by Paul Benson
The Tribulation Saints
Much discussion and speculation has taken place over the subject of the Tribulation Saints (those alive during the prophesied Great Tribulation). Who are they? What will they have to endure? Are they saved by martyrdom, or by grace through faith like the rest of us? Are they a part of the Bride, or not? The discourse continues with a broad range of opinions tossed into the mix. But I would like to suggest to you that today’s Believers will never become Tribulation Saints! Does that statement surprise you, considering the fact I embrace the Post-trib viewpoint? Please allow me to explain why this is true.
Tribulation Is A Promise
These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world. John 16:33
Jesus promised his followers tribulation in this life. Believers will not become Tribulation Saints during the Great Tribulation because you cannot become something you already are! The Church of Jesus Christ has been in tribulation since its inception. There is no such thing as a genuine Follower of Christ who is not already a Tribulation Saint!
Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. Acts 14:22
As Paul and Barnabas traveled the areas surrounding Antioch the message they presented was an exhortation to remain steadfast in the faith because we must undergo much tribulation on the road to glory. He was cultivating a mindset in them to expect tribulation as a normal part of Christian life.
Tribulation Is Normal Christianity
For verily, when we were with you, we told you before that we should suffer tribulation; even as it came to pass, and ye know. 1 Thessalonians 3:4
Paul also spoke of the promise of tribulation coming upon us in his letter to the Church at Thessalonica. Not something that would come along after the Church was ‘whisked away’, but a very real part of what all true believers will face as the world expresses its opposition to the life of Christ dwelling in his followers.
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 2 Timothy 3:12
Much of the tribulation a true believer faces in life will be the direct result of a testimony and lifestyle which confronts the unbeliever with the sinfulness of their own life. As we move closer to the end, and the iniquity of man comes to a fullness, so shall the opposition to the Word of God increase like never before. Jesus said then shall be ‘great’ tribulation (Matt 24:21). The word tribulation itself actually carries the meaning of pressure, affliction, and persecution. A look at Strong’s Definition for this word is very enlightening. Tribulation equals persecution! The great tribulation could rightly be called the great persecution.
(Although many try to make the word tribulation synonymous with God’s wrath, in an effort to promote the pretrib rapture theory, the Bible makes no such distinction. For an in depth look at that falsehood, and Strong’s definition for the word tribulation, see this post: Is The Great Tribulation God’s Wrath? The rapture theory has a limited shelf life, and is rapidly approaching its expiration date!)
Tribulation Sifts The Wheat!
But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. John 10:12-13
When the day soon comes where speaking in the name of Jesus will carry an enormous cost to it we will no longer hear the voice of the chaff. In the final days of this era we will see a return to the true pure Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the opposition to it will rise to a fever pitch. Tribulation and persecution weed out the halfhearted or compromised (as well as false believers); they are offended and fall away. The mark of the beast will see to that. I fear many with a shallowness of faith will not be willing to pay the price of following Christ in that day, and will turn from the truth.
Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended. Matthew13:21
The lukewarm and compromised believers of that day will get off the fence on one side or the other. In the coming great persecution, as all of the organizations and denominations either defect to the enemy’s camp or cease to exist altogether, their gospel of mixture will also vanish. The Hirelings will abandon the flock and flee, just as Jesus said they would (John 10:12).
Tribulation Has Additional Purpose
The lines between truth and error will soon no longer be blurred by the teachers of modern opinion or man’s religious philosophies. Truth will light up the path of the Righteous while error will call out from the darkness; seducing those without a love for the truth. In the interest of self-preservation the chaff will distance themselves from the wheat, a sifting that is all according to God’s divine plan.
And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; Romans 5:3
Like it or not tribulation is beneficial to us as Christians; but most don’t have ears to hear such truth. They feel anything negative could have no usefulness or benefit to us so why would God allow us to go through the time of great tribulation? Mention God using the great tribulation as a means of perfecting the Body of Christ and many folks are liable to pitch a fit. Believe me I have seen it! (He’s a loving God, they say, not a mean one!) But fuss as you might the Bible very clearly presents the truth that going through tumultuous times will work out a patient endurance in us. It is good for us!
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. James 1:3-4
In fact this patient endurance is a mark of perfection or maturity in a believers walk. It only comes our way through trials and tribulations, and is vital to our spiritual well-being. In your patience possess ye your souls. Luke 21:19 I think the popular notion that Christians will not see the great tribulation is indication of a larger problem. An unbalanced image of God that denies any facet of his character that doesn’t fit a liberal view of how a good God ought to behave himself.
This liberal mindset has taken root in modern Christianity and declares it’s wrong, even cruel, to spank your children (even though the Word advises us to). This in turn produces a mistaken notion that God would also embrace this mentality, and thereby not impose any chastisement or perfecting tribulations upon his children. But in fact the Bible says that if we are not chastened by God we are not even his children!
And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: 6 For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. 7 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. Hebrews 12:5 (a scourge is a small whip, by the way.)
I hope our little study on tribulation in the life of a believer has been food for thought. So let me ask you now: Are you a Tribulation Saint? I sure hope you are. Let’s have a heart to face the tribulations of life, even great tribulation, with a confidence in the keeping power of the Lord. A confidence evidenced by these words from someone who knew much about going through tribulation:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39