Can Individuals Be Saved in the Tribulation Who Have Heard the Gospel Now?

Manfred E. Kober, Th.D.

The question concerning the salvation after the Rapture of those who have heard and rejected the gospel in the Church age is one of the more frequent queries directed our way. Many have given a negative answer to this important question. However, it can be demonstrated that some individuals at least will be saved in the Tribulation who rejected the gospel prior to the Rapture.

Soon after the Rapture, 144 000 Jewish witnesses will be saved and sealed (Rev. 7:3-8). They would have been alive before the Rapture. As part of their Jewish heritage they, as every Jew, would have heard about Christ and rejected Him as their Messiah, otherwise they would have been taken away in the Rapture. The 144 000 thus comprise a group who have heard the gospel, rejected it and are nevertheless redeemed after the Rapture.

Who are those individuals in the tribulation who “believer the lie” (2 Thess. 2:10-11)? Most likely they are Church age individuals who have the truth of the gospel, rejected it, but have gone beyond mere unbelief and somehow blasphemed the gospel. Because of this they are judicially hardened. They are not simply individuals who have heard the gospel in this dispensation, but have refused to believe it. As Hiebert says so well in his commentary on this key passage, “Not only did they refuse ‘the truth’ (not abstractly but the saving truth of the gospel, as the added clause makes clear), but manifested a disposition of aversion to the truth, showing no desire to seek and possess the saving truth of God. Their unbelief was not so much a matter of the head but of the heart.” (The Thessalonian Epistles, 318)

God’s sending them great delusion, lest they should believe, applies therefore to individuals who persistently rejected the gospel and purposefully turned away from God to embrace idolatry, blasphemy and apostasy.

The book of Acts affords a study of various groups and their response to the gospel. Some have never heard the gospel in the Church age (Acts 16:6-7). They belong to the group which definitely can be saved after the Rapture. Others have heard and not understood (17:20, 32) or heard and delayed a decision (28:28) or heard and rejected as did the 144 00 (17:32). Salvation for these groups is possible. But there are individuals like some of the Corinthians (Acts 18:6) and Simon Magus (8:20-25) who heard, understood and then blasphemed. These religious renegades will never be saved. Rejection and ridicule bring reprobation.

Another consideration is in order in answering the question as to who can be saved after the Rapture. The converts of the Tribulation do not simply come from countries unreached by the gospel in the Church age. In fact, as a result of the ministry of the 144 000 witnesses and an angelic messenger, individuals from “all nations, and kindred and tongues” will be saved (Rev. 7:9; 14:6). Certainly Western Europe and North America have heard the gospel and many individuals have rejected it. And yet, myriads of persons from all nations will be gloriously saved after the Rapture.

Of course, it will not be any easier to accept the Lord during the Tribulation than it is now in the Church age. The pleading of the Holy Spirit to each individual is, “Today, if you will hear his voice, harden not your hearts” (Heb. 3:7: cf. 7:13, 15). It is true that the possibility of salvation exists in the Tribulation. It is equally true that to defer a decision until then is presumptuous. Nobody knows when his allotted days shall be used up. There is no better time than now for an unsaved individual to trust in Jesus as substitute Savior!

© Manfred E Kober

Print Friendly and PDF
alphabetical listing - numerical listing