“But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Revelation 21:27)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Just when the description of the new Jerusalem coming down from Heaven gets really good, you learn that there is a catch. The only people allowed to enter it are those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. It’s almost as if the city is guarded by a guy with a clipboard who checks to see if your name is on the list before he lets you go past the red velvet rope. What can you do to make sure that your name is on the list? How do you get your name written in the book?
Variations on this question have been posed throughout the centuries of church history, but the answers always seem to fall into the same category: there is something that you must do to get your name written in the book. What you have to do has some variation, sometimes the focus is on actions, sometimes the focus is on knowledge, and sometimes the focus is on mystical experience. No matter where the emphasis is, however, it all comes down to something that you have to do to get your name written in the book. You are responsible for putting your name on the list. Ultimately these answers and even the question itself gets you nowhere. Any attempt to get beyond the red velvet rope based on your own efforts is doomed to fail. A place in the Lamb’s book of life is not something that you earn, it’s something that is given. Being on the list is a gift.
It is the Lamb’s book of life, and He does all the writing in it. He wrote your name in His book with His own blood. Nothing unclean will enter the city and you have already been made clean by Jesus himself. Your name was written in the book when he said, “it is finished” on the cross. You remain clean every time you remember your baptism, your place in the city is affirmed in every celebration of communion. There is no catch. The city itself and your citizenship in it are the gifts of God for you. Your booking is confirmed. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
My Savior paid the debt I owe And for my sins was smitten; Within the Book of Life I know My name has now been written. I will not doubt, for I am free, And Satan cannot threaten me; There is no condemnation! (The Day is Surely Drawing Near, LSB 508 st 5)
-Pastor Grant Knepper is the pastor at Zion Lutheran Church, Hillsboro, Oregon.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Study Christ’s words on the cross to see how you can show more Christlike grace in your life. Perfect for group or individual study, each chapter has a Q&A at the end, and the back of the book includes a leader guide. Available now from Concordia Publishing House.