There is a persistent teaching that after the removal of the Church at the glorious event commonly referred to as the Rapture (I Thess. 4:13-18), all who had failed to receive Christ as their Savior are from that moment on damned to everlasting torment in the Lake of Fire.
According to those who teach this fearful message, the cleansing power of the blood of Christ will no longer be available to those who have not accepted Christs offer of forgiveness during this present dispensation called the Church Age. This teaching is found to be fraught with errors and inconsistencies when evaluated under the light of the Scriptures.
In verse 21 of Ch. 9 of the Bible Book called Revelation we are told of how men will not repent from their sins during the close of the approaching 7-year Tribulation Period.
It is important to recognize that the statement from Scripture would be superfluous if repentance was impossible or if Christs offer of salvation was not still in effect at the close of the age. For God to expect men to repent when no forgiveness is available would make no sense.
It is imperative we first understand that which Jesus accomplished on the cross when He paid for the sins of the world. When Jesus proclaimed upon the cross, "It is finished," as is recorded for us in John 19:30, He used a Greek term which means, "to end" or be "paid in full." Jesus had paid the full penalty required by God for every sin of every person. This is why it is such a tremendous offense to not come to Christ and accept His forgiveness.
Whether one accepts or rejects Him does not alter the fact that He already took upon Himself at the cross the sins of all the ages. It is a purchased gift from God and like any offered gift presented to someone it does not truly become theirs if they refuse to receive it.
The question then arises, "Is there a point in any persons life before their death that God retracts His offer of salvation?"
There is one particular instance given in the Holy Scriptures where the offer of forgiveness will be withdrawn from a person before Christ and His Church return at Armageddon. This retraction will require that a blasphemous willful action be taken. It is an act that will be committed by many with full knowledge of the consequences that await.
The point in time this judgment will take place is after the instituting of the mark of the beast 3 ½ years into the final 7-year Tribulation Period.
The Book of Revelation 14:6-13 reveals beyond dispute the offer and power of Christs forgiveness is still available up to this time and beyond. The glorious gift of salvation will continue to be made available to all who refuse to worship the Anti-Christ and receive his mark upon their bodies according to Gods Holy Word.
We quote, (6) "Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth - to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people - (7) saying with a loud voice, "Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water." (8) And another angel followed saying, "Babylon is fallen, is fallen, that great city, because she has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication." (9) Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, (10) "he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. And he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. (11) "And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name." (12) Here is the patience of the saints; here are those who keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus. (13) Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write; Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them."
There are those who say that the "everlasting gospel," that is "good news," message spoken of in verse 6 is a separate gospel then the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This kind of thinking lacks merit. There can be no "everlasting gospel" in any fashion apart from the forgiveness purchased by the blood of Jesus Christ. There can be no eternal place in Heaven or on earth for anyone who has not had their sins washed clean by the only begotten Son of God.
Verse 7 is revealing on this point when the people of the Tribulation Period are admonished to "worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water."
While we are told of Jesus Christ who is The Creator in Col. 1:16, "For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth "; verses 12 & 13 of Rev. 14 continue to make known the availability of salvation by Christs finished work during the Tribulation Period.
Here we are told of the patience of the saints who keep "the faith of Jesus" and of the blessing upon those "who die in the Lord from now on."
Three and a half years or more before this statement will be heralded; the Rapture of the Church to Heaven will have taken place.
This present dispensation, which is referred to as the Church Age, will end when the final membership of believers reaches Gods predetermined number.
The introduction of a unique dispensation unknown in previous history will then come into existence, but we can rest assured that the nullifying of Christs blood atonement to save souls will never take place.
The Rapture of the Church will not bring an end to the offer of grace as many are teaching or implying. If this were true then the self-efforts and offerings of men during the Tribulation Period would have to be righteous and adequate to obtain forgiveness. The justification for Christ shedding His blood on the cross would be invalidated and the very heart of the Word of God would be null and void.
There are variations on the "no trib-salvation" teaching that place restrictions or limitations on the availability of salvation for people after the Rapture. Some say rejection will have to do with how much light of the truth individuals were exposed to before the Rapture, while another says this light-of-truth distinction applies differently when considering whether the person is a Jew or a Gentile.
We believe the more accurate distinction of who will be saved and who will not is centered on whether a heart has been hardened or not.
It is our understanding that the question of who has had their heart hardened against salvation was no different yesterday than it will be tomorrow. It must never be trivialized that today is the day for salvation and that there is always the ever present danger of a person reaching the point of no return when wrestling against the unyieldingness of an unsaved heart. At some point God will no longer strive with that person and will give them over to a debased mind (Rom. 1:28). This abandonment is too heartbreaking to contemplate. This harmonizes with what Jesus referred to as "Blasphemy of the Holy Spirit" when an individual has been shown Gods supernatural power at their greatest moment of possible acceptance and rejected the goodness of the Lord.
As the Scriptures reveal, after the Rapture of the Church, salvation will still be available to all, while at the same time we are shown that the vast majority left behind will increasingly despise the call of Christ.
This will be due to four ill-boding developments. First is that the Holy Spirit-filled Church will be caught up to heaven beyond the reach of the unsaved masses (I Thess. 4:15-18).
Secondly, the Holy Spirit will no longer indwell and empower new believers during the tribulation week of years to restrain sin (II Thess. 2:6-7).
Third, an unprecedented appearance of deceptive and evil forces will vie for the minds of the peoples of the earth (II Thess. 2:8-10) & Rev. 16:13-14).
Then last and most fearsome of all, God Himself will send forth strong delusion to those who desires are set on unrighteousness and had reached the dreadful point of no return in their rejection of truth (II Thess. 2:11-12).
God will at that time cease His attempts to stir the conscience of those whose hearts are firmly established in wickedness so that He may fulfill His word for not only the vessels of mercy, but also for the self appointed vessels of wrath (Rom. 9:21-24).
Hope springs eternal for the future saints who will delay until after the Church is gone to come to know the unfathomable love of their Savior.
The Lord has put the desire in our hearts to not only reach those who will respond this day to the wondrous gift of eternal life obtained by Christs resurrection, but to also equip the post Rapture Tribulation saints with this knowledge which our Lord might use to strengthen their faith.
We trust that many who do not come to know Christ before the Rapture will remember during the tragic days ahead that which we have shared with them and will cherish the glorious hope promised in the Scriptures.
They should marvel at how Rom. 11:8-15 & Rev. 7:3-8 told them of when after the multinational Church has fulfilled her role as the present messenger of the Gospel and is removed to heaven, divinely protected Jews will be awakened to their new found calling. These elect of God will carry the message of the Gospel onward through the final 7 years bringing life to those who were once dead in their sin while proclaiming the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
We trust that the future saints will remember when they were told that Rev. 7:14-15 promises eternal life to every tribulation martyr who has had their sins washed away by the blood of Jesus the Lamb of God.
We pray they will be strengthened with the shared knowledge from Rev. 7:9-15 which promises eternal blessings of joy and peace after they face the fading sword of death for their new found faith.
The survivors in Christ may recall the promise of Acts 2:17-21 which proclaims that in the final days "it shall come to pass that whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved."
Perhaps it will be the words of Jesus in Matt. 28:20 which they will cling to with hope until the moment the Church returns with Christ when He said, " Lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."
Christ promises salvation, honor and blessings throughout the Tribulation Period.
In summation let us comfort every believer with the knowledge that loved ones who have been witnessed to in this lifetime are not automatically damned to Hell if they have not received Christ as their Savior by the time the Rapture has taken place.
This is because "Jesus Christ [who] is the same yesterday, today, and forever" (Heb. 13:8) " after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God (Heb. 10:12), promises He will "never leave you, or forsake you" (Heb. 13:5).
Always remember, it was not the nails which pierced Jesus
hands and feet that kept Him on the cross until every sin was
paid for in full, it was the Love of God which held His body