Holy postal service!

February 21, 2005    By: Geoff J @ 5:30 pm   Category: Personal Revelation,Scriptures,Theology

Have you ever seen an angel? I haven’t. In fact I’ve never met anyone who has claimed to have seen one. Yet I have met thousands of priesthood holders who hold “the keys of the ministering of angels.” Now I’ve read the statements by Wilford Woodruff and others that explain why God will only send us angels if the job at hand can be accomplished in no other way. But it has always seemed odd to me that there is so much emphasis on the restoration of the keys of the ministering of angels if we never get to use those keys. Well I have learned something new recently that has helped me better understand and now you get to learn it too…

The insight came from a talk given by Elder Oaks in the October 1998 General conference. In it he he makes some very interesting comments. Here are a few:

…Most angelic communications are felt or heard rather than seen.

How does the Aaronic Priesthood hold the key to the ministering of angels? The answer is the same as for the Spirit of the Lord.

In general, the blessings of spiritual companionship and communication are only available to those who are clean. As explained earlier, through the Aaronic Priesthood ordinances of baptism and the sacrament, we are cleansed of our sins and promised that if we keep our covenants we will always have His Spirit to be with us. I believe that promise not only refers to the Holy Ghost but also to the ministering of angels, for “angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ” (2 Ne. 32:3). So it is that those who hold the Aaronic Priesthood open the door for all Church members who worthily partake of the sacrament to enjoy the companionship of the Spirit of the Lord and the ministering of angels.

So what is new here? Basically he is saying that angels send us messages but they do it through the power of the Holy Ghost. What does that mean? Perhaps many of those promptings, comforts, insights, and other spiritual flashes you and I have felt throughout our lives were not originated by God, but rather just delivered by the power of God the Spirit. Maybe they were actually from our loving ancestors, friends, or descendents on the other side of the veil (each of them angels by definition). The implication is that one role of the power of the Holy Ghost is to be a Holy postal service, passing on messages to us from individuals across the veil.

Maybe this is old news to you, but it is new to me. I have been giving credit to God for originating every spiritual message I have ever received. Now I wonder if the authors weren’t often others and the Spirit just the messenger. I like the idea. I tastes good to me. And it gives me one more reason to work hard on that cyclical pattern to perfection that helps us always have the Spirit – because loved ones may want to get through to me and I need to be worthy to receive the mail.

The Fowles recently opined on relatives pulling strings from the other side. That seems more likely to me now. And if they can send us blessings and messages, do you think we can mail love, blessings, and messages to them as well?


  1. Good post, though when mortals convey messages from God, they are acting as messengers of God, which is what “angel” means.

    I’ll have to link to this site, name and all … 

    Posted by Stephen M (Ethesis)

    Comment by Anonymous — February 22, 2005 @ 6:50 am

  2. because loved ones may want to get through to me and I need to be worthy to receive the mail 

    This is quite a catholic sentiment (minus the intercession..or maybe not). This is one of those things that has been described differently by various people since the restoration. I think that it is still very important to consider angelic ministration as described by Moroni (and several of the early saints).

    Another important consideration is that we all might not hold the keys. (Side note, I’ve noted  how our ussage of that term has changed). If this is truely a “preisthood key” as we commonly use the term, why would it be different than the vast majority of other priesthhod keys, in that they are held only by quorum presidents.

    The keys to the sealing power come with the Melchizedek priesthood, and though I hold that priesthood, I don’t hold that key. 

    Posted by J. Stapley

    Comment by Anonymous — February 22, 2005 @ 1:45 pm

  3. Don’t get me wrong, J. I’m not saying angels can’t appear to people too. I was just highlighting this doctrine taught recently in general conference because it slipped right by me that evening. But reading it again closely made me realize it really is new doctrine to me (even if it does sound a bit Catholic).

    As for Aaronic priesthood keys — quorum president holds some Aaronic priesthood keys and none of them I’ve known have seen an angel. Elder Oaks seems to be saying the key is the more general type you mention, though. This priesthood administers the sacrament; the sacrament covenant renews our ability to always have the Spirit; always having the Spirit allows us to receive messages from angels. I couldn?t tell from your comment if you objected to this model or not?

    Stephen — Thanks. And it looks like the goofy name has stuck… 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 22, 2005 @ 2:05 pm

  4. I think you are right that this is an under-played aspect of the ministration of angels. There are simply two things that I wanted to bring out: 1) I’m hesitant recently to ascribe non-extraordinary explainations to extraordinary aspects of our faith (following the discussion we had a while back) and 2) maybe the keys reside only with Bishops or even the Presiding Bishop.

    Outside of the aspects that relate to the extraordinary and to the keys, the idea of decentralized communication makes alot of sense. Notably, B.H. Roberts was a proponant of the idea that Church government here mirrors government in the Celestial Kingdom. 

    Posted by J. Stapley

    Comment by Anonymous — February 22, 2005 @ 2:49 pm

  5. This really is interesting. I hadn’t thought of the ministering of angels in these terms before. This makes really good sense. After all, the Restored Gospel does many things by proxy–why not on the other side as well, with God communicating to us by proxy through ministering angels speaking to us through the Gift of the Holy Ghost? 

    Posted by john fowles

    Comment by Anonymous — February 22, 2005 @ 3:35 pm

  6. I’m with you John. I always thought “Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost” just meant that if you see an angel, it will be the Spirit that makes you believe their words (hence Laman and Lemuel not converting). Apparently there are other possible meanings too. And I like your observation about this fitting the pattern of other things in the Church. As I constantly quote: “The course of the Lord is one eternal round”. It seems patterns are used over and over in God’s work.

    J. — good points. I think we should not let this variety of angelic communication make us forget that angels can appear any time as well. We do not want our faith to decrease to the point where there really is an “end to the extraordinary ” 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 22, 2005 @ 4:03 pm

  7. Two quotes regarding our departed ancestors’ spirits communicating with us here today:

    “. . . you also have ancestors who may very well be assisting you. Elder Melvin J. Ballard described their involvement. ‘Why is it that sometimes only one of a city or household received the Gospel? It was made known to me that it is because of the righteous dead who had received the Gospel in the spirit world exercising themselves, and in answer to their prayers elders of the Church were sent to the homes of their posterity that the Gospel might be taught to them and through their righteousness they might be privileged to have a descendant in the flesh do the work for their dead kindred. I want to say to you that it is with greater intensity that the hearts of the fathers and mothers in the spirit world are turned to their children than that our hearts are turned to them'”

    “You may be confident that your deceased people know where their records are, and you can obtain help through inspiration from them in locating these records.” (Sermons and Missionary Services of Melvin Joseph Ballard, by Bryant S. Hinckley)

    I know that I have been surrounded by the spirits of my ancestors while doing family history work. I have also had the privilege of hearing them briefly speak to me as I’ve done ordinance work for them. And sometimes I awaken (especially early on Sunday mornings)with them serenading me with hymns. Makes me feel as if I am already standing in eternity…. 

    Posted by Peggy Snow Cahill

    Comment by Anonymous — February 22, 2005 @ 9:23 pm

  8. Great quotes Peggy. Thanks. You can probably see why this post led to me writing my next one. Since I now see that ancestors may be communicating with me it makes it all the more confusing why I have yet to experience the Spirit of Elijah like many others have. 

    Posted by Geoff Johnston

    Comment by Anonymous — February 22, 2005 @ 9:41 pm

  9. Peggy, your experiances are very moving.

    Comment by J. Stapley — February 23, 2005 @ 11:03 am

  10. Great post. I’ve felt this way for at least 10 years after reading 2 Ne 32 and understanding what it means to speak by the power of the Holy Ghost and Nephi’s statements that angels do exactly that. It is reassuring to see somebody else mirror these same feelings.

    Comment by Travis — December 3, 2006 @ 8:33 pm

  11. I’ve personally know many who have had the ministration of angels for different reasons, messages of rebuke, comfort, counsel, thankfulness. Etc. These have occured in and out of the temples. A teenage girl in my family had this experience most recently in the Draper temple during the open house in the celestial room. They are near, they do care, they do prompt and occasionally they do appear.

    Comment by Brett — February 22, 2009 @ 10:24 am