In the New Testament, and some verses in the Old Testament, we run into something known as the “Book of Life” a number times.
Below are the references for a few of them as well as a sentence or two about what the verses teach us about the Book of Life.
The Book of Life in the Bible
Psalms 69:27-28: The psalmist prays that the wicked will be “blotted out of the book of life.” Matthew Henry commented on these verses: “God shuts not out any from that righteousness; the gospel excludes none who do not, by unbelief, shut themselves out. But those who are proud and self-willed, so that they will not come into God's righteousness, shall have their doom accordingly; they themselves decide it.
Daniel 12:1: When describing a time of great distress, likely the End Times, Daniel mentions everyone who has their name in “the book . . . will be rescued.” The book here likely means the same Book of Life.
Luke 10:20: This verse speaks about names recorded in heaven. Although not using the explicit term “Book of Life,” it’s implied.
Philippians 4:3: Paul mentions those fellow workers who have shared the Gospel alongside him will have their names in the Book of Life.
Revelation 20:15: Anyone who does not have their name in the book of life during the End Days will end up in the lake of fire.
In essence, the Book of Life serves as a testament to those saved who will enjoy eternity with the Lord.
Although some theologians theorize as to whether the names were chosen ahead of time (election) or whether those whose names had been in the Book of Life can be blotted out (branches of Christianity that believe you can lose your salvation), at the end of days, Christians will want their names in the Book of Life.
“The promise [Revelation 3:5]: ‘I will not erase his name from the book of life’ does not necessarily imply that some do have their names erased. It simply says, to the one who is in the book, and who conquers in faith: I will never wipe your name out. In other words, being erased is a fearful prospect, which I will not allow to happen to those who persevere.”
What about the Lamb’s Book of Life? Is it Different?
The Book of Life is also known as the Lamb’s Book of Life, which we see specifically mentioned in these verses:
Revelation 21:27: Nothing impure shall enter heaven, only those who have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. Essentially, through our salvation in Christ, he makes us pure and able to pass through the gates of heaven.
Aside from appearing exclusively in Revelation, there doesn’t appear to be any difference between the Book of Life and the Lamb’s Book of Life. Unblotted names found in both guarantee salvation in Heaven.
Granted, maybe Revelation put more emphasis on the Lamb part of the book’s title because Lamb imagery serves an important role throughout the book such as in Revelation 5. In this chapter, the Lamb who looks as though he has been slain opens a scroll no one else can, which sets off a chain of events to enact the End of Days.
Why Does This matter?
Understanding the “Book of Life” and “Lamb’s Book of Life” as the same book, we should shift our focus to the importance of having our names in it.
Whether we believe in election—those who will end up in the Book of Life have already been chosen—or edge more toward the Arminian view of free will, we cannot know all of whose names will end up in this Book.
We do know however that:
1. We want our name in the Book of Life. The only way to have it there (or unblotted) is by placing our trust in Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. No other salvation exists, except through him (Acts 4:12).
2. We have a calling to share this knowledge with as many people as possible. As it says in Acts 1:8, God calls us to share the good news of Jesus Christ in our hometowns (Jerusalem), neighboring towns and regions (Judea), towns of our enemies or stranger towns (Samaria), and to the ends of the earth (everywhere else). We have no excuse not to share this message.
3. Be vigilant for the Beast’s persuasive sway. When the antichrist comes onto the scene, if he has not already, anyone who does not have their name in the Book of Life will worship him. We need to keep a watchful eye for the Beast’s appearance.
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