Magnificence of Angels and the Mystery of the Gospel

In Soul Food on November 27, 2012 by The Spillover

Tim Keller:

One of the most startling passages in the Bible connects the magnificence of angels with the mystery of the gospel.

Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care….It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things. – 1 Peter 1:10-12

Although angels are incredibly majestic and powerful beings living in God’s eternal presence, there’s something that has happened on earth which is so stupendous that even these immortal beings experience the persistent longing “to look into these things.” What are “these things” that could possibly and consistently consume the attention of God-fixated creatures?

The Gospel.


The angels never get tired of looking into the gospel. This means there is no end to gospel exploration. There are depths in the gospel that are always there to be discovered and applied, not only to our ministry and daily Christian life, but above all, to the worship of the God of the gospel with renewed vision and humility.

The underlying conviction in my preaching, pastoring, and writing is that the gospel—this eternally fascinating message craved by the angels—can change a heart, a community, and the world when it is recovered and applied.

When the gospel is explored in this way, it produces uncommon properties. Blaise Pascal, writing in the 17th century, reveals how this occurs:

Without this divine knowledge, how could we help feeling either exalted or dejected? The Christian religion alone has been able to cure these twin vices, not by using the one to expel the other according to worldly wisdom, but by expelling both through the simplicity of the Gospel. For it teaches the righteous that they still bear the source of all corruption which exposes them throughout their lives to error, misery, death, and sin; and [yet] it cries out to the most ungodly that they are capable of the grace of the Redeemer. Thus, making those whom it justifies to tremble, yet consoling those whom it condemns, it so nicely tempers fear with hope through this dual capacity…. Grace and sin! It causes infinitely more dejection than mere reason—but without despair, and infinitely more exaltation than natural pride—but without puffing us up! (Pensées 208)


It is one thing to understand the gospel but is quite another to experience the gospel in such a way that it fundamentally changes us and becomes the source of our identity and security. It is one thing to grasp the essence of the gospel but it quite another to think out its implications for all of life. We all struggle to explore the mysteries of the gospel on a regular basis, but we should strive to immerse ourselves in it and allow its message to influence our life daily.

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