Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne; and books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works.
Psalm 69:28 Let them be blotted out of the book of life, And not be written with the righteous.
Revelation 3:5 He that overcometh shall thus be arrayed in white garments; and I will in no wise blot his name out of the book of life, and I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Individuals apparently can be removed from the book of life which is the record of eternal life. Jesus said that those who endure until the end will be saved. Here in this verse He reinforced that message calling on us to be overcomers. It appears from this warning that the book can be edited at any time by God.
Revelation 22:19 and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the tree of life, and out of the holy city, which are written in this book.
Two points: Jesus spoke these words as a warning to those who already possessed access to the tree of life, and therefore they must also have already been recorded in the book of life. 🎌 What do we need to understand– God is able to take away, and it would seem reasonable to believe that He can not take away something that is not already possessed. In Christ we are seated with Him at the right hand of the Father right now, but His warning to us in Revelation is no different than what We are taught in Hebrews 2:3 & Hebrews 3:6 how shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?
Then he later says: 3:5 which having at the first been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed unto us by them that heard; vs 6 but Christ as a son, over his house; whose house are we, if we hold fast our boldness and the glorying of our hope firm unto the end.
Does this ring any bells? What about “he who endures… “ or “he that overcometh… “. So any predetermination that God made concerning the book of life before creation must have been done based upon the final recordings after the edits to the book are complete. These edits occur throughout life. In other words God has allowed for man’s free will to impact what will actually happen during life. So we must understand that names are apparently able to be blotted out. The question then becomes can they also be added into this book if not already there?
It becomes obvious that the book existed before the beginning of time, and in keeping with the context we must realize that at least some of the names, but possibly not all were already recorded in it before men were ever born. I have misspoken in the past and stated that I believe that all names are recorded even the heathen, who are blotted out over time; but as we will see what I formerly believed is not true.
Philippians 4:3 Yea, I beseech thee also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they labored with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and the rest of my fellow-workers, whose names are in the book of life.
With this verse we can’t conclude the time of the entry of these names into the book of life, but we can determine with the next verse that none of the names of the worshipers of the beast were in the book, and never were. Listen:
Revelation 17:8 The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and is about to come up out of the abyss, and to go into perdition. And they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, they whose name hath not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast, how that he was, and is not, and shall come.
These then had never been recorded in the book. These individuals are devoid of the power of God in their lives.
Revelation 13:8 And all that dwell on the earth shall worship him, every one whose name hath not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb that hath been slain.
Here there is a definite predestination of an entire group of people which is brought into focus. Why? The thought here is that the only ones who will not worship the beast are those whose names were in this book from the beginning. Therefore anyone who’s name is not there at the beginning of creation must follow the Antichrist.
Why is it that some are recorded in this book of life before the foundation of the earth and some are not, and what does this mean to us? Paul tells us that some are most likely created as vessels of wrath. Listen:
What if God, choosing to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction; and this, that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, whom He had prepared before unto glory, even us whom He hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As He saith also in Hosea: “I will call them ‘My people,’ who were not My people, and ‘her beloved’ who was not beloved.” And, “It shall come to pass that in the place where it was said unto them, ‘Ye are not My people,’ there shall they be called the children of the living God.” Isaiah also crieth concerning Israel: “Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because a short work will the Lord make upon the earth.”
Romans 9:22-28 KJ21
So, there were some created who were vessels of wrath. How is one to understand this in light of the fact that God desires all men to come to the knowledge of the truth? — because we need to understand that as a Gentile Believer we were at one time a vessel of wrath: listen:
Among these also we all had our manner of living in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. remember that at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
Ephesians 2:3,12 KJ21
But, in Romans 9 beginning with vs 22 Paul tells that He (God) endures the vessel of wrath in order to show His mercy on those whom He has prepared and called beforehand. This certainly again implies predestination for at least some individuals. But is it this way for all? If we were these vessels of wrath but are now in Christ then our names must have been added to the book of life. Paul in this passage even quotes Hosea and tells us that in this time we who were not God’s people, (we were not originally planned in this book), but now we are His people.
So consider it this way, if everyone had been predestined as it is normally understood in Calvinism , then we have no free will to be able to chose Jesus sacrifice when it is offered to us and move from our status as vessels of wrath and to be placed in Christ so far as salvation is concerned. Predestination would have meant that vessels of wrath whom we were would have remained vessels of wrath forever.
We then would have had no right to chose or even to dismiss God’s call or His leading in our life.
If we are predestined to either salvation or wrath with no choice of our own to accept so great a salvation, would it then make any sense that we were saved before the foundation of the earth but also appointed for wrath before we were saved? It would make no sense. If our salvation was predetermined we could never have been children of wrath. So does this mean that salvation was not predetermined for the individual?
If we ourselves as individuals are already predestined to either heaven or hell, then neither does it make any sense that God desires that all should be saved. Listen:
This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.
1 Timothy 2:3-4 NASB
So what might we be missing?
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose usin Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,
Ephesians 1:3-5 NASB
In every instance here in this passage Paul groups Gods people as being in Him, in Christ to a predetermined destiny. I believe that rightly dividing the word of truth in this instance involves the distinction between the individual believer and the entire reconciled body of believers in Christ. The individual believer can fall, but the entire body cannot. There will always be a remnant. The individual can be saved out of wrath but the entire group is without Christ slated for wrath and will not be saved because they have not accepted the free gift of salvation.
So it would seem that there is no contradiction then if God desires all to be saved, yet has already made the decision that in the end all who are at that time (in Christ)* are predestined or predetermined to spend an eternity with Him as sons of God, His foreknowledge allows Him to do that without actually taking away our free will, and those not in the book in the final edit of the book are not saved.
* There will be names added to and removed from this book according to scripture.
But there is one other troubling passage in Romans that must be explored. This is a passage that gives Calvinism and predestination it’s legs.
Just as it is written, “ Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
Romans 9:13 NASB
Paul here lays out a scenario that can certainly be supportive of God Being in control of all human action, with either no free will or if free will it would be meaningless to salvation. He says what if God desiring to show His Great mercy to us has seen fit to create and put up with vessels of wrath for destruction, then that being the case we would have no right to question God. After all He is the potter and we the clay. And this is certainly the case, for we have no right to have expected God to provide Himself as a sacrifice for our sinfulness, but He did. We would have no good argument against Him throwing us all into the fires of hell, we certainly deserve to pay for our own sin, but He won’t make us, if we are chosen to be in Christ. We are chosen for our belief, just as Israel was cut off for their unbelief (see the explanation of the olive tree in Romans 11). Therefore if He did create some men and women totally devoid of all human morals and value, who then would proceed to prove just how far man can go or fall into total depravity, then we and they would never be able to say that God by so doing is unjust. Why? — Because, and this is key, God would it appears never override the freedom He has given to man to be saved. Why? — because every man even those created in total depravity in the end have a free will and a right to believe what ever he or she chooses. “Whosoever will may come.” this statement from scripture otherwise has no meaning.
Based on all of this it must be concluded that God does not predetermine the final destiny of individuals who have been given a free will, but that He has predetermined that all who are in Christ will have eternal life, and all who remain on the outside are children of wrath; and this does not in any way contradict. He has also predetermined that all who do not have their names recorded in the book of life in the end will have no part in eternal life. This seems to be proven by the fact that names that are in the book are subject to an ongoing edit. They can be blotted out, and it would seem they can be added even if not already recorded there. Otherwise we Gentiles would not be there. Think of it the Chosen were originally the seed of Abraham, and The Gentiles were excluded. Paul makes it clear in Ephesians that at one time this was us — outside looking in. But now in Christ we are recipients. Does this mean that our names were always in the book because of God’s foreknowledge, or that we are now added because we are individually in Christ? because remember not all Gentiles are now grafted in, but just individuals who believe and then are chosen.
There is another key to the understanding of being chosen. Israel was chosen, yet Paul makes it clear that not not all Jews are Jews or chosen. It is only those who have had the heart circumcision. These are they who believe, and are not cut off. Read Romans 11. To be cut off means they once were in the book, but when their Messiah came they could not receive Him. So the actual answer as to when our names were recorded might not be knowable. But it could certainly be either and still create no contradictions to His purpose that all men can be saved if they turn to Him.
If this is the case, then why does Paul say quoting God: “Jacob I loved; but Esau I hated”? If you read the account of this in Malachi chapter 1, it becomes clear that God has hated the individual we know as Esau and He has predestined or removed blessing from the Edomite descendants of Esau as a nation. He has opposed this nation He says forever. I think it is evident that God made this determination based on Esau’s exercise of free will in life, because He did not state this hatred before Esau was born. It is only stated here in Malachi after the nation of Edom is formed. But does this curse made against them apply to individual lives within Edom? Listen:
Though Edom says, “We have been beaten down, but we will return and build up the ruins”; thus says the Lord of hosts, “They may build, but I will tear down; and men will call them the wicked territory, and the people toward whom the Lord is indignant forever.”
Malachi 1:4 NASB
The implication here is obvious God has predetermined the fate of Edom forever, and based on this we might conclude it effects everyone in the nation; but does it really effect the eternal fate of each individual within Edom? Listen:
“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.
Deuteronomy 23:7-8 NASB
Based on all of this, we are lead to conclude that predestination of a given people group, does not necessarily imply predestination of the individual within that group. Each individual will be judged based upon their own merits and upon their on inclusion/exclusion in Christ which is the only factor for either placing or removing them in or from the book of life.
But one will say Christ was not even there in the Old Testament. Yes He was. He was there as the Word of God. He was there as the promise to Israel. A promise which we now are allowed to be a part of or not. So what is your excuse if you have not chosen to believe in Him? God is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.
This is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word. (Isaiah 66:2).