Is Worshipping Angels Really a ‘thing?’

I was reading Colossians, chapter 2 and I came across something interesting:

Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels,…

Worshipping angels? Really? Were the Colossians being pulled into angel worship? Then, I thought, do we have that issue today? After all, we’re in a post-modern era of science and reason. Certainly, today’s society wouldn’t be given to such flights of fancy.

Or would we?

So, I Googled TV shows about angels. Of course, Roma Downey’s Touched By An Angel, a long-running TV show about three angels that go around helping people. There’s a recent one about angels waging war on the earth called Dominion. We’ve got Lucifer, a show glamorizing Satan with his pre-fallen name.

Movies, too, involve angels. John Travolta was in a movie called Michael, after the archangel Michael in the Bible. Of course, the 1996 movie portrayed the angel in more “human” ways. There was also the family movie, Angels In the Outfield, where angels help a down-and-out baseball team. Or, one of the most famous movies, It’s A Wonderful Life, in which an angel is hoping to “get his wings” by doing some good deed on earth.

Of course, no one really believes this stuff. It’s just popular culture. Just movies and TV.

And yet, we spend a lot of money on it. Advertisers buy air time for the TV shows, investors front money for the movies and consumers watch the shows, buy them on DVD and pay ticket prices for seeing the stories at the multiplex.

Do we spend so much of our time and money on things that we don’t believe in?

Maybe.

Here’s another common phrase when someone dies: “Heaven has a new angel.”

Do we really believe that we get wings, halos and harps when we die … so long as we’re ‘good people?’

I suspect it’s a nice thing to say, a comforting thing for families to think, but not necessarily something we wholly believe. Like saying “Mother Nature” is throwing storms at us, or cooperating with our weekend. It’s an expression.

And yet, that’s where the seeds of error lie. We accept a silly phrase, we repeat it with no actual belief. Then, we start to believe it, secretly. What we allow in our mind becomes familiar. Then, we inch ever closer to an attitude of worshipping angels rather than Jesus. We look for an angel for help, rather than to Christ.

It’s subtle, slow and steady, this move toward heretical worship. That’s why Paul had to warn them.

Paul goes on:

…going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God. Col. 2:18-19

Visions, special words directly from God, angels appearing, little books given to someone … all of those are signs that the person is puffed up and has a sensuous mind. They are not holding fast to the Head–meaning the boss, the Lord, Christ!

Sara Young, a popular author of the Jesus Calling books says that she was reading the Bible but “wanted more!” How admirable, right? She just couldn’t get enough of God!

Wrong.

The Bible says that the Word of God is sufficient for all our needs. 2Timothy 3:15-17 tells us that God’s word, all Scripture (Old Testament and New Testament) is God-breathed and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction and training in righteousness that we might be complete, equipped for every good work.

Again, in Colossians 2:8 we read that we should be on guard that no one take us in with philosophy or empty deceit or human traditions that are according to the spirits of this world.

Sara Young, Ted Dekker, Rob Bell, Bill Vanderbrush, Roma Downey … the list goes on for people who have been enlightened and teach things that either came to them from a special revelation from Christ, or adhere to the ‘spirit of this world,’ which is comfort, peace and happiness in this life. They all claim that their book offers something that will give you a complete life-change.

Paul would say, don’t listen to them. They’re selling diet shakes. Yes, you’ll lose weight. Yes, it will seem to be wonderful and quick. But, you’ll be starving yourself of proper nutrients and will be fatter than you were before when you abandon the expensive shakes for food.

God’s word is like healthy eating. It demands more of your attention and time. It sometimes is more expensive than a box of toaster pastries. It doesn’t last on the shelf as long as the chemical-ladden freeze dried convenience food. It may seem to run against the popular ideas that we’ve been told all our lives like calorie counting and fat intake. It doesn’t follow the sweet tooth our commercial culture has developed. It takes months and years, not days and weeks.

Devotion to God demands we completely change our life in an inward way, not outward ritual. It’s a heart change, not a gym membership with stretchy exercise clothes.

Worship of the Lord is offended at the idea of worshipping angels, or any other person, place or thing other than the Lord and Savior, the true lover of our souls!

Is worshipping angels really a ‘thing’ in our world? I think it is. I think it’s sneaky and pervasive. I think we should take Paul’s advice and guard against it.

Do We Go To Heaven or Hell When We Die?

Honestly, I always believed to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8). So, when I saw this YouTube video, I was a bit nervous. Is this guy another Rob Bell? Does he have some “new” teaching that is really just some unique and blasphemous teaching that will undermine God’s Word?

You might wonder, though, is this just a fad teacher that Bryn is following? How do we know Bryn isn’t one of those people who is easily led by a Vlogger on YouTube?

As Jack Bauer might say, “Ask around.” I don’t believe myself without serious scrutiny.

This guy makes some excellent points. There are a couple things I am not sure on, but overall, this is something we should carefully think about.

 

So, the main points that I thought were excellent are, The Resurrection was the central piece of the Gospel. It answers Adam’s sin and the death that resulted.

Also, Hebrews 9:27 states that “to each is appointed once to die, and after this comes the judgment.” So, his point about Elijah not going to The Heaven, but rather into the sky and living out his life elsewhere supports this verse, as does the assertion that Elijah sent a letter to the king later on.

I thought of Enoch. He’s often said to have been “raptured” by God. This comes from Genesis 5:24, “Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.”

That is the one exception to all the “and he died,” that follows everyone else. Though it also says that “all the days of Enoch were 365.” We’re  not told what happened. But he is significant for not having “and he died,” tacked on. But, does it mean he was taken to heaven?

But, the thief on the cross and his statement was well answered. Jesus couldn’t have meant that he would be with the thief in Heaven that day. Jesus had to be buried for 3 days and then spent 4o days before the ascention.

The central theme of the Resurrection and then Judgment is quite powerful. And we should be very careful in thinking along the lines of our relatives “looking down” on us from Heaven. Do they have halos and harps? Do they sit on the clouds? Do they have wonderful singing voices?

The point about the body and the spirit making us a living soul is powerful. What happens to our spirit at death, I don’t know. But, the Resurrection suggests that we are not going to be getting our reward until that day. Our hope is in the Resurrection. Anything short of that is not promised. At least not explicitly. And I’m not a fan of basing my doctrine on thin or transparent suppositions.

I don’t know about his teaching on Hell. I think Scripture is very clear that it is eternal torment. I wasn’t clear if he was suggesting that people will be burned up and destroyed and that’s it. “Eternal” is an adjective used in connection to torment for Hell in a number of places. So, if he’s suggesting otherwise, I’d have to disagree with him on that.

Of course, my hope is that I’ll never find out.

What do you think about this? Do we go singing in heaven at the moment of death? Or do we await the resurrection?

 

What Does The Bible Mean By ‘Speaking in Tongues?’

Chances are you know someone who ‘speaks in tongues.’ If you run in a church crowd or have friends who do, you most certainly know someone. This practice is linked to the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit, described in the Acts of the Apostles and by Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians.

Though the first instance of speaking in tongues is without a doubt related to known languages … that fact has been lost. In fact, some believe it was lost at the time Paul was writing to the Corinthians.

I came across this YouTube teaching that summarizes the issue very well.

 

This vlogger is not what folks would call a “cessationist,” or one who believes the spiritual gifts described in the New Testament were only for that short period. But he also isn’t one who believes the babbling “spiritual language” of the charismatic movement is genuine.

I don’t believe any of God’s gifts have ceased any more than they had stopped between Elijah and Moses. God decides when and how His power will be shown.

In every instance, God’s power is dispensed according to His will and for His glory.

To illustrate this, look at the healing ministry of Peter in Acts 5:14-15: “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.”

Some will argue that the Bible doesn’t say the shadow healed anyone. But, that appears to be the obvious intention of the passage, since there’s a comma after the multitude that is being added to the Lord. And the very next verse says that all who came to him were healed.

But, this power didn’t continue. Paul couldn’t send a hankerchief to his friends to heal them. He couldn’ be healed himself of his “thorn in the flesh.” None of the other Apostles could heal Paul.

It’s obvious from the context that, in contrast to Jesus’ ministry, which healed people apart from the Gospel, the Apostles healing came after the people believed and were added to the Lord.

Does this mean that everyone who repents of their sin and believes on the Lord Jesus as their Savior will have their sickness healed? No.

The point of the healing appears to be a sign, like Elijah’s signs, like Moses, like Jesus. If it became a celebrity status for Peter or Paul, it would no longer be glory for God.

The Almighty doesn’t share His glory. His people give it to Him without holding on to a single bit. And without remorse.

So, think about that when someone talks about the “gifts of the spirit” or of speaking in tongues. Who is being honored? How is God being glorified?

For my part, I believe God can and does perform miracles. He may choose to do so in the presence of a particular person to authenticate their message (as with Moses, Elijah, Peter, Paul, etc.). Or He may do it apart from any human agency. But there is only one who gets the glory.

Amen?

Do You Need to Be In a ‘Church’ To Grow Spiritually?

Forget about the doctrinal disputes among religion for a minute. Go to any church in America, and probably in most Western nations, and you’ll find they are all pretty much the same: Platform up front, pews, chairs or theater seats down in the auditorium/sanctuary. Sometimes there’s an altar up front. There will be religious icons around in the form of stain glass windows, sculptures or pictures.

The place you go is also recognized as a non-profit (non-prophet?) CORPORATION. That’s right. Churches in America are corporations.

The pastoral staff, elders, whatever they call themselves, are the “professional” Christians who are in charge of the corporation that tells the “lay people” or the customers what Christianity really means.

The church staff mirrors a corporation in many respects. There is one “senior” pastor, or a head bishop, who oversees the location, hires the staff and attracts and retains membership.

Those who attend will look up to the pastor as the authority on all things Biblical. Questioning the pastor is frowned upon and will result in marginalizing the person who attempts this, and possibly the removal of the offending ‘heretic.’

I was thinking about this a lot as I’ve been studying the writings of Menno Simons (the Anabaptist theologian from the early 1500s). Much of what he wrote still applies today, though it wouldn’t be limited to the Romans, Lutherans and Zwinglians.

Then I came across this YouTube video pointing out, Scripturally, the very same issue. It’s 20 minutes, but it’s well done and on-point.

 

 

I don’t know the YouTuber personally. I’ve watched two and a half of his videos. But, he is exactly right in his indictment of the “system” of church as we know it.

The Roman church in the 1500s was a powerful Church/State system that held people’s eternal condition in its filthy hands. When Luther began the reformation, it shook that power. Luther probably assumed he would die for his rebuke of the Church.

But then, he backed off and endorsed the System, which still held the power over the blasphemous infant baptism and the mockery of the Lord’s Supper (embodied in what is known as Transubstantiation, or the idea that the bread and wine are made into the actual body and blood of Christ as the priest holds them up).

Today, people still believe that baptism must be done by a pastor or priest to hold any weight. And that cuts across from the infant baptizers to those who practice believer baptism (though not all, just by consensus). Many believe that the Lord’s Supper, or Communion, holds some magical properties when administered at church by a pastor or priest. When I grew up, I was warned about eating the crackers or drinking the wine after the service for fear that I’d be violating the sanctity of the communion bread and making light of the Lord’s Supper!

How absurd! Have we had the teachings of Christ so long and we still elevate rituals and other humans among us so that we blaspheme the Lord?

Taking communion in an unworthy manner means pretending to commune with Christ as his brother while being outside of faith and a traitor like Judas.

Communion is more than unleavened bread and grape juice. Anyone can eat that. But if an unbeliever seeks to blend in with the Lord’s sheep and enter into the intimate communion with the Lord, they are being Judas and it would be better if they had never been born!

The true Pastor, King, High Priest is Christ. He is the Good Shepherd who guides his flock. He is the Groom that prepares His Bride (the ecclesia, the true, spiritual Israel).

Some are appointed Apostles, teachers, prophets…we all have talents. But none of us are to “lord it over another” like the world does. We are not to have corporations of professional Christians as opposed to the unprofessional masses. All of Christ’s purchased souls are Saints in a Holy Priesthood. We have no need of any other instructor outside of the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.

We should all be seeking the truth and exhorting each other from Scripture. We should wrestle with questions and help each other through it. But we should never believe something because some human with a degree said so.

Doctrine vs. Repentance – Which is more important?

Doctrine camps can be like the border battle of ‘The’ Ohio State vs. University of Michigan, or the Vikings vs. the Packers, or the Bears vs. everyone! Folks will break fellowship and refuse the salsa dip over these things. But here’s a question to ponder — Is doctrine really the biggest issue? Are you collecting all the “facts,” or growing your faith?

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What Does Your Life Say To God?

“The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great.” This was what the Lord told Abraham as they looked out over the valley, past the still waters of the Dead Sea to the lush, quiet cities of the plain. As the sun set in the west, casting it’s long, warm shadows against the sturdy walls and gentle rooftops, illuminating the stately palm trees that rose from amid the buildings, Abraham might have asked, “what cry?”

Creation itself groans under the weight of human rebellion against God. But, each life sends up a cry, betraying the self-satisfied pleasure each one feels in committing both macro and micro evils. What that means is that we may not be committing murder (macro), but we still show hatred, or outbursts of anger (micro). We may not rob a bank (macro), but we rob another’s virtue through gossip (micro).

Each one of our lives cries out to God, alerting him to our sin though we have tried to cover ourselves with leaves and have hidden from His sight.

The cry of the oppressed, the down trodden – the victims of human violence and lust. The cry of the maiden, the wife, and the child. These were the cries which had entered into the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth. And each sin has a cry. “The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me” and it will go on crying; unless it is silenced by the yet greater voice of the blood of Christ “which speaketh better things. –F.B. Meyer

Our sin cries out to God, betraying our guilt. No amount of good work or religious leaves will cover our shame and nakedness. Only the sacrifice of Christ can cover it.

What is the cry of your life? Do you have Christ speaking louder on your behalf?