As the Saints began arriving in Nauvoo, Ill., the Prophet Joseph Smith surveyed the land and planned the building of the city on the banks of the Mississippi River. It was here that many revelations were received. One such revelation was received on Feb. 9, 1843, where three grand keys by which the correct nature of ministering angels and spirits may be distinguished.
From the beginning of time, angels have had major roles in bringing to pass the Lord's purposes. The subject of angels is discussed in Section 129 of the Doctrine and Covenants.In the October 1983 general conference, Elder Mark E. Petersen of the Council of the Twelve said: "Many people no longer believe in the ministry of angels. But God does. He has used this means of communication from the days of Adam. Is there any reason why He should not continue the procedure in our day?
"Angels ministered to many people in both Old and New Testament times, delivering messages from the Lord.
"Abraham walked and talked with angels. An angel assisted Israel at the time of the Exodus. (Ex. 14:19.) An angel fought an invading army in the days of the prophet Isaiah. (Isa. 37:36.) When Daniel was in the lion's den, an angel closed the mouths of the lions, and Daniel's life was spared." (Dan. 6:22.)
Other instances of angels are recorded: The angel Gabriel announced to the virgin Mary that she would become the mother of the Savior. (Luke 1:30-33.) The same angel told the father of John the Baptist of his prophet-son soon to be born. (Luke 1:13.)
When Joseph and Mary and the infant Jesus fled to Egypt, an angel gave them direction, and upon the death of King Herod, the angel told them to return home. (Matt. 2:13, 19-20.)
When the Savior spoke of the sanctity of little children, He said, "Take heed that ye despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you, That in heaven their angels do always behold the face of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt. 18:10.)
Elder Petersen said: "When Jesus neared His crucifixion, He could have called 12 legions of angels to His assistance if He had wished to avoid the bitter cup. (Matt. 26:53.) Then, are there angels? Would Jesus have spoken like that if they were nonexistent?
"At His resurrection, an angel rolled the stone away from the tomb. The women saw him there and heard him speak. (Matt. 28:2,5.)
"When Stephen bore his final testimony to his persecutors, his face shone like that of an angel. (Acts 6:15.)
"An angel released Peter from prison. (Act. 5:19.) Paul spoke of the tongues of men and of angels. (1 Cor. 13:1.)
"The scripture clearly teaches that the purpose of the ministry of angels is `to call men unto repentance . . . by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.' (Moroni 7:31.) And that is very pertinent with regard to Moroni."