Luke records an event in Jesus ministry when He sent 70 of his disciples into the world to proclaim the good news of the kingdom. In a sense they were a kind of advance men, going into villages and towns that Jesus was going to visit. But this was also a training opportunity. Jesus’ instructions were strict and designed to create a reliance on God. Those instructions are in Luke 10:1-9.
Some time later the disciples returned with joy and reported, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.”” (Luke 10:17, NASB95) Jesus confirmed their report, “I was watching Satan fall from heaven like lightning.” (Luke 10:18, NASB95) Not only were their efforts effective in an earthly sense they were also effective in the spiritual realm. Jesus goes on add, “Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing will injure you.” (Luke 10:19, NASB95) We need not fear the power of Satan and of evil as we proclaim the Kingdom of God. But Jesus added one more insight, one more instruction, “Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.” (Luke 10:20, NASB95) Jesus always calls us back to what is central, what is necessary, and what is the higher reality of walking with Him.
When we experience victory in an arena of life, be it spiritual, personal growth, business, sports, or political, we want to celebrate. We feel good, we feel vindicated, we feel powerful, we feel worthy, we feel accepted, and we feel needed. When our team wins the big game, when we capture the market or close a big deal, when the demons of guilt, shame, fear, and addiction have been conquered, any time our side wins we want to clap, dance, shout, and revel in the moment. There is nothing wrong with celebrating victories. We need to celebrate and enjoy the moment. But it is just that, a moment. A moment that will soon fade as new challenges arise and new mountains to conquer are revealed.
Celebrate the moments. Revel in the victory. Breath in the crisp air of the mountain top. But remember that there is a higher yet more basic truth to rejoice in. A truth that calls us higher, anchors us in sober reflection, and prevents the sin of pride. Rejoice instead, Jesus commanded, that your name is recorded in heaven. Rejoice that your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life (Revelation 20:11-15). That one fact is more important, more worthy of praise and celebration, than anything else we may experience, anything we may accomplish, any mountain of life that we successfully conquer.
So, how can we be sure that our names are written in that heavenly book? How can we know that when the books are opened at the end of the age our names appear on the page? Here’s the hard part for us to swallow, there is nothing we can do to earn our place in the book. God doesn’t weigh our deeds at the end to determine if the good outweighs the bad. He doesn’t have a checklist of sins which determine if you are a “good person.” Neither does God simply open the gates and say come on in. Instead, God made a way and gave us a choice. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6, NASB95) Paul assured, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;” (Romans 10:9, NASB95) In that moment of confession and belief your name is written in heaven – Rejoice in that!