Christians know of the Book of Life.
But what about a Book of Death? Maybe more correctly a book of the wicked?
Where does this come from – and what is the significance of it?
I was reading a fiction novel last night, and came across something that I had to check out to see if it was for real –
“The names of the infidels I meet in this country are listed in the Sijjin. They are destined for hell just as the scroll records,” said Ismad.”
— from Enemies Among Us, by Vince Flynn
The obvious question – is there really a Sijjin – a book of the wicked? I’ve been reading and studying the Qur’an and did’t remember seeing this (yet). It actually there – in Sura 83. It’s 86th – by order of revelation – so it’s one I haven’t yet reached for my detailed research. But I was so struck by the fact that it’s said to exist that I didn’t want to wait to at least bring it up.
The Book of Life
For Christians – the Book of Life has the names of those who will be in Heaven. For those whose names are not in The Book of Life –
Rev 20:14 Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. The lake of fire is the second death. 15 If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
In Islam, there is an equivalent to this – called ‘Elleyyeen. It is a scroll / book of the righteous – those who are close to Allah.
The Book of Death
There is no Book of Death mentioned in the Bible.
In Islam, as stated above – there is the Sijjeen. It is a scroll / book of the rejectors. These are the ones who deny the message of the Qur’an. The fate for those whose names are in the Sijjeen –
[83:15] Indeed, they will be isolated, on that day, from their Lord.
[83:16] Then they will be thrown into Hell.
[83:17] They will be told, “This is what you used to deny.”
So their fate is the same as those whose names are not in the book of life.
So what’s the difference?
All of that begs the question – what’s the difference between the two?
- Well – for one thing – the beliefs about Jesus – since Jesus is a prophet to Muslims and the Savior to Christians.
- Yes – Muslims consider Jesus a very important Prophet. But there is no concept of a Savior in Islam – since Islam does not have the same concept of original sin as Christianity. Islam says that Adam was forgiven. Further – that it’s up to each person to essentially save themselves. The following is from QURAN The Final Testament translated from the original by Dr Rashad Khalifa –
Contrary to common belief, the “Original Sin” was not Adam’s violation of God’s law when he ate from the forbidden tree. The original sin was our failure to uphold God’s absolute authority during the Great Feud. If the human person convinces his or her jinn companion to denounce that original sin, and uphold God’s absolute authority, both creatures are redeemed to God’s eternal kingdom on the Day of Judgment. But if the jinn companion convinces the human being to uphold Satan’s idolatrous views, then both creatures are exiled forever from God’s kingdom.
To promote his point of view, Satan and his representatives advocate the idolization of such powerless creatures as Muhammad, Jesus, Mary, and the saints. Since we are here due to our polytheistic tendencies, most of us are easy prey for Satan.
Jinn are evil spirits. So we see that Islam teaches it’s up to each of us to convince our own jinn (that was assigned to us). Should we succeed in doing that – both the person and their jinn companion are “saved” – will go to Heaven. Should we fail – both the person and their jinn companion are condemned to Hell.
- Secondly, there is a difference in the way people are recorded in the books. In Islam – we aren’t told how / when names get recorded in either the ‘Elleyyeen or the Sijjeen.
In the Bible, we read this from David’s Psalm 69. BTW – I use this reference since both Muslims and Christians read Psalms and treat them as an important part of their religion.
Ps 69:22 May the table set before them become a snare;
may it become retribution and a trap.
Ps 69:23 May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see,
and their backs be bent forever.
Ps 69:24 Pour out your wrath on them;
let your fierce anger overtake them.
Ps 69:25 May their place be deserted;
let there be no one to dwell in their tents.
Ps 69:26 For they persecute those you wound
and talk about the pain of those you hurt.
Ps 69:27 Charge them with crime upon crime;
do not let them share in your salvation.
Ps 69:28 May they be blotted out of the book of life
and not be listed with the righteous.
So we see that The Book of Life already exists – and that names can apparently blotted out of it.
Side note – OK – people who believe in predestination will disagree with this analysis – but I believe in free will, not predestination. Just want to point that out – since the next difference is an important one. One that may not be shared / agreed on by the predestination folks.
Jesus confirms that names can be blotted out of The Book of Life in Revelation 3 –
Rev 3:4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. 6 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.
From Holman’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, we find –
BOOK OF LIFE Heavenly record (Luke 10:20; Heb. 12:23) written by God before the foundation of the world (Rev. 13:8; 17:8) containing the names of those who are destined because of God’s grace and their faithfulness to participate in God’s heavenly kingdom. Those whose names are in the book have been born into God’s family through Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:23; Rev. 13:8); remain faithful in worship of God (Rev. 13:8; 17:8); are untouched by the practice of abomination and falsehood (Rev. 21:27); are faithful through tribulation (Rev. 3:5); and are fellow workers in the work of Jesus Christ (Phil. 4:3). The book of life will be used along with the books of judgment at the final judgment to separate the righteous and the wicked for their respective eternal destinies (Rev. 20:12, 15; 21:27).
Christ Himself determines whether the names that are recorded in the book of life remain in that record and are supported by His confession that they belong to Him at the day of judgment or are blotted out (Rev. 3:5).
So in Christianity, The Book of Life was written before the creation of the world. This is reasonable, given the following –
1Pe 1:17 Since you call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. 20 He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake. 21 Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God.
If God knew that Jesus was going to be needed before the creation of the world, then God must also have known the people and events that would lead up to Him being needed. Again – this brings up the issue of predestination versus free will and God’s foreknowledge versus His total control. And again – I believe in free will, which is important in the next item.
So the bottom line for Christianity – The Book of Life was written before the creation of the world. People’s names can be removed from the book.
If our name is still in The Book of Life at judgment time – we go to Heaven. If not – we go to Hell.
- The third and final difference is hope.
For Christians that believe in predestination – the best one can hope for is that they were “chosen”. If not – life is pointless – Hell is going to be the destination. To me – this is depressing. I try to reach out to others. That’s the whole point of why I write. But if predestination is what controls all of our fates – why should I write? As a Christian – I’m taught to care about and love everyone. But that means some number of those that I’m trying to reach out to – are doomed to Hell – whether they read what I write or not. Names are in The Book of Life – or not. We go to Heaven – or Hell. All of which was predetermined for us. Depressing.
For Muslims – it’s all up to them. They each have to convince their own jinn companion to denounce that original sin, and uphold God’s absolute authority. Again – original sin in Islam is our failure to uphold God’s absolute authority during the Great Feud. Adam was forgiven – it’s up to each person to convince their own jinn. And there is no help from others, including such powerless creatures as Muhammad, Jesus, Mary, and the saints. In other words – our hope is only in ourselves. Trying to convince an evil spirit that we cannot see. And based on our ability to convince this evil spirit – or not – we go to Heaven – or not.
For Christians who believe in free will – God’s foreknowledge of what we will do – as opposed to His complete control over us and everything we will do – there is hope. That hope is Jesus. He has already won – He has already defeated Satan. And through Him – because of Him – we can also win – because He has defeated Satan for us. Our name will not be removed from The Book of Life. We will go to Heaven. If we believe.
In the end – double meaning intended – I think it all comes down to hope. Much of that hope I’ve written about above.
But there’s one more thing.
With Islam – one’s name gets written in one of the two books – the ‘Elleyyeen or the Sijjeen – depending on whether or not we can convince our jinn companion to denounce that original sin, and uphold God’s absolute authority. So the jinn has some control over our “success”.
With Christianity – if predestination turns out to be correct – our name get entered into The Book of Life – or not – since before creation. And there’s nothing we can do about it.
With Christianity – if free will turns out to be correct – God’s foreknowledge of what we will do as opposed to His control of what we will do – then the starting point for us is that our names are all in The Book of Life. They will get removed based on what we believe – and nothing else.
As I said – I find predestination to be depressing.
But between Islam and Christianity where we have the free will to choose God or not – there is one really huge difference that I want to point out.
In Islam – even if we personally denounce that original sin (as defined in Islam) and uphold God’s absolute authority – whether or not we go to Heaven or Hell based on our ability to convince our jinn companion of that same thing.
Let me rephrase that – In Islam – even if we denounce the original sin and uphold God’s absolute authority – we can still go to Hell – if we can’t convince our evil spirit companion of the same things.
In Christianity – given that God gives us free will and does not control our every move – then our own belief is all that’s needed. We do not have to convince any evil spirit to have the same belief. Jesus has already defeated the number one evil spirit – Satan himself. So nothing else is needed other than our own belief in Him.
Note to those who look at many Christians and question whether or not we live appropriately – as the character Ismad did in the book that started all of this – I submit that many who claim to be followers of Jesus, and therefore Christians – really are not.
Lk 17:11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!”
Lk 17:14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed.
Lk 17:15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him—and he was a Samaritan.
Lk 17:17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.”
I have used these verses in some of my classes. It’s surprising that some don’t seem to be aware of the implications of what Jesus said.
Think about it. He heals ten people. This is like ten people who can claim to be Christians – since they were healed.
And yet – only one comes back praising God. One out of ten.
One out of ten who was told your faith has made you well.
One out of ten that will claim to be Christian – who will actually be saved.
The other nine may claim to believe – but do not.
One out of ten who lives out their faith.
The other none do not.
So I urge you – don’t judge Christianity by the way “Christians” live.
Instead – judge Christianity by the way we are supposed to live. Look at the way the one in ten tries to live. And realize that none of us will ever completely succeed.
But for those of us that truly believe – we have hope.
A hope that no one else has.