For the most part, through all of history, all civilizations have been fascinated with the idea of the spirit world. Every religion acknowledges some type of force or existence of spirit beings. Mythologies speak of “gods,” spirits, demons, genii, fairies, supernatural heroes and supernatural forces that are in a struggle of good versus evil.
Hollywood movies have entertained and intrigued most of the world with their concepts of angels, ghosts, goblins, demons and Satan. Many people are drawn to séances, psychic workshops, channeling, crystal balls and astrology because of a belief in the spirit world. Millions of dollars have been spent to try and discover whether or not there is really some type of unique force or life living in outer space.
A recent rise in Satanism, Satan worship and occult activity affirms the fact that increasing numbers of people really do believe in and are infatuated by the unseen spirit world. People do seem to want to know if spirit beings really exist. Is there a Satan and are there demons? The great tragedy of all of this is not the fascination with the spirit world; it is the source of information about the spirit world.
For most people, the only thing they know concerning life and existences in the unseen world are false concepts and distorted views presented to them by a lost world. Oftentimes, bizarre speculations made by papers, magazines, movies and people become the authority base for what people believe about angels.
For example, most people know more about The Exorcist than they do biblical exegesis. Most know more about Tinkerbelle than they do theology. Most know more about Ghost than they do God. Most know more about E.T. than they do the Old Testament or the New Testament. It is no wonder that concepts of the spirit world have become perverted and distorted. It is no wonder that truth concerning this important subject has been misrepresented and falsified.
Satan loves to keep people twisted and confused in their knowledge of God’s actual truth, especially truth as it relates to spirit beings. When people do not know God’s truth, they typically either underestimate Satan’s work or overestimate Satan’s work. They take their eyes off God and His truth and look elsewhere for information, and that is a very dangerous thing to do. The truth is the spirit world is very important, very real and very biblical.
As Dr. Chafer said, “…there is an order of celestial beings quite distinct from humanity and from the Godhead who occupy an exalted state above the present position of fallen man” and this revealed truth “is the teaching of much Scripture” (Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, p. 3). Today’s concept of angels may be distorted, debated and doubted, but, as Dr. Louis Berkhof said, “No one who bows before the authority of the Word of God can doubt the existence of angels” (Systematic Theology, p. 143).
The purpose of this study is to carefully study the Bible to understand exactly what God has to say about the spirit world, which is His spirit world. This study will include all types of spirit beings, angels, demons and Satan.
Why study the spirit world?
Let me present three reasons:
Reason #1—Because the subject of spirit beings is revealed in God’s written Word. God has given us a written Word and He expects His people to know what is in His Word and there is a great deal of information about angels and spirit beings in God’s Word. Dr. Chafer said, “celestial beings are mentioned at least 108 times in the Old Testament and 165 times in the New Testament…” (Ibid., p. 3).
If one really wants to know truth about angels, spirit beings, demons and Satan, the place you can find it is in God’s written Word, the Bible. The real tragedy is most churches do not actually carefully study God’s written Word, and even most doctrinal books neglect a serious study of angels.
As Norman Geisler observed, “The study of angels is a major but often neglected division of theology” (Systematic Theology, Vol. 2, p. 475). God has taken the time to reveal much about the spirit world in His Word, we must assume He wants us to understand the written data He has inspired.
Reason #2—Because knowing God’s written Word enables us to defend truth about spirit beings. It is our responsibility to defend the truth of God on any subject (1 Pet. 3:15). Our job is not to impress the world or be influenced by the world, but to inform the world. We are living in a time when there are many faulty concepts concerning the spirit world. Recently, I heard a Catholic priest say that their idea of exorcisms is consistent with the movie “The Exorcist.”
It must be consistent with the movie, because it is not consistent with the Scriptures. The more we know about God’s truth pertaining to the spirit world, the better position we are in to be able to defend truth and have a solid, unshakable faith. This world is unstable in everything it believes, especially when it comes to the spirit world, and knowledge of God’s Word gives us the stability we need to know truth and defend truth.
Reason #3—Because studying God’s Word to know God’s truth demonstrates an obedient faith, which is a God glorifying faith. God has told us that we are to study the Scriptures to “rightly divide” them (3 Tim. 2:15). When we give careful attention to studying the Bible and its doctrines so we may accurately understand God’s doctrines, it glorifies God.
Why does God reveal information in His Word about spirit beings?
There are four reasons for this:
Reason #1—God does not reveal this information to impress the world. God does not reveal His truth about the spirit world as a reaction to this world; it is a revelation to this world. Frankly, the world’s view of angels, when squared with the Scriptures, is unimpressive and very distorted.
Reason #2—God does not reveal this information to enhance the sensational . Ideas pertaining to the spirit world are often silly, sensational and imaginative. Long before this world came up with their sensational ideas about the spirit world, God’s real truth existed. God does not want His people to be silly and sensational when it comes to this subject. He has revealed factual, real truth that builds a sound mind and sound faith.
Reason #3—God does reveal this information to profit the believer. God’s Word is for God’s people. When God said that all Scripture is inspired and profitable, He specifically had in mind profitable for His people (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible is not written to angels or for spirit beings, but to human beings; specifically to those human beings who are believers.
The natural man cannot even begin to understand the true things of God. God wants His people informed and great comfort is gained from knowing God’s Word. Let me cite an example. I knew a believer who was worried that Satan would get her. When the woman was shown 1 John 5:18-19, which says, that the one born of God cannot be touched by the evil one because of the protective power of God, she experienced an immediate deliverance from that worry. It was God’s truth that set her free from worry. God’s Word is given to profit a believer; even truth about the spirit world.
Reason #4—God does reveal this information because it is a factual reality of His creation. God reveals truth about spirit beings because spirit beings are very real. Dr. Giesler said, “In addition to the physical world and humankind, God also created spiritual creatures called angels. The universe is material, while angels are immaterial; human beings have both matter (body) and spirit, while angels have only spirit” (Systemic Theology Vol. 2, p. 474). These spirit beings are as real as human beings and God gives us the true facts.
What are the conclusions we may draw from the biblical information God reveals about spirit beings?
There are at least four main conclusions we may assume about this revelatory data:
Conclusion #1—Spirit beings are important to God . He designed them, He created them and He uses them.
Conclusion #2—Spirit beings are important to God’s program. Spirit beings are connected to God’s blessings, protection and even destruction. Spirit beings are important to Israel and the nations and to individuals.
Conclusion #3—Spirit beings are important to God’s people. There are many ways that spirit beings are connected to people and we will study them and learn about them.
Conclusion #4—Spirit beings are always subordinate to God’s sovereignty. At no time can any created spirit being overtake and rise above the sovereign Creator. God is the supreme ruler; not spirit beings. Satan and all of his demons are always subordinate to God’s Sovereignty.
Pastor David E. Thompson is pastor/teacher at Texas Corners Bible Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan with a nationally syndicated radio show reaching all across the United States. Pastor Thompson may be classified as a true systematic Bible expositor and communicator of God’s Word. He carefully expounds books of the Bible in a way that is contextually, exegetically, grammatically, historically, and theologically accurate to the text and relevant to the time. He is also an very skilled in New Testament Greek