Mormon, speaking at the end of the Nephite civilization, summarized the role of angels among the Nephite church:
…[M]y beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men. For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness. And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him. And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men. (Moroni 7: 29-32)
Angels performed three tasks among the Nephites: 1) they called men to repentance, 2) they fulfilled and did the work of the covenants of the Father, and 3) they prepared the way among the children of men.
Angels accomplished all three tasks by declaring the word of Christ to chosen vessels of the Lord, which were men and women of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.
After listening to an angel, a chosen vessel was instructed to bear testimony of Christ. This was done by going on missions and preaching the gospel to all who would hear, bearing testimony of what the angel had said.
Those who listened to a preacher’s message, which was the word of God communicated by an angel, could then plant that word in their own hearts and have the power of the Holy Ghost generate faith in them.
The investigator of the gospel, after repenting and exercising strong faith in Christ, with a firm mind in every form of godliness, would pray to the Father in the name of Christ, and ask to see, hear and know the things taught by the preacher, after the same manner or in the same way that the preacher learned it, and God would then send down another angel to the new convert, confirming his faith and giving him a witness.
Finally, the new convert would start preaching what the angel had told him and the process would repeat over and over again. In this way, the Father brought to pass His covenants among the Nephites (and Lamanites).
Angels were the trial of faith, as well as the witness
When Moroni wrote
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. (Moroni 10: 4)
this wasn’t a unique promise that only applied to what he was writing. This was a standard practice among the Nephites. The Nephite preachers would teach those listening to their words to ask God, in the name of Christ, for a witness by the power of the Holy Ghost that the words they were saying, communicated by an angel, were true. They taught the people to obtain the very same testimony that the preachers had received. They taught them to ask God to confirm the word they had received by sending an angel to them and declaring the word of Christ to them, just as was done to the preacher. In this way, both preacher and hearer would see eye to eye.
As Alma said, “For because of the word which he has imparted unto me, behold, many have been born of God, and have tasted as I have tasted, and have seen eye to eye as I have seen; therefore they do know of these things of which I have spoken, as I do know; and the knowledge which I have is of God.” (Alma 36: 26)
The trial of their faith, then, was to receive the angelic message (communicated by the preacher) and to repent and exercise faith to the point that they, also, prayed down an angel. Once the angel came down and gave them the same message, their trial of faith was over and they had the witness that they were taught to seek by the missionary.
Again, when Moroni wrote that “he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost,” he was speaking as a Nephite, with the understanding and learning of a Nephite. The Nephite understanding was the following:
Do ye not remember that I said unto you that after ye had received the Holy Ghost ye could speak with the tongue of angels? And now, how could ye speak with the tongue of angels save it were by the Holy Ghost? Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. (2 Nephi 32: 2-3)
So, when Moroni wrote “he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost,” he had in mind that God would manifest the truth by sending an angel to declare the word of Christ, because all Nephite preachers understood that angels spoke by the power of the Holy Ghost and that this was how the Father fulfilled His covenants (by sending angels).
(Keep in mind that the words of Moroni found in Moroni 10: 4 were written to the Lamanites and not to the Gentiles. The Lamanites are the Lord’s ancient covenant people and He will fulfill His covenants to them as He did anciently: through the ministration of angels.)
From Lehi onward
The role of angels in Nephite preaching began with Lehi. Lehi began his ministry in Jerusalem with a vision of “God sitting upon his throne, surrounded with numberless concourses of angels in the attitude of singing and praising their God” (1 Nephi 1: 8.)
Lehi taught all six of his sons the gospel he had received from God and then taught them that they could go to God in prayer and ask to receive the very same manifestations he had received. This is why we find his fourth son, Nephi, writing the following:
And it came to pass after I, Nephi, having heard all the words of my father, concerning the things which he saw in a vision, and also the things which he spake by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he received by faith on the Son of God—and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come—I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of hold as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men. (1 Nephi 10: 17)
Nephi had these desires to see, hear and know what his father had seen, heard and known, in the very same manner as his father had experienced it, because Lehi had taught his entire family this doctrine of seeing eye to eye, and had encouraged them to learn these things for themselves, by going directly to God. This is why we find Nephi so upset with his brothers Laman and Lemuel:
And it came to pass that I beheld my brethren, and they were disputing one with another concerning the things which my father had spoken unto them. For he truly spake many great things unto them, which were hard to be understood, save a man should inquire of the Lord; and they being hard in their hearts, therefore they did not look unto the Lord as they ought…
And they said: Behold, we cannot understand the words which our father hath spoken concerning the natural branches of the olive tree, and also concerning the Gentiles.
And I said unto them: Have ye inquired of the Lord?
And they said unto me: We have not; for the Lord maketh no such thing known unto us.
Behold, I said unto them: How is it that ye do not keep the commandments of the Lord? How is it that ye will perish, because of the hardness of your hearts?
Do ye not remember the things which the Lord hath said?—If ye will not harden your hearts, and ask me in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping my commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you. (1 Nephi 15: 2-3, 7-11)
“Surely these things shall be made known unto you.” Nephi said this at the beginning of the Nephite civilization. This is the same “manifestation of the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost” that Moroni wrote about to the Lamanites at the end of the Nephite civilization. It refers to the ministration of angels, in which angels declare the word of Christ, as one did to Nephi when he desired to see, hear and know.
The confirmatory role of angels was firmly established in Nephite church culture from the beginning, with Lehi and his six sons. Of the seven men, Lehi, Laman, Lemuel, Sam, Nephi and Jacob all are explicitly stated in the record as having seen angels. And the last-born son, Joseph, was said to have been a just and holy man (Alma 3: 6), the implication being that he, also, saw angels.
All recorded Nephite preachers (as well as Samuel the Lamanite) found in the Book of Mormon saw angels before they went out to preach. For example, the sons of Mosiah and Alma the Younger saw an angel and then went forth telling people what they saw and what the angel said. None of the preachers kept angelic visitations to themselves, but freely bore testimony of the declaration of the word of Christ received by the angels. These experiences weren’t “too personal” or “too sacred” to share with others. On the contrary, they were only too eager to get the word out, for they wanted the residue to have faith in Christ through the word of Christ communicated (to the preachers) by the angel. When asked how they knew the things that they preached, they were quick to say it was by angelic ministration:
Now Zeezrom said unto him again: How knowest thou these things?
And he said: An angel hath made them known unto me. (Alma 11: 30-31 – Amulek)
And behold, thus hath the angel spoken unto me; for he said unto me that there should be thunderings and lightnings for the space of many hours. (Helaman 14: 26 – Samuel the Lamanite)
Therefore, as Aaron entered into one of their synagogues to preach unto the people, and as he was speaking unto them, behold there arose an Amalekite and began to contend with him, saying: What is that thou hast testified? Hast thou seen an angel? Why do not angels appear unto us? Behold are not this people as good as thy people? (Alma 21: 5 – Aaron, son of Mosiah)
And the things which I shall tell you are made known unto me by an angel from God. And he said unto me: Awake; and I awoke, and behold he stood before me. (Mosiah 3: 2 – King Benjamin)
Widespread angelic ministration was a hallmark of the Nephite church because Lehi’s sons Nephi, Sam, Jacob and Joseph had continued the teaching of their father Lehi, that all converts ought to get confirmation from an angel after receiving the word from a preacher. They passed this teaching onto their children, who passed it onto their children, and on and on throughout their generations to the very end of the Nephite church.
When Alma spoke the following words to the people of Ammonihah around 82 B.C.:
For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of his coming in his glory.
And now we only wait to hear the joyful news declared unto us by the mouth of angels, of his coming; for the time cometh, we know not how soon. Would to God that it might be in my day; but let it be sooner or later, in it I will rejoice.
And it shall be made known unto just and holy men, by the mouth of angels, at the time of his coming, that the words of our fathers may be fulfilled, according to that which they have spoken concerning him, which was according to the spirit of prophecy which was in them. (Alma 13: 24-26)
the “unto many” that he referred to were the members of the church of his day. This wasn’t a select few leaders, one or two here or there, a quorum of three or twelve or fifteen, it was the general membership of the church. These ancients had all received angelic ministrations because this is what they were taught to do. This was how they tried their faith and received a witness of its veracity.
The same gospel, given to the Gentiles
The gospel given to the Nephites, including the eye to eye doctrine of confirmatory, angelic ministrations, was prayed (in faith) by the ancient inhabitants of this land to go to the Lamanites of a future day, hence the appearance of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is a record of angelic sermons, or words of Christ received through angelic means. It is designed to be this way so that when the Lamanites receive it, they will, like their ancestors, seek to obtain a manifestation of its truth through angelic ministration, once again repeating and initiating the ancient gospel given to the Nephites. In order to see eye to eye on angelic ministration, you must have a preacher preaching a message received through the means of angels. That is what the Book of Mormon is. So, the Lamanites then, when they read of Nephi’s visions, or Lehi’s visions, or Jacob’s or Alma’s or any one of the angelic visitations and declarations found in the record, will be able to put that word in their hearts and exercise faith and pray down the angels to manifest the same things to them by the power of the Holy Ghost.
This was the intent and faith and prayers of the ancients for this record, to jump start the Lamanites and to give them the same gospel which the ancient inhabitants lived.
On the other hand, the Gentiles who obtained the book could also have the same gospel, if they wanted it. The angelic word is there, if they wanted to apply it as the Lamanites of a future day would. But history has shown the Gentiles to be a hard-hearted, faithless bunch. Joseph Smith tried to get the people to see what he saw, to behold the same visions, to see the same angels, to receive the same message—in other words, to accept the gospel given to the Nephites—but the Gentile church is more or less content with having one man in charge who receives from the Lord, and then having that man (or a small group of men) tell them what to do. Joseph was only able to get a few individuals to behold the marvelous power of God that he beheld, such as Martin Harris, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Sidney Ridgon. Everyone else pretty much rejected the eye to eye doctrine found in the Book of Mormon. Hence the condemnation found upon the church today.
No angels = no faith = no salvation
The doctrine the Nephites preached was not the doctrine the modern Gentile church preaches and practices. Yet, it is the very doctrine that God wants everyone to live, which is why He brought it forth.
Mormon stated that if the ministration of angels ever ceased, it would be “because of unbelief, and all is vain.” The cessation of the appearance of angels among the Gentile church is proof positive that the church is condemned, or to be plainer in writing, damned, because “if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made.” (See Moroni 7: 37-38.)
Let me re-phrase that to be clearer in writing. If angels ever cease appearing to the Gentile church of God, then faith will have ceased also among the church of God, and awful is the state of the church of God, for the church of God will be as though there had been no redemption. Notice, in particular, Mormon’s words: “for they are as though there had been no redemption made.” Abinadi and Alma also used such a phrase:
But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God. (Mosiah 16: 5)
And now behold, I say unto you then cometh a death, even a second death, which is a spiritual death; then is a time that whosoever dieth in his sins, as to a temporal death, shall also die a spiritual death; yea, he shall die as to things pertaining unto righteousness. Then is the time when their torments shall be as a lake of fire and brimstone, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever; and then is the time that they shall be chained down to an everlasting destruction, according to the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will. Then, I say unto you, they shall be as though there had been no redemption made; for they cannot be redeemed according to God’s justice; and they cannot die, seeing there is no more corruption. (Alma 12: 16-18)
So, according to the above scriptures, if the Gentile church of God no longer has angels appearing to them, it is because they don’t have faith, and therefore they are under the power and captivity of Satan, he having subjected them according to his will, and they (the church of God!) are enemies to God. They, then, are not in a redeemed or saved condition, but are damned. All because they do not exercise faith to behold angels, as did the ancient Nephite church.
Remember, the Lord stated in D&C 84: 55-57 that the entire church was brought under condemnation because they did not do what was written in the Book of Mormon. This condemnation has never been lifted. Even now, we give a lot of lip service to it, but do not live its teachings.