John 3 Part Two: The Lamb’s Book of Life
The reference to Moses lifting up the brass serpent in the desert is recorded in Numbers 21. It is a story of rebellion and sin. This incident reveals: God’s judgment of sin by sending the fiery serpents whose bite brought death, for the wages of sin is death. It also reveals His grace and the role of faith. For by grace are you saved through faith. There is another important element which took place in this story, the people confessed their sins. They asked Moses to intercede for them and he does. God responds in grace and provides a solution and cure for the poisonous bite of the fiery serpents. God instructs Moses to make a brass serpent and put it on a pole and anyone who was bitten looked to the brass serpent and lived. This was the role of faith, as one looked in faith to the serpent to be healed, their faith in the promise of God made them whole.
Lifted up has two meanings regarding Jesus Christ. He was lifted up physically and literally on the cross at Calvary. And lifted up also means to be exalted and we read Jesus ascended up to third heaven and was exalted to the highest place of honor and glory and power. When we exalt Him with our lives, our testimony and actions, we lift Him up and draw men, women, boys and girls to Him. Jesus said he must be lifted up. We must be born again and Jesus must be lifted up, exalted. We are to continue to exalt Jesus today, even though it is becoming politically incorrect to do so, it must be done.
Now today and in every generation since the fall in the Garden we have a serpent problem. We have all been snake bit with sin, poisonous venom which leads to death unless we look to our ‘brass serpent’ the Lord Jesus Christ. Man has been trying to create his own solution to this problem since the fall. Adam and Eve tried to shift the blame and cover it themselves. Cain thought he had a better solution than God and wanted to deal with the problem his own way, which did not include the shedding of blood. God told Cain, his way was unacceptable. He also told Cain if he would do what was right, he would be accepted, but sin was crouching at his door and its desire was to have Cain. The only solution is to look to Jesus, lifted up on the cross, to save us from our sin, the poisonous bite of the serpent.
Today people still want to blame someone else for their problems. They want to cover it up. They say there is no problem, but 15 minutes of nightly news will tell us that is a lie. They want to rid themselves of guilt by redefining sin. But there is only one cure, one anti-venom, the blood of Jesus. By believing Jesus, looking to Him we will find redemption. We either live in obedience to God or in disobedience to God. Herein lies the problem with disobedience. Disobedience seems like more fun than obedience. Obedience appears more difficult, harder to do, and unpopular also. After all, disobedience represents the broad way and the wide gate which many enter in. It is a way which seems right to man, but ends in death. The way of obedience is a narrow way and a strait gate, few enter there. Why is it so hard to be good and so much fun to be bad? The fact that we have this attitude which asked this question is proof we have a sinful nature. That we have been deceived and believe the lie of the enemy, the deceiver and father of all lies.
The lie, a very subtle one, is God is withholding good things from you. That God is unfair, harsh and a “kill-joy.” Yet Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly. It is the enemy who steals and kills and destroys. The devil is the kill joy. Not surprising then, the first miracle Jesus performed was to turn water into wine, as symbol of joy. Jesus was literally the “life of the party” at the wedding in Cana. And Scripture tells us this: “The Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” (Psalm 84) To walk uprightly is to walk in obedience to God, the straight and narrow way which leads to eternal life. One of the symptoms of this deadly poison called sins, is to view God does not have your best interest in mind.
Here is what God sees and it makes Him weep. Jesus wept. Jesus cried out –‘O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets, how I longed to gather you as a mother hen would her chicks, but you would not. God sees what sin does. He sees the hurt in people’s lives, their pain, guilt, shame and worry. He sees the young girl who has believed the lie about sex and finds herself in an unwanted pregnancy then believes the lie of abortion and find herself guilty and ashamed. God sees the damage the lies and disobedience cause. He sees the damage of drugs, pornography, addictions, greed, oppression, violence, domestic abuse, fear, worry, anxiety and depression. He is not indifferent. He will go to the most extreme measure to cure the problem. God Himself because of His Love, will do something no one could have imagined. A love so amazing it prompted the song writer to write- ‘amazing love, how can it be, that God my Savior has died for me?
God sees the cause and the effect. And for this reason, God had a plan before the foundation of the earth, a solution to poisonous bite of the fiery serpent. Let’s break down the most well-known verse in the Bible, John 3: 16 into its 10 key words:
Now there are two other small words I want to mention briefly: for and so.
The word, for, is used by Jesus like the word, therefore, as he explains to Nicodemus why the Son of Man must be lifted up. The cross is a must be for salvation. The perfect sacrifice which takes away the sin of the world, which only Jesus Christ could achieve, for nothing can wash away our sins, but the blood of Jesus. The reason for this action is because of God’s love for the world. Paul tells us: “If God be for us, who can be against us? You will live forever with either God for you or against you. *THINK ABOUT THAT FOR A MOMENT. The little two letter word, so, speaks of the extent to which God would go because of this love. You can say to someone dear to you: I love you. Or you can add: I love you so much, words cannot convey how much… You could expand this verse to say- God loved the world so much, He gave His only begotten Son. The word so means in this manner or in this way. He demonstrated His love, in this way, that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. He did this so (in that way) He could forgive us of our sins.
This is why Jesus said, why you worry about life, food and clothing and run after the things the pagans do. Jesus said they seek after these things, but if you being God’s own children seek first His kingdom He will give you all these things. Obedience or disobedience. Choose the way you will go.
Now let’s pair these 10 words into 5 pairs and you will see God has thought of everything, provided the whole world with a solution for our problem.
- God and Son. The giver and the gift. The greatest gift ever. The gift of God to the whole world. The greatest sacrifice ever. Jesus said if you knew the gift of God and who it is who controls this gift, you could ask Him and He would give it. For everyone who asks, receives. For by grace are you saved by faith and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God…
- Loveth and gave. God is love. And love always involves giving. Love sacrifices. Love is not self-seeking. Love is not easily angered. Love keeps no record of wrongs. You are a newborn babe with no past, only a future.
- World and whosoever. The offer of salvation, the forgiveness of sins, eternal life is offered and is available to the whole world- all 7 billion of its inhabitants. The offer is universal and all inclusive. It is not only universal, it is individual. Whosoever is the blank space in the Lamb’s Book of Life reserved for you, where the Lamb Himself wants to write your name in with His blood. Once your name is written in this Book, it can never be blotted out. At the Great White Throne, the lost are those whose name was not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. They will be judged for their sins and sent into eternity because their name never was recorded in the blank space the Lamb wanted to write it, he wanted to gather you- but you would not.
- Believeth and have. God extends His Hand, His arms are open wide. He stands at the top of the ladder and bids you to come up to Him. He knocks at the door of your heart. He revealed Himself to you in creation, night after night His voice went forth. Everyone everywhere understood it. Their consciences bear witness to right and wrong. He has extended His hand to you with the gift of salvation. When you reach up with the hand of faith and accept- the transfer is completed. Believe and receive, then you have it and it will never be taken from you.
- Perish and life. These two words could not be more opposite. They represent the two ways. Two eternities. The broad way ends in death, which is hell, eternal separation from God. Heaven, eternal life in the presence of the Lord Jesus in a place He has prepared for us. Because He is for us.
God is not indifferent. God is not a harsh judge who takes pleasure in the death of the wicked. He is not willing that any should perish, but all would come to repentance. God is not unfair. He is love, just, holy, merciful and kind.
Let’s turn our thoughts toward a great passage of Scripture in Romans 8. It begins and ends with the greatest of news, of conditions which you can experience as a believer, one whose name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
Listen how it starts: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus, the law of the Spirit of life, set me free from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8: 1&2)
Then there is this other wonderful passage and promise: “And we know that God works all things together for good for those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8: 28)
And so Paul begins a conclusion: “What then, shall we say in response to all of this: If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all- how will he not also along with Him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring charge against us? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? Christ Jesus, who died – more than that, who was raised to life and is at the right hand of God, is interceding also for us. Who will separate us from the love of God? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger of sword? As it is written: For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered sheep to be slaughtered. No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If you are a believer, a child of God, God is for you. He is on your side. He is not against you. He whispers in your ear or shouts above the noise of the life’s storms, Fear Not I am with you.
If God is not for you- He is against you. You should be afraid, very afraid.
Paul has brought us a logical conclusion. Since God has given up His only Son for us. Why would we expect Him to not give us what we need?
Paul has told us in this one chapter of Romans 8: there is therefore now no condemnation of those in Christ Jesus. He says we have been set free from the law of Sin and Death by the higher law, the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus.
He tells us He is working all things together for good for those of us who love Him.
The enemy means it for evil, but God will use it for good.
Then Paul concludes by giving us clear logic and the assurance there is nothing, absolutely nothing in this world , seen or unseen, present or future which can separate us from the love of God.
So why am I worried and fearful? Because we doubt His promises.
“All things work for our good; though sometimes we don’t see how they could.
Struggles that break our hearts in two, sometimes blind us to the truth. Our Father know what’s best for us, His ways are not our own. So when the pathway grows dim, and you just don’t see Him, remember you are never alone.
God is too wise, to be mistaken. He is too good to be unkind. So when you can’t see His plan; when you can’t trace His hand, Trust His heart.
He sees the master plan; He holds the future in his hand. So don’t live as those who have no hope. All our hope is found in Him. We see the present clearly. He sees the first and last. And like a tapestry He is weaving you and me. To someday be like him. He alone is faithful and true. He along knows what is best for you.”
The prodigal son believed disobedience was more fun than obedience. So he was lured to the wide gate, the popular gate, and the wide way which many entered. Sin is pleasurable for a season. Wine sparkles in the cup but in the end stings like a snake. Off we go out from under the rules of our parents to do what is right in our own eyes. The enemy wants to lead you away from the destiny God has for your life.
The enemy wants to steal the wayward lamb from the Good Shepherd. He goes about like a lion seeking whom he may devour. A thief, a murderer, the father of all lies, the deceive, the destroyers.
But our True Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus, us unlike the elder brother in the parable. He left home to go to far country to find his younger brother and bring him home, like the lost lamb. God the Father and the household of heaven, rejoiced when you and I were found.
A feast is being prepared for us now, a robe has been given, the sandals of the Gospel have been put on our feet and we the ring on our finger, which represents power and authority. We are now in the Kingdom of God.
And God if for us—- who or what can be against us? Nothing Paul says emphatically and completely can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus. There is therefore now no condemnation. You have been set free.
Is your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? If it is nothing can blot it out.