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                         "MINISTERING SPIRITS"

                  The Ministry Of Angels To Christians

INTRODUCTION

1. Our study of angels as "Ministering Spirits" has shown how they
   ministered to...
   a. The people of God in the Old Testament
   b. Jesus in the flesh, and continue to serve Him in heaven

2. It is understandable that Christians often wonder...
   a. Do angels minister in our behalf today?
   b. If so, in what way?

3. Christians have good reason to wonder about such things...
   a. By God's grace we have "become heirs according to the hope of
      eternal life" - Tit 3:7
   b. Angels are said to be "sent forth to minister for those who will
      inherit salvation" - He 1:14

[As we seek to determine what angelic ministry might entail, let's first
review what we know about...]

I. ANGELS AND THE EARLY CHURCH

   A. PROVIDED DELIVERANCE FROM PRISON...
      1. In the case of the twelve apostles - Ac 5:17-20
      2. In the case of Peter - Ac 12:7-11

   B. INVOLVED IN CONVERSION...
      1. Sending Philip to meet the Ethiopian Eunuch - Ac 8:26-28
      2. Appearing to Cornelius to send for Peter - Ac 10:1-8,21-22;
         11:12-13

   C. AN INSTRUMENT OF JUDGMENT...
      1. In the case of Herod, who delivered a great oration - Ac 12:
         21-22
      2. He failed to give God glory, so an angel struck him with a
         terrible disease - Ac 12:23

   D. BROUGHT REASSURANCE...
      1. Appearing to Paul, while on his journey to Rome - Ac 27:21-23
      2. Assuring him that he and his fellow travelers would eventually
         arrive - Ac 27:24

   E. REVEALED THE LORD'S WILL...
      1. In the book of Revelation - Re 1:1; 22:16
      2. Depicted throughout the Revelation as serving Christ
         a. Praising Him around the throne - Re 5:2,11
         b. Carrying out the Lord's warnings and judgments
            1) E.g., sounding the seven trumpets - cf. Re 8:2,6
            2) E.g., pouring out the seven bowls of wrath - cf. Re 16:1

[There are many references to angels in Revelation, but their ministry
takes place "behind the scenes".  The visible activity of angels in the
early church was very limited, as we have seen.  Yet from the teachings
of Christ and His apostles, what might we glean about the activity of
angels today...?]

II. ANGELS AND CHRISTIANS TODAY

   A. CONCERNED FOR OUR WELL-BEING...
      1. They rejoice when sinners repent - Lk 15:10
      2. Little ones who believe are said to have "their" angels, who
         behold the face of God in heaven - cf. Mt 18:10
      3. Here is a sampling of opinions regarding "guardian angels"...
         a. "Disclosing the fact that the ministration of angels is not
            only general but special, certain angels being entrusted
            with the care of certain individuals, and all of them
            supplementing their own wisdom and power by direct access to
            the presence of God." - McGarvey
         b. "The doctrine of guardian angels is emphatically taught in
            the Scriptures. See 1Ki 19:5-8; Ps 91:11; He 1:13;
            Ac 27:23. Who can afford to despise the children who have
            representatives right at the throne of God?" - B. W. Johnson
         c. "Our Lord here not only alludes to, but, in my opinion,
            establishes the notion received by almost all nations, viz.
            That every person has a guardian angel; and that these have
            always access to God, to receive orders relative to the
            management of their charge." - Clarke
         d. "He does not mean, I suppose, to state that every good man
            has his guardian angel, as many of the Jews believed; but
            that the angels were, in general, the guards of his
            followers, and aided them and watched over them." - Barnes
         e. "Does Jesus mean to teach here that each little child or
            child of faith had a special angel who appears in God's
            presence ('see the face of my Father') in special intimacy?
            Or does he simply mean that the angels do take an interest
            in the welfare of God's people (He 1:14)? There is comfort
            to us in that thought. Certainly Jesus means that the Father
            takes special care of his 'little ones' who believe in Him."
            - Robertson's Word Pictures
         f. "A difficult verse; but perhaps the following may be more
            than an illustration: Among men, those who nurse and rear
            the royal children, however humble in themselves, are
            allowed free entrance with their charge, and a degree of
            familiarity which even the highest state ministers dare not
            assume. Probably our Lord means that, in virtue of their
            charge over His disciples (He 1:13; Jn 1:51), the angels
            have errands to the throne, a welcome there, and a dear
            familiarity in dealing with 'His Father which is in heaven,'
            which on their own matters they could not assume." - JFB
         -- I doubt the issue can be resolved with the little evidence
            that we have

   B. AGENTS OF GOD'S PROVIDENCE...
      1. All Christians believe in the providence of God
         a. God's working in answer to prayer - e.g., Paul's prayer to
            visit Rome, Ro 1:9-10
         b. In ways non-miraculous, but working nonetheless - e.g.,
            Paul's journey to Rome
      2. How God carries out His providence likely involves angels
         a. As it did in the affairs of nations according to the book of
            Daniel
         b. As it will in the affairs of nations according to the book
            of Revelation

   C. COMPANIONS FOR THE JOURNEY HOME...
      1. As Jesus illustrated in the story of the rich man and Lazarus
         - Lk 16:22
      2. "The Jews held the opinion that the spirits of the righteous
         were conveyed by angels to heaven at their death. Our Savior
         speaks in accordance with this opinion; and as he expressly
         affirms the fact, it seems as proper that it should be taken
         literally, as when it is said the rich man died and was buried.
         Angels are ministering spirits sent forth to minister to those
         who are heirs of salvation (He 1:14), and there is no more
         improbability in the supposition that they attend departing
         spirits to heaven, than that they attend them while on earth."
         - Barnes

   D. GUARDIANS OF THE GATES OF THE ETERNAL CITY...
      1. As depicted in John's vision of the New Jerusalem - Re 21:12
      2. "Stationed there as guards to the New Jerusalem. Their business
         seems to have been to watch the gates that nothing improper
         should enter; that the great enemy should not make an insidious
         approach to this city as he did to the earthly paradise."
         - Barnes
      3. "...an additional emblem of perfect security, while the gates
         being never shut (Re 21:25) imply perfect liberty and peace."
         - JFB
      4. "Still waiting upon the heirs of salvation." - Wesley

CONCLUSION

1. Angels continue to minister for those who will inherit salvation
   - cf. He 1:14

2. Their visible activity for Christians was limited even in the first
   century, perhaps for this reason:

   "The visible activity of angels has come to an end, because their
   mediating work is done; Christ has founded the kingdom of the Spirit,
   and God's Spirit speaks directly to the spirit of man (via the Word
   of God, MAC). This new and living way has been opened up to us by
   Jesus Christ, upon whom faith can yet behold the angels of God
   ascending and descending. Still they watch the lot of man, and
   rejoice in his salvation; still they join in the praise and
   adoration of God, the Lord of hosts, still can they be regarded as
   'ministering spirits sent forth to do service for the sake of them
   that shall inherit salvation.'" - ISBE

3. Due to the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit, the need for angels'
   visible activity has diminished, and we do well to heed the warnings
   about angels...
   a. Do not worship them
      1) As the angels themselves warned John - Re 19:10; 22:8-9
      2) As Paul warned the Colossians - Col 2:18-19
   b. Do not heed new doctrines from them
      1) As Paul warned the Galatians - Ga 1:8
      2) Remember what Satan is capable of! - cf. 2Co 11:14

With these warnings in mind, we can still praise God that among our many
spiritual blessings in Christ in the heavenly places are His
"Ministering Spirits" who serve us! - cf. Ep 1:3
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