Robert Jeffress - What Every Christian Should Know About Angels and Demons - Part 1
Hi, I'm Robert Jeffress, and welcome again to "Pathway to Victory". Have you ever felt like one of God's angels was watching over you, maybe keeping you from harm or giving you comfort? Well, you're not imagining things. Today, I'm going to explain what angels were capable of and the ways in which they improve the lives of believers and also nonbelievers. My message is titled, "What Every Christian Should Know About Angels and Demons", on today's edition of "Pathway to Victory".
During the Civil War, in the days before cable television and breaking news, Americans had to rely on newspapers to get their information about the conflict. It would take weeks to edit, to typeset, to print the newspaper and have it delivered by mail to individual homes. Because of that lag in time, most Americans during the Civil War felt like the war was distant, removed from themselves. They had no relationship to it until the conflict landed in their front yard.
For example, after July 3, 1863, I guarantee you no resident of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, thought of the Civil War as a distant conflict. The battle had occurred in their own town. There's a similar truth about another war that you and I are engaged in every day. It's a war that has been going on since Satan first rebelled against God. It is a spiritual war, and there's a battlefield correspondent who describes what is happening in that spiritual war. His name is the Apostle Paul. And in Ephesians 6:12, he said, "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".
There is a real war going on, and yet, when we read words like "spiritual forces in heavenly places," we think as that war as being far off, distant, disconnected from our everyday lives, until the war lands in our own front yard. Fortunately, for those of us who are believers, God has given us a group of allies we call angels. And today, as we continue our study of the ten basic beliefs of historic Christianity, we're going to examine what every Christian needs to know about angels and demons. Now, in theology, we call this the study of angelology, the study of angels. And technically, angels encompass two different groups of angels. We talk about the holy angels, who are in heaven to do God's will, and then we talk about fallen angels we call demons, who execute Satan's will.
Let's first of all look at the scripture and what it says about our heavenly allies, God's holy angels. If you have your Bibles, turn to Hebrews chapter 1. Remember, in Revelation 22:8-9, when John, after receiving that revelation about the future from an angel, he bowed down and began to worship the angel. The angel said, "Get up. Don't worship me. Worship God instead". To put angels in proper context, we need to compare angels to Jesus Christ himself. The writer of Hebrews says, "Don't worship angels". Jesus is superior to angels. How? Hebrews 1:13 says, "To which of the angels did God ever say, 'Sit at my right hand, and I will make your enemies a footstool to you.'" But God said that about his own Son, Jesus Christ.
What do we need to know about angels? Let me mention three things. First of all, angels are created beings. Angels have a beginning. They haven't always existed. There is a beginning point for angels. Paul described that in Colossians 1:16. In talking about Jesus, he says, "For by Him, Jesus, all things were created both in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities, all things have been created by Jesus and for Jesus". You know, God the Father was involved in creation, Genesis 1:1. Genesis 1:2, the Holy Spirit was involved in creation, and here we see that Jesus Christ was instrumental in creating all things visible and invisible, and that includes angels.
Well, when exactly were angels created? We have to do a little biblical detective work to find the answer to that question. In Job 38, verses 4 to 7, remember what God said to his servant Job, who started asking questions. God said to Job, "Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? When the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy"? Who are the stars, the morning stars, the sons of God who shouted for joy? That's the angels. And we know from Genesis 1:9-10 that the foundation of the world was laid on the third day of creation. So, we can surmise that angels were at least on hand by the third day of creation, they must've been created before that time. What do we know about the creation of angels?
Well, first of all, angels were direct creations of God. They are sometimes referred to as the sons of God, never as the Son of God, but as sons of God, in this sense, that every angel was uniquely created by God. Remember, Jesus said that we are like angels in this way. We neither give nor are given in marriage. We don't procreate. No new little angels are being born every day. There's a fixed number of angels. And by the way, don't ever tell your children that before they were born, they were angels in heaven. And don't tell them when they die, they become angels.
Secondly, angels will exist forever. Now, they have not always existed forever. Like us, there was a point of creation, but they will live forever. Some will live in heaven with God, praising him. Other fallen angels will be in the lake of fire, as we'll see for a moment, but angels will exist forever.
Thirdly, angels have an intellect. They can think. They have understanding. Revelation 10:17 tell us that angels have some understanding of God's prophetic future.
Fourthly, angels have emotions. They feel things. Luke 15:10 tells us that when somebody is converted, when somebody trusts in Christ as Savior, the angels in heaven rejoice. They have emotions.
Fifth, angels have a will. By that, I mean they can make choices. They have a will. The most consequential choice ever made by an angel was the chief angel, Lucifer, who made a choice to rebel against the rule of God over his life. And remember Isaiah 14, Ezekiel 28 tell us how Lucifer fell from heaven. In Isaiah 14, we find the five "I wills" that Satan proclaimed in heaven. "I will ascend into the heavens. I will become like the Most God," and on and on he went until he was cast out of heaven. Apparently, a group of angels chose, they made a volitional choice to follow Lucifer in his rebellion against God, and they were cast down from heaven along with Lucifer.
By the way, angels are created to inhabit certain realms. The holy angels, some are in heaven right now praising God. That's what Isaiah saw. Some are here on the earth to minister to us, and some have been given actual charge over specific nations. There's indication in scripture that every nation has a guardian angel who executes God's will for that particular nation through the angel. For example, Michael is known as the Archangel of Israel. His job is to protect Israel. I'd say he's been doing a pretty good job of that over the years. And there's reason to think every nation has an angel to execute God's judgment and will over that nation. They have certain realms.
Seventhly, angels can appear to be human. Now remember, angels are spirit beings, but they can take on human form. And Hebrews 13 gives us a warning, saying, "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without even knowing it. Angels can appear to be human at times".
So, we've seen angels are created by God. Secondly, and this is I know what you're going to be particularly interested in, angels minister to believers. In Hebrews chapter 1, verse 13, the writer says we're not to worship angels, because God has given Christ a special place of prominence. He's the one whose enemies will be made into a footstool. Well, then what is the purpose of angels? Look at Hebrews 1:14. "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation"? Who is it that inherits salvation? It's you and me. It's Christians. We don't earn salvation. We receive it as a free gift of God, and God has sent angels to be ministers to those of us who are children of God. I like to refer to angels as God's AAA service for believers, always available to assist. That's what angels are.
And as you look through scripture, you discover there are at least four ways that angels minister to you and me. First of all, God uses angels to sustain and encourage us. They're used to sustain and encourage us. Remember in 1 Kings chapter 19, after Elijah had fought the battle on Mount Carmel and defeated the false prophets of Baal and Asherah? Remember Jezebel announced she was going to get him and get him good? And that sent Elijah running. And he ran, and he ran, and he ran, until exhausted he planted himself under a juniper tree and said, "God, take my life. I'm ready to end it all". He was tired. He was depressed. But God knew that. He didn't grant Elijah's request.
Instead, what did he do? He sent an angel to minister to Elijah. The same thing with Jesus in Matthew 4:11 after his temptation in the desert. Remember, the Bible says, "Then the devil left Jesus; and behold, angels came and began to minister to him". Have you ever had anybody who ministered to you at a time of great discouragement, a great time of physical need, or oppression, spiritual oppression? It may be that was an angel that ministered to you, or God used an angel to prompt somebody to minister to you. Angels sustain and encourage us.
Secondly, angels sometimes will reveal God's will to us. Now, let me be quick to say this isn't the norm, but it has happened before, that God has revealed his will through an angel. That's what happened to Joseph when he discovered that Mary was pregnant, and he was not the father. He was tempted to end the engagement. But notice what happened in Matthew 1, verse 20. "But when Joseph had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of God, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.'"
Remember, it was an angel who revealed to Philip his plan in Acts chapter 8, his need to leave the Gaza Road and to go and minister to an Ethiopian court official. Sometimes, not all the time, sometimes God uses angels to communicate God's plan for us. Now, we need to be very careful, because angels can be deceptive. In 2 Corinthians 11:14, the Apostle Paul says, "Satan can appear as an angel of light to deceive people". Be careful with angelic revelations. Any so-called revelation we have from an angel must align with the teaching of the Word of God. If it does not align with God's Word, if it contradicts God's Word, it's not a holy angel. It is a satanic angel that has brought that message.
Thirdly, angels protect us from physical and spiritual harm. As startling as it may seem to you, did you know Satan's strategy is to cause your premature death? He would love to kill you prematurely before God's time. If you're not a Christian yet, Satan wants to destroy you before you have the opportunity to trust in Christ as your Savior and receive eternal life. He wants to take you to hell with him forever and ever. If you're a Christian, Satan knows he can't take your eternal soul, but he wants to kill you so that he can destroy your witness for Christ. He would love to do that.
How does God protect us from our premature death? He does so through angels. Psalm 91, verses 11 and 12, here's a promise for all believers, "For God will give his angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways. They, the angels, will bear you up in their hands, that you should not strike your foot against a stone". Do those verses sound familiar to you? Remember, they were the verses that Satan quoted when he was tempting Jesus in the wilderness. Here's what this Psalm is promising. God will protect you from premature death.
There's a great saying I read one time, "Every Christian is immortal until his work on earth is done". Did you know you have God's supernatural protection? You're not gonna leave this world one second before your ordained time, until God is finished with his plan for you here on earth. And how does God ensure that we don't die prematurely? He does it through the protection of angels. There is an invisible war that is going on all around us that affects us every day. Although it's invisible, it is very, very real. And one way God protects us from this demonic warfare is through the ministry of angels.
A fourth way angels minister to us is they minister to us in death. Revelation 14:13 says, "Blessed, happy are those who die in the Lord". Do you know why we can be happy, if we're Christians, in the face of death? Well, certainly because we know our destination. We know we're going to be welcomed into the presence of God. To be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord, but also it's the process of death that we can take comfort in. No Christian dies alone. Do you know it is the angels of God who will usher you into the presence of God when your time comes? You do not have to fear dying alone.
Where do I get that in scripture? From Luke 16:22. Jesus told the story about the death of a righteous man, Lazarus, and of an unrighteous man, the rich man. And in Luke 16:22, Jesus said, "Now the poor man, Lazarus, died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham's bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried". But thirdly, finally, angels are also ministers to unbelievers. Yes, their primary purpose is to those of us who inherit salvation, Christians, but angels do have a role in the lives of unbelievers. Let me mention three of those ways.
First of all, angels are ministers of God's goodness to unbelievers. God sometimes blesses unbelievers to lead them to repentance, and angels are the vehicle by which God can bless a non-Christian. There's some of you watching or listening right now. You're not yet a Christian, and you really question whether or not you need Jesus Christ in your life. You may be thinking, "Well, things are going pretty well for me. My family's doing great. My career is soaring. My bank account is going up every day. Why do I need God"? You know, the Apostle Paul said it is the grace of God that leads us to repentance. Sometimes God sends good things into your life to remind you of your need for him. And that's what he did for Hagar and for Ishmael. Angels are ministers of God's goodness to unbelievers.
Secondly, angels are ministers of judgment to unbelievers. We see that throughout the Bible. God used angels to deliver his judgment. In Psalm 78:49, the psalmist said it was God, or it was angels who unleashed the ten plagues upon Egypt. In 2 Kings 19:35, God used angels to slaughter 185,000 Assyrian soldiers. Remember the story of King Herod in Acts 12:23? Herod refused to give glory to God. And what happened? Verse 23 says, "Immediately, an angel of the Lord struck him, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and died".
Third, this may surprise some of you, angels are ministers of eternal death to unbelievers. In Matthew 13, verses 49 to 50, Jesus said, "So it will be at the end of the age; the angels will come forth and take out the wicked from among the righteous and will throw them into the furnace of fire in that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth".
In Matthew 25:41, Jesus talked about the lake of fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels. Gehenna, the lake of fire, the eternal hell was originally prepared not for human beings, but for Satan and his followers. But those of us who refuse to ever accept God's forgiveness are making a default decision to follow Satan. And that's why in Revelation chapter 20, the Bible says at the end of the great final judgment, the great White Throne judgment, if any man's name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was cast into the lake of fire and tormented there day and night forever and ever.
Don't miss this, ladies and gentlemen. It is not God's will that any should perish, but all should come to repentance. God's desire is that everyone come to salvation through faith in Jesus Christ. But if you refuse that salvation, the Bible says your end is certain, you will be cast into this furnace of fire. This isn't some Baptist evangelist saying it. It's Jesus himself. In a place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, and here is the horrific thought that Jesus is telling us, the one who will cast unbelievers into the lake of fire will be the angels. That is their final assignment, to dispatch every unbeliever to an eternity of hell.
Think about this, the last face any unbeliever sees before he's cast into hell will be the face of an angel. We've looked today at what God says about angels, God's holy angels. Our time is out, but next time we're gonna see what God says about the other group of angels, fallen angels we call demons. And next time, specifically, we're going to look at what can demons do to non-Christians? What can they do to Christians? We're going to answer the question, "Is it possible for Christians to be demon possessed"? We're going to examine, should Christians who are feeling demonic oppression engage in rituals like exorcisms? Are those valid today? And finally, how can we win in Satan's war to destroy our faith, our family, and our future?