Our Permanent Record
When we were children in school we were told of an object of great fear—our Permanent Record. Anything bad that was ever inscribed on that dreaded document would haunt us forever. The most imaginative among us could envision a large safe with an incomprehensible combination lock guarded by big silent men with the Popeye-the-Sailorman arms folded with menacing dogs loosely tethered nearby—all just to keep unauthorized eyes from even a glimpse of our Permanent Records.
I still don’t know what my 7th grade IQ was; I only know it was an issue. But by the grace of God I got into college in spite of the shameful rap sheet that was my Permanent Record—and I seemed to have turned out OK.
Heaven Keeps Records
In one of the Psalms that helps us identify with the sufferings of Christ or our sakes, the poet speaks of keeping records. His enemies may have chronicled their assaults on him keeping careful records of their treachery but, if so, there are lost to history. The records that remain are those kept in the Heavenly books. The Psalmist speaks of laments and tears as the recorded items in the files of the Kingdom of God.
King David and King Jesus
The endangered King David was sure that every blow struck against him was seen by His God and recorded there and somehow there was comfort to be found in this spiritual bookkeeping.
As in so many cases, the life of David forecast the sufferings of Christ, the Son of David. There were no anonymous fists in the courts of Pilate, no nameless hecklers in the crowds, and no lashes unaccounted under the Roman whips. Just as the tears of those who loved Him, the blows of those who hated Him were faithfully added to the record. His was an account that compounded interest with amazing speed, growing in severity and quantity until the record was full when Jesus was hammered to the cross.
“Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.”
No prayer of Jesus ever went without an answer.
- For every lie that was ever told, Jesus spoke overpowering truth.
- For every foray into lust, Jesus brought purity.
- For every hateful word that landed like a hammer blow against the innocent, the One Innocent Man took the repeated blows of evil until the record was expunged.
- For every child of God ground to dust beneath the feet of the proud, Jesus humbled Himself, suffering the weight of Satan’s own feet until the Savior’s heel was bruised.
In a matter of hours, the record was clear.
“It is finished!” Jesus cried from the cross.
For those who will repent of their sinful record and iniquitous hearts and who will believe in what Jesus has done, the record, the indictment, against them has been nailed to His cross.
Now, new records are kept in heaven:
- Deeds of mercy done in Jesus’ name,
- Acts of service/worship presented in the power of the Spirit, and
- The prayers of the saints, collected in holy vessels before the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
This Permanent Record brings a smile to the Savior’s face.
Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me; all day long they press their attack. My slanderers pursue me all day long; many are attacking me in their pride. When I am afraid, I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can mortal man do to me? All day long they twist my words; they are always plotting to harm me.
They conspire, they lurk, they watch my steps, eager to take my life. On no account let them escape; in your anger, O God, bring down the nations. Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll — are they not in your record?
Psalm 130:1-4 NIV
Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; O Lord, hear my voice. Let your ears be attentive to my cry for mercy. If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.
Then God made you alive with Christ, for he forgave all our sins. He canceled the record of the charges against us and took it away by nailing it to the cross. In this way, he disarmed the spiritual rulers and authorities. He shamed them publicly by his victory over them on the cross.
Revelation 5:7-8 NIV
He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne. And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.
(Adapted from the Pronouncement of Absolution from the Book of Common Prayer)
Almighty God has mercy on me. He forgives me all my sins through our Lord Jesus Christ. He strengthens me in all goodness, and by the power of the Holy Spirit keeps me in eternal life. Amen.
It Is Well with My Soul
Words: Horatio Spafford Music: Philip Bliss
1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
when sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul, it is well,
it is well with my soul
2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
let this blest assurance control,
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed his own blood for my soul.
3. My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
4. And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
the clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
even so, it is well with my soul.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved