The Book of Life by Dan Corner
There are many erroneous beliefs regarding the Book of Life. David Breese said the following:
I believe that every person who is born has their names written in the book of life. God is not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance, so the will of God is that everybody be saved. If, however, they do not believe Christ, then on the basis of their not receiving Christ, then their names are taken out of the book of life whereas it could have been otherwise. But it does not say that a person’s name is blotted out of the book of life because he has committed a sin. But it’s because he has not believed in the Savior from sin, namely Christ. (Front Page, Unconditional Eternal Security, WWIB-FM, 11/10/94)
J. Vernon McGee wrote:
Our churches are filled with a great many people who are not saved. I’m sure you agree with me. Are they in the Lamb’s Book of Life? I think so. But their names are not going to stay there unless they make a decision for Christ. (Questions and Answers, p. 104)
What are the Scriptural facts about the Book of Life? First, we know the names of the saved only are written in it:
And I entreat 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 (Phil. 4:3).
Paul could not have written that verse if every person who was physically alive had his name in it.
Also Lk. 10:20 must refer to the Book of Life, since this is the only book in heaven, mentioned in Scripture, that has names recorded in it. That verse reads:
… rejoice that your names are written in heaven.
That was also clearly directed to the saved, but the ultimate question here is: Can the names of the saved be blotted out of God’s book through sin?
Then Moses returned to the LORD and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a God of gold! Yet now, if You will forgive their sin; but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book” (Exo. 32:31-33).
According to God himself, personal sin committed can cause God to blot the names of the righteous out of his book in heaven. Furthermore, we read:
Charge them with crime upon crime; do not let them share in your salvation. May they be blotted out of the book of life and not be listed with the righteous (Psa. 69:27,28).
Clearly, the righteous can get their names blotted out of the Book of Life, according to Scripture.
With all of this in mind, notice the following warning given to Christians:
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: 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 (Rev. 22:18,19).
Since those who don’t have their names written in the Book of Life get thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15), and the names of the saved can be blotted out by personal sin (Exo. 32:33 cf. Psa. 69:27,28), then it’s impossible for Once Saved Always Saved to be true!
By comparing Rev. 20:15 and 21:8, we learn that those who don’t have their names written in the Book of Life are also the cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, those who practice the magic arts, idolaters and liars. This is obvious since these people will be thrown into the lake of fire. Again, note the list doesn’t end with the unbeliever!
Conversely, those that do have their names written in the Book of Life are not the cowardly, unbelieving, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, those that practice the magic arts, idolaters or liars, according to the two passages.
Robert Glenn Gromacki gives his strange interpretation of Rev. 22:18,19:
This was a double-sided warning. For addition, God would add these plagues. This was basically a physical judgment. But how could God add the plagues of the great tribulation (Rev 6-16) to a person who has lived and died within the church age? It could only be possible to the unsaved person living at the time of the rapture of the church. In that case, he would enter the tribulation and be exposed to these plagues. For subtraction, God would remove a man’s part from the book of life. (Most Greek texts read this as the “tree of life.”) Again, if this person was living at the end of the church age, he would lose his life during the tribulation and would not be able to enter into the millennial kingdom or into the holy city, which may be on earth during Christ’s earthly reign. (Salvation is Forever, p. 155)
Robert Glenn Gromacki’s strange interpretation crumbles with the fact those warnings were given to the saved not the unsaved!
Also, when it comes to Rev. 22:18,19, Once Saved Always Saved teachers like to quote some translation other than the KJV! Harold Barker gives his reason for this:
The Greek manuscripts do not say “book of life” but rather “tree of life” (italics his).
But does it really make a difference regarding the believer’s security? Let’s look at the NASB version:
I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God shall add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book (Rev. 22:18,19).
Even if one goes by this version of the Bible, Once Saved Always Saved is still refuted by this passage! This is true because:
- That warning was still given to Christians (1:4-6,11); and
- A Christian can still have his part taken away from the holy city, according to all reputable translations, even the ones the Once Saved Always Saved proponents will cite to show verse 19 should say tree of life not book of life.
For one to have his share in the holy city negated means the only other place to be is outside that city:
Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying (Rev. 22:14,15, NASB).
The overlap between verse 15 and Rev. 21:8 shows such will be in the lake of fire. Hence, in the end one will either be in the holy city with access to the tree of life and his name in the book of life, or he will be in the lake of fire. Since a Christian’s share in the holy city (and to the tree of life) can be revoked by taking words away from the book of this prophecy, as John cites, then Once Saved Always Saved can’t be true!
Joseph Dillow has a strange interpretation of Rev. 22:18,19:
To have a share in the tree of life and in the holy city does not, as discussed above, refer to going to heaven. (Reign of the Servant Kings, p. 487)
Remember, only those who have their names in the book of life will enter the holy city (Rev. 21:27). All others will be thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15).
Once we overcome in the sense of Rev. 3:5 and enter the kingdom of God, we won’t have our names blotted out of the book of life. This is a promise for all who enter the kingdom of God, as all the other promises cited in Revelation 2 and 3 are also given to overcomers. This can’t be the same kind of overcomers mentioned in 1 Jn. 5:5, since those addressed in Revelation 2 and 3 already overcame in that sense, which refers to initial salvation!
By the way, Robert Glenn Gromacki states the following about the warning given to Christians in Rev. 22:18,19:
Would any genuine believer ever add to or take away from the revealed truth of the Bible? Certainly not.
For this Once Saved Always Saved teacher to write such is to render meaningless that warning given to Christians. Why would anyone give a warning not to do something if it was impossible for them to do it? Such doesn’t hold up in Scripture regarding God’s warnings (2 Ki. 17:13-15 cf. v. 23).
Apparently, Robert Glenn Gromacki understands the implication of Rev. 22:18,19 to Once Saved Always Saved and therefore tries to nullify the obvious meaning of that warning given to Christians.
Harold Barker takes a different approach and says:
The one spoken of here has never been saved and has never had his name in the book of life and so will not be allowed in the Holy City where the “tree of life” is (Revelation 22:2), and will, therefore, have no part in the “tree of life.” (Secure Forever, p. 154)
So now a Once Saved Always Saved defender has people who were never saved not being allowed in the holy city for some sin other than unbelief in Christ! Harold Barker also has people who never had a part in the holy city losing that share which never existed in the first place. This is a strange interpretation indeed.
Copyright, Dan Corner