In response to http://www.fivedoves.com/letters/apr2011/brucew421-1.htm (brother Bruce Warner’s post)
I’d like to comment on the statement that "according to Scripture, there will be 'no gentile' Tribulation Saints..."
Scriptures do say that those who perish (those who have rejected the Truth) will believe the lie. But we must take into consideration that for one to reject the Truth one must have previously heard the Truth (the Gospel).
In my understanding, the statement that ‘there will be no gentiles among the Tribulation Saints’ is based upon the fact that all gentiles after the Rapture are those who had rejected the Gospel, which we know doesn’t correspond to reality. So it’s important that exceptions are made.
I think that there are two groups of gentiles who don’t fall into the above category, even after the Rapture:
1. Gentiles who have never heard the gospel yet, or have not understood it properly. They can’t be judged for having rejected the Truth, because they lived in places or in cultures that didn’t allow them to hear the Gospel and understand its message. So these gentiles must be considered an exception and the group of Tribulation Saints will probably include gentiles that had never heard the Gospel at the time of the Rapture.
2. Gentiles who received the Truth and did believe (they are saved!!!), but were living in a state of continuous unrepentance, deliberate pleasure in sin at the time of the Rapture, and were not ‘considered worthy to escape the things that will come to pass’ as mentioned by Jesus Himself in Luke 21:36.
Technically, item # 1 is sufficient to refute the statement “according to Scripture, there will be 'no gentile' Tribulation Saints...”.
But let me take the opportunity and comment on item # 2.
I am not, by any means, defending any kind of “faith + works” salvation, which would be pure heresy, but the single idea that being worthy to be taken in the Rapture (Enoch did because he “walked with God”, so we’re talking about walk here) isn’t the same thing as being saved. If being raptured is the same thing as being saved, then were the billions of Christians who have already passed away not saved? (after all, they weren’t participants of the Rapture). Of course this idea is absurd. Salvation is not the same thing as the Rapture. One might be saved and not be raptured, one might be saved and be raptured. I believe that the Rapture is a deliverance for those saved ones who walk with God, who repent from their sins, who confess their sins, who try to be in Light and not to walk in deliberate and continuous sin. Why confuse these two concepts? Salvation is by faith only, the Rapture is a special deliverance from for those who are ready.
At the time of the Rapture, only those who are purified from their sin and walk with God will be raptured (not “saved”, as all true believers are already saved and will eventually go to Heaven). If we believe with all our heart that Jesus is the Son of God, that He came in flesh and that He rose from the dead, our faith is sufficient for our salvation. But among those who are saved and will go to Heaven, there are thousands and thousands of people who chose not to walk with God, who consciously commit sins that they know are sins, and don’t repent from them (but are believers!!!). After the day we become saved, we all commit sins once in a while (because we are still in this mortal body), but we must repent and walk in the Light with God again. The Apostle John (1 John 1:5-9) explains it beautifully:
Walking in the Light (New International Version UK – from Bible Gateway)
5 This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.
6 If we claim to have fellowship with him yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live by the truth.
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.
8 If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
So we must acknowledge our sins and confess them with humbleness and sincerity and walk in the light, leaving sin behind after having been purified by the perfect and wonderful blood of Jesus. This is a process we must do continually. Being purified isn’t our works either, but confessing, repenting and letting the blood of Christ clean us again.
In my opinion, the concept of ‘watching’ means nothing more than that. Watching isn’t being preoccupied with the possible dates that Jesus might rapture us (which I’m not criticizing at all! – as I myself like to watch the times and seasons and regularly read the posts at this forum), or trying not to be physically sleeping with fear of missing the rapture at the proper time, but above all, watching is taking care of our spiritual state, repenting from what isn’t right, being spiritually ready for the day of the Rapture, and confessing and turning away from deliberate sin. This should be the true watching! I pray we all do that!
As for those who say that Jesus wouldn’t rapture only a part of His body and leave a finger or an arm on Earth, allow me to remind that the Body is already in different places at this time: Jesus (the Head) is in Heaven, a great part of His body is already in Heaven (those true believers who passed away and already went to be with Him) and we are here on Earth. It’s like all the Body is in Heaven but His feet are still here. The Body of Christ will be entirely united only after the last saved person is taken to Heaven after the Rapture (through death or through another Rapture just before the Wrath of God is poured on Earth - but it’s not my intention to discuss this second Rapture possibility in this text). So this idea of the leaving of a ‘finger’ here being strange isn’t a problem at all, as the Body of Christ is already in different places since the day Jesus ascended to Heaven and many believers remained on Earth and many believers hadn’t even been born yet.
Well, with that being said, I do think that there will be many gentiles as Tribulation Saints, even because the Word of God plainly says that they come from many nations. I agree that all who have rejected the Truth and are destined to perish (that chose not to believe) will be deceived after the Rapture. I just wanted to present two possible exceptions that in my opinion are defensible, as our Father is merciful and just and wonderful. Praise be to Him!
Happy Resurrection Day!