We return once again this morning to our study of End Time Events. Our subject today is – “Salvation During the Tribulation.” Scripture teaches us that the greatest spiritual awakening the world has ever witnessed is yet to come. During the Tribulation Period millions receive Jesus Christ as their Savior.
I. A Multitude Which No Man Can Number
Revelation 7:9 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; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? 14 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.
During the time period we call the Tribulation, there will be a massive movement of men and women turning to Christ for salvation. Verse 9 says that it will be a great multitude which no man can number. Thousands, even millions will come to know Christ as their Savior. It will exceed anything ever witnessed in history. It will be greater than any Billy Graham crusade. It will be greater than the days of the early when people were coming to Christ daily. It will be greater than the Day of Pentecost when three thousand were saved in one day. Scripture says that they will come from every nation, tribe, people and language of the earth. Throughout the whole world there will be an explosion of men and women being saved.
Knowing that millions will be saved during the Tribulation might excite us. Perhaps some might be tempted to think – “I’ll just wait till then to be saved.” Those thinking that way should consider two very important biblical truths:
A. Many Who Are Saved Will be Slaughter
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. 10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
Not only will this be a time of great celebration. It will also be a time of great persecution. Many who turn to Christ will be killed for their faith. We must not forget – this is the Tribulation.
Revelation 6:9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled.
During the Tribulation Period everyone who is living will have to make a major decision:
1. “Will I save my life by bowing my knee to the Antichrist and worshiping him as god? “
2. Or ‘Will I save my soul by refusing to bow to the Antichrist, but instead bowing before Christ and saying that He is Lord?’
B. Those Who Willfully Reject Christ Today Will Not Have a Second Chance Then
The second important biblical truth is that those who willingly reject Christ today will not have a second chance then.
2 Thessalonians 2:11 For this reason God will allow them to be deceived so that they will believe the lie and be damned... (author’s translation)
Why would God do something so terrible?
2 Thessalonians 2:10 They will perish because they refused to love the truth and be saved. 12 They will be condemned who would not believe the truth, but instead delighted in their sinfulness. (author’s translation)
The Bible tells us that God is extremely long-suffering and patient; however, there can come a day when God will no longer speak to us. His Spirit will not always strive with men. (see Gen 6:9) Sometimes non-believers say that they wish that Christians would just leave them alone. What they do not realize is, the day can come when not will Christians leave them alone, but so will God and thus there will be no hope of salvation and forgiveness of their sins. The Bible says that God will allow us to ‘add sin to sin.’ (see Isaiah 30:1)
II. Messengers Which No Man Can Harm
Many will reject Christ during the Tribulation. We read from the book of Revelation –
Revelation 6:15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; 16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: 17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?
Note – they will recognize that there is a God and that He is about to judge them for their sins. They will recognize that this is the ‘wrath of the Lamb.’ Yet because of the hardness of their hearts they will not repent of their sins and be saved.
Yet there will be many who will come to Christ. How will God conduct this great evangelistic campaign during those terrible days?
A. No Biblical Reference to the Church
Will the church suddenly be on fire and decide to take the gospel to the ends of the earth? Actually there is not one single reference to the church in these chapters which teach us about the Tribulation. The details concerning the Tribulation are found in chapters 6 through 18. There is not one reference to the church in these chapters. Surely if the Lord was going to use His church to be His evangelists during this time period there would be numerous references. Three of the four gospels end with a command from Jesus to take the gospel to the ends of the earth. The book of Acts begins the same way. Yet there is not a single one reference found in scripture of Christ using the church to preach the gospel during the Tribulation. What does that tell us? For many that is a strong indication that the church will not be here during that time period. The church will have already been raptured out.
If Christ doesn’t use the church, who will He use? Not only is there an absence of references to the church, there are also references to other means Christ will use.
B. Christ Will Use an Angel
Revelation 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people…
C. Christ Will Use Two Special Witnesses
Not only will Christ use an angel to bring the gospel to lost humanity during this time period; He will also use two special witnesses.
Revelation 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.
Warren Wiersbe believes that these two witnesses will begin their ministry during the first half of Tribulation. Perhaps about the same time the Antichrist is trying to rise to power, these two witnesses will speak out and openly oppose him.
Much of the world will hate them. The Bible says that after 3 ½ years of ministry, they will be killed and theirs bodies will be left in the streets for 3 ½ days. During the time when they are dead, many in the world will celebrate their deaths by giving gifts to each other like it’s Christmas. But then something wonderful will happen.
Revelation 11:11 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. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them.
While the world is celebrating and dancing in the streets, these two witnesses will be brought back to life and called up into heaven. Their ascension will be the top story on the evening news.
D. Christ Will Use His Word
There will be another great witness during that time period that we might overlook. God will use the books and Bibles that we leave behind. It’s possible that someone will find one of my blogs or messages on the internet and come to Christ through them. If this is you somewhere in the future, let me give you a word of encouragement. The Bible says – “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved.” (Acts 16:31) I look forward to meeting you someday in heaven.
E. 144,000 Jewish Evangelists
There is another great force that Christ will use during that day to take His gospel to the ends of the earth. The Bible describes them as 144,000 single Jewish men who have never been with a woman.
Revelation 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
Both the Mormons and the Jehovah’s Witnesses have tried to claim that they are the 144,000 spoken of here. Yet the Bible tells us very clearly that they are of the children of Israel. They are Jews. Revelation 14:4 says that they have kept themselves sexually pure. They are young men of God whom God has chosen and who will be sealed for protection so that they might fearlessly take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Jesus said –
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
How will these 144,000 young Jewish men be saved? The Bible doesn’t tell us for sure but perhaps it will be through the ministry of the Two Witnesses. Perhaps these 144,000 will be the first converts of the Tribulation Period.
Many believe that they will continue their ministry throughout the entire Tribulation Period. Will they have the opportunity to get married? Many believe that they will enter into the Millennial Kingdom in earthly bodies and therefore the Lord may have a very special plan for these dedicated servants to give them special brides and families during this one thousand year kingdom.
1. Israel’s Spiritual Slumber
The fact that these young men will be Jewish is very significant. When God first called Abraham (father of the Jewish nation), the Lord said to him –
“I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3)
It was God’s plan to raise up a nation that would be His special servants to take the message of His saving grace to the ends of the earth. Unfortunately the Jews missed this special calling. Somewhere along the way they began to think that they were the only ones God loved. When God caused His Son to be born as a Jew, the nation of Israel rejected Him. The Bible says –
“He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” John 1:11
The Jewish nation rejected Jesus. As a result, salvation went to the Gentiles and the nation of Israel has been in two thousand years of spiritual darkness. How do I know this?
Romans 11:8 (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that they should not see, and ears that they should not hear;) unto this day.
Today the nation of Israel is spiritually asleep. During their slumber something very important has happened.
2. Israel’s Spiritual Awakening
Romans 11:11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.
During their slumber Christ has build His church which has been primarily made up of Gentiles. For two thousand years God has been using the Gentiles to reach the Jews. But during the Tribulation Period, God will use the Jews to reach the Gentiles.
Romans 11:25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 26 And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: 27 For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
Long before Jesus was born, God made a promise to the nation of Israel. We call this the New Covenant.
Ezekiel 36:24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. 26 A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them. 28 And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God.
The New Covenant which we now live under was originally designed for the nation of Israel. We as Gentiles are the wild olive branch that has been grafted into this covenant. This covenant, as well as the covenants God made with Abraham and David will be fulfilled with Israel during the Tribulation Period and on into what we call the Millennial Kingdom.
One of my most favorite prophetic passages of scripture is found in the book of Zechariah.
Zechariah 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
The day will come when the nation of Israel will weep bitterly over their forefathers saying – “Away with him, away with him, crucify him… We have no king but Caesar.” (John 19:15)
III. A Message Which No Man Should Reject
Some people think that they will put-off their decision to receive Christ until the last moment. Unfortunately some folks do not get that opportunity. More than once in my ministry I have encountered individuals whose heart seemed to be as hard as stone when they came to the end of their lives. As one old preacher said – “The same sun that can melt the wax, can harden the clay.”
The Apostle Paul gives a very serious warning to those who think they can put-off their salvation until the end of time.
2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: 9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; every form of deception because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Some might read this passage and become angry with God. “What kind of God would deliberately allow people to be deceived so that they might never be saved and go to heaven?” The liberal would say – “My God is too loving to do something like this.” Whereas that kind of thinking might make us feel good, it doesn’t have one ounce of biblical support and anyone who preaches that to you is a false prophet.
Before we write God off and label Him as a bigot, we should take into consideration some important biblical truths.
A. All Have Sinned and Come Short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:23)
There’s no one who will be in hell who will be able to say – “I lived a perfect life. I don’t deserve to be punished. I deserve to be in heaven.”
B. It is of the Lord’s Mercy that We are Not Consumed (Lamentations 3:22)
Because we’re all sinful, we all deserve to be punished. God doesn’t own us His grace and forgiveness. Yet because God is merciful, He has provided a way for us to be forgiven and brought back into a relationship with Him.
C. God so Loved the World That He Gave His Only Son as a Sacrifice for Our Sins (John 3:16)
Before someone tries to say that God is unloving, they should pause and consider what happened at Calvary. Two thousand years ago God sacrificed His sinless Son in our place. God poured out upon Jesus the punishment you and I deserve.
D. God is Delaying Judgment of the World In Order to Give Men an Opportunity to be Saved (2 Peter 3:9)
It’s been two thousand years since Jesus died on the cross. Because it’s been so long, some are tempted to believe that either it didn’t happen or else it wasn’t that important. Yet the Bible tells us the reason God has delayed judgment is because He’s giving us an opportunity to be saved before it’s too late.
E. God’s Spirit Will Not Always Strive With Men (Genesis 6:3)
One of the greatest mistakes a person can make is to think that they can choose when and where they will be saved. The Bible tells us that the door is open today, but that there is no guarantee that it will be open tomorrow. The reason God will allow some to be deceived by the Devil during the Tribulation Period is because they refused to come to Christ when they had a chance.
F. Today is the Day of Salvation. Now is the Accepted Time (2 Corinthians 6:2)
The Bible says that today is the day of salvation. Today is the door is open and whosoever will may come.
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In closing consider these words from the prophet Isaiah:
Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? And your labour for that which satisfieth not? Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
God has never rejected anyone who cried out to Him for forgiveness. There is no sin too great for God to forgive and forget. However, God can’t save those who refuse to come to Him.