Martyn Lloyd Jones preached through an incredible series called "The Great Doctrines of God." You can listen to them here. The companion sermon to The Good Angels (The Bad Angels) is unfortunately not recorded, but Dr Lloyd-Jones transformed the sermons into a book titled Great Doctrines of the Bible, (three volumes) and the book is on Scribd, here, with the sermon The Bad Angels in it.
Listening to his sermon on the good angels yesterday gave me such encouragement. I always find that thinking of, reading about, or listening to any piece which exalts the majesty of God is in itself great encouragement. And why not? All good things come from God and thus, He is the source of encouragement.
Illustration, "Guido Reni's Michael (in Santa Maria della Concezione church, Rome, 1636)tramples Satan. A mosaic of the same painting decorates St. Michael's Altar in St. Peter's Basilica." (Wiki)
Lloyd-Jones's sermon brought out so many great points, and he did it so seemingly easily. That is to say, he speaks simply and carefully but that doesn't belie the complexity and majesty of the material. He makes it both understandable and exalting at the same time. He opened with asking a series of pointed and important questions
"Let me ask a question at this point: How often have you heard either a sermon or an address on the biblical doctrine of the angels? How often have you considered this doctrine or meditated upon it? I ask those questions in order that I may ask another: Why is it that we tend to neglect certain parts of the biblical revelation? Why is it that even as evangelical people we seem to be content with the minimum of doctrine? Why are we only interested in the doctrine of salvation? It more and more seems to me that we rob ourselves of a wealth of truth because we do not isolate these doctrines and hold them up for our study and contemplation."
I'll summarize in very bare bones fashion what Dr Lloyd-Jones preached on:
Jesus made all the angels. There are thousands upon thousands of them. (Luke 2:13, Rev. 5:11). He made every one a unique individual. He did this before He created the world. (Colossians 1:16).
Angels never die. They were created, but won't die. They came into existence by Jesus at a certain point, but their existence will never end. And what about those cherubim (e.g. Ps. 99:1; Ezek. 10:1–22) and seraphim (Isa. 6:2)?? They dwell in the presence of God, as we will one day. Don't forget about the cherubim standing guard at the eastern entrance to the Garden of Eden with his flaming sword going every which way. Dr Lloyd-Jones wondered if he would be there also to welcome us when the Garden is re-opened at the resurrection. They are incredible beings.
|Leonardo Da Vinci, The Annunciation" Wikipaintings.org|
He said, "I think that there is profound significance in that; the flaming sword is to prevent man from entering back again into Paradise. He can never go back on his own. There is only one way back, and it is the way that has been opened by the Lord Jesus Christ."
He spent some time developing the hierarchy of angelic orders and the distribution of work. From archangels on down, he revealed truth after truth. His take on it was fascinating, delving deep into the bible and unearthing gem after gem. He briefly mentioned the hierarchy/division of the bad angels but only touche don ti since this sermon was only about the good angels.
And that, of course, leads us in turn to the next question which is: Are there orders among the angels? Are they all identical? Are they equal in power and in authority, or have they orders and ranks? It seems quite clear that there is a division both in status and in work.
|Annunciation to Zechariah. |
Fragment of Russian icon "Execution of St.John Baptist"
And that brings us to the whole question of their power. The Bible is explicit about this—they are very great in power. We are told of the mighty angels, that they excel in strength‘ (Ps. 103:20). Their power is undoubtedly greater than human power; they are not only superior in dignity and in status, they are also undoubtedly superior in power.
Salvation is such an incredible, holy act, and the angels long to look into it.
Then there is something else that the angels are very busy about. I never read this next point without having a still more glorious understanding of my salvation. We are told that they spend a good deal of their time in looking into this question of our salvation. Let me give you my authority. Peter, in talking about our salvation says, 'which things the angels desire to look into' (1 Pet. 1:12). It is something so marvellous, and so wonderful, that these created angelic spirits, who have always spent their eternity in the presence of God, are, as it were, looking on at this thing which is most astonishing to them, and which surpasses everything else.
Then the next thing we are told about them is this—let us bear it in mind always—they not only behold the face of God, they are not only looking into salvation, but they are looking at us. ...the Scripture teaches that when Christians meet together, and when they gather together in prayer, then the angels of God are present..."
If you read Revelation you realize just how much the angels participate in bringing judgment. They are instruments of God's will and participate in it. They gave the law. They reveal God's purposes. They bring messages from God. When not directly performing a task, they stand at attention, adoring God, worshiping Him, looking into salvation. They are busy. And one of the ways they are busy is that they minister to God's own people.
"But again I would say that the most comforting, and the most wonderful aspect of this teaching is what we are told in the Scriptures of the way in which God uses the angels to bless and to care for His own people: Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth [called forth] to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?‘ (Heb. 1:14). What, after all, is the greatest function of the angels? It is to minister to you and to me—to minister to the heirs of salvation."
|Chris Koelle, The Book of Revelation Graphic Novel Source|
We find that the angels protect us. They also give us guidance. They cheer us and to give us comfort and consolation. Angels fight on behalf of God. (Elisha's servant was given a sight of this). They deliver us from situations (Peter was led from jail by an angel). They are tremendous beings. Of course, Dr. Lloyd-Jones developed each of those points He ended with this glorious, glorious testament to the level of care that God gives His children:
But there is something more which I trust will give great comfort and consolation to many people who may perhaps have been thinking with fear and dread of the end of their life in this world—afraid of the physical aspect of death. But we need not be, for we read in Luke 16:22–3...
...when we come to die they will be there to receive our spirit and to take us to Paradise. That is the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Never again, Christian people, imagine that when you come to die you will be going into some awful loneliness as a disembodied spirit to an unknown world. Not at all. The angels of God will be there to receive you, and to conduct you, and to take you to be with the Lord in Paradise. What a wonderful thing!
Oh, indeed it is wonderful! God made the uncountable stars and named them all. He made the innumerable angels and named them too. The doctrine of angels is an amazing doctrine.
|Angel rolled the stone from the tomb|
- Alexander Ivanov
Shame on us Christian people that we neglect the doctrine of the angels, that we do not read our Scriptures thoroughly and wholly. ...
..."Let us take hold of the biblical teaching. Let us not rob ourselves as we do. Let us look into this great Word and receive it as it is, and we shall find things that will amaze us, and fill us with a still greater sense of wonder as we come to know our marvellous God and His wondrous love towards us."
Amen! Please take some time to listen to the sermon. Of course, just the few quotes here do not even come close to comparing the full impact of this terrific sermon and hearing about the doctrine of angels.