Written Down

Why bring it up here? The issue at hand isn’t doctrinal . . . it’s personal . . . fact is, there’s some tension. Don’t know why they aren’t getting along . . . just that they aren’t . . . and it seems to be a big deal . . . big enough for the Spirit of God to move the apostle Paul to exhort these ladies to work it out and get aligned together in the Lord. But in the context of exhorting these ladies to get their act together, Paul mentions something . . . the Holy Spirit prompts Paul to include 8 words describing a characteristic of these ladies, and their fellow-workers . . . God breaths into His eternal Word a reminder of who these people are . . . and He does it right here. How come?

I entreat Euodia and I entreat Syntyche to agree in the Lord. Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.    (Philippians 4:2-3 ESV)

Euodia . . . Syntche . . . Paul . . . Paul’s “true companion” . . . Clement . . . the rest of Paul’s fellow workers . . . all of them, beyond being caught up in the drama at the church in Philippi, share something else in common. It’s something that you got to think should make a difference in the dynamic they are caught up in . . . it’s something that should put other things in context . . . it’s something that God, through His Spirit, through Paul, thinks is a factor in working through what’s going on between these warring women. That something? That their names are in the book of life . . . that their names are written down.

In Revelation it’s referred to as “the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). It is that heavenly document, written before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8), which contains the names of those called by God to be “a people for His own possession” (1Pet. 2:9). The book is not a just New Testament idea (note again, “before the foundation of the world”) . . . Moses knew about it (Exodus 32:32) . . . as did Isaiah (Isa. 4:3) and Daniel (Dan. 12:1). And in the context of this sister spat at Phillip, the Spirit felt it important that they be reminded of it, as well.

So easy for believers to focus on what’s different between them . . . to divide over minor doctrinal disputes . . . to pout and part because of preferences in practice . . . to develop a “righteous indignation” over things which have very little to do with righteousness.

And for those feuding family members, the Spirit says . . . Remember, your names are written down in the book of life . . . Refocus, on your eternal call . . . Recall the price paid for your redemption, the sacrifice made that you might know forgiveness . . . Rethink your position in light of Him who humbled Himself unto death, even death on a cross . . . all because your name is in the book of life . . . written in red by the blood of God the Son . . . sealed for eternity by the power of God the Spirit . . . determined before the world was formed to be loved by God the Father.

Rather than rag on one another, Paul says, “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice” (Php. 4:4). And the book reminds us that there is much to rejoice in . . .

Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.     – Jesus     (Luke 10:20 ESV)

It’s written down . . . my name is written down . . . in a book . . . in heaven . . . penned by the Father . . . owned by the Lamb . . . made real to us on the earth by the Spirit.

Has a way of putting a lot of things into context . . . doesn’t it?

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