The plan of salvation is necessary, because sin has occurred and since the penalty for sin is death (Rom 6:23), redemption from that penalty is necessary. Redemption from the penalty for sin is possible only through the death of an innocent Jesus paying that penalty instead of the actual sinners (1Peter 3:18). Redemption will be granted only to those who have made a commitment to live God's way of life – a way of life defined by the family, a way dedicated to caring for and nurturing those who are weaker than ourselves. We are to commit to God's way of kindness to others, rather than oppressing others.
During the plan of salvation there are two stages, two "days" (times) of judgment. The first day of judgment is now and is upon the House of God – the Saints. The second day of judgment will be upon the rest of the world and last for 100 years after the second resurrection – the resurrection to occur 1,000 years after the first (Rev 20:5).
The plan of salvation also includes spirit beings – the fallen angels (Col 1:20). However, while spirit beings are included in this plan, their involvement is seen only in the second of what is a two-stage plan. Their day of judgment will be at the same time as the second day of judgment for mankind and until that time they are described as being held in chains of darkness until the judgment of the great day (2Pet 2:4 & Jude 1:6).
This plan of salvation is shown by God’s annual Holy Days and His commanded assemblies (see Holy Day Chart). The first stage of the plan (shown by Passover, the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Pentecost) involves the saints of God, who will be resurrected and ascended into the family of God as spirit beings at the return of Jesus to Earth. The second stage of the plan (shown by the Day of Acclamation [Trumpets], the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Tabernacles and the Last Great Day) involves the fallen angels and the remainder of humanity, most of whom will be resurrected to physical life in the second resurrection after the thousand years is completed ().
While mankind will occupy an age in time of 7,000 years, the plan of salvation for mankind commences for an individual upon acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ paying the penalty for our individual sins and is completed upon ascension into the family of God as spirit beings. For the fallen angels the plan of salvation will be almost exactly the same as for the humans in the second stage of the plan. That is to say, it commences upon individual acceptance of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ paying the penalty for their individual sins and is completed upon being accepted, by God, back among the ranks of the Holy angels – this is the equivalent of ascension for humans. The opportunity for the fallen angels to prove they really want to live God’s way of life, not Satan’s way, will be available to them during the Great White Throne judgement period after the second resurrection (a physical resurrection for human beings) ( and ). Essentially, their assessment/judgment will comprise a testing to see whether or not they desire to fulfil their original purpose, which is to be ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation – humanity.
Scripture List and Commentary
The History of Creation
(See also Gen 2:4-9; Job 38:4-11; John 1:1-5)
In the beginning God created
the heavens and the earth.
(Excerpts from Barnes' Notes)
And the earth was [became] without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Before proceeding to translate this verse, it is to be observed that the state of an event may be described either definitely or indefinitely. It is described definitely by the three states of the Hebrew verb-the perfect, the current, and the imperfect. The latter two may be designated in common the imperfect state. A completed event is expressed by the former of the two states, or, as they are commonly called, tenses of the Hebrew verb; a current event, by the imperfect participle; an incipient event, by the second state or tense. An event is described indefinitely when there is neither verb nor participle in the sentence to determine its state. The first sentence of this verse is an example of the perfect state of an event, the second of the indefinite, and the third of the imperfect or continuous state.
After the undefined lapse of time from the first grand act of creation, the present verse describes the state of things on the land immediately antecedent to the creation of a new system of vegetable and animal life, and, in particular, of man, the intelligent inhabitant, for whom this fair scene was now to be prepared and replenished…”
Passing now from the subject [the Earth] to the verb in this sentence, we observe it is in the perfect state, and therefore denotes that the condition of confusion and emptiness was not in progress, but had run its course and become a settled thing, at least at the time of the next recorded event. If the verb had been absent in Hebrew, the sentence would have been still complete, and the meaning as follows: "And the land was waste and void." With the verb present, therefore, it must denote something more. The verb haayaah "be" has here, we conceive, the meaning "become;" and the import of the sentence is this: "And the land had become waste and void." This affords the presumption that the part at least of the surface of our globe which fell within the cognizance of primeval man, and first received the name of land, may not have been always a scene of desolation or a sea of turbid waters, but may have met with some catastrophe by which its order and fruitfulness had been marred or prevented.
This sentence, therefore, does not necessarily describe the state of the land when first created, but merely intimates a change that may have taken place since it was called into existence. What its previous condition was, or what interval of time elapsed, between the absolute creation and the present state of things, is not revealed. How many transformations it may have undergone, and what purpose it may have heretofore served, are questions that did not essentially concern the moral well-being of man, and are therefore to be asked of some other interpreter of nature than the written word.
This state of things is finished in reference to the event about to be narrated. Hence, the settled condition of the land, expressed by the predicates "a waste and a void," is in studied contrast with the order and fullness which are about to be introduced. The present verse is therefore to be regarded as a statement of the needs that have to be supplied in order to render the land a region of beauty and life…”
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
[Are they not all ministering spirits] That is, They are all ministering spirits; for the Hebrews often express the strongest affirmative by an interrogation.
All the angels, even those of the highest order, are employed by their Creator to serve those who believe in Christ Jesus. What these services are, and how performed, it would be impossible to state. Much has been written on the subject, partly founded on Scripture, and partly on conjecture. They are, no doubt, constantly employed in averting evil and procuring good. If God help man by man, we need not wonder that he helps man by angels. We know that he needs none of those helps, for he can do all things himself; yet it seems agreeable to his infinite wisdom and goodness to use them. This is part of the economy of God in the government of the world and of the church; and a part, no doubt, essential to the harmony and perfection of the whole. The reader may see a very sensible discourse on this text in vol. 2, page 133, of the Rev. John Wesley's works, American edition. Dr. Owen treats the subject at large in his comment on this verse, vol. 3, page 141, edit. 8 vo., which is just now brought to my hand, and which appears to be a very learned, judicious, and important work, but by far too diffuse. In it the words of God are drowned in the sayings of man.
The Godhead of Christ is a subject of such great importance, both to the faith and hope of a Christian, that I feel it necessary to bring it full into view, wherever it is referred to in the sacred writings. It is a prominent article in the apostle's creed, and should be so in ours. That this doctrine cannot be established on Heb 1:8 has been the assertion of many. To what I have already said on this verse, I beg leave to subjoin the following criticisms of a learned friend, who has made this subject his particular study.
Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
[Are they not all] There is not one of them that is elevated to the high rank of the Redeemer. Even the most exalted angel is employed in the comparatively humble office of a ministering spirit appointed to aid the heirs of salvation. "Ministering spirits." A "ministering" spirit is one that is employed to execute the will of God. The proper meaning of the word here - leitourgika - (whence our word "liturgy") is, "pertaining to public service," or "the service of the people" laos; and is applied particularly to those who were engaged in the public service of the temple. They were those who rendered aid to others; who were helpers, or servants. Such is the meaning as used here. They are employed to render "aid" or "assistance" to others-to wit, to Christians. "Sent forth." Appointed by God for this. They are "sent;" are under his control; are in a subordinate capacity.
Thus, Gabriel was SENT forth to convey an important message to Daniel; Dan 9:21-23. "To minister." For the help or succour of such. They come to render them assistance-and, if employed in this humble office, how much inferior to the dignity of the Son of God-the Creator and Ruler of the worlds! "Who shall be heirs of salvation." To the saints; to Christians. They are called "heirs of salvation" because they are adopted into the family of God, and are treated as his sons; see notes on Rom 8:14-17. The main point here is, that the angels are employed in a much more humble capacity than the Son of God; and, therefore, that he sustains a far more elevated rank. But while the apostle has proved that, he has incidentally stated an exceedingly interesting and important doctrine, that the angels are employed to further the salvation of the people of God, and to aid them in their journey to heaven.
In this doctrine there is nothing absurd. It is no more improbable that angels should be employed to aid man, than that one man should aid another; certainly not as improbable as that the Son of God should come down "not to be ministered unto but to minister," (Matt 20:28), and that he performed on earth the office of a servant; John 13:1-15. Indeed it is a great principle of the divine administration that one class of God's creatures are to minister to others; that one is to aid another to assist him in trouble, to provide for him when poor, and to counsel him in perplexity. We are constantly deriving benefit from others, and are dependent on their counsel and help. Thus, God has appointed parents to aid their children; neighbors to aid their neighbors: the rich to aid the poor; and all over the world the principle is seen, that one is to derive benefit from the aid of others. Why may not the angels be employed in this service?
They are pure, benevolent, powerful; and as man was ruined in the fall by the temptation offered by one of an angelic, though fallen nature, why should not others of angelic, unfallen holiness come to assist in repairing the evils which their fallen, guilty brethren have inflicted on the race? To me there seems to be a beautiful propriety in bringing "aid" from another race, as "ruin" came from another race; and that as those endowed with angelic might, though with fiendish malignity, ruined man, those with angelic might, but heavenly benevolence, should aid in his recovery and salvation. Further, it is, from the necessity of the case, a great principle, that the weak shall be aided by the strong; the ignorant by the enlightened; the impure by the pure; the tempted by those who have not fallen by temptation. All over the world we see this in operation; and it constitutes the beauty of the moral arrangements on the earth; and why shall not this be extended to the inhabitants of other abodes? Why shall not angels, with their superior intelligence, benevolence, and power, come in to perfect this system, and show how much adapted it is to glorify God? In regard to the WAYS in which angels become ministering spirits to the heirs of salvation, the Scriptures have not fully informed us, but facts are mentioned which will furnish some light on this inquiry. What they do NOW may be learned from the Scripture account of what they HAVE done-as it seems to be a fair principle of interpretation that they are engaged in substantially the same employment in which they have ever been. The following methods of angelic interposition in behalf of man are noted in the Scriptures:
(1) They feel a deep interest in man. Thus, the Saviour says, "there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth;" Luke 15:10. Thus also he says, when speaking of the "little ones" that compose his church, "in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven;" Matt 18:10.
(2) They feel a special interest in all that relates to the redemption of man. Thus, Peter says of the things pertaining to redemption, "which things the angels desire to look into;" 1 Peter 1:12. In accordance with this they are represented as praising God over the fields of Bethlehem, where the shepherds were to whom it was announced that a Saviour was born (Luke 2:13); an angel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of the Messiah (Luke 1:26); an angel declared to the shepherds that He was born (Luke 2:10); the angels came and ministered to Him in His temptation (Matt 4:11); an angel strengthened Him in the garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43); angels were present in the sepulchre where the Lord Jesus had been laid, to announce His resurrection to His disciples (John 20:12); and they reappeared to his disciples on Mount Olivet to assure them that he would return and receive his people to him self, Acts 1:10.
(3) They appear for the defense and protection of the people of God. Thus it is said (Ps 34:7), "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them." Thus, two angels came to hasten Lot from the cities of the plain, and to rescue him from the impending destruction; Gen 19:1,15. Thus, an angel opened the prison doors of the apostles, and delivered them when they had been confined by the Jews; Acts 5:19. Thus, the angel of the Lord delivered Peter from prison when he had been confined by Herod; Acts 12:7-8.
(4) Angels are sent to give us strength to resist temptation. Aid was thus furnished to the Redeemer in the garden of Gethsemane, when there "appeared an angel from heaven strengthening him;" Luke 22:43. The great trial there seems to have been somehow connected with temptation; some influence of the power of darkness, or of the Prince of evil; Luke 22:53; compare John 14:30. In this aid which they rendered to the tempted Redeemer, and in the assistance which they render to us when tempted, there is a special fitness and propriety. Man was at first tempted by a fallen angel. No small part-if not all the temptations in the world-are under the direction now of fallen angels. They roam at large "seeking whom they may devour;" 1 Peter 5:8. The temptations which occur in life, the numerous allurements which beset our path, all have the marks of being under the control of dark and malignant spirits. What, therefore, can be more appropriate than for the pure angels of God to interpose and aid man against the skill and wiles of their fallen and malignant fellow-spirits? Fallen angelic power and skill-power and skill far above the capability and the strength of man-are employed to ruin us, and how desirable is it for like power and skill, under the guidance of benevolence, to come in to aid us!
(5) They support us in affliction. Thus, an angel brought a cheering message to Daniel; the angels were present to give comfort to the disciples of the Saviour when he had been taken from them by death, and when he ascended to heaven. Why may it not be so now, that important consolations, in some way, are imparted to us by angelic influence? And
(6) they attend dying saints, and conduct them to glory. Thus, the Saviour says of Lazarus that when he died he was "carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom;" Luke 16:22. Is there any impropriety in supposing that the same thing may be done still? Assuredly, if anywhere heavenly aid is needed, it is when the spirit leaves the body. If anywhere a guide is needed, it is when the ransomed soul goes up the unknown path to God. And if angels are employed on any messages of mercy to mankind, it is proper that it should be when life is closing, and the spirit is about to ascend to heaven. Should it be said that they are invisible, and that it is difficult to conceive how we can be aided by beings whom we never see, I answer, I know that they are unseen. They no longer APPEAR as they once did to be the VISIBLE protectors and defenders of the people of God. But no small part of the aid which we receive from others comes from sources unseen by us. We owe more to UNSEEN benefactors than to those whom we see, and the most grateful of all aid, perhaps, is what is furnished by a hand which we do not see, and from quarters which we cannot trace. How many an orphan is benefited by some unseen and unknown benefactor! So it may be a part of the great arrangements of Divine Providence that many of the most needed and acceptable interpositions for our welfare should come to us from invisible sources, and be conveyed to us from God by unseen hands.
Scripture List and Commentary:
1John 3:2 “…Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is..”. [NKJV].
1Peter 3:18 “…For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit,…” [NRSV].
John 8:28 “…‘So’ Jesus said, ‘When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [the one I claim to be] and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.’…” [NIV].
Isa 28:16 “…So this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;’…” [NIV].
Rev 20:5 “…But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished…” [NKJV].
2Pet 2:4 “…For if God did not spare the angels who sinned, but cast them down to hell and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved for judgment;…” [NKJV].
Jude 1:6 “…And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day;…” [NKJV].