Writing things down signifies that they are important. Examples of this can be found in different areas of life. Most of us, as individuals, from time to time write things down. One example of this is the grocery list. When we run out of, or nearly run out of, a particular item we write it down. We do this so that when we go to the store we will remember to pick it up; we do not want to forget it. The item we write down may not be important to other people but it is important to us. Because of this we make every effort to get it at the next available opportunity.
We also see the importance of writing things down in more formal settings. In the business world it is a common practice to put things in writing. Written contracts are one example of this, many companies use them. Contracts are agreements in which the terms of the relationship between the vendor and the customer are spelled out. Many things can be covered in these documents, things such as: the length of time of their agreement, the responsibilities of each party, the price of the goods or services, delivery times, and the penalties for not fulfilling the terms of the agreement. The contract protects both parties. If one party fails to live up to the terms of the contract legal action can be taken.
In spiritual matters too we find that writing things down is important. Perhaps the most well-known example of this is the Ten Commandments. The Lord Himself wrote them down on stone tablets. In fact the Bible says that they were “inscribed by the finger of God” (Exod. 31:18 NIV). It is hard to imagine, but in a moment of anger Moses broke the stone tablets on which God had written (Exod. 32:19).
These commandments were so important that another copy was made (Exod. 34:1, 28). We know that copies of God’s Word were made for the Israelites. We see evidence of this at different times in biblical history (Deut. 31:24-26; 2 Kgs. 22:8; Neh. 8:8). Our present-day Bible is a major proof of this. The things that are revealed in Scripture are for us (Deut. 29:29). They were written down so that we would obey them. They were also written down so that we could remember them (2 Pet. 1:12-15; 3:1). We know from some texts that the Scriptures were viewed as authoritative. This is evident from verses which speak about what was already written in Scripture (Josh. 8:31; Ezra 6:18; Luke 4:4, 8 NIV).
In addition to Scripture, there is another type of writing that is absolutely vital to the spiritual life. However, you won’t find this writing in any book in your local library or bookstore. The reason for this is that the book is not available on earth. What? If this writing is not available on earth how do we know that it exists? We know it exists because the Bible tells us that it does, it is mentioned a number of times in the pages of Scripture. And one of the texts in which it is mentioned are the words of Jesus Christ. I am referring to the verses that speak about a person’s name being written in heaven. The first one is in the gospels (Luke 10:20).
In this passage (Luke 10:17-20) Jesus told His disciples not to rejoice that the demons were subject to them (as great as that was) but to be glad that their names were written in heaven. According to Jesus having your name written in heaven is the most important thing, everything else pales by comparison. This is understandable because those whose names are so inscribed will be with the Lord forever. The writer of the book of Hebrews also mentions “the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven” (Heb. 12:23 NIV). While we cannot say with certainty who the author of the book of Hebrews was, they too knew about this important truth of a person having his or her name written in heaven. In addition to these two references the apostle John also wrote about those whose names are written in heaven. He does this in his references to the book of life. It is clear from what he wrote that having your name in the book of life is very important (Rev. 13:8; 20:15; 21:27).
It is important for people to know what has been written in Scripture. It is truth; and it is truth that calls for a response, it is to be obeyed. God’s desire is that everyone have a life-changing experience with Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. The Lord does not want “anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9 NIV). Those who take this step will have a changed earthly life (2 Cor. 5:17), receive the gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23), and have their names written in heaven (Heb. 12:23).
John P. Lathrop is a graduate of Western Connecticut State University, Zion Bible Institute, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary’s Center for Urban Ministerial Education (CUME). He is an ordained minister with the International Fellowship of Christian Assemblies and has twenty years of pastoral experience.