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THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS –
A CHRISTMAS SERMON

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, December 15, 2019

“The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:19-20; p. 1155 Scofield).


We must never worship angels. We must never pray to angels. God alone should be the object of our worship and our prayers. And yet I believe that Christians should be thankful to God for the providential work of His angels. Our text says that “The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors” and loosed the Apostles. I am sure they were thankful to be set free!

Christmas is a time when Christians thank God for His blessings in their lives. I wonder if you ever take time to thank God for sending His angels to help and protect us? This evening I’m going to do just that.

Many of our Christmas hymns and carols speak of angels – “Angels, We Have Heard on High,” “The First Noel,” “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” and many others, speak of angels. If I never preach on angels, our young people will think they are only myths from the past. As we sing carols this Christmas, let us take time to thank God for the ministry of His angels.

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I. First, we should thank God for the many times He has sent angels
to protect the English-speaking peoples.

God has surely sent angelic help to many countries and many peoples. But these blessings have been unusually great in the English-speaking world. I say this without the slightest hesitation, because the stream of Reformation Christianity flowed so clearly into the consciousness of the English-speaking world. And it was in the English-speaking world that the Puritan fathers came to understand the great evangelical truths of Scripture. And it was in the English-speaking world that the Great Awakenings occurred, which poured forth into world-wide missions, which changed the very course of history, and the fate of millions around the world, in every nation under Heaven.

Even in our day, when so much has gone wrong, America and England still send forth the greatest number of missionaries to the world. And so, I think it is fitting for us to thank God this evening for His providential care, for sending His angels in times of stress to help the English-speaking peoples.

In the tenth chapter of Daniel the pre-incarnate Christ said that the angel Michael came to help Daniel overcome the power of Satan and save the Jewish people.

“Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia”
        (Daniel 10:13; p. 916).

And can we doubt that this has also happened to the English-speaking nations? In 1588 Spain sent 130 ships with 30,000 men, to strike down Protestantism in England. The English had only a small navy of 30 ships with only 9,000 men. Think of it – only 30 ships with only 9,000 men – against 30,000 men in 130 ships from Spain! England was outnumbered about four to one. But several strange events followed. A band of pirates joined the English. Several of the Spanish ships caught on fire. The Spanish fled in different directions. As their ships rounded the west coast of Ireland, a tremendous wind scattered them over the wastes of the North Sea, and Protestant England was saved! Without God’s intervention, and the help of angels, there would be no English-speaking America. We would not be here in a Baptist church reading the King James Bible!

John Knox, the great reformer of Scotland, moved his usual seat away from the window one night, because he was pressed by a feeling he could not understand. An hour later a bullet crashed through the window which would have killed Knox if he had not moved. Without John Knox, the English-speaking world would have remained Catholic to this day!

As a small child, John Wesley was miraculously saved from the top story of the house as it went up in flames. God later used Wesley to ignite the Great Awakening in England. Can those of us who believe the Bible not see the providential hand of God in this event? Can we doubt that God sent His angels at this critical moment? Forever after, John Wesley called himself “a brand plucked from the burning.”

Can we doubt that the angels kept watch over Washington and his soldiers at Valley Forge? Can any real Christian doubt that an angelic hand worked to spare President Reagan from death by an assassin’s bullet, so he could lead the free world to victory over the “Evil Empire” of the Soviet Union? Can we fail to see the hand of God protecting England, though pitifully prepared, during the Battle of Britain in World War II? I disagree with Billy Graham on certain aspects of “decisionism.” But I think he was right when he said,

In the early days of World War II, Britain’s air force saved it from invasion and defeat [by Hitler and the Nazis]. In her book, Tell No Man, Adela Rogers St. John describes a strange aspect of that air war. Her information comes from a celebration held a few months after the war, honoring Chief Marshal Lord Hugh Dowding. The King, the Prime Minister (Churchill) and scores of dignitaries were there. In his remarks, the Air Chief Marshal told the story of this legendary conflict, where his pitifully small group of fighter pilots rarely slept, and their planes never stopped flying. He told about airmen on a mission who, having been hit, were either incapacitated or dead. Yet their planes kept flying and fighting; in fact, pilots in other planes would see a figure still operating the controls. What was the explanation? The Air Chief Marshal said he believed angels had actually flown the planes whose pilots sat dead in their cockpits (Billy Graham, Angels: God’s Secret Agents, Guideposts Associates, 1975, pp. 163-164).

And Prime Minister Churchill said of those brave pilots who fought back the Nazis, “Never in the field of human conflict has so much been owed by so many to so few.” I personally think a good deal of the credit goes to God’s holy angels! As an old hymn puts it,

God moves in a mysterious way
   His wonders to perform;
He plants His footsteps in the sea,
   And rides upon the storm.
(“God Moves in a Mysterious Way” by William Cowper, 1731-1800).

Here is another story to illustrate this point. The mother of Elian Gonzalez wanted her little boy to grow up in America. She boarded a small boat with the child and eleven other people to escape from Cuba. Elian’s mother and the eleven other adults were all drowned at sea. Alone in the dark ocean, this six-year-old child Elian clung to an inner tube for two days, while tossed and turned by the sea under a hot tropical sun. On Thanksgiving Day, 1999, some fishermen found Elian off the coast of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Several noted Cuban-Americans compared Elian to Moses, saved from a little boat let loose on the Nile River. Maria Elena Quesada told the Washington Post, “Elian is a sign from God saying to the exiled community of Cubans, ‘I haven’t forgotten you.’” Maria Quesada said that whatever happened next to Elian was “in the hands of God.”

In one of the most evil acts of his presidency, Bill Clinton had his Attorney General Janet Reno send soldiers to break down the door of Elian’s uncle’s house, and take the little boy by force and hand him over to Fidel Castro, the dictator of Cuba.

But Maria Quesada was right when she said, “Whatever happens next, Elian is in the hands of God.” Yes, Elian was forcibly turned over to the Communists in Cuba by Bill Clinton. But the Cuban population of Florida, who had largely voted for Clinton, did not forget this evil deed. The next year most of them registered their anger at Clinton’s outrageous act by voting against Clinton’s Vice President Al Gore. The presidential election that year was decided by only about 500 votes in Florida. If Elian Gonzalez had not come to America on an inner tube on Thanksgiving Day, George W. Bush would not have been elected President, and would not have led America in the War on Terror. Angered by Clinton sending Elian Gonzalez back to Castro, the Cubans in Florida elected the Republican George W. Bush. Bush was literally elected by Elian Gonzalez and the angels that protected him.

“Whatever happens…is in the hands of God.” How right Maria Elena Quesada was! On Thanksgiving Day, 1999, I believe that God sent His angels to protect that six-year-old child, far out in the ocean on an inner tube – because God is not through blessing America yet! Thank God for the ministry of His angels on that Thanksgiving Day! (For a full treatment of the Elian Gonzalez event, see Ann Coulter, How to Talk to a Liberal, Crown Forum, 2004, pp. 257-272).

“The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:19-20; p. 1155).

II. Second, we should thank God for sending His angels
to protect us personally.

A great revival had broken out in Jerusalem. Many people were being converted. The Sadducees were filled with indignation and they put the Apostles in jail. God sent an angel to open the prison doors and set them free. This happened a second time, when the Apostle Peter was set free from prison by an angel, recorded in Acts 12:5-10.

Most Christians can remember some time in their lives when they have been miraculously saved from tragedy. At such times we should remember Psalm 34:7.

“The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them”
        (Psalm 34:7; p. 614).

I remember two times on the freeway, here in Los Angeles, when I am sure I was saved from automobile accidents by the intervention of angels. I also remember being in a small airplane with lightning bolts crashing on both sides of the plane. The aircraft shuddered, fell, and swerved repeatedly. I looked at the stewardess. Her face had gone white with terror. Instead of comforting the passengers, she strapped herself in a seat and she said, “I’ve never seen it like this!” But we made it! And I spoke in the Chapel at Bob Jones University that morning! As my family and I got off of that little plane, I thanked God for sending angels to protect us.

I remember hearing Gladys Aylward speak in a friend’s living room back in the 1960s. Gladys Aylward was a well-known English missionary to China. She stayed, helping Chinese children, long after the Communists had taken over mainland China. I well remember Miss Aylward telling story after story of God sending angels to protect her and those Chinese children.

I also remember Pastor Richard Wurmbrand telling me of angels that ministered to him while he was in solitary confinement in a Communist prison in Romania. After a long imprisonment, and much torture, Pastor Wurmbrand said, “I became aware of a great throng of angels moving toward my bed, singing beautiful songs. Their singing sustained my life. This proves they were not hallucinations.” Then nearly every night Pastor Wurmbrand danced with the angels in his prison cell. Years later I knew Pastor Wurmbrand well. I am convinced that God sent angels to dance traditional dances with him, to keep him well enough to live through the horrors of solitary confinement!

I am sure there are people here this evening who could tell us that there were times when they sensed that God had sent angels to help them.

III. Third, we should pay attention to what the angel told the Apostles.

Please look at our text again.

“But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:19-20; p. 1155).

Why didn’t the angel himself go and preach the gospel to the people? The great preacher, Spurgeon, gave the answer when he said,

The agents employed for spreading the gospel are men, and not angels. The angel of the Lord opened the prison door and set free the preachers, but [could] not be a preacher himself. He might give the ministers their [duty], but he had no [duty] to preach himself…As our Lord took not on him the nature of angels for man’s redemption, so neither doth he employ the agency of angels for man’s conversion (C. H. Spurgeon, “The Charge of the Angel,” The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Pilgrim Publications, 1974, volume XXXIV, p. 374).

The angel did not go to the temple to speak. Instead, the angel said to those men that he had freed, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20; p. 1155). And so it is with the Great Commission. Christ does not speak through angels, but through us, when He says,

“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15; p. 1069).

It is not to angels, but to us, that our Lord says,

“Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled”
        (Luke 14:23; p. 1096).

Miss Marie Monsen was a young Norwegian missionary to China, in the aftermath of the horrible Boxer Rebellion. She was alone in a foreign land. But no man raped her or molested her at all!

She was traveling in a cart down a deserted road. Suddenly three bandits came, and held their guns on Miss Monsen. “The main bandit stared at me. God was a wall of fire between us.” Then the main bandit said, “These people may continue their journey.”

Our driver was shaking with fear. He said, “Didn’t you know they were robbers?” Miss Monsen said, “Yes, but I did not fear them. Because God put a wall of fire between us and them. God had protected us by putting a wall of fire between us and those robbers.”

The angels are with us too! 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; p. 1096).

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).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE MINISTRY OF ANGELS –
A CHRISTMAS SERMON

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:19-20).

I.    First, we should thank God for the many times He has sent angels
to protect the English-speaking peoples, Daniel 10:13.

II.   Second, we should thank God for sending His angels to
protect us personally, Psalm 34:7.

III.  Third, we should pay attention to what the angel told the Apostles,
Mark 16:15; Luke 14:23.