BOOK OF LIFE
A Sermon by Rev Frederick M ChapinJune 4, 1995
He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. (Rev.3:5)
Our ability to remember serves as the foundation of our character. This God-given faculty is what makes us human. Unlike other animals, we can use our memories to develop spiritual loves. In fact, how we fill our memories and use them determines the type of disposition we will develop. If we continually learn good things and generally remember pleasant and wonderful events, we will become a more affirmative person. However, if past disappointments and troubles dominate our memories, it will be more difficult for us to have a positive outlook regarding life. The more we are able to develop the discipline of using our memories in a constructive way, the more enjoyable our lives become. The Word teaches us how we can use our memories wisely.
The Book of Revelation specifically refers to our memories as the “Book of Life”. The Book of Life is everything we ever thought and intended throughout our lives. Everything we ever did and desired is permanently recorded in our internal memories. Regardless of whether or not other people were able to recognize our innermost thoughts, they are recorded and for ever remain with us. Eventually, when we pass from this world to the spiritual world, our inner most desires will become fully disclosed. Heaven’s light will expose our deepest thoughts and heaven’s heat will manifest our deepest intentions and loves. We will no longer have the ability to hid our true desires and thoughts. Nor will we be able to act one way in our external actions and think or desire something else in our spirits. When we enter into the spiritual world, our true character will eventually shine forth.
This process will not be threatening to those who are good and sincere in their efforts to live a useful life towards others. In fact, nothing pleases a spiritual person more than to have their true loves brought to view. A characteristic of a heavenly love is to assure others, especially those to whom a service is provided, that the effort is done in sincerity. Such a person wants others to be certain that the act of charity is strictly for their sakes and benefits. It is not merely done for selfish gain and advancement. The more sincere we are, the more we want our inner intentions to be brought to view. Therefore, when good people leave this earth and enter heaven, they are excited in having their inner most lives brought out more vividly in their outward actions. This process makes them even more expressive of serving their neighbor and allows them to experience an even greater delight in performing acts of charity towards their neighbor.
The exact opposite is the case for those who are evil and deceitful. They strongly resist having their true nature and intentions brought to light. They are careful to hid their true motives. They try to avoid having their deceitful motivations openly brought to view.
Those who are sincerely good are said to be “fitted for heaven”. In fact, each person that is receptive of the Lord is a unique heaven. Their uniqueness can contribute to the activities and perfection of the entire heavens. And it is because each is a heaven of themselves, they are able to function in heaven with others.
Therefore, by our names being written in the Book of Life, this is speaking of a way of life. It is a process of living a life that manifests the loves and thoughts that exists in heaven. Just as a book aids our memory, so if our memories are filled with the Lord’s truths and motivated with the desires to sincerely worship the Lord and help other people, we are being prepared to function with the angels of heaven.
The Lord has made this process simple. All that is required to have a memory that can lead to positive things is to live according to the Lord’s commandments. That is how our interiors are receptive of the Lord. The more we are receptive of the Lord’s guidance, the more our memories will be used effectively and productively.
However, we can destroy our memories by adding or take away from the Word. This is the stern warning we read at the end of the Book of Revelation. This makes the Word ineffective. When we insist of what we will do and what we will not do, we are adding and taking away from the Lord’s Word. This attitude results in our memories only serving our selfish interest. This would be an abuse of our memory.
Therefore, The Book of Life is more than just a guarantee of getting into heaven. It is a process of overcoming the evil tendencies that are within us. The Book of Life means having an active knowledge of the Word. The key word here is active. Having the Book of Life means having the Knowledge of truth from the Word in our minds that is not dormant but alive.
This is why this process is called the Book of Life. It allows us to become engaged in a life of heavenly loves. When we are able to display heavenly loves and thoughts, we are spiritually alive. This manner of living is salvation, and it allows us to show forth the Lord’s Divinity in our own special way. When our lives are receptive of heavenly loves and thoughts, our names are written in the Book of Life.
The Book of Life is especially made active when evil spirits come and arouse selfish thoughts and delights from our heredity. Angels then come and awaken the good thoughts and affections in our memory. A combat between the forces of good and evil ensues, which is called temptations. We must choose which path we will follow. If we choose to follow what the angels are stirring within us, heavenly loves are instilled in our lives in a greater degree.
At the same time, our selfish thoughts and delights, in our natural degree of life, is made more and more quiescent or dormant. The more our evil delights and attitudes are made inactive, the more our Book of Life will influence our inner desires and affections that motivate our external actions before others.
Nevertheless, we all know how difficult it is to control our thoughts. It seems that certain ideas and fantasies enter our minds that we find impossible to control. We are assured that we are not held responsible for the thoughts that enter our consciousness. However, we are responsible for how we do react to the stimulus. If a thought enters our minds that we know degrades others and can inflict harm to them, we must put forth the effort not to indulge in it. The more we dwell upon that thought and revel in it, the more it controls our lives.
Each one of us can develop the necessary discipline to effectively react to negative and evil thoughts and fantasies. The more this is actually done the more our names, or our true character, will manifest the Lord’s love and wisdom as it exists in the heavens.
Also, we all have some form of past experiences that still can cause us great grief. There are some things that are vividly displayed that can be a strong barrier to enjoy life or have the inspiration to enjoy being of use to others. How can we overcome the grief of past experience that are so severe that they continue to dominate our thoughts and lives? It is not easy. It may require a great deal of time, effort, and perhaps some form of professional help to break free from such domination. However, we can still develop the necessary knowledge in our memories that can be used to counteract the domination of past negative experiences. We can still find life fulfilling and satisfying in the use we called upon to perform for others. The more we know what the Word says, and how we can apply the Word to our lives, the more the Lord is able to direct our lives, whereby a healing can occur that can break us free from such negative domination.
Peter provides a wonderful example of not having a sense of regret and guilt control our lives. He experienced a tremendous amount of grief and guilt after he denied the Lord three times. However, he was able to actively preach the Lord’s Gospel. This activity allowed him to experience many precious moments he otherwise would not have experienced. If we can still actively pursue our use which the Lord has called us to perform, that can give us positive experiences which can serve to counter-balance the grief we may have to continually deal with from our past. Our memories are very involved in this process.
Our memory does serve a vital role in our spiritual growth. The more we fill our memories with what the Word teaches us, it will influence our lives. Quite often, we may read the Word and seemingly forget what we read a short time later. But even then, what we have read does remain with us, and internally is active within us as we put forth the effort to be a true disciple of the Lord. The more we reflect upon what the Word teaches us, and put forth the effort to order our lives according to the Lord’s commandments, the more our memories will serve as a foundation to live angelic lives. This will happen if we apply these words to Joshua: “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. (Josh. 1:8)