Salvation In The Tribulation

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Part Five - Salvation During The Tribulation

First of all is there going to be a Tribulation? This may seem like a strange question to ask but in some Christian circles there is considerable debate over who will be eligible for salvation after the rapture of the Church. Before we get to the question at hand let us lay some ground work that will help us in this task.

First of all is there going to be a Tribulation? If there is no Tribulation than this whole question becomes a mute point. Many believers are unfamiliar with the concept of a Tribulation period beginning with the Rapture of the Church. These believers come mainly from churches that reflect a Protestant eschatology. The Protestant eschatology is based on the belief God broke His covenant with Israel after Israel rejected her Messiah King at His First Coming. Having broken His covenant with Israel, they believe that God has established a new covenant with a new people, the Church. This new covenant carries with it all of the promises God originally gave to Israel and now applied to the Church. Those of this position believe there will be no rapture of the Church, no seven year Tribulation period, and no literal thousand year Millennium rule of Christ. Are these Christians right in their view of future things? The answer is no. There are many serious flaws with this position of which I will just a few.

1) The covenant that God made with Israel was a irrevocable covenant. God declared it was an everlasting covenant or covenant that had no end (Gen. 13:5; 17:7, 8, 13, 19; 21:33; 48:4; Ex.32:13).

2) The covenant was established by God in such a way that its fulfillment is dependent solely on His faithfulness not that of Israel. So Paul writes in Romans that God has not forsaken his people

Ro 11:1-6, “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, "Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life"? But what does the divine response say to him? "I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal." Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.”

3) The guilt or blame for the crucifixion of Christ does not rest solely upon Israel. It is true that Israel rejected her Messiah and called for His crucifixion, but it took the decree and power of the Gentiles to carry out the crucifixion. Pilot had the authority and power to deny the Jews their demands, therefore, the Gentiles were just as guilty of putting Christ on the cross as were the Jews. To be even more precise, we all as sinners put Christ on the cross!

1 Co 15:3, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures”

Gal 1:4, “who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father,”

1 Jn 2:2, “And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins”

1 Jn 4:10, “but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”

4) Christ was not killed by anyone. Neither the Jews nor the Gentiles put Christ to death. If you look closely at the account in John it says that Jesus gave up His Spirit. He died of His own free accord not due to the suffering of the cross (John 19:30). Therefore we have to no right to call the Jews killers of Christ.

5) All prophecies are fulfilled in a literal manner. All prophecy of future events given by God has been fulfilled in a literal way. By this I mean that the prophecies were given to be understood in a natural literal grammatical understanding by the reader. This does not mean that the writer never used images or metaphors, but they are used in a way that the readers of that day would understand them to be fulfilled in a literal manner. For example, Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a statue made of several types of metal and clay. The passage explains this statue to speak of 5 Gentile nations which would rule over Israel until the coming of the Messiah. An image was used to give literal sense and fulfillment. Likewise when it was prophesied of Christ he would be born of a virgin, born in the city of Bethlehem and would do great miracles the readers understood that that these prophesies would be fulfilled literally as they were given. If all prophecy up to this day has been fulfilled in a literal sense, than it is only reasonable that those prophecies yet to be fulfilled will have their fulfillment in a literal way. Therefore there will be a literal rapture of the Church, a literal seven year Tribulation period of unparalleled torment and destruction, a literal thousand year millennium and a literal great judgment day of all unbelievers.

Secondly, it is clear in the Scriptures that many will be saved during the seven year Tribulation. Many of them will be martyred for their faith (Rev. 6:9-10; 13:15; 20:24) but some will survive the Tribulation to enter into the Millennium which follows (Matt. 25:31-40; Rev. 7:9). Likewise there will be 144,000 Jewish males, 12,000 from each of the Tribes of Israel who will be saved and will go forth to evangelize the world (Rev. 7:4-11).

So let us sum up what we have discovered. 

1) There will be a rapture of the Church in which all true members of the church are taken out of this world to join the Lord in Heaven for a period of seven years (1 Thes. 4:13-18). The first the world will be aware that the rapture has happened will be the immediate absence of loved ones, family, friends, co-workers, neighbors, class mates, etc. 1 Cor. 15:51 declares it will happen in the “twinkling of an eye” or the time it takes for light to reflect off an eye.

2) There will be some who thought they were Christians who will be left on earth to face the most severe wrath of God ever poured out on the world. The reason they are not taken in the rapture is because they have been deceived into accepting a counterfeit gospel. As Paul puts it, an “other gospel” which conflicts with the gospel given in the Bible (Gal. 1:8-9). A Gospel based in human effort, ritual practices, and law keeping rather than faith alone in the saving work of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2:8-10). Not all Churches that claim to be Christian are genuinely of God. Only those who preach salvation must come through Jesus Christ and Him alone are a part of the true Church. 

3) Those who are left have only one hope that is seek out the true gospel and put their faith in it. This could lead to an early death at the hands of unbelievers or the Antichrist, but it does guarantee a resurrection and a place in Christ’s Kingdom to come.

Now with these facts laid out, we come to the question we started with. Who will be eligible for salvation in the Tribulation? The reason this question is raised is because in 2 Thes. 2:9-11, it says that when Satan is finally allowed to bring his Antichrist to the forefront he will use lying wonders and a great deception to deceive the world into following him. The reason these people are deceived is because they “did not receive the love of the truth that they might be saved,” (v.10) and they did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness (12). It is believed by many Christians if that if someone hears the gospel before the rapture and turns it down, that he will be unable to be saved after the rapture. The reason being he “did not receive the love of the truth or believe it.”

So does this passage indicate that those who refuse the gospel before the Tribulation, will no longer be eligible for salvation after the rapture? It sounds very convincing and makes some great preaching especially when speaking to unbelievers, however, upon a closer look it becomes apparent that this is not the case at all. It should be noted that this passages speaks of the rise of the Antichrist to world dominion at the midpoint of the Tribulation. Rev. 13: indicates that at that point, he will select a false prophet and priest who will do great miracles or signs and will deceive the people of the earth into believing the lie (2 Thes. 2:11). What is the lie, that the Antichrist is God and therefore to be worshipped as such.

Since 2 Thes. 2:9-12 is speaking of the second half of the Tribulation, it has no bearing on what takes place during the first half of the Tribulation. With this said, then all who enter into the Tribulation will be eligible to be saved. There is no special delusion by Satan during this period. Many that hear the gospel, some a number of times before the rapture, will immediately respond to the truth having witnessed the results of the rapture. In other words “my friend, loved one, co-worker was telling the truth!” If there is any hope left to me, I need to accept Christ now!

The great news is that many will come to Christ during the Tribulation. The sad news is that these will either experience a martyr’s death or the terrible persecution and conditions of the Tribulation. How much better it would be to come to know Christ now so that at the appointed time, we may join the Lord in His Father’s home while God is pouring out his wrath on the unbelievers left on this earth. If you died today do you know that you would be with Christ? If the rapture took place today, would you be one of the ones going or one of the ones staying? Please contact us and give us the opportunity to share with the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ

You have to make the choice. To put it off may be the most dangerous thing you can ever do.