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God's Best Gift

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GOD'S BEST GIFT
Luke 10:17-20

INTRODUCTION
The good can detract from the best. What happened to the seventy on their missionary excursion was good, but
there was something better. Jesus did not want their excitement about the "good thing" to detract from the best,

Their experience had been a surprise. Jesus had told them to heal the sick as they went forth, but He had not
said anything about casting out demons. Yet as they went from village to village, the demons were subject to
them, They were able to command them in the name of the Lord, and they would submit.   This caused them to
be greatly excited. They had never imagined that they could be involved in such a display of spiritual power. This
excitement prompted the response which we have from our Lord, "Notwithstanding in this, rejoice not, that the
spirits are subject unto you: but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."

God's best gift is enrolling our names in heaven as citizens of His Kingdom, not giving to us power over evil
spirits, Since this is a word that each of us need to consider, let's look at it very carefully.

I. GOD’S BEST GIFT IS NOT SPIRITUAL POWER IN SERVICE.
A. Power for service is a gift.
The disciples knew that the power they had experienced in service was a gift that had come to them from the
Lord. They had never had such power before in their confrontations with the enemy. Jesus affirms this to them.
"Behold, I give unto you power to tread on ser¬pents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and
nothing shall by any means hurt you.  "Serpents and scorpions" are used as symbols for the demonic powers. It
is a mistake to see this as a basis for the handling of snakes as a sign of faith. Jesus assured them of His special
protection in these confrontations a beautiful promise.

B.  This power for service is temporary.
Even if this power were to abide upon your life undiminished for a lifetime, it would still be con¬sidered
temporary. No such power will be needed in the life to come, for there will be no demonic spirits there to confront.
However, the expression of this power through the life of the disciple is conditional and, temporary, In contrast to
God’s best gift, this must be seen as a temporary favor.

C.        This power may be experienced by the unsaved.
Here we move out into the realm of mystery.  However, if we accept the words of our Lord as authoritative, we
must conclude that what the, disciples did on this trip has been done by unsaved people. The power is not in
itself a sure sin of sonship in the family of God. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Not every one that saith
unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in
heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name: and in the name have
cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew
you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:21 23)

This must surely be the reason that Jesus warns them not to make such a
display of power the basis for their Christian joy. This is not to be counted as God's best gift. Evidently those who
have never known the Lord can du¬plicate the very things experienced by the seventy. Our preaching, singing,
teaching, and ministry are not the basis for our Joy. They do not make up God's best gift.
      
D. This power can be the cause of pride.
The early church fathers sawa warning about pride in the reference to the fall of Satan. Jesus said, "I beheld
Satan as lightening fall from heaven." They understood that our Lord was referring to this historic moment in
eternity past when Satan fell from his high and exalted position because of his pride. Could Jesus be giving this
as a warning to the seventy about what could happen to them if they give place to pride over what they have
been able to do?

Most students however feel that Jesus is affirming that the ministry of the seventy has been a real part in the
continuing victory over Satan. Through their efforts His power has been cast dawn. Whichever interpretation we
accept of this reference, I do know that when God uses us in the struggle against the enemy, we are in danger of
pride.

These are some of the reasons that Jesus cautions us about making our service to God, and effectiveness that
we know in that service a basis for our joy before Him. These things do not constitute God's best gift to us.
These are things that we do for God—what is best is what God does for us.

II. GOD'S BEST GIFT IS THE SPIRITUAL PRIVILEGE OF SONSHIP.
Jesus calls attention to this highest spiritual privilege when He says, "But rather rejoice because your names are
written in heaven." This is the basis for our joy before the Lord  God's best gift to us.

By this figure our Lord is referring to the fact that our names are en¬rolled in the book of life in heaven.
References are made to this throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. It was the practice in
the ancient world for a book to be kept that would have names of all the citizens written on it. This is a suggestion
to us that there is in heaven such a book that contains the names of the redeemed. This is surely the best gift
God could give us  being citizens of the kingdom of God.

A. The gift is personal.
Our names are written there. God has caused our names to be written down in His heavenly register not by
families or tribes, or nations, but personally. You find names of individuals who have been personally registered
as being citizens of the kingdom of God. Is your name written down in this book?

B. The gift is permanent.
The tense of the verb used by our Lord is a Greek perfect which indicates that the name has been written down
in the past and is written there permanently.

Another indication that this is a permanent gift is found in a reference to the book in the Revelation, John
indicates that those whose names are there were written in the book before the foundation of the world. "And
they that dwell on the earth shall wonder whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of
the world." (Revelation 17;8). A mark of the unsaved, the condemned, is that their names were not written in the
book of life before the foundation of the world. Even though the text does not affirm it, it surely implies that there
are those whose names were written in the book from the foundation. This would be those who have with¬stood
the tempter and have committed their lives to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. This would remind us that our
salvation is a matter of God’s eternal purpose.

C. This gift is priceless.
How much value could you place upon the privilege of having your name written down in Cod's book of life? One
way that you might place a value upon it would be to try to determine the cost of getting your name in the book of
life. The book of Revelation gives us a hint. Twice in the book the book is called "the Lamb’s book of life" (Rev.
21:27).This lets us know that those whose names are found in this book are there because of the work of the
Lamb. It cost the death of Christ in order to have our names included; we could almost say that our names are
written there in His blood.

It is noteworthy that not only were our names written in the book from the foundation of earth, but also the Lamb
was slain from the foundation of the earth. When it was determined that we would be saved, it was also
de¬termined that Christ Jesus would be the means of that salvation through His death upon the Cross. One
could not happen without the other. When re¬joicing in this gift, you are rejoicing in a gift that is priceless.

D.        The gift is powerful.
When you read the last chapters of the Bible, you begin to understand why Jesus insisted that this was the basis
of rejoicing before God. At the Great White Throne Judgment, this is the thing that will make the difference. John
writes, "And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book
was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the
books, according to their works.  And then. he adds, "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life
was cast into the late of fire." (Rev. 20:12,15). in the next chapter John reports., "And there shall in no wise enter
into it anything that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written
in the Lamb's book of life." (Rev. 21:27).

The message is clear that the only thing that will keep us from being condemned and gain for us entrance into
the eternal city of God is having our names written in the book of life. If we have not had our name written in the
Lamb's book, we are condemned. This is a powerful Gift that God has ex¬tended to us. Is your name written
down in glory?

CONCLUSION
If your name is not written down in glory, you have no reason for joy.  If your name is written in the Lamb's book
of life, you have reason for joy regardless of your circumstances. Circumstances may        change but this will
not change.

The person who has repented of his sin, placed his faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, and confessed
Jesus Christ as the Lord of his life can know that his name is written down. If you have not done this, you are
without hope in this world or in the world to come. Why not make sure that your name is written down in glory by
repenting of your sin today? This means that you are ready to turn your back upon sin and turn to the Savior.  
Why not confess Jesus publicly as your Lord? This should be done symbolically by following Him in believer’s
baptism. Do not delay ¬do it today!

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