False teachings about the book of life
The World Mission Society Church of God (WMSCOG) and the New Covenant Passover Church of God (NCPCOG) call the list of the baptism maintained by the church as the book of life. They also call the order of the names on the list the life number. They believe that, in order to be saved, they must receive the life number assigned by the church. Therefore, the church on earth that manages the book of life and the general president who has the authority, becomes a being who has the absolute power to decide the salvation of the saints. These false doctrines are the basis of their members’ absolute obedience to the General Assembly of their church.
Such a logic that WMSCOG and NCPCOG teach the members as truth is based on the following scriptures.
[Matthew 16:19] I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”
Based on the above verse, they argue, “If the church on earth writes its name in the baptism list, it is also written in the book of life in heaven.” For the same reason, they believe, “When the church on earth removes a name from the baptism list, it is removed from the book of life in heaven.”
When I hear the above wrong teaching of WMSCOG or NCPCOG, for the same reason, I get to think of Roman Catholic who elevates the authority of the church on earth to the authority of God. The Roman Catholic Pope has been positioned as a representative of God, a being with absolute power. The papal authority soon became the authority of the church, and with such church authority the Sabbath could be changed to Sunday. There could be no hesitation when the Passover was abolished and Christmas became the feast of the church. At the moment the authority of the church on earth is raised to the position of God, humans can change even the word of God.
The logic of WMSCOG and NCPCOG in teaching about the book of life is not different from Catholicism, which they criticize. Truly it is a ironical situation. (Shincheonji Church, which is expanding its church in recent years, claims that the book which has the list of their church members is the book of life.)
If so, are these teachings of WMSCOG and NCPCOG about the book of life truly biblical truth? Let’s now look at how wrong these teachings about the book of life they believe without doubt are.
Biblical evidences of the book of life
If you look at the records of the book of life in the Bible, there is no doubt that it is a book closely linked to the salvation of the saints.
[Revelation 20:12, 15] 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. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. . …… If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
The book of life will appear on the Last Judgment Day. Depending on whether or not the name is written there, it will be the standard to distinguish between the salvation and destruction of the saints. The book of life will be a sure proof of whether it is salvation or destruction. However, the first mention about the book of life goes back to the time of Moses.
[Exodus 32:31-32] So Moses went back to the LORD and said, “Oh, what a great sin these people have committed! They have made themselves gods of gold. But now, please forgive their sin–but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.”
When Moses prayed to God, he mentioned a book whose name was bound to be erased if sinned. In the context of the word, whether or not a name is written in this book is the standard of salvation and destruction. If it is a book whose name is written and is used as a basis for separating salvation and destruction, there is nothing other than the book of life. In the Old Testament there are several records of the book of life since Moses first mentioned.
[Isaiah 4:3] Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem.
[Dan 12:1] 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.
[Malachi 3:16] 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 honored his name.
[Psalm 69:27-28] Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous.
And even in the words of Jesus, we can see that there is a book in heaven with the name of the person who will be saved (Luke 10:20). Of course, in the New Testament, we can find easily the records about the book of life in which the name of the person who will be saved(Phil. 4:3, Revelation 3:5, Revelation 13:8).
Why did God write the names of the saints in the book?
So far, we have looked at the book of life in the records of the Bible. ㅛYou may have already understood that the book of life cannot be a list of baptists maintained by the church on earth. From now on, I would like to look at a few more for a deeper understanding of the book of life.
First, where is the book of life? Is it in heaven or in a church on earth? Without a doubt, the book of life is in heaven. There would be no greater biblical error than this if the church on earth maintained the list of the saints called the book of life.
Second, who has the power to register or delete names in the book of life? Does the general president of the church on earth have such power? Could the pope be able to exercise such power, as the Catholicism claims? Based on the above comprehensive analysis of the Bible verses, as we have looked at so far, we can see that only God can register or delete names in the book of life.
Third, God is the one who has the power of creation with his word, so why did he say that he writes the names of the people to be saved in the book? God’s word is truth. If He says a word, it will be done as he says. If so, the promise of salvation will be sufficient only with the Word. Then why did God make records in a book?
To understand the answer of the third question, we need to weigh the meaning of “written in books.” It was only hundreds of years ago that a book was published in a mass-printed manner using paper as it is now. In the era when the Bible was written, it was a work that entailed a lot of cost and effort because books were made by hand. Therefore, recording certain contents in a book was limited when there was a need to preserve and maintain the records. In other words, to convey in a book rather than convey it orally gives people the meaning that the content is “unchanging and forever.”
By saying that God writes the names of those who will be saved in the book of life in heaven, He has shown that His promise of salvation will never change and will last forever.
But when a name was recorded on the baptism list of the church on earth, could that list remain unchanged for thousands of years? Just as God’s Word is more robust than human words, so God’s book will be more robust and eternal than human books. How can a list of baptism, whose names are recorded by a person’s decision in the church on earth, be a book of life? The book of life was written in heaven and was written by the power of God. It is an eternal book made of incorruptible materials.