GRACE BIBLE CHURCH
The Tree of Life is a weekly teaching summary.
From the week ending 12/29/02
The Angelic Conflict, Part 9
Angelic Observation and Opposition in Human History
Luke 15:7-10 "I tell you that in the same way, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. Or what woman, if she has ten silver coins and loses one coin, does not light a lamp and sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the coin which I had lost!' In the same way, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
All angels intently observe members of the human race, and the elect angels rejoice over the salvation of even one person. In the Church-age, angels observe members of the Royal Family of God in both their success or failure to execute the predesigned plan of God, EPH 3:10, 1TI 5:21, 1PE 1:12, 1CO 4:9, "For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men."
The Greek word for "spectacle" is "theatron," the origin of the English word "theater," and it means a place for public shows, a play, or a place for the performance of dramatic representations. In EPH 3:10 the Apostle Paul wrote,"In order that the manifold [multi-faceted] wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places." Angels also observe Church-age believers receiving commands,1TI 5:21, "I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality."
In the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union, angels closely watched every day of our Lord's First Advent; in 1TI 3:16the Lord Jesus Christ is "He who was revealed in the flesh, was vindicated in the Spirit, beheld by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory."
Elect angels have a great desire to see the things that so many of God's people take for granted, 1PE 1:12, "It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven-things into which angels long to look." The Greek word for "long" is "epithumeo," which means to have a desire for, to long for, and to set the heart upon. Angels were first used by God to bring doctrine to men, as in Act 7:38,53. However, man is now being used by God to bring doctrine to angels, EPH 3:10.
In MAT 18:10 elect angels protect children: "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that their angels in heaven continually behold the face of My Father who is in heaven."
In LUK 16:22 angels were present when a believer named Lazarus died, and they escorted him to paradise, LUK 16:22, "Now it came about that the poor man died and he was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom."
In 1CO 11:10 angels observe the attitude that the woman has toward her husband and the symbol of his authority:"Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels."
There is tremendous demon army organized by Satan to hinder Church-age believers from fulfilling the predesigned plan of God. Fallen angels are organized to resist and oppose positive believers, EPH 6:12-17; JOB 1:6; JOB 2:1-3;1PE 5:8, "Be of sober spirit [attain spiritual self-esteem], be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." The observation and opposition of the fallen angels has two goals, (1) to blind the minds of unbelievers from accepting Christ, and (2) if they do believe in Christ, distract them in every way possible from God's plan, and hinder them from maintaining Bible doctrine as their top priority.
Demons do not sit in the "theater" and watch us as the elect angels do; the demons are on the playing field actively opposing us.
1. Satan and his angels are the enemy of the unbeliever, 2CO 4:3-4, 2TH 2:7-10, COL 2:8, LUK 8:12, "And those beside the road are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their heart, so that they may not believe and be saved."
2. They are the enemy of the Church-age believer, JAM 4:6-10; 1PE 5:6-9; 2CO 11:3; EPH 6:10-17, 2CO 2:11, "In order that no advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes." "Resist the devil" in JAM 4:7 means to avoid involvement in controversies that will sidetrack you from learning and applying the whole realm of doctrine.
3. They are the enemy of the Church, Rev 2:8-10,12-13. In Rev 2:8-10 John writes, "And to the messenger of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life."
These persecutions and hindrances come from the kingdom of darkness in the Church-age. We must keep our eyes on our enemy and off people, EPH 6:12, "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. REV 2:12-13 continues, "And to the messenger of the church in Pergamum write: The One who has the sharp two-edged sword says this: 'I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is; and you hold fast My name, and did not deny My doctrine, even in the days of Antipas, My witness, My faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.'" Here God allows a faithful believer to be martyred under dying grace.
4. They are the enemy of Bible doctrine, MAT 13:19,39.
5. They are the enemy of Israel, REV 12:13-15, "And when the dragon saw that he was thrown down to the earth [thrown out of heaven at the Rapture], he persecuted the woman [Israel] who gave birth to the male child [our Lord, who defeated Satan]. And the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, in order that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. And the serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, so that he might cause her to be swept away with the flood.
6. They are the enemy of the hypostatic union, REV 12:4, "And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven, and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child."
8. They are the chief antagonists of the extension of the angelic conflict into human history, Heb 1-2. The application of God's power against our enemy Satan is found in 1JO 4:4, "Greater is He who is in you [the omnipotence of the Father indwelling us and the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit in the predesigned plan of God] than he who is the world [Satan and his cosmic system]."
The angelic conflict in human history answers basic questions about life, including the reason man was created. The answer of course is that mankind was created, as an inferior creature to angels, to resolve the prehistoric angelic conflict. Consequently, we were created to glorify God.
HEB 2:1 For this reason [because of the angelic conflict in chapter 1] we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
The completeness and perfection of our Lord's humanity as being higher than the angels is revealed by seven references in Heb 1.
1. In HEB 1:4-5, He has inherited a more excellent name (title) than the angels.
2. In HEB 1:6, He will be worshipped by them as the Firstborn.
3. In HEB 1:7, He created them.
4. In HEB 1:8, He sits on the divine throne.
5. In HEB 1:9, He is anointed above the angels.
6. In HEB 1:10-12, He is the Creator of the universe, immutable and eternal.
7. In HEB 1:13-14, He has a higher place than the angels, as a man.
In the angelic conflict, the human race is warned not to reject Christ as Savior.
COL 1:19-20 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
After the angels fell, they were given a way of salvation, which is alluded to in this passage, though not specifically declared or mechanically outlined. The human race is warned to regard the angels and their fallen state, which was comparable to the fallen state of the human race, and remember that these angels are doomed to the lake of fire forever, MAT 25:41. The human race is to learn a lesson from the angelic conflict, to not make the same choice the fallen angels made. Do not reject the free offer of salvation provided by God! The member of the human race who refuses to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior will share the eternal destiny of Satan and the fallen angels.
HEB 2:1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.
The Greek verb translated "pay much closer attention" is "prosech-ein." "Pros" means face-to-face, and it refers to looking the object directly in the face; "echo" means to have and to hold. This verb means to apply the mind, or to concentrate, in this case, on the doctrine being taught. This was God's gracious warning to Jerusalem, which was about to be destroyed in three years.
HEB 2:1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it [God's Word].
The phrase "lest we drift away" means to let the doctrine drift past you or flow by you; it is being presented, but you are ignoring it. There are three stages at which believers can reject Bible doctrine.
1. Refusal to hear the teaching of God's Word on a consistent basis.
2. Refusal to metabolize the doctrine after hearing it, and therefore the failure to convert gnosis (knowledge) into epignosis (wisdom). This means failure to be filled with the Spirit or concentrate as you listen.
3. Refusal to apply the doctrine after metabolizing it, and therefore the doctrine becomes unusable or forgotten.
Drifting away from doctrine is usually not intentional; it happens slowly, but (unfortunately) surely. This is the warning of HEB 2:1. If we do not pay close attention and concentrate on what the Spirit is saying to the
local church, we will end up drifting away from the message, HEB 3:13-14, "But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called 'Today,' lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end." You will still be saved, but you will not be a partaker of the divine nature unless you "hold fast to the beginning of your assurance firm until the end."
HEB 4:1 Therefore, let us fear lest, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you should seem to have come short of it.
HEB 10:23-25 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near. See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less shall we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
The Bible teaches that when believers reject doctrine over a long enough period of time God will bring in a "famine" of doctrinal teachers, AMO 8:11-12, "Behold, days are coming," declares the Lord God, "When I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. And people will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it."
Never become familiar with God's Word and take it for granted, or just assume that your local assembly will always be there whenever you feel like coming back.
HEB 2:5 reveals the ultimate triumph of regenerate man in the angelic conflict: "For He [God the Father] did not subject to angels the world to come, concerning which we are speaking." The ultimate triumph of regenerate man occurs in the world to come, a reference to the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ. Angels will not have rule or control during the Millennium, but humans will. During the Millennium, no angel will be in charge of anything on earth. During the Church-age, Satan and his angels reign on planet earth, but in the Millennium, man will rule, specifically, Jesus Christ, the Son of David. And the Lord Jesus Christ will use winner believers of the Old Testament and winner believers of the Church-age to rule the world with Him during this great 1,000-year period of perfect environment.
For a more detailed study, order last week's tapes, IA11-251 to IA11-254.