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Teaching angels

January 1998 | by Terry Worthan

There are several passages of Scripture in the New Testament that give me the understanding that my congregation is much larger than I can imagine when I am in the process of teaching and preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to the church. When I use the word ‘church’ I do not mean a church building. There is nothing in a material building that can afford angels or men an education. When I use the word ‘church’ I have in mind an assembly of people, and I have in mind strictly speaking the assembly of God’s people, or that assembly made up of believers.

In Paul’s letter to the church at Ephesus, chapter three, and verse ten, he wrote, ‘That now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God.’ The ‘principalities and powers’ are the angels of God. The word ‘by’ is from a Greek preposition intimating intermediate agency. The translators could have used the word ‘through’ because it is through the agency of the church that the holy angels of God are learning the manifold wisdom of God in the gospel.

The angels have been studying the divine Godhead from the very beginning of their creation. Very possibly long before man was created the angels were in the school of learning. The things that amaze them they did not really begin to study until after the incarnation, death and triumphant resurrection of Christ. They never conceived of the love, grace and mercy of God in redemption until he manifested it to the church. They never studied a curriculum of the humility and self-sacrifice of the holy God until they saw it in Christ’s revelation of it to his believing assembled people.

When the assembly of God’s people comes together they come together to study the person and work of Christ, that is what we refer to as the gospel. We study the blessed lesson of the Incarnation, the necessity of his going about accomplishing a righteousness by his practical and passive obedience that could be put to the account of his believing people. We study his substitutionary work, which is the very marrow of the gospel.

hymn singing (Source: Flickr / tcdavis)
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When the church comes together for gospel services the angels of God gather with us to learn the manifold wisdom of God in the gospel. This is most encouraging for it makes our audience much larger than we realize. I believe that is what Peter speaks of in his first epistle, ‘Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.’

We have encouragement in these words to those of us who struggle to maintain a hearing. Our congregations may dwindle to a very small size humanly speaking, but if we contend for that faith once and for all delivered to the saints, never compromising, nor adulterating the gospel of God’s glorious grace, we shall always have a good and sizeable audience. I speak of the unseen angels that gather with the true worshippers of God. Angels are not interested in the entertainment and gimmick programmes of the mega-church, but in that gospel that glorifies the Lord Jesus Christ.