In this information heavy world we live in, where knowledge of others can be found through a simple on-line search, or just from scanning the information they publish about themselves on their Facebook or Twitter accounts, it is good to every now and then pause and think about what our record says about us.
We all have a record.
For some that’s a good thing. Their record is one of accomplishment and honor. If you type their name into a search engine, you will get links to internet page after page telling you about all the things they have done, said, written, or been honored for. These individuals can take some level of satisfaction in knowing that there is a positive record of achievement that can be seen be all and that those that come after will be able to look back and catalog some of the things they have done in life.
For others, their permanent record may not be such a good thing. Scandal, crime, divorce, or other misfortunes have all been entered into the public record in their name, and such things may sometimes be hard to escape the shadow of. Few Americans look back in history and remembers Benedict Arnold for his sons, his businesses or the life he established for himself in London following the American Revolution. Likewise, Judas Iscariot may have done some good things in his life, but his final betrayal of Jesus the Christ is all that anyone remembers of him. Some records can truly become very tarnished, permanently.
The Bible speaks of a record: a recording of names of individuals that God approves of. The apostle Paul writing to the Philippians, told them: “and I 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.” (Philippians 4:3; NKJV)
A Book of Life! A record of Christians, those saved whom the Lord has added to His church. (cf. Acts 2:47) It is a marvelous thought to think that our names might be recorded in such a book.
Concerning entrance into the great city of God, John, in the book of Revelation, wrote: “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.” (Revelation 21:27; NKJV) God does not just anyone into His city. You have to have the right record to get in. You have to have your name written in His book, so to speak.
A little earlier in Revelation, in talking about the judgment of the world, that great day which is to come, John also says, “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and 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 which were written in the books.” (Revelation 20:12; NKJV)
It is suggested that the books being opened, those books by which men were judged, are the books of the Bible, for Jesus said, “the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day.” (John 12:48) And against the words of the Gospel of Christ, the deeds of men are to be compared. We have a record, known in the mind of God, of all that we have ever done, good or bad. Many of these things we may have been able to hide from the knowledge of men. They may not show up on an internet search, there may be no books written about them, but every action is still known to God. We all have a record.
But there is also that other book opened, the Book of Life. Some of us have a record in that. And the wonderful thing about having your name written in the book of life is that it is an indication of forgiveness of all the other that you have ever done.
In the second chapter of the book of Acts (cf. Acts 2:36-41), Peter confronts Jews who had taken part in the death of Christ, telling them that God had made that same Jesus, whom they had crucified, both Lord and Christ. That was on the record.
Pricked to the heart, they asked what they could do about it. Peter commanded them to “repent and be baptized,” every one of them, in the name of Christ, “for the forgiveness of their sins.” Those that gladly received His word were baptized, their sins were washed away and they were added by God to the number of the saved. Their names were in the Book of Life. Their record had been cleared.
We all have a record, but thanks be to Christ, the bad record does not have to be permanent.
If you would like to learn more about how to find forgiveness in Christ, the church of Christ invites you to study and worship with us at 234 Chapel Drive, Gallipolis, Ohio. Likewise, if you have any questions, please share them with us through our website chapelhillchurchofchrist.org.
Jonathan McAnulty is minister of Chapel Hill Church of Christ.