Calvary Road Baptist Church

“CORRECTING PRIORITIES”

Luke 10.17-24

 

My text is Luke 10.17-24. When you find that portion of God’s Word, stand, and read along silently while I read aloud:

 

17     And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.

18     And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

19     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.

20     Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

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.

22     All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

23     And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:

24     For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

 

In Luke 9.1, we are told the Savior gathered the twelve together, gave them power over devils and diseases, and then sent them out two by two. After the twelve returned to Him and urged Him to dismiss the hungry multitudes, He then fed the 5,000 with five loaves and two fishes. This was before taking them to Caesaria Philippi, where Simon Peter said, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.” That was also when the Lord Jesus rebuked him for opposing His plan to journey to Jerusalem to be crucified. Shortly afterwards, our Lord then repeated the cost of discipleship to the twelve.

If you get the idea that the lives of the disciples was a life of spiritual highs and lows then you get the right idea. Victories were typically followed by defeats, with the Lord Jesus Christ responsible for the victories, and the disciples responsible for their own defeats. This continued, with the next mountain top experience taking place on a literal mountain top, where three disciples witnesses our Lord’s transfiguration, when His glory burst forth through His flesh in an astounding display of majesty.

Then, typically, Peter said something foolish, which had the effect of denigrating the Lord Jesus Christ by comparing Him to Moses and Elijah, as though they were His equals. For that, God the Father rebuked him Himself. Luke’s record of the rebuke is found in Luke 9.34-35:

 

34     While he thus spake, there came a cloud, and overshadowed them: and they feared as they entered into the cloud.

35     And there came a voice out of the cloud, saying, This is my beloved Son: hear him.

 

Time passed. The training of the twelve progressed. Eventually, the Lord appointed seventy disciples and sent them out, as He had earlier dispatched the twelve. My text deals with the return of the seventy. Survey the text with me once more, if you will, so I can make a comment or two before settling into the message.

In verse 17, we see the thrill of victory of the seventy, as they report back to the Lord Jesus Christ: “And the seventy returned again with joy, saying, Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.”

In verses 18-20, He joins in their celebration, cautioning them of something much better to celebrate.

 

18     And he said unto them, I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.

19     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.

20     Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.

 

A short while later, He offered thanks to His heavenly Father:

 

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.

22     All things are delivered to me of my Father: and no man knoweth who the Son is, but the Father; and who the Father is, but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him.

 

Then He reminds them how very blessed they were:

 

23     And he turned him unto his disciples, and said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see:

24     For I tell you, that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.

 

It is easy to look over this portion of our Lord’s earthly ministry and understand why the disciples would be so thrilled. After all, they enjoyed the great privilege of being disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, had experienced great victory in their ministries by putting to flight demons and healing people of terrible diseases.

Consider, also, the things they were privy to. They saw things prophets and kings had never seen, and heard things no other men had heard. Those kinds of experiences, we learn from the apostle Paul in Second Corinthians chapter 12, can go to your head no matter how carefully you have prepared.

However, notice, back in verse 20, how the Lord Jesus Christ brought the seventy back to earth: “Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven.” No matter how blessed your life is, no matter how many thrills of victory and sweet savors of success you have enjoyed, such things pale in comparison to the importance of your name being written in heaven. That is what Jesus said.

Of course, the book referred to is the same one referred to in Revelation 20.15, where we read, “And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” My Lord Jesus Christ was not at all angry with the seventy. He did not deny them their moment of celebration that the devils were subject to them, since they did give Him glory by saying, “Lord, even the devils are subject unto us through thy name.” That is all fine and good. There is nothing wrong with rejoicing and celebrating victories the Savior has given. However, more important than victories and celebrations is having your name written in heaven.

To this end, consider three straightforward questions this morning:

 

First, WHOSE NAME IS WRITTEN IN HEAVEN?

 

Turn to Psalm 69.28: “Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.” Notice the parallelism of this verse. To be blotted out of the book of the living essentially means the same thing as not being written with the righteous. Thus, those whose names are written in this book in heaven are those who are righteous. However, how can it be that a righteous person’s name is written in a book in heaven when the Bible is very clear in denying that anyone is righteous? The answer lies in how a person comes to be righteous.

You see, no one is righteous in and of himself. The Bible clearly declares, “There is none righteous, no, not one,” Romans 3.10. As well, anyone’s attempt to establish righteousness ends up having the opposite effect. Isaiah 64.6 declares, “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags.” Thus, while no one has any inherent righteousness, which is to say that no one is righteous in the sight of God by virtue of his own merits, there is another righteousness. In Hebrews 11.7, reference is made in connection with Noah of a “the righteousness which is by faith.” As well, in Romans 4.5, we read of faith which “is counted for righteousness” in connection with Abraham.

Read through the Bible and you will see that, while no man has any righteousness of his own, we do find certain men had a righteousness that was not their own, a righteousness that was imputed to them, a righteousness that came to be credited to their account in heaven by means of faith. In Philippians 4.3, the Apostle Paul makes reference to those who labored with him in the gospel ministry as having their names written in the book of life. Thus, we see that when an unrighteous sinner lays hold of Jesus Christ by faith, the righteousness of Christ is imputed to him, is in a sense credited to his heavenly account, and his name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life in heaven.

This means that all true Christians, every person who has saving faith in Jesus Christ, has his name written in heaven.

 

Next, WHAT IS THE BENEFIT OF HAVING YOUR NAME WRITTEN IN HEAVEN?

 

God commonly uses familiar things from everyday life as the means to teach us spiritual truths about heaven and eternity. So it is with your name written in heaven. You see, it was common in days gone by for a city to keep a journal of citizens. When someone was born, his name was entered into the book. When he died, or if he was banished for some crime, his name was blotted out of the book. That type of thing is what God is referring to.

The book referred to by the Lord Jesus Christ is the book that God keeps of those whose citizenship is in heaven. Therefore, the benefit of having your name written in heaven is the benefit of having a heavenly citizenship while you are still alive down here on earth. This means that when you die, your destiny is an eternity in heaven rather than the awful punishment of the lake of fire.

 

Finally, HOW CAN ONE BE ASSURED HIS NAME IS WRITTEN IN HEAVEN?

 

If you recognize that lost people have no spiritual discernment, and newborn Christians have very little spiritual discernment and are oftentimes wrong about the spiritual conclusions they arrive at, this matter of being assured your name is written in heaven is problematic. It is not uncommon for lost people to have false hopes about their salvation, rising from their tendency toward prideful presumption and their frequent accounting of some kind of illumination related to a spiritual doctrine or principle as proof of being born again.

The very best ways to be assured that your name is written in heaven lie in three very simple steps, which those who are proud are typically unwilling to do, but which the humility that is typically accompanied by God’s grace finds rather easy to take.

First, be willing to consider the possibility that your name is not written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I know the thought that you may be lost is frightening, but keep in mind that you were born lost. Lost is a condition you have grown used to, and it may be a condition you are still in. The reasons it is so important to be willing to consider that you may be lost are two: First, the Lord Jesus Christ clearly taught that most people are lost. Second, unless you are willing to consider that it is possible you are lost you will never honestly deal with this important issue. Keep in mind that salvation is by grace through faith, and not by works of righteousness. Thus, a person’s pride should have nothing to do with whether he is truly saved or not. Yet, I promise you that Satan always wells a person up with pride when there is consideration of the possibility he may not be saved. This is sad, because assurance of salvation was never intended by God to be a substitute for careful consideration of your ongoing relationship with Christ, though a contemporary perversion of the doctrine of assurance has come to be precisely that. If your assurance is something like a settled confidence that never wavers or doubts, then your assurance is not the kind found in the Bible or given by the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Next, be willing to allow skilled and discerning ministers to carefully scrutinize your recollection of your conversion experience and your understanding of how a sinner is saved from his sins. This is what Paul meant when he wrote Second Corinthians 13.5: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” Though generally misunderstood to refer to a Christian seriously reflecting on his own testimony, such an understanding of this verse departs from what the entire Bible teaches about the role in a believer’s life of a gospel minister, as well as the importance of spiritual maturity and experience. Christians would never consider operating on themselves to remove an appendix or to repair a hernia, yet so many make the terrible mistake of thinking they fulfill their obligation in this verse as a Christian to reflect on their own testimony. A man’s soul is far too important a matter to assign to either amateurs or the inexperienced, and you know what they say about doctors who are their own patients. This verse does not refer to a man dissecting his own testimony, but to humbly subjecting such matters to another.

Finally, do not turn a deaf ear when seasoned and mature Christians express a concern for your spiritual welfare and progress in the faith. Sanctification is progressive, and a Christian who seems to experience no growth in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ is in serious trouble. Perhaps that Christian is not a Christian at all. Galatians 6.1 is a very important verse in the life of any Christian: “Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” It is very difficult for a child of God to both express concern for another Christian’s behavior or lack of progress, and at the same time avoid the appearance of judgementalism. What most Christians seem not to consider is the possibility that the negative reaction from the person you attempted to restore was actually an indication the person is not a Christian at all. You see, perhaps more important for the cause of Christ than a person’s assurance of salvation is the assurance of his salvation that his experienced and well-informed church members have concerning him. I am reminded of the assurance Paul had of the Thessalonian Christian’s salvation, when he wrote to them about their progress in the Christian life, telling them what he remembered and saying, “Knowing, brethren beloved, your election of God,” First Thessalonians 1.4. As well, I am reminded of the lack of assurance Paul had with respect to the Galatian’s salvation. Their departure from the simplicity of the gospel, and their lack of progress in their Christian walk, greatly concerned Paul, which is why he wrote these words, in Galatians 4.11: “I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.” Sadly, there are so many professing Christians whose dispositions about these matters are so volatile, who are so unconcerned about their testimonies, that Christians are very fearful of expressing their concerns. It is like a mom or dad whose youngster is afraid to come to them for fear of the explosion that will result. No wonder your kid will not approach you, so long as he thinks you are certain to blow your stack. The same kind of temperament prevents professing Christians from being approach by well-meaning friends and church members.

 

Disciples of Jesus Christ experience great victories in life, as much from being close to the Lord and His work as anything happening in our own lives. The result is that we enjoy great and profound benefits. Our lives are so blessed by the victories and the accomplishments that we, just like the seventy, can get so caught up in the glory of victory that we take our eyes off of the one thing that is even more important, having your name written in heaven. Is your name written in heaven? Are you sure? Does you being sure make it so? Perhaps you should come and talk to me sometime. In any case, you should let everyone you know understand that you welcome expressions of concern about your life and testimony, and that you know there are things more important than the devils being subject to you.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org