Statutes and Evidence
(Reading time: 5.7 minutes)
As we saw in previous articles, God is the Almighty, who has unlimited authority and controlling influence. Some of his pronouncements set people’s destinies and others function as laws. These pronouncements, decrees or statutes are the basis for his judgments and are recorded in books. Let’s consider the kinds of books God uses.
There are many scriptural references to “the books” from which God delivers judgments and justice. For example, Daniel wrote, “… thrones were set in place, and the Ancient of Days took his seat…. His throne was flaming with fire, and its wheels were all ablaze… The court was seated, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:9-10, NIV). The Hebrew noun translated “books” refers to a written work or composition, such as a book or scroll. So there are books or scrolls in heaven which are essential to God’s court procedures and, according to Scripture, some books record statutes and others record evidence.
One biblical definition of a statute is a decree or an edict issued by a ruler. Scripture indicates there are two sets of books containing such statutes, what we might call universal and personal books.
The universal books contain descriptions of predetermined events in heaven and on earth. For example: “Then I saw in the right hand of him who sat on the throne a scroll with writing on both sides and sealed with seven seals” (Rev. 5:1). The Lamb (Jesus) took the scroll and opened the seals, revealing what was written in the book — descriptions of major end-times events on earth involving people and nations, as predetermined by God. The remainder of Revelation describes execution of those events.
An angel told the Apostle John, the author of Revelation, to eat a scroll and then said, “You must prophesy again about many peoples, nations, languages and kings” (Rev. 10:11). This indicates the scroll was about the future of peoples, nations, languages and kings. What John wrote was from the book God wrote about them.
The other heavenly books described in Scripture are more personal, and describe people’s God-ordained lives and works. Psalms states, “all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Ps. 139:16). There’s evidence, which we’ll see later, that God plans, forms and fashions every one of our days and records them in our individual books. These books contain God’s plan for every person’s destiny and kingdom purpose, including specific works they should do in life.
Romans 8:29 states, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” God foreknew us, or knew us before we existed. He predestined us; that is, his plans for us are written in a book based on his foreknowledge and purpose for us. According to Romans 8:29, those plans include our becoming like Jesus.
In Ephesians 2:10, we see that “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” So God prepared good works for us to do and these are recorded in our books, according to Psalm 139:16.
When Christ came into the world, he said, “Here I am — it is written about me in the scroll — I have come to do your will, my God” (Heb. 10:7). A book or scroll describes God’s will for Jesus the man, and he came to earth to fulfill it. Because he was the firstborn or prototype for us who believe on him, this reinforces the conclusion that God has a book describing his will for each of us. Some people claim we can ask permission to read our books; I don’t know whether we can.
These books contain what we can call statutes — the standards God set for the world and each of us personally. They’re descriptions of what he intends for each person, family, city, state and nation.
The evidence books include the book of life, which identifies everyone who received the gift of spiritual life by accepting Jesus’ death for their sin and entering relationship with God. Anyone who’s not listed in the book of life is spiritually “dead,” separated from God. Psalms refers to people who are blotted out of the book of life, not listed with the righteous, showing us the book of life contains the names of the righteous (Ps. 69:28). The Apostle Paul wrote about his “coworkers, whose names are in the book of life” (Phil. 4:3). His co-workers were believers, so they’re in the book.
From these Scriptures, we see the book of life contains the names of those whom God declares righteous. The New Testament shows us that one becomes righteous through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:22; 4:24; 10:4).
We saw earlier there are books describing what God ordained for people’s lives, including specific works. There also are evidence books that record what people did in life.
“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” (Rev. 20:12). The “dead” are people who are spiritually dead; that is, their names are not in the book of life.
Regardless of whatever else they did in life, because they rejected Jesus as their Savior and Lord, they are spiritually “dead.” He’ll hold those people accountable for their sins because their names are not in the book of life. Therefore, they’re “judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
In contrast, God won’t judge us Christians for our sin because our names are written in the book of life and there’s “no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1). Instead, he’ll reward us according to how closely the book describing our lives tracked what’s in the book of his will for us; that is, we’ll be rewarded according to our faithfulness. Jesus assured us, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done” (Rev 22:12). Notice his reference to “reward” for what we have done.
God recorded his will for each of us in our books. He also records what we do in life and uses those books when he evaluates our lives. If our names appear in the book of life, he’ll reward us according to our faithfulness; otherwise, he’ll judge us according to our sin.