Grace Bible Church
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
The Tree of Life from the week ending 01/15/06
The Angelic Conflict. Part 7.
The worlds were framed not from nothing, but rather made of invisible things.
Point 5 in our doctrine of the angelic conflict: Satanic and Demonic attacks during the Church-age. We have seen that during the Church-age, demon attacks are limited to two categories: 1) For the unbeliever, demon possession, or demon influence, in which demon doctrines enter the soul. 2) For believers, attacks are limited to demon influence, in which the doctrine of demons invades the right lobe of the soul (1TI 4:1-5).
Satan's organization is described in EPH 6:12 (corrected translation), For our warfare is not against blood and flesh[people's souls or their O.S.N.], but against the rulers [the highest ranking demons in Satan's organization, such as Abaddon or Apollyon and Beelzebub] against the powers [demon officers who have phenomenal authority] against the world forces of this darkness [Satan's demon ambassadors who control many of the rulers of this world] against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places [spiritual forces of evil in the atmosphere around the earth, the stellar universe, and even in the presence of God to represent Satan]. This is why EPH 6:11 commands us to Put on the full armor from God so that you might always be able to stand firm or hold your ground against the strategies or the schemes of the devil. We are to take all the power that the Lord has provided, the spiritual weapons and the Problem Solving Devices, and put them to use, in order to stand up to everything Satan throws our way. We are involved in a conflict between two kingdoms, and both kingdoms are after our soul.
Satan plans offensive action against the human race, especially against believers, and this action demands defense on our part. Defensive action is dependence on the Lord by remaining behind the wall of fire. EPH 4:27 is a command for defensive action, And do not give the devil an opportunity. The Greek word for opportunity is topos, and it means a place or a room in your soul. This verse is warning us not to give one room in our soul to the devil or the kingdom of darkness. The only way to prevent that is through our intake and application of Bible doctrine. Bible doctrine is pleasant to the soul, PRO 2:10, For wisdom will enter your heart, and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; (see also PRO 19:8; PRO 24:4; Ecc 7:12). On the other hand, rejection of Bible doctrine produces destruction, ISA 5:13, Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; HOS 4:6, My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
So, just as doctrine gives the rooms of the soul pleasure and freedom, a lack of doctrine in those rooms produces slavery and bondage. David said in PSA 139:23-24, Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me and know my anxious thoughts; And see if there be any hurtful way in me, And lead me in the everlasting way. The Lord wants to deliver us from bondage, and not to condemn us, or make us feel guilty. He wants to set us free. PSA 139:12 says,Even the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to Thee.Unless a believer is free from this bondage of his soul, or this room of secret faults or sins, the believer will never enjoy true freedom. That room will be like a dungeon or a prison in the life of the believer. The Lord desires to set us all free from this guilt, condemnation, fear, insecurity, self-introspection, and low self-esteem, JOH 8:32, and you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
JOH 8:36 says, If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed. (PSA 68:6; ISA 61:1; ISA 42:7;PSA 69:33, 146:7b; JER 15:11).
So, the believer is commanded to be on the defensive against Satan's strategies. This is because we are in a conflict, and defensive action is a grace function. Believers are dependent upon the grace provision of God. EPH 6:13 is a command for defensive action, Pick up and put on the full armor from God that you may always be able to hold your ground in the day that evil attacks you. The evil day is the day you are attacked by any system of evil. Jam 4:7 commands us, Hold your ground against the devil and he will flee from you. The ground is the spiritual advance and momentum that we have achieved from making positive decisions toward doctrine. It is easy to lose your ground, and lose the doctrine that you once had. 2JO 1:8 warns us, Watch yourselves, that you might not lose what we have accomplished [your momentum and spiritual growth], but that you may receive a full reward [imputation of your escrow blessings in time and eternity].
1PE 5:8-9 Be sober minded [attain spiritual self-esteem], be alert, your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for some believer to devour; therefore, hold your ground against him by standing firm in doctrine. What God has provided for us, He provides in grace, and the defense of grace has no weaknesses. When we use our human strengths and abilities against Satan, we are defeated, but with grace we win. Encouragement for defensive action against Satan is found in 1JO 4:4, Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
We are to be on the defensive against Satan because he and his angels in the angelic conflict use offensive action. In human history, the sovereignty of God and free will of man coexist by divine decree because human history is an extension of the pre-historic angelic conflict. This is the reason why you are here. Satan learned that he cannot attack the sovereignty of God, which is incorruptible, so he attacked the volition of God's creatures. Satan tries to make creatures choose against the Creator, and for the creature, and he came up with a plan to attack God through His own creatures. The greatest attack on human volition occurred in the dispensation of the hypostatic union against the humanity of Christ. Jesus Christ was attacked constantly, and He was tempted beyond anything we will ever know. HEB 4:15, For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. We don't have a priest who is out of touch with our reality; rather our Lord has experienced everything, except sin.
Satan's offensive began in the pre-historic angelic conflict when he revolted against God with the thought, I will be like the most high God. The result of which is stated in REV 12:3-4, And another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. The result was a great trial, in which Satan and all fallen angels were condemned to the eternal lake of fire. MAT 25:41, "depart from me you who have been condemned into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels." Satan was already judged and condemned before the creation of the human race. However, Satan was granted an appeal, and so mankind was created to resolve the angelic conflict. All the witnesses in the appeal trial are members of the human race. Satan's strategy is designed to attack the human race and corrupt human volition at two critical points:
The first is at the point of the Gospel where Satan attacks to obscure the content of the Gospel, and to corrupt the fact of faith in Christ alone for eternal salvation, 2CO 4:3-4, And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving, that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
These are blind to the brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God that we will ever get. Satan's objective is to establish systems of religion in which the works of mankind replace the function and mechanics of the grace of God. The Gospel is attacked by the teaching of salvation by works, or faith plus something else, and of course this is a direct attack against scripture, GAL 2:16, Knowing that a person is not justified by the works of the law but through faith in Christ Jesus... for by the works of the law no flesh will be justified."
ROM 3:28, For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
EPH 2:8-9, For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.
We know very well that we are not right with God by means of keeping the law or trying to keep all the rules, but only through personal faith in Jesus Christ. The Jews had the best system of rules the world has ever seen, however,GAL 3:24 says, The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. Or ROM 3:9, What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; All of us start out in identical condition: as sinners.
The second point of Satan's attack is on the believer where Satan attacks volition to cause rejection of doctrine. Satan seeks to obscure the importance of doctrine through false doctrine, legalism, distractions, and false scales of values, among other ways. By neutralizing the importance of Bible doctrine, the believer is hindered from executing the PPOG, including glorifying God in the midst of the angelic conflict.
We are to be on the defensive against Satan and the fallen angels. The question which comes to mind for many people is: If the devil and his angels have already been sentenced to the lake of fire, then why does God allow them to be free today? We can answer that with a principle found in the word of God, ROM 9:22-23 says, What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
In context this deals with the unbelief of the Jews and the saving of the Gentiles; however, the principle can still apply to Satan and the fallen angels. Note in verse 22, God is demonstrating His wrath, and in the angelic conflict, God is directing His wrath toward Satan and the fallen angels. He is also making His power known to all of His creatures as He is enduring, with much patience, the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, namely Satan and the fallen angels. God is doing this, as verse 23 says, in order that He might make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, namely the members of the human race, which He prepared beforehand for glory, which is another answer to why the angelic conflict.
Because Satan cannot directly attack God, he must concentrate his attack on humans who are vulnerable to Satan's offensive strategy. His hope and plan is to get mankind to attack the character and nature of God as a third party in the conflict. This was Satan's whole purpose in attacking Job. It's interesting to note that the oldest book in the Bible, from the standpoint of writing, is the book of Job which is written in Archaic Hebrew. Job was written long before Moses lived, and long before Moses wrote the first five books in the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy). The book of Job is pre-Mosaic in its authorship. This is important because it means that the very first book that God gave man starts out with a scene in the courtroom of heaven in the midst of the angelic conflict, and a man being entered into evidence testing. Job is a book that really gives us some insight into the angelic conflict, and why we are here. Remember that we are all here for one reason only and that is to bring glory to God, and that's it! This is why ISA 43:21 says "The people whom I formed for Myself, Will declare My praise." ISA 43:7,"Everyone who is called by My name, I have created for My glory,"
In JOB 1:1, There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job, and that man was blameless, upright, respecting God, and turning away from evil. This does not mean that he was perfect; he had a dark side, like we all do, and Job had an Old Sin Nature as well. Verse 1, however, describes his spiritual prosperity. Job was blameless, he was a spiritually mature believer. He was upright, he had victories in spiritual growth. He feared, or respected God, which is a reference to his personal love for TLJC. And the fact that he turned away from evil illustrates his grace orientation. Remember that evil includes both moral and immoral degeneracy. In verses 6-10, we have the beginning of Satan's offensive action against God's people and the angelic conflict. JOB 1:6, Now there was a day when the sons of God [angels] came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. One day when the angels came to report to God, Satan, who was the Designated Accuser, came along with them. JOB 1:7,And the Lord said to Satan, "From where do you come?" Then Satan answered the Lord and said, "From roaming about on the earth and walking around on it." Satan always started the courtroom session by making it clear that while God had put Adam in charge of the world as its ruler, Satan had taken it over. Remember, before the human race was created, Satan was the ruler of planet earth. It was his headquarters long before any human creatures existed. When Satan and the fallen angels were sentenced to the lake of fire, one of the things God did was to shut down Satan's headquarters. This is the reason why GEN 1:1-2, says, In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. And the earth became formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep; This all took place during the pre-historic angelic conflict, when God covered the entire earth with ice. After this, GEN 1:2b tells us, and the Spirit of God began to move over the surface of the waters. This was actually the beginning of God granting Satan's appeal.
The earth had to be restored for man's occupancy. The first two verses of the Bible give key clues that become more and more important concerning the doctrine of the angelic conflict, and bring into sharp focus what has happened throughout Earth's history, as well as human history which has comprised the last 6,000 years. All the evidence points to the fact that the Earth is much older than many conservative Christians who have embraced the young Earth theory would hold. It is possible to decipher this from the first few verses of the Bible provided we look at what the original Hebrew language conveys. Unfortunately most believers of the Genesis account of creation read it in their own language, and because of the differences in languages, these translations lose much of their meaning, and allow for misinterpretations. We need to realize that when God went through the creation steps outlined in Genesis, they were a minor undertaking. For human beings, it is a complicated process, but for TLJC, it was a simple task. Therefore, the writers of the Bible, in the words they selected to tell about God forming the world and universe, describe the work as an almost casual operation, a light bit of work. For example, HEB 11:3 makes perfect sense in this context, when the writer says, By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. In other words, God simply spoke and worlds were created. This also alludes to the Word of God that John wrote about in his gospel, as well as the destroying sword that comes out of the mouth of the returning Messiah at the end of the Great Tribulation. This presents the idea both of creation through arranging materials, as well as the idea of a carpenter at work. While it seems likely that this creation involved a change of spiritual things into physical, it isn't a matter of making something from nothing.
Let's see how all this applies to the Genesis account. In the first verses of the Bible, the idea of creation is conveyed by the verb bara. GEN 1:1, In the beginning God created (bara) the heavens and the earth. The Hebrew word forcreated is the verb bara, which means to create, cut down wood, to shape, to fashion, or dispatch. Bara shows that God's creation of the world wasn't the work of creating it from nothing (as is often the mistaken view people have); rather, it connotes devising something that has already existed into a finished form. God created the heavens and the earth out of something, namely, the Word of God. HEB 1:1-2, God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. Or HEB 11:1-3, Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the men of old gained approval. By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible.
This explains that the worlds were not framed from nothing, but rather made of invisible things (reformed from some past materials). The point is that God did use something to create the universe, namely the Word of God. God's creation of the world wasn't the work of creating it from nothing, but devising something that has already existed into a finished form. The word bara suggests light work; this is reflected in PSA 8:3-6, When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, The moon and the stars, which Thou hast ordained; What is man, that Thou dost take thought of him? And the son of man, that Thou dost care for him? Yet Thou hast made him a little lower than God, And dost crown him with glory and majesty! Thou dost make him to rule over the works of Thy hands; Thou hast put all things under his feet, The implication here is that the work was done simply by moving just His fingers, with hardly any effort at all. In an age when men pride themselves in what they create, imagine how foolish the most creative of artists or scientists of today's culture might appear to God Who has such capabilities. It should also be noted that what is translated into English as the beginning in Gen 1, is the Hebrew word reshiyth, which denotes the first in a series of things, or the first or the principle thing. This isn't the starting of the heavens and the earth, but a statement that they were part of the beginning period, before the creation story when the restoration of the earth came into being.
It tells us that God made the heavens and the Earth, but it doesn't give us a clue as to when or how. When Hebrew writers wanted to note the actual beginning of a time, such as the time of day, or when a harvest commenced, the word employed was most often techillah not bara. This passage of the Bible denotes a period during which that first state of being took place, and during which God created the heavens and the Earth. This may seem like hair-splitting but it has important ramifications, because it points to the idea that other events have taken place before or during this beginning period, even outside the realm of time and space as most people know them. The mind-boggling complexity of the situation is reflected in the phenomenal logic of the beginning in the Gospel of John: JOH 1:1-3, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. The phrase came into being in the Greek, presents a good opportunity to see how the N.T. writers viewed the idea of the first verse of Genesis as well. The Greek word for beginning is arche, where the word arch comes from, and it indicates not simply a beginning, but a chief period of time, with the idea of a ruler's magnitude of power is behind it. In John the phrase "In the beginning" also conveys the idea of a period of time, not the beginning or creation of things but just a starting point for the human race. The word translated into English as "came into being" is the Greek verb ginomai. This word conveys the idea of causing something to become something else or to assemble something into a whole.
So, here again the idea is not of God (through Jesus Christ) creating the universe from nothing but rather assembling and forming it into a whole, much as a potter might form a pot or a carpenter frame and build a house. A similar idea of the universe was conveyed by the ancient Greeks; their word cosmos, often translated world or universe, actually suggests a creation that is fabricated from other materials, becoming polished or adorned as it is fashioned. The word doesn't suggest something created from nothing, but rather that the worlds were made of invisible things. So the earth had to be restored for man's occupancy, which came long after the creation of the earth. However, man's occupancy on planet earth didn't last too long before Adam and the woman fell and then Satan became the ruler of the world again. Satan always considers this one of his greatest victories. So, it is not surprising to find in several accounts where Satan and the fallen angels are present in heaven, Satan bragging about the fact that he has just come from roaming about on the earth, (his kingdom) and walking around on it (JOB 1:6). Here is arrogance rejecting the authority of God even though he is doomed to spend eternity in the lake of fire. We find the same thing about Satan when he is imprisoned for 1000 years during the Millennial reign of Christ. The first thing he does when he gets out of prison is to start a conspiracy and a revolution. In REV 20:7-8, And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison, and will come out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together for the war; the number of them is like the sand of the seashore. Arrogance learns nothing whether it's arrogance in a criminal or arrogance in a law abiding citizen.
So, in JOB 1:8, And the Lord said to Satan [since you have been roaming about on the earth], "Have you considered My servant Job? For there is no one like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil."
With the statement "Have you considered my servant Job?" Job is now entered as a witness for God in the historic appeal trial of Satan and the fallen angels. This is the greatest privilege you could ever have as a believer.