The warning was stern, “Don’t let anyone take your passport out of your presence!” We were preparing for our first mission trip to Kenya and our pastor was counselling us on do’s and don’ts regarding travel to other countries. He emphatically explained to us that we must never let any official take our passport and leave the room without us. We came very close to that scenario happening to us in Lagos, Nigeria on a lay-over from Nairobi to Atlanta. We had to run to keep up with the airport authority who had taken our passports and began to move to another location. Since then, I have made a practice of carrying extra copies of my passport before embarking on an out of the country trip, in the event mine was ever lost or stolen.
My passport is a document that identifies who I am and where I abide. The U.S. Government records all my personal identification information and guarantees my citizenship in the U.S. My citizenship in the United States of America is assured to foreign governments by the seal our government has imprinted on my passport. My picture is on my passport thus anyone examining my credentials can clearly see it belongs to me. Each nation I attempt to enter will first confirm my identity and then stamp their seal on my passport when they accept my entrance. I am also required to fill out a form that acknowledges the dates I arrive and my departure as well as where I will be temporarily residing while in their nation. My passport subsequently becomes a record of my travels. One can get a good idea where I have been and what I have been doing during my life by looking at the stamps on my passport. It guarantees my entrance back into the United States upon my return from travels. It is a proven document that affirms the nation or “kingdom” in which I habitually dwell.
There have been instances when people have attempted to deceive a nation by using a counterfeit passport. They may have gained entrance into a foreign country if they had access to a good forgery, but it would never work for someone trying to enter the gates of heaven. All true believers have a “passport” record in heaven which is called the Book of Life. The Lord keeps an on-going record of those who have put their faith in the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus pledging their citizenship in the Kingdom of God. The first mention of this book which records the generations of the faithful is in Genesis 5:1. “This is the book (the written record, the history) of the generations of the offspring of Adam. When God created man, He made him in the likeness of God.”
The Bible mentions the Book of Moses, the Book of the Law and the Book of Life to name a few. It was important to the Lord to have a book (record) of the generations that have lived on the earth. Exodus 32:31-33 explains, “So Moses returned to the Lord, and said, Oh, these people have sinned a great sin and have made themselves gods of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—and if not, blot me, I pray You, out of Your book which You have written! But the Lord said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him [not you] out of My book.” AMPV.
Daniel saw the vision of the last days. He wrote, “At that time Michael (Archangel) will arise–the great Prince, defender of your people. That will be a time of great distress, unparalleled since nations first came into existence. When that time comes, your own people will be spared—all those whose names are found written in the Book (of Life).” Daniel 12:1. NJB. (Emphasis mine.) This Book of Life (our passport to heaven) is mentioned several times in the New Testament. Paul writes to the Philippian church, “And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life.” Philippians 4:3. NKJV.
I personally believe the Book of Acts is still being written through our lives. The Bible could not contain all the testimonies the original Apostles accomplished in their generation. Since then, others have followed in their footsteps continuing to preach and teach the Gospel of the Kingdom. It is of utmost importance for the present-day church to preach the same Gospel of the Kingdom that Christ taught. The Biblical truths from Genesis to Revelation are imperative teachings in order for the church to be the authentic Church that represents the Lord and His Kingdom. Otherwise, those believing in a false form of Christianity are simply a counterfeit and no counterfeits will gain entrance into the Kingdom of Heaven. (See also Revelation 20:12-15.)
The Apostle John was invited to heaven to see the end of the age, in order to warn the succeeding generations of the importance of persevering to the end. He saw the Lord in His resurrected form and wrote down the Lord’s instructions for the church. Revelation 3:2-6 expounds upon our need to hold tightly to the truth of the Gospel. It urges us to persevere through the onslaught of deception, immorality and complacency which constantly attacks a believer’s faith in the Lord.
“Rouse yourselves and keep awake, and strengthen and invigorate what remains and is on the point of dying; for I have not found a thing that you have done [any work of yours] meeting the requirement of My God or perfect in His sight. So call to mind the lessons you received and heard; continually lay them to heart and obey them, and repent. In case you will not rouse yourselves and keep awake and watch, I will come upon you like a thief, and you will not know or suspect at what hour I will come. Yet you still have a few [persons’] names in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes, and they are worthy and deserving. Thus shall he who conquers (is victorious) be clad in white garments, and I will not erase or blot out his name from the Book of Life; I will acknowledge him [as Mine] and I will confess his name openly before My Father and before His angels. He who is able to hear, let him listen to and heed what the [Holy] Spirit says to the assemblies (churches).” AMPV. (See also Psalm 69:28, Revelation 21:25-27).
The Lord charged His church with a very sobering statement! He declared that God has established a standard to which our “works” must conform and we have the obligation to “obey” the lessons He taught about the Kingdom. If not, our name can be blotted out of the Book of Life. He also said, however, that there are those who have kept the faith and are worthy and deserving. He promised them He would openly confess them before His Father and His angels in heaven. What about grace? Aren’t we saved by grace? Yes we are, but His grace is not a license to keep on sinning as the world sins. If the deeds of the church are the same as the world and continue unchanged, then the church has believed a false gospel. God’s grace is given to all who repent of their sins and confess Jesus as Savior and Lord. Grace, however, is not only our covering of righteousness, it is also the empowerment by the Holy Spirit to obtain victory over our sins. His grace enables us to consecrate our lives completely to the Lord. He expects us to become holy as He is holy. “[Live] as children of obedience [to God]; do not conform yourselves to the evil desires [that governed you] in your former ignorance [when you did not know the requirements of the Gospel], But as the One Who called you is holy, you yourselves also be holy in all your conduct and manner of living. For it is written, You shall be holy, for I am holy (Leviticus 11:44-45)…You must know (recognize) that you were redeemed (ransomed) from the useless (fruitless) way of living inherited by tradition from [your] forefathers, not with corruptible things [such as] silver and gold, but [you were purchased] with the precious blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:14-19. Emphasis mine. AMPV.
John 10:28 says no one can “snatch” us out of the Lord’s hand but it does not mean that we can’t choose to neglect the Gospel teaching and live the way we desire. When one rejects Gospel truths, they reject the Lord Himself. Esau surrendered his birthright to Jacob for a pot of stew. (See Genesis 25:29-34, Hebrews 12:16.) Verse 34 declares, “Thus Esau scorned his birthright as beneath his notice.” Hebrews 12:17 declares, “For you understand that later on, when he wanted [to regain title to] his inheritance of the blessing, he was rejected (disqualified and set aside), for he could find no opportunity to repair by repentance [what he had done, no chance to recall the choice he had made], although he sought for it carefully with [bitter] tears.” See Genesis 37:30-40. AMPV. We could never earn our salvation but we do have the ability to forfeit our inheritance in the Kingdom.
Our “work” is to surrender our will, our very lives to Him, allowing Him to work in us and through us whatever He desires. “Strive to live in peace with everybody and pursue that consecration and holiness without which no one will [ever] see the Lord. Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace…” Hebrews 12:14-17. (See entire chapter). AMPV. When our works of surrender cause us to completely consecrate ourselves to the Lord, we will bear the fruit of righteousness and our name will be permanently etched in the Book of Life. John 17:22-24 is part of Jesus’ prayer to His Father just before His death on the cross. “And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me…”.
I close with Paul’s prayer for the Ephesian church. “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come.” Ephesians 1:18-21. NKJV. Our salvation is not achieved by our works but His grace does not cover our negligence in regard to the Gospel. The only place of safety is to live in Him, and He in us. Our passion must be to know Him and to be known by Him. Our “passport” to glory will be secured by our dwelling in Him.