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When Angels Saved President Russell M. Nelson's Life (+What We Know About Heavenly Messengers)

In his new book, Accomplishing the Impossible: What God Does, What We Can Do, President Russell M. Nelson shares a powerful personal experience with angels, as well as many fascinating examples from the scriptures and Church history. Enjoy the excerpt below and learn more about these heavenly beings.

Do we really believe in angels? Well, the answer is no and yes. No, we do not believe in angels as most people imagine them, with colossal wings and cherubic faces. But we do believe in angels who serve as appointed messengers from heaven.

At Christmastime, we speak of angels when we review the sweet story about shepherds who are tending their flocks by night: “And the angel [of the Lord] said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.”

Other angels—heavenly messengers—have participated in the Restoration. And now we know more about them.

Moroni, the last in a line of prophets in an ancient American civilization, held priesthood keys for an ancient, sacred record that we now know as the Book of Mormon. Moroni was foreordained for that responsibility. That was revealed in the biblical book of Revelation. There John prophesied: “I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.”

Michael is identified as the archangel, or chief angel. Latter-day revelation informs us that Michael is Adam, patriarch of the human family.

The angel Gabriel is a heavenly messenger well known to Bible students. God sent Gabriel to Daniel, to Zacharias, and to Mary, each with specific messages of supernal significance. In latter-day revelation, Gabriel has been identified as Noah.

The angel Gabriel was the messenger to bring news to Elisabeth and Zacharias that they would be the parents of a baby, later to be known as John the Baptist. Scripture tells us that John “was baptized while he was yet in his childhood, and was ordained by the angel of God . . . to make straight the way of the Lord.”

When Angels Saved President Russell M. Nelson's Life (+What We Know About Heavenly Messengers)

The Bible informs us that John the Baptist was beheaded. His latter-day responsibility to restore the Aaronic priesthood is also a stunning testimony of the glorious reality of the Resurrection.

The Book of Mormon adds much to our understanding of angels. An instructive example is in chapter seven of Third Nephi: “It came to pass that Nephi—having been visited by angels and also the voice of the Lord, therefore having seen angels, and being eye-witness, . . . that he might know concerning the ministry of Christ, . . . began to testify, boldly, repentance and remission of sins through faith on the Lord Jesus Christ.

“ . . . for so great was his faith on the Lord Jesus Christ that angels did minister unto him daily.”

Moroni anticipated a question from us, as readers of his ancient record. His question: “Have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men?”

His answer: “Behold I say unto you, Nay; for it is by faith that miracles are wrought; and it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men.”

That specific angels participated in the Restoration is evident from section 128 of the Doctrine and Covenants. There we read about “the voice of God . . . and the voice of Michael, the archangel; the voice of Gabriel, and of Raphael, and of divers angels, from Michael or Adam down to the present time.”

Those diverse angels—or heavenly messengers—could include John the Beloved, who did not die, but was allowed to tarry on earth as a ministering servant until the time of the Lord’s Second Coming. The three Nephites could likewise be in that same category. Their desire to tarry until the Second Coming was also granted. “they are as the angels of God, and . . . can show themselves unto whatsoever man it seemeth them good.”

The Lord made a promise to those faithfully engaged in His service. He said: “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

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My wife Wendy and I are the beneficiaries of that promise. On one occasion, we were attacked by armed men with malicious intent. They announced their purpose: to kidnap her, and to kill me. After they maliciously molested us in those evil objectives, they became totally foiled. A gun to my head failed to fire. And my wife was suddenly released from their hideous grasp. Then they disappeared as quickly as they had appeared. We were mercifully rescued from potential disaster. We know we were protected by angels round about us. Yes, the Lord’s precious promise had been invoked in our behalf.

Other angels are also at work. Often our members are “angels” to neighbors in need. Home teachers and visiting teachers, as ordinary people, frequently render service that seems angelic to grateful recipients. Young people who quietly leave homemade goodies on a doorstep or two experience the joy of anonymous service to others. And I am among the many who have often referred to the loving acts of an “angel mother” or an “angel wife,” or the priceless love of “angel children.”

Do we believe in angels? Yes! We believe in angels—heavenly messengers—seen and unseen; and earthly angels who know whom to help and how to help. Gospel messengers, or angels, can include ordinary people like you and me.

May angels, known and unknown, serve you and protect you along life’s perilous journey.  

Lead image: "Angels Among Us" by Annie Henrie. Available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.

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When Angels Saved President Russell M. Nelson's Life (+What We Know About Heavenly Messengers)The Lord gives no commandment without preparing a way for it to be accomplished (see 1 Nephi 3:7). In fact, as President Russell M. Nelson points out, His pattern is one of "using the unlikely to accomplish the impossible." From David and Goliath to Moses to Joseph Smith, the history of His people is a story of accomplishing the impossible.

We too can become a part of this grand pattern as we strive to learn and to do His will. This insightful book explores some of the means God gives us—such as angelic help, prayer, and gifts of the Spirit—to help us accomplish the impossible. It then shows what we can do to take our place in fulfilling the destiny He has planned for us. As we become partners with the Lord, impossible things really can become a reality! Now available at Deseret Book stores and deseretbook.com.

For even more on angels from an LDS perspective, check out Angels: Agents of Light, Love, and Power.

When Angels Saved President Russell M. Nelson's Life (+What We Know About Heavenly Messengers)Stories are told around the world of persons who have received help or comfort from someone they couldn't see—an angel or spirit who guided them or in some other way gave them assistance from beyond the veil.

But just who are these angels? Are they even real?

Although angels are a vital part of Latter-day Saint history and doctrine, their roles and purposes are often misunderstood. In this inspiring volume, author Donald W. Parry discusses in a clear and understandable way what we can learn from the scriptures and from modern prophets and apostles about angels and their missions.

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