The idea of the Book of Life has its roots in the Old Testament of the Bible. David (the man of God) prayed that his apostate enemies would be erased from the Book of Life (Ps. 69:28). David explained that the Book of Life recorded the names of the righteous (Ps. 68:28). It is my opinion that the Book of Life records the names of the Fraternity of Faithful Believers (the name I use to describe faithful believers, both male and female). These experientially righteous believers remain faithful unto their death. It appears that every believer is initially recorded in the Book of Life, but if they do not remain faithful, their names are erased from the Book of Life. In Exodus, the Lord told Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book” (Exod. 32:33). In the context of Exodus 32, God was referring to apostate Israel, who did not remain faithful in their desert wandering after escaping from Egypt.
I believe that the Book of Life is equivalent to the Book of Remembrance mentioned in Malachi (Mal. 3:16-19). The Book of Remembrance recorded the names of believers who feared and esteemed the Lord (Mal. 3:16). “‘They will be Mine,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him’” (Mal. 3:17). The servants of God will be a special possession of God. They are described as sons who serve their father. Then Malachi wrote, “So you will again distinguish between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve Him” (Mal. 3:18). Believers who serve God and remain faithful are worthy of special recognition. God makes a distinction between the righteous and the wicked.
In the Book of Philippians, the Apostle Paul mentioned two special women, Euodia and Synteche (Phil. 4:3). Apparently, they were having a personality conflict, and Paul asked a fellow believer in the Church of Phillipi to encourage the two women to live in harmony. Both of the women had shared in Paul’s labors for the Gospel. They were described as Paul’s coworkers, and Paul said that they were both recorded in the Book of Life. They were not sinless, but they were servants of God. This verse helps us understand the importance of living in harmony with fellow believers, and it helps us to understand that even two exceptional believers do not always agree on everything. (However, we should not allow our differences to become an issue in the body of Christ.) This verse also helps us to distinguish between being faithful and being sinless. We finite humans can never be sinless, but we can be faithful servants who God will record in the Book of Life.
All of the remaining references in the New Testament to the Book of Life occur in the Book of Revelation. Apparently, the idea of the Book of Life was heavy on the mind of Jesus Christ and His servant, John the Elder. Surely, the Book of Revelation ties together all of the major ideas associated with the Book of Life.
As to all of the listed churches of Asia-Minor spoken of in Revelation, Jesus was most complementary of the Church of Smyrna. He had nothing negative to say about the Church of Smyrna. However, they were enduring a period of great testing and tribulations. Jesus said, “Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). The crown of life is awarded to those believers who are recorded in the Book of Life. Such believers remain faithful unto death, and they are described as overcomers or as being victorious. They listen to the Spirit, and they will not be hurt by the second death. The Second Death describes the condition of an apostate believer, who drifts away from the spiritual life. Such a believer is like a dog who returns to his vomit (Prov. 26:11; 2 Pet. 2:22). Though he or she has escaped the world of sin and death through believing in Christ, the apostate believer becomes insensitive to God. He or she no longer consistently listens to the Spirit. In contrast, the victorious believer remains faithful to God. John wrote, “He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels” (Rev. 3:5). Remaining faithful and being a victorious believer is a big deal. White garments harken back to the Old Testament priesthood. White garments designate God’s servants.
The 144,000 identified at Revelation 7:3 are described as the servants of God. The 144,000 are unique believers who follow the Lord wherever He goes (Rev. 14:4). Such believers are devoted to their Lord (Rev. 14:4). They are the firstfruits of God (Rev. 14:4). 144,000 is a symbolic number used by Jesus Christ and John to designate the faithful servants of God; it is not a literal number of people. They are the eschatological servant warriors of God. The 144,000 did not worship the Beast (Rome and Nero) (Rev. 13:8). In contrast, those who worshipped the Beast were not recorded in the Book of Life (Rev. 17:8). I use the term Fraternity of Faithful Believers as synonymous with the 144,000.
The Book of Life is mentioned in conjunction with the Great White Throne Judgment (Rev. 20:12-15). At the judgment, anyone whose name was not found in the Book of Life was thrown into the Lake of Fire. Those thrown into the Lake of Fire included both believers and unbelievers. Included are all of the disobedient and rebellious. As explained in my book, Eyes to See the Revelation: A Spiritual Journey, the Lake of Fire is a synonym for the wrath of God. The Lake of Fire describes God’s judgment in this life and the next, but it is not a literal image or literal lake of fire. The Lake of Fire is an apocalyptic image or picture of the wrath of God. Apocalyptic language uses otherworldly images to explain spiritual realities. Normally, lakes do not catch on fire. Also, in Biblical imagery, lakes and seas are used as images of chaos and instability. Fire is a multifaceted image used to describe God’s judgment and discipline. God will judge the sources of chaos and instability. Rebellious humans and angelic beings live and function in chaos and instability.
Finally, the apostate believers and unbelievers are excluded from the New Jerusalem, which is a spiritual place designated for those who remain faithful. It is a spiritual place for those who worship God. Such believers have fellowship with God and each other. As John wrote, nothing unclean is allowed into the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:27). In fact, “no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” (Rev. 21:27). Again, this is not saying that only sinless people (of whom there are none) are admitted into the New Jerusalem. The New Jerusalem is a spiritual city for the servants of God. It is an otherworldly place incomparable to any other city ever built on Earth. The New Jerusalem is the city of God’s servants