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Lamb Slain Before the Foundation
"And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are
not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of
the world." (KJV)
There are actually two legitimate ways this passage of scripture can
be translated. One is as the KJV translated it; the other is as the New
American Standard Version translates it. It says, "And all who dwell on
the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from
the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been
slain." (Rev. 13:8 NASB) The questions is, which was done "from the foundation
of the world?" Were the names written in the book of life, or was the Lamb
slain? Both ideas are supported elsewhere in scripture.
Rev. 17:8 supports the idea that the names that are in the Book of Life
were entered there before the foundation of the world. It says, "The beast
that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and
to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose
name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the
world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come."
1 Peter 1:19-20 supports the idea that before the foundation of the
world, the decision was made for Jesus, the spotless lamb to be slain.
It says, "but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless,
the blood of Christ.  For He was foreknown before the foundation of
the world, but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you." (NASB)
The NASB translation of this verse emphasizes WHO would benefit from
Jesus' death on the cross and the KJV translation emphasizes HOW God planned
to redeem those found in the Book of Life.
Since both thoughts occur elsewhere in scripture, let's take a moment
to think about both of them. First, think about what it means to be included
in the WHO.
This week I pulled several books on the atonement off my shelf to scan
their pages in preparation for this series of sermons. One of the books
was an old book. By old, I mean it was printed in 1903. Being a book lover,
I turned its thick pages with great reverence-partly because of its age,
but partly because the book is a classic and is held in high esteem by
students of theology. It is the Atonement of the Modern Mind, by James
Denney. I actually own two copies of the same book, one is a reprinted
version that contains the aforementioned book along with another of Denney's
books, but I choose this time to indulge myself and turn the pages of the
hundred-year-old book. I must have read the final words of this book seven
or eight times to let the import of their words sink in, this morning,
I'd like to read them to you:
"It is the goal of our life to be found in Him; but I cannot understand
the man who thinks it more profound to identify himself with Christ and
share in the work of redeeming the world, than to abandon himself to Christ
and share in the world's experience of being redeemed. And I am very sure
that in the New Testament the last is first and fundamental." (P. 159)
I doubt if a single week goes by at Lighthouse Baptist Church that we
don't talking about changing the world, which is just a different way of
saying what Denney called, "share in the work of redeeming the world,"-it
is the less profound of the two thoughts. The most profound, according
to Denney, is to "share in the world's experience of being redeemed." In
other words, nothing is more profound than being redeemed. Not even sharing
in the work of redemption. Take some time this afternoon to debate the
issue for yourself, but for now, just accept Denney's analysis. No thought
is more profound than the thought that Jesus redeems us.
He included me! God looked through eternity into time and purposed to
redeem me. My salvation isn't by accident, but by design. Ponder the profundity
of being redeemed. Ephes. 1:4 says "just as He chose us in Him before the
foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.
In love." (NASB) And Titus 1:2 says, "a faith and knowledge resting on
the hope of eternal life, which God, who does not lie, promised before
the beginning of time," (NIV) Before God took the "time" to create a single
thing, he purposed to "recreate" his creation that He knew would fall.
Your salvation isn't by accident. If before this moment you took it for
granted, don't do so from here on out!
Now, for a time, let's consider the HOW we are saved. Let's think for
a moment about the KJV rendering of the passage, God looked through eternity
into time and chose to die on the cross for our sins. 1 Peter 3:18 says,
"For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in
order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh,
but made alive in the spirit;" (NASB)
As we rejoice in our redemption, we need to reflect on the price that
Jesus paid for it. Andrew Murray wrote, It was in the BLOOD the Covenant
had its foundation and power. It is by THE BLOOD alone, that God and man
can be brought into covenant fellowship. That which had been foreshadowed
at the Gate of Eden, on Mount Ararat, on Moriah, and in Egypt was now confirmed
at the foot of Sinai, in a most solemn manner. Without BLOOD there could
be no access by sinful man to a Holy God." (The Power of the Blood of Jesus,
Jesus understood that He was the fulfillment of the blood covenant.
He said, "for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for
many for forgiveness of sins." (Matthew 26:28 NASB)
The author of Hebrews corroborates Jesus' role in the sacrificial system
Murray wrote about when he wrote, "and not through the blood of goats and
calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all,
having obtained eternal redemption.  For if the blood of goats and
bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled,
sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,  how much more will the blood
of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish
to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
(Hebrews 9:12-14 NASB)
This Hebrews passages also teaches that the difference between the sacrifices
of the Old Testament system and Jesus' sacrifice was that Jesus' sacrifice
was without blemish.
Paul agrees that Salvation comes through the shedding of Jesus' blood.
He wrote, In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness
of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, (Ephes. 1:7 NASB)
Today we celebrate the HOW of salvation. That God loved us enough that
He came and died for our sins. We celebrate that the decision to act was
made even before the world was created-it was pre-foundational.
And those of us who have experienced redemption personally, celebrate
that we are one of the WHO. One whose name is written in the book of life.
One who Ephes. 1:7 speaks of when it says, "In Him we have redemption through
His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of
His grace," (NASB)
Are you one of the WHO? Have you repented of your sins and surrendered
your life to His lordship? If not, will you do so today. Romans 10:13 says,
"for 'Whoever will call upon the NAME OF THE Lord WILL BE SAVED.'" (NASB)
Will you call upon His name today? Will you place your life in His hands
and surrender your will to His? In simple faith, give your life to Him,
and He will save you.