Summary: The subject of angels is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in the Bible.
This is the third message in our verse-by-verse study of Hebrews. The theme of this book is “Eyes on Jesus.” In the last message we spoke on why Jesus is superior to the angels. In this message, we’re going to talk about the truth about angels. The subject of angels is one of the most misunderstood doctrines in the Bible.
That’s why a few years ago I wrote a book entitled, Angels Really Do Exist. It’s available in our bookstore, or you can order it online. If you want to learn more about what the Bible says about angels, I encourage you to get the book.
My daughter and son-in-law, the Holmans, have chickens in their backyard. My grandkids are big fans of the Star Wars movies, so they have named their chickens after Star Wars characters. There’s Hens Solo, Princess Layer, and Chew bach bach bacher. If you remember the first Star Wars movie, Luke Skywalker and Obi Wan Kenobe enter a cantina filled with a variety of strange looking creatures. Some are bubbled headed creatures, others have long snouts, and some are furry. It’s not that far out, but God’s Word describes a variety of heavenly creatures including cherubim, seraphim, and a host of angelic warriors.
Here in Hebrews we’re going to look at the single verse that best describes the ministry of angels.
Hebrews 1:13-14. “To which of the angels did God ever say, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’? Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?”
So who are angels, and what do they do? They are spirits sent to serve those who are saved, that’s us. I have observed there are two different extremes people embrace when it comes to angels. Some people have an unhealthy fascination about angels, and others are ignorant about what the Bible says about angels. When it comes to Bible truth, ignorance is not bliss. I majored in religion at Samford University in Birmingham, a Baptist school, but I never heard one professor ever mention angels. In addition, I spent seven years at a Baptist seminary getting my Masters and Doctorate, and never recall ever hearing any teaching about angels. I even pulled out my systematic theology book and checked; angels aren’t even listed in the index. Yet there are hundreds of verses in the Bible that speak about angels. So let’s study what the Bible has to say about angels.
I. OUR CULTURE HAS EMBRACED POPULAR MYTHS ABOUT ANGELS
A lot of the things that people believe about angels are not from the Bible. They get their beliefs from television shows and movies. Here are three contrasting folklore with the facts from the Bible.
A. Folklore: Angels are people who have died. Fact: Angels are spiritual beings created by God
It would be the pinnacle of presumption to think that human beings are the only beings God created. There is a world of heavenly beings we usually cannot see. But people never become angelic beings.
One of my favorite movies to watch at Christmas time is “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart. In the movie, Clarence is a man who died in the 19th century and went to Heaven. However, Clarence didn’t have enough goody-points to get his angel wings, so he is sent to Bedford Falls to help out George Bailey. If he helps George through his money troubles he will earn his wings. At the end of the movie his family is restored and a bell on the Christmas tree tinkles and Zuzu says, “Teacher says, ‘every time a bell rings, an angel gets its wings.” George looks up to Heaven and says, “Atta’ boy, Clarence.” Now if you don’t shed a tear or two dozen at that movie, you may be a robot. It’s a great movie, but it has terrible theology: People never become angels.
I spoke on this topic a year ago when we studied where Jesus said in Mark 12 that in heaven we will be like the angels. I want to repeat a response that Billy Graham wrote to one of the readers of Decision Magazine.
DEAR DR. GRAHAM: My sister lost her small son a little over a year ago, and on the anniversary of his death, she put a poem in the paper to remember him. It said something about him being an angel now. Is that what happens to us when we die and go to Heaven, that we become angels? —Mrs. L.C.
DEAR MRS. L.C.: I know your sister was sincere, and I respect her sorrow and her desire to remember and honor her son—but no, we don’t become angels when we die and go to Heaven. The truth is, when we die and go to Heaven, we become even greater than the angels! The angels are spiritual beings who were created by God to be His servants, and God has given them great authority and power to do His will. And at the present time, the angels are greater than we are, because God made us “a little lower than the Heavenly beings” (Psalm 8:5). But the Bible also says that in Heaven we will be higher than the angels—and the reason is because we will be like Christ. The Bible says, “Do you not know that we will judge angels?” (1 Corinthians 6:3). All of that, I know, may seem like theological hairsplitting to you. But don’t lose sight of the central truth: When we know Christ, we know that this life is not all, but ahead of us is the joy of Heaven. May your sister take comfort in this truth and in the fact that her little son now is beyond all the pain and suffering of this world. — Billy Graham