The Lamb's book of Life
Here, quoted from the Modern King James Version of the Bible, are all of the passages of the Old and New Testaments that contain the words "the Book of Life" or "the Lamb's Book of Life":
Psa_69:28 Let them be blotted out of the Book of Life, and not be written with the righteous.
Php_4:3 And I also beg you, true yoke-fellow, help those women who labored in the gospel with me and with Clement, and others of my fellow-laborers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
Rev_3:5 The one who overcomes, this one will be clothed in white clothing. And I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Rev_13:8 And all dwelling on the earth will worship it, those whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain, from the foundation of the world.
Rev_17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to ascend out of the abyss and go into perdition. And those dwelling on the earth will marvel, those whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.
Rev_20:12 And I saw the dead, the small and the great, stand before God. And books were opened, and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Rev_20:15 And if anyone was not found having been written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the Lake of Fire.
Rev_21:27 And there shall in no way enter into it anything that defiles, or any making an abomination or a lie; but only those who are written in the Lamb's Book of Life.
Rev_22:19 And if anyone takes away from the Words of the Book of this prophecy, God will take away his part out of the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which have been written in this Book.
One other passage, Luke 10:20, says "Yet do not rejoice in this, that the evil spirits are subject to you, rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven," appears to be talking about the same writing, the Book of Life. To speculate otherwise is to create a new Book of Life that is not otherwise mentioned in Scripture.
The people of Old Testament times seemed to have had some awareness that God was keeping a record or a book. The writings are not expressly referred to as "The Book of Life." Rather there was an awareness tht Jehovah was an omniscient, omnipresent God. And yes, He was keeping some kind of a book. To wit,
Exo_32:32 "Yet now, if thou wilt forgive their sin--; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written. Exo_32:33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book. " Moses was the speaker in this passage.
Dan_12:1 "And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book."
Mal 3:16-18 "Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the LORD of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not. "
A Boolean search of the Old and New Testaments showed some other instances of "book," but the contexts of those passages showed readily that other books were being referred to, mostly the Old Law.
What can we learn about this book, from what has been written? Few sermons seem to have been written on this topic, or preached. Yet the Book of Life must be a vital topic, given the admonitions about our eternal destinies rides on inclusion in that book. At least two-thirds of the passages above pronounce an eternal curse upon anyone whose name is not written in this book. The topic bears examination. Questions to guiide our study:
1. Is having one's name written in the book of life synonomous with being saved-? All but three of the above explicit New Testament passages set "being saved" and having one's name written in the Book of Life as being equal.
Jesus while on this Earth spoke of but one pathway to Heaven. Matthew 7:13, 14 " Go in through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and many there are who go in through it. Because narrow is the gate and constricted is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. " Notice He speaks of THE gate and THE path. In John 14: 6 "Jesus said to him, I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by Me. " Again, one way, one truth, one life. To which other person did God ever give the authority to build a church, or to make commitments about who would be going to Heaven? No one. Rather Jesus declared that "All authority in Heaven and Earth has been given unto Me" Matthew 28: 18.
2. At what point does anyone have his or her name written in the book of life? Psalms 69:28 was about believers who kept the Old Law, because that was all they had at that time. If Luke 10: 20 is about having one's name written in the Book of Life, then those people were those who did Christ's will while He was upon this Earth, but before the Cross.
In the present age dispensation, the rest are those who at a minimum heard God's Word (Acts 2: 37), believed it (Mark 16:16; Acts 2: 37), repented of their sins (Acts 2: 38), confessed Jesus as Lord (Acts 8: 37; baptized in His name, Acts 2: 38), and were baptized in order to receive forgiveness of sins (Acts 2: 38; Acts 22:16; I Peter 3: 21).
In the book of Acts--which has the most of the examples of conversion of any book in the Bible--those who were spoken of as being saved, or rejoicing, or being glad, were those who had believed in Jesus and had been baptized. The page at http://www.dovercoc.org/Sermons/5steps.html is useful in summarizing the steps people took in the first century to obtain forgiveness of sins and to be added to the Lord's church. All believed and were baptized; in some instances, more detail about them hearing, repenting, or confessing Jesus as Lord is supplied. Acts 2: 37-38 comes the closest to giving the five steps in close proximity. " Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Act 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." That's four out of the five, with the remaining one (in the name of Jesus Christ") strongly implied. Did this amount to being saved? Acts 2: 40 "And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation."
It seems only a short inference to say that those who have reached baptism have had their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life, if the Lamb's Book of Life consists of those who have been saved. It's like if A=B, and B=C, then A=C. Previous passages about the number of pathways to Heaven have elimininated there being any possibilities of the existence of a D, E, F, or anything else.
3. Can one's name be taken away from the book of life, once it has been entered? The letters to the seven churches of Asia in the Revelation were written to Christians. They would not have been churches of those who had been added to the kingdom if they were not saved. Acts 2: 47--"And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." The saved are the church, and the church are the saved. God does the adding. He does not leave the adding to any human. And being saved and becoming a member of Christ's church are not separate steps. They occur at baptism. There exists no Scripture to suggest that being added to the church happens anywhere else but at the waters of baptism.
Revelation 3:5 comes directly after the works of seven congregations in Asia were evaluated by Jesus. Four of the seven were unsatisfactory to Jesus. Four of the seven were told to make immediate changes or their candlesticks would be removed. Their candlesticks represented the light that they were supposed to bring to the world. The condemnations and reassurances that were given, such as in Rev 3:4 "You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments. And they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy," show exceptions to a few individuals in those churches. And the reassurances are conditional. They will wear the white robes and walk with Jesus in Heaven if they continue in their good works. It is by our works that all will be judged (Revelation 20: 12; 13). These and other passages put a stake at the heart of Calvanism, which teaches that once a person is saved, he can never be lost.
4. If a name can be taken away from the book of life, who is authorized to do the taking? It has already been noted that all authority in Heaven and in Earth has been given to Jesus. There is no passage that gives anyone else the auothority to add to the Book of Life or to take anyone's name from it. The passage above at Revelation 3:5 and 22: 19 indicate that Jesus or God will do the taking away.
5. Will the book of life be the only record referred to at the judgment? or will other sources be examined? The passage at Revelation 20: 15 shows that the Book of Life and books of works will be used in the judgement. If a name is not found written in the Book of Life, the judgement is already over (Revelation 20: 15). This is consistent with Jesus' words in Mark 16: 16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. "
The book of deeds or works will be used to further explore how the Christian person lived. The parable of the talents (Matthew 25: 14 -30) and the parable of the minas in Luke 19:11 -27 comes into play here. How much did the Christian (whose name is already written in the Book of Life) do with what he had to work with? And doesn't this imply that there will be degrees of reward? or degrees of punishment, for those who never pass through Heaven's gates?
Variances in the degree of punishment is easier to verify in the scriptures than is degrees of reward. Luke 12:47 "And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes. Luk 12:48 But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more."
The scriptures that speak of Heavenly reward speak of "great reward". Mat_5:12 "Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." Mat_10:42 "And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Mat_16:27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Mar_9:41 "For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward". Luk_6:23 "Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy: for, behold, your reward is great in heaven: for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets." Luk_6:35 "But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil."
Perhaps a passage that broaches the topic of differences in reward most openly is Mat_10:41 "He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward."
Making it to Heaven at all--as they say, "Having a pup tent on the outskirts of the Holy City"--would still be a great reward. It certainly would be preferable to existing in eternity in the fires of Hell. But Jesus has somethig grand for those who persevere and make good use of their talents. From John 14: 1-4 " Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. " Jesus is preparing a mansion for you. He's working on it right now, if you have let Him put your name in the Book of Life. Have you done that?
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