Foundations of Our Faith – Part 9 – The Spiritual Realm

 

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Part 9 - Study Notes

Session 1 – Angels and Demons

As a child I was always willing to believe in God and  I Had no trouble believing the stories about Jesus in the Bible. I even didn’t have any problem accepting that Jesus was God son on earth. But angels and demons?

What does the Bible say about angels?

 1        God Created Angels (OHP 3)

The Bible teaches that God created the heavens and the earth and it gives us a whole chapter to relate the details (Gen. 1).  It also teaches that God created humans and gives us another whole chapter to describe those events (Gen. 2). Later into the book of Genesis angels just suddenly appear. Nowhere are we told about their creation, but we are told that God created all things. By not recording the specific act of creating angels, the Bible is evidently telling us that they are only important in as much that God wants us to know they exist, but they are not of primary spiritual importance and certainly are not worthy of special prayers or even worship as some believe.

2        Angels are created spiritual Beings

Angels have intelligence (1 Pet. 1:12),  Angels have feelings (Lk. 2:13) Angels have a will (Jude 6). We are told in Hebrews that they are ministering spirit beings. (Heb. 1:14), Interestingly, Mark 12: 25 tell us that they do not have the power of reproduction. Furthermore, Luke tells us they do not die (Lk.20:36).  They are always nearly designated by the masculine gender. (Zech. 5:9 is the only possible exception).  They appear and people see them (Lk. 1:11-12).  The Bible even says sometimes when they appear, they sometimes do indeed have wings (Isa. 6:2) but not always.

That’s what we do know about angels. Let pause for a moment and consider what they are not.

The bible does not teach that Angels are the spirits of the dear departed, nor are they glorified human beings (Heb. 12).

Angels can be divided into two groups: The fallen angels who chose to follow Satan (Mt.25:41), and the elect angels (1 Tim. 5:21),

Elect Angels (OHP 6)

The elect angels are ministering spirits (Heb. 1:14).  They minister by worshipping God, for example, the seraphim worship Him (Isa. 6:1-3), and the cherubim guard His holiness (Gen. 3:22-24).  There was seen to be an extra measure of angelic activity during our Lord’s lifetime.

They predicted His birth (Lk. 1:26-33).

Announced His birth (Lk. 2:13).

Protected Him as a baby (Mt. 2:13).

Strengthened Him after His temptation. (Matt 4:11)

And did so again in the Garden of Gethsemane (Lk. 22:43).

It was an Angel who rolled away the stone from the tomb.

And one also announced His resurrection (Mt. 28:2, 6).

(Heb. 1:14; along with Matt. 18:10) are two verses that teach that believers can have angels act as guardians against the forces of evil. However, these verses definitely do not teach that believers have their own individual angel. They are just illustrations of individual angels ministering to individual believers in individual situations but that is not the same thing as saying we have our own personal guardian angel. We are taught that angels can be involved in answering our prayers (Acts 12:7) and they can give encouragement in times of danger. (Acts 27:23-24)

Elect Angels are Organized: Michael is designated as an archangel (Jude 9) Daniel 10:13 also says Michael is one of the chief princes. Though the Bible does not give us enough information for us to have a detailed picture of the organization of angels.

It does seem that angels are organized in structures and hierarchies in order to do God’s will. Christians sometimes put down organization and hierarchies as if they are all bad. God organized the host of heaven. Moses organized the people of Israel as they wandered in the wilderness and Paul organized Christians into local churches. Perhaps if you and I want to carry out God’s will in co-corporation with other believers or with other like-minded churches, you need to be organized.

Fallen Angels

Satan

Satan was a created angel (Ezek. 28:13, 14; Mt.12:24). In fact, he was a cherub (Ezek. 28:14).  We are told he sinned, and  Isaiah 14 describes his fall. (Isaiah 14: 12-14) Satan’s ongoing purpose is to oppose God, oppose His program, and oppose His people. The name “Satan” means literally means “adversary.”  He also tries to blind the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot understand the gospel. (2 Cor. 4:4), When the seed of the Word is planted in the heart of a person, Satan, like a bird plucking seed tries to snatch it away (Lk. 8:12).  He slanders believers, (the word “devil” means “liar”, or more literally “slanderer” We are told he is the accuser of the brethren. Satan tempts believers to lie (Acts 5:3) and commit immorality (1 Cor. 7:5). Satan’s is the father of all lies. Jesus put it this way: (John. 8:44). There is no indication in the Bible that Satan has horns, a tail, hoofs, a pitchfork, or even a red suit….

When Satan fell, some of the angels chose to follow him instead of God (Matt.25:41). Some choose to follow him in spite of where they will end up.   These fallen angels are thereafter called demons. Demons can be divided into two categories: imprisoned demons and active demons.

Imprisoned Demons

There is no question that the Bible teaches that some angels are held in prison (2 Pet. 2:4; Jude 6). There are different views as to how this happened and how they got there. However, scripture definitely teaches that some of the fallen angels remained imprisoned even to this day.

Active Demons

A second group of demons are not imprisoned. They are more relevant to us because they are loose and active. The very fact that they are called his angels in Matt. 24:41 indicates they do Satan’s bidding. These demons will even try and influence nations, Daniel 10:13 speaks of on demon being “the prince of the kingdom of Persia.”  There was also an evil power behind Babylon (Isa. 14) and Tyre (Ezek. 28).

Demons it seems can also affect unbelievers in all sorts of ways.

They can inflict disease (Mt. 9:33; Lk. 13:11, 16).

They can possess unregenerate people (Mt. 8:28)

They promote false doctrine (2 Tim. 4:1).

They also attack God’s people (Eph. 6:12).

In Ephesians 6, Paul tells believers, that they wrestle against wicked spiritual forces (Eph. 6:12) and therefore, should put on the whole armour of God (Eph. 6:13).

Session 1 Summary:

The Bible teaches there are beings called angels. Some are elect and do God’s bidding, while others are evil and do Satan’s bidding, which is to oppose God. These fallen angels are also called demons.

The definition of the doctrine of angels is: angels are an order of beings, which God created, some of which serve Him and others of which serve Satan (Heb. 1:14; Mt. 24:41). God wants us to know that they exist, but He does not want us to communicate with them. He certainly does not want believers to worship angels, even the good ones (Col. 2:18). As for demons, God certainly does not want believers communicating with them (Eph. 4:27). To be specific, a believer should beware of all occult related activities including Ouija boards, séances, etc.

Session 2 The Afterlife

“What happens after death?” That was probably one of the first questions humans ever asked. That question was asked early. One of the first men to live on the earth whose life is described in any detail was Job.  He asked that very question nearly 4,000 years ago when he said this. “If a man dies, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14a). Over the ages people of different worldviews have offered several possible answers. In this first session I would like us to take a look at all and the main world views on the afterlife, then give a biblical response to that view. Then after that I would like to state what I believe is the biblical position

1        Annihilation

Some say that when people die there is nothing; we are JUST annihilated. All atheists and most agnostics would hold to that position. To them and many others, when we die, that’s it, after death, there is nothing and death is just a dead end.

The Response.

In the Old Testament David said, Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.(Ps.23:6). In the NT Jesus unpacked it this way, “In My Father’s house are many mansions. If it were not so I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself that where I am there you may be also” (John. 14:2-3) N.K.J.V.

2        Reincarnation.

This view says that the soul passes into another body here on earth and the new body may be another human life an animal or even an insect. Reincarnation is still widely believed throughout the world and even today, it is still statically the most popular view among people living in India.  According to Hinduism, as soon as people die, they are reborn and are either rewarded with a good life for all the good in their lives or punished for all the evil they have done. However, this concept is not peculiar to Hinduism. According to Buddhism, reincarnation is also suggested, however a transition period of 49 days between death and rebirth is suggested. During this state the individual is translated to a higher level, then the individual falls back to earth and is reborn in another physical life.

The Response 

Ecclesiastes says, “And the dust returns to the ground it came from,     and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” (Eccl 12:7) This viewpoint is confirmed hundreds of years later in a book written to early Hebrew Christians where God also revels this to us; “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Heb. 9:27) N.K.J.V. Notice it says there is one death and then the judgment, not reincarnation, no coming back again for a second chance.

3        Soul Sleep.

The doctrine of soul sleep teaches that the soul sleeps between death and the resurrection.  Those who hold this view try to use Scripture to prove its position.The proponents of soul sleep point to the use of the term “sleep” to refer to death and contend that death is just a sleep.

The Response. 

Granted, the Bible uses the word sleep sometimes to refer to death, but that is a figure of speech not to be taken literally. The sleep referring to is the soul’s separation from God Furthermore, it is the body which sleeps and not  the soul.  That is evident from the fact that Abraham and Lazarus, as well as the rich man who had departed this world were not asleep after their death and burial. (Luke. 16:25), Nor were Moses and Elijah asleep when they met Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration. (Matt. 17:3). When the book of Revelation pulls back the curtain and allows its readers a glimpse of heaven, it pictures the redeemed speaking and singing and praising.  The very opposite of being asleep. (Rev. 6:9-11).

4        Purgatory

The Roman Catholic Church says that after death a Catholic goes to purgatory. Purgatory is defined as;

The state, place or condition in the next world, which will continue until the last judgment where the souls of those who die in the state of grace, but not yet free from all imperfection, make expiation for unforgiven venal sins or for the temporal punishment due to venal and mortal sins that have already been forgiven and, by so doing, are purified before they may enter heaven

(The New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967 edition, p. 1034).

The response.

The Bible speaks of no such place. Moreover, Jesus Christ said this to the thief on the cross, who quizzed him about the afterlife. By saying; ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.’ (Luke 23: 43) Jesus did not say, “Today you will be with me in purgatory.”  He didn’t even say, “Today you will be in paradise.” He said, “Today you will be with Me in paradise.” Thus, after death the believer does not go to purgatory, but is ushered into the very presence of God. By the way, the Catholic Encyclopedia of Doctrine itself admits that the Bible does not teach the doctrine of purgatory. After a lengthy explanation of what purgatory is concludes by saying this;

“In the final analysis, the Catholic doctrine on purgatory is based on tradition, not sacred Scripture.”

5        Immortality

 The Bible the immortality of both believers and unbelievers. When people die, they do not cease to exist permanently or temporarily. Nor do they come back to this life. Every human being spiritually lives forever, but not all go to the same place.  Believers go to heaven and unbelievers go to a place of eternal separation from God. A place of torment popularly referred to as hell. (Lk. 16:19-31).

Summary:

According to the Bible, upon death every human being goes somewhere else, forever. Those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Saviour, live forever, but so do the unrepentant; the only difference is the place of their eternal abode. It is not the duration of life, but the destination of life that counts. Therefore, it is best spending this life preparing for that eternal destination.

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