Bruce, in reference to your post on 12-9:
Commenting about Revelation 7:14, you wrote:
This Scripture states that BECAUSE "they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" "These are they who" are NOT IN "the great tribulation". The phrase, "have come out of" could mean: 'raptured out of' or 'raptured before' or 'raptured at the time of' "the great tribulation".
There are some scriptures that are unclear because what they do not say and so we can hypothesize and ponder - but this one is not one of them. If we look at what it is actually saying in the Greek we will see that it is solid in its meaning.
For our reference, here is the Greek for this verse with the word for word English directly underneath it:
and I-said to-him Lord my you know and he-said to-me These are those coming out-of the Tribulation…
the great and wash the robes of-theirs and whiten them in the blood the lamb
The first word in question here is Ek which means "from" or "from out of". See http://strongsnumbers.com/greek/1537.htm
This single Greek word, translated here as "out of", by itself does not preclude that these people were raptured - but in no way is there any meaning there that could infer "before" or "at the time of". This is the same word used in these verses:
And to wait for his Son from [Ek] heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from [Ek] the wrath to come. - 1 Thessalonians 1:10
Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from [Ek] the hour of temptation [Peirasmos, singular = proving trial], which shall come on all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth. - Revelation 3:10
So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out-of [Ek] my mouth. - Revelation 3:16
I will now show you something that proves absolutely that these people were NOT raptured.
The REAL key to this verse is actually the word before Ek, which is Erchomenoi. This is a form of the base word, Erchomai which means "come".
Erchomenoi shows up only four times in the N.T. and the word form is Present Middle Participle, Nominative Plural Masculine. What that all means is that it SHOULD ALWAYS be translated using the word "coming", as in present tense and still happening. I also researched the other three instances to be sure.
Not all translators keep words in the correct form. Our beloved King James changed it to past tense - "came". Many others including a favorite of mine, the NAS, rendered it as "come". Only the ESV, ISV, God's Word Translation, Holman, and Young's Literal Translation were faithful to keep the word form correct as "coming".
Here is a better translation of Revelation 7:14 combining New American and Holman:
I said to him, "My lord, you know." And he said to me, "These are the ones coming out of the great Tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
SO, Paul is witnessing these people there and still arriving! So unless one thinks that the rapture will be an on going process instead of a once in a moment event then these folks are coming out of the tribulation by death. How did they die? Consider verses 16 and 17:
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the middle of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them to living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. - Revelation 7:16-17
Also consider that Paul was witnessing this after the six seals had been opened in chapters 6 and 7 which include the four horses where "power was given to them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth."