What is the significance of Revelation 3:5?

“If you conquer, you will be clothed like them in white robes, and I will not blot your name out of the book of life…”

If God is only the God of certainties, it is not clear how he can honestly speak in conditional terms (“If you conquer…”) and it is not clear why he would have to blot anyone’s name out of the book of life. If he has always been certain who will and will not “conquer,” why record the names of those he knows from the start—from all eternity!—will not conquer in the first place (cf. Exod. 32:33)?

Other scriptures describe names being recorded in God’s book of life from the foundation of the world (cf. Rev. 13:8, 17:8; for further explanation of how verses such as these square with Open Theism, see here and here). But no passage states that the names were written at or before the foundation of the world—which is what one would expect if the classical view of the future as exhaustively settled is true.

This verse also exposes the general inadequacy of the classical explanation of verses which show change in God. It explains such verses by saying that they speak to us in terms of how things appear (“phenomenological anthropomorphisms”), not as they truly are. But (however literally or figuratively we take this), when has anyone ever been privy to God’s book of life? The reason why this and many other verses don’t easily square with the classical explanation is that their subject matter lies outside the human purview. They describe what God thinks, feels, intends, or writes in his “private journal,” as it were. If any verses describe God as he truly is and not just how he appears to us, they are these verses!

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