An Exposition On The Book Of Life

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New International Version).

The book of life is known by most Christians to contain the names of saved people. The generality of Christians actually believe that names of people are written in the book of life after they become saved. Such people believe God is currently compiling names of people as they repent and get converted. Others believe that once a name is written in the book of life it can’t be removed again. What does the Bible teach about the book of life? What does the book of life contain? When was it written or compiled? Can names be removed from the book of life? What is the fate of those whose names are not written in the book of life? These are the questions this article seeks to answer, through a careful examination of the Scriptures.

The book of life, the Lamb’s book of life, the book of the living, or simply God’s book, as it’s variously called, is a divine record of all those who at one time experienced salvation through a faith relationship with God. It’s a divine register of all righteous people of all ages. Contrary to most people’s belief, the book of life is not something that’s currently being compiled by God, as people get saved. Most denominations believe that people’s names are being written down in the book of life as they give their life to Christ. That’s not what the Bible teaches. From the Scriptures, we learn that the book of life was compiled and written before the foundation of the world. Yes, before the creation of the world! God is not currently compiling a list of those who are being saved. Because God is omniscient, he knows from the beginning all those who would be saved, even before they were born, and had their names written down in his book of the saved, even before creation. We’re told in the Scriptures that those God foreknew would be saved, them he predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son. So, by God’s foreknowledge of who would be saved, the book of life was written before the foundation of the world. God chose his people before the foundation of the world, based on his foreknowledge of those who would believe and receive his Word. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning! God foreordained each person’s destiny based on his foreknowledge of their attitude towards his Word and their relationship with him.

Philippians 4:3 And I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life (NKJV).

Revelation 17:8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.

Exodus 32:31 So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.

Exodus 32:32 But now, please forgive their sin —but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

Daniel 12:1 “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people —everyone whose name is found written in the book —will be delivered.

Romans 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

Romans 8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.

Ephesians 1:3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.

Ephesians 1:4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love

Ephesians 1:5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will —

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

1 Peter 1:1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia,

1 Peter 1:2 who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through the sanctifying work of the Spirit, to be obedient to Jesus Christ and sprinkled with his blood: Grace and peace be yours in abundance.

Romans 9:10 Not only that, but Rebekah’s children were conceived at the same time by our father Isaac.

Romans 9:11 Yet, before the twins were born or had done anything good or bad —in order that God’s purpose in election might stand:

Romans 9:12 not by works but by him who calls —she was told, “The older will serve the younger.”

Romans 9:13 Just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

Jeremiah 1:4 The word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Jeremiah 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.”

Psalms 139:14 I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.

Psalms 139:15 My substance was not hid from you, when I was made in secret, and curiously worked in the lowest parts of the earth.

Psalms 139:16 Your eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in your book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them (AKJV).

Isaiah 46:9 Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,

Isaiah 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure (AKJV).

The Acts 15:18 Known to God are all his works from the beginning of the world (AKJV).

Thus, by divine foreknowledge, all those who would experience salvation were known by God before they ever came into existence, and their names were put down in the divine record of the living before a speck of dust was created. But, some people may experience salvation and walk with God for a while, and later backslide and reject the saving truth and the Lord they once embraced, to their own damnation. What happens to such people? Were their names ever in the book of life to begin with? The Scriptures actually make it clear that all those who would ever believe God and experience salvation, however briefly, had their names written in the book of life before the foundation of the world. Those who believed and later turned away from the truth and backslid, without coming back again to the faith, will have their names removed from the book of life. God is not presently inserting new names in the book of life (all names in it were written before the foundation of the world), but he is presently removing from the book of life names of believers who do not remain faithful to the end. Anyone who does not believe to the end will lose their salvation, and their names will be removed from the book of life as a result. Also, believers who deliberately and maliciously distort the word of God for personal gains (by removing from it or adding to it) will have their names removed from the book of life. Only those who believe and overcome to the end will have their names retained in the book of life.

Exodus 32:31 So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold.

Exodus 32:32 But now, please forgive their sin —but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”

Exodus 32:33 The LORD replied to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.

Exodus 32:34 Now go, lead the people to the place I spoke of, and my angel will go before you. However, when the time comes for me to punish, I will punish them for their sin.”

Psalms 69:21 They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst.

Psalms 69:22 May the table set before them become a snare; may it become retribution and a trap.

Psalms 69:23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever.

Psalms 69:24 Pour out your wrath on them; let your fierce anger overtake them.

Psalms 69:25 May their place be deserted; let there be no one to dwell in their tents.

Psalms 69:26 For they persecute those you wound and talk about the pain of those you hurt.

Psalms 69:27 Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation.

Psalms 69:28 May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.

Revelation 3:3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.

Revelation 3:4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy.

Revelation 3:5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.

Revelation 22:18 For I testify to every man that hears the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add to these things, God shall add to him the plagues that are written in this book:

Revelation 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book (AKJV).

What are the consequences of not having one’s name in the book of life, or of having one’s name removed from the book of life? Well, the Scriptures are clear about the fact that the eternal destiny of every soul is dependent on whether or not the person’s name is in the book of life at the end of the person’s life on earth. Those whose names are in the book of life (and remain there till the end) will not stand in judgement before God for sin, having escaped death and eternal damnation by their faith in Christ and steadfast belief in him. They will go straight to paradise at death, to await the resurrection of their bodies. Those whose names are not in the book of life (or were removed from it) will freely worship the beast (after the rapture) and be eternally damned. At death, all whose names are not in the book of life will go to hell, to await the second resurrection, when they will stand in judgement before God for their sins. At the final judgement, the book of life will be opened to see if the names of those standing in judgement are in it. All whose names are not in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. Thus, the fate of all whose names are not in the book of life is eternal destruction in the lake of fire.

St. John 5:24 “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.

St. John 5:25 Very truly I tell you, a time is coming and has now come when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God and those who hear will live.

St. John 5:26 For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself.

St. John 5:27 And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

St. John 5:28 “Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice

St. John 5:29 and come out —those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

St. John 3:14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,

St. John 3:15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”

St. John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

St. John 3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

St. John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Revelation 13:8 All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast —all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

Revelation 17:8 The beast, which you saw, once was, now is not, and yet will come up out of the Abyss and go to its destruction. The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.

Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what they had done.

Revelation 20:14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death.

Revelation 20:15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

Revelation 21:9 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues came to me and talked with me, saying, “Come, I will show you the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”

Revelation 21:10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God,

Revelation 21:11 having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, like a jasper stone, clear as crystal.

Revelation 21:12 Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

Revelation 21:13 three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west.

Revelation 21:14 Now the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and on them were the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

Revelation 21:22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.

Revelation 21:23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.

Revelation 21:24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it.

Revelation 21:25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there).

Revelation 21:26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it.

Revelation 21:27 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 (NKJV).

In conclusion, the book of life is a divine record of all those who had a faith relationship with God and thus experienced salvation at some point in their life. It is a divine register of the righteous of all ages. The book of life was written by God before the foundation of the world, based on God’s foreknowledge of those who would believe his Word and be saved, even before they were born. Thus, God is not currently writing down people’s names in his book as they repent and get converted. Even though names were written in the book of life before the foundation of the world, some people will have their names removed from the book of life in their lifetime. These are those who were once saved, but did not keep their faith in God to the end. Among believers, whoever doesn’t overcome till the end will have their names removed from he book of life. Those whose names remain in the book of life till the end will not appear before God for judgement for sins, having escaped the wrath of God, and being possessors of eternal life. These blessed souls will go to paradise at death, to await the resurrection of their bodies. Those whose names are not in the book of life will go to hell at death, and will come up in the second resurrection, to appear before God in judgement. Because their names are not in the book of life, they will be cast into the lake of fire, which is the second death. No wonder the Lord Jesus enjoined his disciples to rejoice, not because demons are subject to them, but because their names are written in heaven (in the book of life), for that is the guarantee of eternal life and eternal bliss.

St. Luke 10:17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”

St. Luke 10:18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.

St. Luke 10:19 I have given you authority to trample on snakes and scorpions and to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you.

St. Luke 10:20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Published by Dr. Ndubuisi Emmanuel Ojo

Dr Ojo is a Biblical scholar and teacher who believes firmly in the original Apostolic faith as the only authentic version of Christianity, and the only legitimate basis for Christian doctrine and conduct.

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