This will be the final post of the series and it will be the one I will speculate in the most. Please understand, I am not promoting new doctrines but expressing my thoughts on how gracious God is in regard to the Book of Life.
Therefore, my question here is: What about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross? Did it affect in any way the names written in the Book of Life? If so, how did that event do this? Here are my thoughts on this subject.
At a previous post in this series, I commented that the Book of Life was put together by Jesus Christ “before the foundation of the world” – before the earth was created. I have since given this a little more thought. Reason? Because of what happened in the Garden of Eden and especially at the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
Adam and Eve were created by God and placed in the Garden of Eden to dress and keep it. There, God instructed them not to go near the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and eat of its fruit. In other words…..
ADAM AND EVE HAD FREEWILL
The freedom to make a choice was given to them. The freedom to choose to obey or disobey God was their responsibility. I believe God foreknew they would choose to disobey; but I do not believe He predestined them to sin and curse the earth with death. God did not deliberately trip them up in order to start a preconceived master plan of salvation. But….
THEY STILL COMMITTED SIN BY PARTAKING OF THE FORBIDDEN FRUIT
Satan was in the Garden of Eden. God did not influence, compel, or direct him (Satan) to try and deceive Adam and Eve. Was there a purpose for Satan being in the garden in the first place? Why was evil there? Was Satan there to help God develop Adam and Eve’s character? I do not know. God knows. I need to meditate on this more for future blogs.
Anyway, Adam and Eve (both to be referred to as “man” throughout this post) were removed out of the garden so that they would not partake of a certain tree – the tree of life – that was in there. This tree had also been planted by God whose fruit gives everlasting life, i.e. immortality (Genesis 2:9). Because of his disobedience, man thereafter was subject to death. Man, and for all generations afterwards, no longer had eternal life inherent in him. In order to have eternal life, man needed a “key” to get back into the “Garden of Eden” and have immortal life. Each person’s name being written into the Book of Life was the key to his salvation.
Again, I believe God well foreknew that the fall of man would happen. So He predestined – decided ahead of time – and before they were born, people that He would call during their lifetimes to receive His Spirit. It is when they were called and when they responded and when they trusted God that their names were written in the Book of Life. These are also called “the elect” and “the chosen” of God. That means that…
THE ELECT AND THE CHOSEN ARE THOSE CALLED AND HAVE GOD’S SPIRIT
What next? Well, only a few people in the Old Testament had the Spirit of God working within each of them. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit in Old Testament times was selective and temporary. The Holy Spirit was nevertheless working in the lives of people.
The Spirit was with Abel. Others given the Spirit were Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their names are in the Book of Life.
God introduced Himself to Moses through a burning bush. Moses responded reluctantly at first, and then positively. He was given the Law. He was given access to communicate directly with God. Moses had God’s Spirit. His name is in the Book of Life.
Could the Israelites’ names been written in the Book of Life? I believe they could have. They were called God’s “Chosen People” were they not? (Isaiah 45:4) Were they not to be the priests to the nations around them had they continued obeying the law? Yes. (Exodus 19:3-6). But they were stubborn and lacking in faith. Why else would God otherwise become angry with them? So mad did He become against them that, on a couple of occasions, He wanted to start a new nation through Moses. (Exodus 32:9-10; Numbers 16:41-45). Did God predestined the Israelites to fail? No, God wanted to offer the Holy Spirit to them as well. I do not see most of the Israeltes in the wilderness having their names written in the Book of Life – at this time. (Please note).
The Spirit was with Joshua – especially when he became the leader of the twelve tribes entering the Promised Land. Then came the Judges of Israel being led by the Holy Spirit. Others came along being predestined. The Spirit was in King Saul, King David and King Solomon. The Holy Spirit left King Saul after he disobeyed God’s instructions.
The prophets’ names are in the Book of Life and had God’s Spirit. These included Samuel, Nathan, Isaiah and Jeremiah, Elijah and Elisha, Enoch and Esther, Micah and Malachi. All of these people, I believe, have their names written in the Book of Life. Therefore, only a few in the Old Testament have their names written in this book – at this time. Why these few? Because they were pointing and preparing the nation of Israel and mankind for God, the Christ, to be on this earth for man’s salvation. That was their calling so to speak.
REMEMBER THAT THE BOOK OF LIFE IS THE KEY TO SALVATION
This also shows salvation already in effect before Christ came onto the scene. It shows that, since the Garden of Eden, eternal life was being offered again for man. It was indicating that the angel that was at the entrance of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:24) protecting the tree of life was about to be removed. When did it occur?
It happened when Jesus Christ died on the cross. According to the Apostle Paul, Jesus was the second Adam on earth (1 Corinthians 15:45-49 ) and He (Jesus) died just as Adam and Eve and all mankind has done (and still does), but He was the first to be resurrected to eternal life. At that point, what happened to the Book of Life?
I believe the list of names being entered into the Book of Life began to grow tremendously when Jesus Christ died. Christ’s death paved the way for man to be called to have eternal life – both Jews and Gentiles alike.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
(John 3:16, New King James)
While hanging and dying on the cross Christ also said something very significant:
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”
(Luke 23:34, New King James)
It says here that God SO LOVED THE WORLD…! and HE WANTED THE FATHER TO FORGIVE THEM…! Hello! It does not say that God loved only the elect! Jesus did not die only for the few! Christ did not come to condemn but to save sinners. God’s forgiveness to those who crucified Christ meant that no one now can be excluded from being able to be in the Book of Life. Jesus is the Way, the Door, of man’s salvation. He replaced the angel who was protecting the tree of life at the Garden of Eden (now symbolizing the Kingdom of God and eternity).
The Church was born on the Day of Pentecost. God already knew who were going to be called ahead of time before each saint was born – by name. The pouring out of the Holy Spirit and the responses to the Spirit added names to the Book of Life. First, the 120 disciples praying in Jerusalem received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-4). God foreknew them and now their names were added to the Book of Life. Then 3,000 were added to the Church (Acts 2:41). Again, God foreknew who He would call; and when they responded, their names were added to the Book of Life. Others were added, (Acts 2:47; Acts 5:14; Acts 11:24) and on and on until today.
You may be asking, How does God “foreknow”? Does He have some sort of a crystal ball that can that see ahead in time? Well, for my thoughts on this, please read an older post dated June 28, 2012, entitled, “God Is Everywhere, Man“. Please click on the title. Again, it is not doctrine.
Please note that Jesus, while on Earth, sent his disciples to preach to the lost tribes of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6). This was before the Holy Spirit was poured out on Pentecost. It was done afterwards by the Church. Salvation, therefore was also offered to Israel. And is being offered to Israel and all mankind today.
In summary, God foreknew all who He would call to salvation. He knew them by name. It could be any number percentage of mankind – I believe it to be a very high percentage because of Jesus Christ. When Christ died, salvation was offered to the world which means that many, many many more names could now be added to the Book of Life. All those that God foreknows are not all in the Book of Life yet! There is a distinction here. There has to be a response to His calling.
What still remains unclear is when the Book of Life will be opened for judgment.
One account has it immediately after Christ returns:
“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.”
In order to separate the sheep from the goats, the Book of Life will be used.
In Revelation 20, however, this account occurs 1,000 years later.
Which account is correct? This question is still controversial today. Should we give up on the Bible? Should we say the Bible has errors and contradictions and therefore God does not exist? No. The possible answers are:
1. The Book of Life will be opened throughout the 1,000 year millennial period. Jesus will be right there in person throughout the 1,000 years. No need for the kingdom inhabitants to seek Christ if He is already there.
2. The Book of Revelation is very symbolic and should not be translated literally here. I believe it will be when Christ returns. If not, are the saints to be waiting 1,000 years later to be judged? We will have to wait and see, which means…
3. When Christ returns everything will be understood and made clear. Everything will be sorted out.
I know the content of this post may be somewhat different from what I previously thought. My apologies. I am still growing in understanding in this area and am ready to repent of any error I may have conveyed. That is why, for you the readers’ sake, I have deemed today’s post to be the most speculative and controversial I have yet written. It is not meant to be studied as doctrine, but to be only a reflection of my current thinking on the subject. Please leave any responses you may have in the reply box below.
All of this information and knowledge about this Book of Life is not necessary for salvation. It is fun speculating on it and sharing it with you. But, what is important is that we believe in Jesus Christ, believe who He is and what He says. Trust and obey Him. And If you are a Christian, you can have the assurance that your name is written in the Book of Life. Be now watching and praying for His soon return to Earth.