The Book of Life
I am writing for the Ladies’ Home Missionary Class (myself included). We are taking up Revelation and have a comment on chapter 3:5 which has disturbed us. The comment reads: “The Book of Life appears to be a record of all who profess to be believers, whether born again or not. God accepts them on their profession, and then demands the evidence of a transformed life as a proof of reality. Those who are Christians in name only will have their names removed from the Book of Life. No true Christian will suffer this fate; instead his name will be confessed by Christ before God the Father and the holy angels.”
Some discussion arose from this statement, and such questions were asked, as for example: “Would God write a name, then blot it out, why go to that extent?” Also, “Fancy a book in Heaven smeared through as this one would have to be.”
Many years ago brother McClure spoke here on Revelation, and as I remember it, he spoke of the blotting out as something similar to what churches do when a member leaves, in contrast to which God writes the believer’s name permanently.
We certainly would appreciate any help you can give us on this disturbing question.
Christian love to you and yours from all of us.
The Book Of Life
The Book of God in the Old Testament apparently refers to a record of both the righteous and the sinner (Ex. 32:32), and to the possibility of certain names being blotted out; this stands in contrast to the references to the Book of Life in the New Testament.
The term actually occurs five times in the New Testament, once in the Epistle to the Philippians and four times in the Book of the Revelation. (It should be noticed that the rendering Book of Life in Revelation 22:19, should read Tree of Life).
An examination of four of these references reveals that in three out of the four, the record contains only the names of the redeemed.
Revelation 13:8, distinguishes between the believer and the unbeliever, and asserts that the names of believers were written in the Lamb’s Book of Life before the foundation of the world; they were chosen in Christ in that indefinite past (Eph. 1:4); whereas the names of the unbelievers are not written in the book.
Revelation 20:5, implies that only the names of the saved are recorded in the Book of Life, and the same idea is carried over into Revelation 20:12.
Philippians 4:3 definitely gives the same impression, only believers are recorded in this divine register of the living.
With these references being so clear, we must accept the reference in Revelation 3:5 to imply the same, and seek an explanation in accord with this conclusion.
To state in an arbitrary way, as does one expository of The Revelation, “In chapter 3:5, the Book of Life is the record of Christian profession; in chapter 13:8, the Book of Life is the record of reality. In the former the true and the false are found; in the later the true only,” is, to say the least, inconsistent and sets one reference at variance with another.
The statement, “I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life,” is one meant to give absolute assurance. In the Greek this sentence has a double negative. The Lord Jesus used a similar double negative in one of His public addresses, saying, “Him that cometh unto Me, I will in no wise cast out” (John 6:37). The full force of His words being, “Him that cometh unto Me I will never no never cast out.” In this passage in Revelation, the Lord is giving the same assurance. “I will never no never blot his name out of the Book of Life.”
This promise was made to the church of Sardis which suggests the time of the Reformation, that period of church history when the Church of Rome stormed and threatened with excommunication all she classed as heretics. These words of assurance implied that although saints be expelled from the professing church, and their names be blotted out of the church roll, God would not erase them from His records, the Book of Life.