Recently, I suggested leaving information regarding Salvation for those “left behind” after the Church is snatched away or raptured. I received a question from a Brother who wondered how there could be additions to the Church (the Bride of Christ) already in Heaven and married to the Lord Jesus. My response was that I counted on the Grace of the Lord, and I was hopeful. These responses, while positive, are not a good foundation for a belief. Therefore, I turned to Scripture.
The principle of choice is found at the beginning in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given a choice of any tree except one. During the Tribulation, mankind will be given a choice. When the second “beast” or “living creature” causes everyone to receive a mark in order to buy or sell, eat or drink (Revelation 13:16-17), apparently the people on the earth will be warned to not receive the mark. An angel will say with a loud voice,
“If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark . . . The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God . . . And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever:” – Revelation 14:9-11)
The people who receive the “mark” will have made a choice that is irreversible. More confirmation of Tribulation Saints follows in verse 13, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth:” This all occurs during the Tribulation.
It appears from Scripture that the marriage of Jesus and His Bride (the Church) does not occur until Revelation 19:7. This is the first time the Church is referred to as “the wife.” Therefore, it would seem to be possible for additions to the Church to be made until that time.
Another clue is found in the Fifth Seal where the martyrs in Heaven were told to rest until their fellow (Christian) servants were killed as they were. (Revelation 6:11) This would also seem to indicate that there will be more Christians martyred. Further, the Revelation 9:20, 16:9 and 16:11 all speak of rebellious man not repenting. This certainly implies that forgiveness and salvation is possible during the “Tribulation” as a result of repentance, but those people chose to not repent and acknowledge their sin.
The principle of choice is also found at the end of the Bible after the Tribulation. During the Millennial Reign of Jesus, Satan will be locked up, but then released after one thousand years. (Revelation 20:7) For a long time I wondered why release him when he was bound and locked up? The reason is choice. Those who were born during the Millennium and never had to decide whether to follow the Lord or to rebel and follow Satan will be given one last choice.
The Apostle Peter told us:
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” – Second Peter 3:9
In addition, the Prophet Malachi told us:
"For I am the LORD, I change not;” – Malachi 3:6a
The Lord, Who desires that all should be saved, does not change and has not changed His mind. As I said before, I also count a lot on the wonderful Grace of God.
From Scripture it appears that the Lord desires all to receive Salvation; there will be Christian martyrs during the Tribulation; mankind will have the opportunity to repent during the Tribulation; the principle of choice still exists during the Tribulation.
These facts all fit the wonderful, gracious, forgiving nature of our Heavenly Father. May His name be praised for ever and ever!