Continuing with this blog series of my favorite sermons heard while at Bible College - North Central University in Minneapolis, MN., another of my four faves was the following ...
There's an incredible story in Acts 19:10-20 about Paul's ministry in Ephesus -
"This went on for two years, so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord. God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, "In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out." Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. [One day] the evil spirit answered them, "Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?" Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Many of those who believed now came and openly confessed their evil deeds. A number who had practiced sorcery brought their scrolls together and burned them publicly. When they calculated the value of the scrolls, the total came to fifty thousand drachmas. In this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power."
One of the things the crowd said about Jesus as he walked the earth teaching and preaching was that he "taught as one who had authority and not as their teachers" (Matthew 7:29, NIV). It is not "invoking the Name of Jesus" or some other special formula that impacts hearts for the Kingdom, but it is the result of a holy life in submission and obedience to God's Word that imparts the power of God in the world today.
Scripture has many references (both Old and New Testaments) to those true followers of Christ's names being written in a certain "book of life." What a wonder! Our lives are dear to God and our names are pre-written in his Guest Book, so to speak. Our names go before us and are written in heaven as we respond to the grace of God in Christ Jesus.
The passage above about Paul in Acts presents an even more curious state. As we make the decision in our lives to follow Christ our names are written in the book of life, but there is an even greater level God will take us to; a level of rare air breathed by those souls who dedicate every part of their lives to God's use and become dangerous women and men for the Kingdom of God. This is seen as the evil spirit speaks to those men invoking the Name of Jesus saying, "Jesus I know, and I've heard about Paul, but who are you?" (v. 15). Paul had lived his life to such a level that they even knew his name in hell.
Are you dangerous for the Kingdom? Your name might be written in the Lamb's book of life, but do they know your name in hell?