As surely as Heaven and Earth are real places, the Book of Life and the lake of fire are literal realities. And as surely as the Son of God suffered and died on the cross and rose from the grave on the third day, the Book of Life and the lake of fire are real.
The "Book of Life" is mentioned 7 times in the Bible; once in Philippians (4:3), and 6 times in the Book of Revelation (3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:7). The "lake of fire" is mentioned 5 times in the Book of Revelation (19:20; 20:10,14,15; 21:8).
The lake of fire is also known as Hell. This is where lost souls will suffer eternal torment consciously and bodily. Jesus often spoke about the reality of both Heaven and Hell.
God takes Heaven and Hell extremely seriously. These extreme destinations are where human beings will spend eternity. You need to wrap your mind around the fact that you will spend eternity in Heaven or Hell. And what you do with Jesus here on Earth will set your course for eternity.
The Apostle John was given a supernatural revelation, which included these future events involving the devil, the Book of Life and the lake of fire:
“And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Then I saw a great white throne and Him who was seated on it…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” (Rev. 20:10-12,15).
What I am about to share with you is how you can know for sure that you will escape the eternal fire of Hell, and live instead in the glorious place described as “a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness” (2 Peter 3:13). The Bible calls this place Heaven.
If you rely upon your efforts to get into Heaven, you will be condemned due to your sins detailed in the “books.” (Rev. 20:12 ) On the other hand, if you rely upon Jesus to forgive your sins and cleanse your soul, your name will be found in the Book of Life and you will escape the lake of fire.
You can either trust Jesus as your Savior, or you can rely upon yourself to be “good enough” to get into Heaven. The problem with trusting yourself and relying upon what is in the books is that your sins are being recorded in those books. I hope this fact alarms you because without alarm and conviction over your sin, you will fail to appreciate your need for the blood of Jesus to cleanse you. You need repentance and faith in order to be saved.
So...what is repentance?
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. See what this godly sorrow has produced in you: what earnestness, what eagerness to clear yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what concern, what readiness to see justice done” (2 Corinthians 7:10,11).
Are you alarmed over your many sins? Will you turn away from them? Or do you take the Bible lightly? If you enter God’s courtroom on Judgment Day in hopes of being acquitted based on your deeds, you will be found guilty and sentenced to eternal punishment in the prison known as Hell. Some people in Hell will be punished more severely than others. (Matthew 10:15; Matthew 11:21-24; Matthew 16:27; Luke 12:47,48; Hebrews 10:29; Revelation 22:12)
God’s Word tells us: “Whoever keeps the whole Law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10).
The evidence in the books will be used against you. Your only hope is to have your sins washed away today. If you wait, you might die while you are still lost in your sin. You need to be saved, redeemed, born again, justified, and forgiven.
Unless you come to Jesus today and repent of your sin, you might wake up tomorrow morning without the slightest interest in Christ. Everything you have read here will be for naught. What a tragedy that would be!
Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to convict you of your sin and of your need for the Savior. Jesus is your only hope. If you refuse to call on Him, you will end up paying for your sins in the lake of fire. God does not want you to go there. Christ died so that you could have the opportunity to be saved. “The Lord is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
Will you repent of your sins? Will you trust Jesus to forgive you? Will you turn your life over to God today? Do you want your name in the Book of Life? “If anyone’s name was not found in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).
You will always remember what you have read here. In fact, you will remember it throughout eternity. I only hope that you are remembering it with the rest of us in Heaven whose names are in the Book of Life.
You can turn away from sin today as you pray these words in faith: “Wash me Jesus in your precious blood.” God will change your life forever.
Dan Delzell is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Papillion, Nebraska.