A crucial question
since “anyone not found written in the Book of Life
was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
As the Schofield Study Bible III puts it so chillingly:
“an awful blank where the name might have been”
That’s supposed to get our rapt attention! And our grateful response and action because God desires to save not only all Israel (Rom. 11:26) but all humans (1 Tim. 2:4).
The Book of Life is mentioned eight times in the New Testament, seven of those in the book of Revelation. That tells us that those of us in the end time need to know about it. This is literally a matter of life and death—of the eternal variety!
If we keep God’s Holy Day called Pentecost which will be Sunday, June 4, we know that God and the Word planned from the foundation of the world that comparatively few “firstfruits” are entered into the Book of Life up to the time of Jesus Christ returning and starting the Millennium. Barley harvest equals barely harvest.
Consider the few names honored in the Hall of Faith (Heb. 11). Note that after all the effort by the Son of God for 3-1/2 years, there were only about 120 disciples (Acts 1:15). The Great Shepherd leads only a “little flock” (Luke 12:32). Narrow and difficult is “the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matt. 7:14). The corollary result is few names being written into the Book of Life at this time.
In contrast, the great harvest takes place during the Millennium but especially during the Great White Throne Judgment.
Rev. 20:12 tells how: For the billions in this second resurrection, “books were opened”—the books of the Bible [greek biblion]. As Jesus Christ and His saints open the people’s minds to understand the Bible, another book—“the Book of Life”—is opened. The Book of Life had been closed while satan was deceiving many at the close of the Millennium. It is opened now, and this is when the pages really fill up!
The Book of Life is a different book than the Bible, as Rev. 22:19 confirms. Most of our names aren’t written in the Bible. How many Lazaruses, Mephibosheths and Sapphiras do you know!
When written into the Book of Life?
Short answer: When we receive the Holy Spirit.
It was on Pentecost when God fired up His Church by giving His Holy Spirit which is His power, essence, presence, nature, character and truth.
“Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His” (Rom. 8:9). Just as a human life starts at conception, so real spiritual life begins with conception—begettal—of the Holy Spirit. This is when the Holy Spirit, which is needed to understand the things of God, combines with our spirit in man which enables us to understand the things of man (1 Cor. 2:11). Not until we receive the Holy Spirit are we really living!
When the startled crowd cried out on Pentecost “what shall we do?”, Peter gave the process that is still the same for us today: repent, be baptized and you shall receive the Holy Spirit when the minister of God lays hands on you and asks God to grant it to you (Acts 2:38, 8:17).
Friends, family and brethren rejoice with you at your baptism but not as much as angels in heaven (Luke 15:10). Woo-hoo, get out the book!
This begins the process of being born again from above. This puts us into the spiritual Church of God and engages us to become the Bride of Jesus Christ. Having your name in this wedding book puts you on course to be not a guest but the Bride!
This writes our “citizenship in heaven” (Php. 3:20). The Church of God is “the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven” (Heb. 12:23). It sounds like the Book of Life is like a census record.
Paul said Clement and other fellow workers in the faith were written in the Book of Life (Php. 4:3). Paul knew about this crucial book.
So did Daniel. God told Daniel that at the end-time of trouble “such as never was … at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book” (12:1). “Your people” doesn’t refer to the Jews but to God’s people ready for the first resurrection, which included Daniel (verse 13).
Rev. 17:8 sounds as if names were written into the Book of Life before the foundation of the world. C’mon, God knowing about you by name before the heavens and earth were created? With this wrong notion, this verse would also be saying that many names were not written before they have even lived their life of good or evil? Bedrock principles of the Bible are impartiality and fairness of God and free moral agency.
Pentecost teaches that this verse is saying that from the foundation of the world God planned end-time events and determined that there would be some people in the Book of Life who would not wonder at the Beast.
Paul explains this in Eph. 1:9-14 (New Living Translation). ” God has now revealed to us his mysterious plan regarding Christ, a plan to fulfill his own good pleasure. And this is the plan: At the right time he will bring everything together under the authority of Christ—everything in heaven and on earth.” In verse 11 when Paul says “he chose us in advance, and he makes everything work out according to his plan,” in the next verses he talks about Jews and Gentiles as a group. From the foundation of the world, God and the Word planned that there would be Jews and Gentiles and some being written into His Book of Life. Where you come into play, Paul says “when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago.”
Luke 10:20 seems to not quite agree with the rest of the Bible that we are written in the Book of Life at baptism when we receive the Holy Spirit. The 70 Jesus sent out may have been baptized by John the Baptist but surely hadn’t received the Holy Spirit yet since the 12 disciples hadn’t yet either. Did Jesus judge they were an exception? Or is it a translation issue? The word “are” is not backed by a Greek word and perhaps should be “will.” The 70 were undoubtedly part of the 120 at Pentecost.
Rev. 21:27 gives the significant detail that while the Father and Jesus live and work together in perfect harmony and unity,
the Book of Life is the Lamb’s
Jesus came that “they may have life, and … have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
That’s why we firstfruits are being “redeemed from among men” because we “follow the Lamb wherever He goes” (Rev. 14:4). We commit to walking as He walked (1 John 2:6). We want His mind (Php. 2:5). We bring every thought into subjection to His obedience (2 Cor. 10:5). We overcome spiritual lethargy so we can be written into His Book of Life (Rev. 3:5).
Nothing is more important than cooperating with God
to add us to His Book of Life
now as a firstfruit and that we continue to be written into it. If we want that, we will want to keep His Holy Day called Pentecost June 4.