Wednesday 26 October 2011

Is There a Second Chance?

Is There a Second Chance?

If you believe as I do that the Bible teaches a rapture of the Church to occur before Daniel's 70th Week begins then you've no doubt wondered what will happen to those among your friends and family who will miss it.  Will they get another chance to be saved? 

Those Who Are Perishing

For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way.  And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming.  The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders,  and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.  For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie  and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness (2 Thes. 2:7-12).
Here Paul makes the case that the Church has to be gone before the anti-Christ is officially revealed.  Those who are perishing will believe the lie that He's the one God has sent to rule the world.  Paul taught that God will actually help them come to this false conclusion because they will have refused to believe the truth and be saved. That's why they're perishing.
At first glance this passage appears to say there will be no second chance, that the time for believing the truth that saves us will have ended with the rapture. The Greek word translated refused literally means they did not accept the truth.  It implies that the truth was presented to them and they rejected it.

But this doesn't really put the question to rest.  Do they have to hear the Gospel and consciously reject it to be counted among those who are perishing, or does the failure to give an affirmative response result in rejection by default?  Will everyone left after the rapture be numbered among the perishing, or will there be some who are not?

Without getting into the nuances of the Greek language, let's see if there are any other places in Scripture that can help us find more of the answer. The most logical thing to do is see if we can find any convincing evidence that Gentiles can be saved after the rapture. (I assume you know that many Jews will be saved in the 70th Week because that's one ot the main reasons for it.)

It's true that when Daniel's 70th Week begins God will once again be focused onIsrael. From Daniel 9:24-27 it's easy to see He has unfinished business with them. Some of the things He promised to accomplish through them in verse 24 simply have not been accomplished yet. There hasn't been an end to Israel's rebellion against God, everlasting righteousness hasn't come in, there are 500  prophecies that remain unfulfilled, and the Holy Place has not been anointed. None of these things involve the world at large.  They all concern Daniel's people, the Jews, and Daniel's Holy City,Jerusalem.

What About The Gentiles?

But in our study of Acts 15 we saw that one of the things God is going to do while restoring Israel after the rapture is to provide a way for the remnant of men, including Gentiles, to seek Him (Acts. 15:17).

Evidence that this is true can be found in Rev. 7:9 which describes a multitude of post rapture believers that no one could count, coming from every nation, tribe, people and language and arriving in Heaven.  This tells us that  many of these believers will be gentiles, saved out of Daniel's 70th Week before the Great Tribulation begins.  

Some say this group is the church and place the rapture here, between the 6th and 7thseal judgments, but they can't be right.  In the first place John, the disciple most closely associated with the Church, doesn't recognize them.  But more to the point, their destiny is not the same as the Church's.  They are before the Throne of God, but are not seated there with Jesus like the Church will be (Ephesians 2:6)  They will serve Him day and night in His Temple, but they will not reign with him and are never called either kings or priests.

I believe this great multitude of believers will have come to faith primarily because of the rapture. They will have heard the gospel but, neither accepting or rejecting it, will have put off making a decision until it's too late. The rapture will remove the final obstacle to their conversion, providing confirmation that you and I were right in what we tried to tell them. 

This is evidence of Gentiles being saved after the Rapture.  But before you get too comfortable with this, remember that in order to arrive in heaven they will have had to die on Earth. They'll be some of the first martyrs of the 70th Week. Waiting until after the rapture to be saved will not be like waiting for the next streetcar.  They'll have to endure a lot more to receive a lot less. 

People have wondered how so great a multitude could die so early in the 70th Week, before the anti-Christ gets his world wide government fully stabilized and before he becomes indwelt by Satan. The Bible doesn't say, but I think it could be the result of a back lash against believers following the rapture.

Pagan prophecies all pointing to the same general time tell us the world intuitively knows about the coming judgments.  The rapture will be incontrovertible evidence that God is about ready to come down hard on them.  Retaliaton against God's people because they're mad at Him for actually doing what He said He'll do could be one of the motivational forces behind the mass killings. 

Another one could be the anger many will feel when just as they think they're rid of all the meddling Christians, clearing the way for the utopian life they've dreamed about, a whole new flock will show up to ruin things.  Remember, with the Holy Spirit gone, the restraining influence that's kept evil in check all these years will be gone.  “Kill the infidels” could become the rallying cry of the unsaved world.

(Some New Age teachers say the world is headed for it's final leap of evolution.  It's a spiritual one that will usher in worldwide peace and harmony.  They say born again Christians and Orthodox Jews are holding this up by clinging to the outmoded notion of a single Creator God who rules over all and they will have to taken out of its way. They liken the rapture to the surgical removal of a life threatening cancer from an otherwise healthy body.) 
This slaughter of believers will soon be seen as an act of God's mercy because certainly not all the post rapture believers will immediately be put to death.  Others will have years of suffering ahead of them  beginning with horrific natural and supernatural events that poison the air and water and including such an agonizing attack of demonic locusts that men will long for death to release them (Rev. 9:1-6). A third of mankind will die from these judgments  (Rev. 9:18).

Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation, tribe, language and people.  He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.”

This one will come right after the mark of the beast is introduced, and will be followed by a warning that taking the mark will result in permanent seperation from God and a guaranteed eternity of suffering (Rev. 14:9-11). The judgments of the Great Tribulation will be so severe that if left to run their course no one would survive.  But for the sake of the elect, the Lord will put an end to them after 3 ½ years.

Remember, the Great Tribulation will not have begun yet. Neither will this be the last post rapture chance for Gentiles to be saved.  Rev. 14:6-7 speaks of another world wide altar call just after the Great Tribulation begins, 

I'm Glad That's Over

Only about half of the post rapture world's population will survive until the end. During the  face-to-face judgments that follow the 2 nd  Coming the Lord will find believers among the survivors, both Jews and Gentiles.  In spite of complete exclusion from even basic levels of society and a never ending fear of capture and death, they will live to stand before Him and receive their reward. 

The parables of Matt. 25 describe this and the Sheep and Goats judgment is exclusively about surviving Gentiles (Matt. 25:31-32).  The ones who have demonstrated their faith by their actions will be welcomed live into the Kingdom. They'll help repopulate the nations of Earth.  Egypt and Assyria are specifically mentioned in Isaiah 19:25, but I believe there will be other Millennial nations too.

Maybe some of your currently unbelieving friends and family will find themselves among one or another of these post rapture groups. If so those who won't be martyred early on will have endured a time you wouldn't want your worst enemy to experience. Jesus said it will be the the most terrible time ever to befall mankind. Please don't adopt a fatalistic attitude about them, and don't settle for post rapture salvation on their behalf.
But if you're beating them over the head with the Gospel, don't do that any more either.  It won't work. Your most effective strategy will be a two-fold one.  Pray for their salvation with the same intensity you would pray for their recovery from a life threatening disease. And show them the benefits of being a believer by letting your unshakeable faith be a beacon of light and a source of hope in this dark and dying world. Nothing else will be as effective. We don't have very much time left so if you haven't begun yet now's the time.  You can almost hear the Footsteps of the Messiah. 10-15-11

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