Monday, June 8, 2015

The Book of Life

And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
-Revelation 20:15

There was a great loss last week in my church family.  Our music minister had a daughter who was autistic and suffered from seizures as well.  Last Tuesday while taking a shower, she suffered a seizure, fell down, blocked the drain, and drowned.  She was only 22 years old and was getting ready to graduate from high school and move on to whatever adult life her parents had planned for her.

It’s a hard loss to take.  And I did not know her all that well.  She seemed to be content with her life as a whole, save when a seizure took hold of her (I’d see it twice and it always seemed to make her distraught).

And then, being a church family, you begin to wonder about her state of grace.  Was she truly in God’s hands now?  It is a hard thing to consider, given we many of us Christians know about salvation and what most of us agree on: that by accepting Jesus you are saved and brought into His paradise.

But then you wonder about those who can’t acknowledge this by word of mouth or by their actions due to innate inabilities or due to lack of knowledge of the Gospel.  I’m sure there have been pages upon pages written about this.

I had a friend in high school who claimed that he didn’t believe in God because of all the people who are now apparently in Hell due to the lack of knowledge of Him.  I suspect this was a rationalization for him due to his hatred of his father for being a strict Seventh-Day Adventist, but it was a rationalization I was not wise enough at the time to counter.

In recent years, though, I have come to the conclusion that we cannot ascertain the contents of the book of life for ourselves and that only God and His Son truly know.  This is not to say that we cannot discern when people are definitely with Jesus when they pass on.  But at the same time, there will always be a slight doubt as to the nature of those who have died and their state of salvation.

This young woman who died recently is probably with Jesus now.  But I don’t know for certain any more than I know whether or not my grandfathers are or my great-grandmothers are.  Because ultimately it is God who judges the dead and He has their names written in a book nobody has access to (as far as I know).

I have trouble with Christians who like to tell people that they are going to Hell if they don’t follow God.  Yes, it is true and pretty much explicitly stated in the Bible, but ultimately you do not know what God has written in the book of life.  A more accurate statement would be to tell people that sin is an affront to God and that it probably isn’t a good idea to piss Him off.

It is a hard thing, I think, for many Christians to accept that their salvation is ultimately up to God.  Especially in this modern age where we, like sophomoric teenagers, claim to know all there is to know about Life, God, and the Spirit World.  Our pride in being “saved” has blinded many of us into thinking that we are on the list.

But we don’t know that for certain.  It is best to act in a manner that reflects this uncertainty lest we outright damn ourselves in our hubris.