We're turning to our text in Luke's gospel chapter 10, and let's remind ourselves of the one verse that we want to consider this evening under the title 'Recorded in Heaven'. Luke chapter 10, remembering the context as we read it together earlier, and the Lord Jesus says in Luke 10 and verse 20: 'Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven'.
Now as I was thinking and preparing for this message this evening, I could think of an awful lot of reasons why a Christian can rejoice. I just haven't got time to go through them all this evening, but not least is the fact that through the Lord Jesus Christ's death and resurrection, He has given the Christian victory over not only the prince of darkness, but all the powers of darkness that exist in our universe. We were singing in our first hymn one verse that is a kind of paraphrase of Genesis 3:15, which is a prophecy, that there would come one day a seed born into humanity that would be the Son of God who would crush Satan's head. Of course, the context of that promise was the Garden of Eden, where Adam and Eve were made in perfection of Paradise. God said that the whole of creation was good, but they fell because the serpent, Satan in the Garden, tempted them to fall. They fell into sin and death came upon all men, because death is the wages of sin. But yet right there at the very beginning, at the time of their fall, God gave them a promise of a Saviour, God prophesied that He was going to send a Deliverer who would crush the prince of darkness and all his powers.
When we travel from the very first book of the Bible to the last book of the Bible, we find out that what was promised way back in Genesis comes to fulfilment and perfection in the book of Revelation. We read there in chapter 20 and verse 10 that: 'the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and there he shall be tormented for ever and ever'. That is a reason for Christians to rejoice - you wouldn't think it if you were standing where I am, looking at you, but nevertheless that's a reason. Jesus Christ, our great Saviour, has conquered our greatest enemy that we have ever had. Jesus Himself, when He was on the earth, in John 8 told us that the devil was a murderer from the beginning, and he abode not in the truth, for there is no truth in him.
When you think of history, right from creation, and history which is yet to be lived in the future, you can think of how in the interim period between God's promise that He would defeat Satan until the absolute perfection and consummation of that, how many lives he has destroyed. He is a murderer from the beginning, he has abode not in the truth, and he is not only the arch enemy of heaven - but, whether people care to admit it or not, he has been the arch enemy of all humanity. Jesus said in John 10 that he is a thief, and he has come to this world to steal, to kill and to destroy. I don't know who you are tonight, I don't know what mess or shape your life may be in, but I know myself that I have allowed Satan to steal, to kill and to destroy through the influence of sin in my life - and I imagine that you're no different.
I don't know what sins are binding you or holding you in habit. I don't know how your life is being wrecked as we speak - but one thing I do know this evening, that is more than equal to the power of the devil in any man or woman's life, is the power of God in Christ. Indeed, as 1 John 3 tells us: 'For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil'. That is why God sent the Son into this world, as Hebrews says: 'That through death', His death on the cross, 'He might destroy him that has the power over death, that is the devil'. What a story we have to proclaim tonight: it is the name of Jesus, the name high over all in hell and earth and sky; angels and men before Him fall, and devils fear and fly. He is the eternal Christ, He is God's Son, and God the Son. In fact in this passage we have that for us, in verse 18, He told the seventy: 'I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven'. This is the One who was with God, the One who was God before the worlds were made.
Now, dying on Calvary and rising again the third day from the grave, He has perfected and caused the final collapse of Satan's kingdom. One day soon, as we have read from Revelation 20, one day soon there will be the decree of condemnation upon the devil. He, the Antichrist and the false prophet will be cast into the lake of fire. So the point of this passage is to tell us many things, but it is also to tell us that the Christian, if anyone, the Christian has victory over the devil and his works. It's not in his own strength, we cannot rebuke the devil, we have no power over the kingdom of darkness - in fact, the very angel Michael had no power over the devil, he dared not bring a railing accusation against the devil, but he rebuked the devil in God's name. Praise God tonight, we have victory in Christ. Revelation 12 verse 11 tells us of a day when they will overcome the devil by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony.
Now before I go on to talk about what it means to have your name recorded in heaven, can I ask you tonight: do you know God's power over the devil in your life? What are you dabbling in? Is it run-of-the-mill sin? I don't know exactly what your private personal type of sin is, and where your tastes lie in the realm of iniquity, but could it be that I'm actually talking to someone tonight, and you have gone into the kingdom of darkness a little bit more than others through the occult. Maybe you have tampered, as a young person, in the Ouija board, or been involved in tarot cards to tell the future, or just a simple reading of a horoscope in the daily newspaper? Maybe you've gone to a fortune-teller or a medium? Maybe you've been involved in transcendental meditation, or yoga, or reiki, things that are seen today as innocent, but yet come from the kingdom of darkness?
Well, I declare to you tonight that though those individual things may have a bind upon you that you feel is unbreakable: Jesus Christ, through His blood, through His resurrection, through the virtue of His person can break that power tonight. None other can, but He can. Oh, there are powers in the kingdom of darkness that you could not imagine if you've never dabbled in it, but praise God His power is greater. I was reading this week about Dr Martyn Lloyd Jones, who was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London, and he remembered a time when a woman who was a spiritist came into his meeting. She lived not too far away from his congregation then, presently in South Wales, and she was a medium. She actually was employed by the Spiritist Society for quite a hefty wage. She came into his meeting and, praise God, she was converted by the gospel of God's grace. Later on in her life, and she stayed there many years in that church, Dr Lloyd Jones asked her what she felt in that first visit when she came into his congregation. This is what she said: 'The moment I entered your chapel and sat down on a seat amongst people I was conscious of a power. It was the same sort of power that I was accustomed to in our spiritist meetings, but there was one big difference: I had the feeling that the power in your chapel was a clean power'. Isn't that remarkable? As the little chorus says: 'Jesus is stronger than Satan, and Satan to Jesus must bow'.
Isn't it wonderful tonight, those of you who are believers, that we have a gospel to preach tonight that is able to face the greatest occultic, the darkest demonic powers that exist in this whole universe. In a practical sense, Christ in this portion of Scripture gave His early disciples power, practical power, over the forces of evil. Look at verse 17, they rejoiced that even the devils were subject to them through Jesus' name. Verse 19, Jesus commissioned them: 'Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you'. In some measure that same power is given to us today over the kingdom of darkness. Paul says in Ephesians 6:11: 'Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil'. James 4 and verse 7 tells us: 'Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you'. It's exhilarating, isn't it? It's exciting to know that Christ has given us the power over the kingdom of darkness and the prince thereof.
Just as many people in our world today are fascinated with the supernatural, I think these seventy disciples can be forgiven for being a little bit fantastical to know that the Christian has a certain God-given power over the realm of the supernatural. What I want you to chiefly notice tonight is the caution of the Lord Jesus Christ with regard to rejoicing. He says in verse 20: 'You're rejoicing that the devils are subject to you in my name. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven'. He says to the seventy: 'Your greatest cause for rejoicing is not that you've got supernatural power over demons, but rather that your name is recorded in the courts of heaven'. Rather than being so enthralled with extraordinary manifestations, they should have realised that the greatest wonder of all is the reality of salvation. It is the central message, Jesus is saying, to all that His miraculous powers over darkness were pointing to.
Can I say just in passing that Benny Hinn, the false prophet that you'll see on cable television or satellite religious TV, is coming to the Odyssey Conference Centre soon. Many of these false prophets and charismatic preachers have been coming to our province of late, and they have turned this verse of Scripture on its head. For if you listen to their preaching, the gospel of Jesus Christ, the recording of men's names in heaven by grace, is hardly mentioned. They do the opposite, they're rejoicing in the so-called self-claimed power that they have over demons, over illness and sickness and so on - and the gospel of the blood of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, repentance, conversion in grace isn't mentioned. Whilst we believe that God has power today to cast out devils, and God has still power to heal the sick, we must maintain that the great commission that Jesus gave us was not to heal but to preach the good news! This is exactly what the Lord Jesus is saying: the power to become the children of God is to be more valued than the power to do great miracles. Let us never get those two out of proportion with one another.
In John 1 verse 12 Jesus the Christ said: 'To as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name'. So I'm asking you tonight: is your name written there, on that page bright and fair? Is your name written in the Book of Life? I'm going to ask three questions about this book tonight, where names are recorded in heaven. The first is: why does such a book exist? Well, the simple reason why such a book exists is because man, just like Satan, is a fallen creature. Man has fallen from God's glory. Romans 3:23 tells us: 'For all have sinned, and come short', or fallen short, 'of the glory of God'. If you want proof to consult that man has fallen, all you need to do is look at the ten commandments. I'm sure you're familiar with some of them, like the commandment not to steal, or not to lie or not to bear false witness, or not to take the name of the Lord God in vain, not to commit adultery, not to murder, not to worship idols and put other gods before the living God. When you look down that list you will come up with a number of them, if not all of them, that you have committed at some time in your life.
In fact, the book of James tells us that if we're only guilty of breaking one of those commandments, we're guilty of them all because they come as a package! If you still don't believe the fact that you're a fallen creature, well then you need to move from visiting the ten commandments to visit a cemetery or a hospital in our land today - for the wages of sin is death. The reason, ultimately, why sickness has come upon all men, generally speaking, and why people die is because we are sinners, and the wages of sin is death. God's word declares, and the evidence is all around us, that man is a sinner. Because man is a sinner, man is excluded from this book in heaven. But the good news of the Gospel tonight is that whilst man's sin excludes him, God's glorious grace in the person of His Son and the message of the good news would include him.
Now let me air a statement of caution for a moment, because those who are included in this book are not people - as is often thought - who have achieved a standard. They are not people who have earned their name's inclusion, but the opposite: they are people who admit that they are not worthy to be in God's book. They are not worthy of the least of God's mercy, in fact they are people who display attributes that are the exact opposite. They feel that they are sinners before a holy God, they're unworthy of God's forgiveness, and they come to God knowing that they don't deserve a place in God's heaven - and God's grace lifts these humble souls and places them in His book.
Now let me say that this is a stumbling block for many getting into the book. This is why some are never ever saved, because some people actually think that everybody is in God's book in heaven. But when you think about this just for a moment or two, you realise how ridiculous that assertion is: because if everybody's name was in the book in heaven, there'd be no need for a book at all to record anything, because nothing would be worth recording for everybody would be in anyway. Such a book would be incidental, of no consequence, it would be absolutely meaningless. Apart from that, Christ made a distinction in this very passage, He made a discrimination, He told His disciples: 'Rejoice rather that your names are written in heaven'.
Then there are other people who also find that this book is a stumbling block to them, because they feel that you must earn your way into this book. But friends, it is the exact opposite, as we will see tonight from this passage of Scripture. It is only those who are unworthy, and they who count themselves as such - not to be found in this book - who God actually, by grace, places there. Another thing we need to note concerning this book is: this book exists to show that God is precise in His dealings with man. You see a number of people, in fact very many people that I talk to, are uncertain about their soul's salvation - if you talk to them and ask them: 'Are you sure of heaven? Are you sure that when you die you will go to be with God? Are you sure that your sins are forgiven?'. But here we see, because of the existence of this book, that whatever uncertainty exists with mankind regarding their salvation, there is no uncertainty with God.
Whilst men say: 'Well, I'm not sure whether I'm going there, I hope so', or, 'No one can really know for sure, and it would be arrogance and presumption to say so', God says the opposite: 'I am sure, for those who are going to heaven are written in heaven'. Those who are going to heaven are in the book in heaven, as if they were already in heaven before they've got there. This is the foundation of God that standeth sure - what is that? 'The Lord knoweth them that are His'. The Lord knows, you might not know tonight my friend: that's a sad reflection on your own state before God. Jesus said in John 10: 'My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand'. You need to know, and the Bible was written - 1 John 5:13: 'that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God'.
Yet, Jesus also said in Matthew 7: 'Many will say to me in that day', on the last day, when the world is being judged, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in thy name? Did we not cast out demons in thy name? Did we not do many mighty miracles in thy name? And I will profess unto them, I never knew you'. Here is even a group of people, and they're displaying these mighty miraculous works. Christ doesn't know them for they don't belong to Him. Can I just say to Christians and non-Christians alike this evening: we do well to remember ourselves that these powers mean little regarding our spirituality. I'll say that again: supernatural powers, whoever is displaying them, mean nothing regarding our spirituality. If you were to go to chapter 9, before our chapter that we're looking at tonight, you would see that nine of the apostles actually tried to cast a demon out of a child, and they were unable. Yet the seventy came back to the Lord Jesus rejoicing that they had been given power over devils in His name. Now are we going to say that the conclave of the apostles were lesser than the seventy disciples? Of course they were not in spiritual terms, this means nothing. In fact, we have to say that it is possible for those who manifest these powers not even to be saved at all. Matthew 7 that we quoted, these people knocking on the door of heaven when the judgment of God's wrath and floods had fallen, they will say: 'Lord, we cast out devils, we prophesied, we did miracles!', and the Lord will say 'I never knew you'.
What the Lord is saying for us tonight is that the most important matter of all is your soul's salvation. You could have everything right, you could even have the exercising of supernatural powers correct, and not know that your name is written in heaven. Now you might think this is a bit far-fetched, but in the Old Testament we have a prophet called Baalam. Baalam had eyes to see visions of God, his eyes were open to marvellous things regarding the future, and even prophesying about the Lord Jesus Christ. His tongue was inspired to other deep things, prophetically, by God. Yet the Bible records that he was among the accursed because he ran greedily after reward. All you have to do is look back to Luke 9, and we read in verse 1 of Luke 9: 'Then he called his twelve disciples together, and gave them power and authority over all devils, and to cure diseases'. You'll notice that it doesn't say He called the eleven together except Judas, the likelihood is that the one who betrayed the Lord Jesus Christ Himself had been given those selfsame powers over the demons - yet he is one who is not saved. In fact the Bible says he went to his own place!
We read in Acts chapter 8 that Simon Magus had great spiritual powers before his conversion. In fact he bewitched so many people that people said: 'This is the great power of God'. Then we read in Acts 8 that he believed, we don't know how deep his belief was, I believe it was very superficial: he was baptised, which means nothing, and then we read that when he saw the apostles laying hands on people, and they received the Holy Spirit, that he thought to himself 'What a great gift this is'. He came to the apostles and he wanted to purchase with money the ability to do this great thing, and the apostle Peter said to him: 'Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money'. He wasn't even saved: 'Thy money perish with thee'.
What do all these Scriptures teach us? Just what the Lord Jesus is teaching us tonight: the gifts in the church, whatever gifts you may have, are nothing if you do not know the grace of God in salvation. That's why such a book exists, that the Lord should know them that are saved. The second question I want to answer is: how is your name added to this book? Well, the Lord Jesus says it's simply written. This word 'written' was used of the signing of a will or a marriage document, or a peace treaty, or ancient towns and cities had a roll and the citizens of that city or town were added and recorded in the public roll. There is this roll in heaven, metaphorically speaking, where God has a record in His almighty omnipotent omniscient knowledge to know all who are genuinely saved.
Now this word 'written' is in the perfect tense, which means 'it stands written'. That simply means it is a statement of assurance that it has been written once and it will stay there forever, it has indelibly been graven in this book in heaven so that we can know that we have eternal life. Well, how do you get your name in that book? Well, let me say first of all the way that you won't be added to that book. Revelation 21 tells us that: 'there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb's book of life'. If you're living for sin this evening, your name is not in that book. I don't care how many times you've prayed the sinner's prayer, I don't care how many times you've put your hand up in a meeting, I don't care if you've signed a card, because God's word says that if you're living in a life of habitual sin you cannot be saved. Jeremiah 17:13 tells us that unbelievers names will be written on the earth - believers names are written in heaven, unbelievers names are written on the earth. What does that mean? Simply this: those who live for heaven will have their names written in heaven; those who live for the earth will have their names written on earth.
You know what's written about you in heaven by what's written in you on earth - if you have the marks of God's grace in your life, that means if old things have passed away and all things have become new. You're saying: 'I don't know that! I know sin in my life, I'm living in habitual iniquity and transgression. How do I start for heaven? How do I make sure that my name is recorded there?'. Let me say again in caution: the way of pride will not take you to heaven, it'll take you to hell. The Lord Jesus said: 'I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven'. There was pride that welled up in his heart, and he wanted to be like God, and God cast him down. If you're religious tonight or think you're worthy of heaven, think that you've done enough to earn heaven, you're righteous enough, you're good enough, charitable - you will not get there.
In fact, of the moral teachers in Jesus' day, the Lord Jesus said that their towns felt as if they were exalted to heaven, not only through their religiosity, but through the very presence of the Lord Jesus Christ with them. They viewed and witnessed Christ and all of His miracles and wonderful powers and glorious teachings, yet the Lord Jesus said that they would be brought down to hell because of their pride. It is humility and repentant faith that will take you to heaven. Jesus says that in verse 21: 'In that hour Jesus rejoiced in spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes: even so, Father; for so it seemed good in thy sight'. It is the humble.
Malachi tells us that there is a book opened, whilst prophetically it speaks of a remnant in Israel, but there is a book opened for those who fear the Lord. Their name shall be written therein, and they shall be called God's jewels. What does it mean to fear the Lord? I'll tell you this: that's how you get your name in God's book. I fear the Lord, it doesn't just mean being terrified of the Lord: to fear the Lord, I think the New Testament equivalent of the fear of the Lord is the Greek word 'pistis' which means 'faith' - to have an awe and a dependence, practically and personally on the Lord. So I'm asking you tonight: if you have faith in the Lord Jesus, a repentant faith that is willing to leave your sin and venture your all on the Lord Jesus Christ, your name will be recorded in heaven.
Romans 10:9: 'If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved'. That's what really matters! That's how you gain your name recorded in heaven, that's how you can rejoice tonight to know that your name is in heaven, and so one day you will be there: through faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ. You see, when you're dying it'll not matter how many demons you've cast out, or how many miracles you've performed, or how many successes you've had in the church, maybe you have held office in the church - all those things will not matter, because true joy in that hour when death's cold dew is on your brow, is that your name is written in heaven.
Even those with little to rejoice in in this earth, Christians who are ill and aren't healed, Christians who cannot see, cannot hear, cannot speak, disease of cancer is eating up their very flesh: they can rejoice, Jesus says, whilst there is nothing around them to rejoice in, they rejoice that their names are written in heaven.
'When I can read my title clear to mansions in the skies,
I bid farewell to every fear, and wipe my weeping eyes'.
Are you resting on faith tonight or are you resting on sight? Don't rest on the sight of looking for miracles and waiting for the lightning to strike before you get saved, or seeing the bright lights. People say this to me: 'I was waiting to see a bright light, or for God to reveal something to me in a vision, or to let me see a scripture verse plastered across the sky'. Jesus says: 'A perverse generation seeketh after a sign'. He told the Pharisees and the Jews: 'This is the sign that I will give you: the sign of Jonah the prophet, that just as Jonah was in the belly of the whale for three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the belly of the earth'. He was talking about the sign of the cross: that He would die and be buried, and rise again for men's sins. Romans 5:8 says here is how God has demonstrated to you what He wants you to know: 'While you were yet a sinner, Christ died for you'. He bore your sin, He carried your shame, He took your hell on the cross, He shed His precious blood, the Father laid on Him the iniquity of us all and put Him through that holy wrath that was your due, that you deserved, that you might be free. Those who embrace that gift of salvation God calls His jewels, paid for not by money but by the precious blood of Christ as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
I must be honest with you tonight and answer a final question: what if your name is not found in this book? Can I say to you very soberly this evening: whatever you have in this world, whatever you're rejoicing in at this present moment in time, if your name is not written in heaven you have nothing. In fact, you should actually be trembling where you sit this evening, because Revelation 20:15 says: 'Whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire'. Can I say to you this evening, if you're rich, or you're a bit well-off: do not rejoice in your wealth! You've got a good physique, you don't have any illnesses or ailments: do not rejoice in your health! You have a good marriage, you've lovely children, you're from a good highbrow family: don't rejoice in your kith or kin! Don't rejoice in your position or your career, or in your success, for if your name is not written in heaven it all means nothing!
I urge you tonight to look around your life, all that your hand has gotten to you, and all you feel life has dished to you, and remember this: naked came you into this world, and naked you will depart, but God will destroy both body and soul in hell. Friend, that is what will happen if your name is not to be found in this book. But I don't want to end on that note, I want to end on the rejoicing of what a blessing it is to be a child of God - hallelujah! Your name may not be in the Who's Who of society, or the Who's Who of the ecclesia in the church, but if your name is written in heaven - rejoice! You may not be rich, you may not be famous, but if your name is written in heaven you've got cause to rejoice. You mightn't be clever, you mightn't be accomplished, you might have few gifts or abilities, but if your name is written in heaven - rejoice! You may be poor, you may even be despised: but praise God, when it comes to that day when you will die, though there be few around your grave and no monument in your memory, you can rejoice for your name is in heaven.
You may have everything in this life, but is your name in heaven? May every soul in this place be sure now that your name is there.
Isn't the Gospel invitation of love wonderful? Wesley when he wrote his hymn did rightly read the heart of the Saviour: 'Thou art all compassion'. He is compassionate and loving towards you this evening. Will you embrace Him by faith? Leave your sin and yourself, venture your all upon His claims and His sacrifice, and know for sure tonight - the guarantee is not mine, it is in the Scriptures - that your name is recorded in heaven, and you will go away rejoicing in the knowledge of sins forgiven.
Father, give Thy grace tonight, the grace that saves the deepest darkest sinner. Lord, many of us could say: 'Depth of mercy, can there be mercy still reserved for me?'. We thank Thee that this grace is amazing grace that can save a wretch like me. We can say tonight, and thank God: 'Chief of sinners, though I be, Jesus died for even me'. Lord, may someone come to the knowledge this evening of what it is to have their name written in heaven. May they go away rejoicing, walking, and leaping, and praising God for the great things that He has done. Amen.
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This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the recording, titled "Recorded In Heaven" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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