Some people have wondered whether every human being ever born has his name written in God’s “Book of Life” — or whether his name is written there only when he is “saved” or is on his way to salvation.
What, exactly, does the Bible say about this important subject?
We would want to make sure we are not among those people who are “not found written in the Book of Life and [will be] cast into the lake of fire,” after everyone will have been judged (Revelation 20:11-15).
How can we make sure that, instead, our name is among those “written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” and, having received everlasting life, we can enter the “holy city” — the New Jerusalem — to dwell there with God the Father and Jesus Christ forever (Revelation 21:27)?
Through the eyes of a “man after God’s own heart”
Israel’s King David, famous not only as a mighty warrior but especially as a “man after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22), was inspired by God to make this clear statement about God’s Book of Life:
For You [God] formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb. I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well. My frame was not hidden from You, when I was made in secret, and skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them (Psalm 139:13-16).
In his prayer to God, David affirms that, even before we are born — while we are still in our mother’s womb — God has already “fashioned” or stipulated in His “book” the number of days we will live. And since David is talking here about how God works in wondrous ways to shape a baby to give it life in a mother’s womb, the “book” he mentions cannot be anything but God’s Book of Life.
The Book of Life a registry book
As we explore more Bible passages, we will see that the “Book of Life” is some kind of spiritual registry book which records all who have ever been imparted human life. I believe that a merciful and generous God would include in that registry even those human fetuses that may have been aborted or may have been still-born. [Technically, a human fetus already has life. Although the fetus’ lungs do not function yet, the fetus “breathes” through the umbilical cord as a life-line, through the mother.]
Jesus told His disciples: “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits [demons] are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).
The apostle Paul also wrote: “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven…” (Hebrews 12:22-230. [See: Who Wrote the Letter to the Hebrews? What Happens to Man After Death? and Predestination.]
As the Bible verses (quoted above) mention, the Book of Life is obviously kept in heaven, and it is our names that are written there.
Does the Book of Life record all our deeds?
In Psalm 56:8 David tells God: “You number my wanderings [and did David ever wander from God’s “strait and narrow” many a time! — this besides his many wanderings as he was in flight from King Saul]; put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your Book?”
Is this Book here mentioned God’s Book of Life? Some say that this Book has some kind of “balance sheet” to weigh one’s bad deeds against one’s good deeds. The idea is that if one’s bad deeds outweigh one’s good deeds, then one is thrown into hell-fire; while one whose good deeds outweigh the bad, goes into God’s kingdom. However, it is more likely that our deeds are recorded in another Book of God: His “Book of Remembrance” (Malachi 3:16). [See: God’s “Book of Remembrance.”]
The only way into God’s kingdom is through Jesus Christ! He said: “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). It is through faith in Jesus that we are justified from sin, and as we receive His Holy Spirit, we are empowered to obey God’s commandments and do good works. [See: Transgressions Under the First Covenant, God’s Spirit and Obedience, The Law of Christ , and Saved for Good Works .]
John 5:26-29 shows that at His return Christ will judge that “those who have done good” (through the power of God’s Holy Spirit) will rise in “a resurrection of life” — everlasting life.
Christ’s Spirit in Jesus’ true disciples — and their obedience to God’s law — will identify them as being Jesus’ own people (Romans 8:9-11; Matthew 7:21-23). They will be with Christ at His return. [See: “I Never Knew You!”]
To set apart those whom God has chosen and “elected” for salvation in this present age, from those He will save later, it would seem likely that God would have some kind of annotation in His Book of Life to that effect. Since all people will be judged, sooner or later, “according to their works” (Revelation 20:13; 2 Corinthians 11:15; Proverbs 24:12) — these works will have to be recorded in God’s “Book of Remembrance.”
Revelation 17:8 shows that those who have not been “elected” since the foundation of the world to salvation do not have their names written in some kind of registry in the Book of Life listing those who are “called” to be “saints” in this age. [For more on God’s plan of saving everyone eventually, see: Predestination and This Is Not the Only Day of Salvation.]
Are wicked people also in the Book of Life?
As David was inspired to write in Psalm 139, all who have ever had life imparted to them — whether they turn out evil or good in their lifetime — have their names also written in God’s Book of Life. But, as with God’s elect, it would seem like God would have some annotation with their names to indicate they they have not yet been judged as to their ultimate salvation. As 1 Peter 4:17 says, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God [the Church of God], and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
While wicked people who are not called to salvation in this age will be destroyed at Christ’s return (Revelation 11:18; Isaiah 66:14-16; etc.), they will have their time of judgment after the initial 1,000-year reign of Christ with His saints. Revelation 20:5 assures: “But the rest of the dead [those not included in the resurrection to immortal life when Christ returns] did not live again until the thousand years were finished.”
The fact that God will let these unsaved people live again to be judged for their ultimate salvation shows that their names have somehow been kept in seemingly a separate registry in the Book of Life — separate from those “elect” who have been assured of everlasting life. The millions of the rebellious and stiff-necked people of Israel who have died in their sins have God’s promise to resurrect them to a physical life during which they will be judged as the “elect” of God had been judged, before they are. Ezekiel 37 describes that time of the resurrection of the “whole house of Israel” — and that after a long wait of over 1,000 years!
Revelation 20:12 tells about this judgment period: “And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books [Greek, biblia — which could include both the Bible and God’s “Book of Remembrance”] were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which are written in the books [the Bible and the Book of Remembrance].”
Judgment on the elect
Jesus Christ as “the Spirit” (compare with 2 Corinthians 3:17, and see: The Trinity Doctrine Reconsidered) speaks to His disciples who have the attitude like that of the members of the “Church at Sardis.” He tells them to repent of their dead works and to overcome them. Notice what their reward will be for overcoming:
“I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments [symbolic of righteousness], and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Revelation 3:1-5).
To those who overcome, Jesus promises that He will retain their name in, and not blot it out from, the Book of Life! Those others not among the “elect” now and will later have their time of judgment, but then will prove incorrigibly wicked, will have their name blotted out from the Book of Life. In the final judgment, “…anyone not found written in the Book of Life” will be “cast into the lake of fire,” which is the “second death” (Revelation 20:13-15). Their name already removed from the Book of Life, these incorrigibly wicked people will have no hope of ever being resurrected to life again.
A stern warning
In Revelation 22:18-19 we are warned: “For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, God will add to him the plagues that are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city [New Jerusalem], and from the things which are written in this book.”
In Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 God had earlier commanded His people not to add to or take from the word which He commanded them, so that they “may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”
Adding to and taking away from God’s Word — thus not taking The Whole Counsel of God (Acts 20:27) — somehow distorts the true message of God. It makes God out to be a liar! As Paul said, “Indeed let God be true but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4)!
Referring to entry into the “holy city,” Revelation 21:27 warns: “But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.”
God’s double hatred for lies
Proverbs 6:16-19 lists several things which God hates, seven things which are an abomination (hateful) to Him. Among this list are “a lying tongue” and “a false witness who speaks lies.” This shows that God doubly hates lies! Revelation 21:8 mentions “all liars” among those to be cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 22:15 lists among those who will not enter the holy city — those excluded from there — “Whoever Loves and Practices a Lie.”
In no stranger place do we find lies passed on as truth than in religion! Jesus warned that, in these our last days, “many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matthew 24:11) — through their false teachings (like presenting “false christs,” Verse 24; see: The True Christ and Beware of False Prophets). If not plain superstition, most religions espouse beliefs and practices that are a deceptive mix of truth (in harmony with God’s Word, John 17:17) and a lot of falsehood!
Those who teach lies about God had better heed the instruction in James 3:1 — “My brethren, let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter [perhaps double?] judgment.”
The ultimate liar
Deceptive lies that are now widespread throughout the world all trace their origin to Satan. Jesus calls him one who “speaks a lie….for he is a liar and the father of it [lie]” (John 8:44). Satan has stage-managed a colossal religious system of lies and sins whose allure has deceived the whole world. [See: “Your Eyes Will Be Opened!” and Where Did the Devil Come From?]
Like the “friends” of Job, many are trying to comfort the suffering and troubled ones in the world with a pack of lies! God told Eliphaz and his companions: “My wrath is aroused against you and your two friends, for you have not spoken of Me what is right, as My servant Job has” (Job 42:7).
The prophet Ezekiel condemns today’s religious leaders who lull people into a complacent, careless attitude by speaking lies to them (Ezekiel 13:1-9; 22:23-31).
Soon to appear on the scene — if not already here! — is a “man of sin,” “the son of perdition,” “the lawless one” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-9). He will come with Satan-backed “lying wonders” — miracles to deceive people into believing the lies which this man’s religious system has perpetuated.
This man and his religious system will deceive those who are perishing [not being saved by God now] because “they did not receive the love of truth, that they might be saved” (Verse 10). They, instead, will be so deluded “that they should believe the lie, that they may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (Verses 11-12).
Satan and his lies put away
At His return, Jesus will have Satan and his demons put away in some spiritual prison house. “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. He laid hold of the dragon, that serpent of old, who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years; and he cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set up a seal on him, so that he should deceive the nations no more till the thousand years were finished. But after these things he must be released for a little while” (Revelation 20:1-3). [See: Two Goats Together, especially the section titled “When will Satan be bound?” and Of Dungeons and Prisons.]
That done, Jesus and the glorified saints who will rule with Him (Revelation 5:10; 20:4, 6) will begin a worldwide “re-education” of all the mortal human beings who will survive the plagues as Jesus takes power over the nations (Isaiah 24:6; 6:11-13; Revelation 18; etc.; see: “The Next Chapter of History“). Satan will no longer broadcast his lies to all of humanity. Instead, only God’s true way will be taught. “Many people shall come and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain [symbolic of the kingdom] of the LORD. He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem” (Isaiah 2:3).
Thus the true knowledge of God will so spread into all the world during — and after — Christ’s initial 1,000-year reign that “…the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).
More names kept in the Book of Life
The true understanding of God’s Word — the Bible — will be taught by no less than its Author Himself, Jesus Christ, during His reign on earth. Along with the Bible, the Book of Life will be on the ready as a part of this judgment process (Revelation 20:12). Jesus pictured this in His message, in Matthew 25:31-46, as a process of separating the “sheep” [the righteous] from the “goats” [the wicked].
Those who fail to obey God’s way of love for God and for Christ’s brethren will show themselves to be “goats” and will have their names blotted out from the Book of Life. Hopefully only a very small minority of mankind will go the way of the “goats.” The vast majority, hopefully, will go the way of the “sheep” and will hear the King Jesus’ words: “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Verse 34).
Hold fast the truth!
Meanwhile, we live today where — as the apostle John had already seen happen many centuries ago — “many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). John also warns: “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is the deceiver and an antichrist. Look to yourselves, that we do not lose those things we worked for, but that we may receive a full reward” (2 John 7-8). [See: The True Christ, especially the box explaining 1 John 4:3, about “Christ coming in the flesh.”]
John charges us: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). The apostle Paul also exhorts us: “Test all things; hold fast what is good [and true!]” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
As this website has invited our readers all these months that we’ve been “on the air,” as it were, or “on line,” check out everything we — and all the others — teach against the only perfect standard of truth: God’s Word, the Holy Bible. “To the law and to the testimony [prophecy]! If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light [truth] in them” (Isaiah 8:20).
Let us use only God’s Word as the “plumb line” (Amos 7:8; Zechariah 4:10) to test whether our understanding, our teaching and our practice align with the true and perfect “vertical” that is God’s Word! Anything that does not line up with the the Bible is a lie — and a lie is a double abomination to God! Remember: no one can enter the “holy city,” New Jerusalem, who “causes an abomination or a lie” and who thus is not found “written in the Lamb’s Book of Life” (Revelation 21:27).
Pedro R. Meléndez, Jr.