Revelation 3:5 records the words of Jesus that were written in a letter and sent to the church at Sardis. Some might read this verse and think it suggests that salvation can be lost if one does not overcome.
Rev 3:5 “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.”
With a quick reading, it does seem to imply that one’s name can be blotted out from the Book of Life. But is that true? Can a believer be blotted out of the Book of Life? To answer this, we must begin with what we know to be true.
Salvation is by Grace Alone
Only by trusting in Jesus’ work (paying for our sins, conquering death, and opening the way to the Father) is anyone saved. And only by Jesus’ faithfulness is anyone kept (He promises that the life He gives is eternal). Let’s focus on the assurance of our eternal security in Christ, before answering the question about Revelation 3:5.
The Security of God’s Children
In speaking to Nicodemus (a prominent Pharisee), Jesus said that one must be born again to enter into the Kingdom of God (John 3:3-8). As born again Christians, we have the assurance of eternal (never-ending) life.
1. Born again Christians are overcomers:
1 John 4:4 You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
1 John 5:4 -5 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world; our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
2. We have been given the gift of eternal life:
Eph 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,
3. Jesus and the Father hold us securely and will never let us go:
John 10:28-30 “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
4. Our salvation is secure because it is not based on our works, which will always fall short:
Eph 2:9 Not of [our] works, lest any man should boast. Eph 2:10 For we are his workmanship [saved by Jesus], created in Christ Jesus [regenerated in Him] unto [to do] good works…
5. The security of our salvation is based on Jesus’ work
Rom 5:8-9 God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.
6. Finally, and most significant, Jesus is faithful and true (Rev 3:14, 19:11, 22:6) and He has promised our eternal security:
Heb 13:5 …He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
Revelation 3:5 in Context
The overcoming in Revelation 3:5 should not be read as a condition of salvation, ie. if you overcome, you will not be blotted out; if you don’t overcome, you will be blotted out. We know that there is nothing we can do to earn salvation and there is nothing we can do that will cause us to lose it. We are eternally secure. Therefore, Revelation 3:5 should be read as an assurance of salvation. It might be helpful to read it without the “not blotted out” statement:
Rev 3:5 “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments . . . I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.”
“I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life” is a restatement of what we already know. We know our salvation is eternal and we will never be blotted out of the Book of Life (Read: What is the Book of Life?)
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:15). God doesn’t want anyone to perish (2 Pet 3:9), and neither should we. Tell people about Jesus. Tell them how they can receive the gift of eternal life. Ask them the question What If You Die Today? Be ready to share the gospel with them (Read: What If You Die Today? )
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