BUILDING UP THE BROTHERHOOD
FAITH IN UNSEEN REALITIES
October 25, 2014
“Faith is the assured expectation of what is hoped for, the evident demonstration of realities that are not seen.”
– Hebrews 11:1
This is Paul’s description of faith – an unwavering confidence that the things we hope for – the things currently unseen – are real and within our grasp. Faith in the unseen includes a conviction that the Father is real, the Christ is real, the Spirit of Truth is real, the heavens are real, the angels are real, and a host of other divine celestial personalities, both revealed and unrevealed, are real, active and interested in us as individuals and in the spiritual advancement of our world. Their existence does not depend upon us having faith in them. Their existence is fact. But the degree to which we have faith in these realities will determine the measure of spiritual activity in our lives.
Most Christians can relate stories of angelic activity in Bible times. They can recount the story of the angel who saved Isaac from being sacrificed (Genesis 22:9-12), the angels who saved Lot from being destroyed in the city of Sodom (Genesis 19:1-22), and the angels who rescued Daniel from the lion’s den (Daniel 6:16-23). They regularly recall the story of the angel Gabriel’s encounters with Zechariah, Mary and Joseph in connection with Jesus’ birth (Luke 1:11-20, 26-38; Matthew 1:18-23), the angels who announced his birth to the shepherds in the fields (Luke 2:8-14), and the angels who informed the women that Jesus had been resurrected (Luke 24:4-7). And many remember the accounts of angelic activity in connection with the Christian ministry, specifically, the angel that freed the apostles from prison (Acts 5:17-20), the angel that directed Philip to the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-29), and the angel that assured Paul that he would survive a violent storm (Acts 27:21-24).
These stories are used by Christian ministers the world over to uplift the congregations, to strengthen their faith, and to encourage them to face their own crises with optimism and hope. Yet in spite of their firm belief that these encounters really occurred in the past, many have a difficult time believing those who say that an angel saved them from a car accident, or an angel appearing as a person gave them a special message or spoke to them in a dream, or that angels can give directions on how to conduct a ministry.
How about you? Do you believe such things could actually take place in your life and times? Do you believe that angels and divine celestial beings are interested in 21st century mankind? Do you believe angels are concerned about the revival and continuation of the ministry Jesus began in the 1st century?
They absolutely are! These beings are in the service of the glorified Christ Jesus and are consecrated to carrying out his will and his commands according to what he actually taught (but not in support of ‘another sort of good news’ in opposition to Jesus’ teachings – Galatians 1:6-9). Since Jesus commanded that his followers carry his message to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:19-20; Acts 1:8), we can be certain that his celestial administrators and ministers are doing all they can to make sure that his command is fulfilled. But they are limited by the free will of man. They cannot act for us. They can only maneuver events and circumstances in an effort to awaken us to their presence and to the will of the Father and Christ Jesus. And when they are able to break through the wall of doubt, events that are often referred to as miracles begin to occur.
Unfortunately, many people have no faith in the unseen. Even among those who are religious, a common view is that the ‘age of miracles’ has passed. They believe God is out there, but they do not expect Him, or any of His representatives, to interact in any extraordinary way with our personal lives. With increasing regularity, man has become flesh conscious and, in doing so, has tampered with the lines of communication that would normally draw the finite creation to the infinite Creator. Instead of looking to the unseen, they rest their trust and hopes in what they can see – in man and his philosophies, doctrines, interpretations, institutions and accomplishments.
In truth, nothing has been withheld from our generation that existed in the days when the original apostles and disciples walked the earth. In the same way that they were assisted and uplifted by divine experiences, so can we be today. No, the ‘age of miracles’ has not passed; it is the ‘age of faith’ that has waned. Mankind has allowed the passage of time to dull their spiritual senses, their powers of reason and their God-given imagination. They have fixed their collective minds on the ‘things below’ instead of the ‘things above’ (Colossians 3:2), on the ‘things seen’ rather than the ‘things unseen,’ on the ‘temporary’ rather than the ‘everlasting.’ (2 Corinthians 4:18) Repentance is therefore needed to turn away from idolatrous fixations on what is temporal and imperfect, and walk with God more, worship more, pray more and trust that the impossible does happen by an All Powerful Father that dwells within each of His precious children. (Matthew 19:26)
As the sons of God begin to awaken to their true hope and their true relationship with God, and reconnect the lines of communication, we can expect more and more out-of-the-ordinary experiences. Why do we say so? Because it is inevitable! The Father’s spirit dwells within the sons (1 Corinthians 3:16), and the Spirit of Truth activates the Father’s indwelling spirit (Romans 8:16) and guides us into all truth. (John 16:13) So as more and more sons are activated and guided by spirit, there will naturally be more spirit activity on the earth!
We get emails from some of our brothers and sisters who are indeed having unusual experiences, unusual dreams, unusual encounters, but they seem to be fearful of expressing full faith in the reality of those experiences out of fear that others might think they are weird or delusional. Yet, in spite of the way the emails are phrased, we believe those brothers and sisters know these experiences are real. We want to encourage them not to be ashamed or timid, but to accept them and live in expectation of further divine assistance. Remember Paul’s words:
“Let your brotherly love continue. Do not forget hospitality, for through it some unknowingly entertained angels.”
– Hebrews 13:1-2
Yes, without knowing it, many have already had angelic encounters. Some have been rather ordinary, but others have been extraordinary. For example, have you ever prayed for something and almost immediately a stranger appears who has the answer to that prayer? Have you ever faced a dangerous situation and then inexplicably you were saved from it? Have you ever been in need of a certain amount of financial assistance and then, seemingly from nowhere, the exact amount is given to you, sometimes with an extra dollar or two? Have you ever been compelled to assist another person and later discovered that what you gave was exactly what was needed and had been prayed for? These are all examples of how our angelic family works in our behalf and on behalf of others. They can appear themselves in the likeness of men, they can maneuver situations and circumstances to answer prayers, or they can impel us by spirit nudgings to act in a way that benefits ourselves and/or others.
In whatever manner these encounters occur, know that our spiritual family is very respectful of our limitations and will not do anything to frighten us. Thus, most of their activity is unseen, and often viewed as mere coincidences. But they are here for our benefit. They have an eternal universal love and an abundance of compassion for mankind, especially for those loving the Father and His Christ. They are here, not for our amusement or entertainment, but to minister to us, to help us, to encourage us, to uplift us so that can we attain our heavenly inheritance, as the Apostle Paul wrote:
“Are they not all spirits for holy service, sent out to minister for those who are going to inherit salvation?”
– Hebrews 1:14
They share this planet with us. There are probably more celestial beings on the planet than there are humans. Recall that Jesus lived with the knowledge that thousands of angels were constantly around him, ministering to him. (Luke 22:43; Matthew 4:11) He reminded his followers that at any moment, he could ‘appeal to the Father to supply him more than 12 legions of angels.’ (Matthew 26:53)
And we should not assume that angels only assisted Jesus, the nation of Israel and the early Christians. Throughout history and on every continent there are stories of divine angelic encounters. We should expect nothing less from our heavenly Father, as Peter explained:
“At this Peter began to speak, and he said: “Now I truly understand that God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”
– Acts 10:34-35
Imagine what can occur on our planet if our celestial family knew we were not afraid of them, that we believe in their existence and desire their help. Imagine what could happen if we could shut out doubt and naysayers, and simply believe. If the sons of God the world over could really have faith in the unseen and expect the unexpected, the wonders of celestial assistance would become a common experience, just as it was in times past.
When we believe in the unseen reality of divine angelic beings, it brings a great deal of happiness and contentment. We know that we are not alone, even when we are physically alone. We understand that we are a part of a much larger world – a cosmic community – which gives us the assurance of a resurrection and continued life, just as Jesus promised, no matter our current circumstances or tribulations.
We occasionally get emails from our brothers and sisters telling us that they are alone in their faith and have no one to fellowship with. To those brothers and sisters, we often tell them to reach out in their communities and develop a fellowship by getting to know their neighbors, by volunteering and serving others, and by introducing the ‘plain and open teachings of Jesus.’ This is a first step since, as John wrote:
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and yet is hating his brother, he is a liar. For the one who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And we have this commandment from him, that whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
– 1 John 4:20-21
We also want to tell them that they always have unseen angelic company. While angels cannot read our minds, they certainly can hear our voices and respond to our requests for assistance. In fact, when we pray, the answers to our prayers are often delivered by celestial beings according to the will of the Father and Christ Jesus. We should be alert to their assistance, even being in anticipation of it. Watch what goes on around you and see if you can perceive angelic activity. And even when you are not sure whether an event occurred naturally or as a result of divine intervention, always, always give thanks. (Colossians 2:6-7; 4:2) Angels have feelings, too. (Luke 15:7) So when we live in a thankful attitude, they are more encouraged to assist. The degree and frequency of their assistance is directly related to the measure of our faith and appreciation for their existence and activities. And, of course, a thankful mind set also bring us unsurpassing peace:
“Do not be anxious over anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication along with thanksgiving, let your petitions be made known to God; and the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.”
- Philippians 4:6-7
A thankful attitude is also important if we are to avoid the sin of blasphemy against the holy spirit.
“For this reason I say to you, every sort of sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the spirit will not be forgiven. For example, whoever speaks a word against the Son of man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the holy spirit, it will not be forgiven him, no, not in this system of things nor in that to come.”
– Matthew 12:31-32
As spirit beings, angels act as part of the ministry of holy spirit. All of their activity is according to the will of the Father and the Son. They never act in any way that contradicts or works against the plain and open teachings of their Master and Sovereign, Christ Jesus. Therefore, we want to be careful that we do not mischaracterize or mislabel them as wicked or demonic. That would constitute blasphemy against the holy spirit.
It is reprehensible that man is more eager to label spirit activity as demonic rather than angelic. It seems many religious people have more faith in Satan and his agents, than they do in Jesus and his agents. We want our brothers and sisters to know that while there are unholy wicked spirits, those entities are relatively small in number in comparison with the great myriads of divine holy spirits. In fact, most wicked spirits are already in captivity. (2 Peter 2:4) And the small number that remain active rarely interfere with the activities of those who are seeking to do the Father’s will. They cannot stand in the presence of the ‘lights of the world.’ (Matthew 5:14-16) So if we are pursuing the kingdom of the heavens, demons and wicked spirits pose no real threat.
“Therefore, subject yourselves to God; but oppose the Devil, and he will flee from you.”
– James 4:7
“Put on the complete suit of armor from God so that you may be able to stand firm against the crafty acts of the Devil.”
– Ephesians 6:11
Rather than worrying about Satan’s activities, let us open our hearts and our minds to the greater realities – the divine unseen realities – our celestial family, our Master and Sovereign Christ Jesus, the Spirit of Truth, and, of course, our incomparable, ineffable Universal Father.
No, brothers and sisters, the ‘age of miracles’ has not passed. But faith in the unseen will unlock those miracles and make them a reality today. The heavens have not shut down or become silent. Nor has our divine celestial family abandoned us. They are more active now than ever before. Be open to them. In our prayers, let our celestial family know that you know they are with you, assisting you. And, as we mentioned, give thanks for this wonderful provision of powerful intelligent beings who walk alongside us, maneuver circumstances for our advantage, and occasionally allow us to peer into their activities.
We ask that our brothers and sisters who have had these encounters or fortuitous events not be afraid to share them with us. Even if you are not sure the intervenors are angelic, still share the experience. ‘Impart some spiritual gift that we may have an interchange of encouragement.’ (Romans 1:11-12) If we receive enough emails about such encounters, we will post them in a new section in order to inspire others to be alert to these events.
It was never the Father’s purpose nor Christ’s will that we would have to endure the fleshly existence alone. But only by having faith in the ‘unseen realities’ will we be able to fully take advantage of these gifts that are spirit. As we often say, give an angel a job! Our family is waiting for us to give them an opportunity to assist the children of God. Welcome them. Invite them in, all to the praise and glory of the Father and His glorious Christ.
We welcome your comments and your experiences.