I have heard preachers say when giving an invitation, "If you prayed that prayer (the prayer they repeated after the preacher) then your name was just written in the book of life." That statement is wrong for several reasons. First, one is not saved by praying a prayer, but by grace through faith. "For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom. 10:10) You may have been praying when you were saved, but it was not the prayer that saved you but the condition of your heart which had been prepared by the Holy Ghost.
The second reason that statement is wrong, it is not supported by the Bible. In fact Rev. 17:8 refers to the names of the saints being written in the book of life from the foundation of the world. God in His foreknowledge wrote them down in eternity passed, not when saved.
Another reason that statement is not true is because Rev. 20:15 states, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire." This is at the Great White Throne Judgment where all who rejected light (those whose names are not in the book) will be cast into the lake of fire. If one's name is written in the book of life when he is saved, answer this question: How do babies' names and those who have not reached the knowledge of accountability get in the book of life? Their names have to be there because Rev. 20:15 states plainly, all not in the book of life will be cast into the lake of fire. Surely you are not one who believes that God cast the unaccountable into the lake of fire!
I believe those who have not reached the knowledge of accountability are safe because of grace. Proof of that is found in II Sam. 12:14-23 where David upon the death of his son (a baby) said in verse 23, "I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me." David was saved; therefore, when he died he went to paradise where his baby was. If a man's name was written in the book of life when he was saved, then babies' names would not be written there; therefore, they would be cast into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:15)
Still another reason this statement is not so is because it gives rise to false doctrine concerning eternal security. Many who believe you can be lost after being saved use that statement along with passages such as Rev. 3:5, and 22:19. Rev. 3:5: "He that overcometh. . . I will not blot out (erase without a trace) his name out of the book of life." Rev. 22:19: "And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophesy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life. . ." The Lord would never warn a person of something that could never happen. Thus it is possible for one's name to be taken out of the book of life. Yet when he is saved, he is eternally secure. He cannot be lost after saved. You may ask, "How is this possible?"
To answer that question we need to look at God's Word not tradition. We need to learn to rightly divide God's Word instead of shying away from verses that tradition does not deal with.
The Psalmist spoke concerning the wicked in Psa. 69:28, "Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous." God has a book of the living in which every child's name is written that is born into this world. I believe every aborted fetus and every stillborn child's name is also written in the book of the living.
When a person reaches the knowledge of accountability (age he knows good from evil, not right from wrong) his name is subject to being blotted out of the book of the living (called book of life in NT). John 3:36 states the wrath of God abides on all unbelievers. God, who is long-suffering and full of goodness, holds back this wrath granting a space of time for man to repent. (Rom. 2:4) If a person sins away God's day of grace or dies without trusting Jesus Christ as his Lord, his name will be blotted out (erased without a trace) of the book of life.
Rev. 3:5 promises the person who overcometh that his name would not be blotted out. I used to think and was taught that an overcomer was some super spiritual giant. Then I read God's Word in I John 5:4-5 and found out that an overcomer is one "who believeth that Jesus is the Son of God." An overcomer is simply one who is saved. Therefore a person who is saved has the Lord's promise that his name will not be blotted out of the book of life. The blood of Christ permanently seals that person's name in the book of life. Concerning Rev. 22:19, a saved person will not take away from the book of this prophecy, thus his name will not be taken out of the book of life.
At the Great White Throne in Rev. 20:11-12, we find the book of life was opened. Why? To stop the mouth of every person who has any excuse that God was unfair to him. When these excuses will be given, the Lord will turn to the place in the book of life where his name had been, but it had been blotted out because he rejected the light and grace of God. (John 1:9; Rom. 1:19-20; Titus 2:11) Then He will cast every one whose name is not found written in the book of life into the lake of fire. (Rev. 22:15)
In conclusion, I want to restate the fact that your name is not written in the book of life when you are saved. But at the instant you are saved your name is permanently sealed in the book of life and will never be blotted out. Thank the Lord for the saved being eternally secure in His hand. (John 10:27-29) Nothing can separate us from His love. (Rom. 8:35, 37-39)
The question is not so much when is your name written in the book of life? But has your name been permanently sealed in the book of life by Jesus' precious blood? If not, the wrath of God abides on you, if you have reached the knowledge of accountability. My advice: allow the Holy Spirit to complete His work of reproval (conviction) in you that you might be saved, genuinely saved by grace through faith. Then your name will be permanently secured in the book
THE PERSUADER - April-May, 1996