|Question / Comment - Can a born again believer have their name erased from the book of life?|
I am preparing scripture and praying for understanding concerning security of the believer. I FULLY BELIEVE in security of the believer. However, I have some friends who are confused. I have read and saved your part 1 and 2 study notes.
One of the scripture verses they use is Rev. 22:19. How do I explain this in context of Rev. 20:11-15 and 21:27?
I have been saved for 27 years and have no doubt that my salvation is of God and secure in the blood of Jesus.
When I first turned to Rev 22:19 in my Bible (NASB) I must admit I was wondering why it was being brought up as an issue. The reason being is that most modern translations don't mention 'the book of life'. But more on that later... A good place to start is to ask the question - when does God write a person's name into the book of life? Is it at our birth? When we are born again? Is it when we die because God finally knows that we 'made it'? Obviously no, no and definitely no! A survey of the use of the book of life in Revelation is useful:
Rev 13:8 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.
Rev 17:8 "The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.
The names are written in the book before the foundation of the world. God, in His foreknowledge, writes the names of all those who will be born from above in the book even before the world was even brought into existence. Likewise, those that would not be saved were actively NOT written into the book. Because God saw and did all this before the foundation of the world, nothing takes Him by surprise and He isn't making daily alterations in the book! Some think that he is rubbing names out, then if they repent again, He is re-adding them back in! No, no, no! He did it all well in advance. It is one of the benefits of being God that He knows all things before they come into being.
With this in mind, look at another passage in Rev about the book of life (there is 5 mentions of the book of life in Rev)
Rev 3:5 'He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
Some take this as a kind of threat (the bit highlighted) but it isn't, it is a promise. God wrote those names in the book before the foundation of the world having seen and known everything that would ever happen. He doesn't need to erase or add any names or make any alterations! And who are the overcomers? John tells us in his epistle -
1Jn 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world--our faith.
1Jn 5:5 Who is the one who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
Those that are born of the Spirit are overcomers! There names shall never be removed from His book. It is a promise!
So what do we make of Rev 22:19 then? Here is the KJV:
Rev 22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.
The first thing to know is that the majority of manuscripts that we have available today do not mention the book if life in this verse. It is the tree of life. For example:
Rev 22:19 (NASB) '... and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book. '
Rev 22:19 (NIV) And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
If you want to go more in depth about the reasons why there is a difference, have a read here:
So I don't think that the passage is actually meant to talking about the book of life at all. But even leaving that aside, the fact is that this isn't something a born again Christian would do anyway. We are not those that would alter the word of God by adding something to the scripture or taking something away from it. So who would this warning apply to? I would agree with the following:
William MacDonald in the Believers Bible Commentary: "22:18, 19 If men add to the things written in this book of Revelation, they will suffer the plagues described in it. Since the subjects in this book are woven throughout the Bible, the verse, in effect, condemns any tampering with God's word. A similar judgment is pronounced on anyone who takes away from the words of this prophecy. This does not apply to minor differences of interpretation, but to an outright attack on the inspiration and completeness of the Bible. The penalty is eternal doom. God shall take away his part from the tree of life (NKJV margin). It means that he will never share in the blessings of those who have eternal life."
John Walvoord "What a solemn warning this is to critics who have tampered with this book and other portions of Scripture in arrogant self-confidence that they are equipped intellectually and spiritually to determine what is true and what is not true in the Word of God."
Who would it apply to? The cults like the Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses etc who have either added their own words on a par with the Bible or have taken away and altered the Bible. It would apply to the so called 'Higher Critics' and Jesus Seminar who go through the Bible and colour code the gospels depending on whether they think Jesus actually said and did a certain thing or whether they think it was made up.
The following link might be useful:
In terms of Rev 20:11-15 - this is the great white throne of judgement - it is the final judgement of the wicked. There names are not written in the book of life as indicated in Rev 13:8, 17:8 above. But their life and works, written in a separate book, will still be judged. None that enter this judgement are saved.
MacDonald "Rev 20:12 - The dead, small and great, stand before God. These are the unbelievers of all ages. Two sets of books are opened. The Book of Life contains the names of all who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. The other books contain a detailed record of the works of the unsaved. No one who appears at this judgment is registered in the Book of Life. The fact that his name is missing condemns him, but the record of his evil works determines the degree of his punishment."
So I hope this helps. There are plenty of warnings in the Bible and rightfully so because a man should examine Himself to ensure that he has a genuine faith. But none of this changes the fact that Jesus gives HIS sheep (these are the true genuine sheep) eternal life and they shall NEVER perish. And of all that the Father gives Him, He will lose NONE.
All the best.