This is a comment on one of your questions concerning people who have heard the gospel and rejected salvation before the rapture occurs. You state that they will have a second chance. First, I believe like you said that many will be saved during the tribulation. But I believe that only those who have not heard the gospel and not already rejected Jesus Christ can be saved. Those who have had the chance to respond to Christ's gift salvation will not have a second chance because Satan will blind them and their pride will keep them from believing. If they did know what was happening, then they would face martyrdom just to save their necks from being cast into hell and not truly be saved. That is why I had a problem with the “Left Behind” movie with Curt Cameron. The book gave the impression there was a second chance, and there is no sense of urgency to accept Christ now. Also what would be the sense of having a rapture at all? Why not wait until the final judgment? Some denominations believe that. They don't believe in the rapture at all.
Our God is a God of mercy, grace, love, and compassion. The study “Prophecy of the Future” provides an overview of the future. It indicates that the rapture is the next major event in God’s prophetic future. At that time every true believer in Jesus Christ will be removed from the earth so that we can escape the horrible events that will occur during the tribulation. We would encourage you to read a study about the rapture called, “The Church Is Missing.” One motivation for people to believe in Jesus Christ now is that they will not have to go through the horrors of the tribulation and suffer martyrdom if they become Christians. In Matthew 24:15-31, Jesus tells us that people will flee in order to escape the horrors, misery, pain, and suffering of the tribulation. The world will make the Jews suffer, and God will cause the rest of the world to suffer. Revelation 6 through 19 describes the suffering that will occur. That is one motivation to make peace with God now.
Holy Spirit “Taken Out of the Way”
Now we will examine their opportunity to accept Jesus Christ later. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10 describes how the Anti-Christ is revealed.
And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way. Then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10 (NASB)
We believe that the one who restrains is the Holy Spirit. After the Holy Spirit allows the antichrist the freedom to act as he desires, then he will be able to do as he pleases. But the major question is, “In what sense is the Holy Spirit taken out of the way?” The answer becomes clearer when we realize that people will be saved during the tribulation. In the following passage, we discover that people will become Christians during the Tribulation. Please read the study called “The Wake Up Call” and “Love In The Darkness!” for an explanation of these passages.
When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also. (NASB) Revelation 6:9-11
Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “My lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. For this reason, they are before the throne of God; and they serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will spread His tabernacle over them.” Revelation 7:13-15 (NASB)
We also discover later in Revelation that many will die during the tribulation because they believed in Jesus Christ. The study “The King Reigns!” explains this passage.
Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. Revelation 20:4 (NASB)
Many will be saved during the tribulation. God will send 144,000 witnesses (Revelation 7:1-8) and angels (Revelation 14:6-20) to tell others about Jesus Christ. Men and women will have an opportunity to accept Jesus Christ during the tribulation and many will respond. So what does 2 Thessalonians 2:7 mean that He will be “taken out of the way”? The verse means that the Holy Spirit will no longer restrain the antichrist and He may no longer indwell the saints here on earth. If He no longer indwells believers, His ministry will be like that in the Old Testament. Men and women came to know the Lord in the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit empowered men for ministry. He came upon men such as a Samson so that he performed great acts. We would encourage you to read “The Spirit’s Ministry – Tongues and Prophecy” for more details.
Second Chance Exists After the Rapture
2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 reveals that Satan will be allowed to delude the world into believing a lie, but we will discover soon that many will still become believers afterward.
For this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness. 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NASB)
Jesus tells us that many will be deluded but not all (Matthew 24:11). That is, the world will believe a lie, but that does not mean that those whom the Holy Spirit illuminates will not eventually understand. The emphasis of 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 is that the deception will be great. Jesus adds later in Matthew 24 these words,
For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. (NASB) Matthew 24:24
Many will be deceived, but not the elect. Many will become believers since the passage indicates that the deception will be absolute. Since salvation is ultimately of the Lord, He will not allow any of His own to be lost.
The rapture will rescue every believer from the coming tribulation. This is God’s plan. It is His display of grace, love, compassion, and mercy to His own. Most of the world will be deceived because they will believe Satan’s lie, but many will also be saved during the tribulation. God is still in the process of saving men and women who believe in Jesus Christ. Those who truly believe will repent of their sins and submit to Christ.
Suggested Links:Prophecy of the Future
The Church Is Missing
The Wake Up Call
Love In The Darkness!
The King Reigns!
The Spirit's Ministry - Tongues and Prophecy