THE SPIRIT, THE WORD AND THE ANGELS

 

It is an often quoted, yet little understood teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ, that men are drawn by the Father to him.

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent Me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jno 6:44).

Speculations abound amongst men as to the precise mechanism by which a man becomes “drawn” to Christ; from theories of a mystical and magical invisible force turning a man’s mind towards the things of God, influencing his thoughts and directing his desires; to a conviction that such things are unknown and unknowable, and that it is best not to enquire or probe too deeply into such affairs.

But whilst it is a truth that as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are the Deity’s ways higher than man’s ways, and His thoughts higher than man’s thoughts (Is 55:9), it would be a grave error and folly in the extreme to disregard what the Father has revealed as being unknowable. Wisdom that is from above (Jas 3:17) has been revealed to man, so that he can make Yahweh’s ways his ways, and Yahweh’s thoughts his thoughts. Whilst the natural man cannot receive the things of the spirit of God which therefore remain unknown to him (1 Cor 2:14), those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern spiritual things ought to be able to see and hear the things revealed by the Father by His Spirit through the Apostles (1 Cor 2:7,10). We must not therefore dismiss a matter as being “unknowable” purely on the basis that we have not searched the Scriptures adequately enough to gain personal knowledge of it. As Bro Thomas wrote:

“no man has any right to set up his own ignorance as the limit of what God hath revealed. A thing may be unknown to such a man, but it doth not therefore follow that it is either absolutely unintelligible or a secret. He may not know of it, or, if explained to him, he may not have intellect enough to comprehend it, or his prejudices, or sectarian bias may darken his understanding – this by no means makes the thing unintelligible or mysterious to other people. All that such persons have a right to say is, “We do not know anything about it.” They may confess their own ignorance, and resolve to look into the matter, or not; but they are presumptuously overstepping the bounds of propriety to venture to do more” (Elpis Israel, Part 1 Chapter 1).

To the Word then, and to the Testimony must we go to be enlightened as to the ways and thoughts of the Father, leaving those in darkness to amuse themselves with their abstract thinking and self-confessed ignorance. And to begin with, we ought to examine more carefully the context of the Master’s words, for in the discourse which follows, the Master expounds his own saying and thereby relieves the learned theologians of their difficulty – if only they had eyes to see and ears to hear – by presenting the matter in great plainness of speech:

“No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, and they shall all be taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me …” (Jno 6:44,45).

As the prophets declared, men are “taught of God” (Is 54:13). But how? By some mystical influence filtering into their brains and directing their thoughts and inclinations Godward? Not according to the Master, for in his words, they who are taught are they who have “heard,” the implication being that those who do not hear do not learn. Passive receipt of miraculous power is not what Christ describes in this place, but rather a listening, or hearing on the part those who would learn. But what do they hear? Words from the Father, words that proceed out of His mouth, which do not return to Him void (cp Is 55:11), but rather accomplish that which He pleases, namely the drawing of men to His Son, for thus wrote the Apostle:

“Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? … So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. But I say, have they not heard? Yes, verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world” (Rom 10:13-18).

The matter is therefore laid plainly before us; a man becomes called, and “taught of God” by hearing the “sound” of those sent by him, namely the apostles (‘ones sent’), or of those who preach the Testimony they taught. Accordingly, it might be written to them, as it was to those believers at Thessalonica, that they were chosen unto salvation through “belief of the truth; whereunto He called you by our Gospel” (2 Thes 2:14). This is how they become “drawn” of God – by the Gospel of Christ heard, understood, and believed. So it is by this means that many become “called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:29), to be conformed to the image of His son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren, ultimately forming single family of men and women who, by carrying their cross and following him, through being partakers of the likeness of his death by obeying the Gospel through baptism, shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. They shall “be like him” (1 Jno 3:2), both morally and physically, having their bodies changed that they become “fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Phil 3:21), immortal, free from sin and death, and fitted for the Kingdom of God.

But not all who are “drawn” by the Father to the Son will be granted the glory, honour and immortality for which the faithful seek. Though many be drawn to Christ, some cannot endure the straitness of the Way he requires them to walk along, and they allow themselves to be tempted, and drawn away of their own lusts, and enticed (Jas 1:14). So it is, that “many be called, but few chosen” (Mat 20:16). Many are called to be partakers of many things; they are called into Grace (Gal 1:6), into Liberty (Gal 5:13), unto a kingdom and great glory (1 Thes 2:2), unto Eternal Life (1 Tim 6:12), out of darkness into light (1 Pet 2:9). But they are also “called to be saints” (1Cor 1:2), holy ones unto the Deity who gave His Son that they might have life. And that is something many cannot be. As dogs, they return unto their own vomit, and as swine to their wallowing in the mire (2 Pet 2:22). They cannot abide life in the Light, as their works become manifest by it and open to reproof (Jno 3:19). They cannot abide the constant washing of the water of the word whereby their way might be cleansed, for they take too much delight in the defiling ways of the flesh. So it happens unto them according to the true proverb; they turn back into the darkness and defilement of the world, and so judge themselves to be unworthy of eternal life.

But why is this? If it is true, as some claim, that the believer’s life becomes governed by direct Holy Spirit operation upon the brain-flesh of men, why is it even possible for some to fail? Why do some fail, whilst others do not? There are those who claim that some inscrutable influence renews men’s hearts, causing them to believe, and that unless they have had an “experience” of the sudden swooping of this power upon them, they cannot believe. But such a magical excitation finds no place within the pages of Scripture, which declares that a man becomes “renewed by knowledge” (Col 3:10). As Bro Thomas wrote:

“When a man is renewed by the truth, he is renewed by the spirit, and not before. There is no such thing in the scriptures as a renewed ignorant man. Ignorance of the testimony of God, and regeneration, are utterly incompatible. The truth is the purifier to those only who understand and obey it (1Pet 1:22); and there is no moral purity, or sanctification of spirit before God, without it (Elpis Israel Pt 1 Ch 2).

Another idea held by some, is that at the time of baptism, men are given a dose of strength from the mystical influence they call the Spirit. For instance, in his book entitled James and Other Studies (1st Edition), Duncan Heaster postulates that at the time of baptism, believers are endowed with “a gift of heavenly health”, a “once off gift of the Holy Spirit”, and are later given the further opportunity of drawing upon the Spirit in order to receive Divine help in their Bible study. Thus, under the heading, Holy Spirit at Baptism? he writes:

“… this approach to the subject makes more sense of the passages which imply that there is a once off gift of spiritual strength in our lives. Israel’s passage through the Red Sea was a clear type of our baptism and subsequent wilderness journey (1 Cor 10:1). Miraculously, “there was not one feeble person among their tribes” (Ps 105:37) – of about four million people. This gift of physical strength after their Baptism surely prefigures our ‘gift of Heavenly health’ after our immersion … Grammatically this must imply a once off gift of the Spirit to each believer … Despite having had this Spirit gift at baptism, the utmost personal effort is still required in responding to it”

Again he writes:

“Surely there is no point in praying to understand God’s word if our own unaided intellect is all that is required (Ps 119:18). Such prayers are surely for God’s help to act upon us to assist us in our efforts to understand. Seeing that all God’s work is accomplished through His Spirit, it follows that we are asking from the help of His Spirit to understand the word.”

Here then, is the claim presented in clear and unambiguous terms; when they are baptised, believers are given the Spirit of God as a “once off gift” of “spiritual strength”. And further, this Spirit may be also drawn upon as required, to give assistance in understanding the Father’s Word. But what saith the Word?

In order to describe this idea, which is not in itself taught in Scripture, expressions not from Scripture are employed. For instance, there is no passage in Scripture that speaks of “heavenly health,” let alone a “once off gift” of it. Nor does any passage of Scripture state that a believer ought to ask the Father to use His Spirit in order to give them understanding of the Word. As the writer himself admits, at best, the ‘proof’ texts he advances can only “imply” the points he makes. And in actual fact, whilst the writer considers the physical provision made for Israelites in the desert as being a “prefigure” of each believer being given a “once off gift of the Spirit,” Scripture itself does not make that comparison. Rather, in its plain teachings, it refutes such an idea.

THE POWER OF THE WORD

Rather than speaking of some mystical endowment of “heavenly health” at baptism, the Oracles of the Most High declare that the Word itself gives strength to believers, being a power in its own right:

“the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are (being) saved, it is the power of God” (1Cor 1:18).

“I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth” (Rom 1:16).

“wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted (implanted) word, which is able to save your souls” (Jas 1:21).

“when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thes 2:13).

The power, that works within the believer, most “effectually”, is therefore the influence of the Word itself. As Bro Roberts expressed it, the Word:

“lays hold of the entire mental man, creating new ideas and new affections, and, in general, evolving a “new man”. In this work, the Spirit has no participation, except in the shape of the written word”. This is the product of the Spirit—the ideas of God reduced to writing by the ancient men who were moved by it. It is, therefore, the instrumentality of the Spirit … by this men may be subdued to God—that is, enlightened, purified, and saved, if they receive the word into good and honest hearts, and “bring forth fruit, some thirty-fold, some sixty, and some a hundred” (Christendom Astray, Lecture 6, 1884 edition).

The Psalmist prayed, “my soul melteth for heaviness: strengthen thou me according to thy word” (Ps 119:28). That is the prayer of the faithful; to pray for strength to be given in accordance with what the Word teaches. To pray for a strength which the Word does not promise, or to look for power in a different place to where the Creator has provided it, is bound only to leave the petitioner weak and in need of true spiritual strength.

The Master, in his Parable of the Sower clearly described what source of spiritual growth and health is sown in the believer’s heart. “The seed is the Word of God” (Luke 8:11). Notice, the seed is sown alone in the heart, the onus being on the individual to allow it to germinate and take root there. The Master describes no additional element being sown with the seed to help the recipient in some other way, it is down to the nature of soil, and disposition of the individual as to whether, or how that seed grows. Neither does the master describe the soil being especially prepared to receive the seed; but rather it falls on both good and bad ground, and grows where the conditions are right.

This seed so sown is that “implanted Word” which “effectually worketh” within the believer, an “incorruptible seed” (1 Pet 1:23) which, is the germ of a new Spiritual life – a “new creature” (2 Cor 5:17), and is a virile ‘power’ mighty to save. Indeed, it is that seed which is able to strengthen the believer to resist sin (1 Jno 3:9), and which is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Tim 3:17).

“THAT THE MAN OF GOD MAY BE PERFECT”

This latter passage is most instructive for our present considerations – the Word is a power able to reprove, correct, and instruct “that the man of God may be perfect”. Why then, do some consider there to be a need for an additional influence/strengthening power from elsewhere? Are we to suppose that the man of God may become more perfect than “perfect” by such additional “spiritual strength”? Nay, the Word itself, after the pattern of the Manna of old is sufficient for the believer to feed upon, even though it may be but “light bread”, and insufficient for the murmerers.

Contrary to the claims with which we are being presented, possession of the Holy Spirit was not in any case, a source of “heavenly health” strengthening the possessors to be obedient. This we know, for though it gave the First Century possessors miraculous powers and abilities, it was still needful for Paul to exhort and warn the spirit-endowed elders at Ephesus that:

“of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them which are sanctified” (Acts 20:30-32).

The arising of apostate leaders was certain – but what was needed to edify the body to remain faithfully resistant to these? Mystical supplies of “spiritual strength” from above? No – the Word itself. These were men who certainly did possess the Holy Spirit already, but it was not that Spirit which gave them strength to resist the apostates, but the Word, understood, believed and acted upon. It is a power of construction, able to build a firmly founded edifice which cannot be shaken in the day of evil.

The Spirit, whilst it gave miraculous powers, did not in itself impart an moral awareness, or cause a moral regeneration for the recipients thereof, as witnessed by the manner by which certain at Corinth abused their miraculous ability to speak in tongues (1 Cor 14). Judas is another case in point, he, as the other disciples were sent forth with the Holy Spirit to cast out demons and perform miracles in the name of Christ (Mat 10:1-5). And again, there will be many who were recipients of the Holy Spirit power rejected in the coming day of judgement:

“Many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? And in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mat 7:22,23).

Only a Divine power impressed upon the fleshly tables of the heart can achieve moral results, and it has so pleased the eternal Creator to have that power contained within the written Word.

Bro Thomas was quite plain in his exposition of these things:

“For myself, I believe that the Holy Spirit is the only authoritative, infallible, efficient and sufficient teacher of the Christian religion, in all its parts. If I be asked, what is the manner in which He teaches this religion? I reply, in the same way that all teachers convey instruction to their pupils: by words, either spoken or written. Hence, it is by the sacred Scriptures that He convinces men of sin, righteousness, and judgment to come in these times, and indeed, in all the times subsequent to the apostolic age. God is simple in all His plans.”

He goes on to say (quoting 2 Tim 3:15):

“What more do we want than wisdom in relation to this matter? If the sacred Scriptures are able to make us wise, we need no other instrumentality. The Holy Spirit by the word, without infusing a single idea into it, more than it actually and ordinarily contains, and without any collateral influence, teaches us all wisdom and knowledge that is necessary… Why, then, my friends, can we not be content with the means within the grasp of everyone who owns the volume of inspiration? If the ecclesiastical world were content to learn the truth from ‘the Bible alone’, and it honestly desired to obey the Messiah, there would soon be an end to Presbyterian and every other ism, by which ‘Christendom’ as it is called, or ‘anti-Christendom’, as it should be termed, has been for ages desolated.”
(The Apostasy Unveiled)

HELP IN UNDERSTANDING

We saw earlier how it is claimed that believers ought to pray for the Father to give them Spirit help to understand: “Surely there is no point in praying to understand God’s word if our own unaided intellect is all that is required (Ps 119:18). Such prayers are surely for God’s help to act upon us to assist us in our efforts to understand … it follows that we are asking for the help of His Spirit to understand the word”. Such are the sentiments of many.

“Surely” it must be so – but why? No verse of Scripture states that believers should pray for the Holy Spirit to aid their Bible study – those terms are not used. On the contrary, even prophets to whom the words of the Spirit came direct, had to exert much effort themselves in seeking out their meaning: “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace which 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” (1 Pet 1:11).

These inspired prophets received the Spirit – it operated through them to give us the words of Scripture, yet they did not understand the import of those words, and how they testified of the coming Messiah. The Spirit did not give them understanding of what they themselves wrote. They had to show themselves to be “workmen that needeth not to be ashamed” (2 Tim 2:15), seeking to rightly divide the Word of Truth – as do we. The way to understand the Word, is to “search diligently”, following the example of the prophets of old, not to pray for a source of understanding they did not have, and which the Father has not promised. And why should it be otherwise? “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing, but the honour of kings is to search out a matter” (Prov 25:2). True, it may be attractive to the flesh to suppose that though we be workmen, we do not have to work hard, that we are, in some mysterious way, “helped” to understand, so saving us hours of thoughtful meditation, but that is not the revealed way of the Most High.

AN UNVEILING

One passage of Scripture, which is often employed as a prop to sustain the argument, as in this case, is Psalm 119:18: “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy Law”. But much is assumed regarding this passage that is not stated. For instance, the Holy Spirit itself is not directly spoken of. David does not pray for the Holy Spirit to help his understanding – those are not the terms he uses, even if others may assume that to be his meaning. David simply besought Yahweh to “open his eyes”.

Interestingly, the Hebrew for “open” used here by the Spirit literally signifies, to uncover; to reveal. The idea is that of the eyes being covered over, David’s prayer being that this covering may be removed, so that the “wondrous things” contained within the Mosaic Law might be seen. Hence, Rotherham renders the verse thus: “unveil thou mine eyes that I may discern wondrous things out of thy law”. But what are those wondrous things? David certainly knew and understood the Law very well, for later in the same Psalm he says: “O how love I thy law! It is my meditation all the day. Thou through thy commandments hast made my wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me” (Ps 119:97,98). Already having been given understanding and wisdom (notice, from the commandments, not Holy Spirit bestowal), there was yet something contained within the Law which was veiled from his sight, and which he sought to “see”.

The Apostle speaks similarly of Israel, and their inability to see the wonderful things testified of the Master: “seeing then that we have such hope, we use great plainness of speech: And not as Moses, which put a vail over his face, that the children of Israel could not steadfastly look to the end of that which was abolished: But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the Old Testament … even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart” (2 Cor 3:15). That which is veiled from Israel even today, is an appreciation of how the Law spoke of the Lord Jesus. Their minds are blinded to this; there is a need for them to have their eyes opened, and their hearts unveiled in order for them to recognise the Messiah who came to fulfil the Law. Even so with David; yet he sought to have that vail removed.

This is something which was indeed revealed to David by Divine Revelation, for he was a prophet: “being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ” (Acts 2:31). But D Heaster is not a prophet, and neither is anyone else today! Why then should it be supposed that we can pray for the same manner of Revelation as David? When we cite a verse, we must pay attention to its historical context, or we become no better than the Apostasy who pick out verses to wrest to their own destruction.

Here then, we see the prayer and its fulfilment. David prayed that he might see wondrous things; and being a prophet those things were shown to him, that “seeing this before”, he might speak of the resurrection of Christ. The revelation which he sought came both in the “oath” sworn to him through Nathan the prophet, as recorded in 2 Sam 7, and also through prophetic vision which he received himself – which things we do not experience today. David, as other men of old had direct communication from the Most High, whereas we do not. He then, was placed in a unique position greatly different to ours, whereby he could pray to have things revealed to him. For our part, we must be content with the Divine injunction to use personal effort, to “search diligently” that we might show ourselves workmen that need not be ashamed.

THE WORD – A SPOKEN, THEN WRITTEN REVELATION OF THE SPIRIT

What we have endeavoured to show, is that the power of the word itself imparts understanding to the hearer. As the voice of Wisdom crieth:

“My son, if thou wilt receive my words, and hide my commandments with thee … then shalt thou understand the fear of Yahweh, and find the knowledge of elohim. For Yahweh giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding …” (Prov 2:1-6).

Out of the mouth of Yahweh, that is, via His spoken Word, understanding and knowledge was given to His prophets, and they wrote it down for others. We obtain knowledge of the Most High by heeding that revelation, not by seeking another spirit-revelation to, in some way clarify the first. But the word itself is a power of the Spirit because it is the product of the breath, or Spirit of Yahweh, as we touched upon earlier. Thus Paul spake to the Corinthians of the formerly concealed mysteries of the Gospel: “God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit … for what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (1 Cor 2:10,11).

So then, “no man” can know the things of God, but by the Spirit of God. But how? By a mystical impartation of understanding? By no means, as we have already established, it is by the words taught by the Spirit, for this is how the apostle spake of the revelations given to him, and committed to paper: “now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Spirit teacheth, comparing Spiritual things with Spiritual” (v 12,13). So, true, we can only know of Divine things from the Spirit. That is, through the words which the Spirit teaches in the pages of our Bibles. What we must do therefore, rather than to give petition for additional power from the Father, is to attend to that which He has already imparted by the Spirit, and encapsulated within the word. We must shun the words which man’s wisdom teaches, and give ear to the oracles of God, that showing ourselves “workmen” who need not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of Truth, we might be given a spirit-nature, being heirs of the promises contained within that word.

There are those who glibly dismiss the above as “Word-Only Extremism”. That scoff at the idea that in these evil days of darkness when the love of many waxes cold, and iniquity abounds, that the only source of help we have been granted is words in a printed book. But such remarks merely serve to demonstrate the point made earlier, that natural men receive not the things of the spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto them (1 Cor 2:14). Rather than to address the points of Scripture raised, instead an attempt is made to discredit particular teachings by bestowing inaccurate and derogatory labels upon them.

MINISTERING SPIRITS

The Scriptures do not teach that the only source of help provided to those who would be heirs of the kingdom is the Word, powerful though that be. Indeed, such a dogma, were it to exist, ought to be resisted with equal force as belief in possession of a Divine Power that the Father has, in fact, not granted, for it would be to deny another vital source of aid to the believer, namely the work of the angels. It is a source of much comfort and consolation to the faithful that as they walk on their weary journey through the wilderness of life towards the city that hath foundations, they are not alone. They have Divine Ministers to attend to their needs, for concerning the immortal messengers of Yahweh, it is written, “are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?” (Heb 1:14). Indeed, the Master himself referred to the presence of these, as a reason not to speak evil of his little ones: “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 the Father which is in heaven” (Mat 18:10).

The patriarch Jacob, father of the 12 tribes recognised the help granted to him by the angelic hands moving in the circumstances of his life. Accordingly, he bestowed a blessing upon Joseph’s sons: “Elohim, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the Elohim which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads …” (Gen 48:15,16).

Here is a most striking example of a man who recognised the hand of Yahweh in his life. But notice, rather than to speak of spirit-bestowals giving him understanding to direct his ways away from, and out of evil, he spoke of the direct intervention of the angel, the ministering Spirit sent forth to minister to him. It may be argued that our circumstance differs from his, in that men today do not personally see their divine ministers. But though they go unseen, the reality of their presence and actions is readily seen by those who possess an eye of faith.

There are those, like Elishah’s servant who will not believe until they see, and who are therefore fearful at the troubles which might come. Others, however, like Elijah go forward in faith, trusting that what Yahweh has promised, he will give – trusting in the promised angelic ministration. “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them” (2 Kings 6:18), is the spirit of those who trust in the deliverance of Yahweh. “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?” (Rom 8:31).

True it is, that times of difficulty, tribulation and evil come upon the Sons of Yahweh, for such are brought upon them for the purposes of their chastisement and refinement (Heb 12:5-7). As it is written “many are the afflictions of the righteous …” (Ps 34:19).

It is through much tribulation that the Sons of Yahweh shall enter the kingdom, for as gold is tried in the fire, even so their faith must be tried and purified by trial (Acts 14:22; 1Pet 1:7). But they are not alone in their trials, for the Psalmist continues “ … but Yahweh delivereth them out of them all”. But how? By imparting His Spirit that they may be in some way strengthened, and helped by it’s influence? By no means; Yahweh knows how to deliver them that trust in Him (2 Pet 2:9), and this same Psalm reveals how He is pleased to do such a thing, in response to their cries:

“This poor man cried, and Yahweh heard him, and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of Yahweh encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them” (Ps 34:6,7).

That is where David’s trust was, as with Jacob. Not in an unknown and unknowable mysterious influence, but in the reality of angelic activity. He trusted in Yahweh, he cried unto Yahweh, and Yahweh saved him out of his troubles.

DELIVERANCE FROM EVIL

There is another principle we would do well to note, from Psalm 34. Notice, the angel did not prevent evil from coming. There are those who suppose that if believers have angelic ministers with the power of the Almighty watching over them for their good, that therefore no evil should come. We have even heard it taught that the fact of brethren in many cases enduring many hardships is evidence that it is a mistake to assume the angels are with us. However, again, such reveals a lack of familiarity with what Yahweh has promised; as we have already seen there is no promise that tribulation will not come; on the contrary, if we do not experience such, the Scriptures declare that we are illegitimate, “and not sons” (Heb 12:8). However, the promise is that when troubleous times are upon us, there will also be deliverance:

“There hath no temptation (trial) taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted (tried) above that ye are able; but will with the temptation (trial) also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it” (1 Cor 10:13).

And this, as seen in the examples of David and Jacob, is work which falls within the scope of angelic ministration.

By way of conclusion then, when consulting the Word of the Most High, we do not find prayers for Holy Spirit help and guidance, or exhortations for believers to offer such prayers. Literally all of the passages employed to suggest this (we have considered but one in this section) do so by inference only. But by contrast, we have shown that the Word itself is a living power, able to impart wisdom from above, able to draw the hearer to the Christ, and make him “wise unto salvation”. And deliverance from evil is not from some unknown and unknowable, undefined and indefinable influence imparting an armchair injection of ‘strength,’ but is via angelic ministration.

This highlights the vital importance of giving heed to the power Yahweh has given unto us via the Word. Should a man fail to heed it, believing in some other source of power that is not given, for it is not promised, he will not be found labouring in the Word and in the Doctrine to build for himself a foundation that can withstand the stormy blasts of life’s turbulent periods. Not heeding the exhortation given, he will not know enough of the word to perform it, and act upon the wisdom of its ways. Being founded upon the uncertainty of sandy foundations instead of the Rock of the word, his house will not stand: “and great will be the fall of it”.

Christopher Maddocks