We confess in Art. 12 of our Belgic Confession: “He also created the angels good, to be His messengers and to serve His elect; some of whom are fallen from that excellency, in which God created them, into everlasting perdition; and the others have, by the grace of God, remained steadfast and continued in their primitive state.” From, this quotation it is plain that among other things we believe concerning the angels: 1. That all of them were created good. 2. That some of the angels fell into everlasting perdition. 3. That others remained steadfast. 4. That the angels are messengers of God to serve the elect. Naturally much more could be said about the doctrine of the creation and the work of the angels. We believe e.g. also that the angels as originally created were higher creatures than man. Man, even though created after the image of God was earthy, the angels were heavenly creatures. On the other hand when man has reached his eternal destination he will be higher than the angels. (). However, no matter what we believe and teach concerning the angels our doctrine must be based upon, drawn from and be in harmony with Scripture. That also holds true with respect to the subject which we are to discuss at present. We may not let our imagination decide as to what part the angels play with respect to the salvation in Christ. We do believe, as stated above, that the angels are messengers of God to serve the elect. But with this mere statement our task is not ended. We must broaden out on this subject, illustrate it and prove it from Scripture.
To begin with, the word angel means messenger. Angels are heavenly messengers of God. The Bible speaks very frequently of angels. Some are even mentioned by name, I have reference now to Michael and Gabriel. The Bible also seems to speak of different classes of angels, of cherubim and seraphim. Scripture furthermore definitely teaches us that there are many angels, for the Bible speaks of hosts and legions of angels. As we read Scripture, beginning with Genesis, we frequently meet with the appearance of angels to God’s people of old. Especially is this the case in the Old Testament although the New Testament also records various instances- wherein angels appeared unto men.
It would indeed be interesting to study and describe what many of the ancient people believed concerning the angels and: our salvation. Even in our own day there are various interesting theories on this subject. There is e.g. the theory that every man has a special guardian angel which is at all times near him, protects him and endeavors to lead him in the right direction. When one reads up on the doctrine of angelology one comes across very strange notions, theories and philosophical reasonings. However, interesting though it might be to study the broad subject of angelology, this lies beyond the limits of our present subject. And therefore we may safely pass it by as irrelevant material as far as our particular subject is concerned. It seems to me our subject calls for the task of clearly bringing to the foreground a few undeniable facts as taught us by the Word of God. Naturally our discussion will be far from complete and exhaustive. However, our writing will not have been in vain if we succeed in stating some definite facts, give food for thought and arouse, at least by some, a further interest in the study of this subject.
As to the angels and salvation in Christ, several outstanding facts are taught us. To begin with, it is plain from Holy Writ that the angels of God at various occasions appeared to God’s people to deliver to them a special message from the Lord. They usually appeared in the form of a man. Oft-times theirs was a message of encouragement, of joy and glad news, as was the case with Jacob when he was on his way back to Canaan and the angels of God met him at Mahanaim. The very sight of this host must have encouraged Jacob. The same is true of Gideon, Manoah, Peter, Cornelius, etc. At other times the angels served as messengers of God to warn, admonish, rebuke the wicked or God’s own people. (, , , etc.). “It even may be noted that angels never serve as an explanation of the events of nature, but appear only in connection with a divine revelation.”
In the second place Scripture reveals to us that the angels take a very definite part in prophetic revelations and the judgments of God. This becomes plain when one reads books like Zecharias and Revelation.
In the third place, the angels take a very active and interesting part in the salvation of God’s people. Much could be mentioned in this connection. We’ll quote a few texts to make our point clear. Says Christ in: “Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, that in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven.” And again, : “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.” When the beggar Lazarus dies, he is carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. ( ). Speaking of Christ’s glory and the revelation of God’s saving grace in Christ, the apostle Peter states: “Which things the angels desire to look into.” ( ).
But, in the fourth place, we read above all about angels in connection with our Savior Himself. They announce His birth to Mary, to Joseph, the shepherds. (Matt. 1, Luke 1, 2). They minister unto the Lord, comforting Him and strengthening Him. (, ). The angels announce His resurrection, ( ). And the Lord frequently speaks of the angels in connection with His coming judgment of the world and the final salvation of His people. ( ). In this connection we also might mention the book of Revelation. The entire angelic service is concentrated around the Christ and it is indeed true as stated by Dr. A. Kuyper: “En geheel deze buitengewone engelendienst vindt zijn middelpunt in bet dienen van den Christus, wiens komst zij aankondigen, wiens geboorte zij toezingen, dien zij dienen in de woestijn, ondersteunen in Gethsemane, wien zij den steen van het graf afwentelen, bij zijn opvaren ten hemel tegemoet snellen, en dien ze bij zijn wederkomst zullen verzellen. Immers de Zoon des menschen zal verschijnen met zijne heilige engelen. En ook in afwachting van dien dag der dagen, hooren we hen in den hemel dankbaar een echo geven op het lied van het Lam dat geslacht is.” (De Engelen Gods, p. 276).
Much more could be added to the foregoing, but we must come to the conclusion of our subject. And in conclusion we wish to state:
Finally, a few practical remarks are perhaps not out of place. There is a closer relation between the children of God and the angels than we are often aware of ourselves. And even though the angelic appearances of olden times do no longer happen today, due to the fact that we possess the full revelation of God, we may safely conclude that the holy angels of God are ever near us. One does not need to believe in a guardian angel to come to this conclusion. This in itself is a comforting thought, there are not only devils around us but also angels. However, great and powerful and mighty the angels may be they never may become objects of worship for us. Neither can they in any way be our mediators. There is but one Mediator, Jesus Christ the Lord. But when the curtain of this world’s history falls and the Lord shall appear with His holy angels to judge the world and Himself renew all things, then we shall also fully understand, and that for the first time, what important role the angels played in the salvation which is ours through Christ. And then it shall be the privilege of God’s elect to join the angelic host in praising and worshipping Him Who is worthy to receive all honor and glory unto all eternity. And then it also shall be the eternal privilege of the angels to remain ministering spirits unto those who were bought with the blood of the Lamb. And God will be all in all.