How Can We Tell If An Angel Encounter Was From God
By Bruce Cook
One of my dilemmas when writing about angels is discerning whether an angel encounter is actually a visit from one of God’s angels. I have found that there are many ways that we can discern as to whether we have had a real angelic encounter.
We must remember that it is possible to be mistaken about angel encounters. Paul warned that satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light (2 Cor. 11:14). What a person believes is a visit by an angel may not be a visit from one of Gods angels at all. So it’s important not to assume that every supernatural visitation is by an angel sent from God, nor should we assume that every experience considered to be an angel encounter actually is one. It is possible that an angel encounter is imaginary, just as it is possible that a dream may simply be a dream, rather than a vision.
There are criteria for discerning an angel encounter: Based upon my study of angel encounters in the scriptures we can expect a true angel encounter to have the following characteristics.
1. An angel will seem to be an ordinary man or recognizably super natural being.
2. Angels will deliver a message from God, call us to a special mission, or rescue us from eminent danger.
3. Angelic messengers might tell us something about our future.
4. Initial reaction to an angel encounter may well be astonishment, fear, or a feeling of peace.
5. Angel encounters will not cause us to focus thoughts on angels, but to deepen our faith and commitment to the Lord - The one who sent the angel.
6. A true angel encounter will lead us to greater obedience to the Lord and His word.
We must ask ourselves the following questions:
Was that an angel?
Was it angelic or human?
Was it sensible or illogical?
We must use common sense. God may speak through inner impressions or dreams. We may have visions but not be visited by angels.
Was it Faithful or Counterfeit?
Angels do not lead us into new revelations or contradict Christian truth.
Was it Clarifying or Confusing?
Are we renewed, expectant, more resolved to serve God? (James 3:17-18). Angels will not try to cajole or wheedle, but will speak with dignity that befits the Lord.
Was God glorified or was it angel centered?
Does this magnify God?
Angels never ask you to worship them and never appear more attractive or interesting than God Himself. (Col. 2:18-19, Jude 1:3-15).
Was it Unexpected or Forced?
Angels appear unexpected. Numbers.22:23-24, 22:35
Is it Good Fruit or Bad?
It should bear fruit.
Does it lead further into faithfulness?
Does it quicken our hopes for things of God?
Does it reorient our focus on Christ? Mat.7:16-18, Col.3:2
Are we living with uncertainty?
(a) Angel encounters don’t leave us with feelings of anxiety or fear we can’t quite name.
(b) Angels don’t leave us confused.
(c) Angels don’t try to force us into anything.
(d) Angel messages point to the sender and away from the messenger.
(e) We must always examine the fruits of any angelic encounter or message in our lives, and the lives around us.
(f) Test anything that seems like an angelic message against what is known to be true, wise and filled with love and light.
(g) An angelic encounter leaves us changed for the better in some way great or small.
(h) Angelic encounters don’t have hurtful consequences for those around us.
(i) Any being we can summon at will whether with or without accompanying rituals, is likely not an angel.
(j) Angels never call attention to themselves. They point beyond themselves to Christ.
John Calvin wrote that “the minds of many are so struck with the excellence of angelic natures, that they would think them insulted at being subjected to authority of God, and so made subordinate.” In Revelation fallen angels were and continue to be-worshipped in the guise of pagan deities. We also see that fallen angels use their supernatural abilities to bind pagans to their adultery. People are tempted to worship angels because of the awe experienced during angel encounters, because when angels appear in their uncloaked form, they are truly impressive. Even the prophets experienced this.
(Dan.8:17) Daniel said, so he came near where I stood, and when he came I fell on my face. Later in Daniel 10:6-8 Daniel said that his body was like beryl, his eyes like torches of fire, his arms and feet like burnished bronze in color, and the sound of his words like the voice of a multitude. When I saw this great vision, no strength remained in me, for my vigor was turned to frailty in me, and I retained no strength.
At Jesus tomb the angel’s countenance was like lightening and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook with fear and became like dead men. (Math.28:3-4).
Luke said that believers reacted in a similar way when they saw two men standing by them in shining garments. They were afraid and bowed their faces to the earth. (Luke 24:5.)
The immediate reaction of these human participants in these angel encounters was to fall to the ground with their faces to the earth. But the most important passage on this theme is found in Revelations 22:8-9, when I John saw and heard these things, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things, then he said to me, “See that you do not do that, for I am your fellow servant, and of your brethren the prophets, and of those who keep the words of this book. Worship God”.
Angels are simply our fellow creatures, fellow servants of the Lord. We are not to worship angels. We are to worship God.
Paul warned the Colossians and us in Col. 2:18 against the worship of angels. According to Paul, we are to hold fast to the head, from whom all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments grow with the increase that is from God. Anything, even an unhealthy fascination with angels that shifts our focus away from Jesus Christ and anything that diminishes our reliance on Him is destructive to Spiritual growth.
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