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Grace Bible Church

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary.

The Tree of Life for week ending 05/13/01.

As we come to the last phrase of PHI 4:3 we find one more doctrine mentioned.  So far we have in our corrected translation, "Indeed, I request also you, true Syzygus [genuine one who is a real man], to help or to assist these women who are of such quality have fought by my side in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life."
This "book of life" is very misunderstood, yet it is a very exciting subject that answers a lot of doctrinal issues such as the doctrine of election, the free will of man, the divine decree, eternal security, and many others.

The Doctrine of the Book of Life.

Point One:  Definition.
To understand this doctrine, we need to understand that the book of life is one thing in time and something different in eternity. 

In eternity past the book of life is a registry containing the names of every member of the human race who would ever be born.  In time, the book of life has to do with members of the human race who are alive as well as a registry of all believers, including those rewarded as winner believers or overcomers.
In eternity, it is the registry of all believers forever.

Under the doctrine of the unlimited atonement and the divine decrees, when a person dies as an unbeliever, his name is removed from the book of life.  Therefore, in eternity future only the names of believers will be in the book of life,PHI 4:3: Rev 13:8, 17:8, 20:12,15, and 21:7.
Rev 13:8  "And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain."
Notice the phrase "the book of life of the Lamb."  In eternity, this book also contains the new title of royalty for each winner believer or overcomer.
REV 17:8  "The beast that you saw was and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and to go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth will wonder, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come."
REV 21:24-27 "And the nations shall walk by its light, and the kings of the earth shall bring their glory into it.  And in the daytime (for there shall be no night there) its gates shall never be closed; and they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it; and nothing unclean and 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."

A number of passages in the Bible refer to "the book of life," which is a figurative expression that originated in the ancient world.  An ancient custom was to keep the various kinds of genealogical records in a book known as a book of life, Neh 7:5.  This was a natural book for all residents who were born.  They would also have a book of life for registering citizens for other purposes, JER 22:30; EZE 13:9.

When it comes to books, God is represented as having records of men, of their works, and of God's dealings with them.  One such record is called "The book of life."  REV 20:12 "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."
There are other categories of records or books mentioned in Scripture. 
Book of Wars: NUM 21:14
This was a collection of war songs celebrating the glorious acts of God on behalf of Israel.

The Book of Jasher: JOS 10:13; 2SA 1:18.
This was an early chronicle of the history of Israel.

Book of Remembrance: MAL 3:16-17; PSA 56:8.
MAL 3:16-17 "Then those who feared [respected or reverenced] the Lord spoke to one another, and the Lord gave attention and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who respect the Lord and who esteem His name.  And 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."
This was a book of remembrance for special blessings and rewards for faithfulness.

Book of Those Physically Alive (a dooms day book): EXO 32:32-33
This refers to a register of the physically living.  To be blotted out meant to experience physical death; EXO 17:14;DEU 29:20; PSA 9:5-6.

The Book of Works: REV 20:12-13
This consists of a record of the deeds of unbelievers as a basis of their judgment proving they all fall short of the righteousness of Jesus Christ; DAN 7:9-10; ROM 3:19-24.

When the phrase the "book of life" is used in the New Testament, everyone knew exactly which connotation was being applied.  In the city of Sardis, names were removed from the city register before death if people had been convicted of a crime.
References to the book of life have various meanings regarding salvation, to the believer, and to the unbeliever.  

Point 2. Passages Referring to the Book of Life.
One of the first passages that reference the book of life is the Exodus passage when the Jews made the golden calf.  Moses became very angry with them but still interceded on their behalf before the Lord.
EXO 32:30-33 "And it came about on the next day that Moses said to the people, You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the Lord, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.  Then Moses returned to the Lord, and said, Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves.  But now, if Thou wilt, forgive their sin-- and if not, please blot me out from Thy book which Thou hast written!  And the Lord said to Moses, Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book."

This was not a sin of not believing, they believed in Him according to EXO 14:31, their sin was a violation of Exo 20:3-5 "You shall have no other gods before Me.  You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me,"
The sin mentioned in this passage is the rejection of the word and the worshipping of golden calf.  Here the book is a reference to the registry of life on this earth.  This is why Moses said "But now, if Thou wilt, forgive their sin-- and if not, please blot me out from Thy book which Thou hast written!"
The promise of God did not fail because although those who sinned were blotted out of the book of life in time, their family enjoyed the inheritance of the promise land.  Being blotted out of the book of life is this particular realm does not refer to salvation but to life in time.

One of the responsibilities that Moses had was to develop a registry of the tribes and families of Israel.  Also to record respectively, the acts and different transactions in the desert and in the promise land that they would be responsible for.  Under the doctrine of requirement that there is one point that a lot of believers overlook, the principle of omission and accountability.  Moses developed a registry of the tribes and families of Israel and their responsibilities in the desert and in the promise land.
The Bible says that those who refused to listen would still be responsible, DEU 18:17-19
Some believers think that by not listening to the word of God they will not be responsible for that which they do not hear, that is not true.
The Lord also requires from us:
To be occupied with Him.
To be governed by His doctrine.
To love and to serve Him.
To have our soul in complete submission to Him.  All five parts, emotion, self-consciousness, volition, mentality and conscience.
DEU 10:12  "And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,"

God will also require you to fulfill any vow that you have made to Him or His people, DEU 23:21, ECC 5:4-5
The Bible also teaches that only those who are under the influence of evil think that God will not require anything from them, PSA 10:13 "Why has the wicked spurned God? He has said to himself, Thou wilt not require {it}."

God also requires pastors to exhort and warn their congregation, 2TI 4:1-2; HEB 13:17.

God requires that we operate in justice, love mercy, (grace in action) and walk in humility, MIC 6:8 "He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justice, to love grace, And to walk humbly with your God?"

Our birth certificates are similar to what the Old Testament would refer to as being registered in the book of life in time.  Our death certificates would represent being blotted out of the book of life in time.
Another aspect of  "the book of life" is mentioned in PSA 69:28 "May they be blotted out of the book of life, And may they not be recorded with the righteous."
Notice we can be in the book of life and be blotted out from the righteous.
Another passage is DAN 12:1 "Now at that time Michael, the great prince who stands {guard} over the sons of your people [Israel], will arise. And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued."
Though the word "life" or "living" is not used here, it is part of the same concept.
In the gospels The Lord Jesus Christ says in Luk 10:20 "Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven."
Then of course PHI 4:3, where Paul speaks of "the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life."
There is also REV 3:5; Rev 13:8; REV 17:8; REV 20:12; REV 20:15 and REV 21:27 "and nothing unclean and 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."

Point 3. The Book of Life In Relation to Believers.
Believers are told their names stand permanently written (recorded) in the book of life.  The tenses used in Luk 10:20, HEB 12:23 suggest an abiding state or a position of perfect standing recorded or enrolled.  LUK 10:19-20"Behold, I have given you authority to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall injure you.  Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven."
When these messages were written, Christians were under the constant threat of being branded as social rebels and stripped of their citizenship if they refused to deny or denounce their faith in Christ.  They were branded as criminals, therefore, as a source of motivation and encouragement the Lord personally reminds them not only of the safety of heavenly citizenship, but of the special acknowledgment the Lord Himself will give before the Father and His angels.

Blotting names from the book of life is never applicable to a believer in Christ because believers are secure in Him, being kept by the power of God (1PE 1:5) and held secure in both the hand of the Son and of the Father (JOH 10:28-30).  To believers, the book of life is the guarantee of eternal salvation, Rev 13:8; 17:8; 21:27.  Their names have been written before the foundation of the world.
In REV 3:1-5 The Lord Jesus Christ is speaking to believers when He says And to the messenger of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars, says: "I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.  Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.  Remember therefore what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. If therefore you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come upon you.  But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white; for they are worthy.   He who overcomes shall 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."

The Lord promises "I will not erase his name from the book of life."  This statement has been the source of controversy for generations.   Many erroneous positions have been taken in regards to this passage.  Some say that those who have been saved by Christ's redemption, can fall away and be lost forever.  Scripture absolutely and categorically denies this.  The nature of the salvation provided by Christ is eternal.  Our justification in God's sight is not based on our works but on the perfect, finished righteousness and substitutionary atonement of Jesus Christ. (JOH 3:16; JOH 10:27-30, ROM 8:29-30).
The phrase "He who overcomes" is the Greek phrase "ho nikon" which should be translated "The winner."  Winners are described in Rev 2-3 by the present active participle of nikao, as in Rev 2:7,11,17,26 and 3:5,12,21. 
Winners will be able to eat of the Tree of Life in the middle of the Paradise of God, Rev 2:7.  Only winners have the privilege of access to the Gazebo in the garden and the tree of life.  The winner is a member of the paradise club forever. 
This includes three special privileges: eating from the Tree of Life, access to the Gazebo in the Garden, access to the Paradise of God, Rev 2:7.
In REV 2:11, they shall not be hurt by the Second death because of blessing by association.  
In REV 2:17, they eat of the hidden manna and receive a new name on a white stone, the new knighthood is given to the winner. 
ev 2:17  'He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. "To the winner, I will give him blessing from the hidden manna [escrow blessing for time and eternity]; also I will give him a white pebble [the resurrection body, God's final vote of justification--they voted with colored pebbles in the ancient world--and on that white pebble has been inscribed a new title [your royal patent in the eternal heraldry] which no one knows [you are an anonymous hero during the Church Age]."
Each winner alone knows his place in the eternal order of chivalry.
In REV 2:26, they are given power and authority to rule nations.
In REV 3:5, they are clothed with the uniform of glory.  The decoration includes presentation in the Court of Heaven to God the Father.  While this occurs in the third heaven for all winners, the losers will wait in the second heaven.
In Rev 3:12, their names are written in the historical record section of heaven and he has a coat of arms, Rev 3:12, which allows him to enter the new Jerusalem.
Only the winner can enter the new Jerusalem.  And they have this  "New title" written upon them as they follow their fearless leader back to earth, in REV 19:11-16.
In REV 3:21, winners are granted to sit with Christ on His throne.
In REV 21:7, winners inherit fantastic blessings in the eternal state.
REV 21:7 "He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son.
So this is a description of the winner in the eternal state.
The one who discovers that the word of God is alive and powerful.

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