It’s been a few years ago, now, that my wife and I joined some friends of ours in attending a children’s theater production about the sinking of the Titanic. Each person who entered the theater that night received a separate playbill with an actual name printed on it, which corresponded to a real person who had boarded the Titanic as it sailed from South Hampton, England on April 10, 1912. Before the opening curtain, we were told that at the end of the production, we could take our playbill with the real passenger’s name on it into the lobby and compare it to a list of actual survivors which would be posted there. All through that production, I caught myself wondering. I thought of him: William Gilbert. His name was printed on my playbill. Who was he? And was he one of those fortunate survivors?

We sat watching the entire production, as it revolved around the joy and marvel of the passengers as they experienced the Titanic’s maiden voyage. One line in particular stands out in my mind, as one of the show’s character said confidently to another, ‘God himself couldn’t sink this ship.’ That line produced in me an underlying sense of foreboding, because of course, as part of the watching audience, I already understood the poignancy of that comment.

When the final curtain fell, I joined the rest of the audience in the theater lobby, checking the official list to see if the name on my playbill was there. As I ran my finger down the list of passengers, I found him listed there among the second-class passengers. Mr. William Gilbert had survived. I noticed an odd sense of relief come over me, as I read that name. I asked my wife about the name on her playbill, too. A band member, who bravely played ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ as the ship sank in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. We felt a strange relief for William Gilbert; a curious sadness for that member of the band.

God’s Word speaks of another list; a book, in fact. The bible defines it as the Book of Life. John, the Apostle writes in Revelation chapter 20, “I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books.” The Book of Life is a list of names. Not everyone’s name is written in that book. Knowing the words to that hymn, ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ won’t be enough to record your name. Believing there is a God isn’t enough, either. The only way to have a name written in the Book of Life is to receive God’s free gift of redemption. Those who place their faith in Christ Jesus will discover their names in that Book of Life; not finding a name in that book is a horror too awful to contemplate.

If you’re uncertain about whether your name is written the Book of Life John writes about in Revelation, I’d be happy to correspond with you about how you can be sure. This has been A Classic State of Mind, and My email:

3 thoughts on “Names

  1. Thank you for taking the time to share these words every week, Pastor! They always touch my heart, slow me down, and remind me to focus on what is important. You are a gift and a treasure to our church.

  2. What a wonderful analogy. It certainly makes the point. I’m so thankful my name and most of those I love are written in The Book. Jan

  3. That next-to-last paragraph actually made me tear up, Ken. The thought of those not included in the Book of Life… Oh, it’s just so sad! So hard to think about. This should motivate us to keep the Gospel central in our lives and ask God for opportunities to share with others the hope that will never disappoint, the salvation that can be theirs in Christ! Oh, Lord help me to be that “beggar that shows another beggar where to find bread!”

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