“At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book. “Daniel 12:1
So many people are under the illusion that they are “getting away” with all kinds of corrupt deeds and deceitful schemes, simply because they haven’t been “caught.” Others live secret lives in the shadows and presume that their shameful deeds remain hidden in the darkness. As long as evil deeds aren’t exposed, it is easy to assume they remained unknown.
But did you know that the true record of history and the record of our lives is being written down and will one day be made known to all? You see, there always is a record. A paper trail. A witness. No matter how hard a fugitive tries to cover his tracks, the law is always close on his heels, waiting for him to slip up.
It’s the young man deleting the history on his laptop to “erase” the pornography – but there is always a record. It’s the corrupt businessman who defrauds his clients for personal gain — there is always a record. It’s the spineless politician immersed in scandal and treason — there’s always an email. It’s the unfaithful husband erasing his text messages with another woman — the record is still there.
These examples serve as a sobering reminder that our actions have consequences and that God is not mocked. We will reap what we sow.
But what about corrupt and cruel people who never seem to get caught? What of the ones who “get away” — who never are brought to justice in this life? Why would a good and just God allow such a thing to happen?
Maybe we are looking at this all wrong. Our eternal reckoning far outweighs our temporary one, and the courts of heaven are far superior to human courts. We cannot forget the testimony of God’s word that reminds us how everything will be exposed and how everyone will give an account to God in the end.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.”Hebrews 4:12-13
My point is this.
Nobody really gets away with anything — ever!
You see there is a record being written of your life and mine. Just as sure as the emails, texts, calendars, posts, conversations, bank statements and business dealings tell the story of our lives, heaven is also keeping a record of our lives. And this record — being of eternal value — is supreme to the stories we like to invent about ourselves and portray to the world.
God’s record is perfect because He is both omniscient and omnipresent. His record is exhaustive. Every minute of every hour of every day is recorded in heaven. The words we speak, the things we do, and even the very thoughts and intentions of our hearts will be weighed before our Creator on that Day. For He knows us completely.
I am fully convinced that each of us has a book written in heaven with our name on it and by which we will be held accountable before God. As a matter of fact, I believe there is significant Scriptural evidence that there are different kinds of books on record in the heavenly repository that are used for different purposes.
And as we will see, the most essential of them all is the Lamb’s book of life.
Books In Heaven
Before we take a look at the book of life, it is worth noting that other heavenly scenes depict the opening of books — plural — especially as it pertains to judgment. This is why I believe there are other books besides the book of life. I will provide one Old one New Testament reference to demonstrate the Biblical idea of how heaven keeps records of our lives.
“As I looked, thrones were placed,Daniel 7:9-10
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.”
“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. 12And 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.Revelation 20:11-12
As you can see, presumably there are many books that will be used to publicly proclaim our personal record and pronounce judgments according to what we have done in this life. The Lord will also give rewards to the faithful according to what is written in the books.
THE BOOK OF LIFE
On the other hand, the Scriptures speak of the book of life in exclusive terms, which is why I believe the book of life is unique, as the most important book of all the records in heaven. What we discover is that in the end, the book of life only contains the names of the faithful, who have been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb — Jesus Christ.
From beginning to end the just shall live by faith, which means that the patriarchs and prophets believed in the promised Messiah looking forward in faith, while we are saved in the same way but by looking back on the finished work of Christ in faith.
The Testimony of Moses
So Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” 33But the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book.”[Exodus 32:31-32]
The Testimony of King David
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance;Psalm 139:16
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.“
“Pour out your indignation upon them,Psalm 69:24-28
and let your burning anger overtake them.
25May their camp be a desolation;
let no one dwell in their tents.
26For they persecute him whom you have struck down,
and they recount the pain of those you have wounded.
27Add to them punishment upon punishment;
may they have no acquittal from you.
28Let them be blotted out of the book of the living;let them not be enrolled among the righteous.“
Names will be Blotted Out
Both Moses and David describe the book of life as containing a roll of names that apparently have the potential to be blotted out — erased so to speak. There are several ways to look at this.
If our names are written in the book of life and enrolled with the righteous the moment we believe and are saved, then these verses seem to suggest that a believer can be blotted out, or removed, from the book of life. There are some serious theological and soteriological problems with this view on the basis of the eternal security of the believer.
There are legitimate arguments from different perspectives that would suggest that a person can deliberately forfeit his/her salvation and walk away from his/her relationship with Christ — what we would call apostasy — while others affirm that once a man is born again he cannot be “unborn,” nor can anyone snatch him out of the hand of God. In other words he is eternally secure.
I am of the persuasion that once a man is born again then nothing can separate him from the love of God in Christ Jesus [Romans 8:36-39], and he can believe the promise that God will bring to completion His great work of salvation in us on the Day of Christ Jesus [Philippians 1:6].
By taking into consideration the eternal security of the believer, I believe a better understanding of the book of life is that every name is written in the book of life from the beginning — demonstrating God’s desire that all men would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. In other words, the opportunity for salvation is made available to all mankind, but only those who exercise faith in Christ will be saved. The consequence of those who reject God’s free gift of eternal life and so perish in unbelief is that their names are effectively and ultimately blotted out of the book of life.
Jesus concludes as much in His teachings and in His letter to the church in Sardis.
And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you.20Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”Luke 10:18-20
“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.”Revelation 3:5
Testimony of the Prophets
“Then those who feared the LORD spoke with one another. The LORD paid attention and heard them, and a book of remembrance was written before him of those who feared the LORD and esteemed his name. 17“They shall be mine, says the LORD of hosts, in the day when I make up my treasured possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his son who serves him. 18Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him.”Malachi 3:16-18
“In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. 3And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 4when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.”Isaiah 4:2-4
This book of remembrance demonstrates the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who have been recorded for life in Jerusalem and those who will be cast out of the heavenly city.
The Lamb’s Book of Life
The Scriptures also qualify the book of life as the Lamb’s Book of Life. I often envision the names of all the saints permanently engraved in the precious blood of the Lamb, never to be blotted out. Our enteral destiny is directly dependent upon whether or not our names are found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.
“Also it (the Beast) was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.”Revelation 13:7-8
“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. 14Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.“
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God … But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.“Revelation 20:13-15, 21:10, 27
There is but one condition to have your name written in the Lamb’s Book of Life — faith in Jesus Christ. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in His only Son — the Lamb of God of takes aways the sins of the whole world.
Is your name in danger of being blotted out from this book? If not, would you trust Jesus Christ today and secure your place among the righteous?
In my next post, I will circle back around to how the resurrection of the dead is connected to the end of the age and the return of Christ in glory.