Posted in theology, word of the week

Word of the Week: Angel

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity from generation to generation depends on a mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week. Past Words of the Week have included Justification, Transcendence, Immanence, Propitiation, Sanctification, Glorification, Orthodoxy, Heresy, Omniscience, Aseity, Immutability, and more. I then went to a series examining each of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self-Control.
Continue reading “Word of the Week: Angel”

Posted in advent

Nativity & Advent: The Angel Gabriel

By Elizabeth Prata

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her,”Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:26-33).

What a blessing that believers read this and know that we know the Lord, and even better, that we love Him and we know that He loves us.
Continue reading “Nativity & Advent: The Angel Gabriel”

Posted in potpourri, theology

Prata Potpourri: Angels, Spiritual Warfare, Lake of Fire, Apostasy, Moms, more

By Elizabeth Prata

Included in this edition of Prata Potpourri are some things that either aren’t talked about enough (Lake of Fire) or are talked about so much that the wackadoodles have gotten a-hold of the issue and twisted it beyond all recognition (angels, spiritual warfare). Here are some credible links to these and other topics.

Jim Osman and Justin Peters’ video series on Spiritual Warfare is excellent. Here is the 8-part series-

Show 1 of 8: Justin Peters & Jim Osman on the: Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture as it relates to Biblical Spiritual Warfare. Justin Peters interviews Pastor & Author Jim Osman on the subject of Spiritual Warfare and Jim’s book: “Truth or Territory: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare”. Some examples of False Teaching on Spiritual Warfare are briefly discussed as well as some False Teachers are named. These issues will be discussed in greater detail in coming episodes. Jim Osman starts this series off by giving viewers a brief Testimony of how the LORD changed his thinking on this very important subject, then both Justin & Jim introduce viewers to the topic of the Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture which is briefly defined and defended from 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Peter 1:3-4.

Show 1: Spiritual Warfare & Sufficiency of Scripture
Show 2: Spiritual Warfare: Truth or Territory
Show 3: Carnal Weapons: Hedges & Hexes
Show 4: Carnal Weapons: Binding & Rebuking
Show 5: Carnal Weapons: Spiritual Mapping
Show 6: Demon Possession & Sanctification
Show 7: Authority & Exorcisms
Show 8: Armor Of God: Spiritual Warfare – Ephesians 6

There have been some high-profile people proclaiming their abandonment of the faith this week. There have subsequently been a lot of response articles of various kinds. Here are two:

What to Do When Professing Christians Leave the Faith: Reflections on Joshua Harris and Perseverance

What in God’s Name is Happening in Christianity?

Are you surprised when you come across so-called Christians who claim to be followers of Jesus, but never ‘follow’ Him into a church? They say that attending church isn’t necessary to be a fully devoted Christian? I am. I am actually shocked when I deal with this among professing Christians. And it’s spreading.

Here is Derek Thomas with an essay about Loving the Church, For Better or Worse

What DOES the Bible say about angels, anyway? I love the thought of angels and I study Angelology (from credible sources). Here are two credible sources on a teaching about angels you might enjoy.

TableTalk Magazine: What does the Bible say about Angels? First in a series. I love angels and learning about them.

John MacArthur has a series on angels, called God’s Invisible Army. Here is part 1
Here is part 2

From Founders, something for Moms. Moms, you have a hard job and often it’s lonely. Hope this encourages you- Eight Lies Moms Believe.

From Media Gratiae: The newly released trailer of Puritan. Documentary coming soon, this summer they say!

From Nate Pickowitz, new book. If you’re interested in the American Puritans, this is a good one to pick up- John Cotton: Patriarch of New England

From Ligonier: The Final State of the Unbeliever. This will happen. Pray evangelistically and frequently! Romans 10:1 says, Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.

angel verse 1

Posted in theology

Word of the Week: Angel

By Elizabeth Prata

The thread of Christianity from generation to generation depends on a mutual understanding of our important words. Hence the Word of the Week. Past Words of the Week have included Justification, Transcendence, Immanence, Propitiation, Sanctification, Glorification, Orthodoxy, Heresy, Omniscience, Aseity, and Immutability. I then went to a series examining each of the 9 characteristics of the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and on December 29, 2018, wrapped up the Fruit series with Self-Control. Now it’s back to individual words of the week and this week I chose Angel.

Angel

Aren’t we fascinated with Angels! They appear in art, literature, drama, and of course, the Bible. They are first mentioned in Genesis 2:1 where it is written,

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.

Host is another name for the angel army. Since God finished His work and called it all good, why does there need to be an army, which fights in warfare? Warfare isn’t good. Matthew Henry explains,

The creatures made both in heaven and earth are the hosts or armies of them, which denotes them to be numerous, but marshalled, disciplined, and under command.” (Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible)

Other names for angel besides host or heavenly host is sons of God, Morning Stars, Principalities, Rulers and Authorities, and Watchers. Because the Heavenly Host of angels is an army, some of their divisions or classes are also named, Seraphim, Cherubim, and Archangel. Also possibly Rulers, Authorities, Powers and Forces of evil (Ephesians 6:12).

Some angels’ names are given. They are Gabriel, Michael, Lucifer and Apollyon/Abaddon. Wormwood is also another possible name for a specific angel.

Angels are a class of beings that are not human and not part of the Trinity. They have superior power and abilities than humans, but are not human. When humans die, they do not turn into angels. We should stop saying things like “Heaven gained another angel with the death of…”

A personal peeve of mine is the continual depiction of angels as babies with wings. In Italian Renaissance art (where they became ubiquitous) these beings are called putti and that morphed into what we think of as cherubs or cherubim. However, this is a gross distortion of the actual cherubim, who are extremely powerful and magnificent, as are all angels. In 2 Peter 2:11 they are referred to as “angelic majesties”, beings whom the false prophets are unafraid to rebuke, and this is written as a negative. (So don’t go around “rebuking satan”).

Angels roam between the three heavens. When God completed Creation week, we learn that the angels were present in the universe and “the heavenly host sang together [gave a ringing cry] and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:7). Angels appear in the throne room of heaven, (Isaiah 6:2) and they roam the earth. (Job 1:7). Some angels are even under the earth AKA in the abyss, chained up and waiting for the day of judgment. (Jude 1:6). Angels are everywhere!

When Lucifer rebelled, he convinced a third of the host to ally with him. They sinned, and thus they fell. These unholy angels are now the demons. They oppose God, His people, and His plan. Though they fell morally, they still have access to the heavenly throne room. (Job 2:1). The unholy angels still retain the power and strength they were created with. So be careful, they can deceive and masquerade as holy angels and they do it well!

It will be during the Tribulation that the door to the throne room will be shut against the unholy angels and they will no longer have access. This enrages Lucifer, now called Satan (because that means adversary) and his wrath ramps up the Tribulation into high gear. He takes his anger out on the remaining earth population. (Revelation 12:7-9, 13-17). Angels who rebelled will not be redeemed. Their condemnation is fixed. (Matthew 25:41)

Angels are spirit beings (Hebrews 1:14) but sometimes when they appear to humans they appear as flesh and blood men (the Bible always refers to angels as men, there are no female angels). We don’t know how they change to flesh and blood looking men when they appear on earth but suffice it to say that part of it is a mystery. Angels have personal will (otherwise Lucifer & Co. would not have fallen). They also have intelligence and emotions.

They holy angels praise God, perform His will, minister to humans, render His judgments, learn (“angels long to look into these things” 1 Peter 1:12), and so much more!

In fact there is an entire niche of study called Angelology. Different areas of Biblical study include,

Theology Proper (Doctrine of God)
Angelology (Doctrine of angels & demons)
Anthropology (doctrine of man)
Bibliology (origin of the Bible)
Christology (Doctrine of Jesus)
Ecclesiology (Doctrine of the Church)
Eschatology (Doctrine of The End Times, or Last Things)
Hamartiology (Doctrine of the Holy Sin)
Pneumatology (Doctrine of the Holy Spirit)
Soteriology (Doctrine of Salvation)
Prayers & Worship

So rest assured if you want to study the topic of Angels it is a legitimate field of study. They are certainly fascinating beings. Caution is warranted, however. Though the field of study is legitimate, many people who write about angels are not. There is a glut of less than credible resources out there.

C. Fred Dickason’s book Angels Elect & Evil is a good resource I am told.

Martyn Lloyd Jones did a sermon on Good Angels, here. Though the sermon for Jones’s companion to Good Angels sermon, called The Devil and Fallen Angels is lost, the transcription of that sermon is here.

S. Lewis Johnson has a sermon series on angels, here

RC Sproul has a couple of teaching series at Ligonier. This one on angels is two parts and can be listened to for free. This one on Angels & Demons is 4 parts and just the first lecture can be heard for free.

Further reading:

GotQuestions: Angels (this page lists a series of further essays)

Essay by Phil Johnson- Angels: Messengers of God

The End Time: Back to Basics- All About Angels

angel

Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Who else longed to look into the Gospel besides angels?

We’re familiar with the part of the verse that tells us that angels long to look into these things. The full context of that verse is pasted below, it’s from 1 Peter.

Apostle Peter, formerly Simon, formerly a fisherman, is nearing the end of his life. It’s about the early 60s and Peter had been a leader of the church. The elect to whom Peter addressed his letter were beginning to suffer persecution, and his letter, which was to be circulated, was aimed at encouraging them. Peter strongly urges them to link doctrine and practice, a point he makes in chapter 1:12, 15, and he begins in the first chapter with elevating the glory of the Gospel. Here is where we remember that the Gospel is so great, so mysterious, that angels long to look into it.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
(1 Peter 1:10-12).

In reading the passage I realized that not only angels longed to look into the mystery of the Gospel, its wonder, atonement, wrath, crucified and sinless God-Man. The Prophets also wanted to know about it. They, who had the Spirit in them, inquired of the LORD as to the aspects of this religion they were required to speak. Here is the wonderful Barnes with his Notes:

Of which salvation – Of the certainty that this system of religion, securing the salvation of the soul, would be revealed. The object of this reference to the prophets seems to be to lead them to value the religion which they professed more highly, and to encourage them to bear their trials with patience. They were in a condition, in many respects, far superior to that of the prophets. They had the full light of the gospel. The prophets saw it only at a distance and but dimly, and were obliged to search anxiously that they might understand the nature of that system of which they were appointed to furnish the comparatively obscure prophetic intimations.

They were writing to us and for us. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, Peter wrote. Us. The elect saints in the church age would be the recipients of the further information than myriads of angels- who live with God- . and prophets – who personally spoke with God – longed to look.

Next time someone says they “want a fresh experience” or desire the Spirit to fall down and manifest some kind of event, or that they wish to hear Jesus personally calling, or that they feel stale and covet a miracle, please remind them of this glorious truth. We already have the benefit of the most glorious experience of all, the understanding of the plan of God with regard to His Son. The angels and the Prophets wanted to know about Him, who He would be, what would be his life and doctrine and character, and what would be the nature of the work which He would perform on behalf of the people. They didn’t know. They wished to know. They asked to know. They did not know. We do.

As Barnes says of verse 12,

By them that have preached the gospel unto you – The apostles, who have made known unto you, in their true sense, the things which the prophets predicted, the import of which they themselves were so desirous of understanding.

knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God. (1 Peter 1:18-21)
Have a blessed day, pondering these truths into which angels and Prophets inquired and longed to look.

Posted in discernment

Just a little something to think about … Angels among us

This essay first appeared in September 2010 on The End Time

Angels. They exist. They were created by God and they serve God. There are multitudes and multitudes of them. (Hebrews 12:22).

The bible shows us that angels appear on earth as men, sometimes looking like ordinary men (Joshua 5:13-14; Mark 16:5), and at other times looking like something other-worldly, so much so that the people gazing upon them were gripped with fear, as was Zacharias in Luke 1:12. He was speechless before the angel who visited him. So were the keepers of Jesus’ tomb, ‘who became as dead men when they saw the angel of the Lord’ (Matthew 28:4).

When they appear to people on the earth sometimes they take on human form like in Genesis 18:1-19. Jesus and two angels appeared as men and actually ate a meal with Abraham. Later two of the angels went on to Sodom and slept overnight at Lot’s house. So we know they can incarnate, appear as men, and spend a period of time on earth.

We know that some angels fell, meaning, they sided with Satan in the angelic rebellion and were cast from their places in heaven. Satan’s fall is described in Isaiah:

How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations!” (Isaiah 14:12)

A third of the angels fell with satan:

Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth.” (Revelation 12:3-4).

Though satan lost his high position, he is god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4), therefore, being cast out doesn’t interfere with from his intent to deceive us. He still pretends to be on God’s side, as seen here. “And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14). Note the word ‘masquerades’ and ‘light’. Masquerade means “An involved scheme; a charade; as in wearing a mask or disguise’. Of course he would pretend he is one of the good guys to an unsuspecting unbeliever, or even to a Christian. His underlings pretend to be on the good side, too. His servants are the fellow angels that followed satan in the war against God and also pretend to be one of the good angels. But they only want to deceive.

You know these guys. They’re putti, or cherubs as the Renaissance artists love to portray angels.

The two innocent-looking cherubs seem harmless. They’re from an excerpt of the larger piece called Sistine Madonna by Raphael. Angels are not cherubic babies. But satan and his demonic horde would like you to think so.

It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.” (2 Corinthians 11:15).

Hebrews 13:2 says we sometimes entertain angels unawares.

So the point is, if you were beset by an angel of light, how would you know he is one of the good guys, or one of the bad guys? There is a 1 in 3 chance he is one of the bad ones. How would you know? Would you be so gripped with fear that you just accept what the angel says? Would you be so filled with pride that one of these beings was sent to you that you would accept what he said without question? Would you be so entranced by their light that you unquestioningly accept they are from God?

The only way to know is to know the Word of God. John and Peter both warned of false teachers, and Jesus said they may come to us in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15; 1 John. 4:1; 2 Peter 2:1). John said our duty is to “test the spirits,” and Paul said: “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Not all angels come in peace. Some are your enemy. Be watchful and test all things!

Photo/postprocessing art EPrata
Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

The angel was delayed three weeks…

In Daniel chapter 10, we learn that Daniel has been praying for 21 days. He had inquired of the LORD, and Daniel was awaiting the reply. On day 24, the reply came, personally in the form of an angel. Daniel lifted his eyes and this is what he saw:

I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, a man clothed in linen, with a belt of fine gold from Uphaz around his waist. His body was like beryl, his face like the appearance of lightning, his eyes like flaming torches, his arms and legs like the gleam of burnished bronze, and the sound of his words like the sound of a multitude. (Daniel 10:5-6).

What a mighty being! Angels are strong and powerful servants of God!

Beryl is a gemstone like amethyst. It can be yellow or green or aquamarine in color. It sparkles, as any gem does. We all know what lightning looks like, as we know fire’s qualities, and burnished bronze and the sound of a multitude. The Hebrew word for multitude is roar or tumult. So, when the angel spoke, it was loud.

Such a being is powerful and frightening. No doubt that is why the angels all greet those whom they visit with the phrase “Fear not!”

So why is it that puny humans think they can march around the block and utter a few phrases and believe that the unholy angels will be scared enough to scuttle away? Is it the Christian’s duty to engage with spirits they have somehow deduced lurk about a certain location? Is it biblical to think that we can directly confront such powerful beings and use our own words to turn them away from their evil deeds? Is it realistic to think that a believer can utter a prayer that will “bind” such a powerful creature?

The holy angel visiting Daniel was delayed three weeks by an unholy angel, and only escaped when Michael arrived to help him. And we think that though such a powerful angel was delayed so many weeks, we can utter a prayer, similar to snapping our fingers or twitching our nose, and the unholy angel will fly away from us? Think about it.

We are not ignorant of satan’s schemes. (2 Corinthians 2:11). We should not be ignorant of his power, either. He is not God’s equal. But he and his cohorts are much more powerful than the little winged cherubs we like to think are the angels. Satan hates us because he hates God. He is at war with God, that old adversary, the usurper. (Isaiah 14:13-14). We must let God wage the war. We wage the war in His strength by standing and resisting, not by chasing and exorcising.

Our job is to grow in grace and strength, not chase around demons.

photo EPrata
Posted in discernment, Uncategorized

Angels: Majestic messengers of God

Valentine’s Day has just passed, two weeks ago. All those chubby little Cupid cherubs flying around with stubby wings, shyly lobbing arrows to create ever more happy, lovestruck couples. Sigh. Cupid comes from Greek and Roman mythology.

The Renaissance Italians did a good job of presenting constant erroneous depictions of angels. Although initially slender, Cupid, the god of love, was increasingly shown as a chubby boy with wings. Wikipedia explains,

In classical mythology, Cupid (Latin Cupido, meaning “desire”) is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. He is often portrayed as the son of the love goddess Venus and the war god Mars. He is also known in Latin as Amor (“Love”). His Greek counterpart is Eros.

Beginning in the early 1400s, Donatello began the Renaissance revival of the Middle Ages’ depictions of the putto, Italian derivation of the word toddler or child. Soon, the myth of Cupid blended with the putti in art and you had infant angels flying all over the place in paintings, sculpture, and architecture. They became ubiquitous, so much so, that the biblical description of the majestic Cherubim were diminished in peoples’ minds down to the infantile antics by harmless flying cherubic toddlers. This is a peeve of mine.

The picture shows an architectural detail of the Old Sacristy
in the church of San Lorenzo in Florence, by Donatello, 1428-43.
The Rustic Banquet, detail of putti making music,
from the Sala di Amore e Psiche (1528)

The putti and the cherubs are as far from the truth of angelic activity and majesty as the east is from the west. So what roles do angels perform for God?First, the Bible tells us that there is a hierarchy of angels. There are thrones, and powers, and dominions.

The collection of holy (and sometimes unholy) angels is called the heavenly host, the word host in this context indicating an army. God is called the Lord of Hosts. (GotQuestions, See 1 Samuel 1:3; Psalm 24:10; Isaiah 22:14; Jeremiah 2:19; Amos 4:13; Haggai 2:9; Zechariah 8:6; and Malachi 2:16.We are more used to thinking of angels as ministering spirits, (Hebrews 1:14, Matthew 18:10), flying here and there at God’s command, delivering messages and helping people. (Daniel 9:20-21, Luke 1:26-27, Luke 2:10).

We see angels helping Jesus after His Temptation. (Matthew 4:11). We know that sometimes we entertain them unawares. (Hebrews 13:2).Though angels are servants of God, ministering, helping, watching, (Daniel 4:17) and messaging, they are in fact powerful soldiers, enacting God’s judgments. In Revelation we see the angels as extremely active in carrying out God’s judgments. We read of one event early in the Bible of this power angels have to slay many at the same time, in 2 Chronicles 32:21, where an angel of the LORD was sent to kill 185,000 Assyrian soldiers at once. Angels gave the LAW! (Acts 7:53, Galatians 3:19).

Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. (Galatians 3:19).

Barnes’ Notes says of the Galatians and Acts verses of the Angels giving the Law,

And it was ordained by angels – That is, the Law was ordained by angels. The word ordained here διαταγεὶς diatageis usually means to arrange; to dispose in order; and is commonly used with reference to the marshalling of an army. In regard to the sentiment here that the Law was ordained by angels, see the note at Acts 7:53. The Old Testament makes no mention of the presence of angels at the giving of the Law, but it was a common opinion among the Jews that the Law was given by the instrumentality of angels, and arranged by them; and Paul speaks in accordance with this opinion; compare Hebrews 2:2.

In Revelation, powerful angels stand on the sun, they hold back all 4 winds, they deliver the Gospel to the entire world at once…and this. Just this:

Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and seated on the cloud one like a son of man, with a golden crown on his head, and a sharp sickle in his hand. 15And another angel came out of the temple, calling with a loud voice to him who sat on the cloud, “Put in your sickle, and reap, for the hour to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is fully ripe.” 16So he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle across the earth, and the earth was reaped.

17Then another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. 18And another angel came out from the altar, the angel who has authority over the fire, and he called with a loud voice to the one who had the sharp sickle, “Put in your sickle and gather the clusters from the vine of the earth, for its grapes are ripe.” 19So the angel swung his sickle across the earth and gathered the grape harvest of the earth and threw it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. 20And the winepress was trodden outside the city, and blood flowed from the winepress, as high as a horse’s bridle, for 1,600 stadia.

God’s Providence is the understanding that God is in control of all things, and He commands and decrees all outcomes. Angels are important agents of providence, enacting God’s will so that His decrees come to pass in His will and timing.We do not worship angels. (Colossians 2:18, Revelation 22:8-9), but we do respect God’s creation. We respect His orderly fashioning of all things, including the angelic hosts in their spheres. Angels are not winged infants full of childish antics. They are majestic beings as part of God’s order who enact important tasks in worship and obedience for the LORD of Hosts.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Further Reading

There is much on the internet about angels, most of it foolish and non-credible. Here are some good study resources about angels. The study of angels is called angelology. Always remember, no matter how interesting angels are, and when you begin studying them you’ll see how often they appear in the Bible, they are servants of the Most High just as we are. They are not to be worshiped or idolized.

Every reference to angels is incidental to some other topic. They are not treated in themselves. God’s revelation never aims at informing us regarding the nature of angels. When they are mentioned, it is always in order to inform us further about God, what he does, and how he does it. Since details about angels are not significant for that purpose, they tend to be omitted. Source: Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1983, p. 434

Essay by Phil Johnson, Angels- Messengers and Ministers of God 

Sermon: Angelic Messengers, Revelation 14:6-11

Sermon: Good Angels, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, part of the Great Biblical Doctrines series

Who are the only named angels in the Bible?