The Book of Life

In Eastern religion, living and dying go on forever. This book is like a new "universe" coming.

With thanks to by Sam Storms Pastor, Author 16 Apr 2018

On several occasions in Scripture we come across references to something called “the book of life” or “the Lamb’s book of life.” What is it and why is it important that we know?

1. There was an Old Testament "book of life."

In the OT the “book (document) of life” (or its equivalents) was a register of the citizens of the theocratic community of Israel i.e. one "ruled by God" with males being circumcised at birth. To have one’s name written in the book of life implied the privilege of participation in the temporal blessings of his reign, while to be erased or blotted out of this book meant exclusion from those blessings. In other words, this book had reference to the rights of citizenship for the Jewish people.

“So Moses returned to the Lord and said, ‘Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will forgive their sin – but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.’ But the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book’” (Exod. 32:31-33; cf. Ps. 69:28; Isa. 4:3).

2. Not all of God's "books" are the Lamb's book of life.

The concept of a “book” was also used to portray God’s all-inclusive decree; i.e., the very days of one’s life are ordained and written in God’s “book” before one of them occurs:

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” (Ps. 139:16).

But this does not appear to be the same as the Lamb’s book of life.

There is also the notion of “books” of judgment in which are recorded men’s deeds. They serve as that by which or from which one shall be judged:

“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” (Rev. 20:12; cf. Dan. 7:10).

Again, however, this is not the same thing as believers having their names inscribed in the Lamb’s book of life from the foundation of the world.

3. The Lamb's book of life lists those who have been (and are to be) saved.

On most occasions where the Lamb’s book of life is mentioned it refers to the register of those who have been chosen for salvation from eternity past. It is not temporal or earthly blessings that are in view, but participation in the eternal kingdom of God as recipients of eternal life. For example:

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb. 12:22-23).

“But nothing unclean will ever enter it [the New Jerusalem on the New Earth], nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27).

4. Only the elect are written in this book.

It would appear from several texts that not all are written in this book, but only the elect (choice, fresh, young). In Revelation, the terminology of “earth dwellers” or “those that dwell on the earth” is a standard designation for non-believers. These are the ones who “worship” the Beast (Rev. 13:8a). They are the ones “whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain” (Rev. 13:8b). Thus it would appear that to be one whose name has been written down before the foundation of the world is simply another way of saying that he/she is elect (choice, fresh, young) (see Eph. 1:4).

5. Paul makes an important reference to this book in Philippians.

The Apostle Paul spoke of his co-workers as those “whose names are in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3): “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” (Phil. 4:2-3).

This appears to be the grounds on which he makes his appeal that they all learn to get along in love and unity, especially the two women in Philippi who were in some sort of conflict (Euodia and Syntyche). Those who are the objects of divine election, who, in spite of their deserving of damnation nevertheless have been sovereignly and graciously chosen by God to inherit eternal life, should respond to such an immeasurable blessing by doing everything they can to get along and to work in harmony for the sake of the gospel.

6. All the names written in the book of life were inscribed in eternity past.

We see this in Revelation 13:8 and Revelation 17:8.

“whose name has not been written in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain from the foundation of the world.” (Rev 13:8)

“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come” (Rev 17:8).

The first passage notes that the Lamb of God was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20) and that he was “delivered up [to die] by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23).

The second passage notes that the people who worship the beast do so because their names have not been written in the book of life. That is why they are deceived by the Beast.

7. You don't believe in Jesus in order to have your name written, but because your name has been written.

People often ask: “What must one do to have his/her name written down in the Lamb’s book of life?
The answer to the first question is, nothing.
Can someone whose name is not now written in the book do something, such as believe in Jesus, so that his/her name will be written in the book?”
The answer to the second question is, No. Names are inscribed in the book of life before the foundation of the world. This is by God’s sovereign and altogether gracious call, his foreknowledge of each one's future love for God, which only he can foresee. Romans 8:28
You don’t believe in Jesus in order that your name will be written in the book. You believe in Jesus because your name has already been written down in the book. To those who do not presently believe in Jesus, we seek to partner with God in revealing Jesus to them. If they repent and believe, it is because their names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world.

In other words, one does not have his/her name inscribed at some point in human history or as a result of anything he/she may do or believe. Belief in Jesus is the fruit of having one’s name inscribed in the book of life, not its cause.

8. God has not chosen to reveal to us the names written in the Lamb's book of life.

It is none of our business. We are not free to speculate about it. What he has revealed is the responsibility of each individual to love God and believe the gospel. If a person does not believe the gospel, he has no one to blame but himself. If he does believe the gospel, he has no one to praise but God.

Lastly, compared with having your name written down in heaven... everything else is next to nothing.

There was an event in the lives of the first-century followers of Jesus that brought this question very much into play. It’s found in Luke 10. There Jesus sent out 72 disciples, not apostles, but average followers like you and me. He told them to heal the sick and proclaim the presence of God’s kingdom. When they returned to Jesus to give him a report of what happened, we read this:

“The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!’ And he said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you’” (Luke 10:17-19).

I can understand why the disciples of Jesus were so excited and filled with joy. To exercise the authority of Jesus himself in subduing demonic spirits is a wonderful thing. But then Jesus said this:

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

Jesus isn’t saying it is wrong to rejoice that we have authority over demons. This is a standard way of speaking in biblical times. His point is that compared with having your name written down in heaven exercising authority over demons is next to nothing.


Some thoughts on Free Will

Wishin' and Hopin' and Thinkin' and Prayin', Planning, and Dreaming

How many decisions does the average person make per day?

According to that Google link 35,000 is the approximate answer.

If we live, say, 80 years, we make perhaps one billion decisions (35000*365*80), some days we make more, some days we make less.

Flashback to David's comments in Psalm 139
You comprehend my path and my lying down, And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue, But behold, O LORD, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, It is high, I cannot (attain) it.

Later in the Psalm he says

My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skilfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth (i.e. my mother's womb).
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand.

Dwelling on that last point, how many grains of sand on earth
currently brings up an approximate answer of 1018.

That's a little bit bigger than 109.

Currently, there are 8.0 billion people alive. Perhaps 17½ billion have passed away since Adam. With God's foreknowledge, yes we have a big God, his plans for each one fully makes allowance for each one having a free will.

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