Because we desire to be more like Jesus, we make resolutions, ask Him to help us, and try to behave differently. Yet despite our best efforts to do things God’s way, we slide back into old habits. Frustrated, we may ask Him, “Why can’t I change?” The reason is, overcoming sinful attitudes and behaviors starts with genuine repentance, which has three aspects.
Conviction. The Holy Spirit will reveal the areas in which we’ve sinned and convict us of wrongdoing. Through Scripture, the Spirit shows us God’s standard and what needs to change. Repentance begins with understanding where we have gone astray.
Contrition. The next step–grieving over our iniquity–is followed by confession to the Lord. Genuine sorrow arises from the knowledge that we’ve sinned against Him. In contrast, human unhappiness often comes from being caught misbehaving. Other times we are miserable because of where our choices led us, or feel shame that people know about our sin. True contrition is followed by humble confession.
Commitment to act. Real repentance is complete when we wholeheartedly pledge to turn from our old behavior and move toward righteous ways. God knows we won’t live perfectly, but He looks for a surrendered heart that diligently seeks to obey Him.
Paul used strong language when telling us to turn from iniquity: “Put to death… whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (Col. 3:5 niv). What sin are you struggling to overcome? Have you genuinely repented, committing to turn from it permanently? Let the Holy Spirit empower you to change.
God’s Call to Repentance
In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the younger brother asked to receive his inheritance early so he might live as he chose. Once the father gave him his share, he made many unwise choices that led to hunger and destitution. What happened next illustrates the principles of godly repentance.
After squandering all his money, the young man found work feeding pigs, a bottom-of-the-barrel kind of job. One day he came to his senses and recognized his terrible plight. His repentance began with an awareness of his wrong choices and the fact that his bad situation was due to them.
Knowing that his difficulties came from his sinful behavior, the prodigal grieved over his mistakes and acknowledged that he had sinned against the Lord (v. 18). He declared he was no longer worthy to be his father’s son. Godly sorrow and confession led the young man to leave that place and go home. His repentance was made complete when he turned away from his old ways and returned to his father. The Lord likewise calls us to repent and return to Him.
What a welcome the prodigal son received. Upon seeing him, the father was filled with compassion and ran to embrace him. Forgiveness and acceptance were extended to the son. Both are blessings that God freely offers to whoever asks Him.
The prodigal son did not clean himself up before returning home. He simply left his old life, turned toward home, and trusted in his father’s mercy. The heavenly Father calls us to repent and offers us forgiveness when we turn away from our self-centered ways and move toward godliness (1 John 1:9).
For more biblical teaching and resources from Dr. Charles Stanley, please visit www.intouch.org.
Used with permission from In Touch Ministries, Inc. © 2009 All Rights Reserved.
A Question That Should Startle Every Man Who is not a Christian
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” Hebrews 2:3
I have a text to-night which I believe God has given me for this hour, a text that ought to startle every man and woman in this building who has not accepted the Gospel of Christ. You will find it in Hebrews ii. 3: “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” I wish that that text would burn itself into he heart of every man and woman in this house who is out of Christ, “How shall I escape if I neglect so great salvation?” I wish that every man and woman that may go away from this place to-night without definitely having received Christ as their Saviour and Lord and Master would hear it ringing in their ears as they go down the street, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” I wish that every one that may lie down to sleep to-night without a definite assurance of being forgiven through the atoning blood of Jesus Christ and of acceptance before God in Him, would hear it all through the night, “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” Our text sets forth the folly and guilt of neglecting the salvation that God has sent to us in and through His Son Jesus Christ, and that is my object to-night. My sermon is all in the text-the folly and guilt of neglecting the salvation that God the Father has sent through His Son and in His son Jesus Christ.
You notice I say not merely the folly but the guilt. There is many a man who thinks that perhaps it may be a foolish thing not to accept Christ, and admit the folly of it, but he has never realized the guilt of it. But I shall endeavour to show you to-night in the unfolding of this text that it is not merely an egregiously foolish thing, but that it is an appalling wicked thing to neglect this salvation.
1. THE GREATNESS OF THE SALVATION.
We see the folly and guilt of neglecting this Salvation, in the first place, by a consideration of the greatness of the salvation. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”
1. We see the greatness of the salvation first of all in the way in which the salvation was given. God sent His Son, His only Son, down into the world to proclaim this salvation. As we read in the preceding chapter, “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners, spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; who, being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high.” Have you ever thought of it in the light of the context, that when God in infinite condescension, the great and infinitely holy God, sent down His own Son to proclaim pardon to the vilest sinner, if you and I neglect this salvation we are pouring contempt upon the Son of God, and upon the Father that sent Him? If God had spoken this salvation by the lips only of inspired prophets, it would have a right to demand our attention. If God had gone above prophets, and had spoken this salvation by the lips of angels sent down from Heaven, it would have a still greater right to demand our attention. But when God, in His infinite condescension, sent not merely prophets or angels, but sent His own son, the only begotten one, the express image of His person, God manifest in the flesh, to proclaim this salvation, and you and I do not heed it, we are guilty of the most appalling presumption and defiance of God. “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses,” but how much sorer punishment you and I shall receive if we neglect this greater salvation.
2. In the second place, the greatness of this salvation is seen in the way in which it was purchased- This is a costly salvation. It was purchased by the shed blood, by the outpoured life of the incarnate Son of God. Ah, friends, when God in wondrous love went to that extent that He sacrificed His very best, when God went to that extent that He gave His own and only Son to die on the cross at Calvary, that He might purchase your salvation and mine, if you and I neglect so great salvation we are pouring contempt on the precious blood of the Son of God. “He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses,” but how much greater punishment shall he merit who under foot the Son of God, and counts the blood of the covenant wherewith He was sanctified an unholy thing, and insults the Spirit of Grace (Hebrews x. 29,29).
3. Again, the greatness of this salvation is seen in the third place by a consideration of what it brings. It brings pardon for all our sins, it brings deliverance from sin, it brings union with the Son of God in His resurrection life, it brings adoption into the family of God, it brings an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and, that fadeth not away, laid up in store in Heaven for us, who are kept by the power of God, through faith, unto a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. When you think that God has put at our disposal in Jesus Christ all His wealth, and is ready to make us heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, who can measure the guilt of neglecting and of turning a deaf ear to this wonderful salvation? Suppose that on his coronation day King Edward had ridden down to the East End of London, and seeing some wretched little boy on the street, clad in rags, with filthy face and hands, his great heart of love had gone out to that wretched boy, and he had stopped the royal carriage and said, “Bring that boy here,” and they had brought the boy, and he had said, “I want to take you out of your poverty, out of your squalor and rags and wretched home; I am going to take you to the royal palace and adopt you, as my son.” Then suppose the boy had turned said, “Go along, I don’t want to he adopted as your son; I would rather have my wretched crust of bread, I would rather have my rags and filthy home than live in your old palace; I don’t want to go to be your son.”
But when the great King of Glory, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, the great Eternal Son of God comes to you and me, in our filth and rags and sin, and wants to take us out of our filth and sin and rags of unrighteousness, and says, “I want to adopt you into my family and make you an heir of God and a joint-heir with Me,” there are some of you men and women in this building to-night who, by your actions, are saying, “Go away with your salvation, go away with your adoption into the family of God; I would rather have the crust of the world’s pleasure and the rags of my sin than all the royal apparel of righteousness and glory which you offer me.” Oh, the daring, damning guilt, of any man or woman who neglects so great salvation!
II. ONLY SALVATION.
A second thought which the text suggests is that our folly is great in neglecting this great salvation because it is the only salvation that is open to us. As Peter puts it in Acts iv. 12: “There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” It is salvation in Christ, or it is no salvation at all. A man is in a burning building. If there were one way of escape by a fire-escape, and another by a great broad stairway, he would have a perfect right to neglect the fire-escape for the easier escape by the stairway. But there was no way of escape but the fire-escape, how great would be his folly in neglecting it. Men and women, you are in a burning building, in a doomed world. There is just one way of escape; that is by Christ. In Christ any one can be saved. out of Christ; no one shall be saved. By Christ, or not at all. There is a class of men to-day who say, “Give up your Bible, give up your Christ of the Bible.” and we turn to them and say, “What have you got to give us in place of our Bible; what have you got to give us in place of the Christ of our Bible?” Now we know by personal experience that the Bible and Christ bring forgiveness of sins and peace of heart, for they have brought them to us. We know that they bring deliverance from sin’s power, for they have brought it to us. We know that they bring joy unspeakable and full of glory, for they have brought it to us. We know that they bring pardon and a firm assurance of eternal life, for they have brought them to us. We know that Christ makes us sons of God, and if sons, then heirs of God, and joint heirs with Himself. What have you got that will bring us the same, that will bring us pardon and peace and set us free from the power of sin? What have you got that will bring us joy unspeakable and full of glory? What have you got that will bring us the assurance of eternal life? Have you anything? No, you have not. Well, then, please, we are not quite so great fools as to give up a book and a Saviour that bring us all these for nothing. Salvation in Christ, or salvation not at all. Point me to one saved man in London that was not saved by Christ. I have been away round this round earth. I have been in every latitude and almost every longitude, north and south; I have talked with all kinds of people, of all races and all classes, but I have never yet found a saved man, who had a glad assurance of salvation and practical deliverance from sin’s power, that was not saved by Jesus Christ; neither has anybody else.
III. TO MISS SALVATION ALL THAT IS NECESSARY IS MERELY TO NEGLECT IT.
In the third place, this text teaches us that to miss this salvation, and to bring upon ourselves the just and awful displeasure of a holy God for our light and contemptuous treatment of a salvation so wonderful, given and purchased at so great a cost, all that is necessary is simply to neglect it. “How shall we escape if we neglect, so great salvation?” In order to bring upon your head the awful displeasure of God, and to be lost forever, it is not necessary that you go into any outrageous immoralities; it is not necessary that you should be an arrant and blatant blasphemer; it is not necessary that you should abuse churches and preachers of the Gospel; it is not necessary that you should even positively refuse to accept Jesus Christ; all that is necessary is that you simply neglect. More people are lost in Christian lands by neglecting than in any other way. There are millions in England to-day who are going through life neglecting, drifting into their graves neglecting, drifting into eternity neglecting, drifting into hell neglecting. That is all that is necessary to be lost. Here is a dying man, there stands a table by the dying man’s bedside, within easy reach, and standing on that table there is a tumbler in which is a medicine that has power to save the dying Christian’s life. The man has strength enough to put out his hand and take the tumbler and drink the medicine. Now what is all that is necessary for that man to be saved? All that is necessary is simply for him to put out his hand and take the tumbler and drink the medicine. Now what is all that is necessary for that man to be lost and die? It is not necessary that he should cut his throat or blow out his brains; it is not necessary that he should throw the medicine out of the window; it is not necessary that he should assault or insult the doctor or the nurse; it is not necessary that he should positively refuse to take the medicine; all that is necessary for that man to die is to neglect to take the medicine.
Men and women out of Christ, you are dying. Eternal death is at work in your souls to-night, but on that table, in that Book, in the Christ of that Book, there is a medicine that will save you, and save you to-night if you will take it. The medicine is within the reach of anybody in this building. Christ is nearer to you than the man or woman that sits next to you in that pew. All you have to do to-night to be saved is to put out your hand and take Christ. “To as many as received Him to them gave He power to become the sons of God.” What is all that is necessary to you to perish eternally? Not to commit moral suicide; not to commit to-night some awful act of immorality; not to get up and curse Christ and the Bible; not loudly to proclaim that you are an infidel; not to refuse blatantly to take Christ; all that is necessary for you to be lost is simply to neglect. Here is a boat on the Niagara River, away above the Falls, towards Lake Erie, where there is scarcely any current. A man sits in the boat, being carried on very, slowly by the gentle current. There is a good pair of oars in the boat, and the man could take them and pull up the river towards the lake, or to either bank, if he liked; but the man sits there and is carried on, almost imperceptibly at first, and then faster and faster, until, before he knows it, he is in the swift current just upon the rapids, and he is being carried on towards the Falls. The oars are no good to him now, the current is too swift; he could not save himself if he would-but on the shore there are men who have seen his peril; they have run along the bank and have thrown a line good and strong. It falls right into the boat, at the man’s very feet. What is all that the man has to do to be saved? All he has to do is to lay hold of the rope and they will pull him ashore, as has been done more than once on that river. What is all that he has to do to be lost? It is not necessary that he should take up the oars and pull with the current; it is not necessary that he should throw the oars overboard; it is not necessary that he himself should jump into the river; all that is necessary is simply for him to neglect to lay hold of that rope that lies before him, and the swift current of the river will carry him on to absolutely certain death over the cataract.
Men and women, that is a picture of every man and woman in this building out of Christ. You are in a boat in a perilous stream, being carried towards the cataract of eternal perdition. There is no man who has the power to take the oars in his own strength and pull against that awful current; there is no man on earth who can save himself; but God has seen your peril, and, in the Gospel of His Son, has thrown out a rope. It has fallen at your feet to-night; all you have to do is to lay hold, and He will pull you safely on to the glorious shore. But what is all that you have to do to be lost? It is not necessary that you should jump into the current or pull with the stream, or refuse to accept Christ. All that is necessary is that you simply neglect, and that awful current that you are already in will sweep you over the cataract to eternal death and ruin.
Some one put a little card into my hand one day, a short, narrow card, and on the one side were these words, “What must I do to be saved?” Underneath was written God’s answer in Acts xvi. 31: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved.” Then it said “Over,” and I turned it over. On the other side of the card was this question, “What must I do to be lost?” and there was the answer in just one word “Nothing!” “Nothing!” You don’t have to do anything to be lost. You are lost already; if you do not do something, and do it quickly, you will be lost forever. “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?” To sum it all up, friends, all that is necessary to be lost to-night, all that is necessary to bring upon our heads the awful wrath of God for our light and contemptuous treatment of a Gospel proclaimed by the lips of His own Son and purchased by the atoning death of His own Son, all that is necessary is simply to neglect.
Years ago in Minneapolis, the leading paper was the Minneapolis Tribune, published in a magnificent six or seven-story building, the finest newspaper building at that time in the Northwest. I had occasion very frequently to go into the upper stories of that building to see editorial friends. There was one great defect in that great building which I had never noticed. The defect was this, that the stairway went right round the elevator shaft, so that if a fire broke out in the elevator shaft escape by the stairway was cut off as well. There was, however, a fire-escape outside. That very thing happened. There broke out a fire in the elevator shaft, and it commenced to sweep up the shaft, story by story, cutting off escape by the elevator and cutting off escape by the stairway as well. But they had a brave elevator boy who went up a number of times until he got a large number of men down from the upper stories, and almost all the rest escaped by the fire-escape outside the building. But away up in the sixth story there was a man, a dispatcher for the Associated Press, which is the largest news gathering agency in the United States. He was urged to escape, but he refused to move. There he sat by his instrument, telegraphing to all parts of the country that the building was on fire. He could have gone out of the building by the fire-escape, and across the road to an instrument there, and could have done just as well; but, like a typical newspaper man, he wanted do something sensational, and so there he sat telegraphing the news. There had been a similar case above Johnstown in the time of the Johnstown flood, when the dam of the river was breaking. A woman out in a telegraph office at the bottom of the dam telegraphing down to the people at Johnstown that the dam was breaking and that they had better flee for their lives. But she sat there, because duty required her, until the dam burst, and she was swept down in the flood. This man, however, sat there quite unnecessarily, merely because of his desire for notoriety. “I am in the Tribune building,” he telegraphed, “in the sixth story, and the building is on fire. The fire has now reached the second story; I am in the sixth.” In a little while he sent another message: “The fire has now reached the third story.” Soon he telegraphed: “The fire has reached the fourth story; I am in the sixth.” Soon the message went over the wires: “The fire has reached the fifth story; I am in the sixth.” Then he thought it was about time to leave; but, in order to do this, he had to cross the hallway to a window to reach the fire-escape. He went to his door and opened it, and, to his dismay, found that the fire had not only reached the fifth story,, but the sixth story, and that the hallway was full of smoke and flame, which, the moment he opened the door swept into the room. He shut the door quickly. What was he to do? The stairway, the elevator and the fire-escape were all cut off; but he was a brave man., and he went to the window and threw it up. Down below stood a great crowd, six stories down. There was no means of catching him if he jumped, and he stood there on the window sill, not knowing what to do. But presently he looked up. Above his head was a long wire guy-rope that passed from the Tribune building to the roof of a building across an opening. Below him was a chasm six stories deep, but he caught hold of the guy-rope and began to go hand-over-hand across that chasm. The people down in the street looked on in breathless suspense. On and on he went, and then he stopped. The people below could hardly breathe. would he let go? No. On and on he went, and again he stopped, and again the crowd below gasped, but only for a moment. His strength was gone; he was now obliged to let go, and down he came tumbling through those six stories of space, crushed into a shapeless mass below. All through mere unnecessary neglect!
Men and women, you are in a burning building tonight, you are in a doomed world; but, thank God, there is a way of escape, and one way only, in Christ Jesus. No one knows how long that way will be left open. But I beg of you, do not neglect it, and then when it is too late lay hold on some poor guy-rope of lame philosophy, and go a little way, and then let go and plunge, not six stories down, but on and on and on the awful unfathomable depths of the gulf of despair. Men and women, turn to Christ to-night! “How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?”
THE ANGELS OF GOD
Dr. W. A. Criswell
EDITOR‘S NOTE: Dr. W A Criswell is now in Heaven (1909 – 2002) was the long-time pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas TX. This is a sermon he preached from that pulpit that was aired on radio and television.
You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. And this is the pastor bringing the 11:00 o’clock morning message. This is the first Sunday of March, and March brings to us our annual revival appeal. The fifteenth day of this month the protracted period of services begin. And for two weeks they will continue through the twenty-second day of the month, through Easter Sunday, the twenty-ninth day of the month. It brings to us our annual Palace Theater services at noontide, the week before Easter.
And every organization, every member, every part, every piece, every parcel; everyone of the belongings of this church from the top to the bottom, from the middle to both sides, everything about us must now ought to be poured into this revival effort. This coming Saturday, I notice there ought to be revival retreats: our Senior Intermediate group, go; our young adults, go. In prayer, in remembrance, in visitation, in preparation, in program, everything now, let us prepare for this revival.
Now the pastor preaches at this morning hour through the Bible, and we have come to the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews. This is the fourth sermon preached on the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews. And the sermon that I deliver this morning is on a subject that I have often contemplated, but I have never spoken on it in my life. The subject is The Angels of God. And the text is the last verse of the first chapter of the Book of Hebrews, “Are they not all ministering spirits set forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” From the fourth verse to the last verse of the first chapter of Hebrews, the author is speaking about angels. He’s speaking about our Lord and the angels. And the sermon last Sunday morning was on that: The Angels and the Son. And this morning I’ve just taken time out to prepare a message on angels themselves. I never studied it in my life. It was a marvelously revealing thing to me and I hope God will bless these words to all of our hearts.
The Angels of God: the Greek word, the Hebrew word translated “angel” mean the same—aggeloi, “the angels,” in Greek means simple, “the messengers,” angelos, “messenger.” The same way with the Hebrew word, malakim, “the angels.” Just a simple ordinary word for “messenger” and is used ordinarily, as you would use the word “a messenger.” So the word in its primary meaning, both in Hebrew and in Greek, and those words are so used in the Bible just to refer to one who is sent, a messenger: the malakim, the angeloi.
Now, in the application of that word in its use, sometimes it refers to inanimate objects that God uses as His messengers. In the one hundred [fourth] Psalm, the word translated “your angel,” the word refers to wind. God makes the wind His messengers, His angels. Sometimes the word is used to refer to God’s prophets, God’s messengers, who deliver God’s word. In the first chapter of Haggai, for example, he is called “the angel” of the Lord, the messenger of the Lord. In the second chapter of Malachi, the priest is called “the messenger of God,” “the angel of God.” In the third chapter of Malachi, in the great prophecy about John the Baptist: “Behold, I send My messenger,” you have it translated, “before My face.” “I send My angel before My face.” In the Book of the Revelation, you have the same use of that word, “To the angel of the church at Ephesus, To the angel at the church at Smyrna, at Thyatira, at Philadelphia,” to all seven of them. The Lord’s letter addressed to the angel of the church at Ephesus.
Now, that is the same use of that word, like it is in the Hebrew, like it is in ordinary Greek words. The Lord is addressing God’s servant there in the church at Ephesus, at Smyrna, Pergamos. He’s addressing His messenger. It refers to the authoritative position of the pastor of the church, his exalted responsibility, “He that hath the seven stars, to the angel at the church,” to the pastor of the church.
Most of the time however, when the word is used in the Bible, it refers to those supra-human beings, the celestial hosts of heaven. The word refers to the angels of God, who are so myriad in their vast number that God is called “the Lord of Hosts.” Whenever that expression is used, it refers to the heavenly hosts, the vast numbers of the angels of God.
Now, in those celestial hosts of the invisible world there are several orders. Most of the time, the word refers to the elect angels, the holy angels, the angels of God, the angels of light; they who look upon the face of Jehovah, and serve Him day and night. Sometimes though, the word refers to the angels of darkness, to Satan’s angels. But so far as I can find, wherever that refers to the angels of darkness, it is always with a qualifying expression. They are never called just “angels,” but they’re called “the devil’s angels,” or “the angels who sin,” or “the angels who kept not their first estate.”
Then in the Bible, and here would be a marvelous sermon, in the Bible there is one particular, unusually different angel who appears all through the Old Testament. And there are things, names, acts, reverences ascribed to Him that are ascribed to no other angel in the Bible. That’s the angel of the theophany, the angel of the Lord’s presence, the angel in whom is the name of God, the angel of the covenant.
Abraham bowed before that angel, pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah. That is the angel who appeared to Jacob and said, “I am the God of Bethel.” That is the angel with whom Jacob wrestled and after which he said, “I have seen God face to face.” That is the angel whom in later life Jacob identified with God Himself. It was the angel of the covenant, as well as God’s name, who delivered Israel out of Egypt. It was that angel that appeared to Moses in the burning bush and said, “My name is I Am That I Am.” That angel appeared to Joshua saying, “As the captain of the Lord’s hosts, am I come.” I have not time for it: that angel is different from all others in heaven and in earth. And that messenger is the logos of God. When He was incarnate, we came to know Him as Jesus the Christ.
And that use of the word angel, messenger, to refer to Jesus is the same thing as you find here in the third chapter of the Book of Hebrews where he speaks of the apostle and high priest of our profession, Christ Jesus. That is, Jesus is the anti-type, the prototype, the perfection of apostleship, of priesthood, of which all others are but poor copies. So in the Revelation of God in the Old Testament, the divine holy Messenger of heaven to sinful men, exalted above all others, is the logos; is Jesus the Christ.
But delineating it now, delineating it, delineating it, most of the times when we use the word “angel” we refer to heaven’s ministering spirits sent to minister for them who are the heirs of salvation; that great heavenly host who stand in the presence of God and do His bidding. They are a separate and created order in themselves. We do not become angels when we die and go to heaven. The Book says we shall be greater than the angels. Hard to think that could ever be. After preparing a sermon like this, that we shall judge angels, more exalted, nearer God than they. But the book says so. We are notangels; we shall not be angels. They are a created order in God’s celestial universe. The one hundred forty-eighth Psalm refers to their creation. And the thirty-eighth chapter of Job speaks of their presence at the creation of the physical universe when they looked upon it in wonder and in joy.
The angels are not all wise. The first Book of Peter: the first chapter describes angels desiring to look into the scheme of salvation and in wonderment behold it, what God is doing to save fallen man. They are not to be worshipped. The second chapter of Colossians is an interdiction against it. And in the twenty-second chapter of the Book of the Revelation, when John fell down at the feet of the angel to worship him, the angel said: “See thou do it not: for I also am a fellow servant, worship God.” So the angel is a created order in himself—is not all wise, is not to be worshipped—and is a servant, a messenger, an angelos of God.
Now, in the history of the angelic order there seems to have been one change. There was a time when all of God’s angels, all of them, were in holiness and in perfection, waiting upon the great God of the universe. But there came a time when a portion of their number fell; they rebelled with the crown prince who was exalted above all of the angelic orders and whose name is Satan, whose name is Lucifer, who was the angel in resplendent glory. And in that story, back there, back there—how far back, it is not revealed—but a part of the angelsfell and became, with Satan cast out, reserved for judgment; theangels that sinned, that left their first estate.
Now, it would seem therefore that the angels who remained true to God were somehow confirmed in their celestial felicity and their pristine holiness because they are referred to now as “the electangels” or “the holy angels” or “the angels of light.” We’re not, It is not revealed to us, we are not introduced to what happened. I can just see the results of it, in the planets that are burned out and the stars that break and the globes that are barren. All of it a mark of that vast and illimitable controversy that raged one time in glory, when Satan and his angels rebelled against the great high God and were cast out and are someday to be judged forever.
Now of the angels who are holy—elect, the angels of light, theangels of God, those who stand in His presence and serve Him day and night—there are orders in the angelic hosts. Some of them are a cherub—cherubim, the Hebrew plural is an “im” cherub, cherubim—what is a cherub and what are the cherubim? Then the same thing with regard to a seraph, a seraph and a seraphim, and the seraphim. They are somehow orders in the angelic hosts. Some of them are called archangels, “the ruler,” archangel, the ruler of an angel, archangel. The great archangel that is named in the tenth chapter of the Book of Daniel is said to be one of the chief princes of God. So there are several, from that I could know, there are several archangelsof which one is named and referred to several times in the Bible. There is, in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, there is one of them referred to as “the mighty angel,” as though the others were not as great and strong.
Many times in the writings of Paul, you have their orders named and do not realize it. For example in the Book of Ephesians, Paul, speaking of the Lord who is set at God’s right hand in heavenly places, far above all archē, and exousias and dunamois andkuriotētos. [Ephesians 1:21] Then you have the same thing again in the third chapter of Ephesians. “To the intent that now unto the archē and the exousia in heavenly places” might be known by the church.[Ephesians 3:10] All of those things that oft times found in Paul, they refer to heavenly orders; they are angelic hosts.
Now they have names, individual names. Two of them are named: one of them is named “Gabriel,” Gabriel means the hero of God. Isn’t that a glorious name? Gabriel. What a shame to put it on Heatter. Gabriel, the hero of God, the mighty one of God. Another name is “Michael,” who is like unto God. Now those two angels that are named have altogether different assignments and tasks. And wherever they appear, they are doing the same tasks; carrying out the same commission. They never take each other’s work. Each one always is doing what he’s done before, and he’s doing in the next instance.
For example, Gabriel is always God’s announcer, always. He’s never in any other role. When Gabriel appears to Daniel he announces the famous seventy weeks and the coming of the Messiah. It is the same Gabriel at the end of that sixty-ninth week. It is the same Gabriel who announces to Zacharias, the priest, that John the Baptist, God’s forerunner, is to be born. It is the same Gabriel who announces to the virgin Jewess in Nazareth, a girl named Mary that she is to be the mother of this foreordained, foretold child. Wherever Gabriel appears, he appears always in the same role; he is the announcer of God.
Another one named is Michael. And Michael is the great warrior of the Lord. And wherever he appears, there he is championing with a drawn sword, the cause of the Almighty. He appears in Daniel as the champion of the people of Israel. He appears in Jude as disputing with Satan concerning the possession of the body of Moses. And in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation, he appears with his angels as warring against the dragons and his angels.
So if we could deduct from that revelation, the angels of glory, of God, have names, each one of them has a name, each one of them is somebody. And each one of them has an assigned task, and he is always true to that commission and to that assignment.
Now, my text says that all of them, all of them—and I look particularly to see if that word “all” was emphasized, and it is—all of the angels, all of them are ministering spirits sent forth to minister for them who are the heirs of salvation. All of the angels of God are our helpers and our encouragers. They are sent by the Lord to see us through, to deliver us someday to glory. Like the old song says:
Oh, come Angel Band, come and around me stand;
When does the song say that?
My, latest sun is sinking fast, my course is nearly run;
My greatest trials now are past, my triumph is begun.
Oh, come angel band come and around me stand;
Oh, bear me away on your snowy wings to my immortal home.
[“Oh Come, Angel Band,” by Jefferson Hascall, 1860]
If you have ever been in an old-time service, you have heard them sing that old-time song. It is true to the Book. God’s angels, God’s messengers are to encourage us and to stand by us and to fight for us and someday to deliver us before the throne of glory in the presence of God Himself.
Now, when you turn through the pages of the Book, how many times will you see those angelic messengers in their assignments from glory helping God’s people? Now, let’s just take a few. Somebody said there are more than three hundred instances of this in the Bible alone. I choose just a few. Two angels took hold upon Lot, and led him out of the city of Sodom when God said, “I shall reign fire upon it.” God’s angels. When Hagar turned her face from Ishmael, her boy, lest she looked upon him as he died, an angel heard her weep and showed her a fountain of water. When Abraham drew back his hand, to thrust the knife into the heart of his only son Isaac, an angel caught it.
The angels of God blessed those patriarchs in a world found in idolatry. Abraham called his old faithful servant Eliezer and said to him, “Go back to my father’s house to find a bride for my son, Isaac. And the angel of the Lord shall go before you.” And when Eliezer found Rebecca, he said, “God hath sent His angel before me to prepare the way.”
“An angel stopped the mouths of the lions,” Daniel says. He was not hurt in their lair and in their den.
Angels ministered to Jesus in the trial of the wilderness. In Gethsemane, Luke says, when His sweat were as it were great drops of blood. In the agony of His prayer, Luke says, “and an angel appeared, strengthening Him.”
So all throughout record of the children of God, there they are giving help, and deliverance, and encouragement. “See that you despise not,” says Jesus, “these little ones.” These who trust in God; they be simple; they be lettered, though humble. “See that you despise not these little ones who trust in God. For their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” That doesn’t mean that each one has a designated angel just for that one. But the whole heavenly hosts, stands at the right hand of God to war in behalf of God’s little ones.
When the disciples saw their Savior taken away, in their despair and their forlornness, two angels came and spoke words of encouragement to them. When Peter was in prison to be slain the next day, an angel came and struck him on the side and awakened him. And his chains were loosed, and the iron door opened, and the angel walked with Simon Peter out into the streets of the city. When Paul thought the ship would surely go down in the storm an angel appeared to the apostle saying, “Be of good cheer, God hath given thee the souls of all them that are aboard.”
In the presence of the angels of God, there is rejoicing when somebody walks down this aisle and gives the pastor his hand and says, “Today, I give my heart to Christ.” The angels of heaven:
the angel of the Lord encompassed around about them that fear Him and delivereth them. [Psalm 34:7]
And He shall give His angels charge concerning thee,[Luke 4:10]
Are they not ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them which shall be heirs of salvation?” [Hebrews 1:14]
Many, many times, a thing that has happened that blessed your life. I’m not able to delineate it. I do not have the eye that can see God’s glory. But the Book would say, “An angel prepared the way. It was God’s ministering servant that delivered you.” I can recall instances in my own life when I came in a hair’s breath of death. Others were killed, yet I have lived, God’s angels took care of us. I cannot delineate it; it is beyond what I can see. It just says in the word that His angels camp around them that fear Him and that the angelsdeliver us in those hours of terrible disaster and death.
I suppose it is because I don’t have eyes to see that I don’t see them. I’m like that servant of Elisha. And the king who hated him and sought his life sent an army down to take him alive. When Elisha’s servant awoke the next morning, in the little town where they lived, a little town named Dothan; there was the army on every side. It meant there was no way to escape. And when Elisha’s servant came back to the prophet, he said, “Alas, my master! This is the end, this is the end, how shall we do? If we escape this way, there is the army. Or this way, there it is again. Alas, my master, how shall we do?”
And Elisha just prayed, O Lord, open the eyes of the young man that he may see.
And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; that he could see:
and, behold, and behold, the mountains were filled with chariots of fire, round about Elisha.
I just don’t have eyes that can see; that’s what’s the matter. But God and His heavenly hosts are ever with us. Are they not ministering spirits sent forth to minister to them that are the heirs of salvation to see us through by His grace someday that we get to heaven?
Now, in the little moment that remains, may I speak of their appearance someday? We shall see them someday. The angels are two ways in this final denouement and consummation of the age. They are the Lord’s great reapers and harvesters. When the disciples asked Jesus to explain to them the parable of the tares, Jesus said, “He that soweth the good seed is the son of man. The field is the world. The good seed are the children of the kingdom. The tares are the children of the wicked one. The enemy that sowed them is Satan. The harvest is the end of the world and the reapers are the angels. The Son of man shall send forth His angels and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that have sinned and them that do iniquity and shall cast them into a furnace of fire in wailing and madness and gnashing of teeth.” [Matthew 13]
The angels, at the end of the age, are to be commissioned to purge this world. I would call them what the Bible calls them, “destroying angels.” And they appear so many times in the Bible: destroying angels. Two of them were commissioned to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. One of them stood above Israel and Jerusalem, when David sinned in numbering the people, with a drawn sword to slay the people. One of those destroying angels just touched the army of Sennacherib and the next morning one hundred eighty-five thousand of those soldiers were corpses. Destroying angels. In the Book of Ezekiel, six of them were commissioned of God to destroy all who defile in Jerusalem. The reapers are the angels. They shall gather out of God’s kingdom all that have sinned and do iniquity, and shall cast them into a furnace of fire, the angels of judgment, of destruction, of wrath, the destroying, reaping angels at the end of the world.
The other wonderful revelation in the Book, of the angels of God, are those holy, celestial hosts whom we shall see some glorious and triumphant day. In the twenty-fifth chapter of the Book of Matthew, Jesus says, “The Son of Man cometh with all of His holyangels.” In the eighth chapter of Mark, in the [thirty]-eighth verse he says, “When He cometh with all the holy angels.” And in the first chapter of the second letter to the Thessalonians, “The Lord shall be revealed from heaven with all His mighty angels.”
Oh, oh, that I—flesh and blood and you, people who die—that we should ever look upon such an incomparably, glorious, triumphant, victorious hour when He cometh with all of His holy angels. I tried to think of it. In the Bible whenever the angels have appeared, they have appeared one, one at a time; two, two at a time; three, three at a time. One time there was a choir of them when the Lord was born, and one time seventy legions of them stood by the Lord Jesus, ready to defend and deliver Him if He called for them.
But oh, oh, oh! in that day, in that great and final day, look:
I beheld, and I heard the voice of the angels,
and the number of them was muriades muriadōn, chiliades chiliadōn,
and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousands, and thousands of thousands.
He couldn’t number them. They were there by the muriades which is a Greek word actually meaning ten-thousand, but means you couldn’t number it. And there they were by the myriads, times the myriads; times the thousands and the thousands, God’s celestial hosts. And they sang with a loud voice saying:
Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.
And every creature that was in heaven and every creature that was on the earth, and under the earth, and all that were under the sea, and all that are in them, heard I say, Blessing, and honor, and glory, and power, be unto Him upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.
And the four cherubim said, Amen. And the four and twenty elders fell down and worshipped Him that liveth forever and ever and ever and forever.
What a sight. Oh, my mind cannot think of it. My heart cannot conceive of it, and my tongue cannot describe it what it will be some glorious day when He comes with all of His holy angels.
We shall be resurrected, immortalized; we shall all be changed, and we shall come with that celestial number, the Lord and His saints and His holy angels by the myriads and the myriads. Oh, wonderful hope! Oh, celestial promise!
While we sing our song this morning, somebody you, to trust in Jesus as Savior. Would you come and stand by me? Somebody you to put your life in the church, would you come and stand by me? In the balcony round, that throng of people. A family you, or one you, down this stair well at the front or at the back, there or there, out of your seats down that stair case here to the front, “Today I give my heart to Jesus, I take Him as Savior.” Or, “Today I put my life in His church, here I come.” In this throng of people on this lower floor into the aisle and down to the front, “Here I come pastor; I give my heart in faith to Jesus.” Or, “I am putting my life in the fellowship of this precious church.” While we sing this hymn would you make it now while we stand and while we sing?
The Shooter in Oregon told those he shot in the head they would see God in a second. He was right. They did. He also was on the right track about Satan, too. Only he was not greeted in Hell with a hug or cheer. But he knows that now. Remember the story Jesus told about the Rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31? Here’s what the Shooter learned immediately after his death: “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” God always has the last word and it is always good.
The Shooter wanted to be remembered. He got far more than he bargained for. Now he is remembering what he did for all of eternity without a moment of relief. Not a bit. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31)! Remember what Father Abraham said in response to the passionate appeal of the Rich Man–“And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” Luke 16:24-25. He was suffering so that he would gladly have that poor beggar dip his finger in water and touch his parched tongue. That story has been going on for well over 2000 years and still that Rich Man is in torment and still he has had no relief. The same will be true of the Oregon Shooter. And he still has to face the Great White Throne Judgement. That will be the awful day he actually is removed from the place of torment he is in now and he will wish he could escape what is coming. Revelations 20:11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”