What is the “Book of Life”?
Can a believer lose his salvation per Rev. 3:5?
The Book of Life contains all the names of everyone who is born. Only God could know all those names. In ancient cities, a register was kept with a list of living citizens. The names of the dead were erased. The Book of Life therefore, contains the names of all the living, the wicked as well as the righteous. David writes,
28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous. (Ps. 69:28)
We need to recognize that the names of the righteous are written in the Book from the foundation of the world according to Revelation 13 and 17,
8 All who dwell on the earth will worship him, whose names have not been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. (Rev. 13:8) (my emphasis)
8 “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. (Rev. 17:8) (my emphasis)
Their names were written before they had done anything good or bad. They were chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world,
4 …just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, (Eph. 1:4)
Now when the disciples returned from a mission ministry, they were all excited about what they saw. Jesus exhorted them to not be excited about demons subject to them, but that their names were written in heaven.
20 “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:20)
The word for “written” is in the perfect tense, which means that it could be translated “written with the result that they cannot be not written,” that is, “the names cannot be removed.” If the names of believers are recorded in heaven, why would Jesus give any indication that the name could be removed? Only if the name was not a part of the living, that is, those who have trusted in God’s plan of salvation found in Jesus Christ.
As unbelievers die, their names are removed from the book, just as the names were removed from the registry of the ancient city. So that at the Great White Throne, only the names of believers remain in the book and it becomes known as the Lamb’s book of life,
12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.
14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.
15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:12-15) (my emphasis)
Those who never trusted Christ were removed from the book and they are cast in the Lake of Fire. That book becomes known as the Lamb’s Book of life,
27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. (Rev. 21:27)
These are the true believers for eternity. They are the elect. It doesn’t matter if the name was included in a local church on planet earth. It only matters if the name is in the Book of Life for eternity.
Some people struggle with the passage in Revelation 3:5, which says, “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life;but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.” (my emphasis) If someone is genuinely born again, he remains regenerate and written in the book (John 5:24; 6:35-37, 39; 10:28-29).
However the seed thought of removal was begun by Moses during the formation of the great nation of Israel. Moses and the Lord dialogued,
31 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! 32 “Yet now, if You will forgive their sin– but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” 33 And the LORD said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. (Ex. 32:31-33) (my emphasis)
Overcoming is a concept John addresses in 1 John 5:4, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world– our faith.”The one who overcomes the world is the one who trusts in Jesus Christ and is no longer blinded by the god of this world (1 Cor. 4:4). Revelation 3:5 does not state that a name will be removed, but that those who are believers absolutely will not be erased (cf. Walvoord, Bible Knowledge Commentary, pp. 82, 338). God would never blot out the name of a true child of God.