Statutes and Evidence
Summary: God declared his will for each of us and recorded it in our books. He also records what we actually do and uses those books when he evaluates our lives.
In a previous article, I presented God as the Almighty, whose controlling influence is unlimited. This indicates absolute authority and absolute power or ability. I suggested that some of his pronouncements determine destinies and others function as laws. These pronouncements, decrees or statutes are the basis for his judgments and it seems these are written in books. Let’s consider the kinds of books God uses.
There are numerous references to “the books” in scriptures about God rendering 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) 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 that are essential to God’s court procedures and, based on scripture, it seems some books record statutes and others record evidence.
One biblical definition of a statute is a decree or an edict issued by a ruler, and scripture indicates there are two categories of such statutes, what we might call universal and personal books.
The universal books contain descriptions of predetermined events in heaven and on earth. We see an example of one in the Book of Revelation: “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 centers on execution of those events.
The Apostle John, the author of Revelation, was instructed to eat a scroll and afterward was told, “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 category of heavenly books described in scripture are more personal books, which describe people’s God-ordained lives and works. The Book of Psalms states, “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” (Psa 139:16(b)) 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, kingdom purpose and activities they should accomplish in life.
Romans 8:29 states, “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” God foreknew us, or knew us before we existed. He predestined us; that is, his decisions about us are written in a book based on his foreknowledge and purpose for us. According to Romans 8:29, God’s plan for us includes our becoming like Jesus.
In Ephesians 2:10, we see that “we are God’s workmanship, 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 certainly 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, O God.” (Heb 10:7) There is a book or scroll describing God’s will for Jesus and he came to earth to fulfill it. Because he was the firstborn or prototype for those who would believe on him, this reinforces the conclusion that God has a book for each of us that describes his will for our lives. Some people claim we can ask permission to read our books; I don’t know whether we can.
These books contain what I call the 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 has received the gift of spiritual life by accepting Jesus’ death for their sin and entering relationship with God. Anyone who’s not in the book of life is spiritually “dead,” or separated from God. Psalms refers to those who are blotted out of the book of life and not listed with the righteous, indicating that the book of life contains the names of those who are righteous. (Ps 69:28) The Apostle Paul wrote about his “fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” (Php 4:3) His fellow workers were all believers, so their names are in the book.
From these scriptures, we see that 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 that describe what God ordained for people’s lives and works. There also are evidence books that record people’s actual works, what they 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. “If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev 20:15) Regardless of whatever else they did in life, because they rejected Jesus as their Savior and Lord, they are spiritually “dead” and their names are absent from the book of life. Therefore, they’re “judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books”; that is, the record of their works is evidence that God’s judgment is just. People will be held accountable for their sins because their names are not in the book of life.
In contrast, we Christians won’t be judged 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, we’ll be rewarded according to how closely the book describing our lives tracked what’s in the book of God’s will for us; that is, we’ll be rewarded according to our faithfulness. Jesus assured us, “Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Rev 22:12) Notice his reference to “reward” for what we have done.
The Bible describes God as holy, which in part means he doesn’t deviate from who he is or what he says; he has absolute integrity. He declared his will for each of us from the beginning and recorded it in our books. He also records what we actually do and uses those books when he evaluates our lives.