An Introduction to the Study of Angels -- Part 1

The church has remained strangely silent about angels.
In his best-selling book on angels, Billy Graham wrote that he had never heard
a sermon on angels, despite having read of "literally thousands" of personal accounts
of people seeing these amazing beings.

In fact, fallen angels ---Satan and his demons excite more curiosity
in church pulpits and class rooms than heavenly angels.
We must have a biblical understanding of angels.
There is a great danger to become susceptible to the influence of the devil.
The devil can ensnare us as easily through "angelism" as he can through materialism
or sexual lust or the hunger for power.

We are warned in 2 Corinthians 11:14
that "Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light."
Down through the ages the Devil has had some of his greatest triumphs
in the disguise of angels.
In the year 610, the oppressive religion of Islam was born when Muhammad received
the contents of the Koran in a series of visions from someone he believed
to be the angel, Gabriel.

Twelve centuries later, the deceptive sect known as Mormonism arose
when a supposed angel called "Moroni" led Joseph Smith to write the Book of Mormon.
It was this particular kind of danger that motivated Paul to caution the Galatian believers
against "even an angel from heaven" coming to preach another "gospel." (Galatians 1:8 )

We must remember all that purports to be angelic is not necessarily Christian.
Secular books like "Ask Your Angels" are immersed in the occult and New Age thinking.
A stronger belief in angels is no guarantee of a greater understanding of God's truth.
In fact, if we are not very careful just the opposite will be true.

So, there is a danger associated with a preoccupation with angels,
So, let us consider some warnings that we should heed if we pursue an interest in them.
We must not ignore God's Word and create or reshape angels according to our own fancy.

Most of the angelic representations we see today in paintings and gift books
or as lapel pins or china figurines are merely the product of human imagination.
They are not at all what God's Word says about angels.

For example, whenever gender is indicated in reference to angels in the Bible,
it is always masculine.
And angels do not  ever appear in the Bible as an animal or bird,
as we sometimes see in angelic folklore these days.
And, according to the Bible, angels are a created class of beings,
and they are not spiritually progressed humans.
In other words, people don't "evolve" or transform into angels when they die.

One popular children's book on angels includes this quote:
"Heaven is a place where girls get turned into angels...
and then God tries to do the best He can with the boys
."
Well, that may be cute, but the Bible never says anything like this.

So, we need to know what the Bible has to say about angels.
The statements we find in the Bible regarding angels cannot be explained
in naturalistic terms.

If you believe that God is who He said He is, and that He possesses the power
attributed to Him, then the things that the Bible says to us about angels will
have meaning for you.

With the rising tide of books and television programs on demonism, spiritism, astrology,
and fortune-telling, a study of angels is tremendously important.

We must learn what the Bible has to teach about angels.

I never heard a sermon on angels, but I believe that they exist and that as Christians
we need to know all about them.
If someone asked you what your thoughts were about angels, what would you
be able to say about them.

Because this study has been neglected, we need to know what God's Word teaches us
about angels.
It could be that very little emphasis has been on angels because many probably believe
that they are irrelevant.
Many might say, "So what?
What if there are angels?
What difference will this make to me?
If I believed in angels would it make a difference in the way I keep my house,
drive my car, work at my business or serve Christ in the church?"

It could be that many feel the study of angels to be irrelevant so they have never seen
the need of such a study.
I personally believe this is a tremendously important subject.
There are some reasons that this is true.

The basic reason for believing in angels is that the Bible teaches it.

There are 108 places in the Old Testament where angels are mentioned
and 165 places in the New Testament.

Angels are seen all through sacred history from the earliest records of the history of man.
They are found in the book of Genesis, and all the way through the New Testament era
and through the writings of the book of the Revelation.

There is no point in sacred history where there was not a strong, firm conviction
concerning angels.
From the time God placed an angel at the entrance of the garden to keep Adam and Eve
from returning, biblical history has demonstrated a belief in angels.
Their activities in heaven and on earth in the past are recorded in both Testaments,
and also their future manifestation is prophetically revealed.

Angels are going to have a great deal to do with the end of the world, the second coming
of Christ, and the judgment.
They're going to be the reapers for Jesus said so.
They will separate the sheep and goats, the tares and the wheat.

The New Testament also gives great emphasis to the ministry of angels.
In the New Testament there was a religious group called the Sadducees,
who rejected the reality or presence of angels as we read in Acts 23:8.
The Sadducees of Jesus' day have their counterpart in the theological liberals of our day
in that they rejected the doctrine of angelology.
The Sadducees were probably the first theological liberals, but their views
have continued to this day.

We must come to see the clear teachings of the Word of God on this tremendously
important subject.
We believe it beause the Bible teaches it.
Jesus taught us about their ministry.
This should be the main reason for believers believing in angels if we are truly followers
of Jesus Christ and believe the Word of God.
Jesus spoke many times about angels and always associated them with His own glory.
Anyone who denies the existence of angels charge the Lord Jesus Christ with falsehood.
They accuse Him of being a liar.

Either there are angels or there are not.
Jesus taught that there were.
If there are no angels, Jesus was deceived.
Such a charge against Jesus implies His fallibility and rejects His deity.
It Jesus told a lie, then He was not sinlessly perfect, He was not God in human flesh
with all knowledge, but He was only a man just like you or me.
So if we reject a belief in angels, we also reject Jesus Christ the Son of God.

Another very important reason to believe in angels is because of their earthly ministry.
Hebrews 1: 14 is a Scripture passage that every Christian should be remember.
In this passage, we are told very clearly that angels have an earthly ministry.
It is clearly stated that their assistance is given to every the individual believer.

If these reasons are valid, and they are, then why is it that we don't talk more about angels?
Some believe that it is due to our affluence.
They believe that our affluence has adversely affected our study on the subject.
They would say that this has kept many of us from making a detailed study
of the Word of God in general.
So they don't think they need it.
They don’t think that they have any need that they cannot supply ourselves.

The present prosperity of the church leads us to indifference toward the guardianship of angels.
Who needs angels?
We have money, we think.
Like the church in Laodicea, far too many of us have that attitude.
They say, "I am rich and increased with goods and in need of nothing."
It was against that church that Jesus Christ gave one of the most bitter denunciations
recorded in all of literature, sacred or secular.
They thought they had it made.

In the past years the fires of martyrdom burned throughout the centuries.
If you and I were gripped by the fear that when we would leave our church,
we would be apprehended by the police or by unbelieving rebels,
or that we would be incarcerated in some prison or jail, and that we might possibly
be called upon to give our lives for the rare privilege of being in a worship service,
then we would believe in guardian angels.

We would believe in the province of God, and we would defend upon Him
far more than we presently do.
Because we are not faced with martyrdom, we don't believe we have the need
of depending on angels because we think we have everything.

We are in the majority.
Christians in America are a large part of the population.
There are more of us than any other religious group, so we don't fear things
that could possibly become real dangers.

We don't depend on the angels of God, and we don't look to the ministry of God
of angels on our behalf.
So probably, our affluence is part of the reason for it.
Enemies of Christianity live in coexistence with those who are Christians.

But we need to come to the realization of our real needs.
This realization involves a distinction.
The name, "angel", both in Hebrew and Greek means, messenger.
The Greek word, "angelos," designates an office rather than designating a person.
In the Hebrew the word "angel" is the same name of the last book
of the Old Testament -- Malachi.
That is the Hebrew word for angel.
Malachi means, "my angel or my messenger."
Malachi was God's messenger.

Agelos is a messenger.
This is an office.
It is a function.

We must realize the difference between the ministry of the Holy Spirit
and the ministry of angels.
They are not the same.

The Holy Spirit has been given the peculiar responsibility of interpreting and revealing
Jesus Christ and imparting the truth of God.
The Holy Spirit reveals Jesus to you and me.
He is the One who causes us to know that we are lost.
He is the One who makes us know that only Jesus can save us,
and that we cannot save ourselves.
The Holy Spirit brings this conviction.

He is the divine Interpreter, providing both revelation and information in spiritual matters.
The Holy Spirit functions in spiritual matters.

We learn that angels have been given the administration of physical things.
We can look at a few instances in the Old Testament.

One of those was when Hagar was fainting in the wilderness, an angel appeared
as the Lord's captain and provided a sword.

In the New Testament, when the apostle Peter was in prison, it was an angel
that took off the iron bolts from the prison gate, and led him out of prison to safety.

Again in the Old Testament, it was an angel who appeared to Gideon making a sign
out of the kid, the cakes, and the broth, which he had prepared,
but it was the Spirit of God that followed up in Gideon's case,
and qualified Gideon for his work that God had called him to do.

Later, we will have more to say about the ministry of angels to Jesus Christ.
We remember that our Lord was led by the Spirit, taught by the Spirit,
filled with the Spirit, but He was fed physically by angels, and strengthened by angels.
Jesus was led up into the wilderness by the Spirit to be tempted.
But after the temptations, when the Devil left the scene of the battle for the season,
it was the angels who came and ministered to His physical needs. (Matthew 4:1,11)

The New Testament teaches that the ministry of angels is a physical ministry.

Their watch-care has brought us through many narrow escapes,
and those times when we looked death in the face and we were miraculously spared
 -- our angels intervened.
That physical ministry, that watch-care, that protection is the ministry of angels
according to the teachings of the Word of God.

Another interesting distinction that we need to see is that the realization of the presence
of angels involves the difference between the law and the gospel.
The law, according to Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19, and Hebrews 2:2, was spoken by angels.
It was engraved on material or on physical tablets of stone.
Here again, the ministry is material or physical.

But the gospel which is ministered by the Holy Spirit and revealed to the heart of man,
exalting Jesus Christ through His ministry, is not written on physical tablets of stone
like the Ten Commandments.
The gospel is written on the spiritual tables of the heart.

Second Corinthians 3:3 teaches this truth.
The ministry of the Holy Spirit is a spiritual ministry as the Interpreter who reveals Jesus.
The ministry of angels is a ministry to the physical and material needs of humanity.

With 273 references to angels found in the Bible every serious student of the Word of God
must come to know and appreciate this subject and have a doctrine of angels.
First Peter 3:22 will be helpful in doing that.
1 Peter 3:22 says of Jesus: 
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers
being made subject unto him
.”
It is there that we see that our Lord has authority over angels and everything else.

This study basically involves the study of the Lordship of Jesus Christ,
who has dominion over principalities, over powers, over things past,
over things present and things yet to come.

Jesus Christ exercises total Lordship over the ministry of angels in your life and mine.

 

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