[ca_audio url_mp3=”https://www.buzzsprout.com/3192/186761-should-christians-prepare-for-the-great-tribulation-part-2.mp3″ url_ogg=”” download=”true” align=”none”] (Download MP3)
TEXT: Revelation 3:7-11
7 And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write; These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth;
8 I know thy works: behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name.
9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
10 Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.
11 Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
20 Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.
21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne
1 After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.
2 And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.
3 And he that sat was to look upon like a jasper and a sardine stone: and there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.
4 And round about the throne were four and twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four and twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold.
Should Christians Prepare for the Great Tribulation? (Part 2)
Last time, we tackled the question of, should Christians prepare for the Great Tribulation? We found that the answer was ‘no’ based on three facts about the church. The first is that the church is distinct from Israel. The second is that victory for the church has already been determined. And, the third is that the church and Israel have different expectations about the second coming of Jesus Christ.
Today, we are going to continue addressing this question from a different perspective. We are going to look at three passages of Scripture in the book of Revelation that shed light on this issue of whether or not the church will be in the Great Tribulation.
1. The first passage we are going to look at is Jesus’ letter to the church at Philadelphia. Jesus told that church, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” The church at Philadelphia was the only church that Jesus Christ did not say anything negative about. He only had words of compliment and encouragement for this church: they were a strong church, they had kept (obeyed) God’s word, and they had not denied Jesus Christ.
The church at Philadelphia is a small microcosm of God’s true church everywhere. The true church, the bride of Christ, is strong in the faith, is obedient to God, and will not deny Jesus Christ.
Jesus presents Himself to this church in a very unique way. Instead of using symbolism as He did in his letters to the other six churches, Jesus describes Himself as “he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.” Regarding this introductory statement, Ray Stedman said, Jesus is describing Himself as one whose “will cannot be opposed. He governs the events of history on earth. He will open some doors; he will close other doors. What he opens no one can shut, what he shuts, no one can open. No human power can contravene what he determines. ”
And, since Jesus is in charge of all of history, don’t you think He can deliver His beloved bride from the wrath to come? Of course, He can. In fact, that is what He tells this strong, obedient and faithful church next. Jesus says, “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Because the church at Philadelphia is faithful to God, Jesus promises that they will be delivered from the “hour of temptation” that will come upon the whole world. That is a reference to the Tribulation that we are talking about today.
Some might argue that this “hour of temptation” is a reference to persecution. However, there has never been any time of persecution that can accurately be described as taking place across the whole world at the same time. To the contrary, this is a clear reference to the tribulation which will indeed affect the whole world.
Jesus’ promise to the faithful church is specifically that it is to be delivered from the hour of temptation. “Delivered from” actually means to be “delivered out of.” Not only will the church not be affected by the tribulation, it will not even be in a position for it to be affected by the Tribulation because Jesus would have called her up to Heaven to be with Him. This clear promise should encourage us in the faith to remain faithful and obedient to Jesus Christ so that we can ensure that we are a part of the true church that will be raptured from this earth before the Tribulation begins!
2. The second passage we want to look at is Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea. Now, we all remember Laodicea as the church that was lukewarm. In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus tells this church, “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”
Unlike the Philadelphians, this church is not on fire for God, is not obedient to God, and has begun to trust in her material possessions. Jesus has some words of conviction and condemnation for this church. He tells them to “buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” He then gives them a warning: “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Isn’t it interesting that we often think of these verses in reference to an unsaved person accepting Christ into his or her heart and life; but Jesus Christ actually spoke these words to a group of people who claimed to be already saved. Jesus is not warning unbelievers that He is coming again — He is warning believers! Why is this warning necessary? Because Laodicea is on the verge of becoming a church in name only. They have a church building, but they have nothing on the inside that rightly makes them a church of Jesus Christ. They are on the verge of becoming apostate.
Now, there will be a “church” on Earth during the Tribulation, as we mentioned last week. However, it will be an apostate church. Laodicea is representative of that church — that church that could be left behind when the Lord returns. That is why Jesus warns them that He is coming soon. John MacArthur said, “Jesus says to the Laodiceans get ready, I’m coming. I’m knocking. If you don’t open, you will experience great tribulation. If you do open, you will overcome and you’ll come and sit with me. That’s deliverance. The contrast between Philadelphia and Laodicea shows me that the false church will be in the tribulation, but the true church will be kept from the hour.’
Jesus describes what will happen to the true church in verse 21. He says, “to him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.” Jesus is calling the church at Laodicea to get right with Him and to get truly saved before it is too late. He is calling us to do the same today: to make sure of our relationship with Him. Jesus should not be knocking at the door of our hearts; He should already be inside of our hearts.
As we learned from the church at Philadelphia that the true church will be raptured before the Tribulation, we can learn from the church at Laodicea that those who only play church, those who are not truly saved, will be left behind.
3. The third passage that we will look at today contains the words of the Apostle John as he is called up into Heaven to receive the vision of things which are to come. In Revelation 4:1, John says, “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter.”
John is called up into Heaven after he records the letters to the churches but before the events of the Great Tribulation take place. Many scholars have suggested that, in this, John is a type of the church. He is told to “come up hither” after the church age, but before the Tribulation just as the pre-tribulation view states that the church will be taken out of the world before the Great Tribulation.
One great theologian said, “I gather that the rapture will be before the apostasy [the turning away of the “church” from Christ]. It is after all of the dealing with the assemblies (churches) by Christ is closed that the subsequent dealings with the world in Revelation begin. The assemblies are ‘the things that are;’ what follows, ‘the things after these.’ John…is called up to heaven where all the ways of God are now carried on, and that towards the world, not the assembly (or church).”
Even though this may not be the intended meaning of the text, John being called up to Heaven shows us that God has ended His dealings with the church on earth and has begun dealing with the world and the evil world system that will be created under the leadership of the Antichrist. Significantly, scholars have also pointed out that the word “church” never occurs in the chapters describing the Great Tribulation on earth, Revelation chapters 4 through 19. The church is absent from this period.
All of this Biblical evidence supports the view that the Rapture will, indeed, take place before the Great Tribulation. In his message to the church at Philadelphia, Christ promises that faithful believers will be spared the “hour of temptation” that will come upon the whole earth. In his message to the church at Laodicea, which had a form of dead Christianity and was headed toward apostasy, Christ urges them to repent while there is still time, or risk being left behind when the “overcomers” — those who are truly saved — are taken out of this world. And, in the Revelation of John, we see a type of the church as the apostle is caught up from the earthly realm and into the heavenly realm before he is allowed to see the events of the Great Tribulation.
Knowing that God has planned for us to be delivered out of this world allows us to live without fear of the future. Before us, we will only see two options — death or the rapture. We can praise God today that either option means that we will be with our Saviour in Heaven, safely delivered from the wrath to come.
Now, if you are with us today, and you are not ready for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, if you are not certain that if the Rapture were to take place today you would be among those caught up to Heaven to be with the Lord, allow me to share with you how you can trust Jesus Christ for salvation today so that you can be ready for His return.
First, please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
But here is the good news. John 3:16 says “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. I am sorry for my sins, and I want to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I want to trust Jesus as my Savior and follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.