The problem of evangelical deism – For many years I readily acknowledged the existence of both holy angels and fallen demonic spirits, but relegated their activity to the pages of the Bible. As one who affirms biblical authority, I couldn’t deny the reality of such beings, but as an evangelical deist, they played little if any role in the daily affairs of my life. Angels and demons were fine (in a manner of speaking), but only if they remained tucked safely away inside the two covers of my Bible. That I should ever encounter an angelic being, or a demonic one, was not something I expected and something that I would have quickly explained away lest I be regarded as theologically nave or given to charismatic sensationalism. I hope these lessons in spiritual warfare will awaken all of us to the inescapable reality of angelic and demonic activity and the necessity of our preparation for the battle in which we are engaged.
[This lesson is concerned primarily with the holy angels and does not address the properties, personality or activities of demonic spirits.]
8 Questions concerning Angels
(1) Do they really exist, and if they do, does it really matter?
- The word “angel” (angelos) occurs in 34 of the 66 books of the Bible: 108x in OT and over 165x in NT = @ 275 x in the Bible.
- Jesus believed in and experienced the ministry of angels: (1) his conception was announced by an angel (Gabriel); (2) his birth was announced by angels; (3) he was tempted by a fallen angel; (4) he was ministered to by angels subsequent to the temptation; (5) his teaching is filled with references to angelic beings; (6) he experienced the ministry of angels in Gethsemane; (7) he could have appealed to twelve legions of angels (Mt. 26:53); (8) they were present at his tomb following the resurrection; (9) they were present at his ascension. The point is that angels were an integral part of Christ’s birth, life, ministry, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension, and will accompany him at his second advent.
To deny the reality of the angelic world is to undermine the integrity of Jesus himself.
- Consider the witness/testimony/experience of countless Christians . . .
(2) Where did they come from?
- Angels, no less than humans, werecreated at a point in time. Ps. 148:2-5; John 1:1-3;Col. 1:16. Each angel is a direct creation: i.e., they did not descend from an original pair as we did; they do not procreate as we do (Mt. 22:28-30).
- When were angels created? Most likely they were created before the events of Gen. 1:1ff. See Job 38:4-7.
- In whatmoralstate were they created? They must have been created righteous and upright for the simple fact that God does not directly create evil. Several texts assert or imply an original act of rebellion (Rev. 12; Col. 1).
(3) What are they like?
The basic elements of personality are intellect, emotion, will, self-consciousness, self-determination, a sense of moral obligation (i.e., conscience) and the power to pursue it, etc. Angels certainly are intelligent but not omniscient (1 Pt. 1:12; Mk. 13:32), experience emotion (Job 38:7; Luke 15:10; Rev. 4-5), and exercise their wills (Rev. 12).
Were angels created in the image and likeness of God? The image of God entails, among other things, personality, dominion, capacity for relationship, self-consciousness, etc.
- spirit beings – immaterial, incorporeal; no flesh or blood or bones; they are “ministering spirits” (Heb. 1:14).
- spirit bodies – in some sense of the word they have “bodies,” though not of a physical nature; i.e., they are spatially confined (their “form” or “shape” is not distributed throughout space); they are localized.
- gender/sex – Mt. 22:28-30; hence they do not procreate; they are always described in the masculine gender (but see Zech. 5:9).
- immortality – they are not inherently immortal, but derivatively (Lk. 20:36)
- they are able to assume the form and appear as humans: a) to the naked eye (Lk. 1:11-13;1:26-29; Mt. 28:1-7); b) in visions and dreams (Mt. 1:20; Isa. 6); c) in the form of a man (Gen. 18:1-8; in this case they were sufficiently “real” in their appearance that the homosexuals in S & G lusted after them; see also Mark 16:5); d) other forms (Dan. 10:5-6; Mt. 28:3; Rev. 4:6-8).
Reactions to angelic appearances: mental and emotional agitation; fear; loss of composure; etc.
Gen. 19:12-16 (used of God to destroy S & G); 2 Kings 19:35 (one angel killed 185,000 Assyrians); Mt. 28:2 (an angel moved the stone from Christ’s tomb); Acts 12 (an angel entered a locked prison and released Peter); Acts 12:23 (an angel killed Herod); Rev. 7:2-3 (angels influence the phenomena of nature); Mt. 24:31 (angels gather the saints at Christ’s second coming).
Angels are of two moral orders or categories: elect/holy (Mk. 8:38; 1 Tim. 5:21) and evil (Lk. 8:2). Evidently, after the rebellion/fall of Satan and his hosts, all angels were confirmed in their moral state: God preserves the elect/holy angels and will not redeem the evil ones.Why do we deny the possibility of redemption for fallen angelic beings? (1) there is no record of such in Scripture; (2) there is no record in Scripture of demonic repentance; (3) the impact of the cross on demons is always portrayed as judgment, never salvation (nowhere do we read of justification, forgiveness, redemption, adoption, regeneration, etc. being true of any angelic being); (4) Hebrews 2:14-17; Rev. 5:8-14.
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Source: Sam Storms