweh said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book." The Spirit in David says, "Are not my tears in thy book?" that is, "Are not my sorrows in thy remembrance?" Hence "book" and "remembrance are associated in Mal. iii. 16, where it is styled "a book of remembrance;" as, "They that feared Yahweh spake often one to another; and Yahweh hearkened and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared Yahweh, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith Yahweh of armies, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will have compassion upon them as a man hath tender affection for his own son that serveth him." This is evidently the book of the life, or the Ledger; for all written in it are precious with God in a day when the wicked are trodden down. Daniel also refers to the same book in testifying that, in the time of trouble when the books shall be opened, "every one of his people (the Saints) shall be delivered that shall be found written in the book" (xii. 1).

The Ledger book of the life is styled apocalyptically "the Scroll of the life of the Lamb slain" (Apoc. xiii. 8: xxi. 27). It is contrary to the law of symbol-writing to regard this as a book in the vulgar sense. There is something in the real thing to which a book of record has some resemblance or analogy. Such a book is for remembrance of deeds. Hence the name given to the book of life in Malachi (which in the Old Testament includes both the Day Book and the Ledger), "a Book of Remembrance." Scroll, then, in this relation, is symbolical of remembrance by whatever system of means it may be compassed. "I will remember their sins no more," which is equivalent to, "I will blot out the record of their sins from the book of my remembrance;" or I will pardon them. Hence to pardon is equivalent to inscribing the name of the subject in the Day book of the life; or to placing him in God's remembrance for resurrection unto life even for the life procured by the sacrifice of the Lamb of God, if found to be "worthy."

But, how is a man's name inscribed on the memory of God for resurrection? ln answer to this, it must be remembered, that the spirit of THE INVISIBLE ONE is the remembrancer of His dominion. Whatever the Spirit remembers is written, so to speak, in the book of remembrance before God. "God is Spirit; and they who worship him must worship him in Spirit and truth " (John iv. 24). Pardon is the result of Spirit-and-truth worship. Now the relation subsisting between the Spirit and the Truth is one of intellectual and moral identity; so that he who hath the truth hath in him the mind, the thinking, and teaching of the Spirit: but he that hath not the truth, is destitute of the Spirit, and not a true worshipper. It is the Spirit-Word that quickeneth; and therefore Jesus says, "lt is the Spirit which is life making; Spirit is and life is the words which I speak to you" (John vi. 63). And again, he says, "The Spirit of the truth proceedeth from the Father" (vi. 26); and, "The Spirit of the truth shall guide you into all the truth" (xvi. 13); and bring all things to your remembrance" (xiv. 26); and John, the beloved disciple of Jesus, adds, "the Spirit is the truth" (1 John v. 6). We are considering things mental, not physical. The Spirit in its physical relations is the divine power that creates, fashions, and sustains all things; and will raise the dead, and subdue all things to God. But in opening men's eyes, and turning them from ignorance to knowledge, and from the service of the adversary to God; and in recording them in his remembrance, it is the truth believed and obeyed that is the agency employed. The Spirit is the Remembrancer; or symbolically, "the Scroll or Book."

It is by the truth, called "the word of the truth of the gospel of the kingdom" (Acts xx. 24,25; Col i. 5), believed and obeyed, that relations are established between men and God. This is the spiritual connecting medium that links them to his throne in their present state; and, though men in the general think very little of "the truth," because they are natural liars and ignorant of it; yet His eyes are ever upon it, and he has "magnified it above all his name." "Sanctify them by thy truth; thy word is truth" (John xvii. 17); and, " Ye have purified your souls in the obedience of the truth through Spirit." Hence, the truth is sanctifying and purifying; and, as the truth is God's, and precious to him, and always before his mind, the sanctified are his pepuliar treasure. Their names are therefore inscribed in his book of remembrance by their union to the truth in the obedience it enjoins.

Paul styles the baptized believers in Corinth, "an epistle of Christ written with spirit of the living God." The writing, he says, was done through him and Timothy, as the instruments. God, Paul, spirit and Corinthian hearts held a similar relation to each other in the writing of the epistle (and all similar churches collectively, made, as it were, a Book of Epistles) that head, pen, ink, and paper, do to an ordinary letter. The mentality of God was by the process stamped upon Corinthian hearts, so that they became part of His thoughts; and while He is written upon their memory, they are also written upon his, who is the way, the truth, the resurrection, and the life. Hence, to be written in the scroll of the life, is to be "in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ," and they in him by the Spirit-truth dwelling in their hearts (2 Cor. iii. 3; 1 Thess. i. 1; Eph. iii. 17; John vi. 54,56).

God, or the Father, manifested through His Sons by the Spirit, which is the one God-manifestation to us (see 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6), is the Arboretum of the lives. Wherefore, to be in the book of the life is to be part, and to have part, of the tree of life, as it is styled in the English Version. This understood, will account for a various reading in the Greek text of Apoc. xxii. 19. Book of Life and Tree of Life are different symbols related to the same thing. The oldest manuscripts extant read, "God shall take away his part from the tree of life;" but more recent ones, "out of the book of life."




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