Is Your Name in the Book of Life?
Several Bible verses speak of a "book of life." What is this book? Why does God need it? Is your name in it?
By Jerold W. Aust
*One addition made by BICOG
The Israelites had sinned grievously! While Moses was on Mt. Sinai receiving Instructions from God, the Israelites made a golden calf and began to worship it. When Moses returned, he was shocked at what he saw. He knew God would be well within His rights to wipe out the entire sinful nation!
The entire sinful nation! So Moses begged God to forgive Israel:
"Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, 'Oh, these people have sinned a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin - but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written '" (Exodus 32:31-32).
Moses boldly approached his Maker, asking to have his own name blotted out of Godís "book" if God would not forgive Israel their sin of idolatry!
The Bible alludes to this "book" - the book of life - on only a few occasions. But the book of life does exist, and it is vitally important to you! Having one's name in the book of life is so important that Moses used this as a kind of bargaining point with God for Israel.
What is this book? Why would the all-knowing God need it? Is it like some spiritual computer system, containing the names of God's people? Is your name now written in it? How can you know? And if your name is there, what is the risk of it actually being blotted out, as Moses asked for his name to be if God would not forgive Israel?
Why the book of life?
God is a God of order and structure. He gives us physical figures and patterns for things that are found in the spiritual or heavenly realm (Hebrews 9:9, 23). These types help us understand God and see what He wants us to do. This leads us to what God's book of life is.
First, understand that the phrase book of life cannot simply refer to the Bible. Revelation 22:19 shows that these two books are separate: "If anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy [the Bible], God shall take away his part from the Book of Life."
Obviously, all the people who will be born into God's Family do not have their names written in the Bible. There must be another, separate book - the book of life.
Many ancient societies kept extensive genealogical records and registered citizens for different purposes (Nehemiah 7:5, 64, 12:22-23). In the same way, the fact that God has a book of life shows that God is aware of all His creation, particularly those people with whom He is specially working.
But God holds all power and knowledge, doesn't He? So why would He need a book of life to keep track of His saints?
Well, it's not altogether a question of need - it's a matter of planning. God does so for our benefit. He knows it is easy for us to identify with the idea of a record book, kept up to date with our names in it. Having a book of life for His faithful saints offers us encouragement and security.
Paul wrote that the Christians in Philippi should "help these women . . . and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life" (Philippians 4:3). "For our citizenship is in heaven," he explained (Philippians 3:20). You can be sure these Christians were encouraged by this acknowledgment.
And so should we be! The book of life is indeed a kind of register book of those who are begotten as future citizens of the Kingdom of God. Luke 10:20 says their "names are written in heaven."
Those whose names are written in the book of life will be given eternal life and inherit this earth, the heavenly Jerusalem and ultimately the entire universe (Hebrews 12:23, Revelation 21:22- 27). But just whose names are written in the book of life now?
Who is now listed?
The Bible is clear on whose names are now written in the book of life. The book contains the names of "the general assembly and church of the firstborn [begotten]" (Hebrews 12:23).
This includes all the members, down to our time, of the New Testament Church of God, which began in A.D. 31 with the pouring out of God's Holy Spirit. It also includes all the holy men and women of Old Testament times (Hebrews 11: 13-16).
Such heroes of faith as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Deborah, David and the prophets have their names written in the book of life. Human beings in the forthcoming millennial rule of Christ will also have their names in it (Isaiah 4:3).
And beyond the Millennium, in the period the Bible calls the White Throne Judgment, the vast majority of humanity, who will be resurrected and have their minds open to God's truth, will have their names written in the book of life (Revelation 20: I 1-12, Ezekiel 37:11-14).
What a loving, wonderful, sharing God to give us all the opportunity to become members of His very Family!
But what of you? How can your name be written in this book of life?
How can your name be entered?
If you are one of the few people whom God is calling at this time - one of those through whom God is working to prepare for the wonderful world tomorrow - you can guarantee that your name is written in this divine book of registry by following some basic steps.
Overall, you must become an overcomer (Revelation 3 :21)! Overcome what? Every way contrary to God's law! Repent of sin, believe God, obey His commandments and endure to the end of this age. That is what the Christian life is all about. Let's look at these steps more closely:
∑ Repent. God requires His people to repent, or cease from their old, evil ways to instead follow His righteous ways (Acts 2:38). That's the first step. Ask God to help you repent, for repentance itself is a gift from God (Romans 2:4).
∑ Believe. God expects you to believe His promises. As Hebrews 11:6 says: "Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." Faith is also a gift from God (Ephesians 2:8). Ask God to help you believe His promises. He promises to help you replace your evil ways with His holy thoughts and actions (Hebrews 9:14).
∑ Obey. Step out and act on the truths God reveals to you. "Faith without works is dead," says James 2:26. Of course, no amount of your own works [not Godís works] can earn or in any way "qualify" you for salvation, but obedience to God's law [his works] is still a definite requirement [for salvation]. "For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments" (I John 5:3). Again, ask God to help you obey Him. He will!
∑ Endure. God desires and expects us to endure to the end, as His faithful Christian soldiers (Matthew 24:13, II Timothy 2:3).
This is how your name can be written in the book of life. At the resurrection, God will be reminded of your faithfulness through His book of remembrance (Malachi 3:16) - the book of life.
But beware! Your name actually can be blotted out of the book of life!
Blotted out through sin
"He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, 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 3:5).
As we can see, it is possible to have our names blotted out of the book of life. But how?
Remember how Moses begged God to forgive Israel their sin of idolatry - or else to blot his name from the book of life? What a request! What a humble and loving attitude Moses had!
Moses knew that God's forgiveness of his sins and his continued obedience to God kept his name in the book of life. But he also knew - and we should, too - that ongoing, willful sinning removes one's name from this special book. Moses cared so much about Israel's welfare that he was willing to risk being blotted out of the book so that they might live to enter Canaan.
In this action Moses became a type of Jesus Christ, who was willing to give His own life to pay the penalty for man's sins - so that we all might have the opportunity for salvation!
"Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book," God told Moses (Exodus 32:33). This is perfect justice. Every one of us bears the responsibility for our own sins. "The soul who sins [willfully, refusing to repent] shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son" (Ezekiel 18:20).
Clearly, willful sin is the factor that causes one's name to be blotted out of the book of life!
Your name can be written in the book of life if you will humble yourself before Almighty God, repent of your sins and begin to obey Him totally according to all the instructions in His Word. Then, at Christ's Second Coming, if you endure until the end, God will give you the gift of eternal life!
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