Office of Angels

Do all believing Christians have a guardian angel? This came up in our Sunday-school lesson on Matthew 18:10, and Mr. Wesley was quoted as believing that all Christians had a guardian angel. I am not after Mr. Wesley’s theory, but I am after the plain truth as taught in the word of God by our Lord Jesus Christ and the holy apostles. Please give me the best information you can. There are plenty of places in the New Testament where the angel of the Lord spoke and said things, and the angel of the Lord smote Peter on the side when he was in the prison.

Also please tell me what is meant in Hebrews 1:14. Are they not all ministering spirits? Was Paul alluding to the prophets and to Jesus and himself and the rest of the apostles?

“That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” What was meant by “their angels”? Please give me the best information you can on the question, and oblige me.

I am a subscriber to your paper, and am well pleased with it. I am a member of the Methodist Church, but am not satisfied. Brother Joiner, of Morgan County, a Christian minister, preached for us about two months ago, and promised he would preach more for us when the weather got better. I have not been baptized; was sprinkled when a boy. I hope I may get settled as to which is the nearest after the teaching of Jesus and the apostles. We have no church near here, except Methodist; but I am hopeful of Brother Joiner’s promise to me. I am reading the Bible daily, and find I am learning something every day, and feel the help I have already derived from your good Gospel Advocate. I am going to order some of your Sabbath-school helps; and if they teach as plain and simply the truths of the word of God as the Advocate does, I will try to get our good Methodist brethren to introduce them into the school.

 

I do not find any clear indication in the Bible that each person has a guardian angel. Angels came to men during the miraculous ages of the world, but always with a clear and distinct form and with a clear, well-delivered message from God. They never influenced men in a mysterious way, nor is there any evidence that they sought to lead them or influence them otherwise than through the message they delivered to them. None of us believe they come in visible form or with an audible message now. If not, I cannot see how they can affect men or their courses. The Bible says, “The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him;” but this was from the Psalms, when angels did come to reveal God’s word, and means the same thing as the expression: “For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.” (1 Peter. 3:12.)

The passage in Hebrews 1:14 clearly refers to the ministry of angels in giving the Jewish law and their visitations to men under that law. The whole connection is a contrast between the ministry of angels in the Jewish law and the ministry of Christ under the Christian dispensation. Read from the beginning of the first chapter, and see the superiority of the ministry of Christ over the ministry of angels is continually kept up. Paul says: “To which of the angels said he at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them [under their ministration] who shall be heirs of salvation? Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels [this shows how and when the angels were ministering spirits] was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him, God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?” (Hebrews 1:13-2:4.) The connection clearly shows that the angels ministered to them by giving the law and revealing the will of God. It was the ministration of angels in contrast with the ministration of Christ. The only trouble is, the expression, “ministering spirits,” is in the present tense. This we think not strong enough to break the force of the whole connection. Besides, they do minister just as the law and the prophets testify of Jesus as the Christ.

The passage, “their angels do always behold the face of my Father,” means when they are transformed into the angelic state, they will then always behold the face of the Father in heaven. We do not think there is any evidence of what is called “angelic guardianship” here, nor can we see what possible office they perform. The will of God is revealed and completed in the Bible. Their office was to minister to the heirs of salvation by making the will of God known to them. When that perfect will was made known, we can see no more room for their office.

It is well always to speak of Bible things in Bible terms. It is common to call the Lord’s day the “Sabbath,” but it is never so called in the Bible. Saturday was the Jewish Sabbath. Saturday is always referred to when “Sabbath” is used. To call the Lord’s day “Sabbath” is to confuse terms and ideas that ought to be kept distinct.

How is Man a Free Agent?

We are challenged to take in debate the affirmative of the following question: “Resolved, That man is a free agent.” Please write us if we have the right side of the question; and, if so, will you be so kind as to give us your arguments on that side, and oblige?

In the ordinary acceptation of the expression, it is true, though not a Bible sentence. Men usually mean by this expression that man, as he is, can accept the gospel and be saved at any time that he will, or he can reject it and die. The language of the Bible is: “Whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” “Enter ye in at the strait gate.” “Ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.”

These passages show that man can serve God and live, or refuse and be lost; and if that is what is meant by the expression that “man is a free agent,” then it is true. But in discussing religious subjects we think it would be best to use Bible language in stating what we affirm, and in this way all might soon be one.

Elisha G. Sewell

Adventists and the Children of Israel

Brother Sewell: As one of our sisters has turned Adventist and has some of the members bothered, I would like a full explanation of the following passages of scripture: Ex. 31: 16, 17; Matt. 5: 19; Rom. 14: 5, 6. Who are meant by the “children of Israel” in the passage first named? What “commandments” is Jesus speaking of in the second passage?

The children of Israel were the Jewish people, the posterity of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. In this particular passage it meant the children of Israel that had come out of Egypt under Moses as their leader.

The Sabbath day, as one of the Ten Commandments, had but recently been given to the Jewish people. The verses you mention show that the Sabbath day was given to the Jews only. The Gentile world never had any share in it. In the first of Genesis, where the seventh day is first mentioned, it says that God rested that day. He had finished the work of creation in six days and rested on the seventh. But he did not require men to rest on that day then. To show that the Sabbath belonged to the Jews only, the passage you name uses this language: “Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel forever.” These verses show beyond a peradventure that the Sabbath day was given to the Jews, and to them only; and when it says it would be a sign between Jehovah and the children of Israel forever, the “forever” means to the end of the Jewish covenant, the law of Moses, which really did end. Hence, when Jesus died on the cross, the law of Moses, the Jewish covenant, was taken out of the way, and with it the Sabbath day. This is shown in the following passage: “Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.” (Col. 2:14.) The word handwriting especially takes in the Ten Commandments, as they were the handwriting of God, and the Sabbath day was the fourth command of the ten. Therefore the Sabbath day was, without any doubt, done away.

In verse 16 of the same chapter Paul says: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days.” This shows that the whole affair of the law was done away, Sabbath day and all. Hence the seventh-day claim is without foundation. The seventh-day Sabbath never did belong to the Gentiles, and it was taken from the Jews when Jesus died; and so it is out of date entirely now, as is the whole of the law of Moses. Matt. 5:19 simply has reference to the commands of the law of Moses, which law was still in force when Christ used that language; but when he died on the cross, some three years later, the law was taken away.

The other passage (Rom. 14:5, 6) has reference either to the Jewish Christians, who wanted to keep up the holy days of the law, such as the Sabbath day, or it refers to some sort of superstition among Gentile Christians there, either one of which would cause confusion and division without profit, and they better not have divisions over the opinions of men. All ideas of holy days, then, except the first day of the week, were merely the opinions of men not involving any divine authority. There is not a particle of divine authority to keep the seventh-day Sabbath since the abolition of the old covenant and the establishment of the new.

Adding to and Taking from the Bible

In verse 18 of the last chapter of Revelation, was the adding to and taking away from “this book” the book of Revelation or the entire word of God?

It is barely possible that the writer intended it to apply specifically to the book of Revelation; but it is a principle that applies to all the inspired writings, and I believe it was written in these last verses of the book that naturally closes the revelation of God, that as a two-edged sword it might guard from change or modification the whole revealed will of God.

Moses says: “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.” (Deut. 4:2.) It is repeated in Deut. 12:32; Josh. 1:7. Prov. 30:5, 6 expresses it thus: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.” It is repeated a hundred times in one form or another in the Old Testament. If the Old Testament law — temporal in its rule, sealed by the blood of animals — was thus sacred and guarded from sacrilegious touch by the hand of man, how much more sacred the perfect and everlasting law of God, given through the word that was with God and sealed by the blood of his only begotten Son! The mission of Jesus, as announced by John, was to thoroughly purge his floor, separate what had been added by human tradition and burn it as chaff, so he could fulfill only the perfect will of God. He condemned all the traditions of the elders and all human traditions in religion, showing that even washing the hands as religious service when not commanded by God was sin. (Matt. 15.)

To displace God’s order under the Jewish dispensation with an order of men was to despise the law of Moses; to turn from the law sealed by the blood of Christ, to take from it or add to it, is to trample underfoot the blood of the Son of God and do despite to the Spirit of grace. To change the word of God by adding to or taking from it as God has given it is to assume the prerogative of God and claim to be wiser than he and to be possessed of more than his authority. I believe God intended that warning to apply to the whole of his written will; and if that specific command did not, the same principle and warning is stamped upon almost every page of revelation.

What “Things” Shall Be Added?

Brother Lipscomb: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6: 33.) What are the things to be added? If earthly good, will it be added without effort on our part to gain the good?

Earthly goods and comforts are embraced in the promise. In order to appropriate this promise, men are to seek, first, the kingdom of God — seek his kingdom that we may enter into it; second, they are to seek the righteousness of God. God’s righteousness embraces all the conditions and provisions God has ordained to make men righteous. God has provided a man should live industriously, maintain good works for necessary purposes, live plainly and economically. “Let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.” (Tit. 3: 14.) Christians are required to live industriously, follow good callings, be economical and saving in the use of what they possess, and give freely to those in need.

To seek the righteousness of God is to live as God directs. Living thus, a man will abound in earthly as well as in spiritual blessings. It is to reach and enjoy the temporal blessings through spiritual ones. It is God blessing man through directing him in the channels in which God’s blessings flow, that man may gather them as he goes. In the ordinary affairs of life, in non-miraculous ages, God’s blessings are bestowed through compliance with the laws of God. The blessings come through working in harmony with God’s law; so such services in their operations bestow the blessings on man. Man may bless himself by complying with God’s laws.

David Lipscomb