"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." (Revelation 3:5)
A few weeks ago in our study of the Seven Churches in Revelation, the fifth verse in chapter three raised a question that I could not answer at the time. Now that I have done some study I have an answer to the question that has been asked. “Can your name be blotted out of the ‘Book of Life’?”
I think the focus really settles in the phrase “Born once, die twice – Born twice, die once. My belief is that once saved you cannot lose your salvation. This then is where the answer is. Jesus said in this verse Revelation 3:5 that he who overcomes will not have his name erased from the “Book of Life.” I think this is a promise and not a possibility. I also think that God would not place a name in the book of life without knowing that the person would not fall away from the truth once received. God knows who will and who will not receive Him. "Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure." (Isaiah 46:10) This passage of Scripture is a promise that he who overcomes will be given the righteousness of Jesus Christ because this is the foundational promise from which our hope is assured.
The first thing is to follow the basic instruction of John 3:16. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and walk after Him in faith and " love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself," (Luke 10:27) there will be no need for the question, “Can your name be blotted out of the ‘Book of Life’?” Let us look at this one phrase for one moment. “That whosoever believes in Him.” The word believes is from the Greek word “pisteuo” and means to have faith, to entrust especially with one's spiritual well-being to Christ, to make a commitment to or put your trust into Jesus. That is the simplest yet all-encompassing truth of the Gospel of Christ. If we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, then we have no need of concern for the question from Revelation 3:5.
So I believe that the Bible teaches once save, always saved. Let us take a quick look at some Biblical evidence to support that belief. Once and for all we can be saved with a contrite repentant heart. This should lead us to realize that we are sinners, we have rebelled against the Word of God and in our hours of distress, we call upon the name of the Lord. "Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13) Once we have accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior soon we may wonder if it is possible to lose the free gift of salvation He has given us. What if after the forgiveness of our sins we stumble and sin again? What if we fall further and sin a lot? Can we then lose our salvation? Will He withdraw that love that He has for us? I must ask this question as well. He loved us while we were yet sinners why would He un-love us now that we have stumbled? "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) The answer is that once we have accepted Jesus as our Savior He has forever accepted us and we are forever saved.
The first time I saw my son when he was born I loved him. I loved him because he was a part of me and the woman that I love. As my son was going through his earliest years he would wake up in the middle of the night and need to be cared for. There was also the mess deposited in his diapers that needed to be changed. There were often times I’d pick him up to give him a loving hug to be rewarded with him spitting on me. He used the one word that he knew extensively, crying. When he began to craw he was also discovering everything and destroying it along his journey. I was committed to him, I wanted to give him a better start in life than I had, I wanted him to have everything he needed and as much as what he wanted. I loved him and do to this day more than I love my own life. But in those early years what did he do for me, he gave me joy, he gave me happiness, and all wrapped in disobedience. Most of all I loved him then even as I love him now. I loved him when he was disobedient as much as I love him now that he is not so disobedient. I loved him as my Father in heaven loved me since before the foundation of the universe.
Let us look again at John 3:15-18 and we discover the evidence in this Scripture. "So that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." When we error we have not lost our salvation, but we must return to Him and seek forgiveness in order to keep His path straight to us and unobstructed by sin towards Him. (John 1:23)
God is eternal and infinite, therefore, there is nothing temporal with God. Jesus did not shed His life on the cross for only a little while. He gave His life as a ransom for us, (Matthew 20:28) and His last words were it is finished. His work was complete. "It is finished!" (John 19:30) Neither were we saved for a little while, we were saved for eternity. Jesus said, "and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. "I and the Father are one." (John 10:28-30)
God’s forgiveness through His Son Jesus Christ is sufficient to cover all sin. "The next day he saw Jesus coming to him and said, "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) That is our sin of the past, present, and future. God is love, this is His nature, and He loves His creation, and His purpose is to reconcile man through Jesus Christ. Sin reigns in death but God’s grace reigns in His righteousness and through Jesus, He is able to forgive all our sin. "So that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." (Romans 5:21) The following Scripture is supportive of this truth. "For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39) "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption." (Ephesians 4:30) "Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy," (Jude 24)
Let us take a logical view of “Once saved, always saved.” Everything the Scriptures teach about mankind and God supports the doctrine of Eternal Security. Therefore, the Scriptural doctrine of “Once saved, always saved is supported logically. It is important for all of us to test one doctrine against the rest of the Scripture to demonstrate that it is consistent with sound teachings of the Bible. Those who say that one can lose their salvation create huge problems with other doctrines of the Bible. It would come into conflict with salvation by faith, the sinful nature of mankind, and the purpose of Christ’s sacrifice.
It is the nature of man to be sinful. Man’s sin nature is an inheritance from the fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden. For this reason, "There is none righteous, not even one." (Romans 3:10) Even after one is saved that is not the end of his battle with the flesh and he all will fall into sin from time to time. There were many in the Old Testament and the New Testament that believed that the way to obtain salvation was to live under the law perfectly. But that has never been possible for a man to do. If it were a man would have never fallen in the first place. Even after our redemption, it is arrogant to think that we can live a sinless life. "For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all." (James 2:10) If continuing sin in the life of a Christian would cause the loss of salvation then there would be no eternal security for mankind. Then the question would come up is a little sin acceptable? If that were true then how much sin is too much sin? There is no yardstick in the Scripture to say how much or what kind of sin is enough to void our salvation. If the Christian did not have eternal security, then his life would be a revolving process from salvation to condemnation on a daily bases based on if every sin had been confessed and forgiven. On this platform, one would really never know if he were saved or not.
We can’t keep the law to earn salvation and neither can we earn salvation with good deeds. "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast." (Ephesians 2:8-9) We cannot make up for sins past, present or the future by the good works we do. It is by God’s grace that we are saved through our faith in Jesus Christ. Does the grace of God give us license to sin, no. As we read before in Romans 5:21 grace reigns in righteousness and in Matthew 6:33 we are to seek His righteousness. "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." A believer in Jesus Christ will naturally as they walk in faith shy always from sinful behavior. He will also desire to do the good works for the glory of the Father. But someone may well say, "You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works." (James 2:18) If we could secure our salvation by our works alone, or by our obedience to the law then what is the measure of how much is sufficient to save us. I do not see that anywhere in the Scripture. To deny eternal security is to place your hope in “faith plus works” for our salvation.
Most of the world’s religions focus is on the outward action of man. But Jesus took the measure to a higher standard. A case in point most religions condemn the act of adultery in the physical act. But Jesus said, "But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." (Matthew 5:28) Sin originates in the heart of a man and Jesus set the measure of purity to be in one’s heart. Not one can live and aspire to this level of purity, especially with our inherent sin nature. None could keep the Law of Moses in a physical sense and now that the heart is judged it truly is impossible to reach a moral perfection within the heart. This standard put forth by Jesus shows how shallow our best efforts really are. With this expectation of Jesus upon us at our best salvation would be but for a very short time. If none of us could be saved but for a short time, then what would have been the purpose of Jesus’ sacrifice on the Roman Cross for the sin of the world?
Also, if we could lose our salvation, then it would be lost forever. Jesus died once for the sins of the world and I do not believe that He is going back to the cross for sin after redemption or to repay the sin debt for those who have lost their salvation. "For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame." (Hebrews 6:4-6) This passage of Scripture points two truths for us to digest. The Sacrifice of Christ must be sufficient for all the sin of the world. If a person did do something to lose their salvation, then it would be impossible for them to be re-redeemed.
Finally once a person is saved he is a new creature. Many argue that once saved, always save gives a person a license to sin at will without fear of losing their salvation. This thought would be inaccurate as anyone who is truly saved is a new creature. "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:17) They have the conviction of the Holy Spirit. "But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you" (John 14:26) They now want to live for Christ, if this were not so they have not truly accepted Him. "They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us." (1 John 2:19)
As to the first question, “Can your name be blotted out of the ‘Book of Life’?” My answer would be their name was never in the Book of Life. Whosoever has not repented their name is not in the book of life. I truly believe that Jesus in Revelation 3:5 was just assuring the Church of their salvation if they repented.
Thomas N Kirkpatrick
January 15, 2015