The home stretch has arrived. We embark on the last chapter of Philippians this week and as our first series together I hope you, like me, have marveled at the glorious doctrines of Christ, his church and his glorious return.
One item of significance for me has been the flavor of eschatology in Philippians. Philippians tends to have an extra measure of direction toward the exalted and returning Christ and our glory in the consummation of all things. Sometimes it is very prominent such as Paul talking about his eagerness to obtain the resurrection from among the dead and ultimate perfection (3:10-12). Sometimes it is a simple statement such as found in 4:3 that the fellow workers in the gospel are written in the “Book of Life.”
If we were to stop and think about the book of life we might realize why these three little words give such heart-warming encouragement. This book has one author who is God. He knows every name and if our name is found in his list, it is a permanent ink of sure hope in a glorious future of restoration and perfection. There is a shared prize for all those who are written in the book. If we share a prize for all eternity, certainly we can look past our differences in this temporary world.
God knows who is in his book but in our finite human position we can only guess at the names of those we know by their confession and fruit of faith in Christ. The book of life is the universal church. Have you ever thought about that? The church known as the invisible or universal church is spread throughout the world as those who are pilgrims in this foreign land. The local church that we are more familiar with is completely visible to us. The universal church is no less the church but we don't see it in front of our face. God has those names in the book of life and they are gathering in their local settings all across the earth. Every regenerate believer is in the book of life and it signifies our eternal salvation and reward in Christ. The book has no fake Christians in it. It is a book that records only the names and every single name of those who will live in the new heavens and earth. If your name is there, it will always be there. There is nothing better.
Sometimes even good things can make us think less of our presence in the book of life. Jesus reminded the 72 witnesses of this when they returned from mission. In Luke 10:20 Jesus reminded them that even though they witnessed manifestation of power in their mission (demons obeying them), physical displays of power should be nothing to them today compared to simply knowing that their names are in the book of life. Jesus makes it very clear that there is no priority even close to whether or not we are written in that book. There is no earthly concern even close to knowing whether or not someone has come to repentance and faith in Christ for forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. The gospel is the key to the book of life and that life is eternal. This one priority allows all other difficulties and differences in this world to pale into insignificance. Just ask Euodia and Syntache (4:1-3).
See you Sunday.