Do we need the tribulation to refine and purify us?
Some people say we cannot be raptured prior to the tribulation, because we first must be refined, we must go through the coming great tribulation, in order to be worthy to be the Bride of Christ.
The comparison is also made between us and the Apostles who suffered tribulation of martyrdom, and the question is asked: How are we, in this present age, counted worthy of not going through any refining or tribulation? How are we, in this present age, any better then those that were there in the beginning of the Church, who were persecuted and tortured to death in tribulation?
Within such objections, there are several false assumptions.
First, these questions assume that the death of Jesus is not enough for salvation, we also need to be persecuted and endure tribulation. Thus, their whole argument is a simply denial of the gospel. They add to the doctrine of salvation, and negate the work that Jesus did on the cross, as their argument attempts to refute Romans 10:9-10, verses on salvation. Please note, it says nothing about having to endure tribulation as being necessary for salvation.
Rom 10:9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.I believe salvation is not conditional upon suffering tribulation. Salvation is granted by the acceptance of the atoning sacrifice of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ, who died in our place, and by believing, and testifying about our belief.
Rom 10:10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Second, such questions assume that faithful Christians are not suffering tribulation now. But the Bible does say that we will have tribulation in this world.
John 16:33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.Tribulations of the Church are also described in Matthew 24:
2 Corinthians 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
1 Thessalonians 3:4 For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know.
2 Thessalonians 1:4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:
Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.However, all of these tribulations are of a different type of tribulation than the tribulation to come. The tribulation to come, by definition, is unlike any other time and unlike any other tribulation.
10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
Matt 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.The objections assume that we will not face any tribulation that would make us worthy until the great tribulation to come, and that is wrong, because we face tribulation now, because Christians are fundamentally at odds with the world in many ways. Therefore, since there is tribulation in the world now, there is no need for faithful Christians to suffer an additional "great tribulation" to come, that is uniquely different than the tribulations we already face.
Third, the objections assume that all Christians need the tribulation to come in order to make us somehow "worthy". Ok, let's assume for a moment that is true. That would create enormous theological problems! For example, what about all the Christians who have already died, and who will never experience or face this particular great tribulation to come? The rapture, as taught in 1 Thess 4, is clearly for the dead in Christ as well as us--it is for those who have already died prior to the tribulation to come! Therefore, if we somehow need to be purified by the tribulation to come in order to be worthy, by what process will the dead in Christ be purified to be made worthy? The doctrine would mean that the dead in Christ would miss out on something necessary to salvation, and that cannot be correct.
I don't doubt that God will use the coming great tribulation to test and try mankind. That is certainly the whole point of the tribulation. But who needs this trial? Certainly not those who have proven themselves faithful in tribulation already.
Further on this point, the Bible clearly teaches that we do not need to face the tribulation to come to be accounted worthy. In fact, the Bible makes the opposite point, that we may be accounted worthy so that we will not have to face the tribulation to come.
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.In addition, Revelation 3 is quite clear regarding the contrasts between the Philadelphian and Laodician Churches. Philadelphia is worthy, and Laodicia is not, and worthiness has nothing to do with whether or not they have already endured tribulation, it's because Philadelphia was faithful and did not deny the name of the Lord, while Laodicia was lukewarm.
Rev 3:8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
Rev 3:10 Because you have kept my word of patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial which is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell upon the earth.
Rev 3:16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.In the context, the "hour of trial" will come upon the lukewarm, and the faithful will be spared that coming "hour of trial" or tribulation.
Next, to answer the question: "How are we, in this present age, counted worthy of not going through any refining?"
This question is answered partly in Rev 3, in the message to the Philadelphian Church, and it is also partly answered in Matt 25:1-13, which distinguishes between the wise and foolish virgins. I also have written several webpages dealing with this topic, see the following essays numbered 40-42 on my main page:
When people begin to realize the rapture is true, these are their primary concerns:
- Who goes in the rapture? 10-22-00 17k
- Will post tribbers go up in the pretrib rapture? 2-17-01 40k
- Can I be saved if I'm left behind? 10-13-01 14k
This question also includes several false assumptions.
One false assumption is that we are more worthy than the Apostles. But the Bible is clear that those who suffer martyrdom are especially worthy:
Hebrews 11:35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:So it's not a question of us being better than them. In fact, while the Apostles and other martyrs will be caught up at the time of the rapture as well, seeing as how the resurrection comes first (1 Thess 4:19-17), this means they will not miss out on anything. And, it may well be that in heaven, the martrys may have more or better rewards than us! They might have built foundations of gold, and we might be building foundations of silver by way of comparison.
1 Cor 3:8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.Another assumption in the question is that the tribulations faced by the Apostles and the tribulation to come are the same, and I have already showed that the two tribulations are different, by definition. The one to come is simply unlike any other time.
9 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building.
10 According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon.
11 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
12 Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
13 Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is.
14 If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
And the tribulations are different, the tribulations come from a different source. The tribulations faced by the Apostles had their source in Satan, and in evil men. The source of the tribulation to come is God. Therefore, the very nature of the tribulations faced are completely different, and come for different reasons.
The tribulation to come is the punishment of God and exists for an unbelieving and unworthy world, the cause of which is to drive them to repentance. We, who believe now, certainly do not need that, because we, as Christians, should have repented already!
It has often been said that none of the early Church fathers taught the rapture. I disagree. Clement wrote the argument I'm making, that the sources of the tribulations are different, in order to refute those who were saying that the martyrdom of the Apostles was somehow evidence that we would have to endure the tribulation to come. Therefore, I strongly believe that Clement taught and supported the doctrine of the pretribulation rapture, and you can read my commentary on Clement's Epistle here:
MANY CHRISTIANS DO NOT UNDERSTAND "COME UP HITTER" IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION IS ABOUT THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH AND IT'S WRITTEN THERE !
IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION MENTIONED ABOUT THE RAPTURE !! REV 4:1 (Rev 5-Rev 18 never mention about the church at all during 7 yrs tribulation)
After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, COME UP HITHER (THE RAPTURE), and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
REV 19 WHEN THE CHURCH WILL RETURN WITH JESUS CHRIST AT SECOND COMING AFTER 7 YRS TRIBULATION IS OVER.
Rev 19: 11-14, KJV
11And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (**The resurrected and raptured saints) IT'S THE SAME WITH THE TWO WITNESSES IN THE MIDDLE OF TRIB WILL BE RAPTURED ! THE EXPLANATION IS MORE DETAIL THERE :" And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, COME UP HITHER (RAPTURE). And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud"
Rev 11:7-12, KJV
7 And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.
8 And their dead bodies (**two witnesses bodies) shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.
9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
10 And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.
11 And after three days and an half the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.
12 And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, COME UP HITHER (RAPTURE). And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
More to study :
Come up hither !"
The RAPTURE is PRE-TRIBULATION according to the STRUCTURE in the book of Revelation!
Old testament saints, the rapture saints and tribulation saints are different/ they are not the same and 3 groups of people, that's why the rapture of the church is pre trib rapture, after old testament age is over, and then the church age (present time) and then the rapture of the church, and after that tribulation for 7 yrs ->tribulation saints !
IN THE BIBLE TELLS God will protect ISRAEL during 7 yrs tribulation, it's only mentioned 144,000 Jewish/ Israelites from 12 tribes (Rev 7), two witnesses (Rev 11), the woman in Rev 12 is ISRAEL, THEY WILL PROTECTED BY GOD !
The woman in Rev 12 :
AS FOR THE LEFT BEHIND CHRISTIANS AND PEOPLE WHO BECOME CHRISTIANS DURING 7 YEARS TRIBULATION , THEY WILL BE PROTECTED BY GOD TOO, IF THEY PUT THEIR TRUST AND HOPE IN GOD-THRU JESUS CHRIST, ASK AND PRAY TO HIM EARNESTLY.
THE CHURCH WILL BE TAKEN OUT FROM THE EARTH (REV 3:10) BEFORE 7 YRS TRIBULATION STARTS !
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