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Ask the Pastor

† Theological musings and answers to selected questions by a confessional Lutheran pastor.

23 July 2005

The Book of Life

Q: I’d like to know what names are written in the “Book of Life.” Are all names written and then the sinner is blotted out or is a person’s name only added after he is saved?

A: Since God is spirit, the “Book of Life” (cf. Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; et al.) quite likely is symbolic of those whom God knows to be his own through faith in Jesus Christ, not an actual scroll or bound volume. Those who are in it are the believers. If you wanted to investigate the means by which God keeps a “running tally,” then you could look to our being called “from eternity” and say that we start there; thus, our names would be written from eternity.

However, taking the Scriptural testimony that we are born sinful, children of wrath, and dead in our trespasses, you could figure from time of baptism and conversion and say that God adds the names as we are brought to faith. If we must decide, this seems a better way to look at it.

Either way, to fall from faith would remove oneself from the book. Being brought back (as in the Good Shepherd finding the lost sheep) would return one to the book.

Addendum: Please see Recorded in the Book of Life for a more complete treatment of this subject.

Send email to Ask the Pastor.

Walter Snyder is the pastor of Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Emma, Missouri and coauthor of the book What Do Lutherans Believe.


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