Pastor's Ponderings - Bulletin Boards
Question: Do angels exist? Do demons exist? from GotQuestions.org.
Answer: The Bible speaks of www.gotquestions.org%2Fangels-Bible.html">angels
as real, actual beings. However, Scripture's depiction of angels is very
different from the popular concept of them. The Bible describes angels as
vastly powerful, intimidating, and mysterious creatures. They serve God for
specific reasons and do not seem to be wandering or random creatures. While we
don't have a great deal of information about angels in the Bible, what's
available is enough to correct many common misconceptions.
The word angel comes from the Greek word aggelos (or angelos),
which most literally means "messenger." In Old Testament Hebrew, these beings
are called mal'ak, which means the same thing, "messenger."
Communication seems to be the primary function of angels in the Bible. Most
references to angels involve their delivering some news or command on behalf of
God. They are occasionally depicted as protecting certain people (Daniel
6:20-23) or nations (Daniel 12:1). However, there is no direct biblical support
for the concept of a "www.gotquestions.org%2Fguardian-angels.html">guardian
angel" - a single spiritual entity assigned to a specific person for purposes
of protection or guidance - although such beings may exist.
In modern times, common depictions of angels include things like halos, www.gotquestions.org%2Fangels-wings.html">feathery
wings, blond hair, harps, and white robes. Or chubby infants with tiny
wings and shining eyes. In reality, the Bible gives no general physical
description of angels. Only a few specific types of beings, such as www.gotquestions.org%2Fcherubim.html">cherubim
are given direct visual details (Isaiah 6:2-6; Ezekiel 1:4–28). Only one angel,
at the empty tomb of Jesus, is ever described as wearing a white robe (Mark
16:5). Scripture indicates that angels can take on a mundane human form
That being said, most people in Scripture who encounter angels react with fear.
Almost every time an angel appears to someone, the angel's first words are
"don't be afraid!" (Luke 1:13, 30; 2:10; Matthew 28:5) Their presence can be so
overwhelming that even apostles such as John had to be warned not to worship
them (Revelation 19:9–10). This makes sense, given, the level of power ascribed
to angels by the Bible. According to 2 Kings 19:35, a single angel killed
185,000 Assyrian soldiers in one night. As spiritual beings created to serve
God, angels are not so much "cute" as they are powerful and otherworldly.
Looking at the Bible, we can say that angels are literal beings. Biblical
angels exist. The cartoonish versions of angels so often seen in movies and
commercials, however, do not.
Bible speaks of www.gotquestions.org%2Fdemons.html">demons
as real, actual beings. However, Scripture's depiction of demons is very
different from the popular concept of them. The Bible describes demons as
powerful but limited and ultimately defeated creatures. They are www.gotquestions.org%2Ffallen-angels.html">angels
who followed Satan in rebellion against God (Revelation 12:3–4). The Bible
doesn't give many details about demons, but what it provides is enough to
dispel typical myths.
Demons are referred to by several alternate names, including "unclean spirits"
and "evil spirits." Some of the false gods that received human sacrifices are
described as actual demons (2 Chronicles 11:15; Deuteronomy 32:17). Since
demons are fallen angels, they possess the same level of power and influence as
angels. However, Scripture seems to indicate that God has limited their
abilities (2 Thessalonians 2:6–7). The Bible indicates that not all afflictions
are due to demonic influence (Matthew 10:1; Luke 8:2). The vast majority of
demonic influence is spiritual, not physical.
Popular culture frequently depicts demons in monstrous form. This includes drooling
fangs, sharp claws, leathery wings, and so forth. Or they are portrayed as
shadows or ghosts. None of these have any biblical basis at all. In fact, the
Bible never physically describes any fallen angel. As is the case with angels,
demons are spiritual creatures with a primarily spiritual influence, so they
are unlikely to have any set physical appearance. If they choose to take on a
physical appearance, it actually makes more sense for them to choose something
inviting rather than scary (2 Corinthians 11:14).
So, demons are literal, actual beings. The demons described in the Bible exist.
However, the oft-portrayed horror-movie and Halloween versions do not.
Recommended Resource: www.christianbook.com%2FChristian%2FBooks%2Fproduct%3Fevent%3DAFF%26p%3D1011693%26item_no%3D02224" target="_blank" style="font-size: 12pt; text-indent: 2em;">Angels: Elect & Evil by C. Fred Dickason
Question: "What is the Eastern Orthodox Church and what are the beliefs of Orthodox Christians?" from GotQuestions.org.
Answer: The Eastern Orthodox Church
is not a single church but rather a family of 13 self-governing bodies, denominated
by the nation in which they are located (e.g., the www.gotquestions.org%2FGreek-Orthodox-Church.html">Greek
Orthodox Church, www.gotquestions.org%2FRussian-Orthodox-Church.html">Russian
Orthodox Church). They are united in their understanding of the sacraments,
doctrine, liturgy, and church government, but each administers its own affairs.
The head of each Orthodox church is called a "patriarch" or "metropolitan." The
of Constantinople (Istanbul, Turkey) is considered the ecumenical - or
universal - patriarch. He is the closest thing to a counterpart to the Pope in
the Roman Catholic Church. Unlike the Pope, who is known as VICARIUS FILIUS DEI
(the vicar of the Son of God), the bishop of Constantinople is known as PRIMUS
INTER PARES (the first amongst equals). He enjoys special honor, but he has no
power to interfere with the 12 other Orthodox communions.
The Orthodox Church claims to be the one true church of Christ, and seeks to
trace its origin back to the original apostles through an unbroken chain of
apostolic succession. Orthodox thinkers debate the spiritual status of Roman
Catholics and Protestants, and a few still consider them heretics. Like
Catholics and Protestants, however, Orthodox believers affirm the Trinity, the
Bible as the Word of God, Jesus as God the Son, and many other biblical
doctrines. However, in doctrine, they have much more in common with Roman
Catholics than they do with Protestant Christians.
Sadly, the doctrine of justification by faith is virtually absent from the
history and theology of the Orthodox Church. Rather, Orthodoxy emphasizes www.gotquestions.org%2Ftheosis.html">theosis
(literally, "divinization"), the gradual process by which Christians become
more and more like Christ. What many in the Orthodox tradition fail to
understand is that "divinization" is the progressive result of salvation, not a
requirement for salvation itself. Other Orthodox distinctives that are in
conflict with the Bible include:
The equal authority of www.gotquestions.org%2FChristian-tradition.html">church
tradition and Scripture
Discouragement of individuals interpreting the Bible apart from tradition
virginity of Mary
for the dead
of infants without reference to individual responsibility and faith
The possibility of receiving www.gotquestions.org%2Fsecond-chance-salvation.html">salvation
The possibility of www.gotquestions.org%2FChristian-lose-salvation.html">losing
While the Eastern Orthodox Church has claimed some of the church's great
voices, and while there are many in the Orthodox tradition that have a genuine
salvation relationship with Jesus Christ, the Orthodox church itself does not
speak with a clear message that can be harmonized with the biblical gospel of
Christ. The call of the Reformers for "Scripture alone, faith alone, grace
alone, and Christ alone" is missing in the Eastern Orthodox Church, and that is
too precious a treasure to do without.
Question: "What does it mean to take the Lord’s name in vain?" GotQuestions.org.
Answer: Although many people believe taking the Lord's name in vain refers to using the Lord's name as a swear word, there is much more involved with a vain use of God's name. To understand the severity of taking the Lord's name in vain, we must first see the Lord's name from His perspective as outlined in Scripture. The God of Israel was known by www.gotquestions.org%2Fnames-of-God.html
" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r%3D1044364365%26msgid%3D5003256%26act%3DPZVE%26c%3D17667%26destination%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.gotquestions.org%252Fnames-of-God.html&source=gmail&ust=1497376834666000&usg=AFQjCNHypSltDojmclNHzfPmf3JkK0BQsQ
" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-family: Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 16px; background-color: rgb(250, 250, 250);">many names and titles, but the concept embodied in God's name plays an important and unique role in the Bible. God's nature and attributes, the totality of His being, and especially His glory are reflected in His name (Psalm 8:1). Psalm 111:9 tells us His name is "holy and awesome," and the www.gotquestions.org%2FLords-prayer.html
" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r%3D1044364365%26msgid%3D5003256%26act%3DPZVE%26c%3D17667%26destination%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.gotquestions.org%252FLords-prayer.html&source=gmail&ust=1497376834666000&usg=AFQjCNH-23K2pXZZRVNw0DKBHeDkYviyfQ
" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-family: Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 16px; background-color: rgb(250, 250, 250);">Lord's prayer begins by addressing God with the phrase "hallowed be your name" (Matthew 6:9), an indication that a reverence for God and His name should be foremost in our prayers. Too often we barge into God's presence with presumptuous "to-do lists" for Him, without being mindful of His holiness, His awesomeness, and the vast chasm that separates our nature from His. That we are even allowed to come before His throne is due only to His gracious, merciful love for His own (Hebrews 4:16). We must never take that grace for granted.Because of the greatness of the name of God, any use of God's name that brings dishonor on Him or on His character is taking His name in vain. The third of the www.gotquestions.org%2FTen-Commandments.html
" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r%3D1044364365%26msgid%3D5003256%26act%3DPZVE%26c%3D17667%26destination%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.gotquestions.org%252FTen-Commandments.html&source=gmail&ust=1497376834666000&usg=AFQjCNFh-BWX23jXz4CIOLIx9XgG20J1Zg
" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-family: Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 16px; background-color: rgb(250, 250, 250);">Ten Commandments forbids taking or using the Lord's name in an irreverent manner because that would indicate a lack of respect for God Himself. A person who misuses God's name will not be held "guiltless" by the Lord (Exodus 20:7). In the Old Testament, bringing dishonor on God's name was done by failing to perform an oath or vow taken in His name (Leviticus 19:12). The man who used God's name to legitimize his oath, and then broke his promise, would indicate his lack of reverence for God as well as a lack of fear of His holy retribution. It was essentially the same as denying God's existence. For believers, however, there is no need to use God's name to legitimize an oath as we are not to www.gotquestions.org%2Fvows-God.html
" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?hl=en&q=http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r%3D1044364365%26msgid%3D5003256%26act%3DPZVE%26c%3D17667%26destination%3Dhttps%253A%252F%252Fwww.gotquestions.org%252Fvows-God.html&source=gmail&ust=1497376834666000&usg=AFQjCNHL2OWXtHlymm3-pc9hztvsR0gS5A
" style="color: rgb(17, 85, 204); font-family: Calibri, Tahoma, Verdana, Arial; font-size: 16px; background-color: rgb(250, 250, 250);">take oaths in the first place, letting our "yes be yes" and our "no be no" (Matthew 5:33-37).There is a larger sense in which people today take the Lord's name in vain. Those who name the name of Christ, who pray in His name, and who take His name as part of their identity, but who deliberately and continually disobey His commands, are taking His name in vain. Jesus Christ has been given the name above all names, at which every knee shall bow (Philippians 2:9-10), and when we take the name "Christian" upon ourselves, we must do so with an understanding of all that signifies. If we profess to be Christians, but act, think, and speak in a worldly or profane manner, we take His name in vain. When we misrepresent Christ, either intentionally or through ignorance of the Christian faith as proclaimed in Scripture, we take the Lord's name in vain. When we say we love Him, but do not do what He commands (Luke 6:46), we take His name in vain and are possibly identifying ourselves to be among those to whom Christ will say, "I never knew you. Away from me" in the day of judgment (Matthew 7:21-23).The name of the Lord is holy, as He is holy. The name of the Lord is a representation of His glory, His majesty, and His supreme deity. We are to esteem and honor His name as we revere and glorify God Himself. To do any less is to take His name in vain.
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