Almost 30 years ago, the French Bible scholar Jean Hering made the following prediction:
The day is not far distant when only the New Testament doctrine of angels will form a barrier against certain gnostic or “religious” movements which, intentionally or otherwise, run the risk of making many believers fall back into the cult of angels, dominions, and “elements” (quoted in The Message Of Hebrews by Raymond Brown, IVP, 1982).
This is a warning that we should pay attention to. In most cases, Christians are well enough informed to reject occultism, spiritism, astral healing, eastern mysticism, and other belief systems that are explicitly condemned in the Scriptures. However, the prominence of these beliefs and practices in our society has made an impact on the Christian community. Many believers are beginning to focus their attention on “spirit world” teaching. They place an emphasis on how to put the good angels to work for them. And they have developed formulas to cast out demons and defeat the devil.
The problem with this kind of teaching is that so little of it is drawn from the Scriptures. Experience takes precedence over the Bible. But an even greater problem with any teaching that is preoccupied with the spirit world is that not enough emphasis is given to the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The apostle Paul warned the believers in Colosse about false teachers who, in the guise of humility, said that we should be content to worship angels rather than thinking we have the right to enter the presence of God, the Ultimate One. The apostle said that such a teacher “goes into great detail about what he has seen” (Col. 2:18 NIV). But in his emphasis on his experiences, he “has lost connection with the Head” (v.19 NIV). This lack of vital contact with Jesus Christ cuts a person off from the One who is the source of spiritual life and growth. Jesus Christ must be kept preeminent. He is to be worshiped as God. Angels are to be recognized as creatures—spirit beings created by God to worship and serve Him.
Hebrews 1:4-14 beautifully delineates the preeminence of Christ over the angels. He is the Son to whom all the angels are to give their worship (vv.5-6). He is called “God,” and His throne is “forever and ever,” while angels are created beings and His servants (vv.7-9). He existed from all eternity, will never change, and sits enthroned in heaven, whereas angels are “ministering spirits” who are sent out by Him to serve “those who will inherit salvation” (vv.10-14).
Jesus Christ is the Preeminent One. He is the Head of the church (Col. 2:18-19). He is worshiped by angels (Rev. 5:11-12). Someday every human, every good angel, and every demon will acknowledge Christ’s supremacy (Phil. 2:10). Let’s make Him preeminent in our lives today!