Thursday, May 31, 2007

Believers Are Found Throughout the Entire Tribulation

Below are the following verses that describe believers during the tribulation.
Rev. 7:9-17. Verse 14, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb."

Rev. 12:9-17. The context is that Satan will persecute the believers. Verse 11 says, "And they overcame him because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even when faced with death." Verse17 says that Satan will make war with those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.

Rev. 13 speaks of the Antichrist making war with the saints. Nonbelievers will worship him, that is, everyone whose name has not been written in the book of life of the Lamb (v.8).

Rev. 14:9-13 states that those who take the mark and worships the beast (Antichrist) will drink of God's wrath. Verse 12, "Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." Verse 13, "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, 'Write, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!"

The description of believers found in the tribulation period shows that church is found throughout the tribulation, because they have the same salvation of present believers. The salvation of those who live during the tribulation period is the same as present day believers: they are blood bought (Rev.7:14; 12:11); they have faith in Jesus (Rev.14:12) and they said to "die in the Lord" (Rev. 14:13). Acts 20:28 is very clear concerning those who belong to the blood bought church, “Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.”

The pretribulational view says that the word “Church” is not mentioned in Revelation 4:1-19:1; therefore the “Church” is gone. Douglas Moo says, “In 22:16, Jesus claims that He has sent His angel “to give you (plural!) this testimony for the churches.” It is difficult to see how the chapters on the Tribulation could be a “testimony for the churches” if they are not involved in it.”[1] He also makes a valid point that, “it simply appears improbable that the event described at greatest length in Revelation (the Tribulation) would have no direct relevance for those to whom the book is addressed.”[2] The word “Church” does not have to be mentioned to maintain a belief that the Church is still on earth. Believers make up the Church. Posttribulationists could dismiss this argument by stating that it is an argument from silence. With the same reasoning we could say that the word "Church" is not mentioned in all of the passages dealing with believers in heaven during the tribulation. The word "Church" is not mentioned in Mark, Luke, John, 2 Timothy, Titus, 2 Peter, 1 and 2 John, and Jude. Do we now conclude that these letters are not about or concerning the Church?[3] No. There are equivalent terms that are synonymous with the term church. Douglas Moo has said that the Apostle John never uses the word “church” as referring to the universal body, but uses it in describing local churches (Rev 1-3).[4]

The most common word that we use today for believers in Jesus Christ is the word “Christian.” In the New Testament the word Christian is only used three times.

• Acts 11:26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
• Acts 26:28 Agrippa {replied} to Paul, "In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian."
• 1 Pet 4:16 but if {anyone suffers} as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name.

The word “saint(s)” is the word that is used most often in the New Testament just as we use the word “Christian” to describe a believer of today.

The following are the NT references for “saints:
harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem; Acts 9:13
also to the saints who lived at Lydda. Acts 9:32
and calling the saints and widows, he Acts 9:41
lock up many of the saints in prisons, Acts 26:10
of God in Rome, called as saints: Rom 1:7
because He intercedes for the saints Rom 8:27
to the needs of the saints, Rom 12:13
going to Jerusalem serving the saints. Rom 15:25
the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. Rom 15:26
may prove acceptable to the saints; Rom 15:31
Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, Rom 16:2
and all the saints who are with them. Rom 16:15
in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, 1 Cor 1:2
unrighteous and not before the saints? 1 Cor 6:1
that the saints will judge the world? 1 Cor 6:2
as in all the churches of the saints. 1 Cor 14:33
the collection for the saints, 1 Cor 16:1
themselves for ministry to the saints), 1 Cor 16:15
the saints who are throughout Achaia: 2 Cor 1:1
in the support of the saints, 2 Cor 8:4
you about this ministry to the saints; 2 Cor 9:1
supplying the needs of the saints, 2 Cor 9:12
All the saints greet you. 2 Cor 13:13
*God, To the saints who are at Ephesus Eph 1:1
you and your love for all the saints, Eph 1:15
glory of His inheritance in the saints, Eph 1:18
are fellow citizens with the saints, Eph 2:19
To me, the very least of all saints, Eph 3:8
be able to comprehend with all the saints Eph 3:18
the equipping of the saints for the work Eph 4:12
among you, as is proper among saints; Eph 5:3
and petition for all the saints, Eph 6:18
*To all the saints in Christ Jesus who Php 1:1
All the saints greet you, especially Php 4:22
*To the saints and faithful brethren in Col 1:2
love which you have for all the saints; Col 1:4
the inheritance of the saints in Light. Col 1:12
has now been manifested to His saints, Col 1:26
of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. 1 Th 3:13
*be glorified in His saints on that day, 2 Th 1:10
Lord Jesus and toward all the saints; Phm 1:5
hearts of the saints have been refreshed Phm 1:7
and in still ministering to the saints. Heb 6:10
all of your leaders and all the saints. Heb 13:24
once for all handed down to the saints. Jude 1:3
which are the prayers of the saints. Rv 5:8
add it to the prayers of all the saints Rv 8:3
with the prayers of the saints, Rv 8:4
and the saints and those who fear Rv 11:18
with the saints and to overcome them, Rv 13:7
and the faith of the saints. Rv 13:10
*Here is the perseverance of the saints Rv 14:12
who keep the commandments of God
and their faith in Jesus
they poured out the blood of saints and Rv 16:6
drunk with the blood of the saints, Rv 17:6
you saints and apostles and prophets, Rv 18:20
found the blood of prophets and of saints Rv 18:24
*is the righteous acts of the saints. Rv 19:8
of the saints and the beloved city, Rv 20:9[5]

There are times when Paul addressed local believers as the “church” (assembly) at a specific location as with his letters to the Corinthians and Thessalonians. Notice in 2 Cor. 1:1 that the “church of God” which is at Corinth is equated with “the saints who are throughout Achaia.”
1 Cor. 1:1-2 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 To the church [assembly] of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:
1 Cor. 14:33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches [assemblies] of the saints.
2 Cor. 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church [assembly] of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia:
1 Thess. 1:1 Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church [assembly] of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace.

Now notice how Paul begins his letters to the believers at Ephesus and Philippi. He addresses them simply as saints at a specific location.
Eph. 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus.
Phil. 1:1 Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons. . .:

What reason is there to claim that “tribulation saints” are not a part of the “Church”? What is the definition for the Church? Do not saints make up the Church? Here are a few definitions for the nature of the Church:

The Greek word for church is ekklesia. This word is used 115 times in the New Testament, mostly in the Book of Acts and the writings of the apostle Paul and the general epistles. At least 92 times this word refers to a local congregation. The other references are to the church general, or all believers everywhere for all ages.

When the church general is implied, “church” refers to all who follow Christ, without respect to locality or time. The most general reference to the church occurs in
Ephesians 1:22; 3:10–21; 5:23–32. Since the church general refers to all believers of all ages, it will not be complete until after the judgment; and the assembly of all the redeemed in one place will become a reality only after the return of Christ (Heb. 12:23; Rev. 21–22).[6]
The real Church consists of all who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ as his disciples, and are one in love, in character, in hope, in Christ as the head of all, though as the body of Christ it consists of many parts.[7]

Once again, if you hold to the pretribulational view, do you believe that tribulational saints will suffer divine wrath? If you believe that the saints will suffer God’s wrath, then explain how a saved person can suffer divine wrath when Christ has suffered in that person’s stead (John 3:16, 36; Rom. 5:9-11)? How does a pretribulationists explain that the saints in the tribulation have faith in Jesus but they are not a part of the Church? All saints make up the Church universal.

[1] G. L. Archer Jr., Paul D. Feinburg, Douglas J. Moo and Richard R. Reiter, Three Views on the Rapture: Pre-, Mid-, or Post-Tribulation? (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 203.
[2] Ibid., 203.
[3] Gundry and other Postribulationalist point this out.
[4] Moo, 201.
[5]Thomas, Robert L., Th.D., General Editor, New American Standard Updated Edition Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, (Anaheim, CA: Foundation Publications, 1999, c1998), in The New American Standard Electronic Bible Library [CD-ROM] (La Habra, CA: Lockman Foundation, 1999).
[6]Youngblood, Ronald F., General Editor; F.F. Bruce and R.K. Harrison, Consulting Editors, Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1995) ), in The New American Standard Electronic Bible Library [CD-ROM] (La Habra, CA: Lockman Foundation, 1999).
[7]William Smith; revised and edited by F.N. and M.A. Peloubet, Smith’s Bible Dictionary [computer file], electronic ed., Logos Library System, (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997).