I would like to begin by
stating that I am not telling people that they don't need salvation today.
However, I am a realist, not an idealist. Reality dictates that after the
rapture, people will be left behind because of their own unbelief,
procrastination, or pride. The point of this article is not to reassure
people that they can wait to believe in the Lord until after the Rapture
happens. It is simply a look at what the scriptures have to say about
salvation during the Tribulation. Those people 'lucky enough' to actually
live through that time of wrath will have the opportunity to repent, but
they also need to know that they will likely be martyred for their faith. It
will be a long, hard road.
The foundation of our
relationship with the Lord is faith, not proof. “Now faith is the substance
of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). The
Lord asks us to have faith in Him, and to trust Him by faith alone. It is my
belief that, by rapturing the church as He said He would, God is making one
last attempt to prove His deity to those who resisted. God's purpose is
ALWAYS redemption. While He IS removing the church to protect them from His
wrath, He is also reaching out to a lost and dying world"
As described by Jesus in
the book of Matthew, the Tribulation will be a time that has never been seen
by this world and never will be seen again (24:21). The rapture, in itself,
will be a major calamity unlike anything the world has ever seen. There is
no guarantee that those who are unsaved at the time of that great event will
live through it long enough to repent!
Lately, I have seen some
differing opinions on the issue of salvation during the Tribulation. Some
people believe that only the Jews in general will be saved. Others believe
that only the 144,000 Jews mentioned in Revelation will be saved. Still
others believe that no one will be saved during the Tribulation, however, I
cannot find scriptural support for those positions and during my study on
this topic, what I did find actually disproved all of these ideas.
Let’s take a look at what
the Bible has to say about this issue. (All following emphases are mine.)
1. What does
For I [am] the LORD, I change not
2 Peter 3:9
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count
slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God is not an ever-changing
God. He is now as He was and as He will be. It is His desire that all men
come to salvation. These verses prove that His purpose is to redeem the
lost. We can trust that does not change because of the rapture, but,
rather, the rapture is because of that purpose.
2. Can people repent
during the Tribulation?
9:20 And the rest of the men which were
not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of
their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and
silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor
hear, nor walk:
16:9 And men were scorched with great
heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these
plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.
16:11 And blasphemed the God of heaven
because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their
From these passages, we can
see that mankind will be given the opportunity to repent during the
Tribulation. These are but a few of the references found in Revelation that
show repentance and the lack thereof during the Tribulation period.
Therefore, we can be confidant that God's offer of salvation and forgiveness
will still be available.
3. Who are
the Tribulation Saints?
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man
could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and
tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with
white robes, and palms in their hands;
7:13-14 And one of the elders answered,
saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and
whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to
me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have
washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
The people who repent
and turn to God during the Tribulation are called the Tribulation Saints.
First we see that they are a multitude from all nations, of all peoples and
tongues. Therefore the Tribulation saints will not be limited to only the
Jews or the 144,000. In addition, they will come out of the Great
Tribulation, therefore they can not be the Old Testament saints or the
Church. It is simply logical to believe that "the multitude that no man can
number" are the people who turned to the Lord during the Tribulation."
4. What is
the purpose of the two witnesses?
11:3 And I will give power unto my two
witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and
threescore days, clothed in sackcloth.
The purpose of the two
witnesses is to preach the gospel to all the world during the Tribulation.
The fact that the Lord has seen fit to send these two men to accomplish this
further clarifies that there is the opportunity for repentance and salvation
during the Tribulation.
5. Is there
a point of no return?
13:16-17 And he causeth all, both
small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in
their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or
sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number
of his name.
14:9-10 And the third angel followed
them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his
image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same
shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out
without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be
tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels,
and in the presence of the Lamb:
During the Tribulation, all
people will be faced with a destiny-sealing choice. This is what is referred
to as the "mark of the beast". Scripture indicates that it is tied to the
economy, as no man will be able to buy or sell unless he accepts this mark.
Additionally we can see that the mark represents the worship of the
Antichrist and the acceptance of his reign on earth. Much speculation
abounds about what this mark will be--ranging from a tattoo to a computer
chip--but truth be told, until it is instituted, no one will know for sure
what it will be. What is important to note here is that the acceptance of
the mark will be a willful action and direct rejection of the Lord. The
wrath of God will be poured out on those who accept this mark. This passage
indicates that it will be hell on earth for those who accept this mark.
20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat
upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them
that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God,
and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither
had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and
they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.
19:20 And the beast was taken, and with
him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he
deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that
worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire
burning with brimstone.
This passage states that
the Tribulation Saints who will be martyred for proclaiming the name of
Christ will live and reign throughout the millennium. It also states that
those who have taken the mark will not be a part of this group--their fate
is determined as well. The distinction that the Lord is making here is that
the mark will be a defining moment--the point of no return. Once this
decision is made, fate is sealed for eternity.
6. Who will
populate the Millennium?
14:16 And it shall come to pass, that
every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem
shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD
of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
At the end of the
Tribulation when Christ returns to set up His millennial reign, the earth
will be populated by those who believe in Him and survived the Tribulation.
7. Who is
Thessalonians 2:3-4 Let no man deceive
you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a
falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of
perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called
God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of
God, shewing himself that he is God.
Thessalonians 2:6-7 And now ye know
what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery
of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until
he be taken out of the way.
This scripture shows that
the Antichrist cannot rise to power or be revealed until the restrainer is
taken out of the way. One prevalent theory holds that the Holy Spirit is
the restrainer that will be taken away, thereby making salvation
impossible. However, reading from the book of Joel, that theory is not
And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit
upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And
also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour
out my spirit.
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of
the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem
shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the
LORD shall call.
This passage shows us
not that only will the Holy Spirit remain on the earth, but also that the
Lord is now and will be willing then to forgive those who repent. The Holy
Spirit is omnipresent and will remain with the believers throughout the
Tribulation. Without His influence, no one would be able to be saved! The
restrainer referred to by Paul in this letter to the Thessalonians is the
workings of the Holy Spirit in the church.
about the great delusion?
2:9-12 [Even him], whose coming is
after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish;
because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be
saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that
they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who
believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Wow! Now there's some scary
stuff. Paul is saying here that the Lord will send a great delusion to those
who rejected His truth so that they will believe the lies of the Antichrist.
Will those whose hearts are hardened to the message of salvation today still
be hardened to it tomorrow? Romans 1:28 tells us that God is patient but He
has his limits--He will turn over a stubborn person to a debased
The big question here is,
what truth did they receive? In other words, what did they know?
Let's take a look at five
distinct representatives of society.
Case 1: This is an
Orthodox Jew with an MBA from Yeshiva University (Jewish College). He knows
all about Jesus, but from a historical perspective. He believes that Jesus
was just a man that the Gentiles elevated to God status. Out of the blue, I
asked him one day what he would think if the Messiah came and it turns out
to have been Jesus all along. His response? "If he shows up with holes in
his hands, I'm not buying it."
Case 2: This is a
devout Muslim. He knows about Jesus, as Islam teaches that Jesus was one in
a line of great prophets. Islam also teaches that Jesus (not Mohammed) will
return at the end-of-days and gather the faithful to Allah. He also believes
that Jesus was not God but, rather, just a man.
Case 3: This person
knows the story as well. She is a scientist and rejects the need for God in
her life. She can see the benefit for others, just not for herself.
Case 4: A former
co-worker of mine is a self-proclaimed Druid. He outwardly rejects the
notion of God altogether. He says he wants nothing to do with a God that
will allow bad things to happen. Case closed; end of discussion. When his
wife went into the hospital for surgery, he was asked “priest or rabbi” by
the admitting nurse. He told her to, "bring me a bush to hug".
Case 5: This is the
“all paths to God” person. This person believes that, just as the Lord
confused the tongues at the tower of Babel, He also sent different
messengers to different people at different times. Jesus, Buddha, and
Mohammed are all a part of the Godhead as well as the coming Jewish Messiah,
whose role it will be to wrap it all up into a nice neat little package. Two
years ago, this described me. Sadly, this is also the fastest growing
“religion” on the planet today, and is sweeping college campuses like a
storm under the name Baha'i.
Assuming these cases are
symbolic of the prevalent mentalities in the world today, and representative
of people who do not come to repentance prior to the Tribulation, are they
all damned? That sure is a lot of people now, isn't it?
No one knows what God's
litmus test is regarding the “what did you really know about the gospel”
question. During the Tribulation, He will send a deluding influence
which will allow people to be tricked, but only if their hearts are
hardened to the truth.
If you are reading
this and the Rapture has already happened, do not be fooled! Earnestly pray
and ask the Lord to show you the truth. Keep your heart open to the
answer. If you honestly want to know, just ask Him and He'll tell you.
Here is some
additional information that will explain in greater detail.
what's the bottom line?
This is why it is so
important to come to faith in Jesus now. Better to be safe than sorry!
Trust me on this
one--hedging your bet by waiting on the Rapture is a risky position to be
in. I can assure you that you don't want to be driving down the highway
being followed by an 18-wheeler driven by a born-again Christian when the
Rapture happens. By the time you realize what hit you, it will be too late.
Are you really
willing to gamble on the odds that you will live long enough to get a second