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.

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The Place of the Golden Altar

Brother Lipscomb: Where was the God-appointed place for the golden altar of incense — in the holy place or the most holy? Breth­ren are on both sides. Please give reasons for apparent discrepancies in the Bible on this.

The place appointed for the altar of incense, or the golden altar, was in the holy place, beside the veil that leads into the most holy. The most holy was the dwelling place of God. The incense arising from the altar without the most holy passed through the veil and entered the most holy as incense to God. In Ex. 30:6-7 the order is given: “And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the mercy seat that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. And Aaron shall burn thereon incense of sweet spices: every morning, when he dresseth the lamps, he shall burn it.” In Ex. 40: 26-27 he repeats the statement that he placed them as he was commanded: “And he put the golden altar in the tent of meeting before the veil: and he burnt thereon incense of sweet spices; as Jehovah commanded Moses.” Because the incense arising from this altar reached God in the most holy place, it is sometimes spoken of as though it belonged to the most holy place. It was placed in the holy place beside the veil that enters the most holy, that the incense might, like the prayers of the saints, pass through the veil to the presence of God.

A perversion of one of these figures is seen in the pictures intended to represent the cherubim — a couple of winged women squatting with their faces opposite each other. If one will read the description of the cherubim as given in 1 Kings 6:23-28 and 2 Chron. 3:10-14, he will find that they were images ten feet high, reaching the ceiling above, the wings extended, touching each other in the cen­ter and the walls on each side. They looked toward each other. I used to know a Methodist preacher who insisted that Methodists should keep up the primitive and approved style of kneeling in prayer. In kneeling, many of them squatted to keep their knees out of the dirt. This preacher got to see who kneeled and who squatted, and reproved the latter as following a custom nowhere approved by God.

David Lipscomb