People are obsessed with the angelic world today. There are angel books, angel clubs, angel jewels, and angel TV shows. But what does the Bible say about angels? What does God want us to know about these mysterious creatures? Join Stephen in today's message and find out.
How many of you have wondered who the other flying creatures are?
There are cherubim and seraphim which fly about doing the bidding of sovereign God – or simply hovering around His throne, even at this very moment, simply chanting, Holy, Holy, Holy.
There are also the spirits of deceased believers who have, so to speak, flown to heaven, capable even now of transcending space. And what about the future glorified bodies of believers who, like Christ will be able to materialize and dematerialize at will – as Christ walked through a closed door, yet ate fish – we also will be able to be in one place and then “fly” to another point in the blink of an eye. Those of us who believe in Christ will be able to travel without needing to walk between the new heaven and the new earth, enjoying eternal service and worship of God, so the Book of Revelation reveals.
SO why don’t you greet those around you and introduce yourself with “Hello, I’m one of God’s future flying creatures!”
There isn’t any doubt that the subject of the spirit world has produced unbelievable fascination and an entire industry of speculation. People everywhere are fascinated, including myself, with the existence and role of angels and demons. More people are talking about heaven, angels and the spirit world than ever before.
Well over 100 books are currently in print on the subject of angels and the afterlife. Recently, five of the top ten books on a list of religious best-sellers were books dealing with the subject of angels.
One book that has topped the charts for many months is a how-to guide instructing people on methods for contacting angels, communicating with them, and even receiving guidance from them.
A well known publisher lists all these titles in its catalogue:
Angel Letters Angel Power Angel’s Bidding, Angels and Aliens, The Angels Weep Angels Over Their Shoulder The Angels Within Us Ask Your Angel and An Angel to Watch Over Me, This is only the listings under the letter “A”
Television specials like, “Touched by an Angel”, Angels: the Mysterious Messengers; Angels: Beyond the Light, have communicated fiction about angels that have become, more or less, gospel truth.
According to a report in Time magazine, 69 percent believed in the existence of angels. 46 percent believed they had a guardian angel (my wife believes I have one, he rides around on the front bumper of my pickup truck)
There is an angel-watch network in New Jersey which exists to monitor angelic comings and goings and has a bi-monthly journal with thousands of subscribers.
In addition there is the Angel Collector’s Club of America which exchanges everything from angel cookie jars to angel food recipes. They hold a national convention every two years
Seminars on angels are packing rooms in cities and rural retreats
Angelmania is in full swing. If you talked about the existence of angels 30 years ago to the average person on the street, they would have thought you a little off beat; but today, to suggest that spirit beings do not exist or have any interplay with human beings, you would be considered, now, out of touch and close minded.
Books, seminars, cassettes and pamphlets, now considered mainstream, promise the following:
- Through the easy techniques presented in this book, you can learn to access and attune to beings such as guardian angels, nature spirits and archangels.
- Another promises: Everyone has a Spirit Guide or guardian angel who assists him in keeping on a chosen path. This cassette tape helps you get in touch with yours.
- This book enables us to begin to open our hearts to these joyful and comforting protectors, so we can raise our consciousness to a new dimension.
- Still another more specifically promises to teach you, through a combination of your birth sign and a specific colored candles, how to obtain the magic and wisdom you want in life by calling upon the angles. This book contains many spiritual secrets that will guide the reader to success and power.
- Then another book promises to teach you nine specific ways your personal angel protects you, how to call out to your guardian angel, and how to get your angel to answer your cry for help and assistance in matters big and small. You will also find out about the Angelic Hierarchy and learn the actual language of the Angelic Kingdom.
Much of this, as one author commented, is little more than occult divination, sorcery and New Age mysticism.
Trouble is, there is confusion and fog within the church as well as in society.
Ask the average Protestant about angels and you’ll get a mixed bag review. Major denominational leaders are currently debating the eternality of hell and the future existence of spirits. Many actually deny the literal personality of Satan and are saying instead that he is simply a metaphor for all that evil – he really doesn’t exist.
Others within the more evangelical world have been caught up in a form of animism. The belief that spirits and spirit power are attached to physical things.
Neil Anderson, a popular evangelical author has gone so far as to say that the evil spirits can be unknowingly passed through generations and he encouraged people not to adopt children unless they could be present at the time of birth and bind the evil spirit with a special prayer.
Believers are focusing on binding spirit beings that hold territories under their sway – it isn’t unusual anymore to hear that the strategies of classic evangelism and intentional missions are being set aside in favor of simply praying down the demons that bind some particular neighborhood or city or state or country.
Then again, across the reformation line, Roman Catholicism has a confusing history regarding angels and demons.
Several more recent popes have encouraged prayer to guardian angels. Pope John addressed one group and said, “We particularly ask our guardian angel to help us in our daily ministry.”
Former monks and scholars such as Francis Borgia and Bernard of Clairvaux encouraged devotion and prayer to angels.
The new Catechism of the Catholic Church writes, “From infancy to death human life is surrounded by their watchful care and intercession. Beside each believer stands an angel as protector and shepherd leading him to life.”
I suppose, if this is true then David got it wrong and should have written in Psalm 23, “The guardian angel is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Now understand, my purpose is not to offend some Catholics and mainline Protestants and New Agers – my purpose is to offend everybody.
Better put, I want to trouble and provoke everybody into critical thinking that takes the Bible alone as the authority for what we believe and how we behave.
I happen to believe it’s a spiritual jungle out there. If all we do is listen to the latest stories and get wrapped up in the latest fads, we’ll get lost in that jungle, disoriented about our Christian walk and our spiritual heritage.
It’s interesting to me that scripture gives two very strong warnings to believers specifically related to angels and demons:
In Galatians 1:6. Paul writes, “I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7. which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!”
2 Corinthians 11:14. “Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”
Of course he does – he is darkness, not light, so he disguises himself as spiritual enlightenment; he is not truth, he is the Father of lies, so he disguises his lies with kernels of truth.
How many people would be fooled or tempted to follow him if he showed up in a red suit and carried a pitchfork and had a long pointed tail?
Yet how many people have been fooled by those who claim to have seen some figure or form or vision of light and thus assumed it must be from God.
Paul warned Pastor Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons.”
If there was ever a need for Biblical investigation, it is today.
The believer needs to know the truth about the spirit world as well as have a Biblical perspective about that unseen world:
What do angels do?
Do demons have unrestrained authority?
How does the believer engage in spiritual warfare?
Do angels intervene or interact with human beings
These are only some of the questions I want to answer in our study over these next few weeks.
In fact, I want to do something a little different – if you have a question about this subject, please write it down on a card and put it in the offering plate – or email me at the church – or call my office and my secretary will write your question down – and over the course of these weeks, I will answer your questions, as time allows.
The first question that I want to answer is this: “What is it about angels and the spirit world that is so alluring and fascinating to society at large?”
First of all, there is this promise that angels provide a new source of additional wisdom
This isn’t really new – it’s just continually repackaged deception. Whether it’s the angel Moroni appearing to Joseph Smith with new revelation about God or first century mystics who were called Gnostics, believing they had special gnosis – or knowledge from God. They even produced secret books that gave initiates the names of demons and angels who could stop them. Rituals, magic and taboo were the keys to the door of enlightenment and angels appeared to be the guides and teachers and friends.
The Apostle Paul would call it myths and doctrines of demons.
There is a woman near Calgary, Alberta who claims to have a remarkable gift. She says if you tell her your full name, she can go into meditation, focus on a candle, and have a vision of your guardian angel. She will get a message for you from the angel which is usually a few pagers long and she will also sketch a picture of the angel, which is yours to keep. You thus get to find out what your guardian angel looks like and have a direct word of wisdom from him as well. The woman charges $200 per vision.
An author writes, “What could be more comforting in an age of broken families, economic uncertainty, rising crime and loss of personal worth? “Love yourself unconditionally, because we love you and we are always with you,” our angels tell us. Angels make no demands except that we accept ourselves, take us nowhere but to the path of greater strength and self-fulfillment, and predict nothing for our planet except the dawn of a new age of understanding and spirituality. What is there not to like? How could it possibly hurt to have a picture of your angel as a reminder of your spiritual friend?
Don’t worry about doctrinal issues. Don’t fret over inconsistencies with the messages they deliver and the gospel of Christ.
Read the material of the new age as it relates to angels and you’ll discover that whether you are Jewish or Muslim or Mormon or Christian or Hindu or into Native American nature worship – the angels don’t care – in fact they will quote from the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Koran and the Kabbalah.
The angels are here to help us manage life and planet earth.
In the best seller, Ask Your Angels, earth itself is considered empowered by an angel named Gaia – she is referred to as “Earth Angel” – not to be confused with that golden oldie – “Earth Angel”. This version of Earth Angel teaches us about nature spirits and the noble intelligence of trees. The angels will give wisdom to mankind in order to put the earth in order.
The truth is – all of this is not new wisdom – it is old mythology.
Go all the back centuries ago where the Trilogy “The Books of Enoch” were bestsellers.
Mystics, over the course of the 3rd and 4th centuries compiled their belief that Old Testament Enoch had a special relationship with the angels. When Enoch was taken up to heaven, he passed through 10 heavens. He saw various angels going about their duties. He saw the 200 angels who govern the stars as well those who kept the treasuries of snow and ice. He also saw the 150,000 who accompany the sun in it’s trek across the sky and the weird flying spirits that dwell in the path of the sun. Eventually Enoch reached the 10th heaven where he was taken into the presence of God. Then the angel Vrevoil came and taught Enoch in all things – he didn’t stop teaching for 30 days and 30 nights – Enoch was capable of not only listening but writing it all down and came to be 366 books.”
These books are sources of new wisdom in addition to scripture.
One book on angels claims to be a “primer for learning how to talk to celestials” and says it will become a “textbook for your life.”
So the new wisdom of the 21st century isn’t new stuff – it’s old fantasy dressed in different clothes.
And the unsuspecting person who is intrigued by angels is often pulled into a web of fantasy and occultism and speculation where the Bible is set aside in favor of new wisdom – a new gospel – a new path.
The second reason angels are fascinating to the human mind and heart is found in the belief that angels provide a new promise of additional assistance
Again, this isn’t new. Praying to angels for assistance became so rampant within the church during the fourth century that the Council of Laodicea passed a resolution forbidding anyone to pray to angels.
Today, angels are credited with all sorts of miraculous interventions and even emotions.
One author gushes, “If you are feeling joy, you are feeling the angels.” There are angels for every occasion, including “healers, worry extinguishers and prosperity brokers. And if you cannot find the kind of angel you want on the list – no need to worry – there are designer angels who can help with almost any task you assign; some angels specialize in education. When you suddenly have a good idea, I hope you are not so vain as to suppose that you actually thought of it yourself. Not at all? And angel gave it to you.”
This is paganism with a pretty face on it. Pagan religions believed that everything had a god associated with it. There were gods of famine, luck, war, disease, good crops, protection, conception, child birth, death and so on!
The angelmania of today has merely changed it from gods to angels and demons.
As paganism infiltrates the church, you have the corresponding belief that while everything good has an angel to thank, everything bad or sinful is the work of demons.
So we have everything from the demon of cancer to the demon of obesity to the demon of cigarettes to the demon of unbelief to the demon of sickness.
Exorcise the demon and the believer experiences special freedom from bondage.
Books in evangelical bookstores contain special prayers for the believer to pray which serve as little more than religious incantations that bind these troubling demons and provides special freedom.
And if you need assistance along the way – don’t forget the angels are there to help.
One author described how one angel had 119 clients and that each client lived in a different galaxy. The stubborn humans tend to ignore their angel guardians, he complains, but this is not true for people on other planets. In fact, the dolphins and whales on earth stay in close contact with their angel friends.
But angels are there when you need assistance!
Thirdly, there is the attraction that angels can provide us with a new style of religion
Listen to this important statement by one author. “Those who focus on the spirit world naturally begin to associate every event with a spirit. From this arises the desire to know how to invoke the proper spirit for every need and also to learn the ritual that will thwart hurtful spirits. This is not just a phenomenon of the ancient world but is the dark underside of centering one’s life on the spirit world. I believe that this kind of religion is emerging from the present fascination with angels.”
And what does the religion of “Touched by an angel” theology produce?
A theology about spirituality and not about Jesus Christ. A religion that supposedly reveres God, but never mentions the name of His Son.
Time magazine reports, “For those who choke too easily on God and his rules; angels are the handy compromise. All fluff and meringue, kind, nonjudgmental. Like aspirin, they are available to everyone.”
Joan Webster Anderson said, “The search is on for spirituality, but without God.”
So, angels provide all the wisdom and assistance and religious connection you’ll ever need.
But when we begin to study what the scriptures say angels, demons and other flying creatures in the spirit world, there are actually a number of benefits that come from a proper, Biblical understanding:
1) Our study will increase our appreciation of a sovereign God
We will discover that angels do His bidding and demons are puppets on His string.
2) Our series of studies will provide true comfort for the believer
Comfort for the Christian is not found in the availability of an angel, but the power of the Spirit of God who indwells the believer.
3) Our study will magnify the patience of God in the world
God could easily judge the world all at once. Yet He waits – allowing evil men and demons alike to spite Him and hate Him and seek to undermine Him and those who belong to Him.
4) Our study will remind the believer of spiritual warfare
What is true warfare – and especially, how is the church distorting true spiritual warfare as taught in the scriptures.
What are the dangers of taking fictional accounts like, “Frank Perritti's” and treating them like theology.
I’ve read his works and they are very interesting fiction – trouble is, a large portion of the church has bought into them as if they were subjects of theology – and now practice prayer missions for more angels and prayer against territorial spirits, and on and on.
5) Finally, our study will reveal an example of genuine worship
Imagine being created to do nothing more than hover about the throne of God, singing at all times, Holy, Holy, Holy.
What submission and utter reverence for our magnificent God.
So often we go to God to get more from Him, rather than to get more of Him. We are more interested in what’s in His hand than we are His hand.
As we begin our study, I want you to be prepared to have your thinking challenged: if it isn’t already.
- Angels probably aren’t who you think they are.
The biblical accounts of angels find them terrifying people. In fact, there first words are usually something like, “Don’t be afraid. . .fear not!”
Furthermore, they always seem to be in a hurry. Several times they conversation starts with, “Hurry and get up.”
To Peter – “Get up . . .” To Paul – “Get up. . .”
C.S. Lewis writes about how insipid our concept of angels has become over the years. He writes, “Angelico’s angels carry in their face the gesture and peace and authority of Heaven. Later came the chubby and infantile nudes of Raphael; finally the soft, slim, feminine angels of nineteenth century art. But in the Scriptures, the visitation of an angel was always alarming; it has to begin by saying, “Fear not.” The current angels look as if they are about to say, “There, there.”
Yet, in the Bible, twice, when John the apostle was touring heaven, as recorded in Revelation, he encounters an angel and immediately falls flat on his face. The angel has to tell him to get up and stand on his feet.
One Old Testament account has one angel alone responsible for eliminating nearly 200,000 enemy soldiers, single-handidly.
In the New Testament, when they came to arrest Christ in the garden, Peter pulled out his sword and you remember how he cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. After Jesus healed the servant by reconnecting the ear – he said, “Peter, didn’t you know that if I wanted to I could call 12 legions of angels to come?” There were 6,000 Romans soldiers in a legion – thus the Lord is referring to bringing 72,000 angels at the snap of his finger! If each of those angels could do what one angel in the Old Testament did – those angels could eliminate 13 billion people at the drop of a hat.
Most Christians I hear are wondering if Christianity is gonna make it. We’re just so outnumbered. Whose counting the angels?!
2) And that leads me to say, secondly: you probably couldn’t count the angles if you tried.
The sheer number of angels speaks of God’s immensity and glory.
When John saw the throne of God and angels around it singing praise to the Lamb – he wrote that there were 10,000 times 10,000 and 1,000’s of 1,000’s around the throne.
One author wrote, “To put that into perspective, the average football stadium in America holds about 50,000 people It would take 2,000 stadiums of that size to hold the angels John saw. For in his tour of heaven he saw more than 100 million angels.
- And note this, thirdly, angels are intensely curious about the
gospel. The Bible says in I Peter 1:12 “In these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven – things into which angels long to look.”
The Greek words could be rendered, “The angels stretch out their necks – they bend downward to look into these things.” They are fascinated with Biblical truth!
4) They are incredibly excited about redemption.
Jesus Christ said, in Luke 15:10, “I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”
Incredible celebration and joy over one person who experiences redemption. Why?
Perhaps because they understand by sight the glory of God and the implications of eternity. They know that one sinner has been redeemed from banishment from God’s glory into an eternity of worship in heaven.
5) In spite of their joy over the redeemed, remember, the angels will never have a personal testimony of redemption.
Christ did not die for the angels – angels do not trust Christ as Savior – they will not reign as joint heirs of Christ – will talk about that more later.
6) Angels should never replace our dependence on God.
Has the Lord used angels as ministering agents in the lives of believers? Yes. We’ll explore how in future sessions.
But we are never told in Scripture to pray, “Lord send an angel” But, “Lord, reveal your power and your presence on our behalf.”
Sometimes, I believe, our Lord does use His angel servants to do His bidding on behalf of His sons and daughters.
From the Paton’s amazing story as missionaries a century ago – where they were encamped on the beach of an island, populated by cannibals who had already killed visitors to their island. The Paton’s were never bothered by them, only to find out some time later as many of the tribesmen came to faith in Christ, that that first night they had indeed come to the beach to kill and eat them. But when they advanced upon the tiny camp, suddenly warriors appeared and surrounded the tent of the missionaries, each of them holding flaming swords.
But then there’s the story of some missionaries who did die. But an amazing testimony that came to light in just the last few years which came from an old Auca Indian who had taken part in the killing of Jim Elliott and the others along that river bank. These Indians, who had come to faith in Christ, began to talk openly one evening to Steve Saint, now the grown son of Nate Saint. He talked about the fact that after all of the men were killed – men who had earlier decided not to use their weapons even if it meant they would die at the Indian’s hands – only after they were all speared to death that the Indians began to hear music and looked above the tree-line to see a multitude of “cowodi” – the same word for missionary. They didn’t recognize the music until some time later when the missionaries played recordings of gospel choirs singing the hymns of the faith. Without a doubt, there at that river bank, the angels had come to welcome home the martyrs with singing.