WHEN BOOKS ARE OPENED
God keeps records–of everything. Nothing is too small to escape his notice. Every hair on our heads is numbered (Mt. 10:30), so too, every star (Psalm 147:4). Nothing is too big or too small. God keeps track of all he has created–especially the most important of his creation, the human soul:
“The Lord knows those who are his” (2 Tim. 2:19).
But how does God know this? How can God tell whether or not a person really believes in him and his Son in his heart? He can tell because God can see what is in a person’s heart:
“I am he who searches the minds and hearts” (Rev. 2:23).
There is a barrier between human beings. One person cannot see into another’s heart, and, being sinful beings, we should be glad that this is so. Nevertheless, often we sigh at our inability to share at least part of our heart with others because of this barrier between us.
“Each heart knows its own bitterness, and no one else can share its joy” (Prov. 14:10 NIV).
This is both a blessing and a curse: a blessing when we would rather not have someone else see the sin and human weakness in our heart, but a curse when we ache to have someone else help relieve our sorrow or share our joy but are unable to communicate our heart’s condition to them fully. All this because no human being can see the human heart the way God does. He knows and sees the deepest depths of every human heart.
“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account” (Heb. 4:13 NIV).
God does this through his Holy Spirit.
“The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the man’s spirit within him?” (1 Cor. 2:10,11 NIV).
God knows what is in a person’s heart: He knows it by the Spirit’s searching ability of each human heart. What the Spirit sees there tells Him who is his and who is not.
Now, to a degree, those who belong to God can see at least something of this same thing, and even worldly people have to a greater or lesser degree this same ability. For we are all made in the image of God and all human beings are made for relationships with each other and with God, and these relationships function through our spirit’s ability to discern what the other person is like. This is what makes human relationships so dynamic and alive.
“The purposes of a man’s heart are deep waters, but a man of understanding draws them out” (Prov. 20:5 NIV).
“A rich man may be wise in his own eyes, but a poor man who has discernment sees through him” (Prov. 28:11 NIV).
Nevertheless, no matter how adept a person may become at reading another person’s character and heart, such skill is still limited and faulty:
“We see but a poor reflection as in a mirror” (1 Cor. 13:12 NIV).
Among all human beings who have ever lived, only Jesus was able to use this gift from God without limitation, for he is God in his fullness (Col. 1:19).
“He knew everyone, and . . . he didn’t need for anyone to testify concerning man; for he himself knew what was in man” (Jn. 2:24,25).
We do not yet have the fullness of this gift. But we shall. In fact, every person, every human being, will one day see what is in every person’s heart, completely and totally. There will be no more barrier between human hearts, no more hidden secrets. All will be exposed; every hidden thing of every human heart will be revealed for all to see:
“Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known” (1 Cor. 13:12).
“There is nothing covered that will not be revealed; and hidden that will not be known” (Mt. 10:26).
Nothing will be hidden in heaven or hell. The true nature of every person, his work and his life and being, will be revealed for all to see; that work
“will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. If any man’s work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:13-15).
Fire is a painful purifier. How horrible for a person to have to have his heart’s true nature be revealed by fire at the Last Judgment, when God has provided a much better way to have purification of the heart performed before that great day: through the gentle washing of the sinful heart through the water of baptism and regeneration in Jesus Christ and his Spirit:
“He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly, through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Titus 3:5,6).
Fire or water. The choice is ours. Either way, all will have their hearts revealed. The book that is the person’s heart will be opened:
“I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works” (Rev. 20:12).
“If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
God keeps track of everything. All that we do is recorded in his books, and at the end, those books are opened, the book of our heart, where all is recorded, is revealed. This will be the answer to prayer which Job cried out in his suffering:
“Oh that my words were now written! Oh that they were inscribed in a book! That with an iron pen and lead they were engraved in the rock forever!” (Job 19:22,24).
That heartfelt prayer of Job’s has been answered. It has been answered for all of us. Not a single word we ever speak passes unnoticed by God.
“I tell you that every idle word that men speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Mt. 12:36,37).
Where does all this recording of our words and deeds and even thoughts take place? Where is this book of God wherein are recorded all that we ever think, say, and do? The surprising and astounding answer is that it is the human heart. That is where the real person we are resides; that is where the book of our lives is being written:
“You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts” (2 Cor. 3:2,3 NIV).
In the Last Judgment, all God has to do to open the record book of each person’s life is to remove that unseen, mysterious barrier that previously hid each person’s heart from every other person’s view. This will be done, as has already been noted here from Scripture passages about this great revealing.
Other passages tell us that “God is light” (1 Jn. 1:5), that his throne is surrounded by that light (Mt. 25:31). Wherever God is, the glorious brilliance of his presence is divine light that penetrates to the depths of everything in its presence. Everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for it is light that makes everything visible. This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.'” (Eph. 3:13,14 NIV).
Knowing this, then, that this present ability to hide who we really are from others, though not from God, should shake us up. We should indeed wake up from our lackadaisical lethargy and start living as though everyone could see into the deepest recesses of our heart. We should be as honest, sincere, genuine and transparent now as we shall be one day, on that great Day of unveiling of the hearts of men and women. We should heed with all diligence the warning given in the last verse of that Ephesians passage quoted above: “Be very careful, then, how you live–not as unwise but as wise” (Eph. 5:15 NIV).
“At that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who shall be found written in the book. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Dan. 12:1,2).
What an awesome thought and reality this is! So awesome that it is worth repeating that sobering Scripture passage again here:
“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 NIV).
“If anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15).
This last verse in particular is frightening and sobering. For just as we are writing a book with our lives, each day penning a new chapter as we go about our daily activities, so too is God writing a book, a huge book containing a narrative of all the lives of all the people who have ever lived or ever will. But he writes that book differently than we do. We write our own book, the book of our lives, by living out what is in our heart each day, doing good or evil deeds and honoring or dishonoring our Father and Creator. God writes his book by incorporating our lives/books into his.
But God is holy and only those who have cleansed their lives of sin through belief in his Son and whose hearts have been cleansed by his blood shed for them on the cross are worthy of being added to this book. Those who refuse the cleansing possible only through the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, are deemed unworthy to be added to that book of life and are discarded:
“Whoever has sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Exodus 32:33).
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. Before him all the nations will be gathered, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Mt. 25:31,32).
This is the Great Judgment of all souls. As evidence in that judgment, books will be opened that have indelibly recorded each person’s life and heart. This is without a doubt the most awesome event in each person’s life, the final dispensation of one’s soul for all eternity. So serious and awesome is it that it behooves every person reading this to consider the following question with all honesty and with all his or her heart. I ask you, concerning God’s great book of life:
Friend–is your name in that book?
Note: All Scripture quotations from the World English Bible unless otherwise stated.