What is the Lamb’s Book of Life, and How Do I Know if My Name is Written In it? #174
Hello friends and happy Friday to you! Today we are talking about the Lamb’s Book of Life, which is a book that is mentioned multiple times in the Old and New Testaments, but not ever described in great detail. Of the 10 times the Book of Life is mentioned in the Bible, 6 of those times are in the book of Revelation! Last week, as my family and I were reading through Revelation, my daughter Phoebe, our youngest, heard me read Revelation 13:8, and got a puzzled look on her face. “All those who live on the earth will worship it, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.” First she asked me what the Lamb’s book of life was, and I did my best to explain it to her, and then her big sister Kassidy asked the most important question: How do I know if my name is in that book? Great questions, and we will cover them today. We will also be reading Deuteronomy 24, Psalms 114 and 115, Isaiah 52 and, of course, Revelation 21, our focus chapter. Let’s go read it now and then discuss.
Revelation 21 discusses the City of God – Zion, or the New Jerusalem. If you want to know more about it, I’ve put a message that was preached a few weeks ago at our home church in the podcast feed all about the City of God. It was one of my favorite messages to study and prepare to preach in years. I was so encouraged to study and discover what the Bible says about the City of God!
22 I did not see a temple in it, because the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, because the glory of God illuminates it, and its lamp is the Lamb. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. 25 Its gates will never close by day because it will never be night there. 26 They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. 27 Nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those written in the Lamb’s book of life.
As we read, the only people that will be allowed in the City of God are those who have their names written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. What is the this book all about? Well, we first encounter a reference to the book in Exodus 32:
31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a grave sin; they have made a god of gold for themselves. 32 Now if you would only forgive their sin. But if not, please erase me from the book you have written.”
The next reference comes from a prayer in Psalms 69:
Charge them with crime on top of crime;
do not let them share in your righteousness.
28 Let them be erased from the book of life
and not be recorded with the righteous.
This is one of the imprecatory Psalms, which is a term we haven’t really covered yet, but it means that it is a Psalm that asks for God to judge the writer’s enemies and persecutors for their wrongdoing. Eventually we’ll probably ask the question about whether or not Christians should pray imprecatory prayers (like, “them my enemy be erased from the book of life.”) or not given that Jesus taught us to turn the other cheek and to bless those who curse us. For now, it is enough to note that the second time we hear about the book of life is in this particular Psalm. Isaiah 4 is much more descriptive of the book than Psalms 69, and we can begin to get an idea of what the book is all about here:
2 On that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of Israel’s survivors. 3 Whoever remains in Zion and whoever is left in Jerusalem will be called holy—all in Jerusalem written in the book of life— 4 when the Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodguilt from the heart of Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of burning.
So – we are beginning to learn something about the book of life. Isaiah 4 is a passage with end-times implications, and seems to point to Jerusalem/Zion being occupied with ONLY those who are holy – those written in the book of life. Revelation 21:27 is obviously linked in heavily with Isaiah 4:3. The next appearance of the book is in Philippians 4:
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 3 Yes, I also ask you, true partner, to help these women who have contended for the gospel at my side, along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers whose names are in the book of life.
So Paul says here that his coworkers have their names written in the book of life. Do these verses indicate that all of those who are saved by Jesus have their name written in a book? That certainly seems to be the case, but let’s not go all crazy jumping to conclusions yet – that’s how people get labeled heretics and theses get hammered to doors. The next appearance of the Book of Life is in Revelation, and there are several. Here they are:
- Revelation 3:5, “In the same way, the one who conquers will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before my Father and before his angels.”This is an interesting passage. Does this passage, along with the Exodus 32 passage and the prayer in Psalms 69, indicate that somebody’s name can be removed from the Lamb’s Book of Life? It is an interesting question. We have already talked about whether or not a true Christian can lose their salvation, and I believe the answer is no, but I will say that it appears that Moses and David at least thought it was possible for somebody’s name to be blotted out from the book. That said, Jesus promises here that those who overcome/conquer will not have their name blotted out. I believe that is a reference to the saints persevering – all those who persevere in faith will overcome, will conquer and will not lose salvation – they will be preserved.
- Revelation 13:8, “All those who live on the earth will worship it, everyone whose name was not written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slaughtered.”Fascinating truth here: people’s names aren’t written in the Lamb’s Book of Life when they are saved in real time, but when the foundation of the world was laid – i.e. before the creation of humans! There are serious implications in this passage to the nature of salvation and the issue of predestination and sovereignty.
- Revelation 17:8, “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up from the abyss and go to destruction. Those who live on the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast that was, and is not, and is to come.“ditto.
- Revelation 20:12, “I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books.”This passage actually helps to reveal the fact that there is one more passage that discusses the Lamb’s book of Life, and that is Daniel 7, which also recounts the events of Revelation 20. (Remember how many places in Revelation are connected to other books in the Bible!)
- Daniel 7, 9-13 “As I kept watching, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat. His clothing was white like snow, and the hair of his head like whitest wool. His throne was flaming fire; its wheels were blazing fire. 10 A river of fire was flowing, coming out from his presence. Thousands upon thousands served him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was convened, and the books were opened. 11 “I watched, then, because of the sound of the arrogant words the horn was speaking. As I continued watching, the beast was killed and its body destroyed and given over to the burning fire. 12 As for the rest of the beasts, their dominion was removed, but an extension of life was granted to them for a certain period of time. 13 I continued watching in the night visions, and suddenly one like a son of man was coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before him…“I think it is very safe to say that one of the books opened in Daniel 7 is the Lamb’s Book of Life.
- Revelation 20:15, “And anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”And, with this passage, we have the final piece of the puzzle. Those who are NOT written in the book of life are cast into the lake of fire. Those who ARE written in the Lamb’s Book of Life are allowed into the Heavenly city of Zion, and that means that this book is a life or death matter – the most life or death matter possible. So, how can you or I know that our names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life? That’s the question my daughter asked, and it is the most important question that can be asked.
Look to the Lamb – Jesus, the son of God – crucified for our sins as a sacrificial lamb, and now worthy to reign as the King of Kings and Lord of all. He is the way, as John 10 shows:
8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep didn’t listen to them.9 I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.10 A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
Practically speaking – HOW do we go through the gate of Jesus? How do we enter into life through Him? I think Paul spells it out as clearly as anywhere else in the Bible in Romans 10:
This is the message of faith that we proclaim: 9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, Everyone who believes on him will not be put to shame,12 since there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, because the same Lord of all richly blesses all who call on him. 13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
So, dear friends: To know that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of Life – look to the Lamb – Trust in His sacrifice, and follow Him in faith and with your whole heart. EVERYONE who calls on Him for salvation, confessing their sins and believing in Him – will be saved!