• Paul

When you die, does God gain another angel

I’ve never really kept accurate numbers, but I would estimate that - conservatively - I have taken over a 1000 funerals during my ministry.

Each one was unique – because it honours the life of a unique person who God uniquely created. Of course, many of those funerals have been for older people. No less difficult for their families – but there is, at least, the consolation of a long-life, well-lived.

But scattered in among have been the more difficult and heart-rending funerals. Suicide victims, those involved in accidents, victims of violence, infants. Too many of those...

No matter the age, death is an inescapable reality for all of us. And in the midst of this grasping and searching for the right words to help others, or to even to soothe our own souls, we tend to believe and say things that are not necessarily biblically true.

Too many times to count, in seasons such as these I've heard people say out loud, or post on social media, "God gained another angel today."

Often, the best thing we can do in these times of loss is to hurt with them, hold them, and just listen. Then when cooler heads and hearts can prevail, we should be encouraged and empowered by biblical truth rather than pithy statements. Especially, ones that aren't even true.

So, here is the plain and simple truth. Humans are humans, and angels are angels. This remains so even in eternity.

The bible is crystal clear. We do not become angels when we die. We humans are unique in creation and have a special relationship with God, being made in his image. You and I are totally different creatures than angels. We are a unity of body, spirit and soul. By contrast, angels are pure spirit – albeit spirits who can take on human appearance at times.

So what exactly are angels? Do they exist at all? And what are they like? The bible actually speaks about angels quite a bit. Here are four bullet-point facts about them:

  • Angels are created beings. They haven’t always existed but are part of God’s order, created at the foundation of the world (Colossians 1.16). We learn from Genesis 2.1 that all the heavenly angels were created even before God rested on the seventh day.

  • Angels are powerful Far from being chubby-looking babies playing harps, they are portrayed in the bible as mighty warriors. To see an angel in the bible was a terrifying experience – the most common first greeting from an angel is ‘Fear not!’

  • Angels are messengers The Greek ‘angelos’ literally means ‘messenger’ and there are many times in the bible when it is an angels who bring God’s message. The most well-known example is the angel bringing the message to Mary that she is to give birth to Jesus.

  • Angels worship God in heaven We see lots of examples of angels worshipping God – in the temple of Jerusalem when Isaiah was called, at the birth of Jesus, and many times in the book of Revelation. But angels themselves are not to be worshipped or prayed to.

So, if angels are angels and people are people, what then does the bible say about what awaits us in heaven? In 1 Corinthians 15.35-38 we are given a wonderful picture of the glorious future of heaven.

But someone will ask, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body do they come?”  Fool! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. And as for what you sow, you do not sow the body that is to be, but a bare seed, perhaps of wheat or of some other grain. But God gives it a body as he has chosen, and to each kind of seed its own body

The human body is like a seed that is planted. A seed cannot become a plant or tree – until it cracks open and the kernel is able to flower. In the same way, this physical body is for this life only, and is discarded upon death. That’s why we have cremations and burials – to humanely and sensitively deal with what is left behind.

But the REAL ‘us’, the essence of who we are, the soul, the spirit, the thing which makes us ourselves.That goes to be with God – and He clothes it with a body ‘as he has chosen’. He lovingly and tenderly clothes us with our very own individually-designed resurrection body

It’s a MUCH better body. Listen to how the chapter continues

What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable. It is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power. It is sown a physical body, it is raised a spiritual body.

So we see that the resurrection body is not only better than our earthly body, it is also better than becoming an angel. Nowhere does the bible say that God clothes the angels! We all received our earthy bodies, perfectly suited to an earthly environment. However, they became perishable as a consequence of the Fall, and brokenness and sin coming into world Due to this disobedience, mankind became mortal. Aging, deterioration, and eventually death now affect all of us. From dust we came, and to dust shall we return.

Our resurrection bodies, on the other hand, will be “raised imperishable”. They will never experience sickness, decay, deterioration, or death. One day, though, our bodies will be raised in power and glory, and we will no longer be subject to the flaws and fragility that pervade life today.

Indeed, the physical limitations that hinder our ability to fully serve Him on earth will be forever gone, freeing us to praise and serve and glorify Him for eternity.

When this perishable body puts on imperishability, and this mortal body puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will be fulfilled: “Death has been swallowed up in victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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