Pastor Ron E. Thompson: Spectators in the Heavenly Grandstand

Adapted message by Dr. Herman Hoyt, my Professor at Grace Theological Seminary

Pastor Ron E. Thompson

The apostle Peter wanted readers to understand what it means to be saved. Even when going through heavy trials, we can enjoy our salvation, not just endure it. So wonderful and marvelous is the salvation that God has given us that it draws the attention of the angels in Heaven. Imagine this as a dramatic presentation. Earth is the theater of the universe. The prophets and apostles who were witnesses as was the Holy Spirit who guided those who wrote about salvation are the characters. Humankind also has a part in this drama. My attention is drawn especially to the angels who are spectators. “It is all so strange and wonderful that even the angels in heaven would give a great deal to know more about it”(I Peter 1:12 NLB).

  1. What are those things which the angels desire to look into? The sufferings of Christ and the glory that should follow must have astonished even the angels, so much that they crowd around the windows of Heaven and look down on us. I Peter 1:10-12 makes it clear that it is the Gospel message of salvation from the power, penalty, and presence of sin, all by God’s grace. It includes Christ’s sufferings and His ultimate glory. It is based on God’s mercy toward us and Christ’s resurrection. The result of this new birth is a spiritual inheritance for humankind that is far superior to any earthly legacy. This inheritance is imperishable, as pure as the purest snow, an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade. This inheritance is reserved in heaven for us (I Peter 1:3-4 NIV).
  2. Why do the angels want to look into these things?
    One reason is simply because of their relationship to the revelation of salvation. For example, the angels were involved by supporting God in the giving of the law (Deuteronomy 33:2). Both the martyr Stephen and the apostle Paul agree (Acts 7:53 Galatians 3:19 NKJV). We are not told specifically how they helped God, but we are assured in Galatians 3:24 TLB that, “the Jewish laws were our schoolmaster, teacher, and guide until Christ came to give us right standing with God through the eyes of our faith.”
    B. A second reason the angels want to see these things is that they are visual creatures who see the manifestation of salvation. I Timothy 3:16 NKJV reveals that God in the flesh was “seen by angels.” Angels are “ministering spirits sent forth to help out with those lined up to receive salvation” (Hebrews 1:14 MSG). Angels predicted Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:20 KJV), announced it to shepherds (Luke 2:10-15 KJV), ministered to Jesus in temptation (Matthew 4:11 KJV), share His joy over the saved sinner (Luke 15:10 KJV), and will attend Christ at His second coming (Matthew 25:31 KJV).
    C. Another reason is because angels relate to the realization of salvation. The apostle Paul points us to I Corinthians 4:9 GW where we read: “God has placed us apostles last in line, like people condemned to die. We have become a spectacle for people and angels to look at.” Note  the word “spectacle.”  That word in the original Greek is Theatron from which we get our word “theater.”  Pastor John MacArthur explains: “God chose to display the apostles figuratively before men and angels during the present age as just such worthless and condemned spectacles. Like doomed gladiators, they were ridiculed, spit on, imprisoned and beaten, yet God glorified His name through them as He used them to build His kingdom.”
  1. What is it that the angels desire? The angels are interested in what God is doing in and through His Church, so God is educating them. I am not thinking through the channel of intellectual understanding, but through sense experience! The clue here is in that word “look.” Daniel 4:13 records Nebuchadnezzar’s second dream in which he said: “I saw in the visions of my head while on my bed, and there was a watcher, a holy one, coming down from Heaven.” Nebuchadnezzar saw a holy one, a watcher, that is, an angel. Angels are watchers. They are amazed and filled with wonder and desire to comprehend Christ’s dying for our sins, raised for our justification, and the Spirit of God convicting our human heart. Like the two cherubim with outstretched wings, looking down on the mercy seat, the angels are filled with awe and reverence at what they see on earth.

In Bible times, God often used angels to announce and proclaim messages to His people Gabriel announced to Mary and Joseph concerning the coming Christ child. But God is not using angels today to announce the Gospel message. They are interested spectators, cheering for us from the heavenly grandstand. God is using human instruments. We are living in the day of the ministry of the holy Spirit. I wonder if the angels are not looking down on us today and wondering why we do not get busy and share this tremendous message of salvation and hope we have in Christ Jesus. Beloved, are you willing to be the messenger God wants you to be in your home, church, and community?

Pastor Ron E Thompson

Ron E. Thompson is a retired pastor/evangelist having had a ministry spanning over sixty years. He served as pastor of churches in Indiana, Virginia, Arizona, and South Carolina. As Director of Brethren Evangelistic Ministries, he held numerous evangelistic and revival crusades in twenty-two states. He led a team that conducted evangelism seminars throughout the United States and in several foreign countries. Ron is author of two books: Hurricane Evangelism and Sermons in Song. He is also a musician, having studied piano under noted composer-conductor, Hubert Tillery. Music has served him well as an avocation in his life and ministry. He currently is a pianist at the Fountain of Life Bible Church in Johnson City, TN. Ron received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Bridgewater College and his Master of Divinity degree from Grace Theological Seminary. He did graduate studies at Wheaton College and the Billy Graham School of Evangelism. He attended the North American Conference for Itinerant Evangelists in1994. Ron’s home is in Limestone, Tennessee. He is the father of two daughters: Evangeline Hales, a musician at Thomas Road Baptist Church, Lynchburg, VA and violinist with the Lynchburg Symphony; Dr. Melody Archer, Retired Administrator and Principal of Tri-Cities Christian Schools, Blountville, TN.

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