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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles 
Lord’s Day Evening, January 8, 2012

“And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Revelation 5:11).

I have never heard any pastor preach a whole sermon on angels. Yet angels are prominent throughout the Bible. Our opening text in Revelation 5:11 tells us that there are uncountable numbers of angels, “ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands” (Revelation 5:11).

Angels appear throughout the Bible. When Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac, he told the servant that God would send an angel before him, to help him (Genesis 24:7). As Jacob was travelling he was met by “the angels of God.” Dr. John Gill (1697-1771) said that the angels separated into two groups to protect him. One group of angels went in front of him, and the other group of angels went behind him, to guard him (Genesis 32:1-2). When Lot and his family were in danger of being destroyed in Sodom, angels led them out of the doomed city (Genesis 19:15-17). When Daniel was thrown into a den of lions, God sent an angel to “shut the lions’ mouths” (Daniel 6:22). When the Apostles were put in prison for preaching the Gospel, “The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors,” and set them free (Acts 5:19-20). When the Apostle Peter was put in prison for preaching the Gospel, an angel came and opened the prison door and let him loose (Acts 12:7-10).

Angels preserved the life of the newborn Christ by appearing to Joseph and telling him to flee to Egypt with the Child (Matthew 2:13-14). After the Devil tempted Christ in the wilderness, “Angels came and ministered unto him” (Matthew 4:11). An angel strengthened Christ when he was crushed by our sins, sweating a bloody sweat, in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:43-44). An angel rolled the stone away from Christ’s tomb, and told the women who came there that He had risen from the dead (Matthew 28:2, 5-6). Thousands of angels accompanied Christ when He ascended back to Heaven (Psalm 68:17-18; Ephesians 4:8). And the holy angels will come down with Christ at His Second Coming (Luke 9:26; II Thessalonians 1:7). See Dr. John Gill, A Body of Doctrinal Divinity, The Baptist Standard Bearer, n.d., volume I, pp. 262-268.

Furthermore, the work of angels for God’s people is clearly revealed in the Bible. They protect and deliver God’s people. Psalm 91:11-12 says, “He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.” Daniel 3:28 says that God “sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him.” Hebrews 1:14 says that God sends angels to “minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation.” See Dr. Henry C. Thiessen, Introductory Lectures in Systematic Theology, Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1971 edition, p. 205.

Since the work of angels is revealed so clearly (and so often) in the Bible, why is it that we don’t hear whole sermons on angels today? I have never heard any pastor preach an entire sermon on angels. Have you? Why is that the case today? I think there are several reasons. First, many pastors have never been converted. That is surely the main reason. Second, many of those who are converted have not been called by God. My long-time pastor at the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles said, “The desolation in the church of the last days is not due to the lack of pastors, but an abundance of pastors who serve without God’s [calling and] without God’s sending. Since they are not sent by God, how can they expect God to be responsible for them and provide them with His message?” (Timothy Lin, Ph.D., The Secret of Church Growth, First Chinese Baptist Church, 1992, pp. 21-22).

Pastors who are not converted, and those who have not been called by God, will not see any reason to “declare unto you all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). I think that is the second reason we hear so little about angels, or demons, in our pulpits today. In fact, we hear very few sermons on Jesus Christ Himself! Nearly all sermons today are man-centered and motivational – not God-centered and spiritual.

Many years ago I preached a sermon on angels at a church in northern California. I simply gave several points about angels from Dr. Thiessen’s book on systematic theology (ibid.). I ended with a strong appeal for the lost to turn to Christ. Many responded to the invitation. But the next day the pastor attacked me in front of several of his elders, saying that my sermon was “cultish” and could lead to “worshipping of angels” (Colossians 2:18). Of course that was nonsense. When a certain type of profane and savage person is confronted with their sin in a sermon, they often call it “cultish”! I left that church. About two years later the famous evangelist Billy Graham published a book titled, Angels: God’s Secret Agents (Doubleday and Company, 1975). Billy Graham’s book contained much of what I preached in the sermon that pastor had called "cultish." I sent him a copy of Billy Graham’s book with a note which said, “Is this book cultish?” He never replied to me. Not long afterwards this pastor was fired from his church for having sex with women in his congregation. Those who react to my strong, masculine style of preaching will find fault no matter what I say!

While I do not agree with Billy Graham on a number of issues, I find that there is little to disagree with in his book on angels. In that book Billy Graham said that through “the Bible God has told us a great deal. For this reason, theologians through the ages have universally agreed about the importance of ‘angelology’ (the orderly statement of biblical truth about angels). They judged it worthy of treatment in any book of systematic theology” (ibid., p. 18).

The great Reformer Martin Luther said, “An angel is a spiritual creature without a body created by God for the service of Christendom and the church” (Graham, ibid., p. x). John Calvin, in volume I of his Institutes of the Christian Religion, said, “Angels are the dispensers and administrators of the divine [generosity] toward us. They regard our safety, undertake our defence, direct our ways, and exercise a constant [care] that no evil befall us” (Graham, ibid.). Great Spurgeon, “the prince of preachers,” said, “‘He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways’...It teaches us that each one of the saints is personally protected. God takes a personal interest in every traveller along the right road, and charges his angels to keep him” (C. H. Spurgeon, “Angelic Protection in Appointed Ways,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1978 reprint, volume 52, p. 20).

But these great promises of angelic protection only apply to the elect. If you are not among them you have no protection – either from God or His angels. You are left in the howling wind without safety. There is only one way to be saved. You must repent and come to Jesus Christ by faith. Even with the protection of angels, those who are converted are “scarcely” saved (I Peter 4:18). “Where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?” (I Peter, ibid.). When the fierce blasts of judgment come, you who are unsaved will be swept away into eternal flames! I beg you now, turn to Christ. Come to Him and be washed clean from your sin! Christ’s Blood can wash your every sin from God’s judgment books. Come to Jesus and be saved from the guilt and penalty of sin! Then the angels of God will be your angels, to protect you “in all thy ways” – but not before! Not before! Not before! Don’t wait! Come to Christ now, while you are young.

Martin Luther was a reformer at the age of just 29, and he started the Reformation at the age of only 33. Come to Christ now, while you are young, and you will be protected by God’s angels as Martin Luther was! It was Luther who said,

That the angels are with us is very sure, and no one should ever doubt it...they are truly around us in this life, providing for and guiding our affairs...Therefore we should learn that our best and most loyal friends are invisible. They are the good angels, who by their faithfulness and benevolence and by their many services of friendship greatly excel our visible friends... if anything good happens, it is brought about entirely through the good angels (What Luther Says, Concordia Publishing House, 1994 edition, p. 23; comments on Genesis 24:5-7).

Most real Christians have had times in their lives when they sensed the presence of guardian angels. A few days ago a fundamental Baptist pastor, who is a friend of mine, told me of his experience with angels. He said, “I think I would have been killed if an angel had not protected me.”

I remember two times when I believe angels saved me from horrible accidents on the freeways here in Los Angeles. The first one happened when I was driving to prayer meeting at the First Chinese Baptist Church. It was raining softly. I was listening to music on the radio. As two freeways merged the person in the car in front of me slammed on his brakes. I did the same. My car began to spin in circles. There were big columns on each side of the narrow ramp I was on. I could see the columns whirling past, as my car twirled around and around and around three times. I knew I was going to die. But suddenly the car stopped. It was headed the wrong way. The rain was falling gently on the windshield. The radio was still playing. I shut it off. Sitting there for a minute, in the quietness, it seemed that I could hear the sound of angels’ wings. Then I turned the car around and drove to the prayer meeting. But I couldn’t pray when I got there. My hands were trembling. I felt like I was going to black out. But those verses of Scripture kept going through my mind,

“He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).

A second freeway experience stands out in my mind as well. It was late on Saturday night. Mr. Gene Wilkerson and I were at the First Chinese Baptist Church. He typed the bulletin while I cleaned up the church, as Chairman of the Ushers, and prepared my sermon for the Junior Church the next morning. Then we folded the bulletin and I drove Mr. Wilkerson to his apartment in Pasadena, north of Los Angeles. I had an old car and the gas gauge was broken. I thought I had plenty of fuel to get home, but I was wrong. As I started back to Los Angeles I ran out of gas on the southbound Pasadena Freeway, north of Dodger Stadium. Now the Pasadena Freeway is the oldest freeway in Los Angeles. As the oldest freeway it was designed for slower speeds than later freeways. The Pasadena Freeway is well-known for its curves, its short on-ramps and off-ramps. It was designed for slow speed entrances and exits. The shoulders on the side are small or nonexistent. It is very narrow and for the most part lacks any room for pulling off to the side in an emergency. I was in the southbound lane. There was no space for a car to pull off of the road. My car sputtered and stopped in that lane, with a curve right behind me. The next car coming around that curve would plow into the back of mine. I panicked as I jumped out of the car, not knowing what to do. But as soon as I got out of the car I heard a horn tooting. A little man got out of a VW Bug on the other side of a chain link fence beside the freeway. He hooked a can of gas on the end of what looked like a fishing pole. Then he reeled the pole out, and it extended like a telescope, up over the chain link fence with the gas can on the end of it. He said, “Hurry, put the gas in.” I grabbed the can, put the gas in the car, and put the can back on the hook for him to reel in. I reached in my pocket to give him some money. He said, “Don’t worry about it. Hurry, get in your car. Don’t worry about it. I do this every night.” I jumped in the car and drove away. Then it hit me. “I do this every night.” My hair stood on end as I thought of a Bible verse that says, “Some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). I did not entertain him, but he certainly saved me!

“He shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone” (Psalm 91:11-12).

I could give story after story like that, but I must end this sermon now.

My wife can tell you that I pray for you every night, as you go out to evangelism on the campuses and streets of Los Angeles. These are mean, dangerous city streets. I always pray, “God, please protect everyone going to evangelism tonight.” We have been sending people out to evangelism on these dark streets for over 35 years. Miraculously, no one has ever been harmed!

“For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways” (Psalm 91:11).

The angels are with us! Go out to evangelism! Go to the malls! Go to the campuses! Go to the streets! The angels are with us! Nothing can stop us! Go on, then, and obey Christ who said,

“Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23).

Go out and evangelize the lost! No demon can stop you! Satan himself cannot stop you! No angry human being can stop you! Nothing can stop you! The angels are with us! Go and bring in the lost! Nothing can stop you! The angels are with us!

Stand and sing the last song on your song sheet, “Evangelize! Evangelize!” by Dr. Oswald J. Smith.

Give us a watchword for the hour, A thrilling word, a word of power,
A battle cry, a flaming breath That calls to conquest or to death.
A word to rouse the church from rest, To heed the Master’s great request.
The call is given, Ye hosts, arise, Our watchword is, evangelize!

The glad evangel now proclaim, Through all the earth, in Jesus’ name;
This word is ringing through the skies: Evangelize! Evangelize!
To dying men, a fallen race, Make known the gift of Gospel grace;
The world that now in darkness lies, Evangelize! Evangelize!
   (“Evangelize! Evangelize!” by Dr. Oswald J. Smith, 1889-1986; altered by
      Dr. Hymers; to the tune of “And Can It Be?” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 2:8-16.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
      “Holy, Holy, Is What the Angels Sing” (by Johnson Oatman, Jr., 1856-1922).