The Book Of Life

The book of life has stirred the curiosity of many students of the Bible. In particular, the scriptures say that...

  • Disciples of Christ have their names recorded in heaven (Luke 10:20b).

  • Members of the church have their names written in heaven (Hebrews 12:23a).

  • Paul’s fellow servants had their names written in the book of life (Philippians 4:3).

Thus, most of those in the religious world believe the book of life is the heavenly register of the redeemed. This certainly seems to be the correct interpretation in view of Revelation 20:15, which says that on the day of judgment anyone whose name is not found written in the book of life will be thrown into the lake of fire.

Up to this point, most of our denominational friends would agree with us concerning these comments. But, at this point, a clear cut dichotomy occurs. Many believe that once one’s name is enrolled in the book of life nothing can happen that would cause it to be erased. This belief is commonly referred to as “Once saved, always saved.”

One reason this teaching has arisen is because our religious friends have failed to deal properly with Revelation 3:5. A quotation from a discussion under the heading “Book of Life” in the Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia (Moody Press, Vol. 2, page 1038) illustrates this point:

Rev. 3:5 also speaks of being blotted out of the book of life, meaning here the list of the saved. Some say that such a blotting out is possible and implied. But that a saved person could thus lose his salvation is felt by many to contradict those passages which teach the security of the believer in Christ. Consequently, these interpreters have taken one of the following approaches: (1) Rev. 3:5 does not explicitly say that anyone’s name will be blotted out; (2) this register originally has everyone’s name on it, but when a person finally rejects Christ his name is blotted out; (3) the book of life in Rev. 3:5 is the register of profession from which names will be erased, whereas the Lamb’s book of life (Rev. 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27 referring to the Lamb’s book of life though not specifically so called in every verse) contains only the names of genuine believers from which no names can be erased.

It is apparent that many of our denominational friends will believe whatever they want to believe in spite of what the Bible says. Consider now, carefully, the passage under discussion:

And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; these things said He that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; “I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember, therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come upon thee as a thief, and thou shatl not know the hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white; for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but will confess his name before My Father, and before His angels. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:1-6).

However, true to form, the Westminister Confession of Faith, which was written in 1643, says:

They whom God has accepted can neither totally nor finally fall from the state of grace: but shall certainly preserve therein to the end and be eternally saved (Henry Bitterson, Documents of the Christian Church, London: Oxford University Press, 1963, page 347).

Similarly, Sam Morris, pastor of the First Baptist Church in Stamford, Texas, said it this way:

We take the position that a Christian’s sins do not damn his soul! ...[A]ll the sins he may commit from idolatry to murder will not make his soul in any more danger. ...The way a man lives has nothing whatever to do with the salvation of his soul (Morris, A Discussion Which Involves a Subject Pertinent to All Men, pages 1-2).

Now, if a man can understand anything, then he ought to understand that Revelation 3:5 teaches, by necessary inference, that the Lord can, and will, blot out the names of all who will not overcome through His blood. Therefore, we appeal to our denominational friends to seriously consider the problem of harmonizing the passage under consideration with the teaching of “Once saved, always saved.” Considering this difficulty, we encourage you to study the various warnings to the saints found in 2 Thessalonians 2:3; Hebrews 12:15; 2 Peter 1:9; 2 Peter 3:14; Galatians 5:4; James 5:19; 1 Timothy 5:15; 1 Corinthians 8:11; 2 Peter 2:15-22; 1 Peter 5:8; 1 Corinthians 9:27; Revelation 22:19; and Matthew 25:30. We then encourage you to “know the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:15).

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