Over the next few weeks we will continue to share with you the opinions of 13 Bible prophecy experts concerning various questions related to the book of Revelation. Some of the remaining members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will continue to address:
#6. What about those who hear the Gospel before the Rapture and reject it, can they be saved during the Tribulation?
Don McGee, Crown and Sickle Ministries
That's an interesting question, and the answer that I have is, yes, they will have the opportunity to be saved after the Rapture. The way I see it is this, the passage in question that Paul wrote in 2 Thessalonians has to do with the Tribulation period. That's when people will hear the Gospel and their hearts will be hardened against it and they simply will not want to have anything to do with it. If you look at this passage, you also see that what Paul said in Romans 1, which is basically the same thing. He said that there are people who simply don't want to believe. Their hearts are hardened, so God is going to give them their ultimate judgment, which is He is going to give them exactly what they asked for. If you look at this carefully you'll see that both Romans 1 and the passage in 2 Thessalonians are actually saying the same thing, just at two different times.
The hearts of men can be very wicked and evil, and there will be hatred of God and a hatred of God's Word. We see that today even, and the world will see it during the Tribulation period. At the same time, there are people whose hearts are permeable. I believe that there will be people during the Tribulation who have heard the Gospel earlier in their lives or they will see it maybe in a new light. Though they rejected the Gospel, yet their hearts were not so hardened as we see in Romans 1. They I believe will hear it again, and this time perhaps because of events that are happening around them will accept Jesus as their Savior.
Ed Hindson, World Prophetic Ministry
I think ultimately only the Lord knows that for sure. The debate there is really over how one interprets the passage in 2 Thessalonians 2. That they will all believe a lie and be condemned, does that mean everybody who rejects the Lord and continues to reject the Lord before the Rapture that after the Rapture tends to believe the lie and will not be converted? Or, does Paul mean if they had an opportunity to hear the truth but they willfully and deliberately rejected the truth?
Technically in the text of 2 Thessalonians 2 it doesn't say they heard the truth and willfully rejected it. It simply says they didn't believe it and instead they believed the lie. If they ever did hear it may be a matter of debate.
I was saved as a young person and grew up in a church that preached very strongly that if you don't get saved before the Rapture you will not have a chance after the Rapture. There are many good people who teach Bible prophecy that believe you will have another chance after the Rapture. They believe that it's almost impossible to think the grace of God has limited itself to only speaking to you once, and if you've made a rejection at one point you'll never have another opportunity.
For me, I believe that, yes, people will have an opportunity to be saved after the Rapture, but the tragedy is very few will. Most will not. Constantly through the book of Revelation it says, "And they did not repent. And they did not repent. And they did not repent." I remind people all the time, if you're not going to accept Christ in an age of peace and prosperity for the most part, why in the world do you think you would accept Him after the Rapture when you are going to get your head cut off for your faith in Christ? Why would you even take that chance? Plus, you don't even know if you are going to live until the Rapture comes. So, if you can't say "Yes" to Jesus and live for Him now, why do you think you are going to be willing to say "Yes" and die for Him later? You'd better not take any chances. You need to come to Christ right now.
Mark Hitchcock, Faith Bible Church
There is a question that often gets asked. These people who have heard the Gospel clearly before the Rapture and they reject it and then the Rapture comes, these are the people who are going to be doomed and not have an opportunity to be saved. This is based on 2 Thessalonians 2 where it talks about those who reject the love of God so as not to receive the truth and the therefore believe the lie.
Many say people who rejected the Gospel clearly are finished after the Rapture. They are done getting any more chances. The difficulty I have with that view is if one reads 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12 in the context of that chapter, I believe it's talking about people during the Tribulation period who reject the truth of the Gospel and believe the lie, that is the lie that the Antichrist is God. So, in other words, they rejected the Gospel, they've not accepted Christ, and they've turned to worshipping the Antichrist. I think what Paul is saying is that the people who will accept the Antichrist during the Tribulation period God then is going to send upon them it says "strong delusion." That's kind of like once they've made their choice during the Tribulation for Antichrist, God is going to say they've made their choice now and He's going to drive them even further into that delusion.
Now, it's true, I think if someone doesn't accept Christ now in this time it's certainly not going to get any easier for them to accept Christ after the Rapture. So, it may be that many who reject Him now will continue to do so, but I wouldn't use 2 Thessalonians 2 to prove that point.
Ken Humphries, Treasured Truth Today Ministries
No. If my understanding of 2 Thessalonians 2 is correct, I don't think their acceptance of Christ after the Rapture can be the case. In 2 Thessalonians 2 we read in verse 8, "Then shall that wicked one be revealed whom the Lord consume with the spirit of his mouth and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming. Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause…" This is about those who have rejected Christ; those who have refused to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul writing to the church of Thessalonica says, "For this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie," as it is in other translations.
To me, the following verse says it all in verse 12, "That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness." So, those who have come through this period of grace, these days of grace, and having heard the Gospel preached to them very powerfully and very forcefully and rejected and rebelled the call of God, when that day of grace is over and when the Rapture comes and the Church is taken home, they will be left to face this amazing punishment. They will receive this delusion that will come even from God and it will bring permanent damnation to their souls.
In the next part of this series on reading and understanding Revelation, the members of our panel of Bible prophecy experts will answer the seventh question, "If the Church is not going to be present on this earth during the Tribulation, will people be able to be saved, and if so, how?"