The Name You’ll Never Hear in Heaven

by Andy Wood on September 18, 2008

in Five LV Laws, Principle of Freedom

Imagine you’re through the pearly gates, roaming the streets of gold getting the lay of the land.  It’s heaven, baby!  Not a concept or a wish, but the real deal.

There are people there – some you know, many more you’re still meeting.  Famous people and unknowns.  A few claims to fame; myriads upon myriads of testimonies of God’s grace and love.  Names from every tongue and tribe known to man.

Let me tell about an introduction you’ll never hear:

“Hi!  I’m the woman caught in adultery.”

On this side, that’s all we know to call her.

On this side, that or something like it may be all somebody may be able to say about you.

Reputations and memories can be brutal, unforgiving things.  But the one thing more relentless than a disgraceful legacy is the scandalous grace of God.

This nameless woman had a name her parents had given her.  Maybe it was Ruth or Mary, Joanna or Phoebe.  But she had one, and used it.

She’ll also have a new name written down in glory.  One known only to her, fresh from the whisper of God.

This was a woman whose world was rocked and life was changed by five words: Go and sin no more. One of the most difficult things she ever had to do was to leave at those simple words of forgiveness from Jesus.

Don’t I need to do something?  Nope.

Don’t I need to say something?  Again, no.

Don’t I need to give something?  What could you give in exchange for that?

The one thing required of her was to have enough confidence in His forgiveness that she would let go of her guilt, her past, and her shame, and go.

Go she did.

David, a man who knew his own share of guilt, once said this:

I sought the Lord, and he answered me;
He delivered me from all my fears.
Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame (Psalms 34:4-5, NIV).

I sure hope you won’t be using shame as a face recognition technique for heaven.  It may work on this side, but not there.

Learning to live as a forgiven person is one of the biggest challenges many of us face.  Why?  Because we don’t live in a gracious world.  We live in the world of the fisherman who denied Jesus, the businessmen who lied about their profits and losses, the president who lied about his knowledge and activities, and yes, the woman who got caught (where was the man?) cheating on her husband.

Who will she be in heaven?  The woman forgiven by Jesus, just like you and me.

And who knows?  Maybe she’ll be recognized in amazing other ways.  I like to imagine sometimes about some of the other performance-driven names she may wear:

  • The woman who led 200 people to Christ before she went to heaven.
  • The woman who raised seven sons, all of whom shook the Roman Empire with the gospel.
  • The woman who housed and fed Christian or Jewish refugees from persecution.
  • The woman who helped start congregations all over Israel and Asia Minor.
  • The woman who fell in love all over again with her husband.
  • The woman who died a martyr’s death because of her testimony that Jesus is Lord.

If there’s no other word to describe your life at this point than “guilty,” I have some good news.  You can be completely forgiven.  Totally restored.  Wonderfully transformed by the shocking grace of Jesus.  But you must receive it.

Sometimes even prophets have to learn that lesson.  Here’s what Micah said:

Do not rejoice over me, O my enemy.
Though I fall I will rise;
Though I dwell in darkness, the Lord is a light for me.
I will bear the indignation of the Lord
Because I have sinned against Him,
Until He pleads my case and executes justice for me.
He will bring me out to the light,
And I will see His righteousness. (Micah 7:8-9, NASU)

Regardless of the potshots you may get from a finger-wagging, self-righteous world, you have a new identity.  Go!  Live in it.  Embrace it.  And sin no more.

And while you’re at it, live as one who has been forgiven.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

carissa September 18, 2008 at 10:45 am

this was a good one.

carissas last blog post..The Voice will go on . . . and on . . .

Polly Miller April 17, 2010 at 7:10 pm

This was really good, it amazes me how you get this stuff. I for one am thankful.

Roxi April 17, 2010 at 7:20 pm

AMEN!!!!

Sheryll March 14, 2013 at 2:07 am

Amen and amen!

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