PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
It’s almost inconceivable that the Bible would compare men to angels, but it does! And Jesus is the One that made the comparison. They operate in a higher dimension than man and that means they are not constrained in ways that man is constrained. Let’s take a moment to consider the way angels are superior to man:
Angels are inviolate, holy, and pure.
They are indomitable; no man on earth is their equal in strength.
They are incorporeal and never grow tired.
And they can move faster than thought.
(Harbinger) It is for these reasons that make Christ’s statement about man transcending the stature of angels is nearly inconceivable. In a few moments I’ll explain how this will occur, but for now I want to explain why I am proposing that Christians should emulate angels today. And the explanation is simple: Although the Christians’ glorified body will one day resemble the angels’ celestial body, angels presently have characteristics that God wants Christians to embrace and exhibit today.
However, I need to pause long enough to assure you of something. I’m not suggesting a paradigm shift from imitating Christ to imitating angels. Not at all! The ultimate pattern was set 2000 years ago and nothing should infringe upon Jesus remaining our ultimate Example. Today’s message is more of an object lesson that takes the heavenly qualities of angels that Christians can also embrace to beautify their lives for the glory of Christ.
(Transition) Let’s first discuss what Jesus meant when He said that resurrected Christians will resemble the angels. And I’ll point our 4 ways this will occur.
RESURRECTED SAINTS WILL RESEMBLE THE ANGELS
1. Once a Christian dies and receives a glorified body they will be transformed into the likeness of angels.
How many are looking forward to exchanging your mortal body for an immortal body? Scripture makes an interesting contrast between our body of “flesh and blood” and our awaiting heavenly body. When the Bible uses the phrase “flesh and blood” it typically corresponds to man’s weakness and vulnerability.
“Flesh and blood” is susceptible to viruses and illnesses.
“Flesh and blood” is enervated by work, disease, malnutrition, and sickness.
Our body is constrained by the course of time. And the greatest testimony to that is the crease of wrinkles left upon our skin.
But . . . Jesus announced the day when the enemies of “flesh and blood” would be obliterated and we would exchange our earthly bodies for an inviolate heavenly body.
It’s impossible to comprehend this glorified, angelic nature that Christ has reserved for the righteous. The Apostle Paul couldn’t fully explicate its nature. But I do delight in the way Paul partly appraised it in 1 Corinthians 15:43. He said, at death our physical body is “sown in dishonor, [but] . . . raised in glory; it’s sown in weakness, [but] . . . raised in power; it’s sown in corruption, [but] . . . it’s raised incorruptible.”
In Heaven all the constraints of “flesh and blood” are invalidated and you won’t need an Extra Strength Excedrin to quell the pain of a migraine.
You won’t need physical therapists to alleviate your stress or chiropractors to realign your spine.
You won’t need a face-lift or a tummy tuck to tame the skin’s aging process.
You will have an invincible, ageless, perfect, angelic-like body! Praise God!
2. The second implication of Christ’s words in Matthew 22:30 reveals that one day men, just like angels, will be able to transcend time and space.
Think about that: the day is coming when your incorporeal body will be totally unaffected by the process of time or the material world. In a moment’s time, you can be anywhere you desire to be.
Perhaps you are exploring a galaxy trillions of miles away from Heaven when the bells of Heaven’s Temple ring for a time of worship. At a moment’s notice you instantly appear in the Assembly of Saints to worship the King of the Universe.
3. Men, like angels, will reside in God’s immediate presence.
Several passages of Scripture show that God allows angels to abide in His presence. They pass before God. They fellowship with God and He speaks to them. And ultimately, when we put on our glorified body, we shall have access to God’s glorious presence and fellowship with Him face-to-face!
Jesus said in John 14:3, “if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.”
1 Thessalonians 4:17 says: “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”
4. Men, like angels, will one day be thoroughly holy.
The Bible specifically calls the angels “holy angels” (Matthew 25:31; Mark 8:38; Luke 9:26; Revelation 14:10). Angels are completely holy and nothing about them is contaminated by sin.
But man, in this present estate, is another story! The only part of man that is thoroughly holy is his spirit. Man’s flesh is still damaged with sin. That’s why Paul said in Romans 7:24, “Oh, wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” But once Christians arrive in heaven they will be free from sin—completely divested of any trace of it! And that means we will be like the angels in regard to moral purity.
However . . . there is a more incredible thought than that! Do you realize that . . . the Bible says glorified Christians will even surpass the stature of angels! Notice what Hebrews 2:5 says: “It is not to angels that He has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.” And then the verse 6 says: “What is man, that you are mindful of him? Or the son of man, that you care for him? (7) You made him for a little while lower than the angels; you have crowned him with glory and honor. (9) putting everything in subjection under his feet.” The day is coming when Christians, through Christ, will regain Adam’s dominion of the earth!
While we understand that Christ’s grace has reclaimed man’s dominion over the earth, how is it possible for man to transcend the estate of angels? The answer resides in the saving work our Lord Jesus Christ. It’s the Blood of Jesus that transforms a sinner into a saint; but Christ’s Blood does more! In some mysterious way it makes mortal man one with Christ! Saving faith not only pardons our sins it transforms our spirit and infuses us with the divine nature! And when sinners are Born Again with the divine nature it creates a temperament that transcends the estate of angels.
I hope you are looking forward to that Great Day of Resurrection when your mortality will be transformed into immortality. However, I want to return to today. Are there ways that Christians can emulate the character of angels in this life? And the answer to that question is, “Yes”! Angels possess qualities that Christians should emulate.
(Transition) If God expects us to ascend to a higher, angelic-like living today, then what exactly does He expect?
MEN AS ANGELS TODAY
1. First, men should resemble the angels in moral rectitude.
Have you ever met a Christian that acted like an angel in public but behaved like a devil at home? Or have you ever seen a Christian that wasn’t hesitant to take advantage of an unsuspecting person? God wants us to live with character and discipline. He wants us to walk in truth and love.
Turn to Acts 6 and let’s read the story of Christianity’s first martyr. It’s the story of Stephen’s stoning.
If you think America’s Judicial System is in trouble, the Sanhedrin’s Justice System was worse! Stephen was arraigned on the phony indictment of blasphemy. Stephen hadn’t committed blasphemy! The Pharisees foisted this allegation against Stephen because his witness for Christ threatened their welfare. Stephen was filled with faith and spiritual power and they were no match for irrepressible message of Christ. Stephen was a dynamite; while these Pharisees were just “mites.”
Look at verse 8 again. Stephen was “full of God’s. . . power, [and] did great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.” Verse 10 continues: “they could not stand up against his wisdom or the Spirit by whom he spoke.” Consequently, the Sanhedrin trumped-up slanderous allegations of blasphemy. You need to recognize something about this fearless disciple of Christ. To this point in Church history Stephen’s miracles had eclipsed all other Apostles. He possessed faith unequalled by any other Apostle. This is likely what made him a direct target of the Sanhedrin. Stephen stood-out among all the evangelists!
But Stephen was not only remarkable in ministry he was a man of angelic rectitude. When Stephen was dragged before the Sanhedrin and poised for his stoning, nothing could change his countenance of love. Notice again what Acts 6:15 says happened when he was stoned: “All who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at Stephen, and they saw that his face was like the face of an angel.” What a testimony! Stephen’s visage radiated with angelic glory despite the Sanhedrin’s death sentence. Even as the stones pounded his body, Stephen’s last fading words were: “Father, lay not this sin to their charge.”
Folks, how do you handle accusations, maligning, and persecution? How do you handle offenses? Do you retaliate? Do return insult with insult? I understand it is easier to preach this message than it is to practice this message but Stephen exemplifies what you and I should do in hostile situations. We should have our human nature trained to love, forgive, and bless even at the expense of losing our life. Stephen’s enemies, filled with rage and vengeance, had to assassinate a man with the face of an angel! What a testimony!
(Transition) Now let’s consider another angelic characteristic we should emulate.
2. Christians should strive to emulate the angels’ speedy and faithful execution of God’s Will.
The holy and righteous angels of the Bible are always depicted as immediately and meticulously obeying God’s commands. They are never reluctant to do God’s Will. God never has to give them a second chance to follow through on a command. They always get it right the first time. My, how I wish we, as Christians, could follow their example! (Me included!)
(Illustration) The medical profession is keenly aware of man’s notorious tendency to improve on the doctors’ orders. It’s estimated that up to 90% of doctors’ clients fall into a category known as “uncooperative patients.” That is, despite a doctor’s advice, patients ignore or revise their prescriptions, cheat on diets, fail to exercise, and skip checkups.
Man has no penchant that surpasses his tendency to ignore others, including God, and doing things his way! But that’s not so with angels. Their service is flawless at every point. They never argue or even hesitate when God speaks to them. That’s why Scripture repeatedly calls them, “servants of the Lord.” Their chief duty is to obey God.
(Insight) I want to show you a discovery I made many years ago. Do you realize it was Jesus’ idea to tell His followers for the ability to obey Him just like the angels of Heaven obey Him? It’s true! In the midst of the Lord’s Prayer Jesus instructed His followers to pray like this: “Your will be done on earth as it is done in Heaven.” In other words, Jesus wanted us to know that every angel of Heaven explicitly performs His Will and that’s what He wants from us!
We may not always like the assignment God gives us; but it’s for a purpose! God is all-wise and that means He can never give us an assignment that is contrary to His nature of holiness and goodness. Sometimes God gives us something to do and it takes 1 vision, 2 dreams, three prophetic words, and 4 attempts at Bible lottery to secure confirmation. But nothing else should matter more than fulfilling God’s Will. Once again, let’s consider the angels and how they perform God’s Will:
It’s of no consequence to angels whether they assist 2 million Israelites through the desert or they watch Samson walk in circles at the treadmill.
They are as content stopping Balaam’s donkey as they are halting the constellations for Joshua.
It doesn’t matter if they push back the Red Sea for Moses or wipe away a baby’s tears. Their pleasure is in discharging God’s will. And we need to claim that same angelic attitude.
(Illustration) The story is told of a man searching employment. He was hired by a noted Philadelphia businessman named Girard. The employee’s first assignment involved moving a pile of bricks. He completed the task by nightfall and was paid. He returned the following morning with the assignment of replacing the bricks to their original spot. He repeated the process without a complaint. For more than a week Girard instructed this man to repeat this chore until it was evident he could be trusted. In only a short time Girard promoted him to the coveted position of Auction Agent, which controlled much of the enterprise’s purchasing. Why he was promoted is evident: when he was faithful in the menial Girard gave him oversight of much.
How about you? Are you emulating the angels with speedy and explicit obedience?
(Transition) Now let’s consider a third way we can imitate the angels.
3. God created angels to minister to mankind. Thus, as we emulate the angels, Christians should seek to minister to their fellow man, too.
Turn to Hebrews 1:14 and let’s examine how the Bible supports this idea. The writer of Hebrews says, “Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation?” When you study angelology you’ll discover that God supervises the entire earth through the estate of angels. You see them throughout the pages of Scripture ministering to the “heirs of salvation.” They’re blinding armies, parting seas, delivering messages, quenching fires, and bulldozing walls. That should dispel any thought that suggests angels have pudgy bellies and do nothing but strum harps. No! God has ordained them to be guardians of the earth. Angels would forget to shine the sun and shove waves to shore before they neglected to minister to “the heirs of righteousness.”
So how does all this speak to us? It speaks to us in this way: If angels, void of a fleshly nature, have compassion on men, then how much more should Christians care for each other? You see, it’s important for Christians to remember that their King is also their Savior. Jesus walked as a man among men. He took our burdens, bore our sorrows, ministered to the sick, made place for the children, and welcomed sinners. Jesus showed us the way—it’s the way of love, mercy, and compassion. And it’s why Jesus said, “By this shall all men know that you are my disciples, that you have love one toward another.”
(Transition) Now let’s consider another way men should emulate angels.
4. Men should imitate angels in their worship of God.
Angels were created for the identical purpose as man—to praise and worship God. It’s the chief assignment of heaven and earth. Scripture repeatedly expresses angelic praise:
Psalm 149:2 says: “Praise him, all his angels, praise him, all his heavenly hosts. . . (5) Let them praise the name of the LORD, for he commanded and they were created.”
Hebrews says at Christ’s birth every angel of heaven was dispatched to Bethlehem where they chanted the refrain: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace toward men of good will.”
Deuteronomy 33:2 says when God walked with Moses among the rocks of Mount Sinai He enjoyed the companionship of 10,000 angels. Imagine that! The presence of God includes the company of 10,000 angels. No wonder Moses didn’t get lonely during those 40 days He spent with God atop Mount Sinai!
John the Revelator disclosed an incomparable company of angels praising God around the throne. He numbered them “ten thousand times ten thousand,” and that calculates to one hundred million angels. That’s just the angels surrounding the throne!
The duty of both angels and men includes praising God. In fact, Psalm 148 calls for all creation to praise Him.
Praise the LORD from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
(2) Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his hosts!
(3) Praise him, sun and moon,
praise him, all you shining stars!
(4) Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
(5) Let them praise the name of the LORD!
for he commanded and they were created.
(6) And he established them forever and ever;
he gave a decree, and it shall not pass away.a
(7) Praise the LORD from the earth,
you great sea creatures and all deeps,
(8) fire and hail, snow and mist,
stormy wind fulfilling his word!
(9) Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
(10) Beasts and all livestock,
creeping things and flying birds!
(11) Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
(12) Young men and maidens together,
old men and children!
(13) Let them praise the name of the LORD,
for his name alone is exalted;
his majesty is above earth and heaven.
14He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his saints,
for the people of Israel who are near to him.
Praise the LORD!
And as the last verse of the book of Psalms proclaims: “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord! Praise the Lord!”
(Transition) Now that we have investigated 4 ways men can imitate the angels, I want to show you what this produces. As we emulate the angels these practices lift Christians to a higher dimension of living.
EMULATING ANGELS LIFTS CHRISTIANS TO A HIGHER DIMENSION
I want you to notice the words of the Apostle Paul as he speaks to the Philippian Christians of his day. I’ll begin reading in Philippians 3:12.
Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. (13) Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (15) Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. (16) Only let us hold true to what we have attained. (17) Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. (18) For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. (19) Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. (20) But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, (21) who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.
Saints of God, the unsaved people of the world cannot model “the way” life should be lived. It’s not that sinners are incapable of demonstrating acts of charity; there are many non-believers that have practiced remarkable acts of benevolence. But it is Christians that God has empowered to model “the way” of righteousness in a world of darkness. That’s why Jesus said, “You are the light of the world.” It’s Christians that model the behavior of Heaven and show the world “the way” to live.
Notice what Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:17. “If any man is in Christ Jesus, the old has passed away, behold, all things have become new.” Did you notice what Paul said changes when a person becomes a Christian? He said, “all things” change! When people are Born Again on the inside it also supplies a transformation for the outside.
Some of you may be thinking, “That puts a lot of pressure on me. I’m not certain I can control my behavior and quit acting certain ways. I have tried and tried but I just can’t conquer some sins.” Do you realize that God doesn’t expect you to conquer your sins? In fact, you are no match for sin and the devil. But there is good news. Jesus Christ is more than a match against sin and the devil! And God doesn’t ever expect you to conquer your sins and live righteously from your own power. This is what the grace of God does for you. It’s what the Holy Spirit does through you. It’s what the Word of God does in you. It is Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit, which enables you to ascend to a higher dimension of living.
Always remember this: God never expects you to fight your battles alone! Christ is with you! That’s what the angel meant when he told Mary that Christ’s name was “Emmanuel,” God with us.”
If God could transform Saul of Tarsus, the chief enemy of Christianity during the First Century, then he can change you! Look what Saul was doing: he was flogging, jailing, and even stoning Christians to death. When he wasn’t physically assaulting them he was slandering them. But one day, on the Damascus Road, the Holy Spirit so struck Saul that his course was instantly redirected. He was transformed from Christianity’s most feared antagonist to Christianity’s most famous protagonist. Eventually, God used this vexing tormentor not only to join Christian ranks, but write about one third of the New Testament.
Never underestimate the power of the Cross; if Saul could change, you can too!
In conclusion, I want you listen to Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 3:18. “We are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory.” And the Amplified Bible makes it clearer than that: “And all of us, as with unveiled face, [because we] continued to behold [in the Word of God] as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are constantly being transfigured into His very own image in ever increasing splendor and from one degree of glory to another.”
The longer a Christian lives on earth the more they should resemble the life of Heaven. These are ways men can resemble the angels. May God help His people to more closely resemble these creatures of glory.