The Truth About Guardian Angels

Have you ever lost someone you dearly loved, felt your heart ripping out of your chest and imagined life without them will never be the same?  In moments like those we wish so badly to remain close to them in some way, because the love we have for them has no place to go.  All the love we want to give, we can’t.  It hits this wall called death, and so often we don’t know what to do about it.

Lamenting and expressing our grief is one of the things that helps our hearts to heal, even though (because love never dies) the grief remains always just under the surface.  Sometimes, because of this frustrated love, the way that person lived and treated others, whether good or bad, then becomes overshadowed by memories laced in loving grief, and let’s face it, our memories always paint a much lovelier version of that person than they were in real life.  Immediately, regardless of the life they lived and the decisions they may have made, we see them in heaven, at rest, at peace, with other family and friends who have gone on before.

How many times, too, have we wistfully thought that they have graduated into becoming our personal guardian angel, ever present and always busily watching over us.  It’s a pleasant thought as we imagine them near, and while I can respect that we want to remember our loved ones, is it true?  Here are five things you need to know.

1. It is true, there are actual guardian angels!

We know this from scriptures like Hebrews 1:14 that tell us angels are “ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation”; and like Psalms 91:11 that tells us God “will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways”.

But there is a caveat, did you catch it?  Guardian angels from God are for those who will inherit salvation.  So how do you know if you will inherit salvation?

If you ever attended Sunday School, one verse you may remember is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”.

The word “believe” is an action verb, indicating an active faith.  The conviction we need to believe in this way is given to us by the Holy Spirit, who causes us to see the truth of the gospel of salvation in a clear light (John 16:8-11).   It is through this active choice of believing that we inherit the salvation He offers through His son, Jesus. Without this active believing faith it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).  The miracle is that this salvation is available and freely given by the Holy Spirit for all who are willing to put their trust in Jesus.  But unless and until we are inheritors of that salvation, neither heaven nor God’s holy angels are reserved for us.

2. Angels are not people

That people become angels when they die is a popular belief, so if you have ever thought or wondered it, you’re not alone. The truth is that people and angels are separately created beings with their own separate purposes.  We know from Job 38:4-7, for example, that angels were created before the physical universe, because they shouted for joy when the foundations of the earth were laid.

One function of angels is to worship God around His throne (Revelation 5:11-14).  In addition to worshiping Him, we can also see in scriptures like Psalms 103:20, which says “Praise the Lord, you his angels, you mighty ones who do his bidding, who obey his word”, that they are created to do His will. 

We also know they existed prior to the garden of Eden, because Satan, who was formerly the angel Lucifer, was already present in the garden in his fallen state. So, although the Bible does not specifically say when God created the angels, we know it was before He created man.

As far as man having a separate function, although while we are here on this earth, the scripture tells us we were created a little lower than the angels (Psalms 8:5), in heaven the scripture tells us that we will judge angels (1 Corinthians 6:3).

3. To be absent from this body is to be present with the Lord

2 Corinthians 5:1-9 explains this well.  Whether here or in heaven, we are never spirits without bodies.  We always have a body, whether it is this earthly one or our new heavenly one.  This portion of scripture also tells us that to be absent from the earthly body and in our new heavenly body is to be at home with God.  I think about this.  To me, I imagine we will be so captivated by being physically in the presence of God Himself, by being reunited in heaven with all those in Christ who have gone before us, and by the dazzle of heaven itself that we most likely will not give second thought to anyone left behind on this earth.  Can you imagine being set free from all the pain this earthly body brings with it?  And there, too, we will have no worries, no cares, no problem whatsoever because we will no longer have anything preventing us from trusting in our Savior to work all things together for good, for those who love Him (Romans 8:28).  I wonder if we will even look back. If we do [look back on earth after we have left], I think it will be because we have joined in with the great cloud of witnesses who are cheering on those in Christ who remain, but not because we are actively ministering to a soul left behind.

For anyone who may be wondering about the many references in scripture to soul sleep, everywhere it is mentioned, the idea of rest is present.  Some say that when we close our eyes for the last time in our earthly bodies, the very next time we open our eyes, we are in heaven with Him.  For those who inherit salvation and are found in Christ, I believe this is true.  There is nothing at all in scripture that indicates our job here on earth is not finished after we die.  What the bible does tell us, however, is that we are destined to die once, and after that we face judgement (Hebrews 9:27)

4. There is a great gulf fixed between Heaven and Hell that cannot be crossed

Some may say that Luke 16:19-31 is a parable but I personally believe it is not.  I think Jesus is giving us a true account of the story of the rich man and Lazarus, first because there is no statement prior to or afterwards that indicates this was a parable, which is usually the case; and second because Jesus calls Lazarus and Abraham by name and also provides many very specific details about the rich man.  This level of detail is not typical within a parable.  Knowing, too, that Jesus liked to stress the meaning of names, it’s interesting to note that the Hebrew version of Lazarus is Eleazer, which means “God has helped”, and to me this just adds color to the variety of word pictures already being painted within this story!

Some of those pictures we find include the words used to describe the hell this rich man is suffering, including the fire, his extreme thirst, and his agony (noting that the rich man still possesses senses – he sees, he feels, he hears, he desires touch).  Something else I’ve noticed is there is nothing I can find in scripture that tells us that those who go to hell also get new bodies.  Exactly what that means, I am not sure, but the thought of going into hell maimed or broken or addicted in any way becomes all that much more sobering, knowing they are there for eternity.

The rich man sees Lazarus by Abraham’s side, and begs for help.  In response, one of the things Abraham points out to this rich man is the fact that there is a great chasm (or gulf) that has been “fixed” (or set into place), noting that no one in hell can cross out of or leave hell, and neither can anyone in heaven cross out of or leave heaven.  The important thing to note is not that they can’t cross between heaven and hell, but that they cannot cross out of where they each are, period.  Unless by a direct act of God Himself, once you are there, you are there.

“And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” (Luke 16:26).

As a side note about the rich man, I read a fascinating article some time ago by Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg, where one thing he draws attention to is that the rich man was dressed in purple and fine linen, had five brothers, and they all had access to Moses and the prophets (not everyone back then had access to scripture).  Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg uses this detail along with all the others, and brings the reader first to the attention of Exodus 28:5, noting this is also a description of priestly garments.  What becomes interesting is that Caiaphas is the High Priest during the time of Jesus.  As Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg continues, he brings attention to Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who stated that Caiaphas’ father-in-law Anas had five priestly sons (Antiquities XX, 9i; John 18:13), and draws the conclusion in his article that Jesus likely had someone very specific in mind when telling this story of the rich man.

5. There are no reunions in hell

If I only had a nickel for each time I saw a meme or heard someone say something to the effect of “meet you in hell” or “we’ll party together in hell”, or “if my friends aren’t going to heaven then neither am I”. But the sad thing is that it doesn’t take a scholar to understand that, after reading scripture for any amount of time, hell is a place of torment, devoid of love or anything lovely, and in essence is the very absence of God and everything good.  There are no reunions in hell.  There are no parties in hell.  There is no laughter, no freedom from addiction, no freedom period.  The bible tells us that the lake of fire was something created and reserved for Satan and all his angels.  That anyone else chooses to go there is not only tragic, it is a waste.

Truth be known in the end, to believe that your dead friend or relative is now your guardian angel is to believe a deceitful lie, and is a form of ancestry worship. Why do we worship the created more than the Creator?  Why do we esteem angels and people at a higher level than we would esteem God Himself? If you only knew God for who He is, in all of His glory and splendor, you would be so caught up in loving Him that you would not have time to imprison your dead relative in that way.  Give Him a try, He is closer than you think.

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2 thoughts on “The Truth About Guardian Angels

  1. Hi, Lisa. Today’s blog of mine is also about death, but from a slightly different perspective. However, I am saving this blog to reblog it in a couple weeks! Good theology and sound reasoning. ❤️&🙏, c.a.

    Liked by 1 person

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