Traditional Legal Model – a legal account of every sin a person has committed and whether it has been pardoned or not to be used as the basis for judgment (Rev 20:12).
Biblical Healing Model – a record of each person’s:
- acts, good and bad
- choices, especially to love and trust God or not
- individuality and character
The books/records are involved in determining (largely a self-determination) if a person is healed of their sin sickness and thus are safe to save.
The Records of Heaven are NOT for Legal Accounting Purposes
Does God keep records in order to execute retributive justice? Scripture says no:
“Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;” (1 Cor 13:5)
The Strong’s definitions for “thinketh” (logizomai; G3049) include:
1) to reckon, count, compute, calculate, count over
1a) to take into account, to make an account of
God does not keep a record of sins in order to ensure that a penalty is imposed for every sin. We are also told that sins are removed far from us:
“As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.” (Psa 103:12)
“… thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.” (Isa 38:17)
“He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.” (Micah 7:19)
Of course, this is not referring to the act of sin itself. Nor is it referring to God’s memory of sins. The omniscient God does not forget as in not being able to remember (1 John 3:20) but He chooses to not “remember” sins as in “I will make you pay for that.”
What is in the Books/Records of Heaven?
Before going further let’s look at what is contained in the records. This verse will be helpful:
“And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.” (Rev 20:12)
Helpful because it makes a distinction between one book called the Book of Life and other books presumably with different content. Each of those will be discussed in its own section below
The Book of Life
These two verses indicate a direct relationship between a name being in the book of life and final destiny:
“And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:15)
“And there shall in no wise enter into it [into the New Jerusalem] any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.” (Rev 21:27)
There are a number of verses indicating that names can be blotted out of the book of life such as:
“He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” (Rev 3:5)
Other verses speaking of the book of life and names being blotted out include: Deut 9:14, Psa 69:28, Rev 13:8, 17:8, 22:19.
This verse could be seen as a problem:
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book.” (Exo 32:33)
A problem because, as Romans 3:23 says, “all have sinned.” This is a good clue that “sin” can mean more than simply breaking one of the Ten Commandments.
The Books (Other than the Book of Life)
Rev 20:12 quoted above indicates that the contents of the books are used in judgment. The contents of the books are also clearly connected to people’s acts. This shows that our acts are not forgotten; information is not lost. The books are records of information in some form, not necessarily in the bound format we are familiar with. What do those records include?
A record of each person’s acts good or bad not for the purpose of deciding fate (salvation or not) as that is determined by their decisions but to determine rewards.
“For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.” (Mark 9:41)
Rewards are distinct from the gift of eternal life (Rom 6:23). One must receive the free gift in order to be there (in heaven) to get the rewards.
A record of each person’s choices especially whether they have chosen to love and trust God or not.
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Josh 24:15)
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Pro 3:5)
To choose to trust in God is to deem Him worthy of trust. It could be seen as a record of each person’s judgment of God.
“God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.” (Rom 3:4)
Those choices should/will result in a change of character into one that heavenly beings would be willing to live with. Essentially, the question is “were they healed?” or “are they safe to take to heaven?”
A record of each person’s character particularly how it was at the end of their life. Character along with identity and individuality must be on record in some way so that when each person is resurrected they are raised as the same person. Think of it: when you are raised to life, will you still be you?
Who are the Records For?
A key question here is to ask “who needs to see the records?”
Does God need records? When we think of judgment we normally think of God judging us. See the judgment definition page for some discussion on this. Obviously, God needs to know who to raise in each resurrection:
“And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28-29)
So God needs the record but He does not need anything like a written record for that purpose. He also needs to know us – our identity, individuality, character so that when you are resurrected, you are you. But, again, He knows all things. Any “books” in heaven are not because He needs them. There are a few other verses referencing books:
“Then they that feared the LORD spake often one to another: and the LORD hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the LORD, and that thought upon his name.” (Mal 3:16)
“Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psa 139:16)
These may be simply using the metaphor of books to refer to the fact that God knows and remembers all things.
Do we need records? There is a sense in which we judge ourselves:
“Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.” (Acts 13:46)
Why did Jesus say it would be hard for those that have riches to enter heaven (Mark 10:23)? He restated in teh next verse like this:
“… Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God!” (Mark 10:24)
It is largely a matter of whether or not a person trusts God and His promises or trusts to his own resources. It is not a matter of whether God forgives sin or not; He freely offers forgiveness to all. The question is whether or not each person has received that forgiveness. Remember, forgiveness is a two-part transaction.
Really, each one decides his own fate through the choices made before death. The judgement only verifies it. In the final judgment, each person’s record comes into His own mind and, ultimately, the lost will see where they went wrong. Paul records God as saying (in the context of final judgment):
“For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.” (Rom 14:11)
This can most easily be understood as every person acknowledging that God has been right in what He has done in regard to the plan of salvation and especially in His evaluation of character.
Do others need to see our records? Do others need to see the record of our lives in the judgment? We can reason that people will want to have many questions answered. Questions like “why wasn’t my loved one saved?” The Bible does not say much about that but there is a clue in this verse:
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” (Rev 21:4)
This final reference to wiping away tears applies to after the thousand years of the millennium. You might think that the saved would have nothing but happiness after being take to heaven, however, there could certainly be some moments of sadness as people realize and learn the details of why certain loved ones are not there. Also, the lost will finally experience the second death at the end of the millennium and that will certainly be a very sad experience. But then – on to eternity and those “pleasures for evermore” (Psa 16:11).
Where are the Records?
God knows everything but it need not be in any written form for His use. Will there be a record for others to see? We are not sure (except there is that clue above). What is most needed is for us to see the justice of our own fate. For that purpose, our life’s record needs to be available. Job wished that there was a permanent record of his words:
“Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!” (Job 19:23-24)
It is interesting that scripture says that sins are recorded something like that:
“The sin of Judah is written with a pen of iron, and with the point of a diamond: it is graven upon the table of their heart, and upon the horns of your altars;” (Jer 17:1)
The verse specifies where the record is; symbolically upon the horns of altars and literally in the heart or mind. Sin can be brought to the attention (conscience) of a person by certain actions such as:
“Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.” (Rom 12:20)
Of course, there are no literal coals of fire involved but the record of sin goes into the mind (the memory) and will be brought forth (recalled) in the final events. Science records the reality of LREs (life-review experiences, distinct from near-death experiences) where a person, in extreme threat of imminent death, will have their life “flash before their eyes.”
The subconscious stores all life experiences even if, under normal circumstances, they can’t all be recalled. There are clues in scripture that something resulting from sin is stored up (recorded) to finally have its effect. The Bible speaks of the wicked “conceiving” (in a metaphorical sense) combustible material (sin or something resulting from it) as chaff:
“They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.” (Job 15:35)
The mischief, the vanity, the deceit and any other sins are likened to chaff that contributes to a very fast-burning fire.
“Ye shall conceive chaff, ye shall bring forth stubble: your breath, as fire, shall devour you.” (Isa 33:11)
“Therefore as the fire devoureth the stubble, and the flame consumeth the chaff, so their root shall be as rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust: because they have cast away the law of the LORD of hosts, and despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.” (Isa 5:24)
“Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matt 3:12)
This could sound like the lost are being physically burned alive. While there is a burning it is with fire in a symbolic sense – at first – the physical, cleansing fire will soon follow. The final fate of the lost and how all this happens is described in my ebook The Truth About the Second Death.
The Bible indicates a similar series of events for the final fate of Satan himself:
“Thou hast defiled thy sanctuaries by the multitude of thine iniquities, by the iniquity of thy traffick; therefore will I bring forth a fire from the midst of thee, it shall devour thee, and I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee.” (Eze 29:18)
And so the record of sin is in the mind of each person or fallen angel and will be brought to the consciousness of that individual in the final judgment. Each person, through their actions, builds up their own internal record of sin and will face it in the final judgment. This is recorded for Satan:
“By the multitude of thy merchandise they have filled the midst of thee with violence, and thou hast sinned: therefore I will cast thee as profane out of the mountain of God: and I will destroy thee, O covering cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.” (Eze 28:16)
Most versions do not have “they have filled the midst of thee” Satan did that to himself. I believe this version is more accurate:
“Of the abundance of thy merchandise thou hast filled thy storehouses with iniquity, and hast sinned … (Eze 28:16, Brenton Septuagint Translation)
It is what is in our own hearts (or minds, memory) that condemns us:
“For if our heart [or conscience] condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things. Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.” (1 John 3:20-21)