This last week, I have been discussing conflict. I have dealt with where conflict occurs (Part 1), why we need to get rid of conflict (Part 2), and I gave 8 ways to get rid of conflict (Part 3). In this last post, I want to provide you with encouragement.
Conflict Doesn’t Mean We Will Lose Our Salvation
We know that conflict is going to happen. We are sinners, who will disagree and argue with each other. Just because conflict is going to happen doesn’t mean that we should not deal with it. We have already seen that we should. Even though conflict is going to occur, it’s occurrence doesn’t mean we will lose our salvation.
In other words, we don’t have to be perfect. Notice at the end of in verse 3 Paul tells us that these two women’s names are in the book of life.
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.
What is the book of life, how do we get our names in it, and what does the existence of the book tell us?
First, what is the book of life?
You all have seen the cartoons where Peter is standing at the Pearly Gates as people come to enter heaven. What is normally before him is a book. In the cartoon, the book acts like a guest list to a party. If your name is on the list, then you are in. If it is not, well, you are excluded. While the cartoon’s depiction of Peter standing at the Pearly Gates checking to see if your name is in the book of life is probably not how it happens, the book of life is a reality.
Revelation 20:11-15 says,
Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
From this text we learn that the book of life is a list of all those who will experience eternal life. If your name is in it, you will experience eternal life. If it is not, you will experience eternal damnation.
Second, how do we get our names in the book?
There are criteria that need to be met. We must believe in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior.
We must understand why Jesus came to die.
The reason He had to die is because we are all sinners. We all have rebelled against God. We have all turned our back on Him. None of us are righteous, not one of us. We can’t earn that righteousness. There are no amount of works that we can do to make ourselves righteous. The only way that we can be made righteous is through our belief in Jesus Christ.
We have to admit we are sinners, repent of our sins, and trust in Jesus Christ.
All those who believe that they are sinners and repent of that sin. All those who believe that Jesus by His sacrifice on the cross paid the price for our sins, and all those who confess that Jesus is their Savior, trusting that His sacrifice on the cross was sufficient to pay the price for their sins will be saved, their relationship with God will be restored, and they will experience eternal life.
All those who understand why Jesus came to die, admit they are sinners, repenting of that sin, and trust in Jesus Christ will have their names written in the book of life.
Third, what does the existence of the book tell us?
It tells us that once our name are written in the book of life, they are not removed. They are just as permanent as the words on the page in the Bible sitting on your shelf at home.
The permanence of our names is important to remember as we experience conflict with others, because conflict, or any other sin that we may commit as Christians, doesn’t remove our names from the Book of Life. God doesn’t have a cosmic eraser He takes to the page every time we mess up. In Christ our relationship is secure.
There are several reasons it is important for us to remember our names are permanently written in the book of life:
- It is important to remember so we don’t fall into a works based righteousness, thinking we have to do something to keep our names in the book.
- It is also important to remember so that we will not try to hide our conflict with others.
- Lastly, it is important to remember because this knowledge should free us up to admit our sin because we know that Christ has paid the price for our sins, and we know that our sins will not remove our names from the Book of Life.
So then the existence of the book creates a sense of permanence, which should keep us from acting self-righteously, and it should free us up to deal with our conflict head on.
Questions for Reflection
- Do you believe your name is written in ink in the Book of Life and cannot be removed?
- Have you ever thought conflict or other sins would remove your name from the book of life?
- Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Savior?
- Do you understand why He had to die in your place?
A helpful resource to consult would be: Pursuing Peace: A Christian Guide to Handling Conflicts by Robert Jones