Saved During the Tribulation?

January 17, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Posted in Eschatology, Questions for Pastor Glenn | 3 Comments

Dear Pastor Glenn,

The past few weeks I have been attending a new church – a Baptist church – that is much closer to me.  Because I am new, I’ve been paying attention to doctrine … and something finally hit me last night in our Sunday night get together.  In his sermon, the pastor mentioned that he did not believe there would be any salvation after the Rapture.  That “Even if you want to believe, you will not be able to.”  That God would not permit it.

Something about that rubbed me the wrong way.  So I decided to look through Revelation.  Right away, I found in Revelation 7 the image John writes about the Multitude from every nation and every tongue, washed clean and clothed in white robes … washed clean by the Blood of the Lamb and by the Great Tribulation.  This seems to me to describe that people will find Christ in the end times … in fact, a multitude beyond count will!

Glenn, could you offer any opinion or insight you have on this?

Thank you!

 

Dear _______,  It’s good to hear from you.

This whole area of what will happen during the Tribulation is a complicated one.  I grew up being taught one perspective, and have, over the years, migrated to another.  You can read many reasons for that transition in my blog by clicking on the Eschatology category link.  Not all those posts are about that matter in particular, mostly just the older ones.  Basically, I have become convinced that what we call the Rapture will take place after the Great Tribulation, not before it.  Again, it’s complicated, and related to some other major theological matters, but in it’s simplest form, I find Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 24:29-31, and the parallel in Mark 13, to be the clearest teaching about the time of the Rapture.  It will take place after what Jesus calls “a great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again.”  I am assuming from your question that your pastor teaches that the Rapture will happen before the Great Tribulation.  If that is untrue, then much of what follows doesn’t apply.

Within my framework of understanding, your interpretation of Revelation 7 makes perfectly good sense (though some of that multitude will have been saved before the Tribulation).  I’m sure your pastor would have some other explanation for it.  The trouble with Revelation is that one’s end-time theology (that what “Eschatology” means) impacts the way it is interpreted more than the other way around.  When it comes to interpreting Revelation, I would be leery of anyone who can’t admit that.  Everyone admits that the book is full of symbolism, but just where the literal ends and the symbolism begins is not real clear.  And this is just one point where so many interpretations of Revelation are possible!

My perspective is that these matters are minor in comparison to some other issues.  However, these matters impact how we understand other theological issues, and visa-versa.  I don’t know that I’m familiar with the perspective your pastor is teaching, but it would make me question some other areas carefully.  Someone could come to that conclusion because they have what I might call a “hyper-dispensational” theology or because their understanding of the Gospel is different that what I believe the Bible teaches.  I grew up under dispensational teaching, but am no longer a dispensationalist; however, most who are dispensational are committed to the true Gospel, that is salvation is always a matter of grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, and that is true in every era of history.  Some who call themselves dispensational, believe that God saves people in different ways throughout different eras of history.  Various views of this nature could lead to an understanding that no one can be saved during the Tribulation.

If this is where your pastor is coming from, I would be careful about what he believes is salvation.  Please note, I’m not saying he must have an errant view of salvation, I’m just saying, if it were me, I would pay close attention.  Even some whom I might call “hyper-dispensational” teach the true message of salvation in this era, but might believe it to be something else in other eras.  Personally I find that inconsistent, but I’m sure there are those who believe that way.

Finally, your comment “Even if you want to believe, you will not be able to.  God would not permit it” opens another big theological “can of worms” and demonstrates how different areas of theology impact our understanding of this matter.  This quote seems to confess that God is sovereign over salvation, but indicates that some who want God to save them cannot be saved.  Those two matters are totally inconsistent in my understanding.  I believe God is sovereign over matters of salvation, and that God draws to Jesus those who will be saved.  Jesus’ words in John 6:37, 44 are sufficient to prove this.  In other words, if someone wants to be saved, God is drawing him.  This last matter could take up shelves of theology books, and, in the past it has!

In conclusion, this is probably a minor issue (unless, of course, the pastor there makes it a major one), and if everything else lines with scripture, then this would not be a deal breaker.  If he makes it a major one, then I would carefully check out these other matters as well.  By the way, what he is telling you is not a Baptist distinctive, so don’t connect those in your mind.

Blessings, Pastor Glenn

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3 Comments »

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  1. Hello Pastor Glenn,
    Thank you for the fenominal job you do every Sunday,
    I have a question about “spirits” or “ghosts”.
    Recently a family membeer of mine called his ex-wife and told her that he keep seeing a man in his house and he’s always dressed in grey.She told him to call The landlord.The landlord respond was “Is he dressed in grey”? The family member said Yes, that’s all he’s wearing. The landlord said; “Well the preavious owner saw this spirit aswell”. Now what is that? Is it evil? (Buy the way,this took place in Sweden)

  2. Shayesta,
    Thanks for your kind words. I’m sorry, it’s taken so long to get back to you. Since your question isn’t necessarily related to this post, I will try to answer it in a separate post later this week or early next.
    Blessings
    GG

  3. I have finally written an answer to this question. You can find it posted here:
    https://pastorglenn.wordpress.com/2012/02/07/are-ghosts-real/
    GG


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