In Revelation 3:5 Jesus promises Christians in Sardis that those who stand firm against unrighteousness He will “not blot his name out of the book of life.” This raises a few questions. What is the book of life? What is the significance of your name being in the book of life? What is the consequence of having your name blotted out of the book?
The Book of Life is the heavenly record of all who are saved. It is mentioned once in Philippians. All the other New Testament references to it are in the book of Revelation. These passages tell us that those who are in the book of life will be given access to the New Jerusalem. Those whose names are not written in the book of life will be cast into the Lake of Fire. To have your name in the book of life is to be on record in heaven as a Christian and a possessor of eternal life.
Can someone have their name taken out of the book of life? In other words, can a Christian lose their salvation? The Bible clearly teaches that a Christian cannot possibly lose his salvation. Passages like Romans 8:31-19, John 10:28-29, 1 Peter 1:5 and Hebrews 7:25 make it abundantly clear that the Christian cannot lose his salvation. Salvation is secured by Jesus and by God the Father. Because the Bible does not ever contradict itself the statement about blotting names out of the book of life cannot be a threat to take away someone’s salvation.
The promise that their names will not be blotted out of the book of life is not a warning that names of Christians can be erased from the book. The structure of the letters in Revelation 2 and 3 makes it clear the statement in question is not a warning about losing salvation but is instead a promise of God. The letters from Jesus to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3 all follow the same basic pattern. Each letter includes a declaration of the greatness of Jesus, an evaluation of the church, a call to obedience, a warning of judgment and a promise of reward. In each letter the warning of judgment is separated from the promise of reward. They are distinct sections that do not overlap at all. In the letter to the church in Sardis the warning is that Jesus will come suddenly upon them when they are not ready for Him. The promise is that the faithful will be clothed in white raiment, their name will not be blotted out of the book of life and they will have their name confessed before the Father and His angels. This statement about the book of life is a promise of a reward, not a hint at condemnation. The promise that their name will not be blotted out is similar to the promise of Revelation 2:11, “He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.” Those who are faithful to the Lord show they are saved. The promise of God is that those who are saved will not suffer eternal death and they will not be taken out of the book of life. Instead of a threat that salvation can be lost, Revelation 3:5 is a promise that salvation will never be taken away.