Saturday, May 17, 2008

Once Saved Always Saved? Or, Can You Lose Your Place in the Lamb's Book of Life?

By Jack Snyder

The Bible teaches there are heavenly books which contain the names of people, the works they did while on earth (both good and bad), and probably the heavenly rewards they have earned (if they were saved). At the Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:12-15) where the dead (the unsaved) are judged, these books are examined. The (Lamb's) Book of Life, which is one of these books, will not contain the names of these unsaved people. They will be judged out of the other books according to their works.
Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead (the unsaved) were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according their works.

Of course they will be found woefully lacking since all the righteousnesses (good works) anyone does apart from Christ are but filthy rags in God's sight. The terrible consequence shall be the Lake of Fire.
Isaiah 64:6 But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf-, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
Revelation 20:15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.
But how does someone get his or her name entered or removed from this Book of Life? Let's examine other scriptures concerning this very interesting book. First of all, we know the names of all saved people are written in the Book of Life. They are known as the church of the firstborn, laborers in the gospel, and the one’s who will enter into the New Jerusalem.

Hebrews 12:23 To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,
Philippians 4:3 And I intreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellowlabourers, whose names are in the book of life.
Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it (the New Jerusalem) any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life.

Having one's name in the heavenly Book of Life should be cause for great rejoicing; even more important than being able to perform great signs and miracles.
Luke 10:17-20 And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name. 18 And he (Jesus) said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven. 19 Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. 20 Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.
The Bible teaches that when we get saved, we are, in a spiritual sense, clothed in the white garments of Christ's righteousness. We have overcome, and are given the promise that our name will not be blotted out of the Book of Life.

Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
Revelation 3:5 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 I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
But, what and how have we overcome? We who are saved (born of God) have overcome the world. It is the temptations of the world that we must overcome. In Mark 9:43-48, Jesus graphically portrayed the importance of overcoming the worldly actions (hands), places (feet) and thoughts (eyes) that reflect a belief system destined for hell. But we can overcome the world. How? By putting our faith in Christ. And thereby we gain the victory.

1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Overcoming is by faith, not works of holding out until the end. God promises to not blot out the names of those who overcome (who by faith trust Christ). In fact, the Bible says those of us who have trusted Christ are sealed by the Holy Spirit. This probably refers to our names being sealed in the Book of Life.
Ephesians 1:13,14 In whom (Christ) ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

But what about those who do not have their name written in the book of life? First of all, from Rev 21:27 above we see they are those who work abomination. From the passages below, we see they sin against God and are those who are dwelling on the earth at the end of the Great Tribulation period worshipping the Antichrist. Certainly these are unsaved sinners – those who never had their sin debt paid for by the shed blood of Christ.
Exodus 32:33 And the LORD said unto Moses, Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of My book.
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him (the Antichrist), whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world
Revelation 17:8 …and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.

When were their names blotted out? From God’s eternal perspective and foreknowledge, He knew “from the foundation of the world” that the names of the unsaved would not be in the Book of Life. The term blotted out means wiped away completely, obliterated – almost as if it was never there to begin with. There is no contradiction between “blotted out” or “not written.”
From our perspective though, at some point in time, an unsaved person's name is blotted out of the Book of Life – probably at the moment of his death or when he commits the “unpardonable sin” – the sin of willful unbelief and final rejection of Jesus Christ. The important thing is that the names not found there when it counts at judgment time.
The fact that someone's name might have been there and then is blotted out in no way means they lost their salvation. Only when a person’s name is sealed in the Book of Life are they saved. And at that point it cannot be blotted out. No passage in the Bible, including any referring to the Book of Life teaches a person can lose his salvation. In the following verse, “take away his part (piece, portion, or share)” is not the same as “name blotted out.” This phrase likely means a loss of heavenly rewards (see 1 Corinthians 3:13-15).

Revelation 22:18,19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 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.

In summary, scripture indicates that all people's names are initially written in the Book of Life – when? only God knows, perhaps in eternity past. When someone is saved, the Holy Spirit seals his name in the book. If he dies unsaved, his name is blotted out of the book. From God’s perspective, it was never there.
This is consistent with the doctrine that babies and small children who die prematurely (or are aborted!) before an “age of accountability,” will go to Heaven. They are covered by God's grace, and therefore their names stay in the Book of Life. King David certainly believed this about his baby son, who died shortly after being born from his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba.
2 Samuel 12:23 But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.

Regardless of when one’s name is written in or blotted out of the Book of Life, ultimately, at the time of Judgment, the saved individual's name is there and the unsaved individual's name is not. That will be cause for great rejoicing or great regret. Will you be rejoicing? If not, settle your eternal destiny; receive Jesus Christ as your savior today.
Jack Snyder is an assistant pastor and the administrator of Wade Christian Academy at First Baptist Church of South Brevard, Melbourne, FL.


Wayne S said...

I am struggling with the concept of "unconditional" eternal security.
Is it possible that "people who are secure in their ongoing RELATIONSHIP with Christ have no need of such a doctrine"?
I took this quote from
Wayne S

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