Question #11 – Is there blotting out of names from the Book of Life? Some friends say that once a disciple’s name is enrolled in the Book of Life, his name would not be blotted out nor erased by God. They want this view to support the theory of “once saved always saved.” Is this true?
Answer: Observe the verses that are submitted below. It is clear that the names of the disobedient disciples could be blotted out or erased from the Book of Life.
1. The Hebrew people considered themselves special and holy people with a covenant with Yahweh God (Exodus 19:5-10). During the time of prophet Hosea, several hundred years after Mt. Sinai, idolatrous Israel was rejected by Yahweh: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I will not be your God” (Hosea 1:9). There was a falling away. The idolatry of the Israelites made Yahweh angry so He allowed Israel to be taken into captivity by the Assyrians and Babylonians. Thousands died in the land of captivity as a consequence of their disobedience. Jeremiah 24:7 says, “Then I will give them a heart to know Me, that I am the LORD; and they shall be My people, and I will be their God for they shall return to Me with their whole heart.” After 70 years of Babylonian captivity, a new generation was given a new heart that yearned for Yahweh and a part of Israel returned to Jerusalem when Cyrus, king of Persia, became the ruler (Ezra 1:1).
2. The Hebrew family kept a genealogy table identifying their tribe and family tree. This gives the idea to the Hebrew mind that there is a Book of Life kept by God where the names of genuine family members are kept.
3. There was a group of people who counted themselves as Israelites but they could not produce any genealogical table as evidence of their claim so they were not accepted as genuine Israelites. (See Ezra 2:59, 62; Psalm 87:6; Ezekiel 13:9).
4. Moses and the Hebrew people were taught by revelation that Yahweh God kept a list of obedient people in the Book of Life. The humble and obedient ones are listed in this Book of Life, but the disobedient ones are blotted out or removed from the list is clear from Exodus 32: 32-33, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book” (v. 33). Psalm 69:28 says, “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” In the New Testament, we have Rev. 3:5, “. . . I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life. . .” Please read also Philippians 4:3; Luke 10:20 and Hebrews 12:23.
When does the blotting out or erasing of names happen? Most likely it is done when a person becomes seared in his conscience when repentance is no longer possible when the Lord’s longsuffering comes to an end during the lifetime of an unbelieving person. When a person commits the sin unto death where the prayer of saints is no longer effective. It is not at the time of Judgment that the blotting out happens because at the Judgment Day it will be a time of opening the Book of Life says Revelation 20:12.
5. Hebrews 3:12-19, the life and journey of Israel in the wilderness, is an illustration of the Christian life. In Exodus 19:5-10, all Israel consented to enter into a covenant with God that made the Israelites a people of God. On many occasions, in the span of 40 years, part of Israel rebelled or murmured against Yahweh with unbelieving hearts. That was a departure or separation from God (Heb. 3:12). Among Christians, there is an exhortation to hold fast to the end of one’s faith in Christ (v. 14). How many among those who came out of Egypt with ages 20 years and above who succeeded in setting foot on Canaan? Many fell in the wilderness because they sinned or rebelled (v.17). The group of Moses and 70 Elders plus Eldad and Medad, (a total of 73 leaders), even with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, failed to maintain strong belief and obedience to Yahweh (Num. 11:16-30). Only two people among the 73 (Caleb and Joshua) maintained a good record and were able to cross the Jordan River unto the Land of Promise. This is a proof of the possibility and actuality of falling from God’s grace.
6. 1 John 5:16-17 says, “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask, and He will give him life those who commit sin not leading to death. There is a sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that.” The one committing a sin is a “brother.” God is long suffering waiting for a time for repentance. But there is a cut-off date like in the time of Noah. For about 120 years, Noah constructed the Ark and at the same time preached to the people to repent. Then the rains came pouring down 40 days and 40 nights and drowned all except the 8 people in Noah’s family that entered the Ark.
From the above presentation, it is clear that a disciple who is genuinely converted, if he is not careful could fall from grace and lose his being a child of God. Let us watch and pray for inner strength.