Bible Question:

Is there a limited number of people that have been and will be called to serve God? If so, is it possible that many of those around us are already doomed? The reason I ask is that since God knows everything (the past, the present, and the future) have the names of the chosen ones been entered into the Lamb's Book of Life?

Bible Answer:

Yes, God has already written the names of those who will saved into the Lamb’s Book of Life. These individuals will enter heaven. Listen to Revelation 21.

And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her brilliance was like a very costly stone, as a stone of crystal-clear jasper . . . And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine upon it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb . . . and nothing unclean and no one who practices abomination and lying, shall ever come into it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. (NASB) Revelation 21:10-11, 23, 27

Earlier in Revelation we are told that names were written in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world – before the beginning of time.

And all who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. (NASB) Rev. 13:8

Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will be sent to hell, and will then be thrown into the Lake of Fire.

And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. (NASB) Revelation 20:15

Does this mean that all are doomed to a fate beyond their control? The answer is no! Anyone who is convinced that Jesus died for our sins, and returned to life, and who desires to be saved from his or her sins will be in the Book of Life. God wants all men to be saved.

First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, in order that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (NASB) 1 Timothy 2:1-4

Just as God wants us to pray for all men/women, He wants all men/women to be saved. God chooses man and man chooses. Both are true! How can both be true? How can our names be in the Book of Life before the foundation of the world and yet we choose? It is a paradox which only God understands.

Conclusion:

We struggle with the idea that we do not have freedom of choice. The real issue is not that our names are or not are not written in the Book of Life. The real issue is: do we want God to forgive us? If we do, then we must believe/trust that only Jesus, Who died and returned to life, can forgive our sins. Spurgeon has said it well.

Some have doubted whether [God’s choosing man] is consistent with the free agency of man. We believe that man does as he pleases, yet notwithstanding he always does as God pleases.

C. H. Spurgeon

There is the paradox. The Bible teaches both: we choose and He chooses! Both are true. He has given us a glimpse of how it works but only God knows how it really works.