Will Jesus Return with Angels or Saints?

Will Jesus Return with Angels or Saints?

From Erin-

Referring to Revelation 19:14 why do some Bible teachers think that the church are those people that come with Jesus on white horses? It says armies. If I use the Bible to reference the Bible, it speaks of angels or hosts of heaven that do battle. Even Jesus refers these legions of angels who could fight for him. In the Old Testament they are referred to as well. What makes [many pastors] so very assured that it’s us riding those white horses?

I love the whole premise of your question. The thinking behind your question is basically, “Says who?” when we hear things that pastors, preachers, or Bible teachers say. We want to be like the Bereans in Acts 17, who were more noble because they searched the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. I think it’s wonderful to ask those questions.

You’re asking, “I’ve heard preachers say that when Jesus returns, the armies that come with Him will be armies of the saints, of God’s people. Says who? Because when I look at the Bible, it certainly seems that most of the time when it talks about armies associated with God, it’s talking about angelic armies.”

So when pastors say that these armies are the returning armies of saints, how do we know they’re just not angels? It’s an excellent question. This interpretation of Revelation 19:14 is pretty much all based on Jude 1:14-15.

Revelation 19:14 – And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses.

Jude 1:14-15a – Now Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men also, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment on all…

Jude 1:14-15a pretty clearly tells us that Jesus is returning with the armies of His saints to execute vengeance. Now, you’re absolutely right in saying that most of the time when the Bible talks about the hosts of the Lord, or heavenly armies, it’s talking about angelic armies. But not in this case. I’m not going to get into the whole thing about the Book of Enoch right now. But Jude, quoting Enoch, lets us know that these are armies of His saints. Now, will there also be angels involved? Is this also going to be the angelic host? I don’t have any doubt. Yes, likely.

But again, I would just stress that we’re talking about the armies of the saints here, according to Jude quoting the Book of Enoch. That’s how we know.

It’s a very good question. It’s the kind of question we should be asking. Preachers and pastors and Bible teachers say things all the time, and it’s fair to ask, “Well, how do we know that? Can you show me that from the Scriptures or is this just an idea?” It’s good to be very clear on the difference between those two.

How do I ask for and practice the gift of tongues?

I appreciate your answer on the baptism of the Holy Spirit. My question is, if I feel compelled in prayer to ask for the gift of tongues, how am I to interpret that? I’m trying to discern what’s me or God. I’ve been raised as a cessationist, so this is all very new to me.

I would say that if you feel prompted or compelled to ask God to give you what the New Testament describes as the gift of tongues, then I think you should ask God to give you that gift and believe that a loving Father will give you that gift either now or later. One thing we’re assured of is that we are not in control of the gifts of the Spirit. We can’t simply do whatever we want with the gifts. We can’t pretend that God will do whatever we want Him to do with these gifts of the Spirit. It just doesn’t work like that.

I think we’re supposed to pray believingly. We’re supposed to pray with the sense that we’re praying to a good God who cares about us and wants to give us these gifts.

Now, practically speaking, how does someone receive the gift of tongues? I don’t think we should expect that God would force you to speak in another language, as if a person were possessed by His Spirit. It won’t be haphazard like, “Well, I didn’t know what to do. I just started, and I had no control over it.” That’s not how the gifts of the Spirit operate. The Bible tells us that the spirit of the prophets is subject to the prophets.

In other words, God works with the gifts of the Holy Spirit, but not in a way that overwhelms or possesses us, so to speak. Rather, He works within our will and within our volition. I would say that there’s no one single way that a person receives or experiences the bestowal of the gift of tongues. Think of how language happens for us. Right now, I’m speaking in English. This whole process happens so fast and so intuitively that we don’t think of it. But we’ve experienced it when we try to speak other languages. A sound or a word will register in your mind, and you choose to speak out that sound or that word. Similarly, if you ask God to give you the gift of tongues, and seemingly nonsensical sounds or words begin to enter into your mind, then just believe that the Holy Spirit is working. He does not overwhelm my faculty of speech and make me speak something, but He simply guides in the normal way that a person might speak. The difference is that now it’s the gift of tongues, which means that it’s a way for me to communicate with God in a way that transcends my intellect and my understanding, as Paul described in 1 Corinthians.

So, I don’t know if that’s exactly what you’re asking. I think it’s fine to ask for gifts, but we should always be allergic to the idea of performing the gifts or faking the gifts. That should be something very offensive to us.

Can we lose our salvation?

Revelation 3:5- “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

Revelation 3:5 speaks about blotting someone’s name out of the Book of Life. I’ve read a lot of commentaries on this. There’s a lot of different ways that people try to explain this passage. Some people would explain it like this, “Well, in ancient cities in the ancient world, the name of every person who was born was written in a book of life, and then they were just blotted out when they died. So it’s referring to something universal among mankind; it’s not talking about somebody who had their name written in the Book of Life, and then later had it written out, blotted out, or erased out.”

Here’s the very practical and important point, I would say. If people want to debate the point all day long about whether somebody who is a child of God can lose that status, and no longer be a child of God, and end up going to hell, that’s a theological and biblical discussion we can have.

But this is what we know and is beyond dispute. There are people who outwardly appear to be believers and seem to be saved, and yet in the end they will perish.

Now, the whole debate centers around the idea, “Were they ever true believers to begin with?” How can we answer that? We don’t really know by experience. There’s not a light on someone’s forehead that turns on or off, according to whether they are a believer or not.

But this what we know: there are people who by all appearance and to our observation are genuine Christians, but not all of those people will end up going to heaven. If you want to say, “Well, it’s because they were never saved to begin with,” or if you want to say, “It’s because they lost it,” we can argue about all the all day long.

The New Testament gives many, many warnings, that people must continue in the faith, that they must persevere in the faith, that they must make it to the end. And if people don’t do that, they are in grave danger. I really prefer to approach the whole situation from that aspect. I think it’s entirely fair for any one of us to read Revelation 3:5, and say, “I don’t want my name to be blotted out of the Book of Life, so I’m going to walk right with God. I’m going to pursue hard after Jesus Christ.” I don’t think we need to get embroiled in the bigger conversation of, “Did I ever have it, or did I not have it?”

Look, I just know that I want my name in the Book of Life. So, I’m going to follow after Jesus Christ. I think that kind of perseverance is what God wants to encourage us toward.

How do I know I am under a spiritual attack?

When everything goes wrong all at the same time, can we assume it’s a spiritual attack? How do we know when we’re going through a spiritual attack?

What a great question. Here’s a practical example. We’ve had many ongoing problems with our live stream, in the technical aspects, the internet, and so on. We’ve spent hundreds of dollars, and much time and effort trying to eliminate the bad transmission and buffering. And then here I am, despite all of that, parked in a parking lot and broadcasting from my car because I think I can get a better cell signal right here than the reliability of my internet connection at home. Isn’t that crazy?

So, we have asked these questions, “Is this a spiritual attack? Is it just circumstances?” I’ll give you my take on this. I think that it’s possible for us to waste a lot of time worrying about whether or not a specific circumstance, adversity, or trial actually comes from God or from Satan. Because look, no matter where it came from, Satan wants to use it for his advantage, and God wants to use it for His glory. You could just know that beyond any doubt.

Sometimes it’s obvious. “This is from the Lord” or “This is from the evil one.” Sometimes it’s obvious, but there are times when it’s not obvious and we just don’t know.

Now, here’s what I would insist on. In some sense, it doesn’t really matter. No matter what, no matter how it came to us, God wants to use it for His glory, and Satan wants to use it for his evil purposes. So just determine, to the best of your ability, “God helping me, this trial, this difficulty, these adverse circumstances, are going to be used to the glory of God, and not to the benefit of Satan and his kingdom.”

Is there a difference between the filling and the baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Sometimes. Certainly, the baptism the Holy Spirit is a filling of the Holy Spirit. But baptism really speaks of being overwhelmed. It speaks of being immersed in something. You could quite fairly say it’s more than just a feeling; it’s actually being immersed in something.

With that in mind, I do believe that there are different kinds of experiences that people have with the Holy Spirit. In the church tradition I come from, it is sometimes explained in the form of prepositions. There are three different prepositions that the New Testament original language uses to describe our relationship with the Holy Spirit. First, the Holy Spirit being with someone, that is, in the conviction of sin. Second, the Holy Spirit being in someone, that is, when someone is born again and receives the Holy Spirit. Third, the Holy Spirit coming upon someone, that is, when someone is overflowing with the Holy Spirit, as Jesus said, rivers of living water coming forth from their innermost being.

Now, I believe it’s possible to make too great a distinction, to act as if they’re entirely different things. I think people have different experiences with the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is a Person. He’s not a machine. There can be somewhat different ways that He works in individual lives. When we’re talking about the filling of the Holy Spirit or the baptism of the Holy Spirit, what I try to stress with people is that we should have an ongoing relationship with the Holy Spirit. It isn’t just, “Hey, when I was born again, I received the Spirit.” That is true; you did receive the Spirit when you were born again; there’s no doubt about that. But to act as if, “Hey, I received the Holy Spirit when I was born again, so I don’t have to think about the Holy Spirit and His work in my entire Christian life ever again. I’m born again now.” No, that’s not the pattern. The pattern we have from the book of Ephesians is that we should be constantly being filledwith the Holy Spirit. I think that’s the attitude we should have.

Why did Jesus change the given script and meaning of the ritual of communion?

I watched one of your sermons that talked about the Last Supper. You mentioned the bread phrase changed in the script. How about the wine script change?

I think I understand what you’re talking about. When Jesus instituted communion at the Last Supper on the night He was betrayed, it was a Passover meal with His disciples. A Jewish Passover has different elements, such as several cups, bread, a piece of meat like lamb in the old tradition or chicken oftentimes today, bitter herbs, vegetables, and things like this. Each aspect of the meal had a ceremonial significance.

There was a script, a liturgy called the Haggadah, which they would use to go through the meal, explaining that the cup represents this, the bread represents this, and so on. Now, Jesus went off that script at the Last Supper. No longer was the bread meant to signify the bread of affliction that the people of Israel would understand from their Passover ceremonies. He now said that the bread was His body. And it’s true for the different cups of wine as well.

Jesus definitely changed the script on the cup of wine as well, because now the wine was the new covenant in His blood. That was definitely a different understanding of what the wine represented in the Jewish Passover liturgy. But here’s the reason why I didn’t go into that in that particular message. It’s not entirely clear which cup of wine Jesus reinterpreted. There are four ceremonial cups of wine given at Passover. Some people think it was the third cup; some people think it was the fourth cup. There’s different ways to explain this, and I don’t think we can ever know with certainty. But that’s why I didn’t go into it in that particular message.

But your question is, “Did Jesus reinterpret and give a new script for the cup of wine?” Absolutely, He did. Nowhere in the Passover ceremony liturgy, the Haggadah, did it say that that cup of wine was the new covenant in the blood of the Messiah. So yes, He did give a new script. I think that’s what you’re getting at with your question.

Can we use anointing oil for prayer?

Can we still use oil or anointing oil at all when praying? I’m not familiar with the purpose of this. I don’t understand why Catholics use holy water, but Protestants don’t.

I would say that, yes, we certainly can use anointing oil. There is at least one specific reference to that in the New Testament, in James 5, where it talks about the elders of the church praying for the sick and anointing them with oil.

It is true that in the ancient world the application of oil was thought to be medicinal in character. So, there may be an aspect of what James is saying that simply communicates “Get that person good medical care.” But there’s also a very rich idea that comes from the Old Testament about anointing with oil.

Practically speaking, how do you anoint somebody with oil? I don’t know if there is any one way. When kings and priests were anointed in the Old Testament, a big bunch of oil was actually poured upon their head. We’re not usually doing that on the prayer team at church services today. Here’s what I normally do when I anoint someone with oil. I will just dab a little bit on my thumb, and I will just make a motion on their forehead. Sometimes I’ll make a cross on their forehead. And I’m not trying to make a sign of the cross or some magic. No, I’m just applying oil to them. That’s what oil is. And why not put it in a cross? Why not have do it in a way that refers to or speaks to the work of Jesus on the cross for us? And then I pray.

I practice this for a few reasons: because that picture is so rich in the Bible; it’s obedient to what some biblical passages teach; and oil is emblematic throughout the Scriptures of the presence and work of the Holy Spirit. It is very important that we don’t get superstitious about anointing with oil. It’s very important that we don’t think that there’s something magical about a certain kind of oil.

In a couple of weeks, I’m going to be in Israel. When you go to Israel, in all the shops you see “Oil from the Holy Land” or “Anointing Oil from the Holy Land” for sale. Sometimes it’s put in a nice little glass flask container, or an olive wood container. Folks, if you want to do that, that’s fine. That’s great. It’s kind of a nice, sentimental thing. But it’s not like there’s any magic or power in that. We need to avoid superstition. But we need to carry out the obedience of faith as it’s described in the Bible.

So, I’m happy to anoint people with oil when I pray for them, and in particular if they are sick but really no matter what the issue, because it’s in the general stream of biblical obedience, it’s in line with passages such as that verse in James 5, and it’s emblematic of the Holy Spirit. I don’t make some kind of superstitious deal about it. But it’s something that I definitely do. And you should also feel encouraged in doing that.

How important are Old Testament characters and events in today’s New Testament age?

It’s very important. Absolutely. We believe what the Bible says in 2 Timothy 3:16, that all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable. So, it’s very helpful for us to simply read the Scriptures, to try to understand the Scriptures, including the Old Testament. As a matter of fact, if you think about it, the Bible that Jesus Himself, and the apostle Paul and the disciples had was the Old Testament.

Now, I will say this, they were quite aware that they were bringing forth a new addition, so to speak, to the Scriptures. They understood that perfectly. We know that by some of the passages in the New Testament. They understood that they were bringing forth what we call today, the New Testament, but yet they respected and used and valued the Old Testament very much.

So yes, study those Old Testament characters and events. Understand them in the context of God’s greater plan, for sure, but understand what the Bible says from Genesis to Revelation.

Does the Holy Spirit enable us to be more righteous than Old Testament saints?

I would say that we certainly have the potential for that. Here’s one of the benefits under the New Covenant. Under the New Covenant, every believer is indwelt with the Holy Spirit. That was not true under the Old Covenant. The Holy Spirit filled people in the Old Testament, but only certain people for certain purposes in certain situations.

One of the glorious promises we have under the New Covenant, one of the things that makes it truly a new covenant is that the promise of the Holy Spirit is for all who are part of the New Covenant. As Peter quoted, it will be for your menservants and your maidservants, your old men, and young men; it’s for everybody. Everybody who belongs to the New Covenant is promised this indwelling Holy Spirit, who gives us a power and an ability to live and walk in obedience to Jesus Christ, which is glorious and should not be slighted. So yes, we have the potential to live godlier, holier lives than the normal Old Testament saints did, because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within us.

Will the rapture happen before or after the great tribulation?

Do you think there will be a rapture and Christians won’t suffer the Great Tribulation? Or will it occur after? Studying 1 John 2:28, someone mentioned that we can’t shrink in shame if it happens before.

1 John 2:28 – And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

My understanding is that the catching away of the church that’s described in Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians will happen before this final seven-year period that the Bible describes. That seven-year period includes what we call the Great Tribulation. That’s my understanding. Christians understand those things differently. Since the days of the early church, there have been different understandings and different explanations of some of the things having to do with the return of Jesus in all its different aspects.

But yes, I personally do believe that the rapture will happen before this final seven-year period, which we call the Great Tribulation. I’m not going to get into it. There are lots of resources on the YouTube channel and on my website that talk about it, where I go through and defend that position, but you can look those up for yourself.

Can you explain the alliance made through the covenant in Exodus 24:8?

Exodus 24:8 – And Moses took the blood, sprinkled it on the people, and said, “This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.”

I would recommend that you go to my commentary on Exodus 24, because I love talking about that passage. I’ll answer you very briefly now, but I know there’s a greater explanation at enduringword.com and also on our YouTube playlist of my teachings through the Book of Exodus.

I regard this as one of the more dramatic moments in all of Old Testament history. It happens at Mount Sinai, when God’s people made a covenant with the Lord through the mediation of Moses. When they agreed to God’s terms of the covenant, Moses took sacrificial blood and he sprinkled it upon the people. And of course, there was a vast crowd present. I just think of the people who received the actual blood drops on their face from the sacrifice. And in the midst of that, Moses said, “This is the blood of the covenant. God’s going to hold you to this covenant. The blood of sacrifice demonstrates it.

It is an important and dramatic moment. Covenants in the Bible were normally sealed by the shedding of blood. There are differing opinions concerning the Davidic Covenant. But for the most part, covenants in the Bible were sealed with the blood of sacrifice.

Could you explain the importance of the Theotokos (the virgin Mary) in faith and prayer?

Mary deserves significant honor among Christians because God honored her greatly. Of all the women in all the ages who have ever existed, only one of them was chosen to be the mother of the Messiah. And that one person, of course, was Mary, and she is honored in the Scriptures. We should honor Mary and learn from her.

I am quite uncomfortable with some of the Roman Catholic doctrine concerning Mary. I don’t think that she should be prayed to. I don’t think that she should be venerated in the way that is common among Roman Catholics. I’m even more at odds with the Roman Catholic practice. I know that any good Roman Catholic will tell you, “We don’t worship Mary and we shouldn’t worship Mary; we only honor her and venerate her.” But if you look at what happens in practice in many Roman Catholic churches and in the lives of Roman Catholic people, Mary is being worshipped. There’s really just not much doubt about that. When you’re considering Roman Catholicism, you have to look at their doctrine, certainly. But there’s also the necessity of looking at their practice as well.

There’s also the aspect in Orthodox churches where Mary is presented as the mother of God. Okay, I understand that phrasing, but I’m not comfortable with it. Because “mother of God” seems to overlook the fact that Mary was not the author of the divine nature of Jesus. She’s absolutely responsible for the human nature of Jesus, in a physical aspect. She supplied the egg, and God miraculously fertilized that egg without any kind of normal reproductive process. Okay, we understand that.

I understand how our Orthodox brethren promote the idea of “Mary, mother of God.” But that’s not phraseology I would use or that I’m entirely comfortable with. I don’t think it makes them heretics. I just don’t think it’s a helpful way to phrase things. It blurs some of the aspects of who Jesus is and what His nature is that it’s better not to blur.

It has been commonly said that Protestants tend to not give enough attention to Mary, while Roman Catholics and perhaps our Orthodox brethren tend to give too much attention to Mary. There’s probably some truth to both of those statements.

What is it that we are saved from?

Can you please explain what we are saved from? As a new Christian, this is explained to me in so many ways, but I’m confused.

That’s a very good question. We’re saved from a lot. Here’s the first thing I would say that we are saved from. I wrote a book on the subject of grace called, “Standing in Grace.” That book has a chapter where I deal with what it means to be saved by grace, and what we’re saved from. The New Testament makes it clear that we are saved from the world, from the flesh, and from the devil. Those are pretty important things to be saved from. We don’t want to be under the power of the world, under the power of the flesh, or under the power of the devil. So, it is a good thing for us to be saved from the world, the flesh, and the devil.

But I’ll add something else. We are also saved from the righteous penalty of our sin. We are saved from the righteous judgment or wrath that God would put upon our sin. And of course, if we are clinging to our sin, then any judgment God puts upon our sin is going to come upon us as well. We are saved from God’s wrath and the righteous judgment that we would deserve.

So, we are saved from the world, the flesh, and the devil. But one might argue that it’s even more significant that we are saved from the righteous judgment of God for our sin, the righteous wrath of God. It is helpful and meaningful for us as believers to consider what we are saved from.

Is the standard for choosing church leaders today still the same as it was in Paul’s and Titus’ times?

When the Apostle Paul told Titus the standard of choosing leaders, was that standard just for churches then, or did it cut across to our time?

I think it’s very much for our time. The principles that Paul wrote about concern the kind of character that a man should have in leadership. These things are important first of all as a grid by which to evaluate potential elders, pastors, and overseers in the church. But beyond that, it should also be sort of an aspirational list. In these things, God is defining what godly character looks like.

There is a sense in which that is a list for every man or woman of God – even those who will never be in some kind of church leadership; they won’t be elders, they won’t be pastors, they won’t be overseers. But this is God’s declaration of what good solid character looks like, so it should be of interest to each one of us.

So that list is very much for today. I don’t think that it’s a list that requires perfection. Now, obviously, if there’s a glaring inconsistency, it needs to be dealt with, and nobody should ignore it. But it’s a guideline to measure candidates, and it’s a list to challenge existing leaders on. Of course, if somebody falls significantly enough outside of this description, then they should never be a leader, an elder, a pastor, an overseer, or perhaps they should step away from their post. It’s a list to take seriously.

What will happen to the people who are saved during the Tribulation?

I’ll give you my understanding of this. First of all, a great many of them will be martyred. I think that’s just a biblical truth. Many, many of them will be martyred, and the ones who survive will receive their resurrection bodies at the glorious return of Jesus. The Bible doesn’t give us so much specific information about what happens with those who survive to the end. But it does show us that there are many, many people who are martyred out of their faithfulness to Jesus Christ during the Great Tribulation.

Does Malachi 3:1 refer to Jesus’ first visit or His second coming?

I’ve always understood Malachi 3:1 to refer to the Messiah’s first visit. I just recently heard that it’s used in a form related to a second coming. Which is correct?

Malachi 3:1 – “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” says the LORD of hosts.

I know that the Prophet Malachi also makes a specific reference to the appearance of Elijah. So your question is, do these prophecies in Malachi 3:1, and the reference to the coming of Elijah, refer to the first coming or the second coming of Jesus?

My answer to that would be Yes. Jesus specifically spoke to that. Now, Jesus understood that Elijah was yet to come. But He also said that, in a very true sense, John the Baptist fulfilled the office, the work, and purpose of Elijah on this earth.

So, we would look at John the Baptist as one aspect of the fulfillment. He certainly prepared the way. Certainly, He was God’s messenger before the coming of the Messiah. But the Bible tells us there will also be a true and even more literal fulfillment of that which is to come with the coming of Elijah. So, the answer is, yes, there was an aspect of fulfillment in Jesus’ first coming; and I would say that the true fulfillment awaits for Jesus’ Second Coming.