In our church nursery, we have a whiteboard with various notes on the children that regularly come by during our Sunday worship services. Anything from food allergies to potty training instructions can appear on that board. Another type of note that you would see are behavioral warnings, such as “Tommy hits” or “Susie bites.” This past Sunday, as I was helping out at the nursery, one note caught my eye, “Lucy steals.” Obviously, this child must be prone to taking toys away from other children. Some people must think that judgment day is like this whiteboard, with all their sins written out for all to see. I’ve heard other variations of this, like your life will be played like a movie, highlighting all your sins, including the secret ones. The Bible, however, makes no mention of whiteboards or movies, but it does discuss some very important books.
“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:12-15)
When I was around 12 years old, my cousin showed me the above passage. Neither of us were Christians at the time, but we became curious about the end times so we turned to the book of Revelation. These verses gave me chills up and down my spine. I kept reading them over and over again, and with each reading, my fears grew. Will my name be found in the book of life?
The book of life is not like Santa’s list. God is not checking it twice. It’s not about who’s naughty or nice. Names are not written in it and later crossed off. God is all-knowing. He makes no mistakes. The names in this book have been there since before the foundation of the world. “Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139:16)
Our deeds do not determine book of life status. This is why I was living in such great fear before. I didn’t know if all the good works I did was enough to get my name in there. I wrongly thought it all depended on me. If it was up to our performance in this life, that book would be filled with blank pages. Rather, the names written in the book of life are those who have been bought and redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. They have trusted, not in their works, but in the sufficient work of Christ on the cross.
These names cannot be erased, crossed out, or ripped out. Jesus said about His people, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)
Must we wait for that glorious day when this book is opened to know if our names are in there? Can we know now? For those who have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ, his death and resurrection, God gives a precious assurance. “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.” (1 John 5:13)
No matter what you face in this life, if you are a follower of Christ, rejoice with me in this, that our names are permanently recorded in heaven.