Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Angelic Ministers of God's Greatness - Angels Encouragement of God's People

Hebrews 1:14 "Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?"

Introduction and review
Yesterday we began consideration of how Angels are used by God to minister forth His greatness. Does God need angels? No. However God has determined that we need angelic aid along with His primary methods of reinforcing to us His greatness (i.e the Word, prayer, Christ's atoning work, God's people, the ministry of the Holy Spirit). We saw how angels first of all express the power of God's greatness by their numbers, strength and worship. As we read of their exploits in scripture, we find ourselves made more aware of how great God is revealed in Jesus Christ. Angels are spotlights pointing to God, highlighters underscoring His greatness and exclamation points appearing at the end of God's revelation of Himself in the Bible and in Jesus Christ. Today's post wants to consider a second major area of angelic ministry of God's greatness - namely, how angels encourage God's people.

What one great writer and preacher had to say about angelic encouragement
The great late Baptist preacher W.A Criswell preached a sermon in 1959 entitled: "The Angels of God". Note what he says regarding angelic encouragement to God's people: "Now, when you turn through the pages of the Book, how many times will you see those angelic messengers in their assignments from glory helping God’s people? Now, let’s just take a few. Somebody said there are more than three hundred instances of this in the Bible alone. I choose just a few. Two angels took hold upon Lot, and led him out of the city of Sodom when God said, “I shall reign fire upon it.” God’s angels. When Hagar turned her face from Ishmael, her boy, lest she looked upon him as he died, an angel heard her weep and showed her a fountain of water. When Abraham drew back his hand, to thrust the knife into the heart of his only son Isaac, an angel caught it.

The angels of God blessed those patriarchs in a world found in idolatry. Abraham called his old faithful servant Eliezer and said to him, “Go back to my father’s house to find a bride for my son, Isaac. And the angel of the Lord shall go before you.” And when Eliezer found Rebecca, he said, “God hath sent His angel before me to prepare the way.” “An angel stopped the mouths of the lions,” Daniel says. He was not hurt in their lair and in their den.

Angels ministered to Jesus in the trial of the wilderness. In Gethsemane, Luke says, when His sweat were as it were great drops of blood. In the agony of His prayer, Luke says, 'and an angel appeared, strengthening Him.' So all throughout the record of the children of God, there they are giving help, and deliverance, and encouragement."

How the angels aid God's people and thus point to His greatness
To understand what the scriptures have to teach us about the Angel's encouragement to God's people, we will first consider their ministry in the Old Testament, the New Testament and some final comments on how God uses them today.

Angelic Assistance in the Old Testament 
Is it scriptural to say that angels are used and deployed by God to aid Christians in grasping and striving in the precious areas of the faith walk? Indeed so. Consider Psalm 91:11 "For He will give His angels charge concerning you, to guard you in all your ways." The Holy Spirit tells us in Psalm 37:4 "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear Him, And rescues them." Throughout the Old Testament, we see angels aiding God's people. Abraham's life is an extended illustration of this truth as seen in his encounter with the three mysterious men in Genesis 18. Whatever may be said of at least one of these figures, two of them were definitely angels who had taken on temporary human form. The outcome of their meeting with Abraham led to him praying for the people of Sodom, hastening his efforts to obey God and having a heightened spiritual awareness.

Other Old Testament saints experienced the aid of angels in their faith walks. Elijah the prophet was fleeing from the threats of wicked Queen Jezebel and was to the point of exhaustion and near death. 1 Kings 19:7 records these words from an angel speaking to Elijah - "The angel of the Lord came again a second time and touched him and said, 'Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.' The prophet Daniel experienced an angel shutting the mouth of a lion in Daniel 6:17. As a man of prayer, Daniel was assisted by an angel while praying in Daniel 10:11: "He said to me, “O Daniel, man of high esteem, understand the words that I am about to tell you and stand upright, for I have now been sent to you.” And when he had spoken this word to me, I stood up trembling." Such examples serve to show the ways angels encouraged God's people in the Old Testament.

Angelic Assistance in the New Testament
Jesus certainly illustrated the point of angelic assistant in the believer's life by how angels aided Him in His humanity. Matthew 4:11 "Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him." Or how about Matthew 26:53 "Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?" As Jesus was praying in Gethsemane we read in Luke 22:43 "Now an angel from heaven appeared to Him, strengthening Him." The four Gospels record some 20 instances of angels being present at Christ's incarnation, earthly ministry, eve of crucifixion, resurrection and ascension.

In the life of the Apostles we see further evidence of great encouragement from God's heavenly ministers. The Apostle Peter, when incarcerated, was set free by an angel as the early church prayed for his release in Acts 12:6-8. Or how about in the life of the Apostle Paul as he was on a ship in the middle of a two-week long storm?
 Acts 27:23-24 "For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, 24 saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you." 

Angelic Assistance for Christians today
Perhaps upon reading such verses you may be tempted to think: "Abraham was the father of faith and was special. David, Daniel, Paul and Peter were Prophets and Apostles. Furthermore, Jesus was God in human flesh so it would only make sense that He have His own angelic secret service." However, we must remember these words from Hebrews 1:14 
"Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?" 
Moreover, Hebrews 13:2 reminds us - "Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it." How many stories have I heard over the years of mysterious strangers helping lost children find their families when lost in a mall or people with flat tires helped by a stranger who suddenly disappeared. We never want to build our doctrine off of experience. We do know that doctrine can explain much of what we experience.

Theologians of past and present day aid us greatly in seeing the importance of angelic assistance in the lives of Christians. Many able minds could be cited, but for our purposes two will suffice. 
First John Wesley notes: "They may assist us in our search after truth, remove many doubts and difficulties, throw light on what was before dark and obscure, and confirm us in the truth that is after godliness. They may warn us of evil in disguise; and place what is good, in a clear, strong light. They may gently move our will to embrace what is good, and fly from that which is evil. They may, many times, quicken our dull affections, increase our holy hope or filial fear, and assist us more ardently to love Him who has first loved us."1

More recently Michael Horton notes about the angels, that they are: "ministers of God's saving purposes for the heirs of salvation (Hebrews 1:14)"...."(t)hey watch over believers (Pss 34:7; 91:11), learn the truths of God's unfolding mystery in Christ (Eph. 3:10; 1 Pet 1:12), and are said to bring believer's to Abraham's side (Lk 16:22)."2


In today's post we have noted what the Bible has to teach about angelic assistance in the life of the believer. We have surveyed the Old and New Testaments and some observations from a couple of keen theological minds. My prayer is that this post has helped you in your Christian walk. May the Lord richly bless you.
 1. See more at:

2. Michael Horton. The Christian Faith - A Systematic Theology for Pilgrims on the Way. Zondervan. 2011. Page 406

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