Q.

Revelation 3:5 speaks of names being blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life. Please explain how such a thing could happen. Also Revelation 20:12 refers to other books being opened. What are in those other books?

A.
Let’s first note what the verses say. Revelation 3:5 states,

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.

Revelation 20:12 reads,

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.

The first passage finds us in the midst of God’s messages to the seven churches of Asia Minor. Specifically addressing the church in the commercial city of Sardis, Christ declared it to be a dead congregation. However, He also knew a few there who belonged to Him. To this remnant He made the promise of Revelation 3:5.

The problem of this verse emerges because of two deductions in the thinking of believers. First, Christians know that a believer cannot lose his salvation. God has given us eternal life (John 3:16), and we are also sealed by the Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation (Eph. 1:13; 4:30). But Revelation 3:5 seems to imply that a person’s name can be blotted out of the book that contains the names of all believers. So how do we resolve this apparent problem?

The answer is to look at the verse from a different perspective. So many verses teach the security of the true believer that we know such a person cannot be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life. Consequently, as we examine Revelation 3:5 more carefully, we can begin to discover that the verse actually teaches the opposite of what we might conclude.

Rather than implying that a person’s name could be blotted out, the verse assures us (giving us a promise) that He will not blot out the name of anyone belonging to Him. Another view of this passage is that the Lamb’s Book of Life represents the sea of humanity. As individuals come to maturity and fail to trust Christ as Savior, they are blotted out, while those who believe are firmly fixed in the Book.

But what about the phrase, “To him that overcometh”? Doesn’t that statement mean that only certain believers who in some way keep holding on will make it? No, it doesn’t. A believer has no ability on his own to keep himself saved. The Scriptures make it clear that overcoming is possible through Christ, Who keeps us. It is not of our own doing. Because of this glorious truth, every true believer is kept.

Concerning Revelation 20:12, we have the scene of the unbelieving dead being judged at the Great White Throne Judgment at the end of the Millennium. The Book of Life does not have their names in it. The purpose of the other books (plural) is to offer proof that those people had never believed. The books show their evil works. This proof is the means of a fair trial, as God keeps perfect records of all that every person ever does. These record books will not only confirm the lostness of every unsaved individual, but they will also serve as the basis for the various degrees of punishment in the Lake of Fire.

Do you have feedback or a Bible question to submit? Send to nolson@garbc.org or mail to Norman A. Olson in care of the Baptist Bulletin, 1300 N. Meacham Rd., Schaumburg, IL 60173-4806.

Reprinted from the Baptist Bulletin (November 1995).
© 1995 Regular Baptist Press. All rights reserved.
Used by permission.