You will recall that in these next few Un-Blogs we are defining a journey into righteousness. The first few steps we have covered over and over, which is that we become obedient to the voice of the Holy Spirit, which is the voice of Christ in our souls.
Any person, no matter where they are in their journey, who hearkens to the voice of the Holy Spirit will develop faith in Christ, and will repent and be baptized. Almost all of what we have spoken through these last few months has been to define these initial steps. It does not matter if these steps are being taken by an investigator, or by a life-long member. The point is that they always bring us here. Even when a person is baptized at eight years old, eventually they must come unto Christ through the discipleship of obedience, repent and claim the promised cleansing of baptism.
The Aaronic priesthood administers the initiatory ordinance of baptism. Once within the gospel embrace, we grow until we have powerful faith and an inspired understanding of the gospel. Since Angels are now waiting until we have strong faith and firm mind to begin to appear to us in order to complete the covenants of the Father (Moroni 7), one must become a member of the restored gospel to qualify for the ministering of angels. Thus, in the right to perform baptisms, the Aaronic priesthood holds the key to their ministry. Or, stated in familiar language, the Aaronic priesthood holds the key to the ministering of angels. (JS History 1:69)
When we, by obedience to principles of the gospel, gain a strong faith in Christ, and a “firm mind in every form of godliness,” (Moroni 7:30) then the angels begin to “fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father” (Moroni 7:31) even showing themselves unto us if necessary.
The angels wait for us to acquire “a firm mind in every form of godliness,” so we can begin to understand and claim the greater blessings which flow from the “covenants of the Father” which they are working to accomplish in our lives.
Elder McConkie gave us a wonderful description of this same process.
“After the true saints receive and enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost; after they know how to attune themselves to the voice of the Spirit; after they mature spiritually so that they see visions, work miracles, and entertain angels; after they make their calling and election sure and prove themselves worthy of every trust—after all this and more—it becomes their right and privilege to see the Lord and commune with him face to face.” (The Promised Messiah, pp.575)
What may remain to be said is that angels actually do minister today, and we are those to whom they minister.
In the case of Enoch and his people, their present ministry is to be angels to those who are heirs of the Terrestrial order, which order is their present state.
Joseph Smith noted of Enoch and his people:
“Their place of habitation is that of the terrestrial order.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith 170-71)
Thus, they are ministering to people who are heirs of the same terrestrial order they now enjoy. Or in other words, they are laboring to bring people to the same state of translated life and labor they presently enjoy.
Elder Orson Pratt noted:
“they have been ministering angels during all that time. To whom? To those of the terrestrial order, if you can understand that expression. . . . he granted to the people of Enoch their desire to become ministering spirits unto those of the terrestrial order until the earth should rest and they should again return to it.” (Journal of Discouses, 17: 148 – 149)
In other words, they are laboring among, and with, those who will become citizens of the latter-day Zion. According to Moroni 7:29-30 quoted above, those to whom the angels from Enoch’s Zion minister are those among us who are of a “strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness”. These are the future inhabitants of Zion.
We learn in the temple that angels perform a vital function in the relationship of God and man. We may ascertain that, among many other things, they carry out assignments, deliver messages, report on their labors, check to ensure covenants are being kept, and deliver greater light and knowledge when we qualify for it. The also appear when the situation warrants it, either in or outside of their true identity.
So, we look around and think, I don’t recall seeing any angels. Where are they? Why haven’t I seen them?
First of all, we understand that most angelic labors are not performed visibly. Elisha had to pray to the Lord so that his servant could see the angels protecting Elisha. When his eyes were opened, he saw that “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” (2 Kings 6:17)
We also observe in the temple that angels are often sent with instructions to conceal their true identity. These are the “holy men” working among us that we “know not of.” (D&C 49:8) The scriptures are full of angels doing marvelous works occasionally in plain view, but largely invisible to mortals.
29 And because he [Christ] hath done this, [ascended into heaven] my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness. (Moroni 7:29-30, comments added)
These examples are sufficient to suggest that most angelic works are performed behind the scenes, away from seeing mortals. The scriptures also plainly tell us that we can and will see them when our faith is strong, and our mind (suggesting our doctrinal understanding) is firm in every form of godliness.
Could it also be that belief plays a powerful role in whether or not we see heavenly visitors and visions also? Consider this account of Joseph inviting two brethren to join him in a vision.
Brother Joseph then said, “Now brethren, we will see some visions.” Joseph lay down on the ground on his back and stretched out his arms and the two brethren lay on them. The heavens gradually opened . . . (Zebedee Coltrin, Remarks, Salt Lake City School of Prophets, 11 October 1883, Writings of Early Latter-day Saints 66.)
The astonishing element of this account is that Joseph was so proactive about it. He didn’t just wait for angels to appear, he just went and did it, and he invited two other brethren to join him in the vision. He had seen many angels, and it was well within his belief structure that he could do it again. The brethren had confidence in Brother Joseph, and they surely approached the experience with excitement and expectation, which is a manifestation of true belief.
It also has to be true that the Holy Spirit had planted the appropriateness of this action into Joseph’s heart, or he could not have approached it with sufficient faith to rend the veil. The unshakeable belief this event exhibits is astonishing.
The principle here is that it has to be true that most of having a “firm mind” on this subject of seeing angels is to believe that angels can, do, and will minister to us individually. Without this underlying belief, it is unlikely we will have much cognizant interaction with angels.
We already have faith that angels have, do and will continue to work among mankind, and that they will appear from time to time. This we do believe. All that we lack is the belief that they will appear to us individually. The promises are given and we have sufficient faith – let us then rend the veil of unbelief and behold.