WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO HAVE ONE’S NAME WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF LIFE?
· When God writes our names in the ‘Lamb’s Book of Life’ He doesn’t do it with an eraser handy. He does it for eternity (R.C. Sproul)
· There is paradox. The Bible teacher teaches both: we choose and He chooses! Both are true. He has given us glimpse of how it works but only God knows how it really works (C.H. Spurgeon).
· Our ownership in Christ is documented in the Word of God, and our names are registered in the Lamb’s Book of Life (David Jeremiah)
· Every man must do two things alone: he must do his own believing and his own dying (Martin Luther)
· Stay faithful to the last word you heard from God but open to the next (Jim Denison)
· How you live your life is a testimony of what you believe about God (Henry Blackaby)
· God doesn’t give his counsel to the curious or the careless; he reveals his will to the concerned and the consecrated. Some believers take the attitude, “I’ll ask God what he wants me to do, and if I like it, I’ll do it.” The result is predictable: God doesn’t speak to them. Unless we have a serious desire both to know and to do the counsel of God, he will not reveal his will to us (Warren W. Wiersbe)
TEXT: Luke 10: 17 The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.” 18 He replied, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 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. 20 However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
There is a message about ‘the book of life’ or ‘the Lamb’s book of life’ that runs through the bible and seems very significant to one’s destination in the next life. As we witness the burial of the remains of many of those we knew, the relevance of the book of life and how one gets their name in it matters. Jesus’ teaching made it clear that it is possible to have cultural, spiritual, and ideological coherence to a community of transplants with no genuine touch on the foundation. Was it a shock to the disciples who had out of this world experiences of having demons submit to them, only to be told that their joy was misplaced? Jesus told them that their real joy should come from knowing that their names are written in heaven. That is what brought the question of how one’s name gets written in the book of life. Is it names like Peter, John, Rebecca, Ng’ang’a, Eve or Mumbi, Muturi or Smith or is there more to the term?
The record referred to as the book of life, the book of remembrance, or the Lamb’s book of life, has been a subject of deep engagement by theologians. The question of whether the names were pre-chosen (election) and whether the names can be blotted out has resulted in divisions that have made the subject a no-go zone for many. Election refers to the concept of how people are chosen for salvation. The major division started with the teachings of John Calvin (1509 -1564) whose theological beliefs and teachings about God’s sovereignty being unconditional, unlimited and absolute. His view was that all things are predetermined by the good pleasure of God’s will. It did not take long before Jacobus Arminius (1560- 1609) agreed that God is sovereign, but his view was that He has limited His control in correspondence with man’s freedom and response. Arminius believed in Christ’s universal atonement, resistible grace, and salvation that can potentially be lost. Whatever view one inclines, the sovereignty of God is not negotiable and also is the grace of God that has been made available through Jesus Christ. However, we have to accept that ‘The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.’ (Deuteronomy 29:29). One opinion is what Sam Storms says. ‘You don’t believe in Jesus in order that your name will be written in the book. You believe in Jesus because your name has already been written down in the book.’ A few scriptures on what is revealed
It is more than one book – In the vision of the last days that Daniel saw, ‘and the books were opened.’ (Daniel 7:10).
The record of all human beings – ‘From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 6 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.’ (Acts 17:26).
It is a record of each individual – David indicated. ‘Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.’ (Psalm 139:16).
Record of conversations – The conversations of those who feared the Lord is recorded. ‘Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name’ (Malachi 3:16).
THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BOOK
The connection of the beginning and the end- The choices made in between the beginning and the end of your life are significant. Another opinion is that there is a book of life and has names of those chosen by God before creation. ‘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 13:8). God’s great design is that at the end of time or this present life, the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdom of our God as revealed to John. ‘The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah, and he will reign for ever and ever.” (Revelation 11:15b). This design is not an afterthought; it was in place even before the world was formed. God had us in mind ‘For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will’ (Ephesians 1: 4-5). From the time the Holy Spirit was poured on those who were in the Upper Room, they shared God’s adoption plan into the kingdom for those who repent and choose to follow Him. The response to God’s invitation is like ticking the name on God’s list. What people do with the knowledge they have of God matters because there is a record of words of faith, acts of love done from one’s identification with God.
Names of those who will be delivered- In the book of life are names of those who will be delivered as revealed to Daniel. ‘But at that time your people—everyone whose name is found written in the book—will be delivered.’ (Daniel 12:1b).
HOW TO GET THE NAME IN THE BOOK OF LIFE
It is God who has the records. No human being has access or can add or remove from it. The implication might be that to respond to God’s call is not our choice. Moses was asking God to remove His name from the book. Daniel was shown the book with the names. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:44). “Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”(1 Corinthians 12:3). God’s intention is that we choose to trust Him. ‘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’ (John 3:16); for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”(Romans 10:13).
Tell others about the saving grace- Considering the eternal implications of the choice one makes; it is required that those who have the knowledge let others know. Through actions, words and life, let others know about the Book of life. ‘For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our message?” Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ’ (Romans 10:16b-17). Jesus Christ said, “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven.’ (Matthew 10:32-33).
THE POSSIBILITY OF ONE’S NAME BEING ERASED FROM THE LAMB’S BOOK OF LIFE
When the children of Israel misbehaved in the desert, by seeking an alternative god, it was revealed that sin can cause one’s name to be erased from the book of life. ‘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. 32 But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” 33 The Lord replied to Moses, 'Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.’ (Exodus 32:31-33). Moses’ deep interaction with God had made him have Godly love for the people. He knew God loved Him and would forgive. In addition, what was revealed to John was that ‘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 3:5). To overcome or be victorious means there is something to be overcome for the name to remain in the book of life.
Apostle Peter’s encouragement ‘Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.’ (2 Peter 1:10-11).
Though Euodia and Syntyche are not in agreement, Paul says that their names are in the book of life (Philippians 4:2-3).
The subject of having names written in the book of life is difficult, particularly because our human nature would like to be able to understand God or expect Him to think and behave according to our standards which are either election or choice. However, we have to continually remember that God’s ways are not our way (Isaiah 55:8). What should concern us is to ensure that our name’s written in the book of life by listening, repenting and obeying what is revealed. The willingness to respond to God’s invitation, repent and in faith trust his leadership is the proof of being elected. God uses people like you and me to share the message of choosing to be his disciple. We have also seen that in many scripture references it is possible for a name written in the book of life to be blotted out. “Again, when a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before them, they will die. Since you did not warn them, they will die for their sin. The righteous things that person did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for their blood. 21 But if you do warn the righteous person not to sin and they do not sin, they will surely live because they took warning, and you will have saved yourself.” (Ezekiel 3:20). Repentance and confessions of that which comes in the way of magnifying God above everything else in mind, and actions is expected of those who desire to remain in God’s record. The basis of our salvation is God’s election before the creation of the world. More important than what name or identification is used, we must make every effort to enter by the narrow gate. Pay attention to the consistent message in the Bible that there is a book in heaven that lists names of all people who will inherit eternal life. Is it your joy in having your name included in that book?
‘Pray to Him for forgiveness and, by faith, receive Jesus Christ into your life. Then you will have assurance that your name has been written in the Book of Life which God Himself will open and read someday. Nothing will bring us greater joy than hearing the Savior call our names’ (Billy Graham).