One of the most intriguing studies of the Bible is in reference to the existence and ministry of angels. This subject has stimulated the curiosity of Bible students for centuries. In today’s religious world, however, there are enough speculations about angels to write books. And many have. We will add to that library. Nevertheless, it is not our intention in this brief book to give any lengthy study of angels, and especially to discuss speculations that are beyond what is revealed on the subject in the Bible. Because there is little revealed on this subject in the Bible, this should not discourage one’s beliefs that angels are there, or here, in reference to our lives in this world. We would simply seek to remain with what the Bible actually says on the subject, and from there, walk by faith. We are sure that this is the walk with which our Father pleased.
We must confess that we have little trust in the theologies of those who have claimed today that they have personally conversed with angels. This is not to say that we do not believe that angels exist. Neither do we mean to say that angels are idle in reference to their work today among the saints of God. And we might add that we cannot deny someone’s supposedly personal encounter with one they perceived to be an angel. Such is a personal matter, and a perception that is based on faith. But in view of the fact that the totality of the gospel has already been revealed, and that God is no respecter of persons, we would question any personal conversations that one might claim to have had with an angel today.
We must understand, however, that the Bible teaches that God is not working in a manner today that appeals to our empirical perceptions. If He did so, then He would hinder our walk by faith. On the contrary, therefore, He seeks to build our faith. And truly, we seek to grow in our faith. We believe the God desires that we walk by faith in order to develop our characters for eternal dwelling. Therefore, those who seek to walk by sight, must guard themselves from conjuring up all sorts of fantasies concerning any close encounters with extraterrestrial beings. Therefore, it is not our purpose here to survey the personal experiences of those who claim to have supposedly encountered an angel. Our task here is simply to understand what the Bible teaches concerning this subject, and thus, understand what the Holy Spirit desires that we know about angels.
We must assume that the inspired Scriptures were written in order to give us a definition of what God feels is essential for our faith. Whatever our beliefs may be concerning the presence and work of angels, or the experiences we may have had, we must allow our understanding of this subject to be directed and defined by the word of God.
One of the first surprises that the Bible student learns about the study of angels is that God used angels to carry out many missions for Him throughout history. This is a surprise simply because there is usually little study of this subject among Bible students. Angels were God’s messengers throughout history, and simply because we do not see angels today, does not mean that they are not there. According to what the Bible says, they are there. Angels are present among us, though it is not necessary to encounter personally or hear them (See Hb 13:2). They simply carry on with their God-commissioned ministry at the command of the One who created them.
Angels are doing their intended work as the messengers of God regardless of our full understanding of what they do, or where they are at any time in history. As with studies of the Holy Spirit, we need not understand everything concerning the being and work of angels in order to know that they are doing what God wants them to do. The limitations of our awareness of their presence or their work does not limit what they are doing. Nevertheless, since there is so much in the Bible about their ministry among those on earth, the logical assumption is that they are still here. They are still working for their Creator on behalf of the saints. However, our questions concerning their work at any one time in history must be defined by what we read about their work in the Bible.
[Next in series: Nov. 2]