Is your name in the Book of Life

SERMON TOPIC: Is your name in the Book of Life

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 12 September 2021


Sermon synopsis: God has a record of those who belong to him:
Phil (NIV) 4:3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
Can your name be blotted out of the Book of Life?
Ex 32:33 Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.
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In our country (and other countries too) there are some important lists that you need to have your name on.


The Department of Home Affairs is the custodian of a list of South African citizens. If your name is not on the list, you cannot take up permanent residence in the country.

Another important list is the voter’s roll. If your name is not there; you cannot vote in an election.

If your name isn’t on the List of driver’s license holders, you cannot legally drive a vehicle on a public road.

Your name can be removed from these lists, e.g. your driver’s license or citizenship can be revoked.

But there is a more important list that your name needs to be on!


That list is the Lamb’s Book of Life. If your name is not in that book, you’re in serious trouble. And – contrary to what some teach - like our earthly lists, names can be “blotted out” or removed.

Both the OT (Hebrew: Sefer HaChaim) and NT (Greek: Biblos Zōē) speak of a Book of Life. Moses says that God has written this book (Ex 32:32). In Revelation 13:8 John tells us that the book belongs to the Lamb (Jesus).


The names of the wicked are not in that book:

Rev 13:8 (NIV) All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the Lamb’s book of life, the Lamb who was slain from the creation of the world.

Psalm 69:28 (NIV) May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.

But the names of the righteous are written down:

Malachi 3:16 (NIV) Then those who feared the Lord talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honoured his name.



So God has a record of those who belong to him:

2 Tim 2:19 (NIV) Nevertheless, God’s solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this inscription: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’…

Paul’s fellow workers had their names in the book of life:

Phil (NIV) 4:3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow, help these women who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel, along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

And so did Jesus’ 70 evangelists who were told that having your name written in that book is reason to rejoice.

Luke 10:20 (NIV) “… but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”


In fact, all those who belong to the true church of Jesus (i.e. not the organisation or a denomination) will have their names in that book:

Heb 12:22-23 (NIV) But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven.


God promises deliverance to those whose names are in the book.

Daniel 12:1 (NIV) “At that time Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise. There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then. But at that time your people —everyone whose name is found written in the book— will be delivered.”









God exists outside of time and sees the future as clearly as the present.

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. (Isaiah 46:10, NIV)


In his foreknowledge God has written down the names in the book of life since the creation of the world:

Rev 17:8b … (NIV) The inhabitants of the earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the creation of the world will be astonished when they see the beast, because it once was, now is not, and yet will come.


Does that mean that God has predetermined those who will be saved? No - While God knows who will be saved, he does not decide or predetermine their salvation or destiny.

1 Pet 1:2 (NIV) says we are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father”.

Rom 8:29 (NIV) “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son…”

So the fact that God’s foreknowledge means he already knows an outcome, does not in any way imply that he causes the outcome. He created us with a free will and choice to serve him or not.

“But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve…” (Joshua 24:15, NIV)


Those who teach eternal security battle with these verses and their take on Revelation 3:5 is that since all who are truly saved are overcomers, this is actually a promise that no name can be blotted out. Charles Stanley writes, “The good news is, God’s pencil has no eraser”. *

But for Jesus to make such a promise implies that the possibility exists of having your name blotted.

Robert L. Thomas writes, “The promise to the overcomer is an empty one unless the possibility exists that such blotting out could occur. What incentive is furnished by being promised deliverance from something that could not happen?” **

* Eternal Security: Can You Be Sure? ** Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 261, p. 182


Moses also mentions the possibility of a name being removed from the book (Ex 32:32).

But now, please forgive their sin—but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.

But God tells Moses that he only removes the names of those who sin against him from his book (Ex 32:33)

As noble as Moses’ intentions were to try and protect his fellow Israelites from God’s wrath, God does not negotiate with people’s salvation in this way.

Ezek 18:20 (NKJV) The soul who sins shall die…

Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book.


Unfortunately – despite what some say – it appears God’s pencil does have an eraser.

Ezek 18:24 (NIV) “But if a righteous person turns from their righteousness and commits sin and does the same detestable things the wicked person does, will they live? None of the righteous things that person has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness they are guilty of and because of the sins they have committed, they will die.”

David says of his enemies, “May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.” (Psalm 69:28, NIV)

And so, John Wesley taught that “if any who are saved make shipwreck of the faith, God will blot them out of his book, although they were written therein from before the foundation of the world.”


Uncomfortable with these 2 passages about names being “blotted out,” some argue that the Book of Life (or Book of the Living) references made by David and Moses are simply references to life on earth. Hence Moses is simply praying for God to kill him, while David is asking God to kill his enemies.

But this was not the understanding of these terms in Judaism – it was a similar concept to that in Christianity. According to Wikipedia, “In Christianity and Judaism, the Book of Life is the book in which God records the names of every person who is destined for Heaven and the World to Come. According to the Talmud it is open on Rosh Hashanah, as is its analog for the wicked, the Book of the Dead.” *

The context in Psalm 69:28 clearly shows that David is refer to a written record of the righteous - not simply to earthly life.

Psalm 69:28 (NIV) May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.



The extra-Biblical books from Qumran show clearly that the Christian understanding of the Book of Life came from the older Hebrew view – a book in heaven kept by God.

Enoch 47:3 At that time I beheld the Ancient of days, while he sat upon the throne of his glory, while the book of the living (life) was opened in his presence, and while all the powers which were above the heavens stood around and before him.

Names can be blotted out:

Enoch 108:3 … for their names shall be blotted out of the book of life and out of the holy books…

Jubilees 36:10 … and he shall be blotted out of the book of the discipline of the children of men, and not be recorded in the book of life, but in that which is appointed to destruction, and he shall depart into eternal execration [curse]

However - if we remain faithful to God and are overcomers, Jesus has promised that our names will never be removed from that book.

Rev 3:5 (NIV) He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.


J. William Fuller comments, “A command that everyone keeps is superfluous and a reward that everyone receives for a virtue that everyone has is nonsense”. *

And Howard Marshall writes, “The possibility of failure to endure is mentioned. Christians who fail to persevere will come under judgment and their names will be blotted out of the book of life. There is no reason to suppose that these warnings are purely hypothetical, directed against non-existent dangers; the reverse is the case. Moreover, the reference to the book of life indicates that John is addressing his warning to believers”. **

* “I Will Not Erase His Name” p. 299 ** Kept by the Power of God, p. 175



There are also other books mentioned which will be opened in the heavenly court on the Day of Judgement before God.

Daniel 7:10 (NIV) “The court was seated, and the books were opened.”

These books record every deed we have committed, and the judgement is based on the contents of these books:

Rev 20:12b-13 (NIV) The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done.


It’s also possible that the other books which are used for judgement are the very Scriptures we have.

Rev 20:12 (ESV) And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.

It is true that our knowledge of God’s Word will form a basis of our judgement.

John 12:48 (ESV) The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.

Luke 12:47 (ESV) And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating.


Nevertheless there does appear to be a heavenly record of our works. Nehemiah may have been making reference to this when he prayed the following:

Neh 13:14 (NIV) “Remember me for this, my God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of my God and its services.”


Every tear we have cried is recorded in God’s book.

Psalm 59:8 (NLT) You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.


Amazingly even the length of our life, including every day ordained for us is already recorded in God’s book.

Psalm 139:13, 16 (NIV) For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb… Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.

So God has already recorded every day of our lives including the day of our death!


Jesus says we will have to give account for every “empty word” we have spoken:

Matt 12:36 (NIV) “But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken.”


Every secret thing – including false motives – will be exposed at the judgement.

Eccl 12:14 (NIV) For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.

1 Cor 4:5 (NIV) Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.


If that worries you, fortunately we have the following promise from God.

Ezek 18:21-23 (NIV) “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed and keeps all my decrees and does what is just and right, that person will surely live; they will not die. None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them. Because of the righteous things they have done, they will live. Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign Lord. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?”


Daniel mentions a heavenly court present when the books are opened.

Daniel 7:9-10 (NIV) As I looked, thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat… Thousands upon thousands attended him; ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him. The court was seated, and the books were opened.

And into that heavenly court one “like a son of man enters” who is given all authority:

Daniel 7:13-14 (NIV) In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshipped him.

Jesus referred to himself as that “Son of Man” spoken of by Daniel (Matt 26:63-64)

I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.

Yes, it is as you say. But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.


The Son of Man (Jesus) has been given authority to judge by the Father:

John 5:26-27 (NIV) For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to judge because he is the Son of Man.

Presently Jesus acts as our advocate.

1 John 2:1 (NIV) My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father--Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.

Will you have Jesus as your advocate (attorney) …

or your judge?

2 Cor 5:10 (NIV) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ…

The book of life will also be opened at the judgment.

Rev 20:12a (NIV) And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life.

Those whose names are not in the book will be condemned.

Rev 20:15 (NIV) Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.

The verdict will be based on whether or not we chose to follow Jesus - the Son of God.

John 3:19 (NIV) “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil.”


There are 2 choices and 2 destinies. We can chose to accept God’s way of salvation through his Son, Jesus - or to reject it and face the consequences:

John 3:36 (NIV) Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them.

1 John 5:10-12 (NIV) Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.


Those who reject the Son of God face a terrible fate:

Heb 10:26-31 (NIV) If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

Although universalists believe that everyone will be saved, the Bible says that if your name is not in the book of life you will never enter the New Jerusalem, which is God’s abode on earth.

Rev 21:27 (NIV) Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

Is your name written down in the Lamb’s book of life?


How can the record of my sins be erased from those books and ‘forgotten’ by God?

1 John 1:9 (NIV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Then God removes, forgives and forgets our sin:

Ps 103:12 (NIV) as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

Isaiah 43:25 (NIV) “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more.”

Heb 8:12 (NIV) “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”


How is it possible that my sin can be removed without the penalty being paid?

Jesus took your sin on himself on the cross and paid the penalty himself.

2 Cor 5:21 (NIV) God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1 Pet 2:24 (NIV) “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.”

Isaiah 53:12 (NIV) … he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


Jesus gave his life to redeem you from sin.

Matt 20:28 (NIV) “just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Matt 26:28 (NIV) “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Have you chosen to follow Jesus and accept him as Lord of your life so that your name can be written in the Book of Life?