Does the Church Go Through the Tribulation Col. 2:16-17 CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
There seems to be a lot of confusion about this question today, “Does the Church go through the Tribulation?” The answer is, “No.” The confusion stems from the failure to check all the doctrines that are affected if the Church goes through all or a part of the Tribulation. The answer to the question cannot be solely based upon verses that deal with the “rapture.”
For one thing, salvation is clearly different in the Tribulation than it is in the Church. In the Church, saints are saved by faith without any works involved in their salvation at all (Rom 4:5; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; etc.). There was a big council in Jerusalem in Acts 15, to decide what place keeping the law had in Church age salvation. The final decision was that salvation is by grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on Calvary without the works of the law (Acts 15:1-11; Gal 2:16).
However, in the Tribulation, salvation clearly involves keeping the commandments of God (Rev 12:17; 14:12; Col 2:16-17; Matt 24:19-21; Jas 2:24). To deny that is to deny the clear wording of the Bible. Consequently, during the Tribulation, it is possible for a man to lose his salvation if he fails to keep the commandments or if he takes the mark and worships the beast (Rev 14:9-11; Matt 24:13; Heb 6:4-6; etc.). Church age saints, on the other hand, can never lose their salvation.
You say, but salvation can’t be different for Tribulation saints than it is for Church age saints. Oh, yes, it can. We have already seen differences in salvation before. Have you ever noticed that you can’t find one person in the Old Testament that was “born again?” Now, I said, “born again.” I didn’t say “saved.” Certainly, people in the Old Testament were saved; but they weren’t “born again.” Likewise, you don’t find anyone in the Tribulation that is both “born again” and “baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.” That’s because the body leaves at the rapture (Col 2:16; 1 Thes 4:13-18).
Before the Church, which is the body of Christ, the souls of Old Testament saints went to Abraham’s bosom after they died and waited for the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ to get taken to heaven (Lk 16:19-31; Matt 27:50-52; Eph 4:8-10; etc.). Likewise, after the church, the souls of the Tribulation saints show up under an altar in Rev 6:9. They aren’t raised together and sitting “together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” (Eph 2:6) like the souls of the Church age saints. See the difference?
Old Testament saints went to Abraham’s bosom. Tribulation saints go under an altar or into “death,” (Rev 1:18; 20:13). We go directly to be with the Lord (2 Cor 5:8). That’s because we are born again and have been baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ and have already been seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (1 Pet 1:23; 1 Cor 12:13; Eph 2:5-6).
So, by noticing the differences that take place in salvation between the Church age and the Tribulation, it is a little easier to see that the Church can’t go through the Tribulation.
Now here are some helpful guides when you study this doctrine more fully:
Never confuse scriptures that are clearly aimed at Israel with scriptures that are clearly aimed at the Church. They are not the same. Some examples are: Matt 24:9-28; Is 45:4; 65:22; Heb 3:6; 3:14; Dan 12:6-13; Dan 11:35-40; Rom 11:25-27; Dan 9; Ezek 40-48; and many more.
Recognize the differences in the three raptures:
- Old Testament saints at Christ’s resurrection (Matt 27:50-53; Eph 4:8-10)
- New Testament saints at the rapture of the Church (1 Thes 4:13-18; 1 Cor 15:50-55; Rev 5:8-10)
- Tribulation saints right before the 2nd Advent of Christ (Matt 24:29-31; Rev 7:9-17; Rev. 14:14-16)
Recognize that the churches in Revelation 2 & 3 are not in the body of Christ because each of them must overcome something to have eternal life, whereas church age saints have already overcome (1 Jn 4:4, 5:4) and already have eternal life.
Study the difference between the “trump” and the “trumpet.” When God and Jesus speak, the sound is that of a trumpet (Ex 19:19; 20:18; Rev 1:10, 1 Thes 4:16; etc.). This is what you will hear at the rapture. When the angel sounds the 7th trumpet, he will signal the end of the Tribulation and the 2nd coming of Christ (Rev 11:15).
Notice the difference in the Tribulation rapture and the rapture of the Church:
- The Lord sends his angels to gather the Tribulation saints (Matt 24:31)
- The Lord himself descends to get the Church (1 Thes 4:16)
There’s a lot more for you to study but this should help.