“Cheers!” They were our favorites – Sam, Diane, Carla, Coach, and of course Cliffy, and Norm! Even though they were fiction, they had names, and we remember them. The ratings of that TV show proved that we liked the idea of a place to go where everybody knows our name.
Can you imagine how horrible life would be if no one knew your name? Of course not, our imagination can’t fathom the idea of not having our name known by somebody. The first thing we do when we meet someone is to tell them our name, “Hello, my name is…”. We have a name. We couldn’t leave the hospital as infants until we were named.
That said, I think hell is a place where nobody knows your name. I don’t think there will be any famous people in hell. Well, I mean people who are famous while they are in hell – I think there may be people who are famous in this life, who will end up in hell. But, I don’t think anyone will know their name in hell, and nobody will care that they don’t know anybody else’s name, because nobody knows their name either.
Jesus tells us in Matthew that not everyone who knows his name will be in heaven. He says that there will be many who say to him that they did great works in his name and yet they will not enter heaven. He will send them away because he doesn’t know their name.
Let me repeat that, there will be people in this life, perhaps famous people, people whose names you and I know very well, who are doing things in the Lord’s name – but whose name the Lord does not know. Those people will not dwell in heaven.
As horrific as the torments of hell will be, not being known will merely be one of the lesser sufferings. A place where no one knows your name… and no one in hell cares. How terrifying is it to realize, though, that the Lord Jesus Christ doesn’t know you?
This is not a new turn of events. When the church was first beginning to grow God did extraordinary things through the apostles and other people wanted to mimic them. People wanted fame – so they tried to invoke the name of Jesus in order to perform miracles and make a name for themselves.
Seven men in particular, sons of Sceva, in Acts 19 were doing this and an evil spirit answered them saying, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know about, but who are you?” Things didn’t turn out well for these men. We don’t know their names.
In Luke 16, Jesus tells the story about a rich man who lived in luxury every day. A beggar named Lazarus laid by his gate. Both men died. Lazarus went to heaven, and the rich man to hell. We don’t know the name of the rich man.
If we want to go where everybody knows our name for all eternity, then we want to go to heaven. In order to go to heaven, Jesus must know our name. That means we must not only know the name of the Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, but we must be in a relationship with him – a relationship so intimate that he lives in each one of us and we live in him. Inseparable.
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” – Ephesians 1:13
“This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit.” – 1 John 4:9, 13 NIV
A relationship with God is more than just knowing his Name, a relationship is a commitment to live for God as God would have us live because he loves us, and we love him. When we are in a relationship with God, we can trust that he will never forget our name because he has it written in the palm of his hand.
“Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I would not forget you! See, I have written your name on the palms of my hands.” – Isaiah 49:15-16 NLT
When you enter into a relationship with Jesus, you receive a new name – Christian. You become a name-bearer of Christ. Has your name changed?
“You will be called by a new name that the mouth of the Lord will bestow. They will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord.” – Isaiah 62:2b, 12a NIV”
On that day, when you stand before him, when the books are opened and everything is laid bare, what will you hear? Will Jesus say, “Get away from me, I never knew you.” Or will you hear him declare, “Oh, yes, here’s your name!”
“Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.” – Revelation 20:15
Where no one knows their name.