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Book of Life

by J. Lewis Taylor

In a figurative sense, the book of life is the complete record of one's life, the sum total of thoughts, words, and deeds written in the soul, of which the Lord will take account in the day of judgment (Rev. 20:12; Alma 12:14).

The scriptures also speak of a book of life, or "the Lamb's book of life," as "the record…kept in heaven" (D&C 128:7) in which are written both the names and deeds of the faithful. It is also the heavenly register of those who inherit eternal life (Heb. 12:23; Alma 5:58; D&C 76:68), "the book of the names of the sanctified, even them of the celestial world" (D&C 88:2; cf. Mal. 3:16-17).

In the Bible, the phrase "book of the living" appears first in Psalm 69:28, and the notion of a heavenly ledger is alluded to often (Ex. 32:32-33; Dan. 7:10; 12:1; Isa. 4:3; 65:6; see also Phil. 4:3; Rev. 3:5; 13:8; 21:27). Names of faithful Saints may be recorded in the book of life conditionally while they are in mortality (Luke 10:20) or "from the foundation of the world" (Rev. 17:8), but may be "blotted out" because of unrepented transgression (Rev. 3:5; 22:19; Alma 5:57; D&C 85:5, 11). Ultimately, only the names of those who qualify for eternal life remain written or "sealed" (TPJS, p. 9) in the Lamb's book of life.

Latter-day Saints believe that essential items written in the "books yet to be opened" are linked to proper Church records, including those of essential gospel ordinances performed by priesthood authority for individuals and attested by authorized witnesses. In ancient covenant ceremonies, the names of the righteous were solemnly recorded, thus numbering them among "the living" (e.g., Num. 1:1-46; Mosiah 6:1-2). What is properly recorded on earth is recorded in heaven (D&C 128:7-8). Final sealing in the Lamb's book requires, further, the approval of the Holy Spirit of Promise (D&C 132:19).

(See Basic Beliefs home page; Teachings About the Afterlife home page)

Encyclopedia of Mormonism, Vol. 1, Book of Life

Copyright 1992 by Macmillan Publishing Company

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