An Unbiblical “Escape Theory?” —The “Saints” Come from Heaven to Execute Judgment (Part Two)
Response (cont’d): At the end of Revelation 19, the second coming of Christ in power and glory to destroy Antichrist (as in 2 Thessalonians:2:8) is described, and we are told that “the armies which were in heaven followed him…clothed in fine linen, white and clean” (verse 14). This is the clothing of Christ’s bride, the church. So it must be she who accompanies Him in keeping with the promise that we are caught up “to meet the Lord in the air…so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians:4:17). That conclusion is confirmed by Paul’s declaration that “the saints shall judge the world” (1 Corinthians:6:2) and David’s statement that the saints will “execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people” (Psalm:149:7).
We have confirmation in other Scriptures of the saints coming with Christ from heaven to execute judgment. For example, “Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, to execute judgment upon all [the ungodly]” (Jude 14,15). The expression “ten thousands” simply means an innumerable multitude. In Daniel, too, we are told that “the saints of the most High shall take the kingdom” from Antichrist, who made war with the saints, “and judgment was given to the saints” (7:18,22).
So we know that those clothed in fine linen, white and clean, and who accompany Christ, are “saints.” Here we have further evidence that the “armies from heaven” must be the church. Those in the church are consistently addressed as “saints” throughout the New Testament: “thy saints at Jerusalem” (Acts:9:13); “the saints which dwelt at Lydda” (Acts:9:32); “to all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called saints” (Romans:1:7); “the church of God…at Corinth…sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints” (1 Corinthians:1:2); “the saints which are at Ephesus”
(Ephesians:1:1); and so forth.
Those who truly know God are called saints in the Old Testament as well: “The saints that are in the earth” (Psalm:16:3); “Gather my saints together unto me, those that have made a covenant with me by sacrifice” (Psalm:50:5); “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (Psalm:116:15); “O God, the heathen…have laid Jerusalem on heaps. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the beasts of the earth” (Psalm:79:1,2). Thus we are persuaded that they too will be in the army that accompanies Christ from heaven.
Indeed, Zechariah tells us that when Christ returns to earth to rescue Israel in the midst of Armageddon, “his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount Olives” and He will bring “all the saints” from heaven with Him (14:4,5). Of course, the souls and spirits of the saints who have died were instantly taken to heaven at the time of their deaths to await the resurrection of their bodies. Surely the armies of heaven are not disembodied spirits but whole persons in immortal bodies of glory, indicating that the resurrection must have taken place prior to this event.
The rapture, therefore, must have already occurred for two reasons. First of all, Paul assures us that the rapture takes place simultaneously with the resurrection. Secondly, for all saints to accompany Christ when He comes from heaven to execute judgment, the living saints must have been caught up to heaven in transformed bodies also. So here we have further evidence that the rapture is a separate event prior to the second coming and another strong indication of the pre-trib rapture of the church.