A major argument against eternal security is Revelation 22:18, 19 and Mr. Hafley used this during the debate. It didn't turn out well for him because the passage doesn't teach that someone can lose his salvation. Revelation 22:18, 19 reads: "18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book." Mr. Hafley used "God shall take away his part out of the book of life" to make his point. Is that teaching that we can lose our salvation, that our name can be taken out of the book of life? One of the great aspects of preparing for a debate is getting the best answers for these kinds of passages, which results in Christian growth. So what is happening in Revelation 22:18, 19?
First, the text does not say that God will take someone's name out of the book of life. It says He will take someone's "part" out of it. This verse is prospective. It is talking about the potential of someone being in the book of life, not speaking of an actual inclusion in the book of life. They could be in the book of life, but they will not be in it. Their part is taken away. You ask, how do I know it is prospective? Verse 19 goes on to say that someone's part shall also be taken out of the holy city. Is it possible that someone already in the New Jerusalem will be removed from the holy city? Of course not. Again, their part is being removed, only speaking of the prospects of their being in the holy city being taken away. A question I asked Mr. Hafley that he would not answer because it would totally expose him was: "Will people be removed out of the holy city once they are already there?" You see, if they can be removed out of the book of life, then it follows that they also will be removed out of the holy city. Neither of them is true. I asked Mr. Hafley this question at least three times and he never would answer it.
Second, whose part is removed from the book of life? It is the person who is taking away from the words of the book of this prophecy. The Greek verb behind "take away" is present tense. It is not someone who periodically takes away, but someone who does this as a lifestyle. Believers do not behave this way. We know from many places in the NT that believers will keep all of the Lord's Words, Sayings, and Commandments. A believer will behave as a believer, and an unbeliever as an unbeliever. Just as a side note---this is a serious warning about taking away from the Words of Revelation. Did you know that the book of Revelation is the book of the Bible with the most textual variants? This book has been attacked textually more than any other book, and like most who participate in textual criticism, they take away from the words. Their theory is that scribes added words through centuries in their copying, and so to restore the text to something closer to its original condition, men need to take away some of the Words. Of course, their criteria are very subjective and they make their decisions based on rationalistic, Darwinistic principle, namely that the Scriptural texts evolve, so it is man's job to make and keep making corrections to the text mainly by means of cutting out Words. They say that the shorter text is better. Interestingly enough, one of the verses that has been changed in the critical text of Revelation is this one. "Take away" in the textus receptus (the text behind the KJV) is in the present tense and in the critical text, it is in the aorist tense. Their text is more strict about taking away, making a one time take away to deserve having someone's part taken out of the book. Ironic that we who believe in the perfect preservation of Scripture believe that "taking away" as a practice is what is forbidden here.
So ask the question. Can anyone be taken out of the holy city once he is there? Well, if no one can be taken out of the holy city, then no one can be taken out of the book of life. They won't have a part there, but they can't be removed from the book or the city once they are actually in the book and in the city. Did you know that Revelation 3:5 had already guaranteed that? "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." The kings of Johns day in 90AD would, as despots, unilaterally remove people's names from the registry of citizenship. They did this to punish their enemies and one often would have this done to him during that day. Well, unlike these cruel rulers, the Lord Jesus Christ guarantees that he will not remove one of His children from the registry that is the book of life. Someone might ask: "But don't they have to keep overcoming for their names not to be removed?" The believer will overcome. 1 John 5:4, 5 teaches us that when it says, "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" The person born of God, who cannot be unborn, will overcome the world. All believers will overcome the world. 1 John 4:4 explains why: "Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world." God is greater than any person or force that could attempt to keep someone from overcoming. Therefore, no believer can have his name taken from the book of life.
It's great, isn't it?