Holiday Post: Seeking to get RightWithGod.

 

A quote from a sermon by Jonathan Edwards:

” The work or business which must be undertaken and accomplished in order to the salvation of men:

“It is a work of seeking salvation in a way of constant observance of all the duty to which God directs us in His word. If we would be saved, we must seek salvation. For although men do not obtain heaven of themselves, yet they do not go there accidentally, or without any intention or endeavours of their own. God in His word has directed men to seek their salvation as they would hope to obtain it. There is a race that is set before them, which they must run, and in that race come off victors, in order to their winning the prize.”

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Help for our Spiritual Weaknesses

In Romans 8:26, we have brought before us a very important fact characteristic of the true believer,  who is already RightWithGod through faith in Jesus Christ and His finished work. The truth brought before here is  something which is not easy to come to terms with because of our deep-rooted pride and self sufficiency. Yes, these things cling to us and trouble us even after we are saved because of indwelling sin, which we must wrestle with until we pass into heaven, and are separated from our sins forever (what a joy that will be!). The characteristic we are speaking about here is weakness in spiritual things, especially in prayer. The verse says, “Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities (weaknesses): for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered”.

First  of all we must clarify one important point in this verse. The Spirit referred to is of course the Spirit of God, the Third Person in the Godhead. He is a person,  not a force or an  influence. The word “itself” in the verse, in English, suggests neuter gender, and would be better translated “Himself”, because the reference is to the Spirit of God,  a person. The translation, “itself” is due to a characteristic of the original language, which we cannot go into  here.

To return to spiritual weaknesses, which is the theme of the  verse, there is wonderful news here for the Christian: the christian has two divine intercessors: one in heaven, and one on earth. In heaven we have the glorified Lord Jesus Christ who, there, “ever lives to make intercession for us” (Heb 7:25), and on earth we have the Spirit who enters our hearts the moment we believe on Christ. Once there, He never leaves, and cannot be evicted. His presence makes us new creatures with new affections and inclinations. There He helps our weaknesses in spiritual activities, such as prayer.

Are we conscious of such weaknesses? Do we feel the need of divine help in our prayers? Do we need someone to work within us in order to bring forth from us sincere heartfelt prayer? I certainly do, and I am thankful that there is such a One in my very heart. I find  concentration in prayer extremely difficult. I am very conscious that Satan hates when I pray, and will do all he can to distract me. I have to constantly cry for the Spirit’s help.

I simply have to acknowledge that I do not know how or what to pray for as I ought. There are even times when I feel the burden for prayer, and I cannot find words to express my need. I find myself unable to say more than, ‘O Lord, O Lord, O Lord’. The cry is there but adequate words are not. Other times I can only groan. God hears our groans, and delights in them. But now, far from worrying about these times, I thank God for them because of the precious words here: “The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

I will be on holiday for the next two weeks, but I hope to post something if internet access is available.

 

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The Fall of the Angels.

One of the most mysterious things about the history of God’s creation is, the beginning of evil. We know when it began: some time before the fall of man;  we  know who it began with. We read in Revelation 12: 7,8: “And there was war in heaven, Michael and his angels fought against the against the dragon; and the dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven”. The dragon, of course, is Satan. He was one of the most highly favoured angels. We can read about his fall, in Ezekiel 28:11-19. It comes to us there in prophetic and typological form in the lament upon the king of Tyrus. I do not think that there  can be any mistake as to who is spoken of in that passage. We can read more about the fall of Satan in Isaiah 14, verse 12 forward. It is clear that Satan was once a highly favoured angel, in whom evil began. It is impossible explain. It must remain a mystery known only to God .

Now we see the  importance  of what we mentioned last week about the difference between the  human race , and the angels as a group. The human race began with one couple, and hence it is pyramidal in shape. The angels were all created at the same time without any family connections. When the first human couple fell, the whole human race that issued from them inherited their sin and guilt. When the one highly-favoured angel fell, all the angels that followed him fell also, but only those.  The rest did not follow the rebellion, and  did not  fall. We believe that they were then confirmed in holiness so that they would never fall. Thus we have evil angels, or demons led by their fallen leader, now called Satan, meaning, ‘opposer’ or ‘accuser’; and we have the good angels, now called just ‘angels’,” sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation”  (Hebrews 1:14).

How many of the angels fell? We are not told, but some believe that Revelation 12:3,4 leads to the conclusion that a third of the angels fell. It speaks there of the red dragon, “and his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven”. As to the number of holy angels, we know that there is a huge number of them. In that great gospel chapter, Revelation chapter 5,  we read that many angels  were round the throne of God: “Ten thousand times ten thousand, and  thousands of thousands”.  How comforting that they are sent forth to minister to us, whose trust is in Christ.

 

 

 

 

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Angels

Angels have always seemed mysterious creatures to the fallen human race. We read in Hebrews 1:14 that they are, “Ministering  spirits sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation”. In other words, they are spirits sent to serve believers. The word “shall” is an accurate translation; it is a clear future. This has led some to believe that angels are sent to serve, not only believers, but  those who are not yet believers, but will believe on Christ as Lord and Saviour before they leave this world. It is not possible as yet to settle this argument, but most take it to mean simply that angels are sent to serve believers; those who are now believers and are already heirs of salvation, and will ultimately enter into the full enjoyment of that inheritance when they get to heaven.

What are angels? What nature of beings are they? They are able to appear in bodily form, but they do not have bodies. They are spirits, and are the highest order of beings in God’s creation. They are not limited in terms of physical travel in the way we are. This is not as a result of their having wings, but because they are spirits. Granted they sometimes appear as having wings, for example, in Isaiah 6:2, but wings are not a defining characteristic of angels. The appearance they take is  simply what suits the situation. They are higher creatures than man who was made, “a little  lower than the angels”, Psalm 8:5. There are two classes of angels, seraphim (literally, ‘burning ones’), and cherubim. We do not have much information about them. What there is is not, as yet, very clear.

What about the origin of Angels? They were created before man, but there was a major difference between their creation and the creation of man. It is very important that we understand this difference. At risk of over-simplification, but with a desire to make this matter easier to understand let us look on the human race  as a pyramid, and the angelic host as on a huge shelf. The human race was created as one original couple, Adam and Eve. From them, the whole human race came by generation, and is still being generated, increasing  the population of the world, continually. On the other hand, the whole family of angels were created at the same time. They were individually created. There is no multiplication of angels. There are no relationships among them like fathers, mothers, brothers or sisters, etc. The do not intermarry, they do not reproduce their  own kind.

There is one other thing thing that we must mention at this point. On the pages of the Old Testament, a different kind of being appears,  usually called The Angel of the Lord. We must learn to recognise this being. There is much for us to gain. He speaks for God, and he speaks as God, often in the one conversation. This is the One who wrestled with Jacob (Genesis 22), and the one who visited Hagar in her deep distress, after she and her child were expelled from the household of Abraham as insisted on by Sarah, Abraham’s wife ( Genesis 21). The more we  meet this Angel of  the Lord on the pages of the Old Testament, the more convinced we become that this is none other that God the Son appearing as a man, long before He  actually became a man in the person of the God/man, the Lord Jesus Christ. We will return to this topic next  week,  if the Lord will.

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