Hello Dr. Luginbill
First, allow me to thank you for sharing your website & information. It has been a pleasure to read through The Satanic Rebellion! To keep this brief in respect of your time, I have 3 questions about angels from Part 1 of The Satanic Rebellion (which I found brilliant, by the way!).
1) You make reference to Hebrews 1:7 & 14 on pp.4-5 that the word pneuma is used of angels in these passages. While I find this true for v.14 I see that aggelos is the term used in vv. 6-13. Would it be possible for you to help me better understand your reference to the passage in Hebrews in connection with the term 'angels' and the conclusion that can be drawn?
Good to make your acquaintance, and thanks so much for your positive comments – it's always a pleasure to hear when these studies have been helpful.
As to your questions:
1) Hebrews 1:7 is a quote from Psalm 104:4. In the NIV version, we find the verse in Psalms translated "He makes winds his messengers", but we know that KJV et al. are right to say "angels / spirits" because of what Paul says in Hebrews 1:7: "And of the angels He says, 'Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire' " (NKJV). The reason for the reference you ask about is only to show that pneuma can refer to angels. It is true that many versions have "winds" in place of "spirits" in these contexts because both pneuma in Greek and ruach in Hebrew may mean "breath / wind / breeze", i.e., that which is felt but not visible. The fact is that various words or synonyms are often employed for the same thing in all literature, the Bible included, so the use of both pneuma and angelos for angels in the context is not at all unique. I hope that got to the gist of your question but please do feel free to write back on this one especially if I've missed your point.
2) You state and site that angels are 'spiritual' beings, but that they (they 'good' ones) can also and have at times appeared in bodily form throughout the bible as seen in John 20:12 to Mary and then Hebrews 13:2 where the author of Hebrews suggests that some have entertained angels (aggelos) without knowing it (NASB). How does this happen? How do angels take on a bodily form?
2) There is much about the angelic realm we would wish to know but do not. The Bible gives us quite a bit of information and it is the job of theologians, pastors and Bible teachers to extract it all into a truthful and comprehensive whole. Most of what I have on angels will be found in part 2A of Bible Basics: Angelology (there is a lot of duplicative information with the SR series there). Another link which goes more directly to your question is: "The Nature of Angels". In a nutshell, angels are "spirits" but not in the same sense that God is spirit. Angels are restricted as to time and place and are limited in form in much the same way as human beings in spite of their lack of "corporeality". So the traditional framing of this question between "spiritual and material" is to some extent incorrect. Angels exist within the creation only, so that their "spirituality" is to some extent "material", even if it is beyond our human ability to detect. They do not have physical bodies as we do, but can nonetheless interact with the material world. Just exactly what the limits are, both in terms of absolute ability and in terms of what God allows, can only be glimpsed from examples we see in scripture. An angel moved away the rock that blocked Christ's tomb – so they can move things; fallen angels destroyed Job's flocks and family – so if allowed to do so even the demons can affect the material world. The examples you relate show clearly enough that they can be visible as well, though this is surely an uncommon thing (and doubtless not allowed for the demons nowadays, otherwise they would probably be pleased to appear all the time in order to terrorize and/or awe humanity).
3) Following the Gap Theory, how did Satan and his cohorts come to be 'intrigued' by material bodies? How do we know that there were material bodies around for them to desire?
Any direction that you can provide around these questions would be greatly appreciated.
3) There is much in the argument presented in the SR series about Satan's original platform which is necessarily hypothetical – because the Bible does not address the issue directly. However, we do know that demons have a propensity for possession of physical bodies (as in the case of the "legion" of demons sent by our Lord at their pleading to possess the herd of swine at Gadarene). We do know that Satan managed to persuade a third of angelic kind to rebel – and given the obvious power of God one would surely be correct in supposing that in addition to assurances of safety he must also have had a positive inducement. We do know that the original world was destroyed, and it also would be beyond strange if that original perfect world was the only iteration of the world in history where God did not provide flora and fauna (indeed the fossil record makes it difficult to argue that He did not). We do know that the earth was the place of God's throne originally, and God's self-sequestering to the third heaven following Satan's revolt suggests that the same earth was also the place where the devil and his followers "assumed the rulership" of the first world before divine judgment struck – they were doing "something" which was rebellious and repugnant to the Lord which brought about judgment on the world with which they were interacting. We do know that the nephilim are the result of demonic liaisons and specifically because "the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful" (Gen.6:2 NIV) – indicating their obsession with bodies. And we do know that creatures of free will generally lust for what they do not have. The above may not be proof, but these facts put together with the whole picture we are given of angels, fallen and elect, points in the direction of what I have suggested (in my opinion), and I would also point out that once this hypothesis is adopted it explains a good deal about the whole course of the satanic rebellion without, it seems to me, running afoul of any doctrinal point which would call the theory into question. There is also the point that Satan's fall and particularly his ability to persuade so many to join him has to be explained in some way. The explanation advanced in the SR series fits the facts, and I have never heard another one which does so as well.
Thanks again for your interest in this ministry – and in the Word of God.
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
Thank you for your devotion to the word. I few questions (1) Do you believe that women angels were never mentioned in the bible (directly) do to the social construct of the times in which the word was given?
Good to make your acquaintance – and thanks so much for your kind words of encouragement! As to your questions and comments:
1) You may have a point here. While we have no idea precisely how inter-angelic relationships work, let alone between male and female. It is certainly true as I have tried to point out in some of these responses that all of the occurrences of human/angelic interactions in scripture always involve the carrying out of duties that are traditionally male-only ministries (even the single description of female angels at Zechariah 5:9 does not describe any interaction with human beings). So it really should be no surprise that we see little evidence of female angels in scripture.
(2) Do you believe anyone in any a.d. period, who claimed to be a prophet, would not have been stoned to death for blasphemy, if they claimed to receive the word from a women angel?
2) Pursuant to #1 above, I would question whether this ever happened since communicating the will of God and the Word of God is a ministry restricted to males. So it's a hypothetical question. We would all have a right to be skeptical of anyone making such a claim. On female angels, please see these links:
Are there Female Angels?
More on Female Angels
( 3) Do you believe that a woman angel would have disrupted the social construct timeline?
3) It is fair to say that there is a great deal that we are not told about angels and all things angelic, and further that this withholding of information is for our benefit (even if we cannot predict with certainty the precise harm that knowing certain things would have). In my view, there have been female angels since the creation of angels, regardless of who knew about it when.
(4) By proposing a woman to be equal to men in the eyes of GOD. I believe it is probable that female angels were created. I also believe a female angel would have been ignored or written off as a delusion by most men of that time. I believe a female angel would have suggested that women were equal to men, in the eyes of the LORD. This may have sped up social timeliness by hundreds or thousands of years. I believe GOD's timeline has played out exactly as he planned.
4) On equality, it seems to me sufficiently clear from Genesis to Revelation that God is no "respecter of persons", that Christ died for every single human being, and that each and every one of us have an equal chance to achieve the highest level of rewards for our service here on earth (please see the link: "The Judgment and Reward of the Church"). Of course our circumstances are anything but equal, and many of these are set by God and completely out of our control. That is certainly true of our gender, and also, for example, of the spiritual gifts we receive at salvation. I am quite confident that in the fairness and justice of God, however, we each have "equal opportunity" for winning the three crowns, producing 100-fold crops for the Lord, and more (see the above link). But part of our effective exploitation of that opportunity is our acceptance of the circumstances and roles God gives us. It little behooves a woman to covet or usurp a male role to the same degree that it is completely inappropriate for a man to covet or usurp the function of a spiritual gift God has not given Him (e.g.).
(5) I firmly believe all things will be revealed at the appointed time. For now we should busy ourselves with the task of bringing lost souls to JESUS. Regardless of minor differences in interpretations, believing that JESUS is the SON OF GOD, died on the cross for our sins, and then concurred death is the only thing that we have to agree on and believe. Everything else becomes inconsequential if this is overlooked, besides if you study in PRAYER you cant go wrong. Remember JESUS said " in prayer and fasting can this type of demon be driven out". He told us this to let us know how powerful prayer and fasting are, try them together sometime and the HOLY SPIRIT may give you more insight into the Bible than you want. I am sorry for my rant, but I get aggravated at people closing there minds and souls when something challenges what they were taught as children.
Keep up the great work you have provided me with lots of insight. Blessed be the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!
5) On revelation and learning the truth, I would say it all depends on the facts of the case. We should not aspire to or waste any time on attempting to learn what may not be learned because God has not revealed it. But we should all aspire to and be willing to lavish our time on learning all the truth God has placed in His holy scriptures – and believe it when we have learned it, applying it to our lives in every respect, and helping others to do the same. That is the role of the Church. Ministering the good news to unbelievers is a noble and an important ministry, but it is not the only ministry Christ intends for His Church and the edification of His people once they do become His through faith. Christ is the Rock, salvation through His Name is "the foundation" (1Cor.3:11), but on that foundation we are all responsible to be building for Him, and it is only through knowledge of and faith in His truth that we grow up, progress, and become prepared to engage in the ministries which produce the "gold, silver, and precious stones" as rewards which will glorify our Lord forever. I am quite certain that we have been given the Bible in order to understand its truths and believe them and apply them once we do (e.g., Rom.15:4). There is no power greater than that of the Word empowered by the Spirit – but when there is not much truth in a person's heart, there is not much for the Spirit to work with. It is God's truth which guides us, encourages us, strengthens us, and motivates us – all in the power of the Spirit. The truth, after all, is "the Spirit's sword" (Eph.6:17).
And it is the Spirit who testifies, because the Spirit is the truth.
1st John 5:6b
There is no question that the fundamental truths about Jesus Christ are the foundation of our faith, but even here there is much to know and much to learn beyond what most understand when they are saved (please see the two extensive studies: BB 4A: "Christology" and BB 4B: "Soteriology"). And while everything we do and are called upon to do is important (prayer, for example), there is no question but that the more truth we learn about these fundamental things too the more effective we become in doing them and the more deeply our faith is edified in doing them (I am currently writing BB 5 on the Spirit, and can tell you that there is a great deal to learn on this topic). I am very much aware that any insight I personally have into scripture is completely due to the Spirit. But of course the Spirit honors our effort, our preparation, our hard work, our diligence, our discipline, our correct methodology, and He builds one truth upon another until we have built up an entire edifice of truth on the foundation of our faith in Christ, one which if properly tended to through consistent attention to the truth, its application and its ministration, will stand fast when the flood waters rise and result in our safety even as it will redound to the glory of our Master, Jesus Christ.
Finally, agreement among believers is an important goal, but one which is better sought by the pursuit of the truth than by neglecting it. In my view it is very obvious that in today's church-visible there is less serious attention to the meat of scripture and to serious, orthodox, in-depth Bible teaching than at any time since before the Reformation. And yet it is not as if this lack of serious attention to and lack of motivated searching for the truth has led to any sort of general agreement among those who truly believe. Indeed, just as the church-visible has never been so lukewarm, so it has never been so fragmented in its beliefs and opinions. In my view, if more Christians were, like yourself, diligently seeking out the truth, things would be better in this regard, not worse. More studying and less arguing is the recipe for true Christian unity, and a unity built upon a solid foundation at that.
In Jesus Christ who is our One and only Rock of salvation,
I am still studying your wonderful website and learning by the day! Was so blessed to read that sleep is not what happens to us when our bodies disintegrate into dust. We were taught in the last place that when we die we go to sleep and our bodies turn into atoms and then at the second advent these atoms are brought alive again to be Resurrected! I could never work that one out !
Just a question. When Jesus was Resurrected He could appear, disappear, walk, speak, eat ...
Were angels able to do this, or will they ever be able to do this ... ascending and descending as in Jacob's ladder. Also in Genesis ch. 18 it talks about the two angels who went to Lot, how they ate with him. Do you think this is just one isolated case? As Hebrews 1 says they are "spirits " to the heirs of salvation
Prayers are along with you and yours.
On angels generally, please see the link: Bible Basics 2A: Angelology. Angels are "spirits", but they are still part of this "cosmos". They can only be in one place at a time and they have to travel from point A to point B (even though they are clearly able to this with much greater alacrity than we can, even with modern technology). Jacob's "ladder" is a case in point: they have to make use of a specific portal to access the third heaven (they can't just "appear" here or there). Therefore their invisibility to us (in my reading of these things they are not invisible to each other nor will they be to us once resurrected), should not be taken to mean that they are not governed by spatial restrictions in any way. So while they do not have bodies like we do, they are more substantial than is often supposed. That is to say, they are not "spirit" in the sense that God is: He is everywhere and was before He made the world; they are in one place at a time and are definitely creatures restricted to the world just as we are.
"Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have."
Luke 24:39 NKJV
In resurrection we shall have a "spiritual body" (1Cor.15:42-49), but as the quote above shows, based upon our Lord's resurrected body we can say that ours also will be more than it is now, not less, and significantly different from that of the angels, for "a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have". Angelic lack of physical bodies and the potential "remedy" for that "problem" was, as I posit, a selling point for the devil in corrupting one third of angelic kind to follow him in rebellion against God (see the link: "Satan's Revolutionary Platform"). And we know from many of their activities since that fallen angels, though "spiritual", can nevertheless interact with the material world in all sorts ways. Their desire to possess human beings, however, shows fairly clearly, I would say, that they are unable to gain the satisfaction from such interaction that is natural to human beings (see the previous link).
This is a long way (but perhaps a necessary way) to get at your question about the angels who must have been accompanying our Lord in Genesis 18 being described as "eating". In my view, angels who are allowed to appear to human beings such as in this case are allowed to do all manner of things. However, by their "eating" we should not assume that they had the ability to enjoy food the way we do or metabolize it the way we do – they have no physical bodies. They gave the appearance of "eating" just like human beings do, but what they did is different from what we do and different from what we will be able to do as Jesus did once resurrected (cf. "The Wedding Supper of the Lamb"; see the link). Just as in the case of the angel who prodded Peter awake (Acts 12:6), or the ones who rolled away the stone in front of our Lord's tomb, or the fallen angels who caused fire to fall and wind to blow in destroying Job's possessions and family, there is no question but that angels, spirits though they are, can affect the material world. But they are clearly different from us now, and that will remain true, even in the resurrection. What we have coming is better by far, and better than we can now imagine.
For more on this please see the link: "The Nature of Angels".
Please also do feel free to write me back about any of the above, especially if I have not gotten to the pith of your question.
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,
I just thought I'd better get this straight too. We were taught in the last place I went to, that we were all at one time angels! How true is that? I think it came from where Paul said that he "then was". Also, what about cremation? Is it acceptable for Christians?
Love in Jesus our precious Lord
Always great to hear from you!
While there are any number of cults out there (some of which claim to be "Christian") who do say things of this sort, human beings were never "angels" – nor do we become "angels" after death. Angels and human beings are two complementary but entirely distinct and separate categories both of which are essential to God's plan (the five part Satanic Rebellion series deals with these issues; see the link). We are most certainly not the same: angels have spirit-bodies (see the link: "The Nature of Angels"); human beings have spirits within physical bodies – and always will have from the point of birth into eternity whether saved or not (please see the link: "Our Heavenly, Pre-Resurrection, Interim State"). As also explained in the previous link, all believers are given an interim "home" for their spirits upon dying: we all enter the presence of the Lord and our state there with Him in the third heaven as we await the resurrection will be blissful and marvelous beyond anything we can presently imagine (we will be able to "see Him and not die" in that state out of our present corrupt bodies), but it will still pale in comparison to our final, resurrection bodies and eternal reward in the New Jerusalem (see the links: "The Resurrection of the Lamb's Bride" and "The Judgment and Reward of the Church"). As we await the Second Advent and our resurrection, the description of things in Revelation (and elsewhere) does indicate that we will be able to see what is happening on the earth in the meantime (e.g., the multitudes in Rev.6:10 which comment on them to the Lord asking for vindication), observing this great conflict that is currently raging as the devil fights his last battles against the forces of the Lord and against us now on earth – his time is short. However, none of that will then cause us distress for we will at that point see things much more clearly from God's perspective – the same perspective we are supposed to be developing and applying now as we grow daily in Jesus Christ our Lord.
For at the present time our perception [of heavenly things] is like [viewing] a dim reflection in a mirror. But then [when we meet the Lord] we will see [Him] face to face. Now I have only partial knowledge, but then my knowledge [of Him] will be complete, just as I have always been known completely by Him.
1st Corinthians 13:12
I'm not sure what passage in the Pauline epistles you are referring to, but I have read them countless times in the Greek and can assure you that there is nothing therein to suggest any human-angel correlation. As to cremation, it certainly does not make any difference as to our eternal state. There is an argument to made that burial may perhaps provide a better witness about the hope of the resurrection, but clearly it is not necessary that our present shell be preserved in order for us to participate in the resurrection (see the links: "Burial or Cremation?" and "Is it permissible for Christians to be cremated?"). That is a pagan notion to which the ancient Egyptians in particular were addicted. Obviously, Adam and Eve died over six thousand years ago and were buried without the benefit of any sort of modern embalming. Their first bodies have long since turned to dust which was no doubt scattered around the globe by the great flood – yet they will most certainly be resurrected with us at our Lord's return. No serviceman need fear that if his body be blasted to smithereens it will somehow affect his eternal state. The transformation of the original corrupt shell into the incorruptible eternal body we shall enjoy forever is something which will take place for all believers even if no trace of the first one can be detected by human means. God counts the hairs on our heads and marks the death of every sparrow. These things may boggle human minds but are no problem for an omnipotent and omniscient God. All who believed in life though their first bodies have turned to dust will rise on that glorious day of days.
"The men of Nineveh (nearly 3,000 years in the past) will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here."
Matthew 12:41 NIV
I think I have addressed everything here, but please feel free to write my back about any of it.
In eager anticipation of that wonderful day to come!
In Jesus our wonderful Savior,
Thanks once again.
Once again I had a few more questions I was hoping you could help me out with.
1) What would be missing if Satan and those who chose to follow him were wiped out immediately after they sinned against GOD?
Good to hear from you again. You are very welcome. As to your current questions:
1) Satan and his angels are being replaced by the human race and are opposing the process. Had there been no temptation and no fall – and it wouldn't have happened but for the devil's efforts – then it is hard to see how mankind would ever have faced the crucial question of choice, or why Christ would have had to die (most importantly). In short, without an "appeals process" (i.e., human history confirming God's righteousness in condemning the devil), there is no obvious structural need for the human race in the Plan of God. The fact that there is such a process going on means ipso facto that it was necessary (because God is carrying it out). Of course, God always intended to create us just as and just as much as He did angelic kind. I think I would have to say that if God had annihilated Satan and company immediately, the entire Plan of God as we are given to know it would be "out of whack", so to speak. The Plan of God is like a perfect and unimaginably intricate clockwork. Stripping out half of the gears will destroy the functionality of the whole. God could have done anything. God was under no compulsion to initiate creation in the first place. God could have made the angels more like dogs and cats, that is, without the ability to choose (and so incapable of rebellion). But just as you can be sure that Christ's incarnation, sacrifice, glory and ultimate rule are foundational to everything God is accomplishing through His plan, so you can be sure that we who are His Bride are likewise indispensable to everything God is working out for good, and an essential part of the Plan since the beginning.
2) In job 38, it doesn't seem that GOD answered any of Jobs questions or concerns. Why do you think God did not tell Job he was being tempted by Satan even after the trials and testing was done?
2) Some things are only really tests if we do not know the answer ahead of time. If Abraham had been told by God that He was going to rescue Isaac in the dramatic way He did, then the command to sacrifice his one and only dear son would not have been anywhere near as hard to respond to. The fact that Abraham was confident that the Lord would deliver Isaac in some fashion (cf. Heb.11:19) gives us a premier example of faith, one we should all follow whenever testing comes upon us. Just as we do not know how the Lord is going to deliver us when we find ourselves in a "tough spot", we too ought to trust Him anyway – such things are what spiritual growth and rewards are made of – and just as Abraham did not know, so the fact that Job did not know / was not told is the essence of the test. No doubt losing his children, his wealth and his health would still have been incredibly hard if God had told him the whole story ahead of time, but then at least Job could have hung in there despite his friends' recriminations in certainty that his deliverance was close at hand. The fact that all such deliverance seemed impossible and Job nonetheless trusted God completely (until he was undermined by his "friends", that is), is another premier example of the way we should handle adversity, trusting to the Lord to bring us through whatever trouble we face, even when (or especially when) there seems to be no way out. The really important thing to remember is that we do have the book of Job so that we do know all this ahead of time, in general if not in the specifics, so we really do not have the same excuse Job did have.
3) Is there any other biblical insight as to why Enoch was translated aside form pleasing God? How was his translation different than Elijah, i.e., to come back as one of the two witnesses?
3) The main difference is that there is no indication that Enoch's first physical body was preserved. It was so in the case of Moses and Elijah for the express purpose of bringing them back during the Tribulation (see the link). It is also true that in addition to this gentile and two Jews, a large number of gentiles and Jews will also not taste physical death but will experience something even better at Christ's return: the living resurrection which will occur at the second advent.
4) How could one tell the difference between a Holy Angel and a fallen Angel?
4) There is no scriptural indication that the appearance of the fallen angels changed in any way after their rebellion. So Satan himself can masquerade as "an angel of light" (2Cor.11:14). Blessedly, we cannot see either category so we don't have to worry about being deceived in this respect (as the pre-flood generation apparently did). But the principle would be the same as that touching false teachers. There are genuine shepherds and there are "wolves in sheep's clothing", so that the "fruit test" (see the link) is the only way to be sure in all such situations: look at what they say and do; that is how to tell the difference.
5) Does 1 John 4:3 indicate that evil spirits are incapable or reluctant to acknowledge Christ is from God? If so, why?
5) "Spirits" in 1st John 4:3 is referring to human beings (who have "a spirit") and not to angels. John uses the word "spirit" to focus on the spiritual element of the teaching and to contrast the spirit of the false teachers he mentions there with the Spirit of God, our divine Teacher.
Hope this helps!
In Jesus Christ our dear Lord and Savior,
I've come back from a Christmas break with my family and have now resumed my study (which I shouldn't have taken a break from in the first place, but my time management was poor during a period that is very busy through meeting family and friends, who I these days see very seldom). I haven't attended the masses during Christmas and told members of my family and some of my friends about my decision to leave Roman Catholic Church. This has caused some turmoil, which was inevitable and so I took it with composure. I explained that my quest is not some sort of 'anti-catholic crusade' (and I stressed that I had been very critical of this church even when I still considered myself a part of it), but to discover and understand the Truth and live according to it, and that, at some point, caused my departure from the church. I also said that the decision was not dictated by the fact that the church isn't perfect and in full accordance with the Truth included in the Scripture, as nobody is perfect and all human institutions are destined to suffer from some flaws, but what was decisive is the lack of desire on part of the church to make every possible effort to be closer to Truth and putting other things above it (canonic law, writings of church fathers, tradition, convenience, desire to make profit, etc.).
This brings me to two things. Firstly, I would like to ask you for a prayer for those, who brought up in the church, but not in the faith, still have a chance to change the course of their lives. Some with whom I spoke showed little or no desire to strive for the Truth, but there are some, who may still fully embrace our Lord Jesus as their Saviour and be saved.
Secondly, it brings me to a personal dilemma. I completely understand your abstinence from making judgement on others' personal problems, but when it comes to a biblical take on various problems, you're the man to ask. I'm trying to devote all my free time to Bible study and at some point I would like to help others grow too. I understand that I may not be ready to do so for many years to come, but one thing which I thought I could do is translate your resources. I have started to do it and plan to carry on and the rationale for my decision is to do something for others now, as I never know how long will I live, every day can be my last day and I'm afraid of dying without having born any fruit. Also, some of my family members and friends for example are older people and in, say, 30 years time, when I may have a chance to be more ready for some sort of ministry, many of them will in all likelihood not be among the living. On the other hand, the time I spend translating (which is not a quick process, as I'm sure you're far better aware than I am) I could spend reading and I would understand more in a shorter period of time, hence being relatively ready to help others grow in a shorter amount of time. I would just like to hear your opinion on this.
Also, I know that many questions in my last email referred to the passages you put in the brackets when making a point. I would like you to remember, that these questions are never a result of me making an assumption that you are wrong (I rather make a quite opposite assumption), but by the desire to understand as much as possible (ideally everything) and to know how you arrive at the points that you arrive. I do take care when making the readings and accepting certain points, as it turned out that a lot, maybe the majority, of the teaching I received until fairly recently has been false, but, as I said, the assumption is that you're writings are correct and it's me who is not able to understand them. Please also remember that all questions I ask, regardless of how they may seem in an email, are always asked in complete humility. Your patience and diligence in answering all the questions I sent you has made a difference for me spiritually and was key to my growth in the last year.
I said it before, but your ministry has been the biggest spiritual inspiration of my life, and if this is God's will, I would like to be more like you, with your ability to discern the Truth from the Scripture, answer questions, help others grow. Even in the past, still as a catholic, I was never into the rituals and traditions, I wanted to understand and know more, I wanted to help others grow by answering the questions that they couldn't answer and that stood in the way of their spiritual growth and your ministry is exactly that. This is the goal of my life now and I hope God will help me go through all obstacles that stand in the way of achieving it. As I always say, please answer my questions whenever you've got the time.
1. You wrote: 'This judgment on the universe went hand in hand with God's condemnation of the devil and his fallen angels...'.
Why was universe the subject for judgement? Could not God simply deal with the devil without affecting the rest of the creation?
Very good to hear from you as always, my friend. You have been in my prayers over the holidays, and I am very pleased to hear of your very good application of the truth in all your efforts toward your family. I couldn't put the issue any better myself (or probably as well). I do promise to continue to strive prayer for the growth and salvation of you and yours in the days ahead.
As to your dilemma, the general principle under which I would always prefer to operate is "personal growth first, ministry next". For one thing, it is in my experience somewhat rare for Christians to see with complete clarity the precise nature of the work to which the Lord is calling them from the very outset of their journey toward spiritual maturity. Generally speaking, the vision as well as the opportunity develops later as the person in question develops – and indeed, without the development of personal spiritual growth some ministry opportunities will never occur at all or may be completely missed if they do. So I would never counsel a Christian to do anything that interferes with the primary objective of the Christian life, personal spiritual growth. Growth is followed by progress as truth believed begins to be consistently applied to the life and the individual in question starts passing ever more difficult tests, building up and refining their faith which is more precious than gold. At a certain point, the Lord does begin to provide ministry opportunities, but "the" ministry of a person's life (and in many cases there will be one focal point or area in which the person is meant to serve) often does not become clear and/or available until after a certain point. Even Paul did not begin his main service to the Lord, His mission to the gentiles, until many years after his conversion. Not that he didn't have some fruit for the Lord before that. He did. But had he become involved early on in his Christian walk in, say, food distribution to the poor Christians in Jerusalem, and become stuck in this without the requisite growth in the Word the intervening time provided, what we would have lost! Naturally, God works all these things out for the good, but it is still incumbent upon us to do our best to figure out with the help He gives us what is the most prudent thing for us to do. This is a long way of saying that while I am deeply gratified by your efforts to render these materials into Polish, I do fear that this might not be the most profitable use of your time. It may very well be that the Lord has in mind for you a ministry of your own wherein instead of translating the work of others you teach the Bible directly to them in your native language. Until you get to the point of seeing the course Jesus has marked out for you more clearly, more personal growth through immersing yourself in the Bible and in Bible teaching is in my view the "better part" (please see Luke 10:38-42). Many years ago I spent a good deal of time (hundreds if not thousands of hours) developing an index of verse citations from the audio recordings of my mentor. It turned out to be of no particular use to anyone, not even to myself. I suppose it developed a certain amount of personal self-discipline, and I suppose I could easily have put the time to worse uses, but I also would have been better served reading the Bible with all those many hours over all those many years.
As to your questions, I certainly do appreciate your attitude and the (no doubt undeserved) great respect with which you ask them. It has always been important to me to keep this ministry open for questioning on each and every point, especially when the questioning is genuinely in search of the truth as it clearly always is in your case.
1) An interesting question. Certainly, God can do anything. However, the universe only exists as a venue for the free-will creatures it contains. The universe exists for us, and there certainly is a pattern throughout the Bible of the physical environment reflecting the spiritual realities of the people who inhabit it (Rev.11:18). Simply put, judgment very often affects the environment in which the judged exist, no doubt both to more effectively bring the judgment home but also to provide a tangible and unavoidable reminder of the judgment. When Israel is judged, there are very often plagues of various sorts which affect the environment (e.g., Ezek.14:21). Angels are not subject to the same environmental limitations as human beings are, of course. None of the "four judgments" in the Ezekiel passage just quoted would matter much to them at all. But they are creatures of light, and judging the universe with darkness would most certainly affect them, both "making them feel it", and providing a visible reminder of the judgment, driving home the lesson. Scripture does not say so, but inasmuch as the third heaven is the refuge or "place apart" to which the Lord retired at the outset of Satan's rebellion, I imagine that the elect angels were not plunged into the same darkness that the devil and his crew experienced outside of the presence of God. Finally, since the issue in creation is free will, it was very important at this juncture to allow the process of historical free-will selection for or against the Lord to continue, something that would not have been the case if the devil and the fall angels were removed from the equation at this point. Mankind is the refutation of Satan's lies, but for that refutation to be fair and complete, the continuation of the choice for or against God in the creation of mankind could not occur in a real and meaningful way without that choice being challenged by father of lies. During the Millennium, for example, many will decide not to accept Jesus as their Lord (even though He will be their King), but until the devil is released they will have no genuine opportunity to demonstrate the implacability of that attitude when they aggressively choose against God by enlisting in Satan's last revolt (Rev.20:7-10).
2. You wrote: 'God is both demonstrating to all angelic kind His ability to reconcile His wayward creatures to Himself (though the devil claimed He could not or would not)'.
How do we know that the devil claimed that God could not or would not reconcile his wayward creatures?
2) The development of Satan's actions and deliberations throughout the Satanic Rebellion series especially in part 1 (though this particular quote comes from part 3) is admittedly derivative. Nevertheless, I believe it to be true. Some theological constructs (as in the case of the Trinity, e.g.), are most definitely true despite never being explicitly taught in scripture. Satan's case to his followers was effective, we know, because one third of angelic kind did defect to join the devil's revolt. God is gracious and merciful beyond all expectation, we know, because He sent His one and only Son to die for the sins of all mankind in order to provide a way back to Him – even for the majority who reject this priceless Gift. What, then, was the situation after the fall of Satan? If we posit a very surprised devil and an even more surprised army of fallen angels, surprised, that is, that Satan's protestations about God's inability to act in the face of his coup d'etat turned out to be so completely incorrect (addressed in SR 1), then it is reasonable to suppose that there was at least some thought of reconciliation. Angels are different from human beings in that their process of choice appears to be very much a "once and for all" affair (as a result of their much greater longevity and incomparably greater perception), while human beings with limited time and even more limited perception tend to be more reactive to developments. But the judgment on the universe was quite a dramatic occurrence, so that even if no fallen angel would/could actually express repentance, it was certainly at the very least in Satan's propaganda interest to slander the Lord in this matter, impugning His character by suggesting that while he, the devil, might have been wrong about God's willingness to mar His own creation in judgment, well, it only reflected badly upon Him as God in causing a permanent and chaotic rift and thus making a bad situation worse. Mankind's creation and the Lord's handling of us in grace in our soon-to-be-fallen state puts the lie to the devil's canard which I supply here: "the devil claimed [God] could not or would not" i.e., be able to reconcile His wayward creatures to Himself.
3. You wrote: 'Reconciliation of fallen angels to a merciful God was therefore never a likely possibility – because they would not have it, not because God could not or would not do it (cf. Heb.2:16)'.
Doesn't the passage suggest that God doesn't help the angels?
3) Indeed, there is no such sacrifice for angels, hence Satan's conjectured blasphemy that God "could not or would not" do so. But why is there no such sacrifice? As stated here, not because God "could not" but because the fallen angels "would not". I am certain that if one single fallen angel had been willing to come back to the Lord, that somehow in some way God would have provided a sacrifice for that angel's sins as He has done for all mankind. After all, God loves all His creatures and wants all to be saved. And it is important to remember that while Jesus died for every single sin of every single human being who has every lived, only an infinitesimally small number of human beings have or will ever avail themselves of that ineffably gracious gift so as to claim the salvation He offers to all in Jesus Christ.
4. You wrote: 'From the nature of his rebellion, we can surmise that part of the devil's appeal to his potential followers rested on his assurance that God would be unable to effect any such reconciliation between Himself and His rebellious creatures'.
I'm finally beginning to understand devil's thinking that was the basis of his rebellion, but how do we know that this was devil's thinking?
4) I think I have answered this in my response to the questions above. There is a certain ineluctable logic to the creation of the human race with free will in the context of a prior angelic rebellion. The Bible does not present the case in this way for reasons which may not be obvious at first glance. The Bible is written not as a theological text book, but it does deliberately contain everything such a textbook might ideally contain. Many people are reluctant to accept the fact that all the truth is there yet must be "quarried out" with the help of the Spirit and a diligent, professional approach. The result of much "bad mining" and worse "building" from the truth (or lack thereof) so derived has led to skepticism in some quarters about the possibility of knowing the truth. But all genuine Christians who truly trust God understand that He would never leave His people without the truth they need; therefore the truth is in the Bible; therefore the truth can be derived from the Bible; therefore the first question is how to go about getting the truth, and once the method is established (in general terms), what is needed is legitimate, orthodox, professional, sincere, accurate, inspired effort to dig out that truth. As you so marvelously put it to your family, our objective as Christians ought to be "to discover and understand the Truth and live according to it". I freely admit that this statement about which you ask is deduced from what we must reconstruct from the information scripture gives us about the situation before mankind's creation. Reconstructing those events depends heavily upon the description of Satan and his pre-fall thinking in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 (covered in SR 1 section IV: "Satan's Character, Sin and Fall"), but also upon all of what the Bible has to say about the devil even in passages which do not directly discuss these pre-mankind events. Suffice it to say that proper deduction takes into consideration all of the available facts (which in theology includes significantly also the nature and character of God and the overall plan of God and what it must entail), and is led to conclusions which if not inevitable are at least highly probable. In the case of the devil's pre-revolt thinking, based upon what we know about his actions and methods and given the direct evidence we do have, this is a case, in my view, of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. That is to say, assuming a Plan of God and a definite purpose for mankind as the backdrop, these or very similar conclusions about the devil's thinking and actions seem to me at least to be largely inescapable. For example, if we reject the hypothesis that the devil assured his minions of God's inability to accomplish reconciliation, then a) we have to wonder how he managed to keep his followers in line (he must have been telling them something; what else would it have been?); b) we have to assume a certain silence on Satan's part in the face of God's actions in judgment upon the universe (and it is not really in keeping with what we know of the devil not to have some lie ready to hand); c) we have to wonder about why exactly mankind was created and how that creation ties into the devil's revolt. In short, any attempt to explain the creation of mankind, the overall Plan of God, and how these relate to Satan's revolt, must reconstruct the devil's thinking and his actions vis-a-vis the angels he managed to persuade to join him, and do so in a way that satisfies what we know to be true both from the specific Bible passages which allude to these matters directly or indirectly and also what we know to be true from theology generally. I would certainly never suggest that these things are either perfectly understood or far less that they are perfectly phrased, and I am grateful for the questions, but the more I have learned and deduced about the Plan of God and the importance of free will, the better the explanations provided in the SR series have seemed to me to hold up.
5. You wrote: ' unable to execute punishment without permanently marring His creation in an irreversible way '.
I know this is yet another question referring to the same paragraph of your study, but understanding Satan's rebellion is essential, as you're far better aware than I am. Why executing punishment would have to mar the creation?
5) What I am expressing with this phraseology (and what I hope the introductory part of the sentence indicates: "God would thus be 'put in a box' ") is the devil's thinking/propaganda line, not the reality. After all, God did execute judgment, and in fact has not permanently marred His creation. Indeed, it was always essential to His Plan for His free will creatures to "self-select" for Him or against Him so that the final, ultimate, perfect and impeccable universe to come would be populated only by those who wanted to be there with Him, appreciating Him, worshiping Him – from the heart and not out of compulsion.
6. You wrote: 'God we are all equal, but in this present corrupt body, we all find ourselves under various forms of authority, all ultimately delegated by God, and our proper response to that authority is intimately connected to the spiritual conflict that now rages unseen all around us'.
Could you please explain the relationship between the response to authority and spiritual conflict around us?
In Our Lord Jesus and with constant prayer for You and your ministry,
6) Women are told, for example, to wear their hair long as a symbol of the authority to which they are to respond "because of the angels" (1Cor.11:10). Satan's rebellion is a revolt against the authority of God, and mankind's creation is a response to that challenge the success of which depends in no small part upon our obedient response to God's authority. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we are responding to the "holy commandment" and the "eternal gospel" (2Pet.2:21; Rev.14:6; cf. Ps.148:6b). Our whole Christian lives long we are under God's authority, attempting to respond to it as best we can – and that response is the basis for our confutation of the devil and our eternal rewards. It is not too much to say that Satan's whole strategy is based upon getting human beings to disobey God and our entire responsibility as Christians is bound up in our proper acceptance and response to His authority.
Thank you so much for your diligence and determination, and especially for your prayers!
In Jesus our dear Lord and Savior,