Q: #78. Does God literally erase people's names from the Book of Life?
By: Steve Shirley
A: There are app. 10 verses that deal with God's Book of Life: (Ex 32:32-33)(Ps 69:28)(Phil 4:3)(Rev 3:5)(Rev 13:8)(Rev 17:8)(Rev 20:12,15)(Rev 21:27)(Rev 22:19), with 4 of these alluding to God's blotting out or erasing names: (Rev 3:5)(Rev 22:19)(Ex 32:32-33)(Ps 69:28).
While there are some who do take these blotting out or erasing verses literally, I do not. Those who do NOT hold to a literal view of these offer a number of explanations. Let me share some of these.
Some say that God has several books, and not just one (i.e. there is a Book Of Life that contains the names of ALL people, and names CAN be erased from that book, but there is also a Lamb's Book Of Life containing the names of all of God's redeemed and NO ONE can be erased from that book.
Some believe the verses speaking of erasing or blotting are using a form of speech called litotes (I had never heard of it either). It kind of means saying the opposite of what was intended (i.e. He was bad, but we mean "cool" when we say bad).
A number of commentators say the "blotting out" verses in the Old Testament refer to "physical death" and not literally being erased from God's Book Of Life.
There are also those who teach that ALL people's names were written in the Book Of Life at the beginning of the world (including the unsaved: See Ps 69:28), and if a person has died in unbelief, their names are erased at that point. However, some also believe that after all of the names were written in at the beginning, God erased those who would not believe based on His foreknowledge.
I am sure there are MANY other explanations too, but these are just 4 of the more prominent ones I ran across. If you want more info on these kinds of explanations, or other explanations, just run a search online using the words "erased (or blotted) from the book of life." You will get plenty of info.
While each of the explanations above makes some valid points, I don't necessarily agree with each one. However, what I want to do here is not so much explain why I don't view the "blotting" verses as LITERAL, but rather I want to explain why I don't see the literal view as LOGICAL based on other verses in the Bible.
We know from (Rev 13:8) and (Rev 17:8) that God's Book of Life was "written from the foundation of the world." In other words, God wrote the names of all who would be saved in His Book of Life before any of us were even created. (He is not writing names in as people are saved as some believe.) We certainly know that God is omniscient (all-knowing). It makes perfect sense that an all-knowing God would write the names of the "elect" in His book according to His foreknowledge (1 Pet 1:2,20)(Rom 8:29)(2 Th 2:13-14) of who would choose Him (or even who He would choose if one is a Calvinist).
Now based on God's omniscience, does it make sense to say God literally erases names? If that were the case, then ask these questions.
Wouldn't that mean He didn't know they would make that choice in the first place?
Why would God write a name in His book, knowing they would later reject Him?
Let's say God DOES erase our names because of something we have done.
Does this mean if we later repent, God writes our name back in? If you hold this position, what do you do with (Heb 6:3-6) which says this can't be done?
Does this mean God just keeps writing and erasing and writing and erasing our names over and over? Where does the Bible show this being done??
Doesn't this mean we end up with a salvation based on works (what we do)?
See, I just don't see the literal view as logical OR Biblical.
Let me close by explaining the one verse that probably gets the most attention in this regard. In (Rev 3:5), it says that, "He that overcometh... I will not blot out of the book of life." This is used to say that unless we overcome, or live the right kind of life on this Earth, we will be blotted out of the book. It doesn't mean this at all... Who is the one who overcometh according to the Bible?
(1 Jn 5:4-5) For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. (5) Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.
We overcome by BELIEVING JESUS IS THE SON OF GOD!
Let all Christians be encouraged by the words Jesus said to His followers.
(Lk 10:20) ... rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.