Second Chances??: A reply
I would like to take a moment to reply to some assertions recently made concerning the possibility of salvation for those left behind after the rapture of the church. First of all, let me say that the article in question is well written, and this response should in no way be construed as an attack upon the author, a fellow brother in Christ. Consider it rather an exchange of ideas in our mutual and ongoing search for the truth. As has been stated before, "we can disagree without being disagreeable." :-)
To begin: You state that you will be quoting from two well-known scholars in your paper, Dr. Walvoord and Dr. Zuck. While a professorial degree certainly lends weight to an individual's statements, it is not a guarantee that what they believe is necessarily true. Consider how many other scholars through the years have disputed over any number of doctrinal and prophetic issues. All have degrees, many equally impressive, and yet there is still debate. There can only be one truth. Who has it among this elite groups of scholars? Only time will tell.
Next, I would like to requote a passage that you used from 2Thessalonians, with a slightly different emphasis:
2 Thessalonians 2
7.For the mystery of iniquity doth already work:
only he who now letteth, will let, until he be taken out of the way.
8.And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming.
9.Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan, with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10.And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved.
11.And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
12.That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.
Your statement: These verses clearly tell me that if anyone has heard the gospel and rejected it they will not be given a second chance after the rapture.
What they say to me is that those who are destined for eternal damnation (them that perish) will believe the lie. (God knows the end from the beginning.) Not necessarily all who may have heard the gospel, yet not accepted Christ until too late. We also must consider what is meant by taking "pleasure in unrighteousness." There are many people who try to live good, upright lives, that do not necessarily accept Christ as the only way to heaven. Granted, all of their good works apart from Christ are as filthy rags concerning their salvation, but they do not take pleasure in unrighteousness (as they understand the concept).
Next we go to the issue of faith after the rapture. The contention is that since the world saw the rapture, there will be no need for faith since the Bible will have been proven true. And yet, we have just discussed that a strong delusion will be sent upon them that remain, and an "explanation" for the rapture, will, by necessity, have to be a part of the lie. It will still take faith to believe that the rapture was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy, rather than whatever explanation the antichrist may come up with. And there will also have to be faith that Christ will be returning again, especially under the hideous (and usually fatal) persecution of the antichrist and his system.
Dr. Walvoord's and Dr. Zuck's comment on Paul's statements is ironic considering the fact that Paul (as Saul) rejected the gospel message himself before becoming a follower of Christ. I think it is a reasonable assumption to believe that Saul heard the gospel message many times from those whom he was arresting and persecuting, and yet he continually and consistently rejected it until that fateful day on the road to Damascus. Where is the faith involved after having Christ appear to you and strike you blind for three days?? What is the difference in Paul's faith and those who will be left behind after the rapture? Saul/Paul finally saw that all he had heard from those condemned prisoners was true, and suddenly desired to know more. So, also, will those who may have heard the gospel, see the rapture and realize that the message was true. I would consider Paul to be the epitome of the "second chance."
Dr. Walvoord and Dr. Zuck state,"Paulís primary concern here is of course unbelievers who will be living when the man of sin will be revealed." Notice that they don't say, "those who haven't heard the gospel," but "unbelievers." To disbelieve something requires a knowledge or, at the very least, an awareness of the very thing you disbelieve. If there is no second chance for these people, why would Paul show any concern for them? Their fate would already be sealed.
Which brings up another point. You use Lot and Noah as examples of other "no second chance" scenarios. And yet in each case, after the righteous were taken to safety, destruction was immediate. If the fate of those left behind is sealed, what purpose does the tribulation serve? None. It would seem to be simple cruelty to torture those left on earth before destroying them, if there is no hope for them.
I'm sure the argument will be that the tribulation is so that those who haven't heard the gospel will have a chance to accept Christ. But there have been millions of people throughout the last two thousand years that have lived and died without ever hearing the gospel message, so let me take one of your statements and rephrase it a bit.
Your statement: "If we receive the truth by faith alone, does it make any sense at all that God would make an exception for the after-rapture people?"
My revision: Millions have died without hearing the gospel message, does it make any sense at all that God would make an exception for the after-rapture people?
Also, considering the significance of Israel and her history, it would probably be a safe assumption that the majority of Israelis are familiar with the gospel message of Christianity and our belief that Jesus Christ is the Messiah. Again, this message has been rejected by the majority of the population of this country. And yet, in Romans 11:25-26 we read, "...that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob." So, after rejecting the gospel due to "blindness," all Israel shall receive a second chance and be saved. Why would Israel receive a second chance and not the rest of the world, since God is no respecter of persons?
Additionally, if, after the rapture, the antichrist convinces those who have heard the gospel message that the rapture was not what they think it was, and the only other people present are those that have never heard the gospel, who will there be to take the gospel message to them? Not the ones who rejected the gospel (which would seem to include the remaining population of Israel), because they will apparently still believe that it is a fairy tale. Who then will spread the gospel message to those who have never heard it? Who would become the tribulation saints and martyrs? The only examples I can find in the Bible where there is no chance for redemption or reprieve involve sudden and total destruction (Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah), not a period of judgement first then destruction.
Finally, to any others who may read this let me say two things. Don't believe everything you read, no matter who writes it, not even me. Never blindly accept what anyone tells you without verifying it with scripture and study. You may reach the wrong conclusion and have to change it later when new information is given to you (as I've done before), but that's better than accepting what someone else tells you is the truth without question.
Second, just because there may still be a chance for salvation after the rapture, this does not mean that our friends and loved ones can put the decision off. The Bible tells us that we are not promised tomorrow. Only God knows what tomorrow will bring, or whether we (or our loved ones) will see another sunrise or not. Even one hour of delay (sometimes less) can mean the difference between eternal peace or eternal damnation. Therefore we must maintain our sense of urgency in taking the gospel to others. The hour is late.
I want to restate that this paper is absolutely not an attack on Andy. I respect his beliefs and opinions as a fellow brother in Christ. Whether we agree on everything is not as important as agreeing on the important things.
In His service and in His love,
Dave Walker (Dave2)