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With Antichrist possibly about to be revealed . . . the Church is still on earth.

An Open Letter
to "Tribulation Saints":

- by Rhett R Totten, M.Div. (c)1999

- - - The following is a "tongue-in-cheek" letter which is written from the incorrect perspective that a Pre-Tribulational Rapture can occur. (Actually, it can't occur, because it's not scriptural). The letter also wrongly assumes that the "Church" cannot be on earth during the Tribulation --thus, pointing out flaws in the pre-Tribulation rapture position. --- Please don't be offended by this literary device, which makes an important point.

Dearest Friends in the Tribulation,

I write this letter to be read during the several years just after the Pre-tribulation "Rapture" has happened, and so, it is written to you who now find yourselves "left behind" on earth in the "Tribulation" time, because you were not born again (did not truly believe in Christ) at the time of the rapture. - - But then you came to believe after the tribulation started, and so you are called "Tribulation Saints."

The "Rapture" was that event (you undoubtedly recall) when Christ removed all true Christians from the earth, and took them to heaven (1 Thes. 4:15-17), which this letter assumes has finally happened just before the seven-year time-period known as "the tribulation" (Mat. 24:21). As a pastor and teacher of the Bible, I feel some degree of responsibility to inform and prepare you concerning your situation, in which you will have to face the tough tribulational events now coming over the whole earth.

Your predicament is quite serious, so this is very important: Try to find a Holy Bible, which you must study and know well ---although that task will present some very thorny problems--- because if you are reading this at the beginning of the tribulation, then all of you "tribulation saints" are brand new "baby" believers in Christ. There are no older believers to help you in person, so, you'll have to survive on your own, without such a support group --there is no true "Church" on earth.

In addition, you have no Holy Spirit with you to explain the Bible to you, but I'll tell you more about that in a minute.

But these sorts of things are why I'm concerned to write to you.

First, let me answer the question: "What exactly IS the Church?" The Bible calls it the "body of Christ" (Eph. 1:22,23), which we'll define as: all people everywhere who have trusted in Christ and his death on the cross to pay for their sins, and who have been united with Christ and placed into his mystical "body" (the "Church").

Since the Church was removed from the Earth at the pretrib rapture, and is not at all on earth during the Tribulation (because of God's Wrath), you "Tribulation Saints" are not part of the Church (the "Body of Christ") --despite the fact that you have fully trusted in Christ's death for you on the cross. --- (I don't know how you were able to believe and repent without the ministry of the Holy Spirit).

--During the Church-age (before the Tribulation), the instant a person truly believed in Christ, he was "baptized in one [Holy] Spirit into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13), which placed every believer into Christ's body --the Church.

--However, since the Holy Spirit was removed from the Earth at the start of the tribulation (the end of the "Church Age"), you cannot be part of the Church (since "The Church" is present only in heaven during the Tribulation), and therefore, you cannot possibly be baptized in the Holy Spirit. --As a result, you also have no spiritual gifts, and no spirit-filling, which belong uniquely to the Church.

In addition, each Church-era believer was indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9), as Jesus said, the Spirit "lives with you and will be in you" (Jn. 14:17). -- However, in an article in Moody Monthly magazine (Oct., 1985, p.91), pre-tribulationist Kenneth G. Hanna said tribulation saints (such as you) will neither be baptized in the Holy Spirit, nor indwelt by Him. --For all believers during the Church-age, our spiritual situation (or "position") was what the apostle Paul called being "IN" Christ (Eph. 1:3), but, you tribulation saints cannot be "IN Christ," because you are not part of Christ's body. These things were unique to the Church-age, which ended with the pre-trib rapture, when the tribulation began (according to pre-trib teaching).

Thus, here are some implications for you tribulation saints: In your study of the Bible, there is only somewhat limited help for you, because the Old Testament was not addressed to you but to Israel, and the New Testament was basically for the Church. Perhaps of some help are small parts of the gospels, and a few other snippets from the New Testament, however, those portions of the Bible that are addressed to the "Church," or teach about the "Body of Christ," are basically only of academic interest to you, but are of little practical applicational benefit to your lives, for example:

Above, I mentioned Ephesians: It was written to those "IN Christ" (that is, in his body, the Church), and its main theme is what is OURS before the Tribulation (not yours during the Tribulation). ...Therefore, all the following things are not promised to you tribulation saints who are not "IN" Christ's body, the Church:
"In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Eph. 1:7); "in him we were also chosen" (1:11); we are "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit" (1:13); we are "raised up with Christ and seated in the heavenly realms" (2:6); in Christ, we gain the promises of God (2:3); we are reconciled to God (2:6); with believing Israelites, we are God's people (2:19); we are heirs together with Israel (3:6); we can approach God with confidence (3:12); we have unity of the Spirit and one body (4:3); we have evangelists, pastors and teachers (4:11); we have spiritual armour in Christ (6:8-10).
All these things were specially given to those "IN" Christ, who are the Church ...which, sadly, you are not.

That, then, was just an example of how you tribulation saints must stumble your way through the Bible, hoping you may still find a few gleanings of promises to get you through the very hard times of the tribulation. If you're a Gentile, then you are not part of the Church, and you're also not a Jew, so it is questionable what Bible-promises even apply to you. Of course, you can still pray to a merciful God, based on his gracious nature --but, alas, prayer is also based on our acceptability to God "IN Christ".

All of this is not very encouraging, I know, but I felt obligated to write to you, to leave you some explanation, so you could understand why you are so powerless against the devil and the flesh, as Paul says, "in him you ...put off the sinful nature" (Col. 2:11). Maybe you'll see why there is so little peace in your hearts and minds, which is found "in Christ Jesus" (Php. 4:7). Since you tribulation saints cannot possibly be "in Christ," (because only the Church is "in Him"), I just thought this would help you at least make some sense of it all. Even though you do not have "the blessed hope" (the pre-trib rapture), try to keep your chins up as you somehow muddle through the next few years until Christ's glorious appearing. ...See you at Armageddon.

...Sincerely, In Christ (me, not you), - Pastor R Totten

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Post Script

Again, please don't be offended by the tone above; The above letter is obviously "tongue-in-cheek". --However, I would urge and challenge Bible teachers of the pre-trib (or mid-trib) rapture persuasion to come to the aid of such "tribulation saints" (supposedly not the Church), and help them in their terribly distressing situation.

More seriously, I wonder: if pre-trib theology is true, how could such people even be saved? Please leave these poor fellows a written example of the Bible teaching and gospel message they should share during a tribulation when one could not accept or invite Christ (through the Holy Spirit) "into" one's heart, since (according to pre-trib teachers) the Holy Spirit will not indwell anybody on earth. The agency by which Christ dwells in our hearts is by the Holy Spirit.

How is it even possible for someone to be "saved" and also NOT be in Christ --since it is in Christ that we are crucified, dead, buried, raised (Rom. 6:1-10) and justified (Gal. 2:17)? Only the Church is "in" Christ.

In fact, the pre-trib scenario produces quite a tangle, such that even the pre-trib author Tim LaHaye (along with Jerry Jenkins) in his "Left Behind" books refers to tribulation believers as being "in" Christ (eg, "The Mark," p.140, and other places, where Bible-teacher, Tsion Ben-David, addresses letters to believers who are "in Christ"), which contradicts LaHaye's pre-trib viewpoint. Nobody on earth can be "in" Christ, because that makes them part of the body of Christ, which is the church.

...Surely, no one is saying that is it really God's plan to back out and renege on the scriptural offer of such a great salvation available "in" Christ, are they? Such a notion would have to be very well demonstrated and supported in scripture, but instead --happily-- it is soundly contradicted by God's Word.

If by such sheer necessity, it is admitted that saved persons must be "in Christ," then the Bible also clearly teaches that such persons must be part of the body of Christ (which is the clear teaching of Paul ---see Eph.2:16), where the body of Christ is the Church (Eph.1:22-23).

So, it is unavoidable that the Church must be present on earth during the great tribulation, ---and indeed, we do find John mentioning tribulational saints who die specifically "IN the Lord" Jesus during the great tribulation (Rev.14:13), having resisted the Antichrist and his mark. ----Thus, since the Church (those "in" Christ, his body) is clearly on earth during the tribulation, then this fact removes one of the main reasons given for why there must be a rapture before the tribulation.

Since the tribulational "wrath" of God is a big concern, remember that the tribulation saints are blood-bought believers (Rev.7:14), "in the Lord," who can no more be subject to God's wrath than any churchly saint before the tribulation. No, it is only the wrath of man and the Devil that will touch the tribulation saints . . .as is even true with saints before the tribulation.

EXHORTATION for The Last Days: - Let the Church focus on growing very close and obedient to the Lord Jesus, serving him in fulfilling the Great Commission ; honestly studying the Word ; prayerfully preparing our hearts for the tough and deceptive times the appear to soon be coming over the earth ; not hoping for a pre-trib evacuation from earth (that will not occur) ; not instilling the false hope of it into young unsuspecting believers, setting them up for a crisis of faith and a possible fall ; ...and not giving inquireres into the faith a strong reason to reject the credibility and inerrancy of the Bible, after many recognize the Antichrist is ruling on earth and the rapture did not occur beforehand.

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