Are the people in heaven watching us?

A popular country song from the 80’s says there are holes in the floor of heaven. Our loved ones in heaven are peering down through heaven’s (apparently) half rotten flooring to see what we are doing on the earth. (By the way, I can say with absolute certainty that no one in heaven is wishing she could be here on earth with us.) What does the Bible teach about those in heaven? Do they know what is happening on the earth? Are they watching their friends and family?

The people in heaven appear to be aware of some events that happen on earth. In Luke 15:10 Jesus tells the Pharisees that “there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.” It seems like Jesus is saying that believers who have died rejoice when someone on earth is saved. If so, then they are aware of some of what is going on in the earth.

This does not mean our loved ones in heaven spend a great amount of time watching us. Deceased Christians do not become guardian angels for their loved ones. That notion is more spiritistic than Biblical. The Bible has very few references to believers in heaven now. In Luke 16 Jesus tells of a man who died and went to heaven. In heaven he was receiving comfort and would not return to the earth.

The book of Revelation says the most about Christians in heaven. Everything it says describes believers as surrounding the throne of God worshiping Him. It seems that those in heaven are focused entirely on the glory of God.

Hymn writer Fanny Crosby described the focus of all in heaven with her hymn “My Savior First of All”.

Oh, the dear ones in glory, how they beckon me to come,
And our parting at the river I recall;
To the sweet vales of Eden they will sing my welcome home;
But I long to meet my Savior first of all.

Oh, the soul-thrilling rapture when I view His blessed face,
And the luster of His kindly beaming eye;
How my full heart will praise Him for the mercy, love and grace,
That prepare for me a mansion in the sky.

Aside from rejoicing at the salvation of souls nothing in the Bible indicates deceased believers are watching or are even deeply interested in what is going on in the lives of family and friends on earth.

 

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Can the fallen angels be saved?

The righteous angels have no need of salvation because they never sinned against God. Satan and the angels that followed his rebellion have sinned. Can they be saved?

The Bible only speaks about the salvation of man. Scripture does not teach of pardon for the evil angels. The purpose of the Bible is not to answer every question we may have about spiritual beings so it says very little about angels. When God’s Word speaks of the fate of Satan and the fallen angels it points to an inescapable judgment.

The Bible is most specific about the fate of Satan. He has no chance of redemption. Revelation 20 describes Satan’s final judgment. After Satan is released from his thousand year imprisonment, he will be cast into the Lake of Fire. Satan will be eternally tormented in the lake of fire. If Satan were saved the prophecies of God would be untrue and God would be a liar.

Hell was prepared for the devil and his angels. In the second letter from the apostle Peter God says He did not refrain from bringing judgment on the fallen angels. He cast them down from their position in heaven and holds them captive under condemnation. (2 Peter 2:4) The letter from Jude speaks of certain angels reserved for everlasting judgment. (Jude 1:6) The two passages are parallel. They both speak of the same subject using very similar language. Peter and Jude are speaking of all angels who sinned. They were all cast out of their position in heaven and are being kept by God for everlasting judgment. God does not offer salvation to the fallen angels.

Other passages in Scripture lead to the conclusion that the rebellious angels are confirmed in their unrighteousness. The fallen angels have no chance of redemption because Jesus did not become an angel and die in their place. Salvation is only possible through another bearing the consequences of sin in place of the sinner.

The nature of man’s sin allows for a single substitute to act in place of all mankind. Essential to the Biblical doctrine of salvation is the truth that all men sinned in Adam. Because all mankind was found guilty Adam it is possible for men to be justified by Christ. Jesus is able to stand in the place of each man because He stands in the place of the human race.

The fallen angels sinned individually in themselves. They sinned with Satan but not in Satan. An angelic forefather did not commit the first sin and corrupt all his descendants. Every fallen angel chose to reject his perfect nature and rebel against God. Jesus did not take on the nature of angels. (Hebrews 1:5-8) Jesus was not made the substitute to bear the angels judgment in stead of them, consequently no angel can be saved.

The angels knew the glory of God. They saw His perfection and holiness in all His heavenly glory. Those who rejected God to pursue their own proud desires will not be forgiven.

Are Angels Saved?

The Bible teaches the existence of righteous angels and fallen angels. Fallen angels are those which followed Satan in his rebellion against God and fell under the condemnation of God. The righteous angels are those who continued to faithfully serve God. The Bible says much about salvation, but all of it is about the salvation of men.

Salvation is necessary for every person. All the unsaved are under God’s condemnation and will find themselves sentenced to eternal punishment in the place prepared for Satan and his angels. (Matthew 25:41) Being saved does not mean getting to go to heaven. Entrance into heaven after death is the result of salvation but it is not salvation. Salvation is reconciliation to God, forgiveness from sin, deliverance from the bondage of Satan and transformation of the heart that results in eternal life. Those who are saved will enter heaven when they die but going to heaven is not the same as being saved. Satan and the rebel angels have access to heaven right now, but they are not “saved”.

Since salvation relates to forgiveness of sin those angels who never sinned are not saved because they do not need to be saved. Man needs salvation because he carries within him the taint of Adam’s sin and continues to sin against God. Angels are not descended from a small group of parent angels. They are not inheritors of their forefather’s disobedience. Each angel was created directly by God. Every angel was created without sin. Those angels which did not join Satan in rebellion against God still retain their righteousness. The righteous angels never fell into sin and do not ever disobey God. The righteous angels are not under God’s judgment and thus have no need of salvation.

Though they do not need salvation, the righteous angels desire to know more about it. The angels watched the means of salvation with great interest. They looked on as God the Son became man, died on the cross, bore the wrath of God, was buried, restored to life, ascended back to heaven and regained all His previous glory.

Some of the angels have played a part in announcing the message of salvation. Angels announced the birth of Jesus. In the book of Acts an angel told Philip to go speak to the Ethiopian eunuch and an angel told Cornelius to send men to find Peter. In the book of Revelation an angel preaches the gospel to every nation on the earth. Though God does not normally use angels to preach the gospel, He does at times give them a role to play in announcing the message of salvation.

They do not experience salvation for themselves but the righteous angels are deeply interested in God’s redemption of men.

Do demons require physical bodies to do their work?

The previous article began to answer the question “do demons need to possess living beings to do evil? The Bible does not speak of demons for the purpose of teaching about their nature or limitations but some deductions about demons can be made from the Biblical references to them. A reasonable inference can be drawn from the Bible that at least some demons prefer to inhabit physical beings. This preference does not necessarily mean demons require a physical body to accomplish their diabolical purposes.

Demons are angelic creatures who rebelled against God and were cast out of their positions of service in heaven (Revelation 12:3-4, 7-9). God created them spiritual beings who have the same nature as angels. There is no instance of a righteous angel requiring or desiring to inhabit a physical body. The demons desire to inhabit a body is not a part of their created nature.

As evil angels following in the path of Satan it can be surmised that demons are actively fighting against the will of God and are actively working for the harm of mankind. The gospels and the book of Acts show a real physical component to this malicious activity. Demons possessing a human body cause seizure like symptoms which cause the possessed to fall into fire or water, instigate the person into cutting themselves, drive the person into unsafe living conditions and causing tearing pains in the body of the person.

The physical harm done by demons is only part of their activity. Their work has a physical effect but not is limited to physical means. Ephesians 6 describes the Christian life as a spiritual battle. Paul says we do not fight against flesh and blood. The battle is against “but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) The tools for the Christian in this battle are depicted as armor but not of leather and steel. The Christains’ armor is spiritual not physical. His armor is truth, righteousness, readiness, faith, salvation and the Word of God. Such an armament will not defeat a physical enemy, but it will stand against evil spirits.

Daniel 10 gives a glimpse into what the spiritual activity of demons may look like. An angel of God came to the prophet Daniel to explain the meaning of a vision he had seen. The angel told Daniel the “prince of the kingdom of Persia” fought against his coming to Daniel. The angel Michael, “one of the chief princes” came to the assistance of the first angel and allowed him to reach Daniel. Though the details are limited this passage provides a glimpse into the spiritual battle that is taking place. These angels and demons were not warring together through humans they controlled. Daniel probably would have noticed a swordfight on his front doorstep. They were engaged in a spiritual battle in their own spiritual forms. A physical form is not necessary for the evil work of those angels which followed Satan.

Demons can do possess individuals even in America today. Nothing in the Bible would imply demons are limited to only working by controlling a physical body. Demons are powerful spiritual beings actively at work in a spiritual battle against God. Christians need not fear demons for, “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Do Christians have guardian angels?

When the topic of guardian angels comes up I imagine an angel assigned by God to a particular person to protect him from harm and temptation. Guardian angels are familiar to many because of their inclusion in popular movies and television. Guardian angels are a popular idea with many, but what does Bible say about guardian angels?

The Bible tells that angels were created by God, but doesn’t say exactly when. (I think angels were created on day one of the creation week.) We know there are a myriad of angels, but the Bible doesn’t tell us how many. It tells how some angels rebelled against God and lost their heavenly position. The Bible says that angels are the servants of God who reside in heaven always worshiping Him. The prophetic passages of the Bible show angels as the agents of God’s wrath. They carry out some of the punishments wreaked upon the world, call forth other judgments and gather people together to stand in judgment before God. Angels are messengers of God sent from Him to reveal God’s Word to certain prophets. Angels are heralds of God announcing the return of Jesus and His triumph over the world.

Three Bible passages refer to angels playing a role in the life of individual believers. Psalm 91:11, “For He shall give His angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.” Hebrews 1:14, “Are not (angels) all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” The other passage is often understood to describe angels assigned to children. However, the context of Matthew 18:10 makes it clear that the little ones in view are not children but the followers of Jesus. “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my father which is in heaven.”

In all three passages the people under angelic care are the people of God. If there are guardian angels one must conclude they are assigned to believers but not to every person on earth. Unfortunately the passages are all very brief and somewhat cryptic. While they may teach an angelic guardianship, there is enough uncertainty in the correct understanding that reaching a definite conclusion about the nature of the ministry of angels to believers is very difficult. We can conclude some things are definitely no longer a part of angelic minsitry. Because God’s revelation is completed in the Bible, we can conclude angels do not appear to people as special messengers with prophetic words from God for men. Because God is now working in the church, we can conclude that angels are not actively involved in aiding God’s people in military conquest over nations. It seems likely that angels are actively involved in the work of the ministry, the encouragement of the saints and the spread of the gospel. What that activity looks like the Bible does not tell.

Most of our ideas about the ministry of angels today are speculative. While we know there is a great spiritual battle going on, we need to be careful to not speculate too much about what God has not revealed. We especially must remember to not pray to angels or trust in them for safety. Angels are the servants of God. They do not want, nor will they accept, human worship. They do not act on their own initiative, but are the agents of God going out at as He commands to do His bidding. Whatever the role angels play in the believers life God is the One who deserves our worship, praise, adoration and thanks.

Is Satan Real?

Surveys in America have revealed that a majority of Americans believe in Satan. When questioned further it seems that most Americans believe Satan to be an evil force and not a personal being. Is Satan a real, personal being or is he a symbol that personifies evil in this world?

Evil exists. Even the most die hard of atheists would be reluctant to deny the reality of evil in this world. The question regarding Satan is not if evil exists, nor even is it if evil people exists. The question is if there is a spiritual being actively working to accomplish his evil purposes in this world? The existence of Satan cannot be proven based upon any empirical evidence. That is, Satan has not been and cannot be video taped, recorded, interviewed or subjected to lab tests. The Bible presents Satan as an angelic creature. Because he is a spiritual being, we do not expect Satan to be perceptible to the physical senses.

What does the Bible say that leads us to conclude Satan is a real being, not just an evil force? Ezekiel 28 describes Satan as the anointed cherub. A cherub is a type of angel. Satan was at one time a powerful angel entrusted with great responsibility in the worship of God. In the book of Job, Satan stands before the throne of God and has a conversation with God about the man Job. The Old Testament describes Satan in very personal terms, presenting him as much more than just a force. The gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke describe the temptation of Jesus. After Jesus spent forty days fasting in the wilderness, Satan appeared to Him and tempted Him. The account of this temptation is clearly the account of a personal being engaged in conversation with another personal being. If Satan was merely a force of evil, one would have to conclude that Jesus was having some kind of hallucination in which He carried on a conversation with a force. This would be as nonsensical as someone having a discussion with electricity about how lights work.

Other indications of Satan being a real being are found scattered throughout the Bible. In 2 Corinthians 4:4 Satan is the god of this world who actively works to prevent men from believing the gospel. In Ephesians 2:2 Satan is the “prince of the power of the air” who holds dominion over unsaved men and is actively at work in them. In John 8:44, Satan is described as a murdered and a liar that has spiritual descendants who follow in his footsteps. In the book Revelation Satan is described as coming under God’s judgment, being bound and then cast into imprisonment. Evil exists in this world, but Satan is not just a personification of evil. Satan is a real being, created by God. Satan rebelled against his Creator and is now bent on the spiritual and physical destruction of man. Satan is a mighty angelic creature who stands in rebellion against God and seeks to oppose the plan of God.

Can Satan read my mind?

The devil, also known as Satan and Lucifer, is a powerful angel. Lucifer was created by God. He was created perfect but Lucifer soon turned from God. In pride, Lucifer rebelled and sought to take to himself the majesty and glory of God. As punishment for his rebellion, Satan was cast out of his glorious position near the throne of God. Now Satan is the chief adversary against God, leading a massive army of rebellious angels. He attempts to overthrow the plans of God. He seeks the destruction of all men and viciously attacks Christians. Satan is described in the Bible as the adversary, a murderer, a liar and a roaring lion bent on destruction. He is called “the prince of the power of the air” and “the god of this world”.

The devil is a powerful adversary, a spiritual being much greater than any man. The Bible only gives us a few hints of the powers of angels. They are able to move swiftly from heaven to earth. Some angels are messengers of destruction, bringing about the judgment of God on men. Demons are able to inhabit and control human bodies. Angels are able to bring about swift death and destruction on great armies of men.

From the Bible we also know some of the limitations of angels. Angels, whether obedient or rebellious, are creatures. All angels are limited beings. Though powerful and majestic none possess the power and glory of God. No angel is all powerful, all knowing or able to be in more than one place at once. Satan’s knowledge, though vast, is not complete. Satan’s power, though great, is not limitless. Satan’s presence, though daunting and supported by a great army of demons, is restricted. In all the interactions of angels with men discussed in the Bible, none give any indication that angels can read the thoughts of men.

The Bible records only two conversations between humans and Satan. The first was between Satan and Eve when he tempted her to eat of the forbidden tree. In that brief dialogue there is no hint that Satan was reading her mind. He skillfully manipulated her, but the whole conversation is based on her verbal responses to him. The other interaction between Satan and a person took place when Satan tempted Jesus in the wilderness. Once again Satan attempted to manipulate Jesus, playing on what he believed were Jesus’ desires. Satan’s interactions appear to be based only on what Jesus said. There is no hint that Satan could read Jesus’ mind. Satan is able to exert great influence on people, and skillfully works to stir up sinful desires in the heart. Satan dominates the system of this world, but nothing in the Bible hints that Satan can read the thoughts of men.

The absence of any definite Biblical statement requires we be cautious with our understanding of Satan’s power. The Bible’s silence on whether or not Satan can read minds can not be interpreted as a conclusive argument for either opinion on the matter. It seems most consistent with what is revealed about Satan to think he cannot read minds, but no definitive answer is given in the Bible. Speculations about Satan’s potential power should not cause the Christian undue fear and worry. However great Satan’s power is, the truth still stands, “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” (1 John 4:4)

Are ghosts real?

A ghost is generally understood to be a mystical, non-physical presence of a person who has died. Of course, such manifestations make great fodder for movies and television shows. For millennia, men and women have made a living offering others a chance to speak with or to see a departed loved one. Many people over the ages have experienced strange, spiritual encounters with beings that have appeared to be the spirit of a deceased person. Are these experiences real? Are the beings encountered really the spirits of dead people?

As in all other matters, the Bible must be the final source of authority in this. Despite the difficulty of reshaping one’s conclusions, those who have personally experienced a manifestation must let the Bible control the understanding of any strange experiences. The Bible speaks much of the spiritual. Man has a spirit that is somehow distinct from the flesh. God created a vast army of powerful spiritual beings who are active in this world. The Bible leaves no doubt a great spiritual conflict exists and will continue until eternity is usheredSome spiritual creatures are malevolent and bent on the destruction of men. Some are benevolent and act as God’s servants for the benefit of men. These demons and angels are in conflict against one another. These spiritual creatures have the ability to appear in human form. The Bible tells of one instance in which a spiritual being appeared as a specific, deceased individual.

Saul, the King of Israel, was desperate for guidance. The prophet of God, Samuel, had died and Saul had been rejected by God because of his disobedience. Despite it being expressly forbidden in the law of God, Saul visited a medium and asked her to call up the spirit of the prophet Samuel. To the medium’s amazement, an apparition of Samuel appeared and spoke to Saul. What was this? Was this the ghost of Samuel the prophet of God? Since the woman of Endor was engaged in activity forbidden by God, and since Saul was conspiring with her to continue her wicked practices, it seems very unlikely that what appeared to Saul was actually the spirit of Samuel.

Other Biblical reasons add further weight to the conclusion that Samuel did not appear to Saul. In Hebrews 9, the Bible summarizes death and it’s subsequent events, “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment.” Little room seems to be left in the afterlife for haunting the earth or appearing at seances. Most forceful in this regard are the words of Jesus. In Luke 16 He tells of the deaths of two men, one who went to heaven and one who went to hell. Jesus relates a conversation between the one in hell and Abraham in heaven. The one suffering in hell plead with Abraham for someone to be sent from heaven to warn his brothers of the horrible judgment of hell. Abraham responded that it is impossible for anyone to be sent from heaven to earth. None leave their eternal abode to visit the earth. Not Samuel the prophet, not the poor man Jesus told of and not any other person who has passed on.

If the apparitions people see are not the spirits of men, what could they be? In many cases, such things can and should be chalked up to an over reaction of the mind. Those distraught, fearful or fatigued are much more likely to experience mild hallucinations or to greatly exaggerate something unexpected. In those few cases where something actually appears, the most likely possibility is that the creature is of demonic origin. Saul probably saw a demon masquerading as Samuel to torment him further with his rejection by God. Ghostly forms that terrorize people or “haunt” buildings are best explained as demons seeking to terrorize men. Ghosts are not real, but the spiritual creatures that may appear as ghosts definitely are.