What is the Book of Life?
Philippians 4: 13 says, “Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Think of the Lamb’s Book of Life as Heaven’s “birth register.” The only way to get your name registered there is to be born into God’s family.
The gospel of John, chapter 3, records the reaction of a man who couldn’t get his mind around this concept. Back in about 30 AD in Jerusalem, a man named Nicodemus realized something was missing in his life. So he snuck out one night to talk to Jesus. When Jesus told him he’d have to be born again to get into God’s kingdom, he got confused. Here’s how The Message puts it: Jesus said, “You’re absolutely right. Take it from me: Unless a person is born from above, it’s not possible to see what I’m pointing to – to God’s kingdom.” “How can anyone,” said Nicodemus, “be born who has already been born and grown up? You can’t re-enter your mother’s womb and be born again. What are you saying with this ‘born-from-above’ talk?” Jesus said, “You’re not listening. Let me say it again. Unless a person submits to this original creation – the ‘wind hovering over the water’ creation, the invisible moving the visible, a baptism into a new life – it’s not possible to enter God’s kingdom. When you look at a baby, it’s just that: a body you can look at and touch. But the person who takes shape within is formed by something you can’t see and touch – the Spirit – and becomes a living spirit. So don’t be so surprised when I tell you that you have to be ‘born from above’ – out of this world, so to speak.” (John 3:3-7)
You may have also heard people call this “being saved or born again”. In this article we want to very briefly look at three characteristics of “saved” or “born again” people.
Born again people have acknowledged they are sinners who cannot save themselves.
The Bible says that we have ALL committed sins – that is, we have failed to live up to the standards that God set for us in the Bible: “we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners… and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us” (Romans 3:23).
Because of our sinfulness, we are completely incapable of living the way God wants us to live. In a sense you could say we are “stillborn”. As sinners, we are condemned to death – spiritual death – for all eternity (“Work hard for sin your whole life and your pension is death” – Romans 6:23). That’s why we need the new life (inside life) we get when we’re born again.
Born again people have embraced the fact that Jesus took that death penalty for them.
Romans 6:23 continues, “But God’s gift is real life, eternal life, delivered by Jesus, our Master.” Since God’s law demands that the penalty for sin be paid, someone’s got to clear that debt. You owe it, you are responsible for it.
But something amazing happened. John 3:16-18 tells us what that was: This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again. Anyone who trusts in him is acquitted; anyone who refuses to trust him has long since been under the death sentence without knowing it. And why? Because of that person’s failure to believe in the one-of-a-kind Son of God when introduced to him.
Born again people have rejected all other proposals for how to achieve this whole and lasting life.
It doesn’t matter how good you think you are. It doesn’t matter how much better you are than somebody else. It doesn’t matter how many good deeds you do, or how much you give to charity. It doesn’t matter how many people look up to – or down to – you. God tells us that “Salvation [this new birth] comes no other way; no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only this one”