For many years now I’ve been called Steve, except for my siblings who still call me Stephen. As a young boy, Steve sounded cooler and I liked it, but maybe it’s a sign of growing older that I’m appreciating my given name more. In reminiscing I remember that I wasn’t just Stephen within the family, I was our Stephen and there’s something very lovely about that. It gave me a sense of security and I knew I was loved.

It’s funny how we like to shorten names, even beautiful names which should stay as they are. I know a Rhiannon who is Rhi, an Angharad who is Ang, and a Clementine who is Clemmie. In church, we have a Geraint and Sarah who are known as Ger and Sar, a Nicola who is Nic, and when in hospital my mum-in-law and the two patients next to her were known to the nurses as Mer, Ber and Cer (Mary, Beryl and Ceri) if my memory serves me right.

I remember reading a book in my college years called I Am David. David grew up in a concentration camp in an unnamed Eastern European Country and there’s a powerful passage in the book where he talks about having nothing of his own except for his name. He said, “That’s why I shall be called David for as long as I live.” His name was significant and precious.

People often identify themselves with other people by their names. When choosing the best footballer are you Messi or Ronaldo? When choosing the best British boxer are you Fury or Joshua? In the Bible, in a city called Corinth people were favouring certain apostles. The apostle Paul wrote, “One of you says, “I follow Paul”; another, “I follow Apollos”; another, “I follow Cephas”. (1) We don’t need division in churches, unity is essential. To make matters worse in Corinth some were also saying “I follow Christ”, (2) placing the Son of God on a par with men. It shows how misguided they were.

Jesus once sent over 70 disciples ahead of him to every town or place he planned to visit and they were authorised to heal the sick. When they later saw him they were excited about their experiences but Jesus calmed them and said, “do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (3) That’s a wonderful thought. It’s true of those who belong to Jesus, those who have acknowledged him as their Saviour, that eternal life has been secured. Their names are written in heaven, and so is mine. That’s a fact. It’s not because I’m a good man who deserves a place in heaven. My name is written in heaven because Jesus died for me paying the penalty for my sins. He has chosen to have me living with him forever and that’s why my name is written down. I’m sure that name will be Stephen by the way and not Steve.

Towards the end of the Bible, and the end of time, there will be a great judgement. People today have the opportunity to miss that judgement by trusting in Jesus but all others will be there. The Bible says, “I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books.” (4) Everyone will receive a right judgement from God and many will enter into eternal life, but not all. The Bible then tells us something we would rather not hear, “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” (5)

I’m not trying to scare you but I want you to understand how important it is for Jesus to know your name and for it to be written in heaven, and I don’t want you to have to wait until that future judgement to know that you are secure. The apostle Paul wrote, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” (6) You do not have to face a terrifying judgement. Right now, if you trust in Jesus for your salvation, you can be sure that your name will be written in heaven.

 

Bible References:

  • 1 Corinthians 1:12
  • 1 Corinthians 1:12
  • Luke 10:20
  • Revelation 20:12
  • Revelation 20:15
  • Romans 8:1