On a trip to Washington, DC, a few years ago, I stood in awe in the Great Hall of the Library of Congress, admiring the architectural design and vast spaces that sweep the eye heavenward, the unblemished white marble columns and facades suggesting uprightness and security, the intricately patterned ceilings and floors reflecting great attention to detail, and the ornate sculptures and murals depicting all the fields of knowledge stored in the Library’s volumes. When it first opened in 1897, it was described as the "largest, costliest, and safest" library in the world.
Not to mention the books! The original collection of President Jefferson was somewhat controversial because of the wide range of its content, including foreign language works, religion, philosophy, science, literature and other fields not usually contained in a law library. But Jefferson’s contention was that every topic imaginable could be of potential use to a Congressman at some point in his service. His view was upheld to this day, ever since the copyright law of 1870 mandated that all copyright applicants send two copies of their work to be included in the Library. There are now several specialty galleries, each a definitive library in its own field, including one containing only the Gutenberg Bible and other Bibles of historical importance.
The experience got me thinking about God’s library of books in which he records all the details of our physical and spiritual lives. A dear sister in Christ asked me to teach a Bible lesson on the Book of Life. Specifically, her question was if names of believers are written there permanently, as most verses indicate, or if names can be blotted out, as suggested by other verses.
Under the Law, and subsequently in Old Testament times, God kept books of the living, and to blot someone’s name out of the book represented their physical death (Exodus 32:31-35; Psalm 69:20-29). Both the Old and New Testament refer to other books recording each person’s works, with these deeds forming a basis for rewards or punishments (Malachi 3:16; Isaiah 65:6-7; Daniel 7:9-10; Revelation 20:11-15).
This is similar to, but far more extensive than, kings of old keeping records of their subjects’ services to be rewarded and bad deeds to be judged and punished (Esther 6:1,2; 2:23; Ezra 4:15). God’s books are so complete that He even records our every wandering and our every tear (Psalm 56:8), as well as a complete blueprint of our physical appearance long before we are even born (Psalm 139:16).
In the Old Testament, one’s sinful or disobedient acts could merit physical punishment or even death, but faith in God and obedience to His commandments was counted as righteousness and rewarded with being in Paradise. Salvation was based on faith, on the belief that God is Who He says He is and is worthy of trust and obedience (Hebrews 11: 23-29), even though no one except Jesus was capable of keeping the law perfectly. Jesus Christ, Son of God, had not yet walked the earth in the flesh and had not yet died for our sins, so trusting Him as Savior was not how Old Testament saints were saved.
But after Jesus’ earthly ministry, death, burial and resurrection, the New Testament refers to the Book of Life (Philippians 4:3) containing the names of all those who are saved and who will have eternal life with Christ in Heaven. It is more completely named the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 13:8; 21:27) because it was the blood of the Lamb, Who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29), that redeemed those who are saved. Those names were foreordained and foreknown by God since before the beginning of the world (Romans 8:29-30).
The clear promise of Jesus is to not, for any reason, blot out the names of believers from the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 3:5), but to read their names to God the Father and to the angels. Once a person is born again and places their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (I Corinthians 15), it is not possible for that person to lose their salvation or to have their name removed from the Lamb’s Book of Life (Romans 8:37-39; John 10:28-29).
Conversely, because of God’s foreknowledge of who would reject His freely given offer of salvation (John 3:18-19) to “whosoever” would believe in His Son (John 3:16) as the only way to Heaven (John 14:6), those names were “not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” (Revelation 13:8) Those unbelievers still living at the Rapture will be left behind, and at the Great White Throne Judgment, those who worshipped the Antichrist (Revelation 13:8; 17:8) will be cast into the lake of fire because their name was not found in the Book of Life (Revelation 20:15).
As extensive and well-preserved as the Library of Congress is, it will one day be burned to a crisp with the rest of the earth (2 Peter 3:10). But there is nothing we can do that would escape God’s attention or His perfect record-keeping system, and those records will last forever. No one may notice what we do on earth, but when believers face Christ in glory, we will experience the joy of hearing Him say “Well done, thou good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:21,23) for every good deed done with the right motive to glorify Him. Or, we may undergo painful loss as we see some of our works that were praised during our lifetime burn up like hay in the flames, because He saw our wrong motive of pride or self-righteousness (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
But in His amazing promise we can rest secure – once we place our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the only way to Heaven, nothing can blot our name out of the Lamb’s Book of Life, because He wrote it there in the indelible ink of His blood since before the foundation of the world! Trust Him as your Lord and Savior today!