|Volume 19 Number 11 November 2017||
Brian R. Kenyon
We must realize, of course, that our name being in a church directory does not necessarily mean that our name is in God’s “Book of Life.” Our church directory is compiled by fallible human beings who cannot always know the heart of those on the “church roll.” Also, our church directory will include some non-Christians (such as unconverted spouses or other family members). Church directories are good, but being enrolled in God’s Book of Life is far better!
Background of God’s “Book of Life”
Other than in the Book of Revelation, the only New Testament passage that explicitly mentions God’s Book of Life is Philippians 4:3, where Paul wrote, “I urge you also, true companion, help these women who labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the Book of Life.” In the context, Paul mentioned some of his coworkers in the Lord (such as Euodias, Syntyche, Clement, and perhaps, Suzygo [the transliteration of “companion” (“yokefellow” KJV) as a proper name], but since he did not have space to mention all of them, he referred to them simply as those whose names are in the Book of Life.
God’s Book of Life is seen throughout Scripture. In the Old Testament, God’s book moved from what could refer literally to a list of those in Israel to a figurative list of those who have spiritual life. Following the sin of making the golden calf, Moses said to the Lord, “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” (Exodus 32:31-32). Here, God’s book can refer to those listed in Israel.
While speaking of the enemies of the Lord and His people, the psalmist wrote, “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, And not be written with the righteous” (Psalm 69:28). Here, God’s book seemed to refer to those who have physical life, but there are definite implications that the psalmist also wants these enemies to be removed from any possible spiritual life. Isaiah spoke of the Messianic kingdom, “it shall come to pass that he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy—everyone who is recorded among the living in Jerusalem” (Isaiah 4:3). Here, the reference to those who are “recorded among the living” is spiritual. Daniel said in reference to the Christian age, “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, Every one who is found written in the book” (Daniel 12:1). Here again, the reference is to those having spiritual life.
Who Will Be Written In God’s “Book of Life”?
The writer of Hebrews said that “the general assembly and church of the firstborn… are registered in heaven” (Hebrews 12:23). Those “registered” [“written” KJV]” in Heaven (i.e., God’s Book of Life) are members of the church. The term “firstborn” here does not refer to Jesus. The Greek word behind the translation is plural and could be translated “church of the first born ones,” as the plural verb “are” indicates. Here is an example where the church is named after those of whom it consists rather than after the one who owns it (cf., 1 Thessalonians 1:1). Membership in the church requires obedience to the Gospel (Acts 2:38-41, 47). In Philippians 4:3, those whom Paul mentioned as being in God’s Book of Life are his fellow laborers. This implies that these ones are faithful, struggling to “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Timothy 6:12). All of Paul’s coworkers did not remain in God’s Book of Life. Demas was once a faithful coworker with Paul (Colossians 4:14; Philemon 24), but later he pursued the world instead (2 Timothy 4:10). Those whose names are written in God’s Book of Life must keep their names written there by overcoming the temptations of the world. “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” (Revelation 3:5).
Will Our Names Be in God’s “Book of Life”?
All of us will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ on the last day (Hebrews 9:27; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Concerning that Judgment Day, John wrote, “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works… And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:12, 15). Clearly, God’s Book of Life will be a relevant volume until time as we know it is no more!
All who are accountable will receive one of two possible eternal destinations, based upon whether or not their names are written in God’s Book of Life. If our names are not found in God’s Book of Life, we can expect eternal torment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). In fact, even while upon this earth, those not written in God’s Book of Life are considered His enemies (Revelation 13:8; 17:8; Romans 5:6-10). However, those whose names are written in God’s Book of Life will be told, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Matthew 25:34). Is it any wonder then that Jesus told the seventy that having their names “written in heaven” was worthy of more rejoicing than being endued with miraculous power (Luke 10:20)? Our names may be in the church directory, but when “the roll is called up yonder,” will we be there?
(2 Peter 1:3-11)
Brotherly kindness comes from the Greek word “philadelphia.” It is defined as, “brotherly kindness, brotherly love or love of the brethren.” Godliness produces brotherly kindness.
God is our Father, and His children are our brothers and sisters. To love them is clearly and plainly taught by Jesus Himself (John 13:34-35). Furthermore, if we love God, we will love the children of the Father (1 John 5:1). According to the inspired apostle Paul, love fulfills the law (Romans 13:8-10).
Christians are encouraged to practice brotherly kindness. We are to be devoted to one another (Romans 12:10). Brotherly kindness is taught by God (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Christians need to continue in brotherly kindness (Hebrews 13:1). Peter writing about the same subject wrote, we must have a sincere love of the brethren (1 Peter 1:22). The apostle John explained love of the brethren in 1 John 4:4-21.
How can we grow in brotherly kindness? First, we need to ask God to help us (Matthew 7:7-8). Secondly, we can read about the life of Christ and determine to imitate Him (1 Peter 2:21). In the third place, it behooves us to carefully weigh our every thought and word (Proverbs 25:11). Fourth, observing the lives of mature Christians can greatly assist us (1 Corinthians 11:1). Fifth, we can develop the habit of exhibiting brotherly kindness by doing deeds of kindness to others (Matthew 7:12; Colossians 3:12).