PULPIT TODAY SERMONS
Robert D. Pace
The nature of angels is intriguing. When you study them in Scripture you understand they are incredible creatures of power, position, and assignment. When I employ the phrase, The “Weakness of Angels” I’m not attempting to diminish the stature of these celestial creatures because the Bible states man was made “a little lower than the angels.” However, believers do possess significant strengths that are completely alien to angels. There is a realm of authority where Christians have access that is strictly forbidden to angels. But this realm must be accessed now, on earth, or the opportunity will be lost forever.
Before mentioning these Weaknesses of Angels and the Power of Saints it’s only right to highlight the authority angels presently occupy over men:
First, angels are superior to man in strength. In 2 Samuel 24, one angel struck down 70,000 people (2 Samuel 24:15). The strongest men of the nation were powerless to resist the angel’s might.
Second, angels are superior to men in position. Thousands of angels envelop God’s immediate presence at His throne, but no mortal enjoys that privilege.
Third, angels are intellectually superior to men. Both Deuteronomy and Hebrews note that angels disclosed the Old Testament to Prophets who then wrote what the angels spoke (DEU 33:2; HEB 2:2). Even John the Revelator received the book of Revelation through the agency of an angel.
Fourth, angels are thoroughly and completely righteous. They cannot be tempted by evil. Since the first rebellion of Satan and one-third of his minions thousands of years ago, the remaining angels have been preserved inviolate. Unfortunately, we as Christians can’t claim that boast. Christ has justified us but we are still subject to temptations.
And fifth, angelic bodies are superior to human bodies. The Bible describes angels as possessing incorporeal, indefatigable bodies. They never grow weary and they can flash through the universe quicker than thought. Man’s physical body sweats and tires and deteriorates.
Angels are clearly the superior race. But Scripture says that will change. The Bible forecasts the day when man’s estate will transcend the dominion of angels:
1 John 3:2 says: “now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him.” Did you see that? “When [Christ] appears, we shall be like him.” We will be like the One far superior to the angels.
And Hebrews 2:5 is incredible: “It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking. (6) But there is a place where someone has testified: “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? (7) You made him a little lower than the angels; you crowned him with glory and honor (8) and put everything under his feet.”
And 1 Corinthians 6:3 announces the time when redeemed men “will judge angels.”
The Bible explicitly says men will emerge preeminent to angels. But how? Only by Christ’s Blood! Christ’s Blood will exalt man to a position superior to angels and we will have an unrivalled identification with Christ. Jesus even said in Revelation 3:21, “He that overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne.” This is something an angel has never done!
(Transition) But let’s talk about today. Which dimension does man presently occupy over the angels? The first is, the saint’s power to proclaim the Gospel.
I. The Believers’ Power to Proclaim the Gospel
Think about something. The most uncomplicated means of spreading the Gospel would have been to utilize angels. Imagine the advantages:
As incorporeal, they could tirelessly speed throughout the earth witnessing for Christ.
With their intellect, they could preach persuasive sermons. And they would never be too long! Nowhere in Scripture can you find an angel speaking more than a few sentences.
And as creatures of power, they could perform incredible miracles to confirm their testimony.
But there’s a problem with this. Angels aren’t authorized to preach the Gospel. And there’s a reason angels can’t preach. Proclaiming the Gospel requires a redemptive experience. It requires a Covenant that links the Master with the messenger. And although angels are holy, they are un-redeemed. Only Blood-covenant messengers are qualified to proclaim the Gospel of Christ.
There is only one notation in Scripture where the imagery of an angel proclaims the Gospel. Revelation 14:6 cites an angel “flying in midair . . . [having] the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.” Again, this passage uses the “imagery” of an angel and shouldn’t be interpreted literally. Especially when you consider that there is not another Bible reference of an angel proclaiming the Gospel in Scripture. Every doctrine must be established by “the mouth of two or three witnesses.” I’m convinced this passage symbolizes the worldwide telecommunication of the Gospel that’s available through the satellites hovering above the earth. And who does God use to speak through those satellites? Redeemed men and women!
It was Peter that preached to the crowd in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost.
Paul, not an angel, preached in Macedonia.
Peter and John, not Michael and Gabriel, evangelized Samaria.
God called Philip to journey to the desert where he ministered the Gospel to an Ethiopian.
Church history says “doubting” Thomas took the Gospel to the southern tip of India.
David Brainerd evangelized the Indians.
In the 1800’s Americans took the Gospel to Korea.
The only source authorized to spread the Gospel is man. And without our instrumentality souls remain in darkness and heaven is helpless to intervene.
The Need for Proclaiming the Word
Ezekiel 22:30 says: “I looked for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the land so I would not have to destroy it, but I found none. (31) So I will pour out my wrath on them and consume them with my fiery anger.” The Lord told Ezekiel that judgment rushed forth, not because angels wouldn’t preach, there wasn’t an angel in Heaven that would have hesitated, but because God “could find no man” to declare His Word.
(Illustration) We’ve heard amazing stories from the missions field in recent years. Missionaries report that natives living in areas estranged from the Gospel are either meeting angels or having visions of angels, which direct them to a specific address with the instructions that someone will convey a message. As these foreign nationals obey the angel, they invariably find a missionary that presents the Gospel.
And before you write relegate such a possibility into the realm of hyperbole this is precisely what happened in the Bible. Acts 10:3 says at 3:00 p.m. Cornelius “distinctly saw an angel of God, who came to him and said . . . (5) send men to Joppa to bring back a man named Simon who is called Peter. (6) He is staying with Simon the tanner, whose house is by the sea.” Angels can’t preach but they can point people toward its proclamation. You and I are the only creatures qualified to proclaim it!
I understand many Christians don’t feel they can effectively communicate the Gospel and persuade men to follow Christ. If that describes you it could mean you’re placing too much confidence in your abilities and not enough confidence in the Word! 2 Corinthians 10 says this Book has power to “demolish strongholds. (5) . . . arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God” (4-5).
(Illustration) Years ago, I read an amusing story that illustrates the Word’s power. In the 1800’s a group of men formed the “Hell-fire Club.” Members of this club antagonized and mocked followers of Christ. On one occasion a member of the “Hell-fire Club” heard the great evangelist George Whitefield preach. So at the next club meeting he imitated Whitfield’s preaching style by delivering a mock sermon. It was reportedly done with “wonderful accuracy.” But something strange happened during the sermon. While this dead sinner delivered his mock message, the living Word overpowered him, pierced his heart, and converted his soul! History states that the “Hell Fire Club” was dissolved and the man became a great soul-winner.
Folks, the messenger is important, but there’s something more influential than the messenger. It’s the message! And God has infused His Word with power! That’s what God revealed to Ezekiel when in his vision of the “valley of dry bones” that represented Israel. In Ezekiel 37, God said to the prophet, “Son of man, can these bones live?” Note that phrase, “Son of man,” because God was highlighting Ezekiel’s mortality when He employed it. Ezekiel replied, “Lord, only you know!” The Lord continued: “Son of man, speak My Word and they will live.” God was saying, “Ezekiel, you’re a mere mortal, but forget your weaknesses. Speak My Word, which is infused with awesome power, and these bones will live!” And when Ezekiel obeyed, the bones jumped back together, flesh came upon them, breath reentered them, and they stood as a mighty army.
(Hold up Bible) Folks, there’s power in this Book! And regardless of your deficiencies, God can use you to impact others with His Word. The Holy Spirit and His Word are irrepressible!
(Quote) As Spurgeon said: “They will be disappointed in all cases, whether they would slay it with persecution, smother it with worldliness, crush it with error, starve it with neglect, poison it with misrepresentation, or drown it with infidelity. While the Lord liveth, His Word shall live.” That’s why Peter called it “The imperishable . . . living and enduring Word of God” (1PE 1:23). And when humanity proclaims the Word, divinity enforces it.
(Transition) The second Weakness of Angels and Power of the Saints I want to discuss is, The Believers’ power of intercession—our power to pray.
II. The Believers’ Power of Intercession
Do you realize there’s not an angel in heaven that has one ounce of intercessory power with God? Nowhere in the Bible is there a remote reference to an angel praying. Angels can part seas, topple walls, blind armies, destroy cities, and instantly execute God’s will throughout the universe, but they’re stifled from making a single request from God. They are without any intercessory persuasion with God. Christians are the ones sanctioned with intercessory privileges.
(Insight) An angel could foresee someone heading toward certain death, but they could not intercede for mercy. The duty of angels is to perform the Father’s will; not influence it! Man is the only creature empowered to influence God’s actions and convince Him to intervene. This is the astonishing fact about prayer: Prayer is more than petitioning God for our desires. It’s more than asking God to meet our needs. The astounding fact about prayer is that God uses man’s heart-impassioned intercession to activate His power. In some mysterious manner, God authorizes Christians to pray: “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”
When the Holy Spirit divinely inspires us our praying it can literally change God’s mind and reverse His plans. Intercession is so powerful it can influence God’s dealings with individuals and even nations. It can change the course of human history. That’s what James 5:17 reveals. “Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.”
(Illustration) In 1989 a minister named Dick Eastman was visiting the Berlin Wall when the Holy Spirit prompted him to lay his hands on it and pray for its destruction. The toppling of that wall seemed impossible in the 60’s and 70’s but you know the story. In 1989 Mr. Gorbechev “tore down that wall” and communism continued collapsing! That’s praying the Spirit’s impression and it’s powerful when that happens!
(Illustration) I remember the first time the Holy Spirit impressed me to stop what I was doing and give my full attention to Him in prayer. I was seventeen years-old and painting from a ladder. At about 8:00 pm, the Holy Spirit arrested my heart with an urgency to pray for my dad’s safety. I immediately fell to my knees and prayed until the burden of prayer lifted. Later that evening my dad returned home and told me a remarkable story of how God had miraculously saved him from a head-on collision. I stood in the kitchen listening to my dad’s words and marveled at God’s protective grace!
(Insight) Saints of God, always remember something: One frail, 99-pound, Spirit-filled, praying grandmother has more persuasion with God than all the might and muscle of Michael the archangel. But here’s the urgency: Man’s intercessory privileges are terminated once we pass from this life to the next. When we reach heaven, and are glorified, we become like the angels. And that means:
Praying a protective hedge around your loved ones is impossible from Heaven.
Interceding for missions and praying for open doors for the Gospel is a past activity there.
Asking God to save a loved one or deliver them from sickness or dangerous situations is impossible.
Opportunities to affect God’s actions are lost.
And it’s Believers, not angels, which are empowered with this privilege!
To which of the angels did God say: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession” (PSA 2:8)?
To which of the angels did God say: “Ask the LORD your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights” (Isaiah 7:11)?
To which of the angels did God announce: “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven” (MAT 18:18)?
To which of the angels did God say: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (JOH 15:7)?
To which of the angels did God command: ‘come boldly to the throne of grace that you may find mercy and grace in time of need’ (HEB 4:16)?
These promises were made to men, not angels and we must not forfeit this opportunity.
(Transition) What is a primary mission of the Church? To evangelize the lost! And how is that accomplished? Revelation 22:17 offers some insight:
Intercession Helps Convert the Lost
John says: “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let him who hears say, “Come!” Whoever is thirsty, let him come; and whoever wishes, let him take the free gift of the water of life.” Here’s what that verse means: Sinners are converted when the Spirit and the bride [Believers] cooperate with the invitation. Jesus said it’s the Spirit duty to convict sinners and enlighten them to truth. “No man can come to the Father unless the Spirit draws him.” But the “Bride,” which is the Church, is commissioned to intercede.
God has ordained a partnership between Himself and Christians that functions to convert sinners. “The Spirit and the Bride say come.” And that means when the Church prays the Spirit convicts! It also means when the Church is reluctant to pray the Spirit’s conviction is enervated!
Don’t underestimate the power of prayer! Intercessors are more important to loosing Satan’s grip upon sinners than frontline evangelists. Intercessors may be absent from the pulpit and platform but they are present before the Throne of God! And that’s where the battles are won! Your prayers are the instrumentality that constrains sinners to follow Christ. And before anyone objects, I understand everyone is a “free moral agent” and God won’t violate that free will. But the Holy Spirit can certainly convict and constrain a sinner to where it’s easier to submit to Christ’s Lordship than resist it.
(Illustration) Some years back a Christian wife had the habit of praying each night for her lost husband. Each night after she thought her husband was asleep she placed her hand on his head and prayed for him. But the woman preceded her husband in death. Two months after her death her husband found the pastor and accepted Christ. Here’s what he said: “It’s been two months since I’ve been able to get much sleep. My wife always thought I was asleep when she touched my head and prayed, but I wasn’t. In fact, it got so I couldn’t fall asleep until after she prayed. Now she’s not here to pray. I want what she had.” He got it!
I wonder how many here resisted God’s grace until someone’s prayer broke your stubbornness and allowed you to accept Christ? Don’t stop praying for the unconverted. In some mysterious way God changes our minds without violating our free will. Your prayers can move God to weaken the sinner’s will and accept Christ.
(Transition) Thirdly, man’s greater authority not only includes proclaiming the Gospel and intercession but there is also the Believers’ power to demonstrate a godly lifestyle.
III. The Believers’ Power to Publicly Demonstrate a Godly Lifestyle
Angels are radiant, sinless, and perfect. But they cannot demonstrate a godly lifestyle. That’s the duty of Christians. Only they can reflect Christ’s love and bear spiritual fruit. Why is this so? As mentioned earlier, Christ’s redemption reaches the fallen human race, not angels.
(Illustration) Years ago there was a preacher and a song leader that were avid baseball fans. When they weren’t ministering they were watching games. One day they discussed whether baseball would be played in Heaven. They weren’t sure so they agreed that whichever died first would somehow contact the other with the answer. The preacher died. A week later he appeared to the song leader in a dream and said, “Good news! There’s baseball in Heaven! Bad news! You’re scheduled to pitch this Saturday!”
We have to make use of whatever days we have remaining because we don’t know when our time may come. And how we live is important! The greatest influence Christians have to persuade unbelievers toward Christ is their lifestyle. And know this: whatever behavior you model will be duplicated in others!
A parent with an unruly temper or disorderly conduct will reproduce that in their children!
The behavior modeled in the major leagues will be duplicated in the little leagues!
The actions in Washington DC will be duplicated in the states!
Always remember: you are reproducing your behavior. Your lifestyle is giving others permission to act the same way. Whenever others come in your home and watch your movies and listen to your table conversation you make it conducive for them to duplicate that! If given the opportunity, angels would model the perfect life, but that’s not possible. It’s your life that’s on the line. Yes, I’ve made mistakes. But that’s why we must repent, regroup, and re-shine!
Unless we exercise these God granted privileges now, on this terrestrial, the opportunity will be forever forfeited. The world’s fate has always been in the hands of Believers, not angels, recognizing their authority to proclaim the Word, intercede, and manifest a godly life. That’s the, Weakness of Angels and the Power of Believers.