Friday, April 15, 2011

The Lamb's Book of Life---Written when?

Can you remember being in church services that closed something like this?

Every head bowed, every eye closed, no one looking around, instruments playing softly, now raise your hand and look up at me if you would like to have your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life tonight.  Is your name written in the Lamb's Book of Life?  Would like you like it to be?  Then as soon as we start singing, if you will walk down this aisle and take me by the hand, pray this prayer, do this and that, jump through this hoop and that hoop, etc.,  your name can be written down in the Lamb's Book of Life tonight in Heaven..........Now, how does it feel to know your name has just been written down in the Book?
Is this correct?  I believe Scripture teaches the Lamb's Book of Life was written before the foundation of the world, not at a moment in time when you make your "decision for Christ".  Agree?  Disagree?  I invite you to read on if interested...

I can remember end-of-church-service invitations very similar to this growing up in a Southern Baptist Church in Louisiana. The Pastors, Preachers, Evangelists, etc. speaking like this were great men of God who loved Jesus, and they were instrumental in bringing many people into the Kingdom of God (both wheat and tares, no doubt, but didn't Jesus say they must both grow together?  see Matthew 13)

Now, is there anything wrong with that type of "invitation" or "invitations" in general?  Glad you asked, but I'm not going there on this blog.  There's much debate over invitations, and people feel strongly on both sides of the debate, but I know God is not hindered and His arm is not shortened that He cannot save, regardless of our "methodology". Countless multitudes of souls have been saved with and without invitations because it is God who does the saving by the power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Gospel, not us or our invitational methods.

 The reason I was thinking about the Lamb's Book of Life today has to do with a facebook post by R.C. Sproul earlier today, as follows:
 Ligonier Ministries FACEBOOK post:
When God writes our names in the 'Lamb's Book of Life' He doesn't do it with an eraser handy. He does it for eternity. - R.C. Sproul
The comment thread was getting longer and longer, and I noticed no one seemed to mention what Scripture says about this, but only made comments about Revelation 3:5 and whether or not we can be blotted out of the Book.  So I put my two cents worth in (a metaphor for "my opinion", for those International readers  that may not be familiar with American English "figures of speech").  The following is my response on Ligonier's thread:
Actually, our names aren't written in the Lamb's Book of Life when we're saved, they're already there from before the foundation of the world... Rev.13:3 (NASB) speaks of "those whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb", and Rev.17:8 (ESV if you prefer) speaks of those "whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world" the names of the elect are already there, which coincides with Ephesians Chapter 1, Romans Chapter 8, etc., and the promise is that they will never be blotted out in Rev. 3:5, because cities in that day would blot out or purge the names of undesirables from their city register...the promise is that this will not happen to us who are secure in Christ...
Arthur W. Pink's last words before he died in 1952 were:  
So in summary, according to Scripture (and Scripture is our only Authority), the Elect's names are already written in the Lamb's Book of Life before the foundation of the world and will never be blotted out.  

But you might say "then what's the use for me, if I'm not elect, I don't have a chance. "
Well, I'm glad you asked!
John 1:12-13 (ESV) says

But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
and Revelation 22:17 says  The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.
So if you're not sure of your salvation, or if you know you're not saved, and if you are being convicted and drawn by His Spirit, if you will humble yourself, cry out to Him and sincerely surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in repentance and faith, you will find that your name has already been written in the Lamb's Book of Life.  
But if you continue to reject the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, you will one day (perhaps judgement day) see that your sins remain on yourself, and that your name is not in the Book.  How tragic that would be...

Friday, April 8, 2011

ANGOLA, the ALCATRAZ of the South, Transformed by the Power of the Gospel

Why is this a topic for my blog today?  I'm glad you asked!

I was talking to my friend Randy this morning, and he was sharing with me how our friend Barry's brother, a Pastor who routinely preaches at Angola State Penitentiary met Dr. John MacArthur while MacArthur was preaching there on Tuesday of this week.  He said MacArthur was so down-to-earth, and mingled with and talked with them in a most humble manner, unlike some of the well-known preachers of our day.  John Piper has also preached there, and held question and answer sessions at Angola in recent years which I have listened to on MP3 that can be found online. The level of spiritual maturity and theological understanding in the inmates' questions was nothing less than amazing. I googled MacArthur and Angola, and didn't find anything on it, but came across these videos.  I was so moved by what I saw and heard, I wanted to share it with my friends on this blog. 
"ANGOLA", aka The Louisiana State Penitentiary (LSP), has been nicknamed "ALCATRAZ OF THE SOUTH". If you are viewing this blog from outside the U.S.A., you may not be familiar with either of these two prisons where the worst of the worst, most violent of the violent, and the baddest of the bad have been sent for life sentences, as well as executions.  Men on Death Row, and the Exection Chamber are housed at Angola.  For decades, in fact since the 1800's ANGOLA has been a word that strikes fear in the heart of criminals, as well as average citizens.  It is the largest maximum security prison in the United States of America.  For those of us who live in Louisiana, we are very familiar with its reputation for violence, murder, riots, etc..  As Louisiana teenagers we were occasionally warned that we might end up in Angola if we broke the law, which seemed to be just about as scary as telling us we would wind up in hell.  As a truckdriver in the 1980's, as I would drive by the signs pointing to Angola near St. Francisville on the way to Baton Rouge, I used to get an eerie feeling, and would be looking all around for escaped prisoners.

Angola is surrounded on 3 sides by the mighty Mississippi River, and consists of  18,000 acres of what was once plantation land.  Wardens have been historically fired every 4 or 5 years due to their inability to keep the violence down.  But that was until Burl Cain became Warden in 1995, answering a call from God!  He is still there, and is the longest standing Warden in LSP history.  Cain is a Christian, started Bible studies with the prisoners and guards shortly after arriving as Warden, and offers Seminary training through New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary for the inmates. 

I invite you to watch both of these videos, and prepare to be amazed by the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

You may be tempted to think "How could those murderers, rapists, thieves, etc. be truly converted, changed, saved, etc..  However, for those of us who have been Redeemed by the Blood of the Lamb, we need to be reminded of who we once were as enemies of God, until we were saved by His Glorious Grace through Faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.  We also need to realize that except for the Grace of God, we could have and should have all been in there serving time with them.  Furthermore, we all could have been and should have been sent straight to Hell, but for His Grace and Mercy.  As that old hymn says:

Amazing Grace how sweet the sound, 

And in the words of another old Southern Gospel Song entitled "Yes I Know":

Come ye sinners, lost and lonely;
Jesus' blood can make you free!
For He saved the worst among you,
When He saved a wretch like ME.

And I know, yes I know;
Jesus' blood can make the vilest sinner clean!

And I know, yes I know;
Jesus' blood can make the vilest sinner clean!

Maybe you're not sure about your own salvation, or maybe you're wondering if God could save someone as bad as you.  Or perhaps you're thinking since you don't see yourself as bad as those guys in Angola that you are alright with God.  Either way, I'd love to discuss it with you.

Please leave comments or questions below.  You can use the "anonymous" label while commenting and either leave your name or remain anonymous if you don't want to log in.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

William Carey's "business" was to proclaim the Gospel!

William Carey, often called the "Founder of Modern Missions" was a minister, school-master, and a cobbler or shoe maker by trade before he left England to begin mission work in India. While still in England, he used to go about from village to village proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people.
One day a friend reportedly came to him and said,
"I want to speak to you very seriously."

"Well," said Carey, "What is it?"
His friend said, "By your going about talking to people as you do you're neglecting your business. If you only attended to making shoes more than you do, you would have a better business and could prosper far better than you are. But as it is you are simply neglecting your business."
To which Carey replied, "Neglecting my business? My business is to extend the Kingdom of God. I only cobble shoes to pay expenses!"
or as "Wholesome Words" website puts it, (click here)

"My real business is to preach the gospel and win lost souls. I cobble shoes to pay expenses."
Romans 10:13-15 (ESV)
13 For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

14 How then will they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in Him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?
15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the Good News!"