Colossians 1:16 speaks of the spirit world in a way that is just as real as the physical world. It is invisible to us because we have on the veil of the flesh. Once the veil is removed at death, we enter into that world. It is just as tangible as the physical realm; it is just on a different plane. It is in this world that demons have their habitation; it is also where the angels of the Lord do their work. There are 294 references to angels in the Bible. There are 104 appearances of angels to men recorded in the Scripture.
Remember, there are exactly twice as many angels as there are demons (Revelation 12:4). Elisha told his servant, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them” (II Kings 6:16). Elisha prayed that the eyes of his servant would be opened to see, and he saw. The mountain was full of the armies of heaven – God’s angelic host (v 17). Most paintings portray angels as some cute baby with wings, or a harmless female. This is not the picture the Bible gives us! Angels are mighty in stature and very powerful. One angel once killed 185,000 enemy soldiers in one night (Isaiah 37:36). Daniel 10:13, 20 makes it very clear that angels are in constant battle with the demonic hosts. Chapter 12 of the book of Revelation reveals the climactic culmination of that ongoing battle:
Revelation 12:7-9 And war broke out in [second] heaven: Michael and his angels fought against the dragon; and the dragon and his angels fought, but they did not prevail, nor was a place found for them in [second] heaven any longer. So the great dragon was cast out, that serpent of old, called the Devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was cast to the earth, and his angels were cast out with him.
Until this time of final eviction, there remains a war that rages, and the Saints of God are right in the middle of it. As well as doing warfare on our behalf, angels are also present in our daily life. Hebrews` 1:14 says that angels are “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation. “ Among their functions and ministry to mankind are:
- Strengthening in trial (Mark 1:12-13)
- Protecting those who fear God (Psalm 34:7)
- Personal Guardians (Matt. 18:10)
- Deliverers from danger (Acts 5:18-20)
- Assisting in salvation (Acts 10:1-5 )
I want to show you how every Christian can affect the outcome of these battles taking place in the heavenlies through the power of prayer and the Word. In Acts chapter 12, Peter had been arrested and thrown into jail. Verse five says, “Peter was kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church.” As they prayed, God sent an angel to deliver him. Peter was miraculously delivered from certain death by the angel of the Lord, in answer to the prayers of the church.
Psalm 103:20 says, “Bless the LORD, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.” Angels heed the voice of God’s Word. That is why it is so important to speak the Word and not the problem. Jesus said to speak the Word to the mountain (Mark 11:23). Who do you think it is that picks up the mountain and moves it? The angel of the Lord! As we stand in prayer, speaking the Word of God, we cause angels to “excel in strength.” It is like fuel to their engines!
Psalm 35:4-6 Let those be turned back and brought to confusion who plot my hurt. Let them be like chaff before the wind, and let the angel of the LORD chase them Let their way be dark and slippery,` and let the angel of the LORD pursue them
The River distributed Thanksgiving Dinners today to families in need and will be taking fruit baskets to the elderly tomorrow. Thanks to Norma Hart for taking the lead on this outreach. Some pictures from headquarters today…
Vindication of the Righteousness of God
Most sermons preached on the Cross focus on the substitutionary work of Christ; that is to say, He took our place and paid the price for our sin that we may be forgiven. However, there is another aspect of the Cross that is very important for our understanding of the finished work of the Cross in this great blood covenant. The centerpiece of this other aspect is found in Romans chapter three.
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:
25 Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;
26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
The Law was given to condemn the world of sin (3:19). Under the Old Covenant, there was a system of animal sacrifices for the nation of Israel. The blood of innocent animals was used as a type of the blood of Jesus, until the perfect Lamb of God – Jesus – came. Hebrews 10:4 says that it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sin.
Once a year on the Day of Atonement, the high priest entered the Holy of Holies with the blood of animal sacrifice and placed it on the mercy seat covering the Ark of the Covenant. This was to provide atonement for sins of Israel for one year. However, the word atonement simply means “to cover.” Their sins were never removed, only covered or bypassed due to the forbearance of God.
Romans chapter 3, our text, speaks of the forbearance of God in relation to sins that are past. Verse 25 says, “To declare His righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” The word for “remission” here in the Greek (paresis) simply means “passing over, neglecting, disregarding.” In other words, God neglected the sin of His people in that He did not judge their sin. He instead allowed for the blood of bulls and of goats, which could not take away sin, to atone for sin. It is worth mentioning that this is the only time that this Greek word (paresis) appears in the Bible. This usage is not to be confused with the word translated “remission” elsewhere in the New Testament (aphesis). The word aphesis means to “release from bondage” and is used 17 times in the New Testament, including Matthew 26:28 when Jesus said, “This is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for the remission (aphesis) of sins.”
- Romans 3:25, Remission (paresis) = passing over, neglecting, disregarding
- Matthew 26:28, Remission (aphesis) = release from bondage
For this reason, because God had passed over sin, God needed to “declare His righteousness” (v. 26). A holy and righteous Judge had allowed sin to go unpunished based on the promissory note of Christ’s work on the Cross – based on the blood that would be spilled.
The word forbearance in verse 25 is the Greek word anocha and means “self-restraint, tolerance.” God had tolerated the sins of His people, allowing for the animal sacrifices under the Mosaic Law to cover over the sins of Israel. In his preaching, the Apostle Paul actually said that during that time period that God had “winked at sin,” meaning He had excused it for the time-being (Acts 17:30). But now, in the fullness of times, God sent forth His Son to declare His righteousness.
God, the Righteous Judge, had allowed sin to “pile up,” if you will. But now through the offering of His Son, true justification was provided to all who believe in the finished work of Jesus on the Cross. As verse 26 points out, this is the only way that God could be just (holy and righteous) AND the justifier of sinful men. It can only happen through the blood of Jesus. To be justified means to be rendered righteous in the eyes of God.
Oh what a price that was paid to secure our redemption and justification! Jesus, in His Own body, bore the wrath of God against sin – all sin, past, present and future – on the Cross. In Matthew 27, Jesus cried out on the Cross in this state of abandonment:
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour.
46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?
In order for Jesus to pay the full penalty for the sin of all mankind, the Father had to pour out His judgment on the Cross and forsake His only Son, who was in the bosom of the Father for al eternity past. Oh what love did Jesus display as He hung on that Cross in our place.
The price has been pain in full! The blood of Jesus has ransomed us from the prison house of sin! We don’t have to bear the judgment of God for our sin when we come to the Cross and place our faith in Jesus.
The righteousness and holiness of God had been vindicated on the Cross. We are now made to be the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus through the shedding of His blood.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Yesterday before church a homeless man was wandering by the church. My wife saw him and offered him some coffee and a donut. He gladly accepted. She came and got me and I went out and talked to him about Jesus. I encouraged him to come into the service which was starting in 10 minutes. He agreed to. Near the end of worship, I went up and grabbed the mic and exhorted for a couple minutes about he who has been forgiven much loves much. We then did the last song again and worshiped for about 5 more minutes. The Spirit of God was so strong it was like a blast of wind. I felt to give an altar call for salvation. The homeless man, sitting on the back pew lifted his hand and I went back to him and prayed with him. He accepted Christ as Savior as tears flowed down his cheeks. We had a cookout after church and he stayed around the whole time getting to know people. I arranged some follow-up with him as he left.
Today, I received a text from a church member and she said that her sister had coincidentally met the man at the park later that afternoon. He was telling her how he used to have a job and a family but that drugs had ruined his life and left him homeless. But he told her that he had gone to a church called The River that morning and believed that his life had been changed. The sister told him, I think my mom and sister go to that church and she described them. He had sat right next to her mom and sister during the service. This woman is unsaved and her family has been praying for her to be saved and come to church, and God used this homeless man to plant the seeds of the gospel into her life.
When God begins to work, He does some amazing things that could never be orchestrated by man. Please pray for Rick, who was saved, and Kelly, who needs to be saved, that God would continue to work in their lives and that The River would be able to help them, both spiritually and physically. This morning in prayer at the church, the Holy Spirit spoke to me that in the near future we would be having services every night because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the move of God. I am tired of reading about it happening in other places and I am ready for revival here, at The River.