The TREE OF LIFE is a weekly teaching summary. The Tree of Life for the week ending 12-31-00
The Doctrine of the Enemies of the Cross. Part 3.
Both Categories of Enemies of God, the Fallen Angels and Unbelievers, will Be Judged in the Lake of Fire.
The Bible says that the enemies of God will not only be judged but then thrown into the lake of fire for all of eternity, Rev 20:10-15. "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever. And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat upon it, from whose presence earth and heaven fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire."
The unbeliever is like the fallen angel who made his decision in some angelic history of the past, and has been consigned to the lake of fire even though he is not there as of yet. The sentence has not been executed even though it has been given says MAT 25:41 "the eternal fire has been prepared for the devil and his angels;"
Notice that this place that many call Hell, had to be enlarged to make room for members of the human race who remained enemies of God. The fallen angels represent a category of creatures that had the chance over a long period of time to make a decision and did not do so and therefore they are Satan's servants during this part of the angelic conflict. A question of those who understand the angelic conflict is "Did one third of the angels fall or did they all fall and two-thirds came back to Christ?" Remember that the elect angels are said to be elect or chosen. In1TI 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."
The question is what were the angel's chosen to? The information we have on the prehistoric past is very vague, but there are certain passages and principles of doctrine that give us insight into what may have transpired in eternity past.
We need to understand the reason why both categories of the enemies of God, the fallen angels and unbelievers, will be judged in the lake of fire. When God created the universe, He formed a race of super-creatures, classified in the Bible as angels. These are rational be-ings with the ability to travel throughout the universe God created for them. Because volition is a necessary component of a rational mentality and of capacity for love, God gave the angels free will so that they might under-stand His character and worship Him. God also established a system of angelic authority and organiza-tion within which the angels lived and functioned. He perfectly blended freedom, authority, and responsibility, creating a structured environment within, whereby each angel could express his own volition.
In the beginning, the most exalted of all the angels was the anointed cherub, called Heylel translated Lucifer-, the son of the morning, ISA 14:12. Entrusted with responsibilities, Lucifer or Satan was also granted privileges beyond other angels, but he abused his freedom through arrogance and rebellion against God, Eze 28:12-19. Arrogance was the self-deception that caused Heylel or Lucifer to compete with God rather than love and wor-ship Him.
We do not know how long ago Satan fell, but in spite of his protracted ar-rogance and suffering, he remains the most talented, attractive, and personable creature to come from the hand of God, Eze 28:12; 2CO 11:14. His force of persuasion is as compelling today as when he convinced one third of all the angels to join his prehistoric revolution against God, REV 12:4a. Satan's fall and his leadership over thousands of angels led a revolt in the prehistoric warfare called the angelic conflict. This conflict continues today and will be concluded only with the final judgment at the end of human history.
A comparison of Scripture leads to the conclusion that God held a trial in eternity past. In that trial, God was the judge and the pro-secution, Satan was the defense. God considered all the evidence, pro-nounced a guilty verdict and sentenced Heylel or Lucifer and all the fallen angels to "eter-nal fire," MAT 25:41.
Further biblical evidence for the prehistoric trial of fallen angels is found in Satan's titles. The words "devil" and "Satan" are not names but titles, both of which mean "accuser" or "adversary," as an attorney accuses someone in court. His proper name, Heylel translated Lucifer means "translucent, light of the dawn," iden-tifying a creature of exceeding beauty. He is called the devil and Satan because he was the defense attorney who represented himself and the fallen angels at that trial and he continues to act as an attorney now that the trial has entered its appeal phase during human history, JOB 1:6-12; 2:1-5; ZEC 3:1-2.
MAT 25:41 tells us what the sentence is "Then He will also say to those on His left, Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;"
From REV 20:10, we can ac-curately infer that Satan appealed the sentence. The elapse of time between the sentence and its execution indicates that human history is part of this appeal trial of Satan. One of the main reasons for undeserved suffering is because human history is a part of an appeal trial given to Satan and the fallen angels.
Because of this God calls mature believers to the witness stand to testify concerning His justice and His supreme grace. We are called not only to witness to the world but to be a witness before both the elect and fallen angels, 1CO 4:9, EPH 3:10.
We are in the midst of a conflict between God and the elect angels verses Satan and the fallen angels. The angelic conflict is the result of angels being in opposition to God, which began with the fall of Satan and continued until all angelic creatures had made a decision for or against God.
Satan's appeal argument.
What case could he possibly construct to reverse the verdict of perfect, omniscient, and just God? Satan's appeal probably followed this line of argument: "How can a loving God cast His creatures into hell?" Human history provides the answer.
When Satan appealed his sentence, God convened an appeal trial which is coterminous with human history. Conse-quently, man was created to resolve the angelic conflict and become part of that trial. Before He created man, God anticipated man's fall and in His matchless grace designed a plan of salvation for all mankind through faith in Jesus Christ. This is not something an unfair, unjust, unloving God would do. God also created fabulous assets, privileges, and opportunities for every believer so that he might enjoy fellowship with God. God's grace is freely available to every human being through Jesus Christ, but for anyone who refuses to believe in Jesus Christ, the only alternative is divine judgment. Human history displays God's magnificent character and gracious policy to Satan, to all the angels, and to mankind.
History also demonstrates that no one goes to the eternal lake of fire or hell, except by his own negative volition,JOH 3:18,36. Like the angels, man is rational and possesses the same free will that angels possess. The resolution of the angelic conflict lies in man's exercise of volition for or against the Lord Jesus Christ. Angels observing the human race will witness proof of Satan's own guilt and condemnation and proof of God's perfect justice and grace,JOB 1:6;2:1-3; LUK 15:7,10; 1CO 4:9; 11:10; EPH 3:10; 1Ti 3:16; 5:21.
A major issue in this trial is the concept of suffering. Satan argues that men, like angels, will not be able to handle suffer-ing, especially if they consider it unjust. The only reason anyone re-mains faithful to God, Satan charges, is because God blesses him. This was the argument in the book of Job. However, Job, despite a period of failure, discredited this theory and was entered as evidence in God's case against Satan. Job remained faithful to God not because God was blessing him but because of the doctrine he had learned and eventually applied. As a mature believer, Job possessed the resources to take extreme suffering in stride and to identify his cir-cumstances as suffering for blessing rather than punitive suffering. Satan likewise was given tremendous assets prior to his fall. He did not fall through any fault or negligence on God's part; he failed through rejection of all God had provided.
Satan has no legitimate case, no excuse.
Only Satan and his fallen angels are to blame for the state to which they have fallen and that's what they hate to see any creature remain faithful to God in spite of the suffering they go through.
Satan also argues that no one will remain faithful to God if offered sufficient wealth or power. In other words, everyone has his price. The issue is this: Will creature lust for power, fame, wealth, or any other attainment be more powerful than the plan of the Creator? Will man choose self-promotion and self-aggrandizement independent of God, or will he execute God's plan and allow God to promote him? This is the evidence test Satan leveled against the humanity of Christ during the Incarnation, MAT 4:1-11.
Human history provides the same circumstances and options which be-longed to angelic history before man's creation. Satan had been created in perfect innocence; Adam was created in perfect innocence. The angels have free will, man has free will. Adam freely and deliberately chose to follow the pattern of arrogance which characterized Satan's original revolution. The fall of Adam duplicates the fall of Satan. The rebellion of Satan in the Garden of God resulted in the fall of angelic creatures, Rev 12:4a. The disobedience of Adam in the Garden of Eden resulted in the fall of mankind, ROM 5:12a.
In angelic history God had provided a decision-making process by which angels could express non-meritorious positive volition. Likewise, God provided salvation for all mankind so that man can express non-meritorious positive voli-tion through faith in Christ, JOH 3:16.
Through the exercise of free will, angelic creatures are divided into two categories: elect and fallen, HEB 2:2; REV 12:7. Through free will mankind is divided into two categories: believers and unbelievers, JOH 3:36.
Angels are called "holy angels" because God made them holy by providing for them some non-meritorious way to receive His righteousness, REV 15:4; REV 16:5. We can see this from such passages as REV 15:4, Co1:20, andREV 16:5 which says "And I heard the angel of the waters saying, "Righteous art Thou, who art and who wast, O Holy One, because Thou didst judge these things;"
In REV 16:5 Jesus Christ is called the only Holy One, this can only refer to the fact that He alone is the one who remains experientially holy. The elect angels are called holy and this can only be because they were made holy after they were found unholy. In REV 7:10-12, resurrected believers praise the Lord for salvation and the angels join in by twice saying Amen, in which they agree and express that they believe it! They say "Amen" concerning salvation because they personally understand it.
In the Tribulation, while angels bring divine judgment upon the earth, no angel is allowed to execute this judgment apart from Jesus Christ because He alone is worthy, REV 5:2-5.
In JOB 4:17-18 we find the statement that God charges error against His angels and this is used to argue that no man can be just before God. The argument would lack logic if only some angels were charged with error.
At the fall, Satan offered man a counterfeit salvation prior to God offering man a true salvation. True salvation looked ahead to Christ, GEN 3:21 "And the LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife, and clothed them." Satan's counterfeit was offered in the fig leaves, GEN 3:7 "Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings."
A counterfeit presupposes understanding of the real. Satan would have had to have some prior knowledge of salvation in order to offer a counterfeit plan for covering sinfulness and disobedience.
As we have noted, one of the main reasons why God allows undeserved suffering is because we are in the midst of a conflict between God and the elect angels and Satan and the fallen angels. This conflict or appeal towards God's judgment on Satan and the fallen angels is coterminous with human history. In human history God is duplicating every situation that Satan used as a basis for argument and objection in his trial. This is a very serious point because the angels have already been incarcerated once time and were then let loose for their appeal trial, GEN 1:2, JER 4:23-26.
The only sin that is unpardonable is the sin of rejecting the Gospel in the allotted time. Angels would not have been exempt from this condition. If only one third of the angels fell, would not God have offered some salvation to them? If offered, are we to suppose that not one of the angels who fell accepted it? Then if we suppose only one third of the angels fell and God did not offer a plan for reconciliation, then God would be unfair if He then offered the reconciliation to man who also fell. Satan would have had a very strong objection if God was willing to offer a means of salvation to man and had not offered a means of salvation to the one third of the angels who fell.
Another principle to consider is that during the dispensation of the Hypostatic Union, angels observed every part of the first advent and incarnation of our Lord, in 1Ti 3:16 which says that He was "Beheld by angels" Why were they so interested, if they were holy and never fell it would be no great sight to behold our Lord, they could say they also holy.
Why is it that during the dispensation of the Church-age, angels observe the royal family of God in their failure or success to execute and fulfill the PPOG, 1CO 4:9; EPH 3:10; 1TI 5:21; 1Pe 1:12? Again, if they never fell, they could say we are holy, what great feat is this?
The point is that the elect angels observe us.
If they never fell, and remained holy, why do they regard believers with such respect and honor? HEB 1:13 But to which of the angels has He ever said, "Sit at My right hand, Until I make Thine enemies A footstool for Thy feet"?
The angels must have been offered some means of reconciliation and forgiveness but they refused it. The first sin that the first creation committed was the sin of independence, it is also the sin that the human race commits.
We can see in the initial fall of man and the subsequent attempt at deception by Satan and then the salvation offered by God a possible parallel to Angelic salvation:
Satan's fell due to his own initiative and then deceived other Angels.
In the same way Satan as the serpent deceived the woman, GEN 3:4-5.
Adam fell without deception. He chose to disobey God just as Satan did. At the fall then we have one who disobeyed out of his own initiative and one who was deceived.
This pattern reflects what happened in the Angelic realm.
1. Satan counterfeited salvation to Adam and the woman prior to God's offer of salvation to them which would indicate a prior knowledge of salvation.
2. Any position regarding what happened in the fall of angels, their salvation, etc is simply a personal opinion. The only value of one over the other is its consistency with the character and nature of God and the parallel to other known events.
3. God is a God of mercy and the greatest expression of mercy is to offer peace or reconciliation to one's enemies.
4. God is absolutely just and fair and could not have offered salvation to man and not offered it to another creation, angels, who had fallen.
5. Only Christ is forever holy and pure and blameless. For another creature to have these characteristics inherent in them and maintained in them by free will, would have meant that they had kept themselves holy as our Lord did.
6. Angels are very much a part of the tabernacle, the ark, the veil, the curtains which all look ahead to Christ salvation work.
7. The garments of Angels are the same garments given to saved mankind in eternity.
8. In 1TI 5:21 angels are called chosen or elect which would indicate that there was a time when they were not chose and not elect.
9. COL 1:19-20 seems to indicate that Christ reconciled all things to Himself, thing on earth and things in heaven.