Questions From Readers
▪ What is God’s “book of life,” and how can my name be written in it and kept there?
Various Bible texts indicate that Jehovah God has a “book,” or “scroll,” listing faithful persons who are in line to receive everlasting life, whether in heaven or on earth.
From the heavens the true God notes humans who manifest faith, meriting his approval and remembrance. We read concerning some Jews in Malachi’s day: “At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, . . . and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name.”—Malachi 3:16.
Evidently, from the time of Abel forward, God has been noting, as if writing down in a book, those in the world of savable mankind who should be remembered as to everlasting life. (Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:50, 51) Anointed Christians, too, have their ‘names in this book of life,’ or book of remembrance for receiving everlasting life, and for them it will be heavenly life. (Philippians 3:14, 20; 4:3) In contrast, Revelation 17:8 says of those who “wonder admiringly” over “the wild beast”: “Their names have not been written upon the scroll of life from the founding of the world.”
A person’s being noted with remembrance and approval (having his name “in the book of life”) does not mean that he is guaranteed eternal life, as if this were predestined or unchangeable. Concerning the Israelites, Moses asked Jehovah: “Now if you will pardon their sin,—and if not, wipe me out, please, from your book that you have written.” God replied: “Whoever has sinned against me, I shall wipe him out of my book.” (Exodus 32:32, 33) Yes, even after God listed someone with approval in his “book,” the individual could become disobedient or abandon his faith. If that developed, God would “blot out his name from the book of life.”—Revelation 3:5.
On the other hand, if our names are now in God’s “book of life,” or “book of remembrance,” we ought to continue exercising faith. In that way we will keep our names there. Similarly, as persons are raised in the coming ‘resurrection of the unrighteous,’ they will have the opportunity to exercise faith and hence qualify to have their names recorded in that book. (Acts 24:15) Finally, individuals so written down will be able to keep their names there permanently. That is true of the anointed as they prove themselves “faithful even to death.” (Revelation 2:10; 3:5) As to those with earthly prospects, by proving faithful now, down through Christ’s Millennial Reign, and then through the decisive test to follow, their names will become permanently “written in the book of life.”—Revelation 20:5-15.