It seems the Old Testament and tribulation saints are responsible for keeping their faith, but that is not true for the church-age saints. Is it possible the church saints are unique compared to Old Testament and tribulation saints?
There is great interest among Christians about what will happen to believers during the tribulation. Some Christians believe they might live in the tribulation at some point in the future. They do not believe in the rapture. Some do not believe the rapture will occur before the tribulation so they might live during the tribulation. Others are concerned for loved ones who may become a Christian during the tribulation, or they are just interested in what may happen. Whatever their concern, the book of Revelation clearly teaches there will be Christians in the tribulation. What follows answers the question, “Can tribulation saints lose their salvation?”
Saints In The Tribulation
1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:3 teaches that the rapture, the removal of the church, will occur before the Day of the Lord. When the church is removed, the Holy Spirit will no longer be indwelling people on the earth (2 Thessalonians 2:3-6). Since the Day of the Lord begins with the tribulation, that means the Holy Spirit will not be indwelling believers or the saints during the tribulation.
Even though the Holy Spirit will not be indwelling saints in the tribulation as He did during the church age (from Christ’s death up to the rapture), people will become believers just as they did before Christ, that is, in the Old Testament period. It is clear that Old Testament saints like Enoch (Hebrews 11:5-6), Elijah (1 Kings 2:11), and the people in the city of Nineveh (Jonah 3) were saved. Therefore, people can be and will be saved during the tribulation. They will be saved just as the Old Testament saints were. The book of Revelation reveals that people will be saved during the tribulation, even though the Holy Spirit will not be indwelling believers.
Tribulation Saints Lose Their Salvation?
Now, can tribulation saints lose their salvation? The starting point to answering the question is that God will not allow a Christian to lose their salvation. There are two reasons why this is true.
First, God has chosen those who will be saved. God says that He has chosen men and women to be saved from the foundation of the world (John 6:37, 44, 65; Acts 13:48; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Thessalonians 2:13). That is, He decided who would be saved before the world was created. This is true of people who lived before Christ and of those after Christ’s death and resurrection. It is true before the church age, during the church age, and after the church age. It was true before the tribulation and after the tribulation. God has determined who will be saved. Yet every man and woman must believe in Christ in order to be saved (Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9; 1 John 3:23). God has chosen men and women to be saved, and men and women must believe in Christ in order to be saved. John 1:12-13 clearly teaches that people must believe in Christ. Yet in verse 13 we are told salvation is by the will of God.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. John 1:12-13 (NASB)
Revelation 13:8-10 and Revelation 17:8 teach that even the tribulation saints were chosen by God before the foundation of the world.
All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints. Revelation 13:8-10 (NASB)
The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come. Revelation 17:8 (NASB)
In these two verses it is clear that the saints are those whose names are written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world. God has already determined and, as a result, knows who will believe in Christ.That is, salvation is of the Lord.
The second reason tribulation saints will not lose their salvation is that they cannot lose their salvation. Romans 8:31-39 reminds us that once we are saved, no one and nothing can separate a saint (or Christian) from Christ. In John 10:27-29, Jesus promised that no one can lose their salvation. Salvation is truly a gift from God. God calls and effectually draws people to Christ (Romans 8:29-30; 1 Peter 2 Peter 1:1). He also secures a person’s salvation (John 10:27-29; 1 Peter 1:4-8, 12).
Therefore, how could a tribulation saint lose their salvation? Our God has determined who will be saved during the tribulation too!
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Predestination and Human Responsibility