Jump Start # 2841
Luke 10:20 “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in Heaven.”
Her name was Mary, but everyone called her Polly. She lived a long time ago. Her parents were instrumental in establishing N.T. Christianity in the county they lived in. She was my great-great grandmother. I have a large framed picture of her that hangs in my home office. Years ago, my dad and I did a lot of family research, I mean a lot. Upon dad’s death, all of those files came to me. I was going through some of those things the other night. Dad saved letters that I had written about some family findings I discovered. Among all those files was a copy of some legal papers requesting a pension because my great-great grandfather had become disabled during the Civil War. And, it was here that I learned something for the first time. Polly, my great-great grandmother, could not write her own name. On the lines for her signature was an X, and the statement underlined, “This is my mark.” She couldn’t write her own name.
I thought about that all night. Boy, I wish I lived back then, I would have tried to teach her. I wonder why her parents never did. I wonder why her husband or her children never did. And, I think how many times I scribble my name, so fast that it is basically just a line. So many that could not write, also could not read. I do not know that, but I wouldn’t be surprised. Letters from her husband during the war, she could not read. Polly was a Christian. One in a long line of family members that followed Jesus. But, could it be that she never read the words of Jesus herself? Unlike the Bereans, she would not be able to search the Scriptures daily, if she could not read.
Our verse today, spoken by our Lord, reminded the seventy after the limited commission that true rejoicing was not in what they could do, but in what God had done. Their names were recorded in Heaven. We often call that the book of life. We cannot add our names there. They are added as we in faith walk with the Lord. Our names written. Our names written in God’s book. How amazing is that!
First, there are blessings that we much too often take for granted. It would be hard to find someone in our times in this country that could not write their own name. Education, knowledge is such a blessing. You and I can write anything, and often we do on social media. And, we can read anything. I wonder what Polly would think if she could walk through my office and see the thousands of books that I have. Books that explain. Books that encourage. Books that help me to know the Lord and to understand His word.
We can read, but so many do not. Current stats reveal that a majority of college grads never read a book again after graduation. More than 80% of American families never read one book last year. Which is worse? Unable to read, or having the ability to read but choosing not to.
Second, one can go to Heaven even though they can’t write their own name. I was reading (what a blessing) yesterday about some early preachers in Kentucky. In one meeting more than twenty slaves were converted. I expect in those times many of them could not read or write. In the first pages of Revelation there is a blessing to the one who reads and the one who hears the message. Most of our N.T. books began as letters to congregations. They would have been read aloud. The audience would not have had their own copies to follow along. What responsibility the messenger had in speaking clearly, accurately and in a manner that others could hear and remember. Heaven is based upon our faith in the Lord. While education opens doors for us and enlightens us, it is not something that is necessary to please the Lord.
One can go to Heaven even though they never owned a house. One can go to Heaven even though one never traveled very far in their life. One can go to Heaven even though they never were known by many here. Our success here does not factor into Heaven. What matters is our faith in the Lord.
Third, it was through the avenue of words that God chose to reveal Himself and His will. Words that were preached. Words that were written. God didn’t use impressions. God didn’t use feelings. Those things are hard to describe and it seems each person has their own ideas about those things. What I think is funny, you may not. What I think is scary, you may not. We can both stand in front of a painting or listen to a piece of classical music and get different impressions. Words are not like that. Words can be defined, translated, studied, copied and memorized. When Jesus came to a synagogue in Nazareth, He opened the book, found the place and read. My great-great grandmother couldn’t do that. When the Ethiopian was traveling home, he was reading from Isaiah. Polly couldn’t have done that. Our faith is not in abstract feelings but in absolute words. God defines right and wrong. God sets the boundaries.
Our current culture is trying to introduce words that makes sin acceptable. We are told that using the words, “he,” or, “she,” is offensive to those who do not know their gender. We are encouraged to refer to an individual as “they.” “They,” may be a he, she, or undecided. Confusing, muddying the waters of truth, and driven by progressive agendas, God’s words do not change. They do not need to be updated, improved upon or redefined. God has spoken. Referring to God in the masculine case bothers some. It is how God described Himself. Referring to Jesus in the masculine sense, bothers some. Jesus, Himself, used the expression, “Son of Man,” multiple times. He did not say, “Son of They,” or “Son of It.”
You and I can know God and what God expects because we can hear and read God’s words. God is clear. It’s not fuzzy. It’s not up in the air where God stands.
I have been to the graves of my great-great grandparents. My great-great grandfather passed away first. I wonder if Polly, his wife, could even read the inscription on his stone?
Words to read. Inscriptions in Heaven. Sure gives us things to be thankful for.