The Book of Life
The Book of Life
From the Holy Bible, how should the statement "The Book of Life" be understood?
First, definition is needed. "Book" is a relatively recent term to describe a record or other writing which was/is deemed important enough to be so preserved for present and future reference.
As is well known, the earliest known form of humanly organised record was clay tablets, fired to give 'permanence', followed by papyri made from various organic substance, or animal skins; into a flat easily marked surface using 'inks' of various sorts.
These are the 'common' and known methods historically, with carvings or 'hieroglyphic' text, such as the famous Rosetta Stone of Egypt, and occasionally other materials such as copper, as found in the "Dead Sea Scrolls".
However, here, we are concerned with the 'idea' of record; and one of the most important found in Scripture, as it pertains to all people who have ever lived since Adam! This point is made, because in the opinion of the writers there has been other 'Creation' prior to Adam, as is implicit in Gen. 1:1-2, see: The Age of the Earth Controversy:
It is clear that when Scripture refers to "the Book of Life", it is referring to a record, and/ or listing of people that are in, or not in its confines; and the term "Book" in this and some other cases can be understood as a metaphor for the Record Almighty God holds in His Domain/Being; the detail of which are His only.
The duration of this Record's existence is clearly stated in Revelation 13:8, as "from the foundation (correctly translated 'overthrow') of the world", and, that it is "the Book of Life of the Lamb"! The "Lamb" here is clearly in context referring to Jesus The Christ of Almighty God; and this statement in Scripture clearly says that His participation was/is elemental in the founding of "The Book of Life" from before Adam!
Why then is Jesus not mentioned in the Old Testament (OT), some may ask? Well the answer is, He is, especially so in Isaiah as the "suffering servant"; but also in many other places. The Pharisaic (Orthodox) Jews deny such, as to admit these texts as referring to Jesus undermines their current "Wisdom Writings" developed since approx. BC 200, and tabulated by AD 250, many of which define their 'messiah'. According to Prophecy they will not acknowledge Him until the events of Zech. 12:10, when they "look on Him whom they pierced"!
We know from the Bible that the Book of Life is referred to also in the New Testament (NT) prior to Revelation (Phil. 4:3), and that it refers to Christians (the Body of Christ); so that we know that at least two groups of people are included, Jews and Christians. It is the writers personal view that there are more included, such as the "Overcomers" of Revelation and some of the inhabitants of the Earth after the Great Tribulation, which is 1000 years at least prior to the "opening" of the Book of Life (Rev. 20:12-15).
There seem to be two main opinions understood or taught, as to how an individual has access to the Book of Life.
By inclusion, and exclusion:
Inclusion into the Body of Christ (becoming a Christian/Christ-one) is by an act of will by the individual. The same act of will stops exclusion from the Book of Life. These thoughts are triggered due to the fact that there are at least 2 groups of people who are raised to life prior to the Great White Throne Judgement of (Rev. 20:12), when the final Judgements are wrought, prior to the Second Death (Rev. 20:14).
As this definition has only been possible since Jesus' death and resurrection, and has gathered impetus since Paul's declaration at Acts 28:28, and is the final offering of Almighty God to His people the Jews, and latterly to all the Gentile Nations, it is clearly a powerful definition.
As Jesus said a number of times, "I come only to the lost sheep of Israel" (in His flesh at that time), and as Paul elucidated later as Apostle to the Gentiles, the Gospel of Christ is "the power of God unto Salvation" for the Jew first, and to the Gentile (Rom. 1:16). Since Acts 28:28, the Gospel message is sent to the Gentiles, and the Jew is no longer the first object due to their rejection, as shown in Acts 28:27.
This definition seems to be contrary to that of the OT, which shows in Ex. 32:32-35, that Moses was prepared to be blotted out of the Book of Life on behalf of the Children of Israel, because of their continual sinning; if God would allow it.
God replied that the sinner against Him, would be "blotted out of His Book", which He had written (past tense!). The fact of the past tense shows that ALL the people were written in the book, unless they were blotted out by God; this seems to show that in the OT there was an inclusion until sin was 'not covered', in the case of the Children of Israel, up to the change of the Administration/Dispensation.
As the Jews were/are an example for all Creation to observe, is the case still the same for all the Gentile peoples since the offer of the Salvation of Christ was extended to them from Acts 28:28 onwards? At that stage, the Roman Jews had just rejected Paul's preaching of Christ as Messiah, and His Gospel of the Kingdom and Salvation! Because of that rejection, together with all the other Synagogues that Paul and others had visited, the Jewish people were "put to one side" and made "Lo-Ammi", which will remain so until they are readopted by Jehovah God! See: The position of the Jews in Scripture, Old and New Testaments.
So in light of the above, is it still the case that all are included in the Book of Life until they rebel against God? It is important to see and know, that the conditions that prevailed for the Jews re. Sacrifices for sin etc. and detailed in particularly Deut; were closed at the inception of John the Baptist, and his ministry as the "for-runner" to Jesus!
Jesus confirmed that "the Law and the prophets were until John", Luke 16:16 & Matt. 11:13.
So, conditions have changed since Acts 28:28! The sin question once temporarily nullified by the blood sacrifice of animals no longer prevails for the Jews, and only ever applied to them anyway!
However, since the declaration by Paul at Acts 28:28, all peoples are subject to the new condition; that of the Sacrifice of Jesus the Christ for Sin and sinning! See: Sin (Understanding of);
From the clear message of the NT, the Sacrifice of Jesus the Christ has taken the place of many sacrifices of animals, to be replaced by the once only Sacrifice of the Son of God, the 2nd Person of the Tripartite Entity (called the Trinity). He has taken the place of the many animal sacrifices; and by faith, any person can trust and believe Him; or deny and reject Him! It is a free will choice. The same free will was/is exerted by the Jews in their rejection of Christ Jesus 2000 years ago, and now!
So; at the present time Sin and sinning has been dealt with by the sacrifice of Jesus. Does that mean that all people now are included in the Book of Life? Opinion varies on this question; but one thing is certain, there is no Salvation, or eternal life, without the Sin and sinning of a person being Covered by Christ's Blood! That means that they must accept Him in truth, and want to be Washed clean. Some argue that God wants all people to live for eternity. That is true from Scripture, if it were possible. However; it is also clear from the Bible that many will not accept Christ, and that they want to be with, and worship Satan! They are to be destroyed as Scripture states; and rightly so!
Some also argue that only one sin is unforgivable, (Matt. 12:31); they then proceed to explain that this lets them through the net of sin. However, they misquote, and misunderstand, and in fact trap themselves; because in context Jesus is speaking about those who are against Himself, and the Holy Spirit!
The various destinations of the differing groups in The Book of Life are dependent as to the Age Category they lived in. The Jews are shown as resurrected at the end of the Great Tribulation, Dan. 12:1-3, some to everlasting life, some to everlasting shame and contempt!
The Body of Christ is to be raised/translated prior to or at some time during the 3½ year Tribulation on the Jews; it is true to say that there are many opinions as to timing, and one possibility is simultaneously with the rescue of remnant Israel, and prior to the Tribulation imposed on the Gentiles by Almighty God, (see Joel). However, as Paul stated, Christians will be then "ever with the Lord". There are other categories, but the one nobody would wish to be in is Rev. 20:15; because they are cast into the "Lake of Fire", because they are not written in the Book of Life!
There are 3 main views regarding the outcome of the "Great White Throne Judgement of Rev. 20:11-15.
1) Only believers in Christ Jesus' Calvary Sacrifice for Sin, are saved to Christ's Body for Eternity. Those that do not are destined for No. 3 below.
2) God wishes all people to be saved no matter what their lives and hearts were like in life. This discounts what the Bible says in Rev. 20.
3) At the judgement of Rev. 20, God decides the outcome of a person's life by examination "of all their works" V.12; as determined by the "Books" containing their records. They also have to enter the criterion of Exodus 32:33!
This third possibility has exercised the mind and hearts of the writers for many years, and they now think it very possibly valid, as it overcomes many problems of 1 and 2 above, and incorporates many peoples who have never had Christ presented to them; and the Carte-Blanch of option 2.
We have been moved by the words of our Lord re. 'His Father's House'; (John 14:2). The word "mansions", is accurately "abiding places". This shows that we do not all go to one place of abode, but many!
It is our view that all people are in the “Book of Life” from the moment they are born, or even earlier, at conception, in this present Creation. In the case of the unborn, such as still born or aborted, those too! Only if a person is against God in One of His Dispensations (Age Times; Administrations), does He remove them, as His statement in Exodus 32:33.
As the whole of the Earthly life is a prelude to one of eternity; God would not want anybody with Him in any of His mansions as (domains or division) who did not want to be there; or who did not love Him for His great Salvation in Christ Jesus, as is the condition since Acts 2, and Acts 28:28!
See also: Hell; & Hell's Punishment?
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SUBJECTS GROUPED or