KEYWORDS: book, life, book of life, light, world, lake

What Is the "Book of Life"?

David Berg

—A Question from Our Education Department!DFO 1556June 1983

Dearest Dad,

GBY!—WLY & are keeping you & all of the dear ones with you in our prayers. PTL!

As much as I want to avoid taking up your time unnecessarily, after praying, studying & discussing it, I'm afraid we've got another Bible Prophecy question to ask you, if you could please help answer it for us. We've just been putting the final last minute correction on the "Judgement & Hell" compilation, & discovered that we didn't really grasp or understand an important point regarding this as fully as we'd like to, in order to make it really clear & easy to understand in the class. (Dad: —Amen!)

The point in question is regarding the "Book of Life," which is brought out at the Great White Throne Judgement in Rev.20. Verse 12 says, "And I saw the dead, small & great, stand before God; & the books were opened, & another book was opened‚ which is the Book of Life: & the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works." And Verse 15 says, "And whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire."—Which obviously makes this a very important book.

Jesus told His disciples to "Rejoice, because your names are written in Heaven!" (Lk.10:20) And Paul, addressing some of his brethren, spoke of them as "my fellow-labourers, whose names are in the Book of Life." (Phil.4:3) Then in John's description of Space City, he says, "And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's Book of Life." (Rev.21:27)—All of which seem to indicate that the Book of Life is the ledger or roll of the saved of all ages.

Regarding those that fall for the Antichrist & worship him, Revelation says, "And all that dwell upon the Earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World." (Rev.13:8) Then in an almost identical passage it says, "The beast that thou sawest was, & is not; & shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, & go into perdition: & they that dwell on the Earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the World, when they behold the beast that was, & is not‚ & yet is." (Rev.17:8)—Which, when compared to the preceding verse in Rev.13:8, seems to indicate that the "Book of Life of the Lamb" & the "Book of Life" are one & the same thing. (Amen!)

In the recent quotes & passages from the MLs that I've been going through for this compilation, it appears that this "Book of Life" might be not only a record of the "saved‚" but a record of everyone ever born who has not been absolutely, thoroughly wicked & pretty much sold out to the Devil.—As you've explained that only the most wicked, like the AC, the False Prophet, the Devil & the Mark-of-the-Beast people & Millennial rebels will go to the Lake of Fire.—And it says that all that are not in the Book go to the Lake. (Amen!)

So I guess what we're asking & hoping for is a little more explanation or clarification on exactly what this Book of Life is. The above-mentioned Scriptures seem to say that it is a record or listing of the actually saved, born-again saints of God who will walk the streets of the Heavenly City. But if that is the case, then everyone who is not saved is going to get chucked into the fiery Lake!—Which is a pretty harsh & cruel interpretation, particularly considering the ignorant & innocent "unsaved" such as remote natives & followers of other religions who've never really heard the Gospel & babies & young children, etc. I heartily agree with you that our God is Love & not a merciless monster as the hard-nosed‚ hardhearted evangelicals portray Him!—And certainly He will mercifully & fairly judge & make provision for such folks, as you're clearly brought out in the MLs.

But this Scripture about all who are not written in the Book of Life being cast into the Lake is still somewhat of a mystery to me. So any comments or amplification of what you've already said about it would be a blessing & help to me in finalising this compilation.

—If it is a book of only the saved‚ then we've got the afterlife habitations cut down to basically only two or three places—the Heavenly City for those written in the Book (Rev.21:27), & the Lake of Fire for those not written in the done away with (Rev.20:14), & it looks like the only "in-between" left would be the "New Earth," outside the City, where the folks who are purged out in the Lake of Fire will be ultimately released & reconciled (Rev.21:8; 22:15), where we'll minister to them the healing leaves. (Rev.22:2) (Amen!)

But if it's only for the "saved," what about all the poor, innocent, ignorant folks who never heard His Gospel or even His Name?—Could "Salvation in the Spirit World" be the answer? Does it seem possible, logical or Scriptural to you that such folks, upon dying & entering the spirit realm, if truly ignorant & having never actually rejected Christ, are given an opportunity to receive full salvation, get their names written in this Book‚ & thereby obtain rights & access to the Heavenly City? (Dad: —Why not?)

—Or, is it possible that this "Book of Life" is not just a record of a saved, but a book in which everyone is listed‚ but from which those who really rebelled against the Light they had & became truly wicked were "blotted out"? As you've mentioned in the Letters, everyone, even the remotest savage in the furthest jungles, has a basic knowledge of good & evil‚ & the Holy Spirit is faithfully to convict everyone of sin when they wilfully do wrong.—"That is the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. (Jn.1:9) Romans 2 also brings this out, that even the ignorant "shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, & their thoughts the meanwhile accusing or else excusing one another." (Rom.2:15)

So could it be that everyone ever born starts out "written in the Book of Life," but if they severely "kick against the pricks" of their own God-given conscience & knowledge of good & evil, that their names are removed?—I know that Jesus is "the Light of the World" (Jn.8:12), but if the only Light some folks get in this life is their own conscience & His Spirit's conviction "that lightenth every man that cometh into the World," could some be condemned for rejecting even that light & thus be "blotted out"?—"This is the condemnation‚ that light is come into the World, & men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved." (Jn.3:19,20) (Dad: —Amen!—I believe it!)

A couple of Scriptures which could possibly lend credence to this say: "And the Lord said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against Me, him will I blot out of My Book." (Ex.32:33) And David's prayer against his enemies: "Let them be blotted out of the Book of the Living, & not be written with the righteous." (Ps.69:28)

So, all that to say, we weren't too clear on that Scripture at the end of Rev.20 about "Whosoever was not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire‚" as we're not sure exactly what this Book is‚ or how does one get written into it, or how does one get blotted out of it. Of course we know that "once you're saved, you're always saved," that's not the question at all. It's how does one get logged into this Book?—Through birth?—Or through second birth, salvation? And how does one get "blotted out" of it?—Through kicking against the God-given light of conscience & wilfully becoming downright evil & devilish & reprobate? (As many have been throughout the Ages, although they probably never heard about Jesus.—Such as some of history's Genghis Khan's, cruel Hindu kings, Oriental emperors, etc., & many Westerners who were absolutely barbaric & evil!)—Or are people not written in it simply because they never received Jesus & His atonement?—Either here & now in this life, or there & then in the spirit world after they died & were perhaps "preached to" while in His prisons or elsewhere? (1Pt.3:19) (Dad: It obviously includes souls not already saved before Jesus' Second Coming‚ as it's after that‚ as all the saved before that went to Heaven in the Rapture!)

I'm sorry this question is so long & drawn-out & hope this isn't too much of a bother or time & energy drain for you. We've found all of the material in the recent Letters on the Afterlife & everyone's future prospects so fascinating & thrilling & appreciate you & the MLs more & more each day! But we felt it would really be helpful for us & our work on this "Judgement & Hell" compilation if we could see if you had anything further to say on this. Thank you so much for everything you've done for us all & for all of your love & patience.

Love always, in His & Your Service,


(Dad's Answer:)—PTL! GBY!—This is a very easy question to answer: "Who's really written in this 'Book of Life'?"—We don't really know!—Ha!—But it's pretty obvious they're saved in some way, as they're not amongst those in the Resurrection & Rapture at Jesus' "Second Coming," as they are "the rest of the dead" who lived not again until after the Millennium, at this "Second Resurrection" at the Great White Throne Judgment!—And it seems, since the Scriptures indicate all of us saved now & before are already written in that Book of Life, the only purpose in checking it for "the rest of the dead" is to see if any of them also are written in it & therefore "deserve" Salvation of some kind. As I pointed out, if nobody else is saved, then there's no point in bringing out the Book at all!—So obviously some of them are & are in it!—How?—We don't know, but can only assume they were saved during the Millennium or in the Spirit World AFTER the Rapture! Perhaps from the terminology of other Scriptures concerning the "blotting out" of some‚ your guess that maybe all are in it at birth may be right, & are therefore only "blotted out" if unsaved through eventual rejection of Jesus either here or hereafter.—Does that help? GBY! TG we'll know exactly soon! PTL!—TX & GBAKYAMYAB‚ in Jesus' name, amen!—Love, D.