I received this question from a minister on the Internet, in response to a comment which I had made about the Book of Life, The Lamb's Book of Life and the Book of the Holy City:
"I have never heard anyone divide the "book" in question this way. There are not three, but rather one. Scripture is making reference to the same "book" in all three instances. At least that is the way I have been taught. - God has no use for books, He already knows everything and never forgets - Why do you think that there are three books instead of just one."
I hope that this explanation, though not exhaustive, will be adequate to impart some understanding on the subject.
As to whether God actually has books written, Paul said "The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made." Are their Scribes and Recorders in the priesthood of God on Earth? Then there are certainly some in heaven. We might well consider Psalm 139:16, where God wrote a how-to book about the creation of man before ever He began man's creation, listing every body part, its structure, and how to temper it together. When the commandment went forth, "Let us make man," the other part of "us" had a book to go by.
The term "The Book of Life" is used six times in the Holy Scriptures. (Phil 4:3; Rev. 3:5; Rev. 17:8; Rev. 20:12; Rev. 20:15; Rev. 22:19) The term "The Lamb's Book of Life" is used once (Rev. 13:8). It is also called "The Book of Life of the Lamb." (Rev. 21:27), making two references to that book. Phil. 4:3, could possibly be construed to be intended to mean "The Lamb's book of life." So, we could consider there to be five references to the first, and three to the latter.
To get one's name in The Lamb's Book of Life, one must be born again through faith in the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Yet, we know from Matt. 22:31-32, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are "living." And before anyone was "born again," Jesus said unto His Apostles, "Ye have eternal life abiding in you." Apparently, "the giving of the law, and the promises" was the beginning of the infusion of life into the people of God, by his word. To Moses He said, "I set before you this day life and good, death and evil."And, by Jesus the Christ He said, "The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
There are three different two-thousand-year periods from Adam's creation until Jesus is crowned King. Those first two "days" the word of God came only to a limited few: Adam's descendants, including Abel, through Noah. That lineage from Adam, "which was the Son of God" (Luke 3:38), through Seth, are called "The sons of God" in Gen. 6:4. However, in the creation, it was not until "the third day" that God created "living things" upon the earth. And Paul declared the spiritual reality of that allegory when he said, "Death reigned from Adam to Moses." That means the Earth began to shake itself loose from Death's grip in the third millennium, as God called Abraham out, and began to give "the promises and the law."
I believe the evidence shows that everyone who is born is automatically written in The Book of Life. Many, if not most, of those names are taken out of that book at some point during their lifetime for such things as deliberate rejection of the Living God, or searing of their conscience by persistence in sin. Even to this day all men are judged by whether or not they maintain a good conscience. That is especially true of those of us who have been born again.
No doubt there have always been noble men of integrity, such as Abimelech in Genesis 20, who maintained a good conscience. Whatever time it was in which they lived, when The Book of Life is opened at the advent of the second resurrection, they have a chance of receiving eternal life.
With the advent of the "third day" of man's time on Earth, a kind of spiritual life was given, but it was more comparable to plant life than to the breath of life which came by Jesus Christ at the advent of the fifth millennium. Jesus launched the two-thousand-year time of Christianity on the day of His resurrection when "He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost," and thus were the first names written in the Lamb's book of life. We know that is when they became alive in Christ, because God "breathed" into the nostrils of the "first Adam," and he became a living soul.
You must be born naturally (born of water) to have your name written in The Book of Life. You must choose to be born again (born of the Spirit) to get your name written in The Book of Life of the Lamb. And you must be chosen of God to get you name written in The Book of the Holy City. In the New Testament era, in Hebrews 12:22,23, that "City," is called "the Heavenly Jerusalem, - The general assembly and Church of The Firstborn, which are written in Heaven."In reading the New Testament, especially the Gospels, we readily see that God is great on "It is written."
However there is yet another bookfor which you must qualify to have your name written, before you are even considered for a place in that "City" (Church).God alerted us to the existence of that book in Mal. 3:16-18. He said, "They that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before Him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. 'And they shall be mine,' saith the Lord of hosts, 'in that day when I make up my jewels;and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.' Then shall ye return, and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not."
When the dead in Christ are resurrected, and the faithful living shall be changed, at the return of our Savior, they will be judged, and given their rewards which they have earned, that they might rule the world with Christ during the seventh millennium (day). That is when the Twelve Apostles will receive the thrones which Jesus promised them in Matt. 19:28. Jesus clearly reaffirmed this in Rev. 22:12, "Behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his works shall be." The righteous will not be judged again at the end of that thousand years, but rather shall themselves "judge angels." Yet, at that time "the books (shall be) opened, and another book (shall be) opened, which is The Book of Life." Those "books" are the biographies of all who are to be judged at that time. Each person shall be judged and punished according to their misdeeds, but if their names are found still written in The Book of Life, they shall be granted that wonderful blessing of life everlasting. "For His mercy endureth forever."