You are a son or daughter, not a servant, of the King!
This is the final sermon in a six-week sermon series. Let me just catch you up to speed on where we’ve been, so that I can tell you where we’re about to go. Previously in the five sermons leading up to today, you learned how Jesus (we call him King around here, because he really is King) is King of two realms, both a physical realm, the world that we live in, but he’s also King of a spiritual realm.
We also showed you in the previous weeks that evil and Lucifer are tied to one another. And I answered the question, Which one came first: Did evil influence Lucifer, or did Lucifer create kind of the evil that we see around us? If you missed any of those, go back and listen to us online, go back and watch our services on our live channel on demand.
We made the comment (and I really want to make sure that nobody misses this one) that Satan has great power in this world, but he still serves God. That means that Satan is not in control and doesn’t get to make all of the decisions. God ultimately calls the shots even over Satan.
We learned that no one can bury their head in the sand and hide from a spiritual fight. You are a spiritual man or a woman. You live in a spiritual world that has a spiritual battle going on around you. Whether you acknowledge it or believe it or not, it’s happening around you, so the best thing that you can do is be aware and be prepared. I said, “Be strapped and ready for a fight, a spiritual fight this week.” And one of the other weeks, I told you that God really does love you most. Your dad loves you best.
What I want you to do for just a second is, I want you to get an image in your mind. We prayed just a moment ago for countries’ leaders on purpose. In fact, Romans tells us that we’re supposed to pray for our government leaders, whether we like them or not. Pray for them. But I want you to imagine that you are invited to go to your country’s leader and meet them wherever they do business.
If that’s a prime minister in a parliament building, if it’s a President at the White House, if it’s a king in his palace, let’s just imagine that you were invited to show up and to be a guest with in the room of your country’s leader. Now, I want you to picture in your mind for just a second the people that might be in that room. You have some advisors and you have some helpers. You have some people around him or her that are asking for something from your government leader.
And basically, everybody is trying to get closer than the next guy or the gal to your country’s leader. That’s how it works all over history, all over the world. No one gets to sit behind the desk or on the throne except the country’s leader. No one else. You might get close. If it’s a king, the queen might sit right next to him. If it’s a President, his chief of staff or his vice president might be right next to him or her. But no one gets to sit in the country’s leader’s desk except for the country leader. No one gets to sit on the throne except for the king.
But wait, I need you to understand that wherever you live, no matter what your government looks like, there are servants all around that room, helping the government leader lead the country. But when we talk about God, I want you to now picture the throne room of God in your mind. I want you to picture your father in Heaven, sitting on his throne. And I want you to picture it, because this is very biblical. I want you to picture a bunch of servants in that throne room that are there to serve God, there at his beck and call. Those servants are what the Bible refers to as angels, good angels. Evil angels are what we would call demons.
I want you to understand that if you were invited to go to the throne room of God, you wouldn’t show up as a servant. Because of the blood of Jesus Christ, you would show up as a son or a daughter. And the only person that gets to jump in the lap of the King while he is sitting on the throne is a son or a daughter.
You are a son or daughter, not a servant, of the King!
The servants, the angels, are in the throne room of Heaven to serve God. You are a treasured son or daughter, and you have been invited to be intimate with the God of the universe. In fact, you actually get a chance, metaphorically speaking, to sit on the throne. When you sit on the lap of the King and he’s on the throne, you are a treasured son, not a servant, of the King of Kings.
1. Do people have guardian angels?
I saved the best for last today because we’re going to answer four questions about angels and demons. I’m going to blow through some of the material so that we can camp on the fourth and the final question. Somebody asked early on (in fact, this is probably the most often-asked question, in some form or shape), Do we have guardian angels?
I’ve said this several times over the course of these several weeks: we’re only answering questions based on what the Bible says. There are books in history, church leaders in history, movies, and paintings that all give imagery here, but I’m only going to give you an answer from the Bible, because there’s some junk out there that’s in literature that is just flat out wrong, and you will not find this phrase (look as hard as you can in your Bible), there’s no “guardian angel” language anywhere in your Bible.
Now, there are a couple of passages that I think people tend to get the idea of a guardian angel from, but it actually doesn’t come from the Bible. Do you know where it comes from? It comes from a medieval theologian who heavily influenced a lot of people, a guy by the name of Thomas Aquinas. And Thomas Aquinas was the one who took what the Bible was saying and interpreted it to mean guardian angels.
Well, I’ve got an Old Testament passage and a New Testament passage that may put this question about guardian angels into perspective. But really what I’d like to know is, in your mind, what do you mean by guardian angel? Do you mean that I’ve got a guy who’s hovering right over my head, invisible, but he’s got wings and a harp and he’s there to strike down anybody who does me wrong? -because that’s really not biblical. Here’s what a biblical idea of God sending his angels to serve his sons and daughters looks like in Psalm 91, verse 11:
Psalm 91:11 For he will give his angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways.
Now of course, this is a reference, a direct reference, to God protecting his Son, Jesus, when Jesus comes on Earth. But it is also a reference for God using angels as his servants to serve people while they’re on Earth. And it’s giving the language that God will send angels to protect you.
Not every time, but sometimes there is divine intervention that you don’t see and you’re not aware of it until after it’s over with. That’s what Psalm 91, verse 11 is saying. I think most people get the idea of a guardian angel from a passage when Jesus is talking about children in Matthew chapter 18, because Jesus says it this way.
Matthew 18:10 See to it that you don’t despise one of these little ones, because I tell you that in heaven their angels continually view the face of my Father in heaven.
If you remember, there were a lot of children that were coming up, and they wanted to hang out with Jesus. In fact, Jesus was grabbing them and placing the children on his lap. And the adults were like, “Hey, what about us, Jesus? Are we sliced bread? Why are you spending so much time with the children? In fact, these children are a nuisance. Get them out of our face.”
And Jesus answers the people that are trying to usher the children away this way. “See to it that you do not despise one of these little ones, because I tell you that in Heaven, their angels…,” and that may be where the idea of guardian angels comes from.
Basically what Jesus is saying is, those angels have instant access to God, the Father. Those angels get a chance to see God the Father with their own eyes. They get a chance to see him face to face. And Jesus is using this as an analogy for guardian angels over these little ones.
By the way, what Jesus is doing is radically changing the idea for people in his day that these children can, in fact, have intrinsic value before God, that you can have intrinsic value before the God of the universe.
Are there guardian angels like you see in movies? No, not like that. Do the angels serve God, and does God sometimes send angels to serve you personally in a very powerful way, but you just may not be able to see it with your eyes? Yes. So, depending on what you mean by guardian angels, maybe the answer to the question is yes. Maybe the answer to the question is no. I don’t know what you mean in your mind by guardian angels.
2. Do angels carry our spirits to Heaven?
Question number two: Do angels carry our spirits to Heaven? Now somebody is quoting the Bible here. I like this question because this question starts to get at, what do those angels actually do for us? If they do intervene, if God does send them sometimes, what do those angels do for us? Well, there are two passages in the Bible. The first comes from the book of Jude. Jude only has one chapter, so we don’t use chapters. We just use verses to refer to this.
I just want to say up front though, this one is a challenge theologically because of Jude and what he’s writing and actually where Jude gets this source from. I don’t have time to get into it today, but Jude verse two is a bit of a challenge. Jude, the half brother of Jesus, talks about the archangel Michael and the body of Moses. It says:
Jude 9 Yet when Michael the archangel was disputing with the devil in an argument about Moses’s body, he did not dare utter a slanderous condemnation against him but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”
So, apparently there’s like a UFC cage match between one archangel and another, a good archangel, Michael, and the evil archangel, Lucifer, when Michael was disputing with the devil in an argument about Moses’s body.
Moses is already dead. He died up on a mountain. No one on the planet got to see what happened to that body. Jeff’s personal opinion: God performed a funeral service, and God placed the body of Moses where he wanted it. And nobody else on the planet to this day knows where that body is. “When Michael the archangel disputing with the devil in an argument about Moses’ body, he did not dare utter a slanderous condemnation against Lucifer.” In other words, Michael is saying, “I don’t have any power to rebuke you, Lucifer, but the God that I serve does.
So Michael’s answer to Lucifer was, “The Lord rebuke you, Lucifer, for this argument, this dispute over Moses and Moses’ body.” Does the Bible say in here that Michael took Moses’ spirit or his body up to Heaven? No, that’s not what it’s saying.
This question probably comes directly from a parable in Luke 16 when Jesus is comparing a good man and a very evil man and what happens to them after they die. Luke 16, verse 22 and 23:
Luke 16:22-23 One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.
By the way, the rich, evil man is not evil just because he’s rich. He’s evil because he is evil. He just happens to be rich, too. The poor man is a good man. The rich man is an evil man. The poor man also died and was buried. And the very next thing that the Bible talks about is instant torture for the rich man.
It doesn’t really tell us what happens, what life is like for the rich man next, but it tells us exactly what it’s like for the poor man after he dies and is buried. “Jeff, are you saying that there really are angels that really are carrying people into Heaven?” Well, I need to remind us about literature for just a second. This is a parable. A parable has a very real, very true spiritual story with spiritual significance behind it.
But parables will sometimes use made up stories to communicate something, like Jack and Jill were made up in that story book that you read as a child and like Hansel and Gretel stories. They are very real morals behind those stories, but Hansel and Gretel may not have really lived a long time ago. I don’t know if you’re aware of that or not. What Jesus is using is this good man and this evil man, and he’s describing in spiritual terms, what it was like for the good man after he died.
And the only thing that we hear about the good man is that the angels came and ushered this good man into the presence of God. And by the way, he didn’t get into the presence of God just by being good. He got into the presence of God the same way you or I do. -because the blood of Jesus covered him.
What Jesus does for the next several verses in Luke 16 is describe exactly what Hell is like in vivid detail, when you hear what happens to the evil man after he dies and is buried. Are there angels that carry our spirits up to Heaven? The answer to this question is, I don’t know. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, never really had a chance to talk to anybody who was ushered up to Heaven and then came back. So, I’m not sure of the answer to that one. Jesus is using a story here. Maybe there’s truth in this part of the story, maybe he’s just using this part of the story to communicate how treasured you are to God in Heaven.
3. Do nations have their own angels?
Now, somebody also asked a question about angels and nations, and there actually is some pretty specific references to the angel of nations in Daniel chapter 12. The question that they asked specifically was, Do nations have their own angels? Or somebody asked a question this way: Angels encamp around Israel in the desert, and angels meet Joshua on the banks of the Jordan. Are those national angels, angels that are there to kind of protect my country?
My answer to this is yes, I think so. I don’t know that we have enough evidence to say no, but there are certainly a couple of passages from Daniel chapter 12 that make us say yes. And here’s the first. Daniel chapter 10, verse 12 says it this way:
Daniel 10:12 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia opposed me for twenty-one days. Then Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me after I had been left there with the kings of Persia.
This is Michael, the archangel talking to Daniel. “Daniel, I was trying to get to you. I know you’ve been praying. I know you’ve been pouring your heart out for 21 days. Let me tell you why it took me 21 days to get there. I was in a spiritual fight.” Now I want you to notice the chief prince. It’s the Bible’s way of saying archangel, which means the word prince here at the beginning of verse 12 is a reference to the Angel of Persia. And apparently there’s an angel that’s trying to undermine Persia. And then you have Michael that’s trying to honor Daniel, trying to honor what’s happening in Persia. But listen to Daniel chapter 12, verse 1, because it’s even more clear:
Daniel 12:1 At that time Michael, the great prince who stands watch over your people, will rise up. There will be a time of distress such as never has occurred since nations came into being until that time. But at that time all your people who are found written in the book will escape.
Anybody whose read the end of the Bible knows exactly what book we’re talking about here. It’s the Lamb’s Book of Life. Anybody whose name is found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, you don’t have to worry about what happens at the end times. By the way, the Bible makes it very clear that if your name is not found in that book, it doesn’t matter how good you are. It doesn’t matter how hard you prayed. You have no hope of eternal life.
Now what the Bible is describing for us in Daniel chapter 12 is this angel that is working on behalf of a nation, and I really believe (this is Jeff’s personal opinion; I don’t have enough evidence to say this definitively one way or another. I might be wrong here, and I’m willing to admit I might be wrong) what the Bible is referring to here in both Old Testament (and this would certainly carry on to New Testament) is a spiritual fight… for the leader of your country.
I really believe the reason why we’re commanded to pray for that leader is because there is very real evil that wants to hurt you and will go through your nation’s leader to get to you. There is a very real spiritual battle for your country’s leader. Whoever your country’s leader is, wherever you live. That’s why you and I should pray fervently for our country’s leader. Because if the evil angels get a hold of his heart or her heart, they can take you down a really, really bad road as a country, which means when God’s angels, his good angels, are protecting and surrounding the heart of the country’s leader, your country can be a good and a noble nation.
I really believe what Daniel is referring to is the heart of the leader. And as the heart of the leader goes, so does the rest of the nation. So are there national angels? Well yes, if you’re talking about angels that are working hard to influence the heart of the nation’s leader. Anything more than that, I don’t think I have enough evidence, Bible evidence, to say one way or another.
4. What is the nature of our relationship to angels?
The fourth and final question (the best question, in my opinion, of all six weeks of questions and answers about angels and demons) was: What is our relationship to the angels? There was actually a whole lot more to this question. I summarized it, but let me read the whole question for you, because it goes like this: Are angels, do they exist just to serve us? Are they servants of God’s will. And also servants of us? Are angels partners with us? It’s not that important, but are we more important to God than angels?
That question is supremely important. I know what they were probably thinking when they said it’s not really that important, like, “I’m trying not to be selfish here, but I want to know, where exactly do I stand with God compared to the angels? Are they supposed to partner with us? Are they supposed to serve us? Does God love us more than he loves the angels?”
If you’ve been with us now for six weeks, you already know the answer to that last question. Does God love people more than he loves angels? Yes he does. And here is the definitive proof. When the angels rebelled against God and turned to evil, he didn’t send his Son, Jesus, on a rescue mission for them.
When people rebelled against God, when your first parents rebelled against God in the Garden of Eden, God set in motion the events that would lead to the death of his son to buy you back. That’s how you stand before your Father in Heaven. That’s why a son or a daughter gets to climb on the lap of a king, and not the servants.
That’s why you have access to God in ways that the angels will never have, when you spend eternity with him in Heaven. And I want you to hear from Acts chapter seven, to describe your relationship to the angels and your relationship to God. The angels actually are supposed to work in the heart of people, teaching us the law and helping us to love Jesus more.
Stephen says this right before the religious leaders throw stones at him and kill him. Steven says:
Acts 7:53 You received the law under the direction of angels and yet have not kept it. (See also Hebrews 2:2-3)
This brother is bold, because he is looking at priests and pastors and saying, “You jokers have no business leading people. You know all of the answers, but you don’t do it.”
And then in Luke chapter 22, the Bible describes our relationship to the angels this way:
Luke 22:27-30 For who is greater, the one at the table or the one serving? Isn’t it the one at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves. You are those who stood by me in my trials. I bestow on you a kingdom, just as my Father bestowed one on me, so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom. And you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (See also 1 Corinthians 6:3)
Now, picture in your mind, your dinner table. I want you to picture a meal, and God himself is going to show up. Actually, picture God’s dinner table, and you’ve been invited to come and have a meal with God. That’s the language Luke 22 is using. It’s actually using communion language.
You want to know where you stand compared to the angels? Jesus tells you in very specific language that you will sit on thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel.
Hebrews says that you will judge even the angels when you are invited to sit at the table and have a meal with the creator of the universe, the God who brought you into being and who has placed air in your lungs to breathe right now. That’s where you stand with God. You are infinitely more important to him than the angels, so important to him that he was willing to send his son Jesus to die in order to buy you back.