Contending for the faith | Making Disciples | Equipping the Saints for Ministry

“Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.”
1 Corinthians 10:12

         If you think you cannot be deceived, you already are! So when it comes to the subject of discernment and angels, be aware that there are two extremes. On the one hand some folks may not stop to give angels (fallen or otherwise) much consideration, and simply take them for granted; or on the other hand, the topic of angels (or demons) can become a total obsession. The truth is most people, especially impressionable young people, are fascinated with anything that has to do with the unseen world, and that definitely includes angels—whether good and bad. The Bible, of course, has plenty to say about both, and it should be our final authority on any spiritual matter if we are to avoid being led astray. As a matter of interest: “Depending on the Bible translation searched, these celestial beings are referred to from 294 to 305 times in the Bible. References to angels occur at least 116 times in the Old Testament and 175 times in the New Testament.” (Source:

          Concerning the angels of God, the word angel in Hebrew is “malak” which means “to dispatch as a deputy; a messenger; of God (or also a prophet; priest or teacher; ambassador, or king.) This is good to bear in mind in order to gain a proper contextual meaning of “angels” as revealed in Scripture. The writer of Hebrews wrote in Hebrews 1:14,Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” However, what Christians need to be keenly aware of is how to discern the spirits as commanded in 1 John 4:1, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” We cannot glibly assume that the spirit behind everything and anything that is labeled as “good,” “spiritual,” “supernatural” or “mystical” is a good spirit.

          Rayola explains it this way: “When it comes to intent in a situation, you have to discern the spirit behind it. Intent in this text has to do with agenda and the way the sources behind it want to influence your worldview or perception about something. You can see this in the different news and media outlets. Keep in mind every artist is trying to influence each of our thinking. For example, the clear agenda of Harry Potter is to make witchcraft attractive to our young people. In the 1970s and 80s, the popular Star Wars movies were laced with Hindu, New Age, and Occultic terms, beliefs, and practices. To the unsuspecting individuals it was just sci-fi films that were entertaining. Yet, George Lucas, the first director of the Star Wars was a practicing Hindu, and was subtly promoting his beliefs through the powerful media of his movies.

          “It is not unusual to hear Christians declare that they can wade through the wrong teachings and come out unscathed, but if you do not know what you are looking at, you will not properly discern it. Keep in mind we only expose ourselves to those things we are willing to come into agreement with. The Apostle Paul talks about the fact that there is no agreement between the Spirit of God and the spirit of the world (1 Corinthians 2:10-14). The more you expose yourself to the spirit of the world, the more dull you become to that which is contrary to God’s spirit, teachings, and walk, and the less discerning you will be in such matters. The only way to ensure sharp discernment is to be clear about what is influencing your perception and worldview, and where it is leading you in regard to your attitudes. If it is of a wrong spirit, we must be willing to separate and flee from such influences in our lives.”

          This is why Paul warned the Galatians, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” Galatians 1:8. Paul is saying that no matter who preaches “another gospel” whether he or she is of human origin, or is straight out of the spirit world, let him be accursed. That is strong language, and certainly not “politically correct” to the modernized, “self-esteem,” “seeker-friendly” mindset. Paul then declared this, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” verse 10. I love strong-willed Paul, who always defined things as “black or white,” “true or false,” “right or wrong,” “holy or profane,” “belief or disbelief,” “life or death,” with no muddy, confusing shades of “gray” in between where people with divided hearts can roost in order to avoid making the decision to totally sell out to Christ. The Bible doesn’t give clearance for “mugwumps” to enter into heaven. (The popular usage for the term mugwumps is an undecided person sitting on a fence with their mug on one side and their wump on the other.) Paul went on to qualify his strong statement, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man, For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ” verses 11, 12. [Emphasis added.]

          Christians of all ages need to be able to discern if what they read, see or hear (this includes music) brings them back to a revelation of Jesus Christ, and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:2) with the result of falling more in love with Him, hungering to learn more of Him and His Word, causing each of us to draw closer to Him, quickening our walk with Him in righteousness and obedience, and compelling us to worship Him in Spirit and in truth. It is also vital that Christians exercise discernment in order to determine if there is a wrong spirit in what they read, see, hear or experience. A wrong spirit will produce a nebulous “supernatural,” “mystical,” “spiritual” encounter or experience that beguiles one into an altered state of consciousness to lure one away from the cross and the foundation of Jesus Christ. Any encounter with the unseen world that results in confusion, fear, doubt, unbelief, rebellion, and lust, accompanied by a distinct disinterest in God and His Word, while arousing a strong curiosity concerning the occult in any one of its innumerable forms, with a strong desire for “hidden, mystical spiritual knowledge and power,” is dangerous.

          You have to keep in mind that Satan is not interested in beguiling and deceiving those who are already his. Instead, his goal is to steal, rob and destroy the faith of believers. The notion that Satan has very little power or involvement in the affairs of mankind—of nations, governments, and rulers, on down to individuals is simply not true. The Bible is clear that Satan, the “god of this world” (2 Corinthians 4:4) does target individual Christians as well nations. For example, we all know how Satan tempted the first woman to disobedience. (See Genesis 3:4,5.) 1 Peter 5:8 confirms that he preys upon men, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Job 2:2 says, “And the LORD said unto Satan, From whence comest thou? And Satan answered the LORD, and said, From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it.” Then Satan slandered Job, “Doth Job fear God for nought? Has not thou made a hedge about him, and about his house, and about all that he hath on every side? Thou hast blessed the work of his hands, and his substance is increased in the land. But put forth thine hand now, and touch all that he hath, and he will curse thee to thy face” Job 1:9-11. Satan has power to inflict disease also, “so went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown” Job 2:7. Satan opposes the righteous, “And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him” Zechariah 3:1.

          Of course, we know of the vicious attacks Satan used against Christ in Matthew 4, when he tempted Jesus with the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life. Satan’s attack on the “good seed” (the Word of God) is relentless. Matthew wrote, “When anyone heareth the word of the kingdom, and understandeth it not, then cometh the wicked one, and catcheth away that which was sown in his heart. This is he which received seed by the wayside” Matthew 13:19. Concerning the tares and the end of the world, Jesus said, “…the tares are the children of the wicked one: The enemy that sowed them is the devil: the harvest is the end of the world: and the reapers are the angels” Matthew 13:38, 39.

          We read of Satan’s work of ruining soul and body through one of his devils in Luke 9:42, “And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father.” Jesus defined Satan as a liar to the Pharisees as we read in John 8:44, “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do: he was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” As we see in John 13:2, Satan instigates men to sin, “And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him.”

          The liberal, “seeker-friendly,” compromising Churches of today have moved away from center (Jesus Christ) and the whole counsel of God (His revealed Word from Genesis to Revelation) and have replaced the “faith which was once delivered unto the saints” (Jude 3) with a social gospel of humanism that emphasizes “love.” This subtle shift into apostasy is camouflaged with a thin veneer of “Christianity” validated by a few Scriptures taken out of context—a “Christianity” that would be totally foreign to the pilgrim church of the early apostles. This “Christianity lite” ignores topics such as Satan, demons, sin, the judgment to come, and hell.

          To be overcomers, we need to know our God, not just facts about Him. Daniel 11:32b, 33a says this about God’s people in the latter days, “But the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do exploits. And they that understand among the people shall instruct many.” Jesus said, “Behold, I give unto you power to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall by any means hurt you. Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven” Luke 10:19, 20. We are assured of victory in Romans 8:37-39, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, not angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Ephesians 10:12 makes it clear that “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Christian soldiers are encouraged to “war a good warfare; Holding faith, and a good conscience” 1 Timothy 1:18b, 19a. [Emphasis added.]

          Woe unto us if we blithely ignore our duty as believers to discern the spirits, choosing instead to let others do it for us. Hebrews 5:12-14, states that this categorizes such people as babies. “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskillful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. True discernment is not based on our own perceptions, opinions, agendas, conclusions, standards, ideas, or religious formulas, but instead must come into agreement with God’s Word and perspective on a matter as revealed to us by the Holy Spirit.

          The Bible gives us much insight, from Genesis to Revelation about the realm of angels, which we will explore in greater detail in another article. At this point, however, for your encouragement, I would like to share with you some true stories about encounters with heavenly angels, God’s ministering spirits, or messengers. “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation” Hebrews 1:14? When a person has an encounter with a heavenly angel (ministering spirit) there is an impact made on his or her heart (spirit, mind, emotions). The results (fruit) are normally awe, profound humility, sincere praise and worship, giving glory to God, along with peace, joy, charity (benevolent love), hope, hunger for Jesus and His Word, increased faith and commitment, and encouragement (spiritual strength). One account was given in the 1980s by missionary Ray Wilson (a/k/a Black Buffalo) of North American Indian Missions. He related that on one of their mission trips into the heart of Mexico, he and his wife stopped at a viewpoint where they could see a panorama of mountains, canyons and a great expanse of hills and valleys. Suddenly a man appeared beside them. They had not heard or seen another vehicle, and were more than astonished when he waved his arm across the entire expanse of land, and said, “All this land belongs to my Father.” Then he vanished out of their sight. They were overwhelmed and deeply moved by this visitation, and continued working to bring the Gospel to the Tarahumara people of the Copper Canyon until retirement.

          Recently a pastor friend kindly shared this occurrence with us: “When we were meeting at the Grange hall back in the early 2000’s in one of our services as we were praying for the sick, an angel appeared behind me on my left side, standing about 10 feet tall with a tablet recording and watching over what was going on, one of the young teenagers saw him also and started drawing him in picture. At the same time a Lion appeared to my left side and walked by my left knee brushing my leg, like a dog or cat would do letting you know he was there and all was in control. EXTREMELY interesting, I will never forget it.”

          A number of years ago a Christian friend told us of an amazing encounter with an angel when she was at a low point in her life. I cannot recall why she was stuck in a bus stop miles from her destination, but there she sat, on a bench in the middle of the night. She had completely run out of money, and needed a certain amount of money to continue her journey, and buy something to eat. Suddenly a stranger walked up to her, handed her the exact amount of money she needed, and disappeared. There was never a doubt in her mind that God had sent an angel to her aid.

          Years ago when Rayola, Krista, and I lived way out in the middle of nowhere, (surrounded by sage brush, coyotes, rattlesnakes, and strange creatures we had never seen before), a few miles up a canyon from Moore, ID, after a time of intense prayer concerning spiritual challenges, Rayola sensed two huge angels protecting the house we lived in (that is, protecting us while we lived there.) This was a great comfort to us.

          Another Sister in the Lord shares this story:      “About 35 years ago we moved into our present house, and our bedroom is upstairs. I had been really praying about some issues we were having. My husband’s family was into talking to the dead and using crystal balls, etc. We had constant warfare in our home and our children were very open to demonic spirits it seemed. I was so distressed over it, knowing that my husband wasn’t saved and I was the only one in the house living for the Lord. I did a lot of praying and one night I was awakened from a deep sleep, and decided to go downstairs to pray. I got to the first step and was so distressed that I sat down on the top step and put my head down on my arms and began to cry. I felt the Lord told me to look up. As I looked up, my living room was FULL OF ANGELS. Some were on guard and others were talking to one another. They were very large and were dressed for war…I guess He shows you what He feels you would understand, but I needed to know that God was with me and I had help on my side, so He showed me my house was covered and He was in charge and I wasn’t alone. I had complete peace knowing I didn’t have to fear the warfare that was taking place in my home, because greater was He that was within me and with me than he that is in the world. I do have friends who have seen them (angels) too!”

          As for myself, I had a life-changing experience a few years ago. I cannot say that the encounter was with an angel, but the effect it had on me was so profound that I cannot say it wasn’t an angel either. Angels can come in any form they wish to appear in as humans. (“Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” Hebrews 13:2.) It was one of those “normal” days for me where I had a list of places to go and things to do, and I was on a dead run. I remember that it had been raining the night before, and it was damp and cold. As I walked toward the front of a Fred Meyer store, I noticed a figure sitting still on the cold, damp cement to the side of the entrance. He was dressed in clean, but obviously worn clothes. He wore a hooded jacket, and gloves. His head was down so I couldn’t see his face, but I assumed he was one of the many homeless men in the area. Nobody entering or exiting the store seemed to notice his presence. As I carried my groceries out the door, I glanced in his direction. At that moment he lifted his head, and his clear, bright blue eyes not only met mine, but they seemed to look right into my soul. His beard was neatly trimmed, and His countenance was clean, sweet, and radiated peace. His countenance could be summed up a word, “purity.” Furthermore, I did not recognize him from the homeless men that frequented two different gospel missions at the time, which we were ministering to.

          As I placed the groceries in the car, my mind was trying to process the insistent tug in my heart. I decided to go back into the store and buy him something to eat. As I made my way to the store entrance, he remained motionless in the same position, never looking around or at anyone else that passed by. As I approached, he once again looked up into my face, and as before, no one else so much as glanced in his direction. I returned with a small bag of roasted chicken pieces and a cup of water. He was still in the same position and other shoppers remained oblivious to him. As I approached him, he looked up into my face for the third time. The radiant sweetness of his countenance I shall never forget. As I offered him the food and water, I lightly touched his face and said, “God loves you.”

          The only thing he said to me were two softly spoken words, “Thank you.” But, there was just something about him that was different in ways that mere words can’t explain. As I started my car and began to drive away, I began to tremble. I felt as if I had seen our LORD, looked into His heavenly eyes, and touched his face.

Suddenly the verse from Hebrews about “angels unawares” went through my mind. I felt undone! So many thoughts raced through my mind. Maybe I should have bought him more food or maybe I shouldn’t have put a tract in the sack, maybe…” My head was spinning and tears began pouring down my face as the Holy Spirit washed over me with the admonition of true ministry—“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” At that moment it hit me like a ton of bricks that the emphasis and direction I was striving to go in our ministry was not where God wanted it to go, but instead He wanted us to follow His leading and minister the life of Christ and healing to His sheep, be it to only one, a few, or many. And that, my friends, is how this single, unexpected, special “appointment” of God on that chilly day brought me back to center, and profoundly changed my emphasis, heart and ministry.

          Have you asked the Lord what ministry He has for you today? Remember, it’s not about what you can do for Him, but what He can do through you!