Do We Have Guardian Angels?

Carolyn from Facebook asks:

Thank you for your easy-to-understand commentaries. I am trying to find out about guardian angels for someone who asked about them. Is there somewhere in the Bible that addresses them?

Generally, the idea of a guardian angel is that each person – or each believer – or especially each child – has a specific angel assigned to them by God. That specific angel is their “guardian angel.”

Some things about these ideas are true according to the Bible, and some are not.

It’s true that angels are servants of God’s people:

Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation? (Hebrews 1:14)

For He shall give His angels charge over you,

To keep you in all your ways.

In their hands they shall bear you up,

Lest you dash your foot against a stone. (Psalm 91:11-12)

  • Angels is in the plural – it isn’t just one “guardian angel”
  • They are His angels, not “our angels.” We aren’t in charge of them and nowhere are we told that we should be giving angels orders, directions, or instructions.
  • “How angels thus keep us we cannot tell. Whether they repel demons, counteract spiritual plots, or even ward off the subtler physical forces of disease, we do not know. Perhaps we shall one day stand amazed at the multiplied services which the unseen bands have rendered to us.” (Spurgeon)

There is some association of angels with particular individuals.

In Matthew 18:10 Jesus said:

Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.

The phrase “their angels” is often taken as a reference to “guardian angels.” In Acts 12:15, an early Christian used the phrase “his angel” in reference to Peter.

We certainly do have angels watching over us and ministering to us (Hebrews 1:14), but there is no need to limit it to only one specific “guardian angel.”

Some say that Jesus’ statement about Abel and Zechariah (Matthew 23:35) defines the Old Testament canon. Did Zechariah live during or after the ministry of Malachi? Does Jesus’ statement include Malachi?

Some say that Jesus’ statement about Abel and Zechariah defines the Old Testament canon. Did Zechariah live during or after the ministry of Malachi? Does Jesus’ statement include Malachi?

To my understanding, the material in the book of Malachi is indeed after the ministry of Zechariah the prophet. But certainly, Jesus is referring to the entirety of Old Testament revelation, and more importantly, the Old Testament or Hebrew Scripture witness. The important thing about Abel and Zechariah, in the way Jesus used that quote, is not just that they were spokesmen for God – after all, Abel never wrote a book of the Bible – but that they were martyrs. They were killed for their faith and their testimony. That is the story behind both Abel and Zechariah.

The context in which Jesus refers to Abel and Zechariah is not so much about the continuity of the revealed Word of God from beginning to end, but about the continuity of God’s witnesses in terms of His people, beginning with Abel, and ending with Zechariah. According to rabbinic tradition, Zechariah was the last martyr of the Old Testament biblical period. He certainly wasn’t the last martyr before the time of Christ, as there were many in the days of the Maccabees and such, but encompassing the normal Old Testament canon, he was the last martyr. Abel was the first; Zechariah was the last.

So, the emphasis in Matthew 23:35 isn’t on the written revelation of God, though, in some respects, it includes it. Rather, the emphasis is on the faithful witness unto death, which is clearly marked out by the examples beginning with Abel, and ending, at least in some sense, with Zechariah.

How do I know if I’ve been filled by the Holy Spirit?

I’ve been thinking a lot about the influence of Holy Spirit and how it can guide us, but I don’t know if I’ve been filled with that Spirit yet. I’ve been praying for it. But how do I know this?

I think that’s an essential and needful question. When people come to me asking if I might pray for them for the filling of the Holy Spirit, I discuss a few things with them. I’m going to correct you on something; I hope you don’t think I’m trying to be nitpicky with you. But I do need to explain something concerning the way that you phrased your question: “I don’t know if I’ve been filled with it yet. I’ve been praying for it. But how do I know?”

I’m assuming that “it” you refer to is the filling of the Holy Spirit/ I just want to make sure that you understand that the Holy Spirit is not an “it.” The Holy Spirit is a Person. So, we talk about the Person of the Holy Spirit. I know this is a little bit technical; I don’t want to make too big a deal about it, in respect to your question. But I do think it’s important to point out, normally, we shouldn’t refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it”. Now the filling of the Holy Spirit is an experience, and that can be referred to as an “it.” But let me deal with your question, “How can we know if we are being filled with the Holy Spirit?”

First, when people come to me and ask this, I encourage them that this is something that God wants them to know and wants them to think about. God wants His people to be filled with and to be walking with the Holy Spirit. Now, it is absolutely true that every person who is a born-again believer in Jesus Christ – who is part of the New Covenant, because of faith, because Jesus Christ has chosen them, and called them, and has worked in their lives – each of these people has demonstrated repentance and faith and are actual true believers: every one of those people has the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit and the gift of the Holy Spirit is part of what is given to us when we are born again.

Now, I do believe that there can and should be ongoing and subsequent fillings of the Holy Spirit, and simple experiences of the Holy Spirit’s work in power. I don’t think the two have to contradict each other. I don’t think that we have to say, “If a person receives the Holy Spirit when they are born again, that’s it; they never have any ongoing filling or ongoing experience.” Likewise, we don’t have to say, “If a person does have an ongoing filling experience, then they didn’t have the Holy Spirit when they first believed.” No, both things are true.

So, since you are a believer in Jesus Christ, I believe that you do have the Holy Spirit. However, you want to know how to have the fullness of the Spirit. That’s a biblical phrase; you want to know how to have an overflow of the Spirit, what we would sometimes refer to as the baptism of the Holy Spirit. All these things are valid aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the believer.

First, I’d encourage you that this is a good thing that you’re seeking after. Secondly, I would ask you, are you aware of anything in your life right now which might be grieving the Holy Spirit or quenching the work of the Holy Spirit in your life? When I ask people that question, sometimes they say, “Oh, yeah, here’s the area of compromise in my life. Here’s an area of stubborn sin that I’m struggling with, and I haven’t really made right with God.” And then I say, “Great, let’s deal with that first.”

So, you need to ask yourself the question first: Is there any area in my life that the Holy Spirit would speak to me about, where I might be grieving the Spirit of God, where I might be quenching the work of the Spirit? If that’s the case, then deal with that.

Now, when I ask people that question, when I’m praying for them for the filling of the Holy Spirit, sometimes they say, “No, not that I can think of.” I never say, “No, there must be. I’m going to keep asking you questions until we find something.” No. I just want to know if there’s something that God’s Spirit would just reveal to them or make clear to them at that moment. It might be some obstacle, or some area of grief, or some area of quenching. We want to remove any obstacles that come to mind.

Then secondly, we simply ask in the expectancy of faith. In both His specific teachings and in parables, Jesus indicated the great willingness of God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon His people. It’s in the promises of Jesus. It’s in the promises of the New Covenant. We can be confident that God wants to fill His people with the Holy Spirit.

Be encouraged that this is a good thing. Deal with any potential obstacles or areas where you might be grieving or quenching the Holy Spirit. Then ask in faith and believe that God will grant this to you. When you ask in faith, ask with your eyes and your focus upon Jesus, not upon yourself. We never want to come asking God for a filling of the Holy Spirit and outpouring of Holy Spirit with an attitude that says, “Lord, I’ve done everything right, and I really deserve this. I read my Bible every day for the last month. I’ve been good, so You’re obligated!” No, that’s never, ever the thought.

This is God’s gracious gift that we receive from Him in Jesus’ name. We never approach it as if it was something we deserved, even in the smallest way. We ask as those who have access to God because of who Jesus is and what He did for us.

So again, be encouraged. Look for obstacles or areas where you might be grieving the Holy Spirit in some way. And finally, ask in faith, believing that God would pour out the Holy Spirit upon you. If it would help you to have somebody else pray with you about this, there’s no harm in that. The Bible speaks of the outpouring or the gifts or the filling of the Holy Spirit happening with some people as other people laid hands upon them. Now, we don’t want to make that an absolute ritual which must be followed. But at least in some regard, it’s a biblical pattern that we can observe.

How can all evil be destroyed on judgment day if Satan and the people in hell continue to live in torment forever? Do they need to cease to exist for evil to disappear?

The Bible tells us that all evil will be resolved. It doesn’t necessarily tell us that it will vanish, or that it will be gone. Now, there will be no evil or impure thing in Heaven. That’s absolutely clear; we don’t doubt or question that. There will be no evil or impure thing in Heaven. But in Hell, in the Lake of Fire, there will be evil people and evil fallen angels. However, they will be under God’s judgment. Their evil will be resolved by judgment. This is what God promises.

I don’t think God promises to eliminate every evil thing in the universe. But God does promise to resolve all evil, in the name and in the work of Jesus. The Bible doesn’t necessarily tell us that all evil will be eliminated from the universe. It will certainly be true of Heaven and the New Jerusalem. But Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, and what we normally think of as Hell, is not part of Heaven or the New Jerusalem. It is definitely outside the New Jerusalem, and therefore outside what we normally think of as Heaven.

So the Bible doesn’t say that all evil will be eliminated, but all evil will be resolved. And one way that evil is resolved is by being under God’s appropriate judgment. And that’s something that we know will happen when all things are resolved. So I hope that’s helpful for you there.

In Luke 16:13, what is the difference between hate/love and loyalty/despising?

Luke 16:13 – “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

Jesus says you can’t serve two masters. He said you’ll either hate one master and love the other, or you’re going to be loyal to the one and despise the other. Love and loyalty go together; hating and despising go together. Jesus turned those around in word order. I don’t have a Greek New Testament in front of me to reference. I’m not someone who can just pick up a Greek New Testament and read it, but if you give me enough time, with enough tools, I can figure things out in the Greek New Testament.

So, I can’t tell you if the same word order and arrangement is present in the original Greek. But I can tell you this, it’s just good writing. It’s good in literature to mix it up a little bit. He says, “Either you will hate the one and love the other,” and then switches the order for the second parallel, being loyal to one and despising the other. But make no mistake about it. It’s hate and despising that go together. And it is love and loyalty that go together.

What is the best way to fast?

Can you please explain the best way to fast: a dry fast, water only, etc., and for how long?

That’s a great question. We must admit that fasting is a very neglected discipline in the Christian life. I’ve had a tremendous example of the practice of fasting in my own life: my father-in-law, Nils Bergstrom, who lives in Sweden. Just with last week we visited him, along with my mother-in-law and my brother-in-law and his family. My father-in-law, Nils Bergstrom, is a man who has made devoted fasting a regular part of his life for decades. He fasts twice a week, for 24 hours at a time, though there have been many times when he has gone on extended fasts. I agree with my father-in-law, who would say that a biblical fast consists of not eating food and only drinking water, with no caloric intake at all. That is a biblical fast.

Now, there are some people who call various forms of self-denial, “fasting.” Look, forms of self-denial are great. If you want to say, “I’m not going to eat donuts for a month,” or “I’m not going to eat meat for a month,” etc., that can be an admirable and even Spirit-led form of self-denial. But it’s not really fasting.

Fasting is no caloric intake. My father-in-law has fasted for weeks at a time, and those have been times of powerful and intense fellowship with God and blessing from God’s Spirit upon his life. Meanwhile, he would conduct normal work, and just try to live life as normally as possible. Jesus said that when you fast you should try to live normally.

So, fasting is an important aspect of spiritual discipline that is often neglected by Christians today. There are very few Christians who have a practice of fasting, as one of the spiritual things that they practice, just as much as we would read our Bibles, or pray, or honor God through the giving of our resources. Fasting is one of those disciplines, practices, or habits.

The best way to fast is to simply abstain from food or any kind of caloric intake. I would advise against fasting while also abstaining from water. I just don’t think that’s healthy, and it’s not really the biblical pattern of fasting.

For how long? I think that every Christian should practice this habit, building up to where they could fast for 24 hours or more without great agony. That may require starting out small and building up over time, just like it is with any habit. But it is worthwhile to work on practicing this habit in the Christian life. The practice of fasting is good.

I have friends and family members who practice fasting in a great regard. I also practice fasting in some regard. Just like with many spiritual practices, I say, “That’s something I should probably do more and with greater regularity.” But it’s certainly something that I don’t ignore in my spiritual life. It’s good to take this time, without focusing on food, to give more focus towards the Lord, and to build a good discipline of keeping the flesh under subjection.

That is one of the great purposes of fasting. I’m not going to say there’s only one purpose, as there are health benefits from fasting, but that’s not the primary biblical idea. One of the important biblical ideas in fasting is simply to bring the flesh under subjection to the Spirit of God. We live in a world where we are very used to just saying, “Yes” to the flesh all the time. That’s just sort of our practice: when we’re hungry, we eat; when we’re tired, we sleep. We do this with whatever the flesh tells us to do.

There is an appropriate place for us to bring the flesh under subjection to the power and the authority of Jesus Christ, through the habits of self-discipline that He would work within us. I would encourage you that if you have an interest in fasting, pursue that, yet not in a legalistic way; never think for a moment that it would make you better than other believers. But it is something to pursue.

My father-in-law wrote about fasting, entitled, “Dedication through Fasting and Prayer” by Niels Bergstrom, and you can find it here on Amazon. I would recommend that book to you. It’s a lot of what God has taught my father-in-law through the years about fasting and prayer.

How do I fight the spirit of anger or bitterness?

Sometimes it’s so hard to fight the spirit of anger or spirit of bitterness. Even when I go to God’s word, it’s such a struggle. What do you suggest?

I would suggest that you bring these things to the Lord immediately. In other words, as soon as you feel an attitude of anger or bitterness rising within you, take it to the Lord. The Bible says, “Vengeance is Mine, says the LORD.” We are to give vengeance over to the Lord. We’re not to be people who are looking to take vengeance for ourselves over others. No, vengeance belongs to God. When we have the attitude that vengeance belongs to God, we can truly leave those things in God’s hands.

I’ve known many people who have felt very strongly hurt or wounded by somebody and felt angry and bitter. They may be justified in their feeling of anger and bitterness. But it does them no good to hold on to it. They need to surrender that to the Lord.

I’ve found that oftentimes, people will pray sincerely and honestly regarding this before God, and they feel that this burden of anger and bitterness is lifted off them. And then sometimes they’re shocked that it comes back very quickly. They wonder, “Did I ever really give this to God? Was I sincere?” I would say yes, you were sincere. But your struggle is in persevering in the doing of this again, and again, and again. That’s the important thing to do. We need to be very diligent. It isn’t just turning something over to God and committing it to Him once but doing it continually.

I would just say you’re in a good place, and that you want to do this. Just do not grow weary in well doing. It’s okay that you feel that you must do this again and again and again. That’s human nature. I will assure you of this: it won’t last forever. There will come the time when the hurt does seem to fade away, and you have the ability to see beyond this in a different way. That is a very, very blessed place to be. I believe that God would give you that gift, hopefully sooner than you might even expect.

How is it fair that because a person is born in a specific region of the world, they are more likely to follow the traditions and religion they are raised in, and end up going to hell?

Your question is another form of asking, “What about those people who have never heard the gospel?” If a person hears the good news of the Gospel – of who Jesus Christ is and what He came to do to rescue us, especially His work at the cross and in the resurrection – but they reject it, then it’s entirely fair for them to bear their fate before God.There’s really no question about that.

But I don’t think you’re asking that question. I think you have in mind someone who grows up in a Hindu or Muslim or family but has never heard anything of Jesus Christ. They honor God, according to the god of their fathers, but they never hear anything of Jesus, and they die without ever demonstrating repentance and putting their faith in Jesus Christ and the good news of the gospel. What about those people? Is that fair? Is that fair, just because they were raised in that Hindu or Muslim or Buddhist religious tradition, and never heard anything about Christianity or the gospel, that God should send them to hell?

Christians have answered that question differently over the years, and even to the present day. There are some people who believe that’s just how it is. Those people sin, they deserve the judgment, and it’s just too bad that they never heard anything about Jesus. Their never hearing anything about Jesus must have been a demonstration of God’s judgment upon them, so they must deserve it in every way possible. I want you to know that I really don’t take that specific approach. I believe that God will not judge a person based on what they have not heard.

Now, I believe that every person has had a testimony of God, as Romans tells us, in creation, and in conscience. I think that if somebody has never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, then they will be judged by their response to God’s revelation in creation, and God’s revelation in conscience.

Now, this is a dividing line as well. There are some people who say, “Well, that means that no one can possibly be saved of that group, because everybody has sinned, in regard to creation and conscience. That’s all there is to it.” I want to hold out the principle that there can be people who are outside the normative Christian community, who nevertheless find their way to God somehow.

Now, I think of the possible objections people bring, like, “Well, then what’s the use of preaching the gospel to such people?” Are you kidding me? First, we’re commanded to preach the gospel. Even if there was no use in it, we’re commanded to do it. So, we just do it because God has commanded us to. Secondly, if it were true that even one person in 10,000 might respond to God properly regarding the testimony of creation and conscience, then it would be far truer that people respond when they hear the good news.

If it were true that one in 10,000 could respond to God rightly through the testament of creation and conscience, it might be a thousand in 10,000 who might respond to God properly under the gospel. I don’t see any lessening of the need or the urgency to preach the gospel if it is possible. I take this based on the principle that, first, it would be unjust of God to judge people by what they have not heard, and second, that God has revealed Himself to humanity through creation and conscience.

There is at least the possibility of there being a Melchizedek, a Jethro, a Job and his friends, about whom we would say they had no normative revelation brought to them, yet nevertheless, God revealed Himself to them in creation and conscience in some way that was sufficient for them to turn themselves over to the living God. If that’s the case, then we would definitely say it is a disadvantage for someone to be raised in a home of false religion or idolatry, but it is not automatically fatal to them for all eternity to be born into such a home.

How can we be a perfect living sacrifice to God as referred to in Romans 12:1-2 while still in this life?

Let’s be honest about this: we can’t be perfect on this side of eternity. Before we are perfected in heaven, there is not a single thing we can do perfectly. Perfection is out of our reach. So, I don’t think that God requires perfection from us, as believers following Him. What He does require of us is to not consciously hold back anything from before the Lord. So instead of trying to give a perfect surrender, I would say give a full surrender, in the sense that you are not consciously holding back anything from God. We should give up on the idea that we can do anything perfectly in this life. But we can do what God has given us to do, to the best of our ability and the best of our knowledge.

Will Christians be persecuted before the rapture?

Yes. Absolutely. Positively. Now, Christians have been persecuted throughout all of history. I’m going to suggest to you that there has probably never been a time, even a two-year or five-year period on this earth, when Christians were not being persecuted, ever since the Church was founded. Now, if you’re talking about a global persecution of all believers, I don’t think that has ever existed, historically speaking. There have been times when many believers have been persecuted. There have been times when few believers have been persecuted.

I have a feeling that you’re asking concerning our present Western culture, in Europe or North America, where we have not known severe persecution for a long time. Will we face persecution before God catches away His Church? I would say probably; and we should be prepared for it. We have no guarantee whatsoever of having an easy life or easy faith from now until the time God catches away His Church. It might get terrible for believers in the Western world. Christians need to be ready for it.

Now, I don’t think it’s necessarily required. In other words, we shouldn’t say that because Christians aren’t being severely persecuted in the Western world right now, therefore, Jesus can’t or won’t catch away His Church right now. I don’t think we should think about it that way.

But we should realize that the possibility of persecution is real, and we should be prepared for it, not in a panicky way but in a determined way: God helping us and giving us strength, we are going to stand strong for Jesus Christ if severe persecution should come.

I’ve used the phrase, “severe persecution,” several times, because I believe that in some sense, persecution against Christians has already started in the West. Now, I believe it’s in a minor sense. Let’s recognize there is a continuum of persecution. For us to say that persecution is only real when Christians are being shot by firing squads, or when churches are being burned down, is nonsense.

I think there is a continuum of risk, and it’s fair to talk about relatively minor persecution or relatively severe persecution. But persecution is real, even if it’s minor. By the way, there are churches being burnt down in our present day and age, aren’t there? That’s persecution. I believe that there is, on a minor scale and to a minor degree, persecution against believers today in the Western world. And it may grow into something serious and widespread. It’s possible.

When the Old Testament says, “Thus said the Lord,” or for example “The Lord said to Elijah” (1 Kings 17:8), is that referring to an audible voice speaking to Elijah?

I don’t believe there’s any reason for us to conclude that. I believe that a voice can be real and trustworthy without being audible. Think about how the faculty of hearing works. I speak words; sound waves transmit through the air; those sound waves hit your ear and are picked up by your eardrum; your eardrum vibrates; some little parts in there somehow transmit an electrical signal to your brain; and your brain knows how to interpret, understand, and categorize those signals into words that you can understand. That’s how the faculty of hearing works.

Well, I think it’s entirely possible for God to bypass the audible voice, the sound waves, and the physiological work in the ear, and simply go right to the impression in the mind that would come from an audible voice. We don’t know how God specifically spoke to the prophets. In Hebrews, it says that God did it in many various ways. So, were there times when God spoke audibly to the Old Testament prophets? Probably. Were there times when it was just the creation of that voice in their mind, but they knew it was the Spirit? Probably. Sometimes was it in a dream or a vision? No doubt.

We know that God has spoken in many ways. I would suppose that it probably was not often by an audible voice. And I’ll say this: Christians today should not seek to hear the audible voice of God. I think that’s a danger, and a trap. You’re setting yourself up for deception if you want to hear the audible voice of God. I think you are practically inviting deception into your life. Because if you were to plead with God and ask Him to speak to you in an audible voice, and then you heard some kind of audible voice in your mind, how would you know that it was actually from God, and not potentially from a deceiving spirit?

Friends, I’ll say this again and again: If you want to hear the voice of God, read the Bible.

Now, I say that as someone who believes that it’s possible for God to speak to individuals, just not in a way that compares to the revelation he gives to us in His Word. I believe that God communicates to humanity. That has been proven repeatedly when people are convicted of their sin. In some way, that is God communicating to humanity.

I believe God communicates to humanity today. But if you want to seek the word of the voice of God, seek after it in His Word. It is the absolutely reliable and most helpful way that God has spoken to us: in this powerful revelation of His eternal, enduring word. Friends, that’s one reason why I’ve given my life to understanding and explaining the Bible, and why I’ve got a verse-by-verse commentary on the entire Bible that I believe can be helpful for you and for other people. You can find on my website,, or at

Should a diabetic fast?

That’s a great question. Ask your doctor. There are people, for whatever medical reason, for whom it’s not wise to abstain from food for any extended period. I would just say simply ask your doctor. If your doctor gives you the go ahead to do it, then go ahead and do it and begin building that habit in your life. But I would not advise a believer to go against their doctor’s instructions. If their doctor has said no for you, given certain things in your medical history or medical condition, and that it’s not advisable for you to fast, then in that situation, I would be inclined to listen to someone’s doctor. That could apply to people who are diabetic or have other physical or medical challenges. But for those of us have normal health, fasting is a good thing, which is not practiced enough among God’s people today.