Ministry of the Christian believer. Ambassadors for Christ Part 4. Luke 10:17-24

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John Wesley was about 21 years of age when he went to Oxford University.
He came from a Christian home, and he was gifted with a keen mind and good looks.
Yet, in those days he was a bit snobbish and sarcastic.
One night, however, something happened that set in motion a change in Wesley’s heart.
While speaking with a porter, he discovered that the poor fellow had only one coat and lived in such impoverished conditions that he didn’t even have a bed.
Yet, he was an unusually happy person, filled with gratitude to God.
Wesley, being immature, thoughtlessly joked about the man’s misfortunes.
“And what else do you thank God for?” he said with a touch of sarcasm.
The porter smiled, and in the spirit of meekness replied with joy, “I thank God that He has given me a life and being, a heart to love Him, and above all a constant desire to serve Him!”
Deeply moved, Wesley recognized that this man knew the meaning of true thankfulness.
Thankfulness that comes from knowing what God had done for him.
We can find, pleasure and rejoice in a job well done.
But the greatest joy comes not from anything we can accomplish.
But what is accomplished on our behalf through faith in Christ.
The joy of salvation.
If you read ahead in the book of Luke to chapter 15 you will find 3 stories of things that are lost and then found.
A lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son.
Each of those stories end with great joy.
Luke 15:7 ESV
7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.
Luke 15:10 ESV
10 Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Luke 15:32 ESV
32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’ ”
As we see the disciples returning from their mission they had been sent on, we see joy in 3 ways.
joy in victory, a job well done,
joy in salvation,
and joy in sovereignty.
The question I want to pose to each of us Christians here this morning is
Christian, are you finding joy in your salvation?
And if you have not yet trusted in Jesus as your Lord and savior I want you to know that you can have true joy in your life.
Luke 10:17–24 ESV
17 The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” 18 And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. 19 Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” 21 In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. 22 All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, or who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” 23 Then turning to the disciples he said privately, “Blessed are the eyes that see what you see! 24 For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.”
As the disciples returned to Jesus, they came with joy because of all that had taken place.
They had joy especially in the fact that their most difficult foe had been subject to them in Jesus name.
This was a great reason to be joyful.
We all take joy in a job well done.
Jesus responds by encouraging them that their work is continuing the Satan’s demise.
Reminding them of the authority that he gave them and the protection he provided as well.
His next phrase though reminds them of the most important reason for them to have joy.
And where that joy is found.

Joy in Salvation.

Luke 10:20 ESV
20 Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
We can imagine these disciples returning to Jesus, up on a cloud so to speak.
They were so excited because of what had taken place through them.
The reminder must come that it was not their doing, or their power.
Do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you.
Something else should give them a greater joy.
The promise of eternal life!
Jesus is trying to drag them down but rather pointing ahead.
He is making a comparison.
This joy that you feel now, in this time of victory, is but a taste of the joy to come!
Rejoice that your names are written in heaven!
This is referring to a biblical image that we have throughout the Bible as the book of life.
Moses interceded for the people of Israel after they had created the golden calf saying
Exodus 32:32 ESV
32 But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”
When the Israelites were in captivity in Babylon Daniel promised
Daniel 12:1 ESV
1 “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.
Paul speaks in the NT
Philippians 4:3 ESV
3 Yes, I ask you also, true companion, help these women, who have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
And John writes in the book of Revelation when he speaks of the first beast that he saw a vision of
Revelation 13:8 ESV
8 and all who dwell on earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.
Kings of the day would keep lists of the subjects that were under their rule for many different purposes.
We think of the Christmas story.
Why did Joseph and Mary go to Bethlehem?
Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken.
In New Testament times, Roman officials would keep detailed registers of the people who belonged to their city-state, and who therefore had the full rights of membership in their community.
A person whose name was in the book was entitled to property and protection.
We think today, while not their originally intended purpose, social security numbers in the US are a mark of citizenship.
It shows you have a right to work in this country because you are a citizen.
Jesus is saying here, the work is joyful, but take greater joy in the fact that you are part of the citizenship of heaven!
The greatest joy we can have in the Christian life is not the joy of success, not the joy of service, not the joy of marriage and parenting,
the greatest joy we can know is the joy of salvation.
Some have thought that Jesus is rebuking the disciples for not being more spiritually minded but this is not the case.
Jesus is stressing that no matter how glorious it is that Satan's kingdom is crumbling our greatest joy is found in our salvation.
It is greater to be loved and adopted by God than to be a victor over satan.
We have both, but this is best.
What, then, does it mean to have our names written in heaven?
It means that the High King of heaven knows and remembers that we belong to him.
It means further that he is keeping an accurate record of our citizenship in his everlasting city (see Phil. 3:20).
It means that we have a right to all the privileges of heaven, even before we arrive.
And it means that we have God’s own guarantee of eternal life.
Jesus says of anyone who trusts in his righteousness,
Revelation 3:5 ESV
5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
So when Jesus tells us to rejoice that our names are written in heaven, it is to reassure us that he is keeping track of our salvation.
David Gooding writes
According to Luke: The Third Gospel’s Ordered Historical Narrative i. Satan’s Fall like Lightning from Heaven (10:17–20)

It is a wonderful thing to be allowed to perform effective service in the name of Christ here on earth; it is even more wonderful to be able while still here on earth to be sure of heaven.

Are we finding joy in the promise?
As believers and followers of Jesus, we can be certain in this promise.
That our names are written in the Lambs book of Life.
Not because of anything thing that we have done.
But because he has written them.
Names written from before the foundation of the world the Bible tells us.
All we do is trust in Jesus for our salvation.
To believe in the reality of heaven, but to journey through life uncertain of ever arriving there, would be not joy but torture.
Take Paul as an example.
It was the assurance of knowing that their names were already written in heaven that strengthened Paul in prison and shored up his fellow-workers in their labours for Christ in face of bitter persecution.
We do not come to this assurance by climbing up into heaven, searching God’s archives, and paging though his royal registry.
Instead, we know that our names are written in heaven the same way we know everything else about our salvation:
by believing in Jesus Christ as he is offered to us in the gospel.
We know that we have eternal life, not because we have read the book of life,
but because we have faith in the manger, the cross, and the empty tomb.
The people whose names are written in heaven are the people who trust in Jesus.
Eternal life includes victory over Satan in spiritual warfare,
but it encompasses all of the other blessings that God also has for us in Jesus Christ:
the forgiveness of our sins, the resurrection of our bodies, and the fellowship of knowing God as our loving Father.
The joy of eternal life is also more permanent.
Whatever other joys we experience could never last for long if we could not be certain that God will always love us.
But having our names written down in the book of life is a joy that will last forever.
Our joy in eternal life keeps us from being downcast during difficult times of our lives.
when Satan does not seem to be cast under our feet, when trials come.
There is a quite well know preacher from London, Dr. Martin Lloyd Jones who as he was drawing near to death could only sit up for an hour or two each day.
He was asked the question “How are you coping with your ministry being so confined?”
This man had preached to thousands, bringing many to faith in Christ.
Jones replied
Luke, Volumes 1 & 2 The Greater Joy of Eternal Life

“Do not rejoice that the demons are subject to you in my name, but rejoice that your name is written in heaven.” Then he said, “I am perfectly content.”

I also think of my own grandmother, who as she was in an assisted living home after suffering from a stroke.
Her whole left side was paralyzed and she could not speak.
Yet she still had that twinkle of joy in eyes.
Especially as we talked about things of the Lord.
She new the joy of salvation and awaited the day she would get to spend eternity with Christ.
Our deepest, greatest source of joy in life and on into eternity is our salvation.
Salvation not based on anything we have done but on God’s saving grace, for our names are written in the book of life!
Is that a joy that is missing in your life today?
Have you trusted in Jesus as your Lord and savior?
If you haven’t made that commitment to follow Jesus and would like to, I would love to speak with you.
There is not magic formula, there is no specific prayer.
All Jesus asks is that you repent, turn to him, and believe in what He has done for you.
You can have that joy that comes with know that your name is written in the book of life.


I thought it fitting this morning that as we remember the joy that we have in salvation that we do so by celebrating the Lord’s supper together.
We see this table set before us with the white linen cloth covering the communion elements.
This table illustrates the gospel for us.
The good news of what Jesus has done for us.
The broken body and blood of our Lord Jesus are not subjects we ever avoid,
but on this occasion, we draw attention to the brutal, substitutionary death of Jesus in a way that is unique, and thus, is powerful.
We don’t literally eat Jesus’ body or drink His blood, but for us to literally consume the bread and cup
We are confronted with what was required of Jesus to set us free and offer us new life.
As we come to the Lord’s table together, some of us may be coming with a limp.
Life is hard, we lose loved ones, battle sickness, have a prodigal child or sibling, perhaps depression is setting in.
Suffering is a way of life for all of us, and at times there are seasons where the intensity seems too much to bear.
As we take up the bread and cups today, let us remember the nails that pierced our saviors hands and feet.
That they wounded him, but did not defeat him.
Let us remember that the sin that corrupts our flesh has already been defeated by the One who knew no sin, but became sin for us.
Let us remember that our “goal is to know him and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his sufferings, being conformed to his death” (Philippians 3:10).
You may not feel the wind of God’s favor at your back.
You may not see the purpose of God in your pain.
But you can eat and drink anyways because of the joy we find in Christ alone.
In all of the weight of Jesus’ sacrifice, there is a certain hope of his victorious return.
The death we remember is actually a win worthy of proclamation today.
Paul’s phrase in 1 Cor 11:26 reminds that taking the Lord’s supper proclaims the Lord’s death until he comes.
No future accomplishment can ever achieve the righteousness of God in Jesus Christ.
God’s grace is greater than all of our sin.
The Lord’s table announces the Good News that we must neither wait for our victory, nor dwindle in our defeats.
Luke records for us Jesus and his disciples gathered together to share the passover meal together.
Luke 22:14–19 ESV
14 And when the hour came, he reclined at table, and the apostles with him. 15 And he said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. 16 For I tell you I will not eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. 18 For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” 19 And he took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
Luke 22:20 ESV
20 And likewise the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.
Take joy in your salvation today!
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