Phil 4:3 The Book of Life CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
This lesson on the book of life concentrates predominately on when names are written in the book of life and why some are blotted out. The lesson is outlined according to the various questions about the book of life that are answered here.
Are names written in the book of life from the foundation of the world? No – Rev 17:8 – when you read Rev 17:8, you might understand the verse to say that some names in the book of life were written in it from the foundation of the world and some were not. That is, you might believe, that of the names of all the people who ever lived, who are alive now and who will ever live, some were written in the book at the time the world was founded and some were not. You might refer to Rev 13:8, as well, to show that all the people who worship the beast are those whose names are not written in the book of life. In other words, they worship him because they are not in the book of life.
Well, then you might conclude, like the Calvinists, that only the names written in the book of life are those whom God had chosen to save from the foundation of the world. You might come to that conclusion by cross referencing Eph 1:4. However, there are two immediate problems with this assumption. First, it can’t be that those predestined to salvation were written in the book and those predestined to condemnation were not written in the book from the foundation of the world. By comparing Rev 3:5 with Ex 32:32-33, some of the names in the book of life are blotted out. If God, in his foreknowledge, knows who they are, then there is no way that he would have written them in the book of life in the first place. Second, Eph 1:4 doesn’t say that God chose us to salvation before the foundation of the world; it says that before the foundation of the world God chose that those “in Christ Jesus,” [Eph 1:1] “should be holy and without blame before him in love,” [Eph 1:4] and that we would be adopted as children of God [Eph 1:5].
The statement “from the foundation of the world” in Rev 17:8, therefore, doesn’t refer to the time the names were written in the book but rather to the length of time the book has been in existence. It is “the book of life from the foundation of the world.”
When are names written in the book of life? At salvation – if the names were not written in the book of life when the world was founded then, evidently, the names are written in the book of life when folks get saved. Paul pointed out to the Philippians that his fellow laborers’ “names are in the book of life,” [Phil 4:3]. He wouldn’t have said that if it were understood that their names were already in there before they were saved. By contrast, those people whose names are “not found written in the book of life” will be “cast into the lake of fire,” [Rev 20:15]. This statement implies that they could have had their names written in there if they had gotten saved.
Can the names of Church age saints be blotted out of the book of life? No – when we are saved and baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ [1 Cor 12:13] we are eternally secure in Jesus Christ because we are members of his body [Eph 5:30-32], we have been raised together with him and are already seated together in heavenly places [Eph 2:6], and we have been sealed by the Spirit until the day of redemption [Eph 1:13, 4:30]. We cannot lose our salvation and, therefore, our names will not be blotted out of the book of life.
However, it appears that a saint can have his “part” taken away out of the book of life if he takes “away from the words of the book of this prophecy,” [Rev 22:19]. His “part” evidently has to do with his inheritance as a joint-heir with Christ [Rom 8:17]. For instance, in 1 Cor 6:9-10, Gal 5:19-21 and Eph 5:5, if a child of God goes back and becomes a fornicator, or an idolater, or an adulterer, etc. he loses his inheritance or his “part” [as in 1 Sam 30:24] of what he would have inherited as a joint-heir with Jesus. Likewise, if he takes away from the words of the book then his “part” is taken away.
Who then can be blotted out of the book of life? Tribulation saints – in the Tribulation, saints not only have the faith of Jesus, but they must also keep the commandments of God [Rev 14:12, 12:17]. In other words, they cannot take the mark of the beast [Rev 13:16] without violating the first commandment, they cannot worship the image of the beast [Rev 13:15] without violating the second commandment, they cannot hate their brethren [1 Jn 3:14-15] without violating the sixth commandment, they cannot run from Judea on the Sabbath day [Matt 24:16-20] without violating the fourth commandment, and so forth. If a saint doesn’t keep these commandments, if he takes the mark of the beast, for instance, then he loses his salvation [Heb 6:4-6, 10:28-31] and his name will be blotted out of the book of life.
The temptation by the devil will be severe. He will threaten some of the saints with death if they don’t worship him [Rev 2:10] and his image [Rev 13:15]. The saints who don’t recant will be beheaded [Rev 20:4]. Yet, a saint who won’t recant won’t lose his salvation, his name will not be blotted out of the book of life [Rev 3:5] and he will be given the crown of life [Rev 2:10].
The Lord mentioned to Moses in the Old Testament that, “whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book,” [Ex 32:33]. Evidently, some Old Testament saints were blotted out, too [Num 16:23-35, for instance, would be a possible example].
Conclusion: From the references in the Bible to the book of life we see that it is a book from the foundation of the world, into which the names of people are written when they are saved. Saints in the body of Christ are sealed and their names will not be blotted out of the book. Saints in the Tribulation who take the mark of the beast, for instance, will have their names blotted out.