Question of the Week: Will it be impossible for people to get saved during the Tribulation Period?
The common dodge for people who know enough about the gospel to come to a decision, but are still unwilling to commit their lives to Christ often say that they will receive Jesus later. The “later” is usually referring to their deathbeds, or during the Tribulation when all doubt has been removed in their minds. The appropriate response to the first option is the reminder that they aren’t promised a deathbed. There may be an accident, outbreak, or incident that doesn’t leave them enough time to come to a decision.
There is also the issue of assuming that if you spent your entire life putting off Jesus, what makes them think that they’ll suddenly make Him a priority then when they’ve spent their entire lives making Him secondary? This is the appropriate response to the first dismissal of the gospel. Hebrews 3:15 confirms this and it is in no way conflicting with other areas of scripture.
Where things become inappropriate is the reactionary doctrine that has been formed to the second option the non-believer has made available to themselves. A very loose interpretation of 2 Thessalonians 2:6-12 is presented as evidence that people will not be able to receive salvation during the Tribulation Period. Although well intended, this response isn’t biblically supported. The assumptions behind it are all true. You shouldn’t put off getting saved if God is calling you right now. (Hebrews 3:15) You can’t get saved if the Holy Spirit doesn’t draw you. (John 6:44) And the Holy Spirit will be taken away from this world in a sense during the Tribulation. The question is in what sense will the Holy Spirit withdraw Himself and will it include giving mankind a capacity to be saved during this time?
The first obstacle to this position being biblically supported is that we have biblical evidence against it. We have direct citation and reference to people being saved during the Tribulation in the book of Revelation and ending up in Heaven as a result. If people will be saved during the Tribulation, then interpreting 2 Thessalonians in a way that contradicts that statement is an improper handling of scripture.
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 7:9-17 (NKJV)
The second problem with this view of 2 Thessalonians is that if the Holy Spirit is being withdrawn in His entirety from this world, the result would be more catastrophic to mankind then handing them over to believe the enemy’s lies. According to the book of Job, the removal of the Holy Spirit would cause all life to return to the dust. This ability to create and maintain life in all creation is not only one of many reasons we consider the Holy Spirit to be divine, but also removes the possibility of the Holy Spirit being removed from the earth in this sense during the Tribulation.
If He should set His heart on it, If He should gather to Himself His Spirit and His breath, All flesh would perish together, And man would return to dust.
Job 34:14-15 (NKJV)
The question remains, in what sense will the Holy Spirit withdraw Himself from this world during the Tribulation? Given the process of elimination, we have concluded the following; It isn’t in His entirety or life would cease to exist. It isn’t in His drawing people to Himself for salvation or Revelation 7 wouldn’t mention unenumerable people from every culture coming out of the Tribulation and going to Heaven. It is only mentioned that His restraining of the rise of the Antichrist will be removed to allow the rising of the Antichrist. Therefore, that should be all we conclude from the passage. It in no way invalidates anyone for salvation during the Tribulation.
A Reason For Hope is a ministry of Calvary Christian Fellowship of Tucson
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