Friday, May 29, 2009

Does God Blot Out Christians from His Book of Life?

Among the many theological debates that take place today that Christians argue about passionately is the doctrine known to many as the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, or “once saved always saved”. Many times when people are trying to suggest that Christians can lose their salvation, the person will often refer to the blotting out of names in the Lamb’s book of life mentioned in the book of Revelation. I would like to take a moment and look at some of the verses that are discussed in the Lamb’s book of life to try and answer the question “Does God blot out Christians from His Book of Life?”

“The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.” (Rev. 3:5)

Here God is saying “the one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of Life”. This verse clearly states that those who endure will NOT be blotted out. This verse does not directly state that anyone will be blotted out of the book of life.

“and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” (Rev. 13:8)

In this verse we see that the names that are absent from the book of life were left out “before the foundation of the world”. There is no indicator in this verse that tells us that names are blotted out.

“The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to rise from the bottomless pit and go to destruction. And the dwellers on earth whose names have not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world will marvel to see the beast, because it was and is not and is to come.” (Rev. 17:8)

Here we see those whose names were not written from before the foundation of the earth will be/ were (depending on your eschatological view) marveled by the beast of Revelation. Once again there is no sign of blotting any names out of the book of life.

“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done.” (Rev. 20:12)

This verse states that “the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done” but this verse says nothing about names having been blotted out of the book of life.

“And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15)

All this verse tells us is that those whose names were not found in the book of life were thrown into the lake of fire.

And the final verse in the book of Revelation that speaks of the book of Life says…

“But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb's book of life.” (Rev. 21:27)

From this verse we gather that only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Still, this verse like the others before it says nothing of names being blotted out.

I would hope that from this we can agree that if these verses are read and understood in their plain meaning, there is no reason to believe that God blots Christians out of his book of life. However, if one looks at the Old Testament we do see a couple of references to blotting out of God’s book. These references take place in a conversation between God and Moses. The Israelites had made a calf and were worshipping it.

“But now, if you will forgive their sin--but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.” But the LORD said to Moses, "Whoever has sinned against me, I will blot out of my book.” (Exodus 32:32-33)

In this passage Moses is asking God to forgive the people but if He won’t, Moses asks that he would be blotted out of God’s book instead. Now if we notice this passage makes reference to a book of God but does not specifically say that this book is the book of life. Which would make sense because would Moses really be willing to spend eternity in hell apart from God for the rebellious people? This would not be considered a godly action on his part to put his people over his desire to spend eternity with God. The answer is the book being discussed here is not the Lamb’s book of Life but it is a different book.

We get a better indication of what kind of book this is by reading the context. In verse 33 God rejects Moses’ request and we see in verse 35 that the Lord sent a plague on the people. This book is one that deals with physical life, not spiritual. Moses was offering up his life for the life of his friends, which unlike the previous scenario, is a godly act (John 15:13).

So the question remains, what books are being discussed in this passage in the book of Exodus? For a look at a possible explanation we will look at a passage in the Psalms.

“Let them be blotted out of the book of the living; let them not be enrolled among the righteous.” (Psalms 69:28)

Here the psalmist is asking for God to kill those who oppose him. The psalmist is referring to physical life and is not referring to Heaven or Hell. The book in this passage is called the book of the living, not the book of life.

In conclusion I would like to suggest that the book of the living was the book which was being spoken of in Moses’ conversation with God. Therefore, we find no biblical reference of God blotting out Christians from the book of life, which might indicate the possibility of one losing their salvation. We do however find biblical passages referring to people being blotted out of the book of the living but always found in reference to physical life and physical death.

The doctrine of the perseverance of the saints is a biblical one (1John 2:19, John 6:37, John 10:28) and the references to blotting out in the scriptures are perfectly consistent with this doctrine.

5 comments:

  1. Praise God for His keeping power and enduring grace!

    As always, thanks for sharing, bro.

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  2. Amen! And thanks for the the comments!

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  3. I really like how you looked past just the words, but saw their meaning. whenever you become a pastor your going to do a great job. and this really helped me find biblical references for some friends who are Arminian and believe in th losing of salvation. Oh, have you written a blog about free will and determinism. I would really like to read it if you have and consider your opinion on the matter. I'm really bothered by it. If you haven't but you know of a blog that has biblical truth to it, I would really enjoy readin it. sorry this is turning out realy long. Great blog!

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  4. well put. good exegesis as opposed to eisegesis

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  5. One thing to thoughtfully consider is whether you are actually a Christian or not. I don't think that a Christian can lose eternal life because it is God who causes us to will and do of His good pleasure. We look to Jesus, the author and finisher of our salvation. Salvation is truly of the Lord. However, consider this as we examine whether we are in the faith (Christian): are you walking as He walked? Are you putting to death the deeds of the flesh by His Spirit (not evil desires only but simply self willed desires)? The word "looking" in " looking unto Jesus" involves two actions. The first is a looking off of all other things. The second is a fixed look on the object ( Jesus). What we have to earnestly seek God for is the heart that does these actions (walks as He walked, deny self, pick up cross daily...all impossible without Him, but if not the increasing experience of your life, a perfect place to start by seeking Him for His saving grace. We don't want to fool ourselves...not on this point. Once saved always saved, if you're truly saved. I truly believe the only way to salvation is Jesus alone. First to last, all glory will be His. Brothers and sisters fear not to look to Him for everything, but be sure you're truly looking to Him. If it's His life that now lives in us and not our own, how should this affect the pattern of our life?

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