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Ministering of Angels

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Angel Gabriel Ministers to Mary Mormon
Ministering angels are sometimes sent to guide, comfort, protect, and instruct the Lord’s servants and other faithful individuals in times of need. Angels who minister in our behalf—whether seen or unseen—may include departed loved ones who are aware of our circumstances and are concerned about our welfare. Faith is a critical element in the ministry of angels. [1]
Mormon testified: “It is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men; wherefore, if these things have ceased wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief” (Moroni 7:37).
Just what do angels do when they “appear and minister unto men?” The scriptures show that they:
  • announce and testify of events pertaining to God’s work and glory (see Matthew 1:20–21; 28:1–6; Luke 1:11–20; 2:8–14; Revelation 14:6; Doctrine and Covenants 88:92–110);
  • preach the gospel and minister “unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ” (Moroni 7:22; see also Moses 5:58);
  • declare “the word of Christ unto chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him” (Moroni 7:31; see also Mosiah 3:1–27);
  • bring to earth “their rights, their keys, their honors, their majesty and glory, and the power of their priesthood” (Doctrine and Covenants 128:21; see also 27:12; 110:11–16; Joseph Smith–History 1:68–70);
  • protect and guide the servants of God in times of trouble so that they may accomplish his purposes (see Acts 5:18–20; Daniel 3:28; 1 Nephi 3:29; Helaman 5);
  • bring comfort, instruction, and warnings to faithful individuals in times of need (see Genesis 16:7; Exodus 23:20–23; Matthew 2:13, 19–20; 1 Nephi 11:14–15:30; Alma 8:14–18).
Who are these angels? The Lord has revealed that “there are no angels who minister to this earth but those who do belong or have belonged to it” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:5). Such personages may be spirits—who have not yet been born into mortality or have lived on the earth but who have not yet been resurrected—or beings with tangible bodies who have been either resurrected or translated. (Doctrine and Covenants 129:1–9 gives one of the meanings of the term angels as “resurrected personages” and distinguishes between them and “spirits,” acknowledging that either may appear. Many additional scriptures illustrate that the term angels may refer both to spirits and to resurrected or translated beings.) [2]

Elder James E. Faust said,

I would like to say a word about the ministering of angels. In ancient and modern times angels have appeared and given instruction, warnings, and direction, which benefited the people they visited. We do not consciously realize the extent to which ministering angels affect our lives. President Joseph F. Smith said, “In like manner our fathers and mothers, brothers, sisters and friends who have passed away from this earth, having been faithful, and worthy to enjoy these rights and privileges, may have a mission given them to visit their relatives and friends upon the earth again, bringing from the divine Presence messages of love, of warning, or reproof and instruction, to those whom they had learned to love in the flesh.” [3] Many of us feel that we have had this experience. Their ministry has been and is an important part of the gospel. Angels ministered to Joseph Smith as he reestablished the gospel in its fulness. [4]

The Aaronic Priesthood and the Ministering of Angels

John the Baptist Aaronic Priesthood Restoration Mormon
The Aaronic Priesthood is a great gift of spiritual power that the Lord conferred upon Aaron and his sons. It holds “the key of the ministering of angels and the preparatory gospel” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:26) and also includes “the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins” (Doctrine and Covenants 13:1).

Elder Dallin H. Oaks said,

We cannot overstate the importance of the Aaronic Priesthood in this. All of [the] vital steps pertaining to the remission of sins are performed through the saving ordinance of baptism and the renewing ordinance of the sacrament. Both of these ordinances are officiated by holders of the Aaronic Priesthood under the direction of the bishopric, who exercise the keys of the gospel of repentance and of baptism and the remission of sins.
In a closely related way, these ordinances of the Aaronic Priesthood are also vital to the ministering of angels.
“The word ‘angel’ is used in the scriptures for any heavenly being bearing God’s message” [5] The scriptures recite numerous instances where an angel appeared personally. Angelic appearances to Zacharias and Mary (see Luke 1) and to King Benjamin and Nephi, the grandson of Helaman (see Mosiah 3:2; 3 Nephi 7:17–18) are only a few examples. When I was young, I thought such personal appearances were the only meaning of the ministering of angels. As a young holder of the Aaronic Priesthood, I did not think I would see an angel, and I wondered what such appearances had to do with the Aaronic Priesthood.
But the ministering of angels can also be unseen. Angelic messages can be delivered by a voice or merely by thoughts or feelings communicated to the mind. President John Taylor described “the action of the angels, or messengers of God, upon our minds, so that the heart can conceive … revelations from the eternal world” [6]
In general, the blessings of spiritual companionship and communication are only available to those who are clean. As explained earlier, through the Aaronic Priesthood ordinances of baptism and the sacrament, we are cleansed of our sins and promised that if we keep our covenants we will always have His Spirit to be with us. I believe that promise not only refers to the Holy Ghost but also to the ministering of angels, for “angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3). So it is that those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood open the door for all Church members who worthily partake of the sacrament to enjoy the companionship of the Spirit of the Lord and the ministering of angels. [7]

See also Angels.

References

  1. Larry E. Dahl, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar. 1988, 21–23.
  2. Larry E. Dahl, “I Have a Question,” Ensign, Mar. 1988, 21–23.
  3. Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. (1939), 436.
  4. James E. Faust, “A Royal Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2006, 50–53.
  5. George Q. Cannon, Gospel Truth, sel. Jerreld L. Newquist [1987], 54).
  6. Gospel Kingdom, sel. G. Homer Durham [1987], 31.
  7. Dallin H. Oaks, “The Aaronic Priesthood and the Sacrament,” Ensign, Nov 1998, 37.
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