In order to know our proper relationship to our fellow men on earth, we must first learn our proper relationship to those who dwell in another place, which the Bible calls heaven.
The Bible makes it very clear that there are many other intelligences in the universe besides human beings that are wiser and stronger than those living on earth. In Revelation 12:12, it says, “Therefore rejoice, O heavens, and you who dwell in them! Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and the sea! For the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, because he knows that he has a short time.”
Notice, it says, “rejoice, heavens, and you that dwell in them!” So, there are other intelligences that dwell in heavenly places. In the very last chapter (22) of the book of Revelation, it says in verse 16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, the Bright and Morning Star.”
There are not only angels of heaven, but there are angels who have fallen from heaven, who left their first estate. You can read about that in II Peter 2, and also in the book of Jude. Jesus talked about these evil spirits. In fact, there are many conversations between Christ and evil spirits recorded in the gospels. “Then the seventy returned with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt you.’ ” Luke 10:17–19.
We see that there are both good and evil spirits. The angels of heaven, God’s angels, are spoken of like this in Hebrews 1:14: “Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?”
There are angels of God who are attempting to help you to walk up the narrow way and to be saved at last. There are also evil spirits that in the last days will succeed in deceiving almost the entire world. We read in Revelation 16:13, 14, “I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons, performing signs [miracles], which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”
Above all of these spirits, both the good and evil spirits, there is a spirit that rules over them. One of the most important and one of the most wonderful sermons of Jesus is recorded in John 4. Incidentally, this most wonderful sermon was given to an audience of one who was an outcast in her city, the woman at the well of Samaria.
Jesus spoke to her about true worship, where we should worship, and how we should worship. He told her, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23, 24.
We have just read that there are many spirits in the universe. There are good spirits and evil spirits that have fallen and are in this world rebelling against the government of God, but there is one Spirit that is above them all. Jesus said, “God is a Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
How do you worship God? It is necessary to worship Him in spirit, which is with your heart and with your emotions, with your feelings, and also with truth, with your intellect, following all that the Bible teaches. When Jesus was on earth one of the aspects of worship that He practiced daily was prayer. Jesus was a man of prayer. The Bible says that sometimes He prayed all night. Once after He had finished praying, “It came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught His disciples.’ ” Luke 11:1. In response to this request, Jesus gave to His disciples what we call today, “The Lord’s Prayer.”
There are millions of people around the world today who repeat the Lord’s Prayer, either morning or evening, or sometimes several times a day. Unfortunately, there are many who have learned the words and repeat it without thinking or realizing what they are really saying. We will consider here the first phrase, the first short sentence of the Lord’s Prayer in Luke 11:2–4 KJV.
The opening address is, “Our Father Who art in heaven …” If your prayer is going to be effective, your prayer needs to be addressed to your Father in heaven. This identifies your heavenly Father as the object of true worship, the One Whom you worship and the One Whom you are addressing.
There are people today who pray to all sorts of things. Some people pray to saints; others pray to famous people who have died; and some people pray to angels. But the Bible does not teach any of these manners of prayer. Jesus did not teach His disciples to pray to angels or to saints. He taught them to pray to our Father in heaven.
This salutation, when you think about it eliminates all other gods as undeserving of worship, leaving no room for the worship of any creature or any other being. Today in our rebellious world there are many gods and many lords and much false religion. The apostle Paul said this in I Corinthians 8:5, 6, first part: “For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things.”
Paul recognized that there are many gods and many lords, but those are all false gods except one. We as Christians have only one God, one Lord. There is only one true God Who only is to be worshiped by all created beings. In the Bible we are strictly forbidden to worship anyone or anything else. This is so important that in the second commandment, which happens to be the second longest commandment, we are told not to worship anyone or anything else.
“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.” Exodus 20:4–6.
The second commandment emphatically forbids the worship of any other god, saints, or angels, or any creature, even pronouncing a curse on those who do this. Angels of God will not allow any human being to worship them.
In Revelation 22:8, 9 the apostle John records that he was overcome with the glorious things that he saw: “Now I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, 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.’ ” Revelation 19:10. So, we are forbidden in the Bible to worship any other God. We are not to worship any angels and we are certainly not to worship any human being.
One time at God’s direction the apostle Peter went to see a man by the name of Cornelius who had not yet heard the gospel. He had just been told by an angel that he was to send for a man called Peter who would tell him what he and his household needed to know to have eternal life. When Peter came in to talk to Cornelius, he was overjoyed that in his presence was the man that he had been told would come to him and teach him. The Bible says that Cornelius fell down to worship before Peter but what happened?
The Bible says, “As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. But Peter lifted him up, saying, ‘Stand up; I myself am also a man.’ ” Acts 10:25, 26.
Notice that the apostle Peter would not allow a human being to worship him. An angel of God would not allow anyone to worship him. The Bible pronounces a curse on anyone who worships the creature instead of the Creator. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man—and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.
“Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever. Amen.
“For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature. Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.
“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, [and] sexual immorality … .” Romans 1:18–29.
Notice the curse that is pronounced on those who worship the creature instead of the Creator. And God gives them over to a debased mind, and they become filled with all unrighteousness and do those things that Paul says are worthy of death (verse 32).
In heaven, everybody worships the Creator. Revelation 4:10, 11 describes a worship scene in heaven. “The twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: ‘You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.’ ”
Here is revealed God’s right to be worshiped, because He is the Creator Who created all things and it is by His will they exist. It is His power to create that makes the eternal Father worthy of worship and adoration by the heavenly universe.
Something else that we need to understand about God is that He is not part of the creation that He created. He is separate from His creation. We understand from the very first sentence in the Lord’s Prayer, which says, “Our Father Who art in heaven …” We understand from this statement that God is not a part of the creation of this world, but rather, His dwelling place is in heaven, a distinct and separate place from where we live. Heaven is just as real as the earth, but it is a different place. For that reason we cannot obtain the help that we need and desire by looking to the earth. Rather, we must look to heaven to find the Source of blessing and all the things that we need.
In the Bible times there were people who understood this very clearly and explained it in explicit language. Notice what John the Baptist said: “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” John 3:27.
He clearly understood that you cannot receive anything unless God permits it or allows it. Notice what the apostle James says about this very same subject in his book: “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.” James 1:17.
Because it is impossible to obtain the help that we need from this world we need to look to heaven to receive the blessings. This statement, “Our Father Who art in heaven,” expresses at one and the same time, both God’s nearness and His distance from us. God is near us because the apostle Paul says in Acts 17:27, 28, “So that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and have our being, as also some of your own poets have said, ‘For we are also His offspring.’”
At the same time, the expression, “Our Father Who art in heaven,” expresses the fact of His distance from us. Notice what it says about this in Ecclesiastes 5:2: “Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before God. For God is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore let your words be few.”
Again, “Thus says the Lord: ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. Where is the house that you will build Me? And where is the place of My rest? For all those things My hand has made, and all those things exist,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 66:1, 2.
So, the Lord says you build Me a temple, you build Me a church, you build Me a house, but I made all those things that you made for Me. I made them Myself. Heaven is My throne and the earth is My footstool. We should never forget that the God we worship is as high above us as the heavens are above the earth. Therefore we must not be guilty of thinking or addressing Him as an equal. This was the cause of the fall of Lucifer.
Isaiah 14 describes the desire of Lucifer’s heart and the cause of his fall. He wanted to be God Himself, though the Bible is very clear that no creature can ever become God. Lucifer wanted this position. Isaiah 14 says, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, you who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’ ” Isaiah 14:12–14.
Lucifer wanted to be like God. He wanted to be equal with God. Unfortunately, this same desire, this same spirit, has been manifested millions of times among the descendants of Adam and Eve. For this same reason Eve fell. The devil, impersonating a serpent, said to her if she would eat the fruit of this forbidden tree she could be like God (Genesis 3:45). She fell for that idea and people have been falling for it ever since. They want to be their own God, in charge of their own lives. They do not want to look to heaven for help but want to control their own affairs.
God understands this feeling and He rebukes it in His Word. “These things you have done, and I kept silent; you thought that I was altogether like you; but I will rebuke you, and set them in order before your eyes.” Psalm 50:21.
The Lord says, “You think that I’m just like you, but I’m not.” The expression, “Our Father Who art in heaven …” is the very foundation of the whole Lord’s Prayer. It conveys to us God’s tender regard for us. And it should also convey our feelings toward Him. The first utterance of this model prayer brings the worshiper to the house of God and the gate of heaven where all of His temporal and spiritual needs can be supplied. However, not every person in the world can truthfully pray it and honestly claim God as their Father.
God wants to be your Father; He wants you to become His child. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right [or the authority] to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” John 1:12.
Friend, have you been given the right to become a child of God so that you might truthfully call Him Father. Jesus would like to adopt you into His family if you will accept Him as the Saviour and Lord of your life. And when that happens, then you will be given the authority to become God’s child and you will be able to say, without telling a lie, “Our Father Who art in heaven.”
Pastor John J. Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church of Free Seventh-day Adventists in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.