One of the most false and cutting accusations launched at the belief that the Bible teaches that a person cannot lose his or her salvation when truly born again (John 3:3) is: “If you believe once saved, always saved, you are saying that people can live any way they want without fear of punishment.” Or so the line of condemning criticism goes.
The absolute assurance of eternal security, of course, engenders no such thought within the mind truly regenerated by the saving power of Jesus Christ. The Bible teaches that the Lord convicts His children in their spirits, and that habitual, unrepented-of sin will result in severe penalties—even physical death, in some cases. The Heavenly Father’s patience is longsuffering, but it is not infinite.
A person who is a child of God cannot sin without severe repercussions, if repentance isn’t forthcoming. But, that person will never be kicked out of God’s family. Never.
A kindred sort of accusation is thrown at those who believe in the Pre-Trib view of Bible prophecy. The Pre-Tribulation view, of course, is the one we believe God’s Word teaches. It is the view that Jesus Christ will call all who are born again to Himself before the Tribulation, which is the last seven years of history leading to the Second Advent (Rev. 19: 11).
The angry diatribe against the Pre-Trib Rapture view—by even genuine Christians, in many cases—usually goes something like this: “People like you, who believe that the Lord is going to rapture them before the Tribulation, think you can live however you want, because you think and teach falsely that you are going to be rescued before God’s judgment and wrath fall, no matter what.”
The non-Christian accusers who castigate those of us who hold the Pre-Trib rapture view have their own version. It goes something like: “Christians who believe like that don’t care anything about making the world better. You even hope for things to get worse and worse. You wish for earthquakes, famines, pestilence, war in the Middle East, and for Armageddon to hurry up and get here so you will go to your pie in the sky, and watch the rest of us get ours.”
Although the first criticism is absolutely not true, I have to admit that, regarding the second, too often I’ve sensed—even heard—such sentiments from some of those who believe in the Pre-Trib rapture. And, it is entirely the wrong attitude for the Christian to hold. There are no excuses for wanting the Christ-rejecting world of non-believers to be the recipients of God’s judgment and wrath. It is only by God’s unfathomable grace that every one of us isn’t headed into that time of unprecedented horror.
No matter how—to use Lot’s King James Version word—”vexed” we becomes by the debauched, debased actions of the lost world around us, our job as Christ’s children—His representatives here on earth—is of a completely different nature than wanting to see them “get what’s coming” to them. The changed nature produced by being born again into God’s eternal family should make you and me do just the opposite of wanting them, in our vexation, to get what we see as coming to them.
The Christian whose spirit is attuned to the Holy Spirit’s desire for the lost doesn’t want to see them “get what’s coming to them” either during the Tribulation or upon death. Rather, we want to do all within our power to keep them from having to go through the coming time of God’s judgment and wrath. That’s what Christ’s Great Commission to His disciples before He ascended to sit at the Father’s right hand is all about, you see. That is what God’s love—love that those who have Christ indwelling them possess—is all about. (Read Matthew 28:18-20.)
In the same vein, that’s what Bible prophecy is all about. Prophecy given in God’s Word has purpose—profound purpose. Bible prophecy has at its center the commission from the Lord to forewarn of God’s judgment and wrath to come upon all who oppose Him—the Lord of Heaven and Creator of all things. It is not the hatred of God for the lost people of this fallen planet that drives prophecy. It is the love of God that powers His prophetic Word. It must be the Christian’s desire, therefore, to study Bible prophecy and put forth those forewarnings out of a spirit of God’s love, not through an anger-filled abhorrence of those who are lost.
Christians who do study prophecy—and they seem to be few these days, I’m sad to have to say—are often heard wondering about when Christ will call the church (born-again believers) in the rapture. Everything seems so ripe for His plucking His people from this sin-darkened sphere.
Nothing and no one can change God’s timing for His next catastrophic intervention into earth’s history. It will happen exactly on time, as He has determined since before the foundation of this world. However, we might as believers look to ourselves for the Lord’s—often in our view—delay in calling us as outlined in 1 Corinthians 15:51-55 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.
The apostle Peter gave the heart of the reason Christ hasn’t raptured His church: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9).
The purpose of Bible prophecy is to show the love of God to a lost and otherwise doomed world. God is not willing that anyone should perish (die in his or her sins), but that all should come to repentance (accept Jesus Christ as the one and only sacrifice for sin that God will accept).
The Lord is “longsuffering.” The reason, I’m convinced, that the Lord seems so “slack” to many in His coming is because those same people have neglected their duty to share the love of God with the lost—the lost whom God loves so very much that He sent His only begotten Son in order that they not perish.
It is well past the time for God’s people to begin investing in getting the message of the love of God to those who will otherwise not hear the warning of deadly things soon to befall this Christ-rejecting planet. Considering these times that so dramatically are signaling the coming Tribulation, Bible prophecy can and must be used as a productive tool for evangelism.