Question: Why does Revelation:17:8 (and maybe Revelation:13:8, depending on the translation used) refer to those “whose names were not written in the book of life from the creation of the world...”? Could that, coupled with Psalm:69:28, Revelation:3:5, and Revelation:22:19 mean that the names of all mankind are in the Book of Life, then later blotted out one by one as each Christ-rejecter crosses the line of final renunciation? I always thought that only after we believed the gospel were our names written in the Book of Life. If this were not the case, wouldn’t Calvinists say, “See! He has already chosen those whom He will save; their names are already written down before the foundation of the earth!”?
Answer: Several verses speak of God blotting or not blotting names out of the book of life: “I will not blot out his name out of the book of life” (Rv 3:5); “God shall take away his part out of the book of life” (Rv 22:19); “...if thou wilt forgive their sin—; and if not, blot me, I pray thee, out of thy book which thou hast written.... Whosoever hath sinned against me, him will I blot out of my book” (Ex 32:32,33).
These references to blotting out of the book of life allow only two possibilities: 1) everyone’s name is written in the book of life from eternity past, indicating God’s desire for all to be saved, until they have irrevocably rejected Christ, when their name is blotted out; or 2) when a person gets saved, his name is placed in the book of life for the first time, and when He later turns against Christ, his name is blotted out. Neither of these fits Calvinism. The first denies that God only intends to save a select elect, and the second denies the eternal security of the redeemed.
References to those “whose names are in the book of life” (Phil:4:3; Rv 21:27) and those “whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Rv 13:8; 17:8; 20:15)offer no clue as to how or why names are written or are not written there. They only tell us that at the end of history, some names will be found, and some names will not be found written therein. But the fact that names can be and in fact are blotted out of the book of life is clear.
Of the two alternatives above, since the second one, which allows for some of the redeemed to lose their salvation, contradicts Christ’s clear promise (“shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death unto life” - Jn:5:24), we must opt for the first. Comparing all of the verses, we can only conclude that, in keeping with God’s desire that all be saved, from eternity past every person’s name is written in the book of life of the Lamb, slain from before the foundation of the world. Whose names are blotted out? The names of those who refuse to yield to the wooing of the Holy Spirit. For this sin, there is no forgiveness (Mk 3:28; Lk 12:10).
Thus there is nothing in what Scripture says about the “book of life” to give any comfort to Calvinists, but only discomfort.