Thursday, April 3, 2014
Revelation 20:11-12 Some thoughts on God's books in heaven
Revelation 20:11-12 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.
I can recall several years ago when my wife and I ordered an extra copy of our marriage license. We were living in a different state at the time and sent a written request to the court house in the county wherein we were wed. The courthouse promptly sent us our extra copy, notarized and concealed in an official envelope. How was it that we were able to obtain that document? The courthouse had us on record in their files where our names were recorded. Such public registers or records illustrate the idea of how often we deal with matters of public record.
In the scripture above we see depicted what will be the final judgment. God keeps His own set of records or what the Bible refers to as "Books". An interesting detail is recorded that I would like us to consider today, namely the phrase: "And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened...". What kind of books are there in heaven that have the record of every person ever born or to ever be born? Are these people believers, unbelievers or both? Such questions we aim to answer in a post I'm entitling: "God's books in Heaven."
Noting what the Bible says about God's books in Heaven
Revelation 20;11-12 is not the first place we find reference to various books of Heavenly Divine Record. Throughout the scripture we see God progressively reveal through the pens of His appointed prophets and apostles various sorts of books that function in different ways. Evidently there are several books that are defined by their contents in over 25 places in the Bible.1 Bible Scholar Tim Lahaye notes: "Evidently God owns a complete set of books that record every person's deeds, waiting to be recalled on judgment day. These are the books of man's works."2 In surveying all the passages that deal on this subject, we can layout two sets of books or "Heavenly registers" whereby God will use in His dealings with all unbelievers who die in their sins and with all believers who die in Jesus.
1. A Book of life for all men born into this world
This first book is called most often in the scripture by the simply title "The Book of Life" or "The Book of the Living". Such a book could also be termed God's "Biological Book of Physical Life", recording the names of all people who were ever born and died. Moses in Exodus 32:32 gives us the first reference in God's word to the existence of such a book: "But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” Tim Lahaye notes concerning this book: "The Book of life is referred to as the Father's book in Exodus 32:33; it records all those whom the Father has made. It is then the book of the Living, much like the local records book at the local county Government office." 3
The Bible traces out the fact that every person ever to be born was ordained by God to be born and to die on a certain day. Passages such as Psalm 90 and 139 bear out these ideas. We know the day of a person's birth is ordained by God to begin their natural life (Job 3:1; Ecclesiastes 7:1) and the end of their natural life. (Hebrews 9:27) All men born into this world are lost due to inheriting the sin of their representive natural head - Adam. It is by Adam that sin entered into the world and resulted in the Divine curse on us all. (Romans 5:11-21; Ephesians 2:1-4, 12).
Unless there is the New Birth and reception of salvation by faith, and unless that person's name is written in the Lamb's book of Life, there can be no possibility of salvation. To be saved, a person must needs be born again and thus be in the New Adam Jesus Christ, since their natural birth and association in Old Adam is rejected. (John 3:1-6) Thus in Revelation 20:11-15, the basis for judgment is the absence of a person's name in the Lamb's Book of Life. All believers have there names recorded eternally in The Lamb's Book of Life and the Biological Book of Life. However the sad truth is that unbeliever's names are recorded only in the Biological Book of Life. Now with this Book of life is an accompanying volume....
2. A book recording the deeds of unbelievers
Unbelievers have a book wherein is recorded every deed and word they have uttered. Revelation 21:5 states "and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds." Such books are kept to determine the levels of judgment and punishment unbelievers will experience for eternity. Why is this important to note? Because to whatever degree of light of God's truth a person as been exposed, and subsequently rejected, will determine what degree of suffering they endure when they die in their sins. Thus for those who die never having heard the name of Jesus, their degree of judgment will be less than those who died in their sins having heard the Gospel numerous times over the course of their lives. Yes all unbelievers will have their place in the Lake of Fire, however the degrees of suffering meted out to each will be dependant upon the deeds they did in this life. Jesus notes in Matthew 25:28-29 “For to everyone who has, more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. 30 Throw out the worthless slave into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
Such truths demonstrate that God is a fair and just God, and that in the end, all people who die and enter into eternal judgment do so as a result of their own choices and repeated rejection of God's revelation of Himself in creation and His Son Jesus Christ in the Bible. According to Dr. John MacArthur, the phrases "weeping and gnashing of teeth" refer to anger and hatred being expressed by sinners against God and all things in general. Such truths, though frightening are nonetheless revealed in scripture to warn sinners to believe, repent and be saved.
So we have looked at the first set of books for unbelievers - The book of life and a book recording their deeds. Such books will be used in the final judgment recorded in Revelation 20:11-15. But now lets look at a second set of books revealed in the Bible for believers who stand at a different judgment - the judgment seat of Christ.
3. "The Lamb's Book of Life"
Those who have been born again unto faith and repentance in Christ (Old Testament Saints would had believed on Him as the Promised Savior, New Testament believers believe on Him as Personal Savior) are described as having had their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life. Passages such as Psalm 69:28 refer to this particular book as the "Book of Life" and Psalm 87 refers to God's record keeping of every believer throughout every nation as being recorded by the words: "This one lives here". Clearly the recording of names by God of all His saints are personal and detailed. Daniel 12:1 simply uses the term "The Book" to specify much the same references we have looked at in the verse above. The names of the saints of God are kept by God in a record called in the Old Testament: "The Book of Life".
Although this title is very similar to the "Book of Life" described up above, both context of the scripture and the contents of the book itself reveal it to be different. Numerous other texts could be cited, however it is clear there is a book that records the names of the redeemed, that is kept in Heaven (Luke 10:20; Hebrews 12:23; Revelation 3:5); contain the names of every child of God (Philippians 4:3) which were recorded before the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8; 17:8) and is deemed the Son or Lamb's Book of Life. (Revelation 13:8)
4. A Book that records the "deeds" of the saints
In the Old Testament we see examples of a certain collection of Books that record the deeds of believers. (Nehemiah 13:14) In the New Testament we know following the rapture of the Church that every Christian will stand before what Romans 14:10 will call "The Judgment Seat of Christ". 1 Corinthians 3:8-11 and 2 Corinthians 5:10 describes the purpose of this specific judgment in examining all the deeds or works performed post-conversion here on earth. As every Christian is examined by the Lord in Heaven during the tribulation here on earth, the issue will not be about salvation, but rather reward. The Christian's place in heaven is already set due to Christ's cross and God's purpose of Grace in choosing them in Christ which they received by faith. The "Lamb's Book of Life" will not be opened during this judgment. However there will be books opened wherein God has recorded every deed and word spoken by Christians. Such truths ought to motivate us onto love and good deeds. (Romans 14:10)
We see then two books that God has for believers: one which has recorded His choice and their faith in Him - the Book of Life and another book that records all their deeds done post-conversion.
We have surveyed today the Bible's teaching on God's Books in Heaven that are referenced to in Revelation 20:11-15 and in other places. We noted that there are two sets of books: a set consisting of the names and deeds of believers and a book consisting of the deeds done by unbelievers. There is another book that records the names of all people born and their appointed days of death - a Book of Life. Then there is a book that has recorded already the names of every person who believes on Jesus - the Lamb's Book of Life. All these books together point to how God will deal justly and fairly with believers in the Judgment Seat of Christ in Heaven during the Tribulation Period and with unbelievers in the Great White Throne of Judgment at the End of the Millennium.
1. The one online article that features every verse in the Bible on this subject of "God's Books" is found at:
, includes the following scripture references to the various Heavenly books: Exodus 32:32-33; Psalm 40:8; 56:9; 69:28; 87:6; 139:16; Isaiah 4:3; 34:16-17; 65:6; Jeremiah 17:3; 22:30; Ezekiel 13:9; Daniel 7:10; 10:21; 12:1;Malachi 3:16-17; Luke 10:20; Philippians 4:3; Hebrews 12:23; Jude 4; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:15,15; 21:27; 22:19
2. Tim Lahaye. Charting the Endtimes. Harvest House Publishers. Page 74
3. Tim Lahaye. Charting the Endtimes. Harvest House Publishers. Page 74