The fellow asking this question made the following statements in his email.
One thing that disturbs me about your eternal security message (5-18-07) is that your view seems to be dependent on Jesus returning before the tribulation.
About twelve years ago I did an extensive study and discovered that no pre-tribulation commentator would even touch 1 Thes 3:13, “…at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints.”
With that passage, Paul makes a reference to Zechariah 14. Zechariah 14:5 says, “…and the Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.” This takes place when Jesus returns to set up his kingdom on Earth!
This (post-tribulation) view of 1 Thes 3 seems to agree with Matthew 24 …”Immediately after the tribulation of those days.”
The 1 Thes 3 statement comes right before the most well known rapture passage in the Bible. That passage is 1 Thes 4:15-18. From every view we all agree that 1 Thes 4 is about the rapture.
In our reply to his question, we made the following observations.
I Thes 3:13 is a Second Advent passage, for sure, and the cross reference to Zech 14:5 is right.
However, this is not proof of a post-tribulation rapture, because the saints are already with him and coming back as in Rev 19:14. Notice in Rev 19, that the return of the saints with the Lord follows the marriage of the Lamb and thus it must follow the judgment seat of Christ, as well (1 Cor 3:11-15; Rom 14:12; 2 Cor 5:10 with Eph 5:25-27, 2 Cor 11:2).
We have to have already been in heaven during the tribulation to have gone through the judgment seat of Christ and the marriage of the Lamb before the Lord’s return at the Second Advent.
Notice that 1 Thes 3:13 states that we will be unblameable in holiness before God when we return with the Lord. It is God’s ultimate objective to conform us to the image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29; Phil 3:21). This won’t be complete until we have gone through the judgment seat of Christ and come out with a spotless body, as well as a clean soul and spirit (1 Thes 5:23).
As it turns out, each chapter in 1 Thes makes mention of some aspect of the Lord’s return, either the Advent or the rapture. So the fact the 1 Thes 3 refers to the Second Coming and 1 Thes 4 refers to the rapture doesn’t mean that the Second Coming precedes the rapture. That would be a post Second Advent rapture!?! Shh – don’t tell anyone, we might encourage someone to start a new doctrine and publish yet another book on eschatology.
There’s one other thing. You said, “One thing that disturbs me about your eternal security message (5-18-07) is that your view seems to be dependent on Jesus returning before the tribulation.” It’s not really my view. There is an obvious difference between salvation in the tribulation and salvation in the church age. Tribulation salvation definitely involves an element of works (Rev 12:17; Rev 14:12; Jas 2:20-24) contrary to church age salvation (Eph 2:8-9; Tit 2:5), indicating that the body of Christ is already gone (Col 2:16-17; Matt 24:20).
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder