The following "Question" was asked by a member of the congregation at Grace Community Church in Panorama City, California, and "Answered" by their pastor, John MacArthur Jr. It was transcribed from the tape, GC 70-2, titled "Bible Questions and Answers." A copy of the tape can be obtained by writing, Word of Grace, P.O. Box 4000, Panorama City, CA 91412 or by dialing toll free 1-800-55-GRACE. Copyright John MacArthur Jr., All Rights Reserved.
There seems to be a big problem in the church today, concerning the doctrine of eternal security. Most Christians, Charismatics, and even Evangelicals, believe you can lose your salvation. Now, one of the arguments they use is Revelation 3:5 which says, "He who overcomes shall 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." Now they point out two things. Number one, that overcome is in the present tense and that means that you have to work in order to keep your salvation. They also say that God has an eraser and He will use it to remove your name from the book. Now please comment on this verse and also explain what Moses meant in Exodus 32:32, when he said, "But now if Thou wilt, forgive their sin, and if not please blot me out from Thy book, which Thou hast written.
I love that verse in Revelation 3:5. That is the greatest verse. Thatís one of the best verses in all the Bible on eternal security. I donít know how those people can do that with that verse. People say, "Well, you see right there, youíre liable to get your name blotted out of the book." Now I want to explain that verse. In Revelation 3:5 it says, "he that is overcoming"Ö.he that is an overcomerÖ.now how do you get to be an overcomer? Who wrote Revelation? John.
So we ought to ask John. "John, what is an overcomer? What are you talking about? What do you mean by this?" Well John will tell us that "we have overcome," verse 4 of 1 John 5, John says, "For whatever or whoever is born of God is overcoming the world." So the overcomers are the people born of God. "And this is the victory that overcomes the world, even our faith." So saving faith makes us an overcomer. Saving faith makes you an overcomer--you are born of God. So now in verse 5 of Revelation 3 we know what he is talking about. The one who is a Christian, who by faith in Jesus Christ has been born again, has overcome the world. The world is no longer his master, he is an overcomer. Thatís the definition of a Christian.
So he says the one that is an overcomer, the same will be clothed in white raiment. Is that conditional? Is there any other condition except being an overcomer? No. If you are an overcomer, and you overcome by your faith and you are born again, then you will be clothed in white raiment. That is an absolute fact. There are no other conditions to that. The day will come when you enter into the glory of the presence of the Lord and He will clothe you in the brilliance of pure and holy reality forever and ever. "And I will not blot his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father and before His angels." Now what the Lord says here is not that He will blot out our name, but that He will not. Now how you can get eternal insecurity out of that, I do not know. He says, "I will not do that." Now where did He get that? This is written to the church at Sardis and at Sardis they had a basic principle in terms of the city and citizenry that many cities of the ancient world have. When you came into the city you were written on the rolls of the city and you were identified as a member of that city and that was an honor. You belonged to that place but if you committed some criminal act, or if you discredited yourself, or if you dishonored the city in any way and brought reproach upon it, they would erase you out of that city roll and you then would be dispossessed and disenfranchised. You would be, if you will, a man without a city. And what God is saying is that they may do that to you in Sardis, but Iíll never do that to you. No matter what you do, if you have put your faith in Me and are by virtue of saving faith an overcomer, you will be clothed in white garment, which was used for very honored people in the city, for the highest honor the city could give, I promise to do that and in no condition will I ever do to you what men do to men. I will never blot you out, but I will affirm you; I will confess you before my Father and before His angels. This is a gilt edged guarantee that you canít lose your salvation so when they pick on that verse they are in real trouble.
Now you were asking about Moses and Moses is saying, "Oh Lord if you donít do something with this people, blot my name out." He is really saying, essentially, the same thing Paul said in spirit in Romans 9, where he says, "I could almost wish myself accursed for the sake of my kinsmen, my brethren, Israel."
In other words, I could almost come to the point where I say God I am so about the salvation of Israel that, "**** me and save them". Well, thatís really what Moses is saying. It isnít necessarily that he is articulating some theological concept. What he is saying is, "Oh Lord, my passion runs so deep, I have such a great concern for this people that I wish youíd do something for this people and oh God, if you are not going to do anything for this people that I love I canít bear the burden--just eliminate me." This is the outcry of an impassioned heart and you donít find the doctrine of insecurity in that outburst of passion. There is nothing Moses says there about whether or not that could happen. He is just pouring out the emotion of his own heart.
And when you want to affirm the doctrine of security there are two passages that I would recommend to you that are unanswerable. John 10 and Romans 8. In fact we did a series, a rather protracted series on Romans chapter 8 on the security of the believer. Anybody, I believe, who could sit and listen to that entire series and not believe in the security of true salvation, has an unwilling mind and that may be the problem. And then I think part of the reason people believe in insecurity is because they canít explain certain peopleís behavior. In other words they say well what about my Aunt Ethel. She came to church for a long time and then totally bombed out and they donít know what happened, so they explain it as the loss of salvation. The Bible explained it as "never having had it". Right? 1 John 2:17, "They went out from us because they were not of us. If they had been of us they would have continued with us, but they went out from us that is might be made manifest that they never were of us." So I donít think that Revelation 3 does anything but affirm the fact that the Lord is going to do for us what He promisesÖ.a white raiment, Heís going to keep us in His book forever, confess us before God and angels and men may blot people out but God doesnít do that.
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