By Timothy S. Morton
As I write this the United States is about to go to war again in the Middle East [March 2003]. As a King James Bible believer knowing that the rapture could occur any moment and the Tribulation could soon begin, I was impressed by the Lord [some will say the Devil] to make available Biblical information on the Internet about salvation in the coming Tribulation. Myself and my family will all be with the Lord as will all other regenerated believers, but many of those left behind to endure that terrible period of wrath will have little knowledge of God or His word. My prayer is God will direct someone to this information after we are gone so they can find the truth about salvation during that time. It will be little like salvation today
Readers of our work "The Difference Is In The Dispensations" should be well aware of our contention that the Scriptures MUST be "rightly divided" to determine true doctrine. Needless to say, the primary reason there are so many "denominations" in the Christian world is most groups don't make any attempt to rightly divide the Scriptures in spite of the command to do so [2 Tim. 2:15]. They treat the Bible as if it says the same things to every person in any age. Such an approach can be deadly. The Bible has clear divisions and if they are not heeded, doctrines that are unique to one dispensation will be wrested and placed into another and the result will be heresy. If the doctrines deal with personal salvation then any error could potentially cost one his soul. In this article we will address the subject of salvation during the coming Tribulation period [a little more fully than we did in the above book] and point out the similarities and differences between salvation then and now.
Our contention that obedience and works were involved in the salvation of most Old Testament saints is a highly controversial topic among Baptists and Fundamentalists. They rant and rave that works are "never" required for anyone's salvation in any age, but they are unable to prove their claim. Our book "The Difference Is In The Dispensations" has been on the Internet for several years [it was written in 1992] and of the letters I have received taking issue with it, no one has been able to disprove its main argument—that faith plus an element of works were required under the law for a Jew to be saved. They repeat their pet phrases —"People in the OT were saved by looking ahead to the cross," etc.,—ad nauseam, but they offer no relevant Biblical proof. Saying is one thing but proving is another. The law of Moses required obedience [Leviticus 18:5; Ezekiel 20:11; Romans 10:5; Galatians 3:12]. If a Jew broke a law and sinned, he then had to offer the proper animal sacrifice to atone for the sin [Leviticus 4:27-31; Leviticus 16:30; Proverbs 28:13]. If he neglected the sacrifice or refused to offer it, he remained in a lost condition [Psa 119:155]. Since there was no new birth available until after Christ's glorification [John 7:39], all believers saved before then had nothing IN them to secure their salvation. Today, in the Church Age, many things happen INSIDE a believer, including regeneration [Tit. 3:5], to secure a believers salvation regardless of works. Among other things believers today are "sealed" by the "Holy Spirit" "unto the day of redemption" [Eph. 4:30] thus his destiny is certain.
Even though the OT period is past, the study of the doctrines valid in it are profitable because of the near future—the Tribulation. Then some of these past doctrines will be valid again. In fact, the present Church Age is a parenthetical "age" placed into part of the time period that was originally intended for the "Law." Since the Jews rejected their Messiah, the Lord in a sense placed them "on a back burner" and brought about a new Gentile "age" that was not previously revealed, that is the Church. The Church was a mystery that was revealed to Paul [Eph 3:4-6] only AFTER Israel rejected Christ. God has poured out blessing on the believers of this present age that were only barely hinted at in the OT. Today believers can call God their father because of the new birth. An OT saint wouldn't dare call God his father.
One reason the Lord has given the "Gentiles" these great blessings is to provoke the Jews to jealously [Rom 11:11]. But when the "fulness of the Gentiles be come in" then Israel will again be on the "front burner" and the center of God's dealings. With the rapture the parenthetical Church Age ends and things become "Jewish" again. This is one reason why the Tribulation is known as the "time of Jacob's [Israel's] trouble." Jacob [Israel] will be the main purpose and object of the Tribulation.
It cannot be emphasized too much that when reading the Bible the reader must realize the Bible is primarily a JEWISH book. It is not a book written doctrinally to all mankind, but to the Jews. It was written by Jews about God's dealing with Jews. It speaks of a Jewish Messiah, prophesied by Jewish prophets, who is going to set up Jewish kingdom. Only after the Jews reject their Messiah do the Gentiles come into play. Nevertheless only a relatively small portion of the Bible applies doctrinally to Church Age Gentiles. The Bible portion from Acts chapter 15 to Philemon applies doctrinally to a born again Christian and is unique to the Church Age. The rest of the Bible is strictly Jewish. This is not to say that we saved Gentiles cannot profit from the Jewish books and learn doctrine on other matters [all the words of the Lord are written for our admonition and learning], but we must be careful to rightly divide the Scriptures where doctrine is concerned. Without determining the proper divisions and drawing the correct dispensational lines, the Bible is little more than a jumbled mess of contradictions.
Since the present Church Age is a mystery and parenthetical, the establishment of it causes the books called the NT [Matt.-Rev.] to have two divisions in them making three sections. The first section is the Jewish law in the gospels before the cross; the second section is from the cross to the rapture, the Church Age; and the third section is from the rapture to the second advent, the Tribulation. There is a partial transitional subsection in the second section from the cross until Acts 15 where the Church Age salvation doctrines were fully established, but for our purposes in this study there are three different sections in the NT with two divisions.
DL Root on the website [https://www.rightlydividing.net] has listed some of the "contradictions" between these divisions showing how the Bible makes little sense when these divisions are not recognized. Study the comparisons below:
When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee. [Mark 2:5]
...Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities... [II Corinthians 12:9b]
...Use a little wine for thy stomach's sake and thine often infirmities. [I Timothy 5:23b]
...Trophimus have I left at Miletem sick. [II Timothy 4:20b]
When the Lord healed that man with palsy he first forgave his sins because of the faith of others! Paul says nothing about sins being forgiven when the Lord heals someone, but see the similarity in James (written to the twelve Jewish tribes). Does your church anoint the sick with oil? If so, are they always healed? Are their sins forgiven too?! This is not Church Age doctrine. The greatest apostle that ever lived had an infirmity that wasn't healed! And he recommended medicine to Timothy not that the elders anoint him and pray for him. He left a good Christian brother sick. James is written doctrinally for Tribulation Jews. These next examples also show a doctrinal difference.
And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. [Matthew 18:5]
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him. [Colossians 2:6]
I didn't receive the Lord Jesus Christ by receiving a little child. The context of that passage is conversion! Look it up! No one gets saved today by receiving a child, but in the Tribulation helping a child who believes in Christ is doing a good work to be justified. See James 2:14-20. Here is another example.
...Waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: 8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. [I Corinthians 1:7, 8]
The first verse tells the Israelite that he himself must endure to the end to be saved. The second tells a Church Age Christian that the Lord will confirm him till the end. These verses contradict unless there is a division!
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end. [Hebrews 3:14]
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. [I Corinthians 12:27]
For we being many are...one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread. [I Corinthians 10:17]
Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged. [Matthew 7:1-2]
But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. [I Corinthians 2:15]
Jesus was speaking to pre-crucifixion Jews in Matthew. Paul was instructing Church Age Christians in Corinthians. Those verses contradict unless there is a division!
These next verses are glaring and irreconcilable if there are no divisions in the New Testament. A certain ruler comes to Jesus and asks the most important question a person can ask. He asks the right question to the right person.
...Good Master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? 17 And he said unto him...if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. 21...and follow me. [Matthew 19:16-17, 21]
...Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and though shalt be saved. [Acts 16:30-31]
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. [Ephesians 2:8-9]
Jesus told this Israelite ruler to keep to commandments and follow him. That is not the plan of salvation for the Church Age. Church Age salvation is not even partially dependent on good works, but there are New Testament verses that say works are necessary! Remember, where there are supposed contradictions one is commanded to divide the Bible.
Unfortunately, because of the lack of study and love of the truth, many Fundamentalists refuse to acknowledge these obvious doctrinal differences. Instead of believing the passages and leaving them as they stand these brethren feel the must "explain" or "interpret" them to make them conform to their doctrine. When one begins to "interpret" Scripture that needs no interpretation he places himself on a slippery slope of compromise that robs him of essential truth.
When Christ came on the scene He began His ministry proclaiming a coming kingdom. This kingdom was the very kingdom the Lord had promised Israel many years earlier. His ministry was ONLY to Israel. He was not proclaiming a kingdom to anyone else. Many today read the gospels as if Christ's coming and ministry was to and for all men but the Bible proves them wrong to all who believe it.
First, the New Testament did not begin until AFTER the crucifixion [Heb. 9:15-17], thus all of the material found in the four gospels applies doctrinally to Jews under Mosaic Law. This is important to remember. Until Matthew 27:50, etc. the OT was still in full effect. So everything that is said before then must be placed in its proper context. Thus nearly everything Christ said before the cross applies doctrinally not to us Gentiles but to the Jews in reference to their kingdom.
Christ was very plain in saying His ministry was ONLY to Israel "...I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." [Matthew 15:24]. Peter was also clear on this, "Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins" [Acts 5:31]. Paul said the same, "Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm to promises made unto the fathers" [Romans 15:8]. Furthermore, Christ told His disciples, "...Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" [Matthew 10:5-6]. All is clear to one who has ears to hear, Christ's ministry was totally Jewish. It was for Jews to prepare them for their King and kingdom.
However, on the other hand, Jesus prophesied that Israel would lose its standing as God's premier nation, "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof" [Matthew 21:43]. But as mentioned above according to Romans 11:25-26 in the future Israel will become God's blessed nation again.
Christ and John the Baptist preached "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" because the kingdom was "at hand." All the Jews had to do was repent and receive their King to bring the kingdom in. Beginning with Matthew chapter 5 Christ expounded on the principles of His coming kingdom. The famous "beatitudes" speak not of the Church Age but of the kingdom Christ is going to establish for Israel. No believer is saved in this age by trying to follow the beatitudes. There is no gospel in them. They are the principles [or constitution] of the millennial kingdom where works are involved with righteousness.
However, as even a shallow reading of the Bible will reveal, the nation of Israel rejected the Lord Jesus Christ as their Redeemer and Messiah. They wanted nothing to do with Him. Thus the kingdom was postponed. Of course, none of this caught the Lord by surprise, but the offer of the kingdom was legitimate. If the Jews would have received Christ He would have set up the kingdom. Needless to say He would still have to die for the sins of the world, but His death would have been under different circumstances.
As most Bible believers are aware, before the Kingdom [Millennium] can come the Tribulation must occur. And before the Tribulation can occur the Church must be taken away from this coming "wrath" by the rapture [Matthew 3:7; I Thessalonians 5:9; Revelation 6:16-17] . When the rapture occurs and Christ takes His Church into Heaven with Him, things will never be the same on earth again. When all those in Christ are raised up to meet their Savior in the air, a whole dispensational system will go up with them. Eternal salvation as we know it today (by grace through faith apart from works) will no longer be valid because the Holy Spirit will no longer regenerate and seal those who become saved after the "trump" [1 Thes. 4:16]. Believers in the future will not have a new nature, be placed in Christ, or have Christ permanently indwelling them. Simply put, the means of salvation as we know it today will no longer exist. The differences in the dispensations will make it impossible for a believer to be born again [as we now understand it], placed into Christ's Body, or keep eternal life by faith alone. Instead of being like salvation in the Church Age, salvation will be very similar to the way it was in the Old Testament with works playing a part.
The Bible is very clear on this. Again we quote DL Root:
A detailed study of Paul's epistles compared to the epistle by James exhibit indisputable contradictions unless there is a doctrinal dividing line. All the denominations which claim works are essential in obtaining or keeping salvation use the book of James. They do this because James does say that works are required. Paul says just the opposite.
Therefore by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified... [Romans 3:20a]
Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works. [Romans 4:6]
Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law. [Galatians 2:16a]
Who has saved us...not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace. [II Timothy 1:9a]
Paul says that faith (belief) justifies.
And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. [Acts 13:39]
...Purifying their hearts by faith. [Acts 15:9b]
Being justified freely by his grace... [Romans 3:24a]
For by grace are ye saved through faith...Not of works. [Ephesians 2:8a,9a]
And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But it if be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. [Romans 11:6]
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. 28 Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law. [Romans 3:27-28]
Paul's conclusion is clear - salvation is "no more of works" (It used to be!!) but now faith alone justifies! James is just as clear as Paul.
Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. [James 2:24]
OUCH!! What does a Christian who doesn't divide his Bible do with that verse? Most would say: "Well, forget what it says, this it what it really means..." An honest Christian will admit to the contradiction and obey the Bible command to "rightly divide!"
James is doctrine for the Tribulation. The context of Chapter Two reveals what kind of works, coupled with faith, is needed to justify a man. He begins with:
James 2:1-7 describes not having "respect of persons" as one of the works that helps to justify.
...the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself... [James 2:8b]
According to Jesus this is the second commandment on which all the law and the prophets depend. (Matthew 22:40) If a person does have respect of persons, however...
Ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors. [James 2:9b]
This is definitely the law of Moses because he continues...
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. 11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill... [James 2:10,11a]
James goes on to ask an hypothetical question.
Yes, according to Paul. No, according to James.
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. [James 2:17 ]
James gives two specific Old Testament examples to show the necessity of coupling faith with works. He plainly states that Abraham and Rahab were justified by works.
Now all works are done in the flesh. See the contradiction between James and Paul.
Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? [Galatians 3:2-3]
James says that faith is made perfect by works while Paul says that works can't make faith perfect! There must be a division!
The book of James has given fits to many believers down through the centuries. Martin Luther has such trouble with it that he threatened to light a fire with it! But in these latter days the Lord has revealed the doctrinal application of the book as well as several others, the Tribulation. Once a person places these NT "works" verses in their proper place, the Bible makes perfect sense and we can see the grand design of God's plan.
The Tribulation will be a very difficult time for one to try and live for God. Christ declared in Matthew 24:21 this period will contain terror, horror, and death on a scale the world has not yet seen. One reading of the book of Revelation with all the catastrophes, judgments, and sorrows found in it should awaken any believing reader to the shear horror many will endure during this period. As we have repeatedly said, during this seven year period faith alone will not be enough to permanently secure ones eternal salvation. Faith will likely be the means of the believer initially being saved, but his faith must motivate the proper works for him to keep his salvation, and he must be faithful in keeping them to "endure to the end." Remember how James said, "Faith without works is dead," and one shows his faith by working? In the Tribulation one must show his faith and work to overcome evil and clinging to good or else he won't make it through saved [Rev. 2:26; 3:5; 3:21; Rev. 12:11; 21:7]. There are around 200 verses in the New Testament that indicate someone can lose his salvation—they must fit somewhere—and the Tribulation is the place. Remember Matthew chapters 24 and 25, and Hebrews chapters 3, 6, and 10? The Tribulation is where they all doctrinally apply: the "time of Jacob's trouble" (not the Church's trouble). Again, someone in the Bible can lose his salvation, but it is not a born again Christian.
During the Tribulation salvation will be similar to salvation under the law as far as what happens to and inside a believer is concerned. Since regeneration is no longer available, nothing will happen inside the believer to secure his salvation. Though he won't be saved on credit as those in the Old Testament were (because Christ's atonement has since been made), he will still be saved on a trial basis like they were. Believing on Christ will just be the first step in his process of salvation, for along with believing he must "keep the commandments of God." Look at these clear passages in Revelation,
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ." [Revelation 12:17]
"Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus." [Revelation 14:12]
"Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates unto the city." [Revelation 22:14]
What is unclear about these passages? Nothing to a Bible believer who takes them as they stand and doesn't try to change their meaning. Since this is, again, a Jewish dispensation, the commandments must be the Ten Commandments and other commandments given under the law. Gentiles will likely not be obligated to keep the distinctly Jewish commandments, but they must keep the moral commandments as much as they know them even if their conscience is their only guide.
Again we quote DL Root,
"Salvation during the Tribulation is based on both faith and works. Jesus, himself, said that love toward God, whom we can't see (faith); and love toward our neighbor, whom we can see (works) are the two commandments upon which hang all the law and prophets. (Matthew 22:36-40). The Old Testament Jewish saints were required to obey God's commandments to be and to stay saved. The Tribulation saints will be required to have faith in Christ and keep the commandments by helping their neighbors. Time after time this theme is expounded. (Matthew 10:40-42; Matthew 19:16-21; Luke 10:25-37; Hebrews 6:10; Hebrews 10:24; James 1:22-27; James 2:1-9; I Peter 1:22) In fact, God determines the disposition of the nations according to how they treat the Jew during the Tribulation. (Matthew 25:31-46)"
Probably the quickest and surest way for anyone in the Tribulation to forfeit his salvation is to take the mark of the Beast. Anyone who takes that mark is doomed without any hope of future salvation (Rev. 14:9-11). One in the Tribulation may be saved by faith, keep the testimony of Jesus (Rev. 12:17), and have adequate works to retain his salvation, but the moment he gives in to temptation and receives that mark, he is dead lost. "Any" means any in Revelation 14:9. A person could believe like the Philippian jailer, be baptized like the Ethiopian eunuch, and follow the Law like John the Baptist and loose it all by taking the mark. This alone proves salvation then will be little like it is today.
Even with this faith and works setup great multitudes will refuse to take the mark, and, as a result, most of them will be killed (Rev 13:15, Rev 20:4). Motivated be jealously and pride, the Beast will slaughter believers wholesale (Rev 13:7) with no restraint, but even this will not hinder yet others from "the faith of Jesus." Also, during this time there will be 144,000 Jewish "missionaries" sealed and protected by God preaching the gospel of the kingdom (not the gospel of the grace of God) and two witnesses (most likely Moses and Elijah) performing signs and wonders and declaring the truth to the world. It will be a drastically different situation than it is today. Then it will more often than not cost one a great deal to be saved, likely even his life! Nevertheless, many will "love not their lives unto death" and refuse to blaspheme God by taking the mark. Like James said, they will show their faith by their works (James 2:18).
In a nutshell salvation in the Tribulation will be obtained and secured by having faith in Jesus as Savior and Messiah, keeping the commandments and doing what one knows to be right, and avoiding the mark of the beast at all costs. Failure to do these things and endure faithfully to the end of his life or the Tribulation can cost a person everything he has gained. Many today teach Church Age believers will go through the Tribulation. If so according to Revelation 14 they can lose their salvation by taking the mark.
As we have said, the typical Fundamentalist method of dealing with Tribulation salvation is to pretend it is identical to salvation today. But unfortunately, many Baptists and Fundamentalists are much more loyal to their pet "historic positions" than to the Bible. They utterly refuse to take the verses as they stand. They will not hesitate to twist, distort, wrest, spiritualize, and "Greekify" these plain verses to make them conform to their doctrine. The author says this being a Baptist and Fundamentalist himself, however, his allegiance is to the Scriptures alone and not some "historic Baptist position." He has found from reading Fundamentalist material that some Baptist doctrines are just as much heresy as those of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses. The only real difference between the heretical Baptist doctrines and those of the cults is the lies of the cults are lethal to the soul while the "positions" of most Fundamentalists are lethal to dispensational truth.