Revelation 22:11 and 12 imply that when Jesus Christ returns the second time, there will have been a judgment court at which all mankind from all ages of earth’s history will have stood before God where their characters have been fixed and their eternal destinies set.
Daniel talks about this same judgment in Daniel 7:9 and 10. “I watched till thrones were put in place, and the Ancient of Days was seated; His garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head was like pure wool. His throne was a fiery flame, its wheels a burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him. A thousand thousands ministered to Him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.”
Today, we keep most of our records in a computer system. However, God uses a far more accurate system of recordkeeping than anything we could devise.
The Bible is very clear that God has record books and that the information contained in these books will determine every individual’s future destiny. Revelation 20:12 says that the “… books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which are written in the books.”
But notice what Revelation 20:15 says: “Anyone not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” My friend, the Bible is saying that if we are going to have eternal life, our names must be written in the book of life.
So we must ask ourselves this most important question: “Is my name in the book of life?”
Solomon, the wisest man to ever live, said in Ecclesiastes 12:13, 14, “Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether it is good or whether it is evil.”
All of our works, everything we’ve ever thought, said, or done is recorded in God’s book. Jesus said, “But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” Matthew 12:36, 37
Concerning our thoughts, 1 Corinthians 4:5 says, “Judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts.”
What does it mean to “reveal the counsels of the hearts”? Isaiah explains this in Isaiah 66:18, “I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues: and they shall come and see My glory.”
David also understood this and wrote in Psalm 139 explaining God’s knowledge of the human beings that He made. “O Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know my sitting down and my rising up. You understand my thought afar off. You comprehend my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O Lord, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it. Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall fall on me’ [or cover me], even the night shall be light about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day. The darkness and the light are both alike to You.” Verses 1–12
It is clear that no matter where we go, what we do or say or think, God knows it all. As we have read, the record of each person’s life is recorded and one day soon God will ask each of us to give an account of the life that we have lived. Jesus tells us that there is nothing that will not be revealed. “Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.” Matthew 10:26
There really are no secrets. We may be able to hide from man, but not God. Every deed known or unknown will be examined in the judgment, and we will be called to account for whether we obeyed God or not.
Luke 10 records the Lord’s appointment of the 70 elders who were sent out two by two to prepare the way for His eventual visit to a number of different places. It was their purpose to spread the good news of salvation offered by Jesus Christ, to heal the sick, and to point them to Him who heals both the body and the soul.
When the 70 returned to Jesus, they came to Him rejoicing because even the demons were constrained by them. When they spoke to the demons in Jesus’ name, the demons were forced to depart. But Jesus said to them in verse 20, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” It isn’t the power to work miracles, or even to cast out demons, that saves us. Jesus said our names must be written in the book of life.
When the judgment has come, Daniel 12:1 says, “At that time Michael shall stand up, the Great Prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time Your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book.”
So, is your name written in heaven’s book of life?
But here is another critical question each of us must consider: “Can I be sure that my name will not be blotted out of the book of life?” The Bible is very clear that during the period of time when probation is open and available, right now, names are being added to the book of life, but names can also be taken out of the book of life. What happens that determines if a name is blotted out of the book of life? How can you have assurance that your name is written in the book of life?
Acts 16:30, 31 say, “He brought them out and said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ ”
Believing something with your whole heart means making a commitment. In this scripture it is saying that if you believe in Jesus with all your heart, then you are making a commitment to Him. Jesus is our Saviour and Deliverer, and if we believe this, then we are accepting Him as such and making Him the Lord of our lives. Making Him the Lord of your life means that you are committing to obey Him. Obeying Him in all that He says and asks will result in your name being written in the book of life.
But how is a person’s name erased or blotted out of the book of life? If obedience is necessary in order to have one’s name written in the book of life, then disobedience can result in a name being removed from it.
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:19–21. So, the New Testament teaches that when you come to Christ, you start to live a new life and your life of sin is in the past. You have been converted, a new creation—created to live a new Christlike life.
This text tells us that before Jesus comes again, our sins will be blotted out and our names will be retained in God’s book. The Old Testament prophets support this. “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; and I will not remember your sins.” Isaiah 43:25. And Isaiah 44:22, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to Me, for I have redeemed you.”
But, what happens if a person claims to follow Jesus, but continues to live a life of sin? What if he is not converted? He professes to follow Jesus, but his life is not one of obedience and does not reflect Jesus’ character. The result is that when Jesus comes again, instead of his sins being blotted out, his name will be blotted out of God’s book.
“Do not cover their iniquity, and do not let their sin be blotted out from before You; for they have provoked You to anger before the builders.” Nehemiah 4:5
“Let them [Christ’s enemies] be blotted out of the book of the living.” Psalm 69:28
Moses pleaded with the Lord on behalf of the children of Israel who had rebelled and sinned against Him. He said, “ ‘Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.’ And the Lord said to Moses, ‘Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.’ ” Exodus 32:31–33
Notice, the name of the person who continues in sin will be blotted out of God’s book. But if a person chooses to follow Jesus, their life of sin becomes part of their past. He or she is a new creation, created to live a new, Christlike life.
We all have a case pending in God’s court. If we have made a commitment to believe in and follow Jesus and accept Him as our Saviour, then our sins are blotted out, our name is written in the book of life, and our eternal life begins. On the other hand, if we have made no commitment to Jesus, nor do we accept Him as our Saviour, and continue living a life of sin, then our sins will not be blotted out, but our names will be, and we will miss out on eternal life. We must be saved from our sins if we are to spend all of eternity with Jesus when He comes again.
How can I know that my name will be retained in the book of life and not be taken out? This question is addressed very directly in Revelation 3:5, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the book of life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
Jesus said the same thing to His disciples. We find it in Matthew 10:32, 33. “Whoever confesses Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven.”
If we expect to have our name written in the book of life and for it to remain there until Jesus comes, then we must overcome the world and the flesh. The book of Revelation repeatedly states that the one who will be saved is the one who overcomes.
Who is an overcomer? And what must he or she overcome?
“Whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.” 1 John 5:4. If you have been converted and born again as a child of God, if your love and life are given to God, and you are obedient to His instruction and faithfully follow His direction, then you are an overcomer. You will not love the world, nor will you be controlled by your sinful nature (the flesh).
“Knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.” Romans 6:6
There are three things that the overcomer must overcome. We’ve already seen the first—the world. “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world.” 1 John 2:15, 16
Second, the overcomer must overcome the flesh. “And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.” Galatians 5:24. What is the flesh? It is our sinful, carnal, selfish nature. There is only one way to overcome the flesh and that is through the power of the Holy Spirit working a transformative miracle in each life. When this occurs, a person is set free from his or her life of sin.
But there is still a third thing that the overcomer must overcome and that is the devil himself. James 4:7, 8 tell us exactly how that can be done. “Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts you double-minded.”
So, if you want your name in the book of life, and if you want it to be retained there, then you must be an overcomer. You must overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. And all of this can be accomplished because the Lord will give you the power to do it if you choose to fully and completely give your heart to Him and follow Him.
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.