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5. Closing Principles

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What are some closing principles that we should take from our study of angels?

1. We should always stand in awe of the amazing grace we have received in salvation.

Though there was an angelic fall first, God did not send his Son to die for the sins of fallen angels. He simply gave them justice and thereby displayed his holiness. But with humans, God chose to display his grace—his unmerited favor on those who did not deserve it. With that said, God has not only displayed his grace in saving humans but also in the fact that the church has become the body of Christ (Eph 1:21-22, 1 Cor 12:13), is in union with him (Eph 1:3), and therefore is a co-heir with him (Rom 8:17). Because of their relation to Christ, believers will one day have a higher status than angels (Eph 1:20-22, 2:6). In fact, in 1 Corinthians 6:3, Paul said that believers will one day judge angels. Again, this should make believers stand in awe of God’s great and gracious plan for sinful humans like us who have repented of our sins and followed Christ as our Lord and Savior.

2. We should be aware, encouraged, and thankful for the daily, unseen activities of angels on our behalf.

In Scripture, angels are mentioned as an encouragement for our daily lives. Again, Hebrews 1:14 says, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to serve those who will inherit salvation?” When we experience God’s supernatural protection in a specific situation or sustained good mental and physical health, we should realize that God probably used angels in the process. Psalm 91:10-12 says, “No harm will overtake you; no illness will come near your home. For he will order his angels to protect you in all you do. They will lift you up in their hands, so you will not slip and fall on a stone.” In addition, when God gives us special revelation into his Word or guidance for an important decision, it’s possible God used one of his messengers to reveal it to us, even as he did throughout biblical history.

Furthermore, every time we enter into worship, Scripture says we enter the heavenly Jerusalem where we worship with angels. Hebrews 12:22-24 says,

But you have come to Mount Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the assembly and congregation of the firstborn, who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous, who have been made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks of something better than Abel’s does.

When others miss worship or are not passionate in worship, we should be encouraged by the fact that in the spiritual realm, unseen angels sing and worship God with all their hearts along with us.

Also, it is possible that God may send angels to visit us to confirm our obedience or disobedience to his commands. With Abraham, angels visited his house, no doubt, to confirm his obedience to God and bless him (Gen 18). After, they visited Sodom to confirm their immorality and save Lot and his family (Gen 19). No doubt, God may at times do the same with us. The author of Hebrews warns believers about this:

Brotherly love must continue. Do not neglect hospitality, because through it some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those in prison as though you were in prison with them, and those ill-treated as though you too felt their torment.

Hebrews 13:1-3

Finally, the presence of angels should also be an encouragement to not sin or be unfaithful in our duties to God. It should always be remembered that angels watch not only our obedience to God but also our disobedience to him. With this in mind, Paul challenged Timothy to faithfully practice church discipline in the church, even when it included disciplining erring elders. In 1 Timothy 5:21, he said: “Before God and Christ Jesus and the elect angels, I solemnly charge you to carry out these commands without prejudice or favoritism of any kind.” Wayne Grudem’s insights on this are helpful:

Moreover, we should be aware that angels are watching our obedience or disobedience to God through the day. Even if we think our sins are done in secret and bring grief to no one else, we should be sobered by the thought that perhaps even hundreds of angels witness our disobedience and are grieved. On the other hand, when we are discouraged and think that our faithful obedience to God is witnessed by no one and is an encouragement to no one, we can be comforted by the realization that perhaps hundreds of angels witness our lonely struggle, daily “longing to look” at the way Christ’s great salvation finds expression in our lives.1

3. We should consider angels as part of our spiritual family—as co-servants and worshipers of God.

Though angels are not part of the church—the body of Christ—they are part of the family of God, since they are called “sons of God” throughout the Old Testament (Job 1:6, 2:1). In Ephesians 3:14-15, when Paul says, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named,” he may be talking about God as Father of all created beings—both human and angelic.2 Angels are part of God’s family and, therefore, our family. Throughout eternity we will serve and worship God together.

4. We should seek to model them in faithful obedience and worship to God.

As mentioned throughout the study, Christ taught that we should pray, “may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). When considering how God’s will is done in heaven, certainly this applies to the activity of angels. No matter how mundane or great the task, angels obey swiftly, joyfully, and in a worshipful manner. We must model them in how we serve God and pray that others would do the same.

5. We should never worship, pray to, or seek angels.

Because angels are so awesome, powerful, and glorious, there can be a temptation to worship them. In Revelation 19, John was tempted to worship an angel because of how glorious he was. Revelation 19:10 says:

So I threw myself down at his feet to worship him, but he said, “Do not do this! I am only a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony about Jesus. Worship God, for the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

Likewise, some Christian groups have errantly prayed to or worshiped angels. Apparently, there were false teachers in Colosse teaching others to pray to and worship angels. In Colossians 2:19, Paul said:

Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind.

Christ is the only mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5). There is no need to pray to or seek prayers from angels. In fact, because Jews tended to overly exalts angels, the writer of Hebrews focused on how superior God’s Son is. In Hebrews 1:5-14, he said:

For to which of the angels did God ever say, “You are my son! Today I have fathered you”? And in another place he says, “I will be his father and he will be my son.” But when he again brings his firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all the angels of God worship him!” And he says of the angels, “He makes his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire,” but of the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, and a righteous scepter is the scepter of your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. So God, your God, has anointed you over your companions with the oil of rejoicing.” And, “You founded the earth in the beginning, Lord, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish, but you continue. And they will all grow old like a garment, and like a robe you will fold them up and like a garment they will be changed, but you are the same and your years will never run out.” But to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to serve those who will inherit salvation?

Christ is far superior to any angel because, as God, he created angels. Christ made angels to not only worship and serve him but to serve believers—those who will inherit salvation. We should never worship, pray to, or even seek angels. We should worship, pray to, and seek God (Rev 19:10).

6. We should be cautious about receiving false doctrine from angels.

In Galatians 1:8, Paul warns of this when he said, “But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell!” He warns of this because it is a very real possibility—not that a holy angel would ever teach false doctrine, but a demonic angel would. In 2 Corinthians 11:4, Paul said, “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

This has happened throughout history in various ways. Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, claimed to have received the insights in the book of Mormon from an angel. Many of the teachings in the book of Mormon contradict Scripture and, therefore, could not have come from a holy angel. Likewise, Muhammad, the founding prophet of Islam, claimed to have received the teachings in the Koran from an angel. We can be sure any insight or revelation from God will never contradict Scripture.

Conclusion

Praise God for his creation of angels! The writer of Hebrews says, “Let all the angels of God worship him!” and “He makes his angels spirits and his ministers a flame of fire” (Heb 1:6-7). Thank you, Lord, for our fellow servants who worship and serve you perfectly. Give us the grace to do the same! Amen!

Reflection

  1. What stood out most in the reading and why?
  2. In what ways should we be aware, encouraged, and thankful for angels and their activities on our behalf?
  3. In what ways should we be cautious of angels or our view of them?
  4. What other questions or applications did you take from the reading?

Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown

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1 Grudem, W. A. (2004). Systematic theology: an introduction to biblical doctrine (pp. 405–406). Leicester, England; Grand Rapids, MI: Inter-Varsity Press; Zondervan Pub. House.

2 MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1929). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Related Topics: Angelology

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