Will People Be Saved During the Tribulation?

Saved and Martyred

It should be emphasized that countless multitudes will be saved during the tribulation period (Revelation 7:14). The majority of those saved during the tribulation period, however, will die as martyrs. Many will be killed by earthquakes, war, and pestilence. Others will be the object of special persecution by the world ruler–the antichrist, because they will refuse to worship or receive the mark of the beast (Revelation 13:15). The result will be multiplied thousands of martyrs. These will be taken up to Heaven in the presence of the Lamb and God will wipe away all tears resulting from their suffering on earth (Revelation 7:14-17). (The Revelation of Jesus Christ, by John F. Walvoord, pp. 147, 149.)

The Scriptures are silent concerning any Rapture or translation of those persons saved during the tribulation period and who survive the millennium. The subject is a divine mystery, probably based upon the principle that this truth is of no practical application to saints now living. Further light may be cast upon this in the millennium itself as the truth of God is made known (Ibid., p. 3U7.)

We do know that at the end of the millennium the earth will be burned by fire and purged of all former things (II Peter 3:7-l0). Thus, John could see a “… new heaven and new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away…” (Revelation 21: 1 ; Isaiah 65:17) . We understand from Paul’s account to the Corinthian believers the necessity for the resurrection of the body, “…flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God…” (I Corinthians 15:50). There must be a change from mortal to immortality. Therefore Paul revealed the mystery, “Behold, I show you a mystery… We shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immorality.”

The First Resurrection

The mystery Paul explained is the revelation that not all believers will face death. Prior the events of the Great Tribulation, Christ will come (Rapture). The dead in Christ shall be raised and glorified. Those who are still living will be caught up in the air and instantaneously changed to the permanent, undecaying, glorified body (immortal) which is like the Lord’s resurrected body (see also I Thessalonians 4:14-17). (The Criswell Study Bible, I Corinthians 15:51, footnote p. 1363.)

“The rest of the dead lived not again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection” (Revelation 20:5). It is pointless and baseless to speak of a general resurrection in order to avoid the intervening period of 1000 years, as a millennialists do. The order of the resurrection can be gleaned from these Scriptures: I Corinthians 15:23-24; Revelation 20:4-6; Daniel 12:1-3; and Luke 20:34-36. The word “first” is found in verses 5 and 6 of Revelation 20. If this means there is but one resurrection, words are emptied of meaning. There are definite stages in the first resurrection; the chief one is Christ Himself (see also I Corinthians 15:20). (Liberty Bible Commentary, Vol. II, pp. 845-846.)

The first resurrection is composed not of church age saints alone, but of all individuals, of whatever age (even tribulation martyrs), who are raised to eternal life. While this resurrection takes place at different times in reference to different groups, the result is the same in each case–the resurrection to eternal life. (Things to Come, J. D. Pentecost, p. 543.

The New Jerusalem

“And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven…Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God” (Revelation 21:2-3).

The holy Jerusalem city comes from Heaven and is to be inhabited by God, by the church (church age saints), by the redeemed of Israel, and by the redeemed of all ages, together with the unfallen angels… The city thus becomes the abode of all the resurrected saints who enter it at the time of their resurrection (eternal glorified state) … At the expiration of the millennial age, during the renovation of the earth, the dwelling place (New Jerusalem) is removed during the conflagration (from its place above the earth) to find its place after the recreation as the connecting link between the new heavens and the new earth”” (Things to Come, pp. 576-577, 580).

As you can see, we will not fully understand all things until we see our Lord Jesus Christ face to face. But isn’t it wonderful that we have the blessed assurance of this meeting with our Redeemer. Because of this assurance, we need not worry about those things we cannot fully understand in the Scriptures. The apostle Paul so beautifully stated our position as children of God in I Corinthians 13:12 when he said, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also – I am known.”

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Dr. Elmer Towns is a college and seminary professor, an author of popular and scholarly works (the editor of two encyclopedias), a popular seminar lecturer, and dedicated worker in Sunday school, and has developed over 20 resource packets for leadership education.His personal education includes a B.S. from Northwestern College in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a M.A. from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, a Th.M. from Dallas Theological Seminary also in Dallas, a MRE from Garrett Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois, and a D.Min. from Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California.He is co-founder of Liberty University, with Jerry Falwell, in 1971, and was the only full-time teacher in the first year of Liberty’s existence. Today, the University has over 11,400 students on campus with 39,000 in the Distance Learning Program (now Liberty University Online), and he is the Dean of the School of Religion.Dr. Towns has given theological lectures and taught intensive seminars at over 50 theological seminaries in America and abroad. He holds visiting professorship rank in five seminaries. He has written over 2,000 reference and/or popular articles and received six honorary doctoral degrees. Four doctoral dissertations have analyzed his contribution to religious education and evangelism.

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