“Given Revelation 3:5, Can Salvation Be Lost?”

The question of losing your salvation has been covered before: “Is It Possible for Me to Lose My Salvation?”. However, as mentioned in that post:

This question has troubled many Christians throughout history. In fact, many still struggle with it today. To make matters worse, many theologians are divided on the issue making it even more difficult for laymen to arrive at a definitive answer to the question since both sides have Scripture to support their viewpoint.

One passage of Scripture which adds to the confusion for some is Revelation 3:5, in which Jesus is having John write to the church in Sardis:

Revelation 3:5 (NASB) 5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

The question becomes, for those who do not overcome, will their names be erased from the book of life? What does the Bible say about it?

The question of losing your salvation has been covered before: “Is It Possible for Me to Lose My Salvation?”. However, as mentioned in that post:

This question has troubled many Christians throughout history. In fact, many still struggle with it today. To make matters worse, many theologians are divided on the issue making it even more difficult for laymen to arrive at a definitive answer to the question since both sides have Scripture to support their viewpoint.

One passage of Scripture which adds to the confusion for some is Revelation 3:5, in which Jesus is having John write to the church in Sardis:

Revelation 3:5 (NASB)
5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

The question becomes, for those who do not overcome, will their names be erased from the book of life? What does the Bible say about it?

The key to understanding Revelation 3:5 is understanding to whom Jesus is referring in this verse. To determine this, the verse must be examined in the context of the entire passage.

Revelation 3:1-6 (NASB)
1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. 2 ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you. 4 ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. 6 ‘He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’

By examining the entire passage, it becomes evident that Jesus was talking to people who were Christians in name only; but, were actually not. In other words, they were never truly saved.

Revelation 3:1b (NASB)
1 ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

Matthew 7:21-23 (NASB)
21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS .’

In the main passage, Jesus goes on to warn them to “wake up” to their current state (i.e., being lost) and repent before it is too late.

Revelation 3:2-3 (NASB)
2 ‘Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. 3 ‘So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent. Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

Jesus then promises to the few who are saved and to those who will be saved (i.e., “He who overcomes”), they will be dressed in white garments and their names will not be erased from the book of life. Or, as those who believe in the “perseverance of the saints” would say, “once saved, always saved.”

Revelation 3:4-5 (NASB)
4 ‘But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy. 5 ‘He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

Concerning those who do not overcome (i.e., are lost), their names are never written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. However, to those who do overcome (i.e., are saved), their names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and will never be erased.

John 10:27-30 (NASB)
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.”

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