Victorious Proclamation

THE ANGELIC CONFLICT

UNDOUBTEDLY THE MOST STARTLING EVENT ever to be observed in the angelic realm was the creation of man. Here was an inferior form of creation who, unlike angels, could not travel through space, who was limited in power and vision, and who was confined to one small planet; yet this creature was made in the image and likeness of God (Gen. 1:26a-27).1 The angels saw immediately that mankind possessed one characteristic in common with them—volition—the power to choose for or against God.

    The entire angelic creation had previously made their choice, as revealed by the two opposing categories of these supercreatures, elect and fallen (Mark 5:1-19; 8:38; 1 Tim. 5:21). When Satan exercised his volition and decided against God (Isa. 14:12-15; Ezek. 28:15), one-third of the angels chose to follow him (Rev. 12:4). For an unknown period before the advent of man, the conflict raged between those angels who followed Satan and those who chose for God.

    Since Satan and his angels have been sentenced but not yet cast into the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41), two conclusions can be drawn. First, Satan must have appealed his sentence. In fact, the titles ascribed to the super-angel after his fall lead to this conclusion: שָׂטָן (Satan), “Satan,” and διάβολος (diabolos), “the devil,” mean “adversary, accuser, attorney”—one who goes to court and appeals (Zech. 3:1-2). Satan objected that God’s sentence was unfair: “How can a loving God cast His creatures into the lake of fire?” He impugned the character of God.

    The second conclusion is that man was created by God as an answer to Satan’s appeal. Created lower than the angels (Ps. 8:3-5; cf. Heb. 2:7), mankind would be the extension and resolution of the heavenly conflict. Like the angels, humanity was endowed with free will, and that free will would be tested to see whether man would reject God. Consequently, man would come under the close scrutiny of both the elect and fallen angels (Job 2:1-3; Luke 15:7, 10; 1 Cor. 4:9). Human history would demonstrate to Satan and his fallen minions that all of God’s decisions are perfectly just and right, consistent with all the attributes of His essence.

    God cannot change His character to accommodate any creature, whether angel or man. God loved the angels, but God cannot love in a way that is inconsistent with the other attributes of His character. Man would show Satan and his angels how a loving God can save a fallen creature and still maintain His righteousness.

    As soon as man was created, God displayed His infinite grace by providing everything that man would need.2 He also set up a test to make it possible for man to exercise his volition (Gen. 2:17). The question is sometimes asked, “Why did God prohibit the eating of one tree? Why did He set up any prohibition at all?” The prohibition was to give man the opportunity to make a choice for or against God. However, God does not coerce love or obedience from His creatures. Man’s volition is truly free to choose to obey or disobey God’s mandate.

THE DIVINE POWER

    The third chapter of Genesis reveals that man chose against God despite the perfect environment and provision God had given him in the Garden. At the very moment the choice was made, Satan became the victor in the first battle of the conflict here on earth. He immediately seized control of this world and of man (2 Cor. 4:4). The only hope for man, which is found in Genesis 3:15, is also God’s solution to the angelic conflict. God made a gracious promise as He sentenced the serpent.

“And I will put enmity
Between you [Satan] and the woman,
And between your seed and her seed;
He shall bruise you on the head,
And you shall bruise him on the heel.” (Gen. 3:15)3

    Here is the greatest example of the love, righteousness, justice, and grace of God. Man had just sinned. Man had fallen. Man had turned this little planet over to Satan. Because man deliberately rebelled against God’s command, Satan had won a major round. It appeared as though the situation had reached a stalemate—not only for man, but for the entire conflict. Yet God established a beachhead by this fantastic promise! “And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed.”

    “Her seed,” a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ at the point of His incarnation, is the first messianic title and the first promise of the Savior. The seed of the woman stresses the virgin birth as the means of bringing the Savior into the world without a sin nature. Because the sin nature is passed down in procreation through the male, Jesus Christ is without inherent sin and without personal sin.4

    “He shall bruise you on the head.” The seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ, would bruise or literally crush the head of Satan. Since the serpent now crawls in the dust, his head is vulnerable and crushing this vital part is fatal to him. This verse predicts the ultimate defeat of Satan which will take place at the Second Advent of Christ (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 12:9; 20:10). Even before salvation was declared, the final victory over Satan was announced.5

    “You [Satan] shall bruise him [Christ] on the heel.” The debased serpent reaches no higher than the man’s heel, yet when the venomous snake strikes this lower extremity, the poison spreads throughout the man’s entire body. Hence, the bruising of the Lord’s heel anticipates the cross where Christ would bear in His own body the judgment for every sin in the human race (2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24).

    Because man exercised his free will in negative volition, he had forfeited his relationship with God. Mankind was in no position to reverse his decision unless God should mercifully intervene. This is why Genesis 3:15, which is the first mention of the Gospel in the Bible, is one of the key passages in the entire Scripture. God’s grace provision was revealed as the God-man-Savior, Jesus Christ, who would come to earth and provide the solution to the problem of man’s sin. Satan understood this, even though many people today do not.

    When God committed Himself to this promise, the entire destiny of the human race, the ultimate result of the battle between fallen and elect angels, and the perfect character of God were put on the line. Would God keep His promise? If God cannot keep a promise, then His character would be flawed and He would not be God. There would be no hope for mankind or for any other creature.

    Down through the ages men believed this promise, right up to the coming of Christ at His first advent. They demonstrated their faith by offering animal sacrifices to God. The blood of bulls and goats could not save man from even one sin (Heb. 10:4), but every time a man offered an animal sacrifice, even if it were only a pigeon, he was saying, “I have believed Genesis 3:15.” Today, when anyone accepts Christ, he is saying, “I believe John 3:16.” When anyone puts his faith in Christ, he is eternally saved.

    However, Satan reasoned that if man went negative and sinned as he had, then God would be forced to withdraw the devil’s sentence to the lake of fire. Surely, thought Satan, God would not wipe out mankind which He had created expressly to demonstrate His perfect character. And if man would be spared, so too Satan and his followers.

    This was the issue when God set up another tree, the cross. Satan immediately understood his vulnerability and began to plot how to negate the strategic victory that Christ would win by dying on the cross. The devil commands a tremendous host of angels, some of which were delegated to frustrate the possibility of Christ’s coming in the flesh. If Jesus Christ did not become true humanity, there could be no salvation for man.

    There were moments in the history of mankind when it appeared as though God could not and would not keep His promise. For example, when it became apparent that the seed of the woman was to come through the line of Abel, the younger of Adam’s first two sons, Satan inspired Cain to murder his brother. This first attempt by Satan to prevent the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 was thwarted when the line of Christ was transferred to Seth. But Satan would launch numerous other attacks aimed at obstructing the First Advent.

    Although God made the promise to come and pay the penalty for sin, which is spiritual death (Rom. 6:23),6 deity is subject neither to spiritual nor physical death. As eternal God, He cannot die; as immutable God, He cannot change. How, then, can this conflict ever be resolved? How can man be brought back to God? The answer: Without compromise to His deity God must take on true flesh and blood. Indeed, God the Son agreed to fulfill the Father’s plan by ‘clothing’ Himself with a human body (Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 2:9-14).7

    There are four reasons why Jesus Christ became true humanity. The first reason was to be the Savior and go to the cross. Second, Jesus Christ was to be the Mediator. Before man can have a relationship with God, he needs a go-between who is equal with both the Godhead and with man. The Mediator, then, must be God and man in one person (1 Tim. 2:5-6). Third, Jesus Christ was to become a priest. Since man is a sinner, he requires an acceptable priest to represent him before God and that priest must himself be a man. Jesus Christ fulfilled this function and became the “great high priest” (Heb. 4:14). Fourth, Jesus Christ is to reign as the Son of David (Luke 1:31-33). Down the road of human history God would make some amazing promises to David. He would say, “I will raise up your descendant after you, who will come forth from you, and I will establish his kingdom. . . . I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Sam. 7:12b, 13b; cf. Acts 2:29-32).

    For these reasons it was imperative that Jesus Christ be vested with true humanity. But it would be impossible for Christ to become a man unless an unbroken lineage of true humanity existed on the earth. That may seem to be a strange statement, but it is apparent from the sixth chapter of Genesis that Satan conceived an ingenious scheme to corrupt the genetic integrity of the human race. His strategy was to change the nature of mankind into half-human, half-angelic beings through an angelic infiltration of the human race.

    The invasion recorded in the first ten verses of Genesis 6 is the most formidable attack ever made upon man’s so-great salvation. It was so successful that the line by which Jesus Christ could enter the world was narrowed down to eight souls—the family of Noah. Had it not been for the Flood, this satanic attack would have turned into a decisive victory for Satan. True humanity would have become extinct on the earth and Jesus Christ could never have been born in the lineage of Adam.

THE ANGELIC INFILTRATION

    Genesis chapter 6 opens with a brief account of the antediluvian population. Apparently, a population explosion after the Fall resulted in more women than men.

Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them. (Gen. 6:1)

    The word “men” is the generic term referring to the entire human race. While “daughters” describes literal females, this expression means more than that: It is an idiom indicating an excess of beautiful women.

That the sons of God [בְנֵי־הָאֱלֹהִם, bene-ha-Elohim] saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. (Gen. 6:2)

    The Hebrew word bene-ha-Elohim, translated “sons of God,” appears only four times in the Old Testament: Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; and in this verse. Another Hebrew word has also been translated “sons of God,” but bene-ha-Elohim is always and invariably used for angels, never human beings. In the New Testament, “Son of God” is a title for Jesus Christ, while “sons of God” refers to believers (John 1:12). However, since “sons of God” in the Old Testament is used for angels, both elect and fallen, the question here is, which kind of angel is in view?

    Jude 6 and 1 Peter 3:19-20 link fallen angels “who once were disobedient” and “did not keep their own domain” with the angels in Genesis 6:2. These were the same satanic emissaries who were involved in the assault on the “daughters of men” and were then imprisoned (2 Pet. 2:4). These intruders would become the recipients of the victorious proclamation of Jesus Christ while they were incarcerated.

    The Word of God is not written to satisfy the curious, but to reveal God’s plan and purpose for man. Deductions can often be made from what is revealed. However, what took place prior to the seduction of the women is only speculation. Perhaps the idea of the infiltration occurred to Satan when he began to notice that some of his angels were ‘peeking over the clouds and whistling’ at the beautiful “daughters of men.” So Satan called a planning session and briefed his selected agents on the method of launching the attack that was designed to prevent the Savior from coming into the world. “They took wives for themselves, whomever they chose” literally means that they cohabited with the women on earth.

    Immediately, certain questions arise concerning the physical possibilities and capabilities of such a plan. First, are not angels invisible to the human race? The answer to this is yes! Their bodies are composed of light. However, they can also transform themselves to appear to human beings and also to look like them. These fallen angels presented themselves to the “daughters of men” as strikingly attractive, masculine human beings.

For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. (Matt. 22:30)

    This verse raises a second question. How is procreation possible between angels and human beings? Before the Flood, angels could procreate! After the Flood, the possibility of intermarriage and procreation between angels and mankind was removed, and those who had been so involved were either destroyed or incarcerated.

    At this point in Genesis 6, God the Holy Spirit interjects a comment and issues a warning:

Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive [His convicting ministry] with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” (Gen. 6:3)

This verse orients the reader to the time—120 years before the Flood. The Holy Spirit would continue right up to the last day to entreat man to be saved.

    Before the Flood, the Holy Spirit had a threefold ministry. First, He restrained sin so that the human race could survive and have the opportunity to hear the Gospel. Second, the Holy Spirit’s ministry of common grace provided Gospel information to the unbeliever so that he might make a decision necessary for salvation.8 The Holy Spirit communicated the Gospel to mankind through the message of a man called Noah (2 Pet. 2:5).

    The third ministry of the Holy Spirit was His regenerating work by which every believer was born again. At the moment a person expresses faith in the coming Savior, he passes from spiritual death to spiritual life.

    Before and after the Flood, the Holy Spirit continually seeks to convince the unbeliever to believe in Jesus Christ and be saved. The doctrine of common grace asserts that the Holy Spirit has been convicting unbelievers since the beginning of time in regard to the Gospel: “concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment” (John 16:8-11). The “sin” is rejection of Christ, “because they do not believe in me”; “righteousness” is the imputation of divine righteousness to those who believe in Him (Rom. 4:5); and “judgment” will be meted out to those who reject Him.

    Those who refuse to accept Christ’s work on their behalf stand on their own merit, and their works, not their sins, will condemn them to the eternal lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15). Why? Jesus Christ has paid for every sin. Therefore, sin is no longer an issue. The only issue in salvation is, “What do you think about the Christ” (Matt. 22:42). Without the Holy Spirit’s convicting ministry, mankind could not be saved; without His restraining ministry, the human race would perish.

    Notice that Genesis 6:3 says man, not angels. Angelic salvation had already been settled. Every angel had made up his mind long before man was created. Their eternal status would never be changed. Fallen angels will always be fallen, and holy or elect angels will always be elect. The Holy Spirit is striving with man in time “because he also is flesh.”

The Superrace

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (Gen. 6:4)

    As a result of angelic procreation with humanity, a superrace emerged. This progeny called “Nephilim,” literally “fallen ones” in the Hebrew, is sometimes translated “giants” in the English. However, they are more than just giants. They had fallen from the human race in that they were no longer true humanity. They were half-man and half-angel, creatures of remarkable strength and brilliant intellect.

    The next phrase explicitly states the origin of the Nephilim: “and also afterward [literally, “because”], when the sons of God came in to [cohabited with] the daughters of men.” The children which the women bore to these angels became “mighty men who were of old [antiquity], men of renown,” that is, famous men of heroic status.

    All ancient literature contains stories of heroes—mighty men who performed unusual, extranatural, or supernatural feats. They were all described as half-human and half-god, demigods. In Greek tradition, Zeus, the chief god, was said to be the father of most of them including: Orpheus, Thesseus, Cadmus, Perseus, Jason, Hercules, Castor, and Pollux. Although this literature is called mythology, it is not entirely mythical. It is based on the factual events of Genesis 6. As time went on, the stories were embellished and transformed by vivid imagination.

    The half-angelic, half-human superrace completely took over and corrupted the human race of the antediluvian civilization except for Noah and the seven members of his family.9 Noah and his family were not involved in this angelic corruption because they were born-again, super-grace believers.10 God protected them physically from the superrace, who were exceedingly warlike and brutal. Eventually, for the preservation of true humanity, it was necessary for God to destroy the Nephilim.

    Only twice in the history of the human race does God destroy every unbeliever in order to preserve the promise of salvation. First, in the devastation of the Flood, and second, at the future Second Advent when all unbelievers will be removed, leaving only believers to enter the Millennium.11 God always keeps His Word regarding the promise of Genesis 3:15 as well as resolving the issue of the angelic conflict.

The Divine Evaluation

    In Genesis 6:5-7, God expressed His attitude toward the antediluvian civilization and toward the superrace in particular.

Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart [mentality of the soul] was only evil continually. (Gen. 6:5)

    Man’s evil had reached the saturation point because of this crossbreeding with fallen angels.12 The mixture gave mankind extranatural stature and power that intensified the function of the sin nature.13 Evil entered man’s soul and became a strong “deluding influence” (2 Thess. 2:11). His thinking was totally engulfed in malignant, satanic concepts. The individual was continually under the influence of Satan’s cosmic system (1 John 2:15).

    God revealed His own attitude toward this incorrigible wickedness.

And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. (Gen. 6:6)

“Was sorry” means “to change the mind.” But God is immutable, and He does not change. Why then is the Lord said to have changed His attitude toward the creation of man? This is an anthropopathism which ascribes to God human thoughts, emotions, and attitudes He does not actually possess in order to reveal and explain divine policy and decisions to the finite mind of man. Throughout the Scripture, God often reveals Himself in this language of accommodation so that man might have a frame of reference for infinite God or an otherwise inscrutable or complicated policy of God.

    In verse 6 the anthropopathism expresses what God thought about man’s choice and about man’s losing the first battle with Satan. “He was grieved in His heart.” God was not pleased with the evil rampant on the earth, but God did not suddenly change His plan. In eternity past God designed the plan of grace to deliver man from the spiritual dilemma he would create for himself in the Garden and restore to him what had been lost.

    But first, God must demonstrate to man the extreme consequences of his negative choice.

And the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” (Gen. 6:7)

God stated in no uncertain terms His plan to destroy the antediluvian civilization. However, there was one exception.

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. (Gen. 6:8)

    One man had exhibited positive volition. Noah understood the assurance of Genesis 3:15. “Favor” means that Noah believed in the promised Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. He had discovered and exploited the grace of God to the maximum.

    Noah further understood that if God did the most for him at salvation, He would do much more than the most to protect him in the devil’s world (Rom. 8:32). God supplies the logistical support and doctrine for the advance to supergrace and ultra-supergrace.14 Because Noah was a believer, he was the recipient of everything necessary to withstand 120 years of intense satanic pressure. He leaned completely upon the Lord’s matchless love, unerring justice, and perfect grace.

    The next verse is the divine record of Noah’s family history.

These are the records of the generations [family history] of Noah. Noah was a righteous [justified] man, blameless in his time [genealogy]; Noah walked with God. (Gen. 6:9)

First, Noah and his family were justified before God. Justification is the judicial act of God that imputes His perfect righteousness to everyone who believes in Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:24, 28; 1 Cor. 1:30; Gal. 2:16-17). God pronounces the believer vindicated because he possesses God’s righteousness. Justification is not an experiential act or condition of perfection, but a legal or forensic position which takes place before the bar of God’s justice. No believer is justified because of any works he has done or any merit of his own, but because Jesus Christ took mankind’s place and was judged for all sins on the cross.

    Second, Noah had a spiritual life: He “walked with God.” As a super-grace or an ultra-supergrace believer, God’s Word was more real to Noah than any circumstance of life. He personally withstood the satanic scheme to corrupt him, and through his dynamic spiritual leadership his family was also protected from the angelic incursion.

    Noah’s genealogy was uncontaminated by cohabitation with fallen angels and he represented true humanity in the human race. Between Adam and Noah there was an unbroken line of pure humanity.

    This is one of the major reasons why the genealogies of both the Old and New Testaments are extremely important. They demonstrate that at the point of the virgin birth there was an undefiled line of humanity extending from Adam to the virgin Mary. Whenever the angelic infiltration may have begun, in Noah’s father’s or grandfather’s day, his forebears had all resisted. There was not one blot upon his family escutcheon.

    Noah and his family were the only human beings on the face of the earth who remained uncorrupted by the Nephilim or by evil. Noah’s three sons would continue the pure human lineage.

And Noah became the father of three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Now the earth was corrupt in the sight of God, and the earth was filled with violence. (Gen. 6:10-11)

    “Corrupt” indicates that true humanity had nearly vanished from the earth. The period was characterized by bloodshed and warfare. The extreme violence was one of the earmarks of this evil race. Apart from the Tribulation,15 this was the worst period of unrestrained evil and violence the world will ever encounter.

And God looked on the earth, and behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth. (Gen. 6:12)

The Divine Judgment

Then God said to Noah, “The end of all flesh has come before Me; for the earth is filled with violence because of them [Nephilim]; and behold, I am about to destroy them with the earth.” (Gen. 6:13)

    God revealed to this mature believer His plan for the human race, a plan which called for judgment and cleansing. “The end of all flesh” announces the termination of the antediluvian civilization and the destruction of that evil generation. Since destruction seems incompatible with a God of love, the maudlin, sentimental liberal rejects the God of the Old Testament as cruel and bloodthirsty. This notion originates from Satan himself.

    Why did God destroy this first civilization? The predominance of iniquity, the presence of the superrace, the temporary success of the satanic invasion, the lack of restraint on the sin natures in a time of enormous population expansion all add up to maximum evil on the earth. When there is a rampant malignancy of evil, God must cut away the evil in order to preserve the remnant of believers.

    God’s decision to destroy the Nephilim was perfectly compatible with His love, righteousness, justice, and grace. God’s judgment was the means by which He could keep the promise of Genesis 3:15. Otherwise, all humanity would be tainted with the fallen angelic strain and Christ could not have come in the flesh and won the strategic victory of the angelic conflict. Not only was the Flood divine judgment on a degenerate civilization, but it was also the frustration of the satanic plot through the preservation of true humanity in Noah’s family.

    To demonstrate that the antediluvian populace had no desire whatever for a relationship with the Lord, God gave them a grace period of 120 years. Every individual had ample time to make up his mind. At the end of that period only eight people had made a choice for God. Everyone else had rejected the Lord or was tainted by cohabitation with fallen angels.

    When the promise of the Flood was fulfilled and the superrace and unbelievers annihilated, God judged those fallen angels who were guilty of the infiltration. The details are revealed in two New Testament passages.

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell [ταρταρόω, tartaroo] and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment. (2 Pet. 2:4)

    The context of 2 Peter chapter 2 is a warning to believers against false teachers. To affirm the certainty of eternal judgment for the false teachers, the Holy Spirit cites three past examples where God judged certain groups who were in total degeneracy (2 Pet. 2:4-6). The fallen angels of Genesis 6 were the first example. “If God did not spare” is a first class conditional clause in the Greek meaning that He did not hesitate to judge the fallen angels just as He will not hesitate to judge false teachers.

    In the days of Noah, God exercised force in order that the human race might be saved. God makes every provision for His plan including protection of His plan.16 God protected the line of true humanity through whom Christ would come into the world by drowning the Nephilim in the Flood and casting “into hell” the angels that sinned. Both the human race and God’s plan have been protected many times by the severity of God’s judgment.

    In 2 Peter 2:4 the angels are not cast into hell but, literally into Tartarus. The Greeks thought of Tartarus as a subterranean place lower than Hades where divine punishment was meted out.17 Tartarus is a place of torment, of temporary fire, of suffering. Part of divine judgment is burning and pain; part is thick darkness.

    The angels in Tartarus are at present “reserved,” or literally “guarded” for judgment. In other words, they are not yet in their final state. God confined them in a temporary prison where they will remain until He is ready for their final judgment. There is a time coming when God will bring them out of Tartarus and cast them permanently into the lake of fire (Matt. 25:41; Rev. 20). In the meantime, they are out of circulation, no longer able to observe what is taking place in the rest of the universe.

    God not only neutralized Satan’s forces that corrupted the human race, but He also destroyed their progeny.

And did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly. (2 Pet. 2:5)

No evil generation can exist indefinitely without divine judgment. However, grace always precedes judgment. During the 120-year grace period for the antediluvian civilization, Noah consistently and continuously evangelized. Yet no one responded to the faithful proclamation of the Gospel.

    The angelic infiltration and incarceration is mentioned again in the Book of Jude.

And angels who did not keep their own domain [original status], but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness [ὑπό ζόφος, hupo zophos] for the judgment of the great day. (Jude 6)

Along with the judgment of the fallen angels, two other judgments by God are cited in the context of Jude: believers, as illustrated by the Exodus generation (Jude 5) and unbelievers in the Abrahamic generation (Jude 7). A segment of the population was destroyed in all three of these judgments. But only the reference to the angels in Jude 6 is pertinent to Genesis 6.

    “Did not keep their own domain” means that the fallen angels did not stay in their own divinely designated sphere of relationships and activity. They forsook their own kind to procreate with humans. Their action violated divine law. God always keeps creatures within the framework of their own kind: angels with angels, humans with humans, animals with animals. For the protection of the human race, God maintains this separation (Gen. 1:21, 24-25; Lev. 20:15-16).

    Since these celestial beings did not “keep” their proper place, they are “kept” in another place—Tartarus, their custom-made prison. Tartarus is described here by an unusual Greek phrase: hupo zophos, “under darkness,” a total absence of light. Why is this specifically mentioned? Angels cannot be killed as was the Exodus generation in Jude 5 or the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah in Jude 7. Therefore, God’s judgment renders them completely immobile and blacked out. They are “kept in eternal bonds under [the authority of] darkness,” awaiting their final “judgment of the great day.”

    When all the verses pertaining to the angelic infiltration are compared, it is clear that the devil knew if he combined the human race with the angelic race, there would be no salvation. Furthermore, he realized that if God could not keep His promise to Adam’s race of a Savior, God would be a liar. This situation would be a victory for Satan. Consequently, Satan who is more clever than any other created being, man or angel (Gen. 3:1), did all in his power to prevent true humanity from continuing on the earth.

    After his audacious scheme was aborted by the Flood, Satan continued to seize every opportunity to destroy God’s plan. Upon the announcement that the Savior would come from the line of Abraham, Satan attacked this specific target. When God revealed that the Savior would come through the tribe of Judah, the archfiend turned his attention in that direction. From that time on, the Jews would be the special object of Satan’s attacks.18 Yet despite his unceasing efforts, Satan could not thwart the coming of Jesus Christ as true humanity, the eternal King and Son of David, to provide the solution to the sin problem.

THE DIVINE PROMISE FULFILLED

For Christ also died [ἀποθνῄσκω, apothnesko] for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit. (1 Pet. 3:18)

    The crucifixion of Christ is the focal point of history for mankind and the initial stage of the strategic victory of the angelic conflict. Christ, the seed of the woman, the unique Person of the universe, died on the cross as the once-and-for-all sacrifice for the sins of the world (Heb. 7:27; 9:12).

    The Greek word apothnesko is the strongest word for death—to die by utter separation. This characterizes Christ’s spiritual death on the cross which is the basis of man’s salvation. He suffered separation from God the Father (Matt. 27:46), during which time the Father imputed the sins of all mankind to Christ and judged them. The spiritual death of Christ is explained in two passages.

He [the Father] made Him [Christ] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Cor. 5:21)
 
And He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (1 Pet. 2:24)

    The death on the cross was as unique as the Person who was hanging there. No one in all of human history has ever or will ever suffer more intense anguish than the Lord Jesus Christ when He became man’s substitute and bore the sins of the world—“the just [righteous] for the unjust [unrighteous].” In His deity He was absolute righteousness; in His humanity He was impeccable. Therefore, the meeting of man’s sins with the God-man’s righteousness was not only the most excruciating agony ever endured, but the supreme example of undeserved suffering. Yet the spiritual death of Christ was the means of our eternal salvation and broke the back of Satan in the angelic conflict.

    One of the great satanic counterattacks in the Church Age is the attempt to add conditions to the cross.19 The saving work of Christ on the cross was unique and perfect in every way. Christ’s work fully achieved its objective; it was efficacious and complete. That is why He cried, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Nothing can be added to what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross.

    Yet people are constantly trying to add their own works to His magnificent sacrifice. They want to be baptized, join a church, feel sorry for or renounce their sins for salvation. But the Bible says, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved” (Acts 16:31b). Salvation is faith plus nothing. Anything added to faith is works and negates the faith (Eph. 2:8-9). Faith alone in the finished work of Christ on the cross is the sole access to God the Father.

    The literal translation of the next phrase of 1 Peter 3:18 is “having been put to death in the sphere of His body.” This emphasizes the two deaths of Christ on the cross. His spiritual death occurred when He was judged for sins, and His physical death occurred when He dismissed His spirit.

    The final phrase, “made alive in the spirit,” refers to the resurrection of Jesus Christ from physical death. Both the Holy Spirit, as the agent of resurrection, and the Father had a part in raising the humanity of Jesus Christ from the grave (Acts 2:24; Rom. 8:11). The strategic victory of the angelic conflict was sealed by Christ’s resurrection. This decisive victory also brought Him from abject humiliation to maximum glorification.

    When Christ completed His earthly mission on the cross, He said, “Father, INTO THY HANDS I COMMIT MY SPIRIT” (Luke 23:46). His human spirit ascended into the presence of the Father in heaven. Christ’s assurance to the dying thief, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43), indicates that His soul descended to Paradise where the Old Testament saints resided until the time of His resurrection. His body went into the grave (Luke 23:53). After His resurrection from the grave, Jesus Christ made a trip to Tartarus, one of the most unusual trips in all of history. In this He was assisted by the Holy Spirit.

THE COMPARTMENTS OF HADES

    The full import of the Lord’s unique visit cannot be fully understood without picturing the underworld as it existed prior to the resurrection. Unfortunately, the translators of the English Bible have confused the issue by rendering several different Hebrew and Greek words simply as “hell” when they actually refer to different places.

    In the Hebrew שְׁאוֹל (sheol) is sometimes translated “hell” and sometimes “the grave.” The parallel Greek word ᾅδης (hades) is always translated “hell.” But Sheol or Hades is the general designation for the abode of the dead, both believers and unbelievers, before the resurrection and ascension of Christ.

The Compartments of Hades

    Hades contains four compartments: Paradise (παράδεισος, paradeisos), derived from a Persian word meaning “Garden of the King,” also called Abraham’s bosom, which is the Jewish designation (Luke 16:19-22); Torments (βάσανος, basanos, Luke 16:23-25); Tartarus (τάρταρος, tartaros, 2 Pet. 2:4); and the Abyss (ἄβυσσος, abussos, Luke 8:31).

    Paradise was the section where the souls of all believers of the Old Testament resided after death. When Christ said to one of the criminals crucified next to Him on the cross, “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43), He was identifying this compartment as His temporary residence after physical death. When the resurrected Christ ascended to heaven, He brought with Him the souls of all believers who had died up to that time. He transferred them from Paradise to heaven (Eph. 4:8-10).20

    No human being ever went to heaven until Christ entered into the presence of the Father as a resurrected Man. If Jesus was accepted in His humanity, that would mean the Father had accepted His sacrifice for sin. Only under these conditions could believers be admitted into the abode of God. Upon the entrance of Christ into heaven, the Father said, “Sit at My right hand” (Ps. 110:1a; Heb. 1:13). The substitutionary sacrifice was approved; Christ had opened the way for believing mankind to enter into the presence of holy God (Heb. 8:1; 10:12-20).

    Believers who die in the Church Age go directly into the presence of the Lord (2 Cor. 5:8). Eventually, at His second advent, they will return with the King of kings to glorify Him in His kingdom. They and all believers are eternally exempt from divine judgment (Rom. 8:1).

    The second compartment, Torments, is a temporary fire for the souls of unbelievers. Between Paradise and Torments was “a great gulf fixed” (Luke 16:26, KJV) so that none could pass to the other side. Now that Paradise has been emptied, Hades and Torments are actually synonymous. But the rendering of both as hell creates confusion because there is yet a final hell designated as תֹּפֶת (tophet) in Isaiah 30:33, and γέεννα (gehenna), “lake of fire.” The lake of fire will not be occupied except by the “beast and the false prophet,” the dictators of the revived Roman Empire and Palestine in the Tribulation (Rev. 20:10), until the second resurrection.21 Then, all unbelievers will be raised, judged according to their works at the great white throne, and sent to their final punishment (Rev. 20:11-15).

    The third area, Tartarus, is the prison of the fallen angels involved in the satanic conspiracy of Genesis 6. They were the only angels who had not been watching the activities of the Son of God on earth and, therefore, were not aware of the defeat of Satan. They still entertained hopes that their wiley leader would emerge victorious in his battle to keep Christ from going to the cross and in triumph would free them. But it was not to be. After the three days and three nights in the grave, Jesus Christ went to Tartarus in His resurrection body to issue a victorious proclamation to the “spirits now in prison.”

    The fourth compartment, the Abyss, is the jail for certain rebellious fallen angels who have been incarcerated since the infiltration of Genesis 6. It is also called “the bottomless pit” (Rev. 9:1-2). When our Lord was dealing with the demon-possessed man of Gerasenes across from Galilee, a dialogue between Christ the demons ensued. In Luke 8:31, they begged Him not to order them into the Abyss. The Abyss is also the location of the demon king and at least one demon assault army.22 During the Tribulation, they will be released to assist Satan and become part of the administration of punishment to unbelievers (Rev. 9). Following the Tribulation and the Second Advent of Jesus Christ, Satan and his demons will be bound for a thousand years in the Abyss (Rev. 20:1-3). The angelic conflict will then be restrained while Christ rules the earth in the perfect environment of the Millennium.

THE VICTORIOUS PROCLAMATION

In which [by means of whom, that is, the Holy Spirit] also He went and made proclamation [κηρύσσω, kerusso] to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient. (1 Pet. 3:19-20a)

    Jesus Christ proclaimed or announced a certain doctrine to all the fallen angels incarcerated in Tartarus. The content of His proclamation is suggested in 1 Peter 3:18. This was a testimony relating to the Gospel, but He did not declare the Gospel as such. He informed these fallen angels that they had failed in their attempts to destroy true humanity and that God’s plan had progressed through every satanic attack. Christ declared that He had gone to the cross as planned.

    The sudden appearance to these spirits of Jesus Christ in a resurrection body was the visible evidence of His strategic victory in the angelic conflict. The penalty of sin had been paid. Thus, any man who believes in the Son of God for salvation enters into a relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit for all eternity.

The Grace of God in Salvation

    The 120 years before the Flood was one of the most extraordinary demonstrations of God’s grace in the annals of history. The victorious proclamation was a declaration of that grace to the spirits in prison.

When the patience [μακροθυμία, makrothumia] of God kept waiting in the days of Noah, during the construction of the ark [κιβωτός, kibotos], in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through the water. (1 Pet. 3:20b)

    During those 120 years, the superrace heard the top evangelist of all time—Noah, “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Pet. 2:5). While Noah proclaimed the message of salvation through faith alone in Christ alone, God waited. God’s makrothumia, “patience,” stems from His grace. God allowed enough time to pass for the development of positive or negative volition toward the Gospel. For 120 years God withheld judgment on the antediluvian civilization while the ark was being constructed and until all had a chance to respond to the Gospel.

    All humans are sinners, pathetically disqualified from a relationship with holy God and as hopelessly lost as anyone in the antediluvian civilization. Adam’s decision in the Garden, Satan’s coup d’etat, had cut mankind off completely from God and caused man to follow Satan rather than God. Yet God did something for lost, sinful, evil humanity that no human could ever earn or deserve. God provided everything for mankind to be reunited with Himself. That was the supreme manifestation of the love of God.

    God’s plan to redeem sinful mankind from the slave market of sin began with the promise of Genesis 3:15.23 The plan continued with the destruction of the superrace in the Flood which protected the line through whom the “Lamb of God” would finally enter the world as true humanity. And when the Savior did come, He submitted to the cross and paid the penalty for every sin ever committed or that ever will be committed (John 1:29).

    People may ignore God or may hold the name of Jesus Christ in contempt, but He died for them. He took their place. As long as they live, He extends to them the gracious invitation:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” (Matt. 11:28)
 
“And the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” (John 6:37b)

This is the matchless grace of God.

    There is a priceless nugget in Isaiah concerning the amazing grace of God: “Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you” (Isa. 30:18a). While this passage is addressed to the nation of Israel, the application is to anyone. If a person is without Jesus Christ, he is without eternal life and without hope. He is under the penalty of sin, and possesses no relationship with God and no way to gain the approbation of God. Yet the Lord is waiting to give him fantastic blessing. God is waiting to extend His grace. How can it be obtained?

“For [you see] God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten [uniquely born] Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

    The crowning demonstration of God’s love and grace was the cross where the penalty for sin was transferred to Jesus Christ as man’s substitute (Rom. 5:8). All personal sins—past, present, and future—of every human being were imputed to Him once and for all and judged. The righteousness of God the Father was propitiated, or satisfied, by the sacrifice of Christ when He received the imputation and judgment of all those sins (1 John 2:2). The justice of God is free to forgive anyone who believes in Christ through faith alone. This is salvation adjustment to the justice of God. At the moment of salvation the believer receives the imputed righteousness of God (1 Cor. 1:30).

    Every believer in the Church Age is preserved forever by relationship to Jesus Christ. In 1 Peter 3:20b the Greek word kibotos, “ark,” does not mean a sailing vessel, but rather a chest used to preserve treasures. While Noah’s ark had the perfect dimensions for a seaworthy ship, the emphasis in this verse is on the grace of God preserving His own people as one would store valuables in a treasure chest.

The Grace of God in Positional Truth

    Those who entered the ark were believers. The flood waters were the instrument of destruction for the unbelievers, but the ark was the means of physical deliverance for the believers (1 Pet. 3:20). This deliverance foreshadowed the baptism of the Spirit in the Church Age.

And corresponding to that [the ark as a type], baptism [of the Holy Spirit as an antitype] now saves you—not the removal of dirt from the flesh, but an appeal [pledge] to God for a good conscience—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. (1 Pet. 3:21)

    Every analogy is a comparison of two things or concepts—a type and an antitype (instead of the type). The type in the Old Testament illustrates the antitype in the New Testament. The historical ark is the type while the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the antitype pictured by the ark. Just as the ark was the refuge from the judgment of the flood waters, so the baptism of the Spirit and union with Christ is the guarantee of deliverance from future judgment. The believer is secure for all eternity in union with Christ.

    In the Church Age the baptism of the Spirit places every believer in union with Christ at the moment of salvation (Acts 1:5; cf. Gal. 3:27).24 In this union every believer is identified retroactively with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection which provided salvation. “Our old self,” the sin nature, “was crucified with Him” (Rom. 6:6). Also every believer is currently identified as no longer “slaves to sin”—the power of the sin nature that once ruled the believer’s life before salvation is broken, and he is now in a position to live the spiritual life (Rom. 6:4b). The baptism of the Spirit is the only baptism that saves (Acts 11:15-17; 1 Cor. 12:13).

    Water baptism does not save. The unbelievers who were immersed in the flood waters were drowned. The eight believers in the ark were secure from the judgment of the Flood (Rom. 8:1). The baptism of the Spirit, not water baptism, represents salvation for the believer. Water baptism merely illustrates the baptism of the Holy Spirit and union with Christ.

    To demonstrate that he is not referring to water baptism in this verse, Peter adds a negative and a positive explanation. This baptism is not a bath, but the guarantee of “a good conscience.” Even though the soul is saved, the sin nature is still active—a condition that renders a good conscience before God impossible. But positional truth solves this dilemma. Since every believer is in union with Christ and shares everything He is and has, a good conscience does not depend on whether he sins or does not sin after salvation.25 It hinges on his union with Christ. No one is acceptable to God on the basis of his works, his morality, or his ability, but he is acceptable because of who and what Christ is (Eph. 1:6).

    Through resurrection Christ made the victorious proclamation; through resurrection Christ made it possible for the believer to be in union with Him and, thereby, to be delivered in the angelic conflict. Moreover, His resurrection, ascension, session, and glorification at the Father’s right hand is the means of elevating every believer in the royal family of God to a position of superiority over angels (Heb. 1:13-14).26

THE MECHANICS OF VICTORY

Who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected [subordinated] to Him. (1 Pet. 3:22)

    After Jesus Christ went to Tartarus and made His victorious proclamation, He embarked on another journey from earth to the third heaven where He was seated at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 1:3-4). At this point everything was assigned to be under His authority: the “authorities,” fallen angels under Satan’s command; and “powers,” Satan himself as the ruler of this world and the head of all fallen angels (Eph. 6:12). This subordination of Satan and his fallen angels is the victory of the angelic conflict.

    During the Church Age there continues to be angelic opposition to the plan and purposes of God because He permits the angelic conflict to run its course in human history. However, when Satan has done his last and worst, these enemies will be defeated at the Second Advent of Christ when Operation Footstool is launched from heaven (Heb. 1:13).27 Then, the “authorities and powers” will once and for all be put under His feet.

“THOU HAST PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”
For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that is not subject to him. But now we do not yet see [ὁράω, horao] all things subjected to him. (Heb. 2:8)

    In the meantime what can the believer do in the devil’s world where rebellion and insubordination are rampant against both the laws of divine establishment and against Bible doctrine?28 The answer is found in Hebrews 2:9-16 in which attention is directed from the antagonism of the satanic enfilade to the certain victory of the spiritual battle.

But we do see [βλέπω, blepo] Him [emphasis on the humanity of Christ] who has been made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death [θάνατος, thanatos] crowned with glory and honor, that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone. (Heb. 2:9)

    In Hebrews 2:8 the verb horao, “to take a panoramic look,” envisioned the current status of the angelic conflict: Satan is the present ruler of this world and all things are not yet subordinated to the Lord Jesus Christ. In contrast blepo in verse 9 is used technically for a look which discerns something of paramount importance: Doctrine projects the mind’s eye beyond this temporary battlefield to the ultimate victory of Christ and to what believers have in Him. The cross broke the back of Satan. The cross also provided the basis for entrance into the plan of God and living under optimum blessing from God, even in the devil’s world.

    Since man was created to resolve the angelic conflict, man must fulfill his role. God, in His sense of humor and grace, chose to resolve the prehistoric contest by raising a lower creature to a position higher than angels through one Man who was inferior to no one. The first man, Adam, fumbled the ball, but the Last Adam, Jesus Christ, scooped up the fumble and ran for a touchdown.

    During the brief period of His incarnation, Jesus in a mortal body was inferior to angels. In that status He was qualified because of His stainless character and perfect life to go to the cross and suffer spiritual death (thanatos) as a substitute for sinful man. This is the reason why Christ became a man and not an angel. From mortal humanity at the virgin birth to resurrected humanity at the ascension and session, the metamorphosis of the Lord Jesus Christ portrays His total victory in the angelic warfare and the ultimate triumph of regenerate human beings who are in union with Him.

    Glory and honor belong eternally to the deity of Christ, but through resurrection, ascension, and session His humanity was glorified and became superior to angels. The God-man, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham, the Son of God will one day remove Satan, the usurper, and rule the world forever as the King of kings and Lord of lords. But the cross comes before the crown.

    Neither the concentrated might of Satan nor the arrayed combat power of the vast corps of fallen angels was able to prevent the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though all hell opposed Him, He arrived unscathed in the third heaven where God the Father welcomed Him as the God-man and seated Him in the throne room in heaven. The Lord’s glory at the Father’s right hand opened for every believer the avenue of the super-grace life and points onward to the glorious consummation when Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords, will be crowned by the Father as the ruler of the world for the Millennium (Rev. 19:6, 16).

    Since Christ tasted spiritual death for everyone—the doctrine of unlimited atonement,29 He could now bring many sons into heaven.

For [γάρ, gar] it was fitting for Him [God the Father], for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings. (Heb. 2:10)

    “For,” the illative use of the Greek particle gar, designates the reason for the humiliation of Jesus Christ. While the Father, as the author of the divine plan, is the originator and cause of all things, He assigned the Son to be the one to execute both creation (Col. 1:16) and salvation (Acts 4:12). Therefore, the Father’s purpose was to bring Christ to the objective of the cross in order that this unique Crown Prince might receive a kingdom. As the Prince-Leader of the Church, Christ is the Advance Guard leading into glory “many sons,” believers of the Church Age, members of the Body of Christ, a kingdom of royal priests, a royal family, who will in the future become the Bride of Christ (Eph. 1:22-23; 1 Pet. 2:5, 9; Rev. 19:6-8). When His Body, the Church, is completed, the next step is Operation Footstool in which the Last Adam, the Groom of the Church, the Prince-Leader of salvation, overthrows Satan and assumes His rightful place as the Supreme Ruler.

For both He [Jesus Christ] who sanctifies and those who are sanctified [Church Age believers] are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren. (Heb. 2:11)

    What a shock it must have been to the recalcitrant angels to hear that Christ is not ashamed to acknowledge regenerate mankind as His “brethren.”

Saying,
“I WILL PROCLAIM THY [the Father’s] NAME TO MY BRETHREN,
IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION [Church] I WILL SING THY [Christ’s] PRAISE.” (Heb. 2:12)

    This quote from Psalm 22:22 anticipated the session at the Father’s right hand, at which time Christ is promised a Bride as well as the future rulership of the world through Operation Footstool. The longed-for Bride becomes a reality at the Rapture, but His kingdom must wait until the Second Advent.30 His Bride is now being formed during the Church Age. Then, throughout the Tribulation historical events will pave the way for the Second Advent of the King of kings.

    In the meantime Christ has provided a heritage for His brethren left behind in the devil’s kingdom. This legacy is the content of the Bible: the content of the plan of the Father and the mind of Christ (1 Cor. 2:16) in permanent written form. Believers in the Church Age respond in praise to Jesus Christ. Even more will the Bride sing praises when she beholds her Groom in the fullness of His glory. As far as the angels are concerned, His victorious proclamation announces the progress of Operation Footstool and the certain doom of Satan and his minions.

And again,
“I WILL PUT MY TRUST [πείθω, peitho] IN HIM.”
And again,
“BEHOLD, I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.” (Heb. 2:13)

    The second and third quotes taken from Isaiah 8:17-18 present the two sides of the angelic conflict as it relates to the Church Age. The first quote explains the human side: “I WILL PUT MY TRUST IN HIM.” Each person who believes in Jesus Christ enters the angelic conflict and becomes a part of the Bride and of Operation Footstool. The rare, future perfect periphrastic form of peitho emphasizes the permanent future results of becoming the Bride. Believers in union with Christ will share in the conquest of the fallen angels as God the Father throws them, as it were, at the Lord’s feet.

    The second quote explains the divine side: “I AND THE CHILDREN WHOM GOD HAS GIVEN ME.” So that He should not be alone, God has given the royal family of Church Age believers to Christ as His own possession. Just as God anticipated the first Adam’s need of a wife (Gen. 2:18), so God the Father prepared a ‘wife,’ the Bride or Church, for the Last Adam, Jesus Christ.

Since then the children [regenerate members of the human race] share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through [spiritual] death He might render powerless him who had the power of [spiritual] death, that is, the devil. (Heb. 2:14)

    Jesus Christ was true humanity, “flesh and blood,” yet without a sin nature or the imputation of Adam’s sin. Through His spiritual death on the cross, He resolves the angelic conflict and sets the stage for Operation Footstool. The “power of death” which Satan holds from Eden to the Second Advent of Christ refers to his dominion over those who are spiritually dead.31 All members of the human race are born physically alive, but, at the same time, spiritually dead; hence, through physical birth every person enters the kingdom of Satan.

    Since the fall of Adam, Satan holds man in bondage through spiritual death as a kidnapper might retain custody of his victim until release is obtained. Jesus Christ provided that release through His saving work on the cross. The spiritual death of Christ propitiated the justice of God the Father concerning the sins of mankind (Rom. 3:25) so that anyone who believes in Christ is reconciled to God and delivered from the ruling power of Satan to become the servant of Christ.

And might deliver those [from Satan’s kingdom] who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives. (Heb. 2:15)

    Satan’s kingdom is made up of frightened people who have no security. Fear of death continually stalks them until a relationship with God is established, and through doctrine they come to appreciate their new position in Christ. In reality it is spiritual death which shackles the unbeliever and, unbeknownst to him, is the true basis for his fear. Fear is not only a mental attitude sin, but a cowardly state of mind stemming from a lack of absolutes. Only as a person is related to the absolutes of salvation and Bible doctrine will he possess the assurance of a sound mind which casts out fear (2 Tim. 1:7).

    The maturing believer’s deliverance is in seven progressive stages: salvation through regeneration; freedom from the power of the sin nature through spirituality in the Christian life; deliverance from the influence of evil through spiritual growth; deliverance through dying grace or through the Rapture, whichever occurs first; deliverance through a resurrection body; deliverance in the Millennium; and deliverance in the eternal state.

For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. (Heb. 2:16)

    Man rather than angels was the issue in determining the outcome of the angelic conflict. Therefore, at the cross Jesus provided salvation for man, not for angels. As a result, man who is inferior to angels becomes superior by virtue of that salvation. Furthermore, God receives the glory by taking a base creature and lifting him to an exalted position in Christ.

    Jesus Christ turned certain defeat into triumph and won back the victory that Satan captured in the Garden. At the same time, by His spiritual death, He made it possible for every person who is of Adam’s race to have a relationship with God by a simple act of faith in the finished work of Calvary. Jesus Christ gained more than man lost in the Garden.

THE VICTORIOUS BELIEVER

    Now what does all this mean to the believer at this moment? Should any believer ever become despondent or discouraged, upset or confused in life? Should he harbor a guilt complex because of some sin? Should he think of himself as having failed beyond hope? Whatever the problem, it makes no difference—God is willing and waiting to pour out grace blessing to every believer.

    The essence of God is the key to all blessing in time. Grace and blessing always function from love, righteousness, and justice. But blessing is realized only as the believer adjusts to the justice of God through rebound.32 When the believer rebounds, God is free to forgive sins confessed (or named) and restore him to fellowship (1 John 1:9). The believer has instantaneously adjusted to God’s justice. Then empowered by the filling of the Holy Spirit he can assimilate Bible doctrine. When the believer is in fellowship and advancing in the spiritual life, there is no compromise to God’s justice and His love fulfills the special-blessing paragraphs which His omniscience designed in eternity past. Otherwise, when the believer is out of fellowship and fails to advance, God’s justice must adjust to him in divine discipline (Heb. 12:6).

    No one can adjust to God’s justice on his own merit or works; he can only adjust to God’s justice on God’s merit. In two instantaneous adjustments, His grace supplied salvation and rebound; in the gradual adjustment of spiritual growth, He prepared the “grace apparatus for perception” (GAP). This is a nonmeritorious system of spiritual comprehension empowered by the filling of the Holy Spirit which enables every believer to understand, learn, and apply the whole realm of Bible doctrine, regardless of education or human IQ.33 GAP includes the pastor-teacher for the communication of doctrine, the local church as the classroom for learning doctrine, the Holy Spirit as the teacher of doctrine, and the human spirit for the transfer of doctrine into the right lobe where it can be assimilated, categorized, and applied to experience.34 A believer cannot advance in his spiritual life without Bible doctrine.

    GAP functions on free will, and it must be exercised daily to continue spiritual growth. The believer’s capacity for life, happiness, and love; his orientation to life; and his ability to withstand the onslaughts of the devil depend on Bible doctrine. Without a command post of doctrine in the soul he will succumb to reversionism and become a casualty in the angelic conflict.35

    The angels who are still able to observe the struggle in the arena of human history between reversionism and supergrace, carnality and spirituality, error and truth, suffering and triumph, are learning of the love, righteousness, justice, and grace of God by watching the believer (1 Cor. 4:9; Eph. 3:10). The believer learns of grace as the expression of God’s love from Bible doctrine. When the Apostle Paul came to the place of unbearable pain, frustration, and trial, he prayed three times that his “thorn in the flesh” be removed. What was the answer? The most sublime exhortation in all the Word of God. The Lord said to him, “My grace is sufficient for you” (2 Cor. 12:9).

    When anyone, angel or man, sees a believer totally adjusted to the justice of God and oriented to grace, moving right on through adversity without panic or falling apart, but letting “endurance have its perfect result” (James 1:4), then God is glorified and the believer is blessed. God is able to shower His grace upon the believer in a fantastic way, and, in effect, his life will be a “victorious proclamation” to angels as well as to men.