A STUDY ON ANGELS
1. They have been the featured subject of national news magazines, countless books, and several television shows. They have even surfaced on the Internet. You can find them on postcards, T-shirts, calendars and sunglasses. In fact, entire seminars, newsletters, and boutiques have been devoted to these beings. There's no doubt about it: America is experiencing a wave of "angel-mania."
2. Time Magazine conducted a poll among American adults on the subject of angels and found some interesting results:
a. 69% confirmed their belief in the existence of angels.
b. 46% acknowledged their belief in a personal guardian angel.
c. 32% claimed to have felt an angelic presence at some time in their lives.
3. People are fascinated with angels.
WE WILL EXAMINE WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES US ABOUT ANGELS.
I. FIRST, LET'S LOOK AT THE NATURE OF ANGELS.
1. Angels are created beings.
a. The fact of their creation is brought out in (Psalm 148). There the psalmist calls upon all in the celestial heavens, including the angels, to praise God. The reason given is, “For He commanded and they were created” (Ps. 148:5).
b. The time of their creation is never stated in the Bible, however, we know they were created before the creation of the world. From the book of Job we are told that they were present when the earth was created (Job 38:4-7) so their creation was prior to the creation of the earth as described in Genesis one.
2. Angels are spirit creatures.
a. Angels are spirit beings. Though at times they have been given the ability to reveal themselves in the form of human bodies as in (Genesis 18:3), they are described as “spirits” in (Hebrews 1:14). This suggests they do not have material bodies as we do. For that reason, they do not function as human beings in terms of marriage and procreation (Mark 12:25) nor are they subject to death (Luke 20:36).
3. As created spirit beings, angels are mere creatures.
a. They are not divine and are not to be worshipped (Rev. 19:10; 22:9). As a separate order of creatures, they are both distinct from human beings and higher than humans with powers far beyond our abilities in this present age (1 Cor. 6:3; Heb. 1:14; 2:7). But as creatures they are limited in their powers, knowledge, and activities (1 Peter 1:11-12; Rev. 7:1). Like all of creation, angels are under God’s authority and subject to His judgment (1 Cor. 6:3; Matt. 25:41).
II. SECOND, THERE ARE TWO TYPES OF ANGELS--GOOD AND EVIL.
1. While all the angels were originally created holy and without sin, there was a rebellion by Satan (a fallen angel), who, being lifted up by his own beauty, sought to exalt himself above God and rebelled. In his rebellion, he took with him one-third of the angels (Rev. 12:4).
a. This rebellion is probably described for us in (Isaiah 14:12-14) and (Ezekiel 28:15) embodied in the kings of Babylon and Tyre. Prophesying of a future angelic conflict, John wrote, “And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back” (Rev. 12:7). In other words, there are good angels and there are evil angels.
2. As it is clear from (Revelation 12:7) and many other passages, the leader of these fallen angels (or demons as they are also called) is Satan (Matt. 12:25-27). Satan, the leader of unholy angels, is a liar, a murderer, and a thief (John 10:10). As God’s great adversary, He hates God and God’s people. Scripture teaches us that he prowls about like a roaring lion in search of those whom he may devour. As an angelic being, Satan, along with his demon-like angels who operate under his authority, is supernaturally powerful and brilliant, and he uses all his powers against humanity.
3. So we need to realize that there are good angels and bad angels.
III. THIRD, LET'S LOOK AT THE MINISTRY OF THE GOOD ANGELS.
1. The book of Hebrews calls angels "ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation" (Heb. 1:14). Angels minister to us in many ways, and I'd like for us to look at some of their ministries.
A. ANGELS PROTECT.
1. Perhaps no aspect of their ministry to man is more talked about than the idea of a “guardian angel.” Over the years, I have been asked, “Does everyone have a guardian angel?” While no passage specifically states that every person has a guardian angel, the Bible does teach that angels do guard or protect as (Psalm 91:11) declares.
2. In addition, (Matthew 18:10) may suggest a guardian angel because of the statement Christ made regarding little children when He said, “See that you do not look down on one of these little ones. For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in heaven.”
3. Angels care for and protect believers from physical harm and give believers strength to overcome difficulties.
4. This world is a dangerous place, and angels can provide supernatural protection. (Daniel 6) tells the story of how an angel shut the mouths of the lions when Daniel was thrown into their den.
A young lady named Myra worked in the inner-city ministry of Teen Challenge in Philadelphia. One neighborhood gang liked to terrorize anyone who tried to enter the Teen Challenge building, and they harassed Myra as well. One night, when she was alone in the building with the gang banging on the door, she felt she should continue to try to reach out to them with the gospel of Jesus. As she opened the door, she breathed a prayer for protection. The boys suddenly stopped their shouting, looked at each other, turned and left quietly. Myra had no idea why.
Later on, as the staff people were able to build relationships with the gang members, the ministry director asked them why they dropped their threats against Myra and left her alone that night. One young man spoke up, saying, "We wouldn't dare touch her after her boyfriend showed up. That dude had to be seven feet tall." The director said, "I didn't know Myra had a boyfriend. But at any rate, she was here alone that night." Another gang member insisted, "No, we saw him. He was right behind her, big as life in his classy white suit."
Another young woman walking home from work in Brooklyn had to go past a young man loitering against a building. She was fearful; there had been muggings in the area recently, and she prayed for protection. She had to go right by him, and although she could feel him watching her, he didn't move. A short time after she reached home, she heard sirens and saw police lights. The next day her neighbor told her someone had been raped, in the same place and just after she had passed by the young man.
She wondered if the man she'd passed was the rapist, because if it were, she could identify him. She called the police and discovered they had a suspect in custody. She identified him in a lineup and asked the policeman, "Why didn't he attack me? I was just as vulnerable as the next woman who came along." The policeman was curious too, so he described the woman and asked the suspect about her. He said, "I remember her. But why would I have bothered her? She was walking down the street with two big guys, one on either side of her."
5. Although we do not know all the ways angels protect us, the Bible says that they do.
B. ANGELS ENCOURAGE.
1. Angels strengthened Jesus after His temptation (Matt 4:11). They encouraged the apostles to keep preaching after releasing them from prison (Acts 5:19-20), and told Paul that everyone on his ship would survive the impending shipwreck (Acts 27:23-25). Angels encourage.
One mother of a young girl told the story that the night after her daughter's cancer surgery, a very tall nurse with long braids, a real Amazon, ministered to her all night long. She was caring for the girl with a strong but gentle tenderness, and talking with the mom about how good God is. After they went home, the mother decided to write a thank-you note to the nurse, and called the hospital to ask for her name. Everyone--even the head of nursing--insisted that there was no nurse with that description working at the hospital. She believes God sent an angel to encourage her through that dark night.
2. Not only can God send us brothers and sisters in Christ to encourage us, He can also send us His messengers.
C. ANGELS PROVIDE GUIDANCE.
1. Sometimes, angels give guidance so God's people will know what He wants us to do. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and instructed him to take Mary as his wife and to name her baby Jesus (Matthew 1:20-21).
2. And it was an angel who told Philip where to go in his travels so that he could meet the Ethiopian eunuch and lead him to Christ (Acts 8:26).
3. Since we now have the completed canon of Scripture, God may not send His angels to deliver messages as often as He did in the Bible times, however, it is possible.
4. It is comforting to know that God may send us angels to protect, encourage, and guide us. Praise the Lord for His angels and for all the work they do for Him.
IV. LASTLY, HERE ARE SOME FINAL THOUGHTS TO PONDER ABOUT ANGELS.
1. We need to be extremely carefully not to buy into the world's perspective on angels. Our secular society presents many false views and ideas about God's messengers.
a. For example, some people believe that they should contact and pray to angels.
(1) There are now books available in the bookstores with titles like Ask Your Angels and 100 Ways to Attract Angels. But the Bible gives neither permission nor precedent for us to directly contact angels. If we need help or assistance, we should pray to God, for He is the one we should talk to, not angels.
b. Some people believe that they receive special knowledge or teachings from angels.
(1) Naomi Albright distributes teachings about the deep meanings of colors, and numbers and letters of the alphabet which she claims is “knowledge given from above and brought forth in more detail by angels. These same beings told Mrs. Albright to stress two main teachings: first, that God accepts all religions, and second, reincarnation. These two teachings keep showing up in much of the New Age angel literature, which shouldn’t be surprising since they are heretical lies that come from the pit of hell, which is where the angel teachers are from.
(2) We need to remember that God’s angels are not teachers. God’s word says they are messengers—that’s what “angel” means—and they minister to us. God has revealed to us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), in His Word.
c. Some people believe that when they die they become angels who go back to earth to minister to their family and friends.
(1) However, we do not become angels after we die. Angels are not glorified human beings. (Matthew 22:30) explains that angels do not marry or reproduce like humans.
(2) Also, angels are a company or association (Hebrews 12:22), not a race descended from a human ancestry (Luke 20:34-36).
2. What our culture needs in response to the angel craze is strong discernment built on the foundation of God’s word. We need to remember, and share with others, three truths about angels:
a. The ministry of holy angels will never contradict the Bible.
b. The actions of holy angels will always be consistent with the character of Christ.
c. A genuine encounter with a holy angel will glorify God, not the angel. Holy angels never draw attention to themselves. They typically do their work and disappear.
1. I Hope and pray that this study on angels has been biblical and beneficial.
2. We never want to close a service without offering an invitation, so if you would like to respond to the Lord's invitation, please come as we stand and sing.
Resources used in developing this sermon: