A favorite topic to many of us, the rapture, was brought up as the topic in adult Sunday school at Gospel Light this weekend. Pastor Vince Giardino had been listening to a dubious radio broadcast on the Family Network and heard the preacher predict that the rapture would occur on May 21st (his latest prediction, the previous dates having passed) and that the world would end this coming October. Despite the eye-rolling and the chuckles, Pastor warned that we do know that “things are going to get real rough”. He then challenged us with this question: “How is a person saved in the tribulation period?”
1.) In the Old Testament, righteousness was imputed by faith. In Hebrews 11, the faith of Enoch, Noah, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and many others is written of. Likewise, “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac” Heb 11:17. Although Abraham did not now about the future resurrection of Jesus Christ, he did believe what God had promised him and believed, concerning Isaac, that God would “raise him up, even from the dead” Heb 11:19. The Apostle Paul wrote that “faith was reckoned to Abraham for righteousness” Romans 4:9.
2.) Christ, before his death and resurrection, needed to prepare his disciples to be his instruments in the coming church age. Pastor G. read for us John 16: 23-28. The disciples at this point did not know who Jesus really was and did not yet know about the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that he would no longer speak to them in proverbs, but would now “shew you plainly of the Father” John 16:25. In John 16:29-33, the truth begins to sink in and the disciples begin to understand that Jesus was not a normal prophet. Jesus then, in John 17, prays to the Father for the protection of His disciples as He will soon be sending them out into the world to spread the gospel. Thus in the church age, the gospel of salvation through grace is preached. Those who after hearing the Word of truth, trust and believe in Jesus Christ, are saved and are sealed by the Holy Spirit (refer to Eph 1:13).
3.) Pastor Giardino explained that the books in the Bible after Philemon “will be applicable from the rapture on.” They are preparing the world for the reign of Jesus Christ after the time of Jacob’s trouble. A whole different dispensation when the church age comes to a sudden close and the saints are called up to be with the Lord.
After the rapture, in the seven years of the tribulation, the way of salvation changes. In this post-church age, the gospel of grace is replaced by the “everlasting gospel” Rev 14:6. So how then is a person saved? We do know that, no matter what a person may do or believe, “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” Rev 14:9-10. The answer to the question of salvation is then given in Rev 14:12. For the “saints” to be saved during the tribulation, they need to both keep the commandments and have faith in Jesus (i.e. faith and works). People will no longer be quickened by the Holy Spirit and can lose their salvation. We learn in Rev 14:13 that there will be martyrs that die in faith and that the Holy Spirit is still working, but it’s not the same work as in the church age. There will not be an indwelling of the Spirit.Hang on to your hats because this Sunday school lesson will we continued next week. Read 1 John 5 for sneak peak at what is coming up next.