What is the book of life?

Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life will enter the New Jerusalem. God’s judgment upon the unsaved will be executed based upon the contents of several books. The most important book in judgment will be the book of life. Those who are not listed in the book of life will be thrown into eternal punishment. “And whosoever was not found in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:15)

What is the book of life? Does God have a physical book in which He keeps a list of all those who will be allowed to enter heaven? The idea of God’s record book is found scattered throughout the Bible. The first mention is in Exodus 32 when Moses pray for God to preserve rebellious Israel. Moses says, “Yet now, if thou wilt, forgive their sin- and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.” Other mentions of a celestial book are found in the Old Testament, but not until the New Testament is a direct reference made to the book of life. The first use of the phrase “book of life” is in Philippians 4. There the apostle Paul describes his fellow workers in the ministry as those “whose names are in the book of life.”

Two references in the New Testament seem to refer to the book of life though they do use that phrase. In Luke 10 Jesus tells the disciples “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Hebrews 12 says those who are saved are part of the church of the firstborn, “whose names are written in heaven.”

The book of Revelation makes the most frequent mention to the book of life. During the time of the tribulation most of the world will worship the antichrist. Revelation 13 and 17 say that those who worship the antichrist are ones “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb”. Revelation 21 describes the New Jerusalem, the great heavenly city where the saved will enjoy eternal bliss. The only ones who will enter God’s city are those who “are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

The Bible does not aim to give an explanation of the book of life. Any man’s description of the book of life is based upon deductions from the Bible’s descriptions of how the book is used. What is clear in Scripture is that the book of life is a heavenly record of those who are saved. Those whose names are written in the book of life will enter into eternal life. Those whose names are not in the book of life will not.

Little else can be said with certainty. The book of life may be a just a metaphor of God’s accuracy of in keeping track of those who are saved. This author prefers the more literal reading that the book of life is a written record of all those who genuinely have eternal life. The clear truth is most important. God knows those that are His. Those who have been saved will have eternal life. Those who have not been saved will not. God will not err in distinguishing between the saved and the lost.

What happened to the ark of the covenant?

Anyone who has seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is familiar with the ark of the covenant. In a dramatic scene ark is opened and ghostly creatures kill the German soldiers to climax the harrowing search for the long lost Ark of the Covenant.

The Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box built by the Israelites shortly after their departure from Egypt. While camped around Mt. Sinai the Israelites constructed the Tabernacle. The Tabernacle was a kind of giant tent where the worship of God took place. God gave the Israelites precise instructions about building the Tabernacle and all its furnishings.

The ark of the covenant was a key piece of furniture in the tabernacle. It was a rectangular box about 4 feet long by 2 feet wide. The box was made out of shittim wood and completely covered with gold. Inside the ark were three items: the rod of Aaron, a pot of manna and the stone tablets on which the law was written. The lid of the ark was made of solid gold. On each end of the lid was a hand wrought golden cherub stretching it wings over the lid. This golden lid was called the mercy seat.

The ark of the covenant and the mercy seat were kept inside the back room of the tabernacle. Above the mercy seat rested the presence of God. This room, called the Holy of Holies, was closed off to everyone. No one entered the holy of holies, except for one time a year. On that one day the High Priest, and only the High Priest, would go into the holy of holies to sprinkle blood on the mercy seat.

When Solomon built the temple in Jerusalem he did so according to the design of the tabernacle. The furniture of the tabernacle was moved into the new temple where each piece served the same purpose it had in the tabernacle. The ark of the covenant and the mercy seat were placed inside the Temple Holy of Holies. The ark and mercy seat were possibly the most sacred pieces of temple furniture. However, they have now been lost to history. What happened to them?

The Bible is silent on the fate of the ark. The last mention of the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament is in 2 Chronicles 35. In the early 600’s BC Josiah, the king of Judah, restored the ark to its proper place in the temple. Several decades later in 586 BC the temple was destroyed by the Babylonians. The furniture and vessels of the ark were taken as spoils of war, but the ark is not specifically mentioned in that list.

The book of 2 Maccabees, which is not Biblical but may be historically accurate, says the prophet Jeremiah hid the ark before Babylon took Jerusalem. The statement of Maccabees may or not be true, but it seems the ark was never again seen in Jerusalem. After the seventy years of captivity the Jews were allowed to return to their capital city. They rebuilt Jerusalem and the temple. They restored some of the temple furnishings, but could not restore everything. It seems the ark of the covenant was never returned to Jerusalem after the captivity. As a result, no one knows what happened to the ark of the covenant.

Why does the Bible have two creation accounts?

“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

The famous opening line of the Bible summarizes God’s creation of the universe. The first two chapters of Genesis record the creation of everything. Genesis 1 describes the creation of light, dry land, oceans, plants, the sun, the moon, stars, fish, birds, animals and mankind.

Genesis 2 tells of God’s seventh day rest from the creation work. The second chapter then goes on to describe how God formed Adam out of dirt, planted a garden in Eden, placed Adam in the garden, instructed Adam to name the animals and then made Eve.

The differences between Genesis 1 and 2 form the basis of claims that Genesis contains two separate and different creation accounts. The perceived contradictions between the two chapters are presented as evidence that Scriptures is not a reliable historical record. How do Christians, especially those who believe the earth is less than ten thousand years old, explain the problems between these two chapters?

Like many supposed contradictions in the Bible the problems of Genesis 1 and 2 are not problems at all. The differences between the first two chapter of Genesis are not contradictions. Genesis 1 provides the overview of all of God’s creative work. Genesis 2 focuses on God’s work to create man and a suitable habitation for mankind. Genesis 2 adds detail to the record of man’s creation.

At this point a reader may object that Genesis 2 says God caused the trees to grow after He made Adam. Genesis 2:8 answers the objection. “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden.” The trees growing in Genesis 2 are only the trees in the Garden of Eden not all trees on earth. God planted the garden by causing specific trees to grow out of the ground where He wanted them to grow. God could have made the garden by transplanting trees from other places on earth. He did not. The trees He desired to be in the garden of Eden He commanded to spring up in their proper place. God’s creating trees in the Garden of Eden on the sixth day does not contradict the Genesis 1 description of God creating plant life on day three.

What about when Genesis 2 says that God made the animals and birds after He made Adam? Genesis 1 says all the flying creatures were made on the fifth day of creation, and it says God made the animals before He made man. How could that be true if they were created after Adam? In the King James Version Genesis 2:18-19 is translated, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air.” At first glance it looks like Genesis 2 is describing consecutive events: God made Adam, and then God put him in the garden, and then God said it is not good for man to be alone , and then God formed the birds and beasts. This is not the case. The word translated formed is expressing an action that had occurred in the past. Genesis does not say, “And then God formed every beast of the field.” Genesis says, “And God had formed every beast of the field . . .” The action had already occurred before God created Adam. God brought the already created animals to Adam for him to name.

Genesis does not contain two creation different accounts. Genesis 1 and 2 complement one another by providing additional details about what God has done. The creation account gives the wide angle view of the whole work of creation and then zooms in to describe specific events surrounding the creation of man.

What is Inspiration

The Bible is authoritative in all Christian religions. Jesus taught His followers to search the Scriptures because they teach of eternal life. (John 5:39) The Bible claims to be the Word of God, inspired by God and transmitted through holy men. The claims of the Bible should not lightly be brushed aside. If the Bible’s claims are true then it is the only way by which men will receive the knowledge that brings salvation.

The nature of the Bible is of the highest importance. The Bible specifically claims to be inspired by God. 2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed”. What does this mean? How inspiration is defined affects how one sees the Bible as the Word of God. The nature of inspiration directly impacts the nature of the Bible.

As it is commonly used inspiration describes the process of stirring a person to an action, decision or expression. A sunset inspires someone to write a song. Love inspires a man to write a poem for his wife. The courage of another inspires a young lady to aspire to great things. This understanding of inspiration is not what is meant by the statement, “the Bible is inspired by God.”

The authors of the Bible were not moved by their contemplation of God to pen great spiritual truths.The greatness of God did not motivate certain men to the highest form of theological self-expression.

The Biblical teaching of inspiration is summed up in 2 Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.” God directed men to write His Word. The words of the Bible are the words of God written through the instrument of Godly men. The nature of inspiriation is such that the Bible can accurately be described as the words of men and as the Word of God.

For example, the words of the Psalms are David’s and God’s. Acts 1:16 says exactly this. “This Scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake.” David knew the Holy Spirit was speaking through Him. His last words to Israel are recorded in 2 Samuel 23, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by men, His word was in my tongue.”

Biblical inspiration does not mean the authors of the Bible acted as robots who mechanically recorded what God dictated. Biblical inspiration teaches that God used the character, personality, ability and intellect of each author to pen His Words. God worked through the mind of men, but the Bible is not limited to what the men could have known. God revealed truth to His messengers. Whether they wrote prophecy, history or the nature of humanity the Biblical authors words are accurate and untainted by error.

Though the Bible was written by men in the unique style of each man every single word of the Bible is exactly what God wanted written. God did not inspire general concepts and leave the authors to express them as best they could. God worked in the prophets and apostles so they wrote exactly what He wanted. Every word of the Word of God is of God.

The key truth of the doctrine of inspiration is this: everything in the Bible is from God. Though the books are clearly written by individuals every part, every word, every line, every sentence, every paragraph and every book is God’s perfect Word written down by men under the control of the Holy Spirit.

Why doesn’t the Bible mention the Ice Age?

The ice age was one of the most significant events in the earth’s history. Those who hold to an old age for the earth (4.5 billion years old) say the earth has gone through multiple ice ages over the eons, and we are currently in the middle of an ice age. The Bible says nothing about the earth ever experiencing an ice age.

The evidence for an ice age is significant and apparently beyond dispute. The ice age had a significant impact on the entire globe. Since the Bible includes stories of men since the beginning of creation why does it not mention the ice age?

Evolutionists and creationists are in agreement about the extent of the global ice coverage during the last ice age. At its peak the ice age locked a third of the world in snow and ice. In the northern hemisphere ice sheets crept down from the pole to cover most of Canada and reached into the northern American states. Some portions of the ice sheet stretched as far south as Iowa and Indiana. Northern Europe was covered with ice that spread into France, Germany and Poland.

The location of the northern ice sheets provides a clue to why the Bible never mentions the ice age. Scripture is not intended to be a complete history of the world. The Bible says nothing about most of the events that have taken place in the earth’s history. The Bible was never designed to tell everything significant that happened in the world.

Scripture does not say anything about the catastrophic eruption of Mt. Thera in 1600 BC. The volcanic eruption was relatively close and effected the climates of Palestine and northern Egypt. The Bible is completely silent on the Minoan eruption. The Bible’s silence on this and other historical matters does not reveal deficiency of information but precision of purpose.

God’s Word is concerned with the history of God’s working to redeem to Himself a people who will eternally praise Him. In relating the story of redemption the Bible touches on much human history with complete accuracy.

Most of the Old Testament is focused on God’s chosen people, the Israelites. The fathers of the Israelites lived in the region of Palestine which was 1,500 miles away from the ice sheets. The weather of that era would have been different from the weather in Palestine today. The summers were cooler and storms probably were more severe, but Abraham and his offspring would not have know they were in an ice age. Glaciers were not forming in the Negev and woolly mammoths were not roaming the hills of Galilee.

The world’s climate at the time God called Abraham out of Ur is not important to the story of the Bible. What is important is God’s promise of a kingdom, of worldwide blessing through a descendant of Abraham and of righteousness to those who believe Him.

Are the words in the Bible written in red more important?

The first red letter edition of the Bible was printed in 1901. The first red letter New Testament was printed just 2 years before in 1899. The idea to print the words of Jesus in red is credited to Louis Kopsch. He was the editor of a Christian magazine and committed to the distribution of the Word of God. He hit upon the red letter idea in hopes of encouraging people to read the Bible. The first red letter editions printed in red the words spoken by Jesus and any passages in the Old Testament that Jesus later quoted. Today most red letter Bibles only print in red direct quotations of Jesus.

The majority of Bibles today are red letter editions. With large blocks of red ink the four gospels have a distinctive appearance. An unfortunate side effect of this printing innovation is readers who treat the red letters as more important than the rest of the Bible. The red letters become the lens through which the rest of the Bible is interpreted. In cases where there appears to be contradiction, the words of Jesus are given the priority in resolving the contradiction.

This seems reasonable. The words in red are direct quotes from Jesus. The rest of the Bible is what God said through men. Shouldn’t we give priority to the words of Jesus?

While the argument sounds good because it gives Jesus the most important place, it misunderstands the nature of inspiration. The doctrine of inspiration teaches that the entire Bible are the words of the Son of God. The things Hosea wrote are no less God’s Word than the things Jesus said. Inspiration is described in 2 Peter 1:21, “Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.”

Biblical inspiration refers to the process by which God’s Words were written down by God’s prophets and God’s apostles. The human authors of the Bible wrote exactly what God told them to write. This does not mean God dictated to them what to write. The authors of the Bible were not like secretaries typing up a letter as dictated by the boss. God spake His Word using the personality and intellect of the men. The writing style of Paul is very different from that of Peter. God used these men in such a way that they wrote in their own style but still wrote exactly what God intended to be written.

All of the Bible claims to be the very words of God. How many times does the Bible say, “The Lord said”? Are the quotes of God the Son on the earth less important than the quotes of God the Father from heaven?

Jesus Himself spake the words of the Old Testament as if they were as authoritative over Himself. When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness He responded by quoting the Old Testament. Jesus was showing that the Word of God was the authority over His life. He did not assert His own superiority, but declared His humble obedience to the Bible.

Jesus quoted the Old Testament in His own life. While on the cross Jesus cried out the words of David from Psalm 22. The words of David were prophetic of Jesus. Are those words more true than the rest of the Psalms because Jesus said them?

The Bible cannot be split into various parts with some more important than the others. The Bible is all the Word of God, equally true and important no matter who is being quoted, or it is not. Emphasizing any section as greater than the rest is a dangerous path which inevitably compromises the authority and perfection of the Bible.

Was Mary a perpetual virgin?

In an earlier article I answered a question regarding the importance of Mary’s virginity when Jesus was conceived. The answer needs a brief addendum. Some teach that Mary is forever a virgin. According to their doctrine, she never had any other children and, most importantly, she remained celibate the rest of her life. This teaching finds no corroboration in the Bible. In fact, it is directly contradicted by the Bible.

Matthew 1 tells of when the angel came to Joseph and told him of Mary’s pregnancy. Joseph heeded the instructions of the angel and took Mary to be his wife. Matthew 1:25 provides this detail, “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn Son: and he called His name Jesus.” The phrase “knew her” is a euphemism for having sex. Joseph married Mary, and Matthew tells us he did not have sex with her until after Jesus’ birth. The implication of the ,until” is that after Jesus’ birth Joseph and Mary enjoyed normal marital relations.

Decades later Jesus preached in and around His hometown of Nazareth. He declared Himself to be God the Son and the promised Messiah. Many of the people did not believe Him. In their skepticism they used their familiarity with Him and His family as proof against His claims. Matthew 13:35-36 quotes the people of Nazareth as saying, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us?” The folks of Nazareth knew Jesus’ earthly father, they knew Jesus’ mother. They knew Jesus’ brothers and sisters. These brothers and sisters are not Jesus’ distant relatives, cousins or next door neighbors. These are His siblings born of the same mother. The conclusion is obvious, Mary was not a perpetual virgin. Jesus was born of a virgin, but after His birth she entered into normal married life and had several children by her husband Joseph.

Is the Bible Accurate in its Predictions?

The claims of the Bible provide an ample basis on which to test Scriptures’ reliability. Possibly the greatest avenue for verifying the veracity of Scripture is in prophecy. No other religious book in the world contains the amount of future telling contained in the Bible. The vast number of prophecies in the Bible provide abundant opportunity to determine if the Bible is trustworthy.

The standard for testing Biblical prophecy is set by the Bible itself. Deuteronomy 18:22 sets the bar as it can be set. If a prophet claims to be speaking the Word of God his prophesies must be completely accurate. If the prophecy fails just once then the prophet and his message is not of God. Since the Bible claims to be of God it must be right all the time. Have the prophecies of the Bible failed even one time?

The Bible contains many fulfilled prophecies. These prophecies are often very specific in their nature. For example, the prophecies of Jesus birth tell of his family (He would be a descendant of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah and David). They tell of his birth place (Micah 5:2) They tell of the tragic events surrounding Jesus’ birth (Jeremiah 31:15) The Bible tells when Jesus would be born. The Bible foretells Jesus’ birth and the events surrounding His death. It prophesies the kind of death He would suffer, the abuse He would take, His betrayal, His burial and His resurrection.

The Bible contains specific prophecies about the rise of kings and kingdoms. The Bible prophesies the defeat of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. The Bible prophesies how long the people of Judah would be captive in Babylon. It tells of the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the year when the rebuilding would take place. The Bible foretells the rise of the Persian empire, the reign of Cyrus and his role in rebuilding Jerusalem. Through the prophet Daniel God revealed that Medo-Persia would overthrow the Babylonian empire and then would itself be overthrown by the Greek Empire. Scripture tells of the destruction of Edom, Tyre, Sidon and Nineveh. All happened just as Scriptures foretold.

The complete list of Biblical prophecies fulfilled cannot be given in a brief article. Over 300 specific prophecies of Jesus were fulfilled in his first coming. Dozens of specific prophecies about Israel and the other ancient nations have all been fulfilled. Many of the prophecies are very specific. The huge number of Biblical prophecy fulfilled is more than coincidence. The Bible is exactly what it claims to be, the Word of God.

Does Carbon Dating Prove the Book of Genesis Wrong?

A literal reading of the book of Genesis results in the conclusion that God created everything over the course of one week. Using the Biblical record of births and deaths the week of creation has been dated as occurring about 4,000 BC. While there may be some room in the Biblical record for some additional years, most conservative theologians conclude the Bible indicates the age of the universe is less than 10,000 years old.

Scientists have developed multiple methods for determining the age of fossils on earth which show the earth is millions, even billions, of years old. The most familiar of these methods is carbon dating. Carbon dating routinely returns ages for fossils several times older than the Biblical age of the earth. Doesn’t this prove the Bible, and especially the book of Genesis, is wrong about the ancient history of earth?

Carbon dating is the process of measuring the decay of carbon in organic material. All living organisms contain a carbon isotope known as Carbon-14. Carbon-14 is naturally unstable and at death it begins to decay down to Nitrogen-14. This process takes place at a known rate and is calculated in terms of half-life. The half life is the amount of time it takes for half the atoms to decay. The half-life remains constant no matter how many atoms are involved. The half life of Carbon-14 is 5,730 years. If an organism died with ten Carbon-14 atoms in 5,730 years half will remain and 5 Nitrogen-1 atoms will exist in their place. In another 5,730 years, 2 1/2 Carbon-14 atoms (yes, I know you can’t have half a C-14, this is just an illustration) will remain and there will now be 7 1/2 Nitrogen-14 atoms. Scientists measure the amount of C-14 remaining in an object and are able to develop an estimate for when the organism died.

Think of a large hour glass in which it is known exactly how many grains of sand fall from the top to the bottom each second. By counting the grains of sand remaining in the top the observer can tell how long ago the hourglass was turned over.

The process sounds simple enough, especially in a very simplified explanation like this one. Carbon dating, and all similar dating methods, have serious problems. Carbon dating has been repeatedly shown to produce inconsistent results. The same object tested multiple times has resulted in widely different dates. Also, tests of modern artifacts in which the date of the organisms death was known have produced results off tens of by thousands of years.

The biggest problem will all decay based dating methods is the assumptions made. Carbon dating assumes the amount of Carbon-14 present in the organism at death. The amount of Carbon-14 present at the death of a fossilized organism cannot be known for certain because no scientist was there to take an initial measurement. While the assumptions may be very plausible scientists do not know the amount of Carbon-14 present in an organism at its death.

If the imaginary hourglass had less sand in the top than was assumed then the measured time interval be greater because of the error in the initial assumption.

Carbon dating sounds like a very scientific and accurate way of determining when a fossil died. Christians are tempted to believe the organism lived many thousands of years ago because smart men have worked out an ingenious and complex method of measuring time.

Carbon dating does not measure time. Carbon dating is a very accurate way of measuring how much carbon and nitrogen isotopes are contained in a particular specimens at the time of testing. The time measurement is speculation based on certain assumptions whose validity cannot be tested or proven. Don’t let smart sounding words shake your confidence in God’s Word.

How can I find out more about the people in the Bible?

The Bible leaves out a lot of personal details. Peter was married but did he have any kids? The Bible doesn’t tell us. Were any of the other apostles married? Did they have families? God’s Word is mostly silent on these things. How can we find out more about the lives of the people in the Bible?

The Bible is silent on many personal details because it’s purpose is not historical or biographical but theological. Any details provided are incidental to the truth being communicated. Biographical details always serve the purpose of teaching greater theological truths. God is not interested in satisfying our curiosity about the home life of the Biblical characters. He is communicating that which is necessary for people to come to salvation and for Christian’s to live lives pleasing to Him.

Unfortunately historical details about the people of the Bible are almost impossible to find. Some particulars can be found in the writings of the early church Fathers. Some of these men lived in the first hundred years after the apostles and a couple were personally acquainted with the apostles themselves.

Ancient church historians, like Eusebius, provide additional details about the lives of the apostles. The Works of Josephus provide a generally reliable historical perspective of events in Israel around the time of the beginning of the church. Some church traditions probably give truthful accounts of what happened to the apostles. The best resource is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs which tells of the death of the apostles and other ancient Christians.

Care needs to be taken when looking for more information about the people in the Bible. The things passed down through history and tradition are not necessarily accurate. Because a book talks about the apostles or Biblical people does not mean the book is accurate. Hold loosely to any extra-Biblical facts about Biblical characters.

Be especially suspicious of the books known as the gnostic gospels. Some of them claim to be first hand accounts of the early life of Jesus but they are, at best, questionable sources of information. They were written several generations after Jesus and have the definite agenda of promoting the false teaching of gnosticism.

Be careful of modern “scholarly” books offering to give new information about Jesus or the disciples. Many modern books that talk about Bible history are written by people who have already decided the Bible is not true. The goal of many of these books is not to search out the truth, but to convince the reader of the author’s opinion. Whether they be written by popular fiction authors or by degreed professors, be careful to not confuse propaganda with truth.

In the end, we only have one source that is certain and accurate about Jesus and His followers. That source is the Bible. The biographical details of the people in the Bible are interesting but not vital to rightly understanding the truth of God’s word. Learn more of the history, traditions and culture of Bible times and people that you may better understand the great truths taught in Scriptures.