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Holy Angels

(4 posts)

Touched by an Angel?

[D]espite the prevalence of stirring tales about angelic interventions (angels who rescue missionaries from cannibals and similar tales), there is no way any of these stories can be verified—except for the biblical ones. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t an angel whose invisible hand mysteriously steadied you when you were about to take a tumble down the stairs. But it means you cannot possibly know for sure whether it was an angel or not. We do know for sure that it is God whose providence preserves us from various disasters. Whether in a given instance he employs angels as his instruments or not, God is the One who should be the focus of our praise and gratitude, not the angelic beings. Scripture does teach that some “have entertained angels unawares“ (Hebrews 13:2). And for that very reason we are instructed to show kindness and hospitality to strangers. But the language of Scripture indicates that that these incidents are rare, and the key to understanding this verse is the word unawares. The verse is describing people who have hosted angels without knowing it. It is certainly possible, according to Scripture, that you might play host to an angel. But in all likelihood, if that occurs, it will be without your knowing it. Nowhere does Scripture encourage us to have and angel fetish, to look for evidence of angles in everyday life, or to have such an expectation of entertaining angels that we imagine them in every serendipitous encounter. The tales that fill today’s rendezvous-with-angels books are unverifiable stories—extraordinary displays of divine providence, perhaps, but not necessarily authentic account of angelic intervention. The whole fixation is of questionable value. Certainly it is causing far more spiritual harm than good. —John MacArthur, The Glory of Heaven: The Truth about Heaven, Angels, and Eternal Life (Second Edition) (Crossway, 2013), 160–161.

Lord’s Day 12, 2014

I was glad when they said to me, “Let us go to the house of the Lord.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. —Revelation 5:11–14 A Psalm of Praise Richard Baxter (1615–1691) Ye holy angels bright, who stand before God’s throne And dwell in glorious light, praise ye the Lord each one. Assist our song, or else the theme too high doth seem for mortal tongue. Ye blessed souls at rest, that see your Savior’s face, Whose glory, e’en the least, is far above our grace. God’s praises sound, as in His sight with sweet delight you do abound. Ye saints, who toil below, adore your heavenly King, And onward as ye go some joyful anthem sing; Take what He gives and praise Him still, through good or ill, Who ever lives! All nations of the earth, extol the world’s great King: With melody and mirth His glorious praises sing, For He still reigns, and will bring low the proudest foe that Him disdains. Sing forth Jehovah’s praise, ye saints, that on Him call! Him magnify always, His holy churches all! In Him rejoice and there proclaim His holy Name with sounding voice. My soul, bear thou thy part, triumph in God above, And with a well tuned heart sing thou the songs of love. And all my days let no distress nor fears suppress His joyful praise. Away, distrustful care! I have Thy promise, Lord, To banish all despair, I have Thine oath and Word: And therefore I shall see Thy face and there Thy grace shall magnify. With Thy triumphant flock then I shall numbered be; Built on th’eternal Rock, His glory shall we see. The heav’ns so high with praise shall ring and all shall sing in harmony. —Worthy Is the Lamb (Soli Deo Gloria, 2004). Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Please don’t miss worshiping with your local congregation if you can possibly help it. But if you’re in need of a good sermon, try these. Tweets about "sermon from:thethirstytheo" !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)?'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);;js.src=p+"://";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Guardian Angels

It is a popular legend that each of us has a personal guardian angel. I don’t believe we do. Calvin, while not denying the possibility, demonstrates that there is no Scriptural reason to believe it. [W]hether individual angels have been assigned to individual believers for their protection, I dare not affirm with confidence. Certainly, when Daniel introduces the angel of the Persians and the angel of the Greeks [Dan. 10:13, 20; 12:1] he signifies that specific angels have been appointed as guardians over kingdoms and provinces. Christ also, when he says that the children’s angels always behold the Father’s face [Matt. 18:10], hints that there are certain angels to whom their safety has been committed. But from this I do not know whether one ought to infer that each individual has the protection of his own angel. We ought to hold as a fact that the care of each one of us is not the task of one angel only, but all with one consent watch over our salvation. For it is said of all the angels together that they rejoice more over the turning of one sinner to repentance than over ninety-nine righteous men who have stood fast in righteousness [Luke 15:7]. Also, it is said of a number of angels that “they bore Lazarus’ soul to Abraham’s bosom” [Luke 16:22 p.]. And Elisha does not in vain show to his servant so many fiery chariots which had been destined especially for him [II Kings 6:17]. There is one passage that seems to confirm this a little more clearly than the rest. For when Peter, led out of the prison, knocked at the gates of the house in which the brethren were gathered, since they could not imagine it was he, “they said, ‘It is his angel’” [Acts 12:15]. This seems to have entered their minds from the common notion that each believer has been assigned his own guardian angel. Although here, also, it can be answered that nothing prevents us from understanding this of any angel at all to whom the Lord had then given over the care of Peter; yet he would not on that account be Peter’s perpetual guardian. Similarly the common folk imagine two angels, good and bad—as it were different geniuses—attached to each person. Yet it is not worth-while anxiously to investigate what it does not much concern us to know. For if the fact that all the heavenly host are keeping watch for his safety will not satisfy a man, I do not see what benefit he could derive from knowing that one angel has been given to him as his especial guardian. —John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Westminster John Knox Press, 1960), 1.14.7.

Angel Worship

According to Roman Catholicism, angels as well as saints are appropriate recipients of prayer. Calvin, and Scripture, say otherwise. It remains for us to cope with that superstition which frequently creeps in, to the effect that angels are the ministers and dispensers of all good things to us. For at once, man’s reason so lapses that he thinks that no honor ought to be withheld from them. Thus it happens that what belongs to God and Christ alone is transferred to them. Thus we see that Christ’s glory was for some ages past obscured in many ways, when contrary to God’s Word unmeasured honors were lavished upon angels. And among those vices which we are today combating, there is hardly any more ancient. For it appears that Paul had a great struggle with certain persons who so elevated angels that they well-nigh degraded Christ to the same level. Hence he urges with very great solicitude in the letter to the Colossians that not only is Christ to be preferred before all angels but that he is the author of all good things that they have [Col. 1:16, 20]. This he does that we may not depart from Christ and go over to those who are not self-sufficient but draw from the same well as we. Surely, since the splendor of the divine majesty shines in them, nothing is easier for us than to fall down, stupefied, in adoration of them, and then to attribute to them everything that is owed to God alone. Even John in Revelation confesses that this happened to him, but at the same time he adds that this answer came to him [chs. 19:10; 22:8–9]: “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you . . . Worship God.” —John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (Westminster John Knox Press, 1960), 1.14.10.


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