Will our names be erased
|Can we be “blotted” from the Book of Life?
Let me define who “we” refers to before I answer the question. We are those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ. The Book of Life is a list of people who will live with God for eternity. A person who has professed to believe in Jesus Christ as their Savior, meaning they believe He came to this world as a human to die for our disobedience (sin) toward God, was raised from the dead, and resurrected. Can someone who has professed to believe in Jesus and live according to His teachings as they continue their journey in this world be blotted from the Book? When I say, “live according to His teachings”, I am not saying to be perfect but maturing into the image of Christ. What would cause someone to believe that their name can be removed from the Book? Our incomplete understanding of the magnitude of His grace, misreading Scripture, and our misinterpretation of His character can cause someone to doubt their salvation.
Our answer to this question shows us more about ourselves than about God. The answer we give demonstrates how much we truly know God. My answer to this question now is “no”. At the beginning of my relationship with God, I would have accepted that my name could be erased if someone would have taught me that idea. At the time, I was naïve and my understanding of Him was limited. Once I heard a young lady mention she doubted her eternal security. She pictured God diligently watching over her waiting for the moment she did something He disapproved of to remove her from the Book of Life. This was the first time I heard the idea of God accepting me because of Jesus Christ one moment and later that day or another day reject me for something I did. I can’t imagine people believing the latter to be true. It seems their lives would be a rollercoaster of highs and lows depending on how their standing was with God. There would be no real peace, love or acceptance from God. What I see in people who believe that is possible for names to be removed from the Book of Life is two things. I see a group of people who genuinely out of their love for God want to please Him with their lives. The other group of people is driven to behave in a certain way because of fear.
The thought of losing one’s salvation is paralyzing. I remember once believing I lost my salvation. I was extremely angry at God during this time and in my anger, I cursed God. After the words were said, I was engulfed by fear. The dominating thought at that time was “You’re going to hell.” Other thoughts that developed too were, “God will never forgive you for what you said. I cannot die because I will be sent to hell, but how would I prevent death? I could not avoid death.” One night these thoughts dominated any other thoughts and I was paralyzed by fear. Alone in my dark room, I laid in bed unable to sleep weeping because I was certain that hell awaited. In my desperation, I said “Mom help me” only to realize that she could never deliver me from that place. Not until I realized the power of God’s grace, I was able to understand sin before and after salvation is removed by Christ. This is true only if one is genuinely repentant and wanting His forgiveness. My limited understanding of God’s grace led me to confidently believe He was angry and would never forgive me.
I wonder how many Christians believe that their names can and will be removed from this Book? Misreading Scripture can lead someone to believe that the removal of their name is possible. A verse used to defend the belief of losing one’s salvation is Revelation 3:5 “All who are victorious will be clothed in white. I will never erase their names from the Book of Life, but I will announce before my Father and his angels that they are mine.” In Can I Be Blotted From The Book of Life, John Piper explains that people assume “I will never erase their names from the Book of Life” to mean that God will remove people’s names. The New American Standard Bible uses the word overcomes instead of victorious in Revelation 3:5. The Macarthur Study Bible explains that “He who overcomes” are true Christians and states, “Under no circumstances will He erase those names.” If one is a Christian, then one is an overcomer. By our faith in Christ, we become overcomers and not by anything we have done. When people read the bible literally, misunderstandings develop. Imagine if we took Matthew 5:29-30 “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” literally. How many Christians are living without eyes because they read these verses in the bible? When reading Scripture, looking at the entire picture is the best method to comprehend what is being taught. Reading the entire chapter and the entire book is beneficial to grasp the teaching.
A Christian cannot lose their eternal security. The issue is Christians understanding of God’s grace, God’s love, and His character. If we did there would be no doubts about our eternal salvation. God wants us to know who He is and when we do there will no longer be doubts about losing our salvation. He wants us to look at the whole picture of what His word is saying. An example of knowing God is given in The Sympathy Of The Two Worlds by Charles Spurgeon. He quotes Luke 10:15 “In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents,” to dispute the Arminian doctrine which states people can lose their salvation. Let’s remember that Luke 10:15 is spoken by Jesus. I love the case Spurgeon makes, “Now, angels, don’t be too fast. Perhaps you may have to repent of this one day, if the Arminian doctrine be true; I would advise you to save your song for greater joys. Why angels, perhaps the men that you are singing over today, you will have to mourn over tomorrow…The reason why angels rejoice is because they know that when a sinner repents, he is absolutely saved…But the angels know that Christ meant when he said, “ I give unto my sheep eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand.” We need to learn about God’s nature. Learning who He is will help identify misconceptions we have developed about Him. Everyone comes to an understanding of God by what they were taught of Him. The example I gave about me losing my salvation came from fear and from how I viewed God. His eyes were constantly watching over me to bring punishment every time I did something wrong. At least what I believe was wrong in God’s eyes.
It is not until we have a knowledge of God and who He is that we begin to identify His ways. I am not saying that God does not discipline Christians. He does when it is needed but His discipline does not equal eternal separation from Him. When he does discipline it is done in love that we may not harm ourselves or others in the future.
God wants every Christian to know without doubt that their salvation will not be taken away. Nothing they can do will cause Him to remove their name for the Book. John Piper refers to Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 as examples that when God placed your name in the book it is permanent. Piper states, “Being in the book, having your name in the book, keeps you from doing what would get you erased from the book if you did it — like worshiping the beast.”
I wonder how God feels when we doubt our eternal destiny? I believe He griefs because we miss the magnitude of His love. When thoughts of losing your salvation come to mind, remember who He is and not who you see Him as being. He knew what failures you would face but that did not change His mind about the inclusion of your name in the Book of Life.