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Article 12 - The Creation of All Things, Especially the Angels

Article 12.doc


THE CREATION OF ALL THINGS, ESPECIALLY THE ANGELS


ARTICLE 12

We believe that the Father through the Word, that is, through His Son, has created out of nothing heaven and earth and all creatures, when it seemed good to Him, and that He has given to every creature its being, shape, and form, and to each its specific task and function to serve its Creator. We believe that He also continues to sustain and govern them according to His eternal providence and by His infinite power in order to serve man, to the end that man may serve his God.

He also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect. Some of these have fallen from the exalted position in which God created them into everlasting perdition, but the others have by the grace of God remained steadfast and continued in their first state. The devils and evil spirits are so depraved that they are enemies of God and of all that is good. With all their might, they lie in wait like murderers to ruin the church and all its members and to destroy everything by their wicked devices. They are therefore by their own wickedness sentenced to eternal damnation and daily expect their horrible torments.

Therefore we detest and reject the error of the Sadducees, who deny that there are any spirits and angels; and also the error of the Manichees, who say that the devils were not created, but have their origin of themselves, and that without having become corrupted, they are wicked by their own nature.


WHO GOD IS

The confession concerning who God is leads logically to a discussion of His work, the first of which is His act of creating the world.   The mighty, faithful, wise God of whom deBres made confession in earlier articles is not idle; this God worked to create the world, and continues to work today to uphold it.  These works of God give us greater understanding of who this God really is.  This is evident from the opening verse of the Bible, for Genesis 1:1 does not begin with words like, “This is God speaking…,” as if God needs to introduce Himself to His readers.  Rather, the verse relates action – “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” – and therein displays for the readers who God actually is.


GENESIS 1

Scripture’s opening words quoted above indicate that God created a world made up of two distinct parts, “the heavens and the earth.”  The Lord gives us no details about how He went about creating the heavens, or its inhabitants the angels.  Instead, He tells us in detail how He created the earth (Genesis 1:3-2:4), that portion of His handiwork which “He has given to the children of men” (Psalm 115:16).  We relate to the earth, see it, touch it, smell it; we know our home so well.  God reveals information about Himself (as Creator and Sustainer of life) with reference to the world that we are so familiar with.  Paul puts it this way, “His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20).


WORLDVIEW

Just how did God go about creating the universe we can see and explore?  How are we to understand the revelation of God found in Genesis 1?  Numerous answers exist:

  • The days of Genesis 1 are not comparable to our (24-hour) days, but represent large eons of time.  The Lord God, then, let the world develop (be it under His guidance) through a process of evolution spanning millions upon millions of years.

  • A large stretch of time is assumed between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3.  The point then is that after God called the world into existence, He let it evolve over countless years before He organized it (in one week) into a habitable home for the human race.  The fossils found on earth today are remnants of animals and even civilizations that existed before God organized the world according to Genesis 1:3ff.  Adam, then, was not the first man.

  • The description of God creating the world as found in Genesis 1 must not be understood literally.  It is a poetical reconstruction of God’s work, retold in a framework of 2 times 3 days each (there are parallels between Days 1 & 4, Days 2 & 5, and Days 3 & 6).  How the world actually came to be is then a matter for science to discover, not for the Bible to disclose.

  • The creation account of Genesis 1 is to be seen as Moses’ (inspired) reaction to popular (heathen) theology in the days Israel was delivered from Egypt.  The nations around Israel insisted that the divinity existed in nature itself – and so the Canaanites worshiped trees or fertility, etc.  Over against this perception, Moses wrote an account of creation presenting God as separate from creation, in fact as Master over creation.  Moses’ account is not to be understood literally, but as a polemical defense over against heathen thinking; one is not to worship trees since God created trees.

The list can be lengthened.  They have in common the thought that the Lord God could not have created the world as Genesis 1 describes.  That is: this God is not sufficiently God to call into existence that which does not exist – and then do it in such a way that its secrets and complexities baffle even modern scientists.  If there was in heaven a God sufficiently God to create a world as Genesis 1 describes, then this God must of necessity be acknowledged today and worshiped.  That is the logical consequence of taking Genesis 1 literally.  But then the human race no longer has ‘freedom’ to set its own rules for living.  To leave room for man to make his own rules for living, God’s act of creating the world as described in Genesis 1 is denied or disemboweled.  At bottom we are dealing with a worldview: is God really the almighty, wise, holy God we confessed earlier?


BY FAITH

An increasing number of secular scientists today doubt that the world came into being through a process of evolution.  New discoveries have convinced many that nature is simply too complex to come into being ‘by itself’.  Instead, the world shows evidence of intelligent design.  Somebody, somehow, somewhere, must have planned and then made this world as we see it today.
 
This theory of Intelligent Design is definitely an improvement over the theory of Evolution.  It is, however, not to be confused with the Biblical doctrine of Creation.  Intelligent Design accepts the theory that there is a great mind (or Mind) behind the formation of the world.  But Intelligent Design deliberately hesitates to say that this Designer is the God who revealed Himself in the Bible, the God who is our Father through Jesus Christ.  Rather, one may fill in the blank as to who this Designer may be, whether the God of the Bible or the Great Spirit of aboriginal religions, etc.
 
The Lord Himself tells us that one cannot scientifically or empirically prove that the God of the Bible created the world in the manner described in Genesis 1 – no more than one can scientifically or empirically prove that the Son of God laid down His life to pay for my sin.  The apostle to the Hebrews puts it this way, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible” (Hebrews 11:3).  The eternal God who is so highly exalted above His creatures told us that He created this world, ourselves included.  It is simply impossible that the creature man in turn subject the almighty Creator to his experiments or the logic of his creaturely mind, and then produce scientifically indisputable proof that God’s account of His work as recorded in Genesis 1 is accurate.  Let people recognize we are but creatures – and therefore be humble in the face of God’s revelation about Himself and His work.


HOW DID GOD CREATE?

The above quote from Hebrews 11:3 catches the Biblical revelation: “…the worlds were framed by the word of God.”  It’s the refrain of the Holy Spirit in Genesis 1: “Then God said, ‘Let there be…’” (see vss 3, 6, 9, etc).  The Almighty gave a command, and instantly His command was obeyed; even what did not exist responded to God’s word and came to be!  “He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:9).  No wonder the angels burst forth into songs of praise to this God who does such wonders (Job 38:7)!  How awesome and how glorious is He!

Our vantage point today is different from that of the angels of Job 38.  They witnessed God’s work of creation, while we may observe the results of God’s creating work.  Yet even those results today give ample reason to sing along with the heavenly choirs.  David gazes at the stars and the moon, and it hits him, “The heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1).  Paul says the same: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen…, even His eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20).  Wherever we look, whatever we smell or taste or hear, all exists because of God’s creating work, and therefore gives reason to praise and glorify this God so mighty and wise.  No scientist in the world can create a leaf out of nothing, or the aroma of a flower or the song of a bird.  We see, we investigate, we study God’s handiwork in the bush and in the garden, and can rightly only praise this awesome Creator.  There once was a day when no horse and no river existed; He spoke and they were there – how delightful!


PURPOSE OF CREATION

God Himself has existed from eternity; He has always been, Father, Son and Holy Spirit (see Article 1), and never had a need.  Why did this God create?  In various passages of His written revelation, He tells us the reason.

  • Proverbs 16:4:“The LORD has made all for Himself.”  The world is here for God. 

  • Isaiah 43:7: “Everyone who is called by My name, whom I have created for My glory; I have formed him, yes, I have made him.” 

  • Revelation 4:11: “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”  The twenty-four elders before the throne respond to their confession with worship for this glorious Creator.

Here is the theme of the first petition of the prayer Jesus taught us to pray: “Hallowed be Your Name” (Matthew 6:9).  The entire world exists for the glory of God.  Stronger: God created the entire world so that His creation might praise Him.  What the angels did on the day of creation (Job 38:7) is fitting for all creation to do; each creature is to praise Him according to gifts received.

One is tempted to argue that God was selfish, and therefore acted morally incorrectly, in creating a world for the sake of His own glory.  However, one cannot rightly use the word ‘selfish’ in relation to God – as if we creatures can judge our Creator, let alone find a flaw in Him.  God alone is God, and therefore worthy “to receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things” (Revelation 4:11).  For me to live for myself is an act of selfishness, is sin, because I am created for God.  I am selfish, and therefore wrong, precisely when I detract from God’s honor.  My purpose is to glorify Him.  God is there for Himself, and because He is God all of His creation is geared to Him. 

DeBres echoes this revelation from God in Scripture in Article 12: God created (and still upholds) the world “to the end that man may serve his God.”  God’s creation, and hence man’s existence too, is God centered.  That is why Psalm 148 (and so many other Psalms) calls on all of creation to “Praise the LORD,” including the heavens, the angels, the sun, moon and stars, the creatures of the seas, the wind, the mountains, the trees, the animals on the land, the birds, and all people.  It is simply because God is God that all of His creation should praise Him.

That also explains why each creature is the way it is.  We may well consider a slug to be ugly, harmful, a pest, and we may well question why God made slugs as they are.  However, each animal’s unique characteristics, including its looks, its habits, its abilities, fulfill the purpose of serving God the Creator.  That is why deBres could say, “He has given to every creature its being, shape, and form, and to each its specific task and function to serve its Creator.”  True, we live after the fall into sin, and we cannot today determine what effect the fall into sin had on the habits of the animals.  That takes nothing away, though, from the fact that God created every creature as He did, in order that each with its particular characteristics might give glory to God.  We today may have but little appreciation for a spider or a snake, but God’s holy and perfect evaluation of each of His acts of creation –including the snake and the spider and the slug!– is this: “And God saw everything that He had made, and indeed it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). 

GIVEN TO MAN

When the Lord God created the world, He also put a structure in place, a hierarchy.  In the first five and a half days of creation, the Lord prepared the stage for the climax of His creating work: man, that creature formed to image Him (see Article 14).  Man was charged to “have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth” (Genesis 1:26).  Whatever God created on the first five and half days was placed under man; animals and plants, stars and rocks are so many props on the stage of creation upon which man is the chief actor.  That is to say: all creatures exist for man’s sake so that man might in turn praise God. Hence David could exalt as he did in Psalm 8: “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him?  ...  You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, all sheep and oxen – even the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea that pass through the paths of the seas.  O LORD, our Lord, How excellent is Your name in all the earth!”  (Psalm 8:4-9).  So deBres could in turn confess that God created, sustains and governs all creatures “in order to serve man, to the end that man may serve his God.”


THE ENCOURAGEMENT OF THE DOCTRINE OF CREATION

The Bible refers repeatedly to God’s act of creation in order to encourage God’s people in the circumstances of their lives.  In Isaiah 40, for example, we read of Israel in exile, complaining that God had forgotten them, no longer cared about them, didn’t look after them.  “My way is hidden from the LORD,” they said, “and my just claim is passed over by my God” (Isaiah 40:27).  In order to comfort and encourage Israel, Isaiah must remind Israel of who God is.  God, he says, is not just a ‘nobody,’ but He is the LORD, the God of the covenant, eternal, who never “faints or is weary.”  To emphasize the point, Isaiah reminds Israel that their God is “the Creator of the ends of the earth” (vs 28).  We understand that there is great encouragement for the exiles in the reference to their God being the Creator; their God is obviously mighty.

Similarly, the prophet Jeremiah also makes reference to God the Creator.  The LORD instructed Jeremiah to buy a field. This was a perplexing instruction for Jeremiah, because the city of Jerusalem was about to fall to the superior army of the king of Babylon and its inhabitants taken into exile.  So it made no sense now to purchase land.  As Jeremiah struggles to come to grips with God’s command, he approaches God in prayer.  The way he begins his prayer is striking: “Ah, Lord GOD!  Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and outstretched arm.  There is nothing too hard for You” (32:17).  If Jeremiah’s God is the Creator, who spoke and things were there, then He also has the might to deliver Israel from the Babylonians and restore His people.  What an encouragement for Jeremiah in his difficulties!

Psalm 148 speaks of God’s work of creation.  Repeatedly the psalmist calls upon persons and creatures to praise God, “for He commanded and they were created” (vs 5).   But here, too, the doctrine of creation does not stand on its own.  The psalm concludes with a reference to the Creator being the God who adopted a people for Himself.  Verse 14 speaks of God’s saints as being “A people near to Him.”  That’s to say: the people of Israel were a people near to the Creator! 

No, the doctrine of Creation does not just stand on its own.  It rather reaches into the lives of each of God’s children, in whatever circumstance they find themselves.  Our God is none less than the world’s Creator, the One who spoke and this world came to be!  This God has become our Father in Jesus Christ, and we His children!   Aptly does the Apostle’s Creed confess the faith of the church of all ages, “I believe in God the Father almighty, Creator of heaven and earth.”  How wonderfully personal; even I belong to this God!  In the trials and tribulations of this broken life there is so much comfort for me in the doctrine of creation!

Then it becomes clear to us, too, why people in the world around us live uncomforted, for they see their lives as the products of chance.  Since they do not believe in a God sufficiently God to create all things at a word, they lack the comfort that comes with trusting in this God.


FURTHER CONSEQUENCES OF THIS DOCTRINE

Aside from the comfort that comes from the conviction that my God is none less than the Creator of all things, some very practical consequences follow on from the fact that God created the world.

  1. The doctrine of creation determines what my relation with God must be. The doctrine of creation is fundamental to all religious and ethical questions.  If He formed me, it follows that I am to acknowledge Him, serve Him, obey Him.  We are not our own, but belong to the One who made us.  It is therefore simply illegitimate and rebellious to live without Him.

  2. The doctrine of creation determines what my relation with other persons and creatures must be.  God made us all, and therefore we all belong together.   I am then to give room and place to the other.  There is no room for racism or for enslaving or exploiting others.

  3. The doctrine of creation determines what my relation with the entire created world must be.  The human race forms part of the created world, but at the same time has a unique place in this world.  Though we have received dominion over all creatures, we are not to exploit the world selfishly (and possibly short-sightedly).  “The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, The world and those who dwell therein” (Ps 24:1).  So it is for us to treat all creation with respect.  The doctrine of creation makes the child of God environmentally friendly.



THE CREATION OF THE ANGELS


THE HEAVENS

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).  Though the Lord gives much detail about the creation of the earth (including what He made and how He did it), He has told us very little about the creation of the heavens.  God did tell us, however, of a throne in heaven, and a floor (or firmament) upon which the throne stands (see Ezekiel 1:22,26; 10:1; Revelation 4:2,6).  Details are so sketchy that little more can be said; we shall need to wait for the return of the Lord to learn more.

Meanwhile, the Lord has told us of certain creatures He fashioned to inhabit the heavens.  The apostle Paul writes concerning Jesus Christ, “For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” (Colossians 1:16).  The “thrones or dominions or principalities or powers” describe the angels, whether good or evil.  We do not know precisely when God created them, but they were certainly there already when God “laid the foundations of the earth” (Job 38:4-7).  God tells us details about these inhabitants of heaven because they have a direct bearing on our lives on earth.


DETAILS CONCERNING THE ANGELS

Several particulars can be gleaned from the Scriptures about the angels God created. 

  • God created them in large numbers.  The apostle to the Hebrews speaks of “an innumerable company of angels” (Hebrews 12:22).  John heard in Jesus’ revelation to him “the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Revelation 5:11). 

  • Unlike creatures on this earth, these angels do not multiply.  Nowhere in Scripture do we read of the number of angels growing.  Instead, we read Jesus’ word about marriage on the new earth: “in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven” (Matthew 22:30).

  • There appear to be classes of angels, with Scripture speaking of cherubim (Genesis 3:24; Exodus 25:18), seraphim (Isaiah 6:2), and archangels (1 Timothy 4:16; Jude 9).   The difference between these classes is not clear.  Some angels have names, including Gabriel (Luke 1:26) and Michael (Daniel 10:13,21; Jude 9; Revelation 12:7).

  • As residents of heaven, they are not confined to a limited area as we are.  A legion of angels had made their home in one man, according to Luke 8:13.  In the Roman army, a legion consisted of about 6000 soldiers.  Angels can move from heaven to earth and back again, as Jacob witnessed in the dream of the ladder (Genesis 28:12).  Angels do not have bodies as we do, and are not usually visible – though they can present themselves in visible form from time to time (see Genesis 18).


GOD’S PURPOSE IN CREATING ANGELS

As with any other aspect of God’s creation, He formed the angels so that they might glorify their Maker.  (See above, re Purpose of Creation.)  So, when God “laid the foundations of the earth”, the angels were not silent bystanders; instead they “shouted for joy” (Job 38:4-7) – and so gave praise to their Maker on account of His wonderful handiwork.  Isaiah is permitted a peak into heaven and sees angels (seraphim) surrounding the throne of God, repeatedly calling out to each other that “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!” (Isaiah 6:3).  It’s not a once-off song they sing, but an unending litany of praise for the Sovereign One.  John hears the same song still being sung when he was allowed to look into heaven (Revelation 4:8).  Indeed, as the Lord reveals to John the things that will happen in the course of world history between Christ’s ascension and His return, he keeps hearing the angels singing songs of praise to the Lord God and to the Lamb (Revelation 5:12; 7:12; 16:5; 19:1-10).

As attendants around the throne of God, the angels do more than worship and praise the Lord.  When the Lord God wants to reveal to His people something of His holy majesty, He comes to Ezekiel in a vision.  Yet Ezekiel, finite and mortal creature that He is, cannot see God and live (see Exodus 33:20).  Instead, the Lord God let Ezekiel see something of the splendor of those around God, the company God keeps.  Ezekiel sees angels in the form of living creatures, bright in color, filled with eyes and wings, even carrying the throne of God (Ezekiel 1, 10).  Their being and their appearance and their conduct all point up how awesome is the God whom they serve!

As it is, these angels do more than praise God.  They are also God’s servants.  When the Holy Spirit has David instruct the angels to “bless the LORD”, David describes angels as “ministers of His, who do His pleasure” (Psalm 103:21).  The Hebrews are assured that angels are “all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14).  When the Lord had a message for a child of His on earth, He repeatedly sent an angel to convey that message.  So angels appeared to Lot one evening in the gate of Sodom (Genesis 19:1), and another came to Zechariah and to Mary with news of children (Luke 1:11,26).  An angel came to strengthen Jesus before He went to the cross (Luke 22:43), and another came to encourage Paul in the face of the opposition he encountered as preacher of the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 27:23). 

In their capacity as servants of God ministering to His elect, Jacob saw angels “ascending and descending” on that ladder stretched between heaven and earth  (Genesis 28:12).  These angels were carrying out God’s commands for His people, and ascending again from earth to heaven to report in heaven what was happening on earth.  That is why the dream gave such encouragement to Jacob.  The psalmist also delights in God’s care through His angels.  “For He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11,12).  As a concrete example of their work, one can think of the time Elisha was in Dothan (2 Kings 6:14-17).  The king of Syria was anxious to lay his hands on Elisha, and “therefore he sent horses and chariots and a great army [to Dothan], and they came by night and surrounded the city.”  In the morning the prophet’s servant was desperate with anxiety on account of the enormous army surrounding the city.  Elisha’s answer is striking: “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more that those who are with them.”  Then Elisha asked the Lord to open the lad’s eyes so that he saw a reality human eyes do not normally see.  “Then the LORD opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw.  And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.”  Those “horses and chariots of fire” are the angels of God, the army of the LORD of hosts.  Though one does not normally see those divine soldiers, they nevertheless continually pervade the air around us as they guard and protect the children of God. 


THE FALL OF THE ANGELS

God ordained before creation that some of the angels He fashioned were elect, and others not.  So Paul can mention “elect angels” (1 Timothy 5:21).  Not long after God created angels some rebelled against God.  Through Jude the Holy Spirit tells us of “angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode” (Jude 6).  Peter refers to the same event when he mentions “the angels who sinned” (2 Peter 2:4).  Jesus says of the devil that “he was a murderer from the beginning” (John 8:44).  The Lord has not told us why, how or when these angels fell into sin.  It is sufficient for us to know the fact of their fall, and its consequences.  For these fallen angels are the demons of today, who seek to dethrone God Himself.  The name of their leader is Satan, a term that means Adversary.  Ever since his rebellion against God he opposes God and all that is good.  So he came to Eve in the Garden of Eden with his wicked temptation (Genesis 3). 


SATAN

Though the human eye does not ordinarily see angels (and therefore not fallen angels – that’s the demons – either), these demons play a critical role in the history of the world.  Directly after man’s fall into sin, God declared a cosmic war wherein the seed of the serpent (that’s the devil and his followers, demons and apostate people) would strive to destroy the seed of the woman – that’s Christ and God’s chosen ones (Genesis 3:15).  The Seed of the Woman would ultimately triumph, but God’s pronouncement of victory has not and does not stop the devil from doing his utmost to prevail.  In the Old Testament Satan (and his demons?) could access heaven and seek to turn God against His own.  The book of Job tells us that “the sons of God (the angels) came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them” (Job 1:6).  Yet Satan’s intent was surely not honorable, for he faulted Job for serving God to personal advantage, and sought to incite God to turn against Job: “Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side?  … But now, stretch out Your hand and touch all that he has, and he will surely curse You to Your face!” (1:10,11; see also 2:4).  Similarly, Zechariah was permitted to see what transpired in heaven.  He saw Israel’s representative, “Joshua the high priest standing before the Angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to oppose him” (Zechariah 3:1).  Given the high priest’s filthy garments (representing sin), Satan’s accusations against Joshua will have been factually correct.  The Lord God, however, did not recognize the legitimacy of Satan’s accusations because His Son would pay for sin (see vs 4).  Instead, “the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem” rebuked Satan.  Here, we realize, was foreshadowed the glorious effect of Christ’s coming victory over sin and Satan on the cross.


THE GOD OF THIS AGE

After Christ’s victory on the cross and ascension into heaven, “the great dragon was cast out” of heaven; “he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him” (Revelation 12:9).  No longer can he accuse us before the throne of God!  No wonder heaven is told to rejoice!  But the devil, angered and embittered by his defeat, now persecutes the people of God on earth.  “The dragon was enraged with the woman, and he went to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 12:17).  Hence the warning of Peter: “your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).  Paul describes what we are up against.  “We do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).  Each of those four terms (principalities, powers, rulers of the darkness of this age and spiritual hosts of wickedness) describe demonic powers as they express themselves through governments or through godless leaders of culture or even media.  The world of demons, like the angels, is unseen but very real.  Bombs or pesticides cannot destroy them.  They are a powerful army that one ignores to his own peril.  It is not without reason that Jesus calls Satan “the ruler of this world” (John 12:31) and Paul calls him “the god of this age” (2 Corinthians 4:4).  In the midst of the struggles and persecution of his day, deBres took the world of demons and the rage of the devil seriously: “The devils and evil spirits are so depraved that they are enemies of God and of all that is good.  With all their might, they lie in wait like murderers to ruin the Church and all its members and to destroy everything by their wicked devices.” 


ENCOURAGEMENT

At the same time, we do well not to take the devil and his demons too seriously.  Satan and his demons remain but creatures; never may we consider Satan to be on a level with God.  More, this Satan and his hosts are defeated.  Jesus Christ has triumphed, and has ascended to that throne on God’s right hand where He is exalted as “Lord” (Acts 2:36).  So John, after he has seen a vision of Satan’s rage (Revelation 12), may see Jesus Christ astride a white horse, conquering the world through the word that goes out of His mouth (Revelation 19:11-16).  So victorious is the “King of kings and Lord of Lords” that the birds of heaven may gorge themselves on the beast and the false prophet (Revelation 19:17-21) – those images of Satan and his henchmen.  This world is with devils filled, all threatening to undo us; but we will not fear for God has willed His truth to triumph through us – as Luther exalted in his famous hymn.  So the children of God may be confident in their service of God, specifically in the face of the devilish attacks they experience daily.

Having said this we thus reject the error of the Manichees, as stated in the last paragraph of Article 12, who claim that the devils are gods on a level with God.  This is incorrect.  Angels, both elect and fallen, were created and are therefore but creatures.  Similarly, we reject any witchcraft, and recognize it as diabolically inspired.



Points for Discussion:

  1. How does the doctrine of evolution undermine the reality of God’s God-ness?
  2. Do you think the ‘days’ of creation were normal, 24-hour days, or may we understand them to have been long stretches of time?  Why?  What impact does the latter position have on the doctrine of God?  And the reliability of His Word?
  3. Why did God create this world?  How does this purpose for creation determine the way you live?
  4. Should a Christian be at the forefront of efforts to preserve the environment?  Why or why not?  How you’re your answer compare to the actual habits of your lifestyle?
  5. Discuss vegetarianism in the light of the Creator’s word in Genesis 1:29,30 and Genesis 9:3. 
  6. Does our society do well to be afraid of over-populating Planet Earth?  Why or why not?  What does the Creator’s instruction in Genesis 1:28 mean for the average size of the Christian family?
  7. How does the doctrine of creation provide you with comfort for this life?  How does the doctrine of evolution take comfort away?
  8. What task has God given to angels?  Are these angels active and present today?  What comfort is there for you in the task and presence of angels?
  9. Where are the demons?  What do they try to do?  Ought we to be afraid of the devil and his demons? 
  10. Is Frank Peretti’s depiction of angels and demons in his novels This Present Darkness and Piercing the Dark helpful to a Scriptural understanding of the world of angels?  Why or why not?