Chapter 3 – Letter to Sardis

Jesus Addresses Sardis -3

It will be the Book of Life, therefore, when the condemned stand before Christ in the court of final judgment and must give a final account of their sins that ultimately convicts them to death. It will be opened in their sight, the names written therein carefully reviewed, and by the omission of their name, serve to prove their refusal to accept Christ’s gift of salvation and the forgiveness of sin (Rev.20:12, 15).

The word “blot out” is as it sounds. It means to erase, which carries with it the idea to wipe out or to obliterate. Therefore, if someone’s name is blotted out of the Book of Life, it means that the name is no longer contained in the Book, and ever again shall be. Unfortunately, this has caused some to suggest that a believer can lose salvation. They reason that because the Book of Life contains no other group of names but those of the redeemed, therefore this blotting out of names must apply to the redeemed alone. But Scripture contradicts that notion; clearly stating that it’s not the redeemed, made righteous in Christ (Eph.1:7; 2 Cor.5:21), whose names are blotted out, but those who are not redeemed. (See—Ex.32:33; Ps.69:27-28).

Okay, but how do we reconcile the idea that the Book of Life, a record of the redeemed in Christ, could at the same time contain names belonging to the condemned that will be divinely obliterated? I have a suggestion based upon another scripture in Revelation.

“And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life” (Rev.22:19)

Okay, let’s look at this passage. The word “part” is a Greek word meaning “to get as a section or allotment”. In other words by its use of that specific word “part” that passage can be interpreted to suggest that it’s one’s “section” in the Book of Life that’s blotted out and not one’s “name”. Let’s consider an example.

When you reserve a room in a hotel, management allots you a room in your name. But until you actually arrive and claim the room, your name is not officially recorded in the registry as an occupant. You only hold a reservation. If you fail to claim the room, then your name is deleted, and you forfeit your reservation.

In my opinion, the Book of Life is both a reservation and registry. I believe that God, Who is “not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet.3:9) has “reserved” a space inside His Book for the names of all who are born. When a person receives Christ Jesus as Savior, that person’s name is registered permanently as the occupant of that space. Whereas, when God determines in His infinite wisdom that one will not be saved, an allotment of space is “blotted out” and the reservation made to include that name is forever forfeited.

It’s only a suggestion, dear ones. But it’s certainly not a contradiction to the immutable gift of salvation freely offered to us in Christ Jesus our Savior, and seems in perfect harmony with the riches of the grace of God.

Historically: Ancient Sardis was the capital city of Lydia in the province of Asia Minor, and in fact was one of its oldest and most important cities of its day. It’s said that silver and gold coins were first minted here. Moreover, during its days as a Roman city, Sardis became an important Christian center that evidently became complacent due to a reliance on its past glory. At the time of this letter, Sardis was comparatively insignificant. Successive earthquakes, and the ravages of the Saracens and Turks, have reduced the city to a heap of ruins. Today the site (part of Turkey) is occupied by a village named Sart, which is said to be “A miserable village, comprising only a few wretched cottages, occupied by Turks and Greeks”.