Question: It's very interesting to go into bookstores to see what books are selling. Bookstores feature books that people will read and, obviously, from all of the books on angels, that's a topic of great interest. Why all of the interest in angels?
Answer: It seems as if almost everyone is interested in angels. Modern society has an obsession with angels. They are the religious symbol of choice. Angels adorn coffee mugs, T-shirts, note cards and even checkbooks. I recently saw an advertisement of a dog eating dinner out of an angel dog dish.
Why all the interest in angels? I believe this interest has been created by modern man's hunger for spirituality. Science has not solved all of our problems and has, in fact, created some massive problems of its own. In our modern society people want the peace that comes from belief in a higher power, but they don't want repentance. They want comfort without commitment. People are uncomfortable with God, but angels are non-threatening, and seem to meet the spiritual hunger that many desire.
Various new age groups speak about angels as spirit guides. In fact, almost every cult, false religion and religious group believes in angels. I want to encourage our listeners to be very careful about the kind of books they give to a friend who may be going through tough times. Just because a book speaks about angels does not mean that it is true to the Word of God.
Angels are created beings. As such, they must never be worshipped. Some angels rebelled against the Lord long ago and are being kept in a state of incarceration awaiting a future judgment. 2 Peter 2, verse 4 tells us that "God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment."
Good angels do the Lord's bidding and are His servants. Hebrews 1:14 says that angels are "ministering spirits, sent forth to minister to them who shall be heirs of salvation." The Bible tells us that one of the ministries of angels is protection. "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him," we read in Psalm 34:7, "and delivereth them."
Question: What about "guardian angels" - does the Bible say anything about "guardian angels"?
Answer: Large numbers of people hold tenaciously to certain beliefs about angels that are not taught in Scripture. How many times have we heard that angels sang at the birth of Christ? But they didn't, as we see from Luke 2:13 and 14. And belief in guardian angels is something like that.
The idea that people have a personal guardian angel is one of the most persistent of religious ideas. I am not doubting that the Bible does teach that angels protect people. The Scripture teaches that "the angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them." Nor am I doubting that some people may have had a bonafide, legitimate experience in which an angel delivered them from some great misfortune.
The real question is whether or not each person has a personal guardian angel assigned to him or her at birth, one that stays with that individual for the duration of their lifetimes. The answer to that is "no." You don't find that in the Bible.
Question: What about Matthew 18, verse 10, where Jesus says: "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?"
Answer: That passage has been used to prove the existence of guardian angels. It is speaking about children, or perhaps about young believers. Jesus says "their angels." That's a category of angels for that group. But the text does not say that each individual has a personal guardian angel. The notion of a personal guardian angel has led people to be devoted to that particular angel and to actually pray to that angel, something, of course, that is contrary to Scripture.
The New Age Movement speaks a lot about angels and about having a personal "spirit guide." These, allegedly, are spirit beings that lead people into deeper spiritual truths and help people to achieve their "fullest potential." All of that is unbiblical.
Some Christians are drawn to angels out of a kind of spiritual insecurity. They lack confidence in Christ, and feel that something in addition to faith in Christ is needed to make their Christian experience more "fulfilling." Some of the recent books on angels feed this insecurity. They report angelic encounters and how individuals have been transformed by these encounters. The message is that if you haven't met an angel you are really missing out on something important.
Question: What are we to think of these reports of angelic encounters? Should we believe every report? Should we deny every report?
Answer: There are an increasing number of reported encounters with angels. One popular periodical regularly gives stories of how someone was rescued, or delivered from some impending tragedy, by an angel, or by angels.
I don't believe that it is wise to deny an individual's experience. That will accomplish nothing other than putting that person on the defensive. We can assume, however, that that individual has some deep questions about God, and we ought to seek to present a witness to the Lord Jesus Christ and His salvation.
Question: I'm a little confused about angels. Are there some sort of guidelines I could follow?
Answer: First of all, we must remember that angels do not establish and maintain our relationship with God. The Bible tells us that there is only one Mediator between God and man and that Mediator is the Lord Jesus Christ. Secondly, we must never ask angels to come to our assistance. If you need help don't call on angels. Call on the Lord. You will never find anyone in the Bible calling on an angel for help. If God wants to send an angel in response to your prayer, that's fine.
Thirdly, we must never worship an angel. Only God is worthy of our worship. Angels are created beings. To worship them would be to rob God of the honor that belongs to Him.