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Series: “The Manifold Wisdom of God”
THE STUDY OF ANGELS
Text: Ephesians 3:10 and 1 Peter 1:12
Subject: Angels Learning about Redemption
Date: Sunday Evening — August 24, 2014
Readings: Rex Bartley and Cody Henson
I have two texts for my message tonight. Our first text is Ephesians 3:10. Here Paul tells us that one purpose of God in the accomplishment of our redemption by Christ and in the preaching of the Gospel of His free grace in Christ is — “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.” “The principalities and powers in heavenly places” are the angels of God.
Our second text is 1st Peter 1:12. Peter tells us that our redemption and salvation in and by the Lord Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of God, are “things the angels desire to look into.” Let’s read those two texts in their context.
(Ephesians 3:8-12) (8) Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; (9) And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: (10) To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, (11) According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: (12) In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.
(1 Peter 1:3-12) (3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, (4) To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, (5) Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (6) Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: (7) That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: (8) Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: (9) Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. (10) Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: (11) Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. (12) Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
Proposition: God’s purpose of grace toward fallen man is so infinitely wise and comprehensive that the benefits of redemption by Christ extend even to the elect angels.
Elect angels do no need to be redeemed because they never knew sin. When Satan led his revolt in heaven against the throne of God and drug one third of the angels away into hell, these elect angels were preserved and kept in holiness by the goodness and mercy of God. So they do not need to be redeemed. Redemption was accomplished for fallen men. Yet, the angels of God are greatly benefited by our redemption.
Divisions: Let me show you four things in this message.
Angels’ Interest in Us
First, the angels of God are far more interested in us than we might imagine. Because we cannot see, speak to, or hear the heavenly angels, we tend to ignore them. But they do not ignore us. They are not indifferent spectators of our race. These pure, holy, heavenly creatures have a keen interest in God’s saints upon the earth.
Roman and pagan superstitions talk about guardian angels, tell us to pray to angels, and teach us that when babies die they become angels! And foolish men and women receive the nonsense of ignorant idolaters. Of course, we flatly reject the traditions of men regarding the angels. But we must not neglect the teachings of God about these heavenly creatures. — What does God tell us in His Word about the heavenly angels?
The Scriptures reveal three distinct things about the angels of God.
1. They were created by God to minister to His elect (Hebrews 1:14).
(Hebrews 1:14) Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
Though in times past God spoke to men by angels, He does not do so in this Gospel age (Hebrews 1:1-3). We have the full revelation of God in the Scriptures. Yet, the angels of God do minister to, they do serve, God’s elect.
Illustration: The Prodigal
2. The angels of God encamp around God’s saints in this world and keep us in all our ways (Psalm 91:11-12).
(Psalm 91:11-12) (11) For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. (12) They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
Illustration: Elisha and His Servant (2 Kings 6:16-18). — Though that young man could not see them, God’s angels were all over the place, surrounding him, defending him, and protecting him.
3. And the heavenly angels come with the Lord Jesus to carry our souls home to heaven when we die (Luke 16:22).
The angels of God are heavenly beings, specifically created by God to serve His elect. And they gladly do so. Their hearts are in their work.
Second, let me show you one reason why the angels so gladly minister to those who shall be the heirs of salvation. — These heavenly angels behold the manifold wisdom of God in the redemption of sinners by Christ Jesus.
Without question, the angels of God saw His wisdom and power in the creation of the world. They shouted for joy when God spoke the world into existence. But when they look into the matter of redemption, they behold the many facets of Divine wisdom, which can be seen nowhere else.
In the ages past the angels desired to see the mysteries of redemption, but were not able to do so. That is, at least in part, the meaning of Peter’s words. The angels of God, from the beginning of time, have desired to look into the wonders of redemption.
Illustration: The Cherubim Looking Toward
But “now” since the resurrection and exaltation of Christ, the angels see the glory of Christ as the Redeemer of sinners (Ephesians 3:10; Revelation 5:11-12).
(Revelation 5:11-12) (11) And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; (12) Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.
The angels of God now behold more clearly than they ever before could the glory of God in the face of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, they rejoice before His throne day and night.
Looking on Christ, the God-man, risen, ascended, exalted, and filled with all the fulness of God, the angels now see the grand purpose of God in all things. They now see manhood as God intends manhood to be. And now the angels see the manifold wisdom of God…
The angels of God understand far better than men the method of God’s operations of grace. They see the manifold wisdom of God in the biography of every saved sinner. Over the lives of God’s elect they read the word — “Grace”.
Yet, there is something the angels desire to know which only redeemed sinners can teach them. I do not doubt that the angels see the purpose of God far more clearly than we now do. And they see the glory of God more fully than earth bound men can. But they look to us to learn the wonderful knowledge of redemption experienced and felt in the soul. They cannot know, but by us…
Third, our redemption by Christ’s is inexpressibly beneficial to God’s elect angels. — The angels of God are not redeemed. But that does not mean that redemption has nothing to do with the angels. They gain much by the redemption and salvation of the church.
Christ, as the God-Man Mediator, has become the Head of the angelic hosts (Colossians 2:10; Ephesians 1:20-22).
(Colossians 2:10) And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
(Ephesians 1:20-23) (20) Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, (21) Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: (22) And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
This is a part of our Savior’s reward for His obedience to God as our Substitute. —— And having Christ to be their Head is a matter of great benefit to them.
And the angels of heaven are enriched by our redemption in that they are brought into union with man (Hebrews 12:22-24).
(Hebrews 12:22-24) (22) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (23) To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (24) And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.
By Christ’s mediatorial, redemptive work, the whole creation of God, disjointed by sin, is united in one blessed communion.
Moreover, our redemption by Christ will cause the angels of God to prize God’s goodness to them.
Lesson for Us
Now, fourthly, there is a lesson in all of this for us. — If the angels of God so highly honor the Gospel that they constantly desire to look into it, how much more redeemed sinners ought to prize it!
Children of God, how we ought to prize and cherish the Gospel of Christ. How we ought to admire, love, and worship our Redeemer, who took not on Him the nature of angels, but took on Him the seed of Abraham!
Let Christ crucified be the subject of our constant meditation and study (Philippians 3:9-14).
(Philippians 3:7-14) (7) But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. (8) Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, (9) And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: (10) That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; (11) If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. (12) Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. (13) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (14) I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Ever set these goals before your heart.
How earnestly we ought to labor to make Christ known!
Illustration: The angels must sigh and the demons of hell laugh to see God’s church taken up with trivia and ignoring Christ.
· Internet Forums
· Unanswerable Questions (Second Coming)
· Strife and Division over Nothing (Musical Instruments, Psalms or Hymns, Head Covering, Christmas)
How we ought to love Christ, who so loved us that He became one of us, lived for us, died for us, and saves us! Oh, may God be pleased to make you see what the angels have seen (Psalm 68:17-20).
(Psalm 68:17-20) (17) The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place. (18) Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them. (19) Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah. —— (20) He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.
Where Satan holds his cruel seat,
And guilt still swells its tide,
To trembling souls this news is sweet —
Christ Jesus crucified!
Angels adore with sweet surprise,
The Friend who loved and died;
Justice beholds the sacrifice, —
Christ Jesus crucified!
You heralds, go! — His death proclaim,
And know no theme beside;
Preach to the poor, the blind, the lame,
Christ Jesus crucified!
My soul survey that precious blood,
Which cleanses when applied:
And let your trust be in your God, —
Christ Jesus crucified!
Let saints below and saints above
Behold His wounded side:
This is our Savior, God of love, —
Christ Jesus crucified.