Q & A With Sister Swaggart - X
Will Christians go through any part of the great tribulation?
The answer is no. Christians will not go through the great tribulation because they won’t be here. We believe the rapture of the church will take place before the great tribulation begins.
Let’s walk through this, beginning with the rapture of the church. And, when we speak of the rapture, we are talking about the event detailed in I Thessalonians 4:16-17: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
These two verses summarize the rapture of the church, also known as the resurrection, the catching away, the blessed hope—when every believer who has ever lived will be instantly changed and given glorified bodies.
Just think of that moment when generations and generations of saints actually meet the Lord in the air—from righteous Abel to every person found in Christ the minute the trump sounds. This great gathering of the redeemed will actually form “clouds” of saints—praise God!
The rapture of the church is the next great event on the horizon of time. We believe it could happen at any moment, and this is where we find some disagreement in the body of Christ.
The argument rages on as to whether or not the church will go through the great tribulation, but there is absolutely nothing in Scripture that indicates the church will either enter the great tribulation or pass through it. In Matthew 24, Israel is given many signs that will warn her of the near approach of that period, but the Gospels and the epistles are devoid of any signs to the church concerning this question.
On the timeline of biblical prophecy, there is no other place for the rapture; it has to be before the great tribulation as the following Scriptures show:
And consider this: while the church is mentioned seventeen times in the first three chapters of the book of Revelation, it is never mentioned thereafter as being on the earth. That’s because the church, at that point, will be in heaven.
- “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things [the tribulation] that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21:36).
- “For God hath not appointed us to wrath [the tribulation], but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Thess. 5:9).
- “The mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he [the church] who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed …” (II Thess. 2:7-8).
- “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter [after the rapture of the church]” (Rev. 4:1).
Even so, we have people call in or email to say, “If I miss the rapture, I’ll just get saved during the tribulation,” as if the rapture is some sort of dress rehearsal before the main event. Can a person get saved during the tribulation? Yes, it will be possible. My husband has said many times that there will be a lot of repentance taking place the moment after the rapture. And Donnie added that the most-read book during the great tribulation will probably be the Bible, since millions of them will be left in this world.
But it will be far more difficult to be saved during the tribulation because the body of Christ—those whom the Lord referred to as His witnesses, as salt, and as light of the world—will be gone. During the tribulation, the whole atmosphere will darken and become far more negative than it is now. It’s going to be a terrible time. So I would ask those who plan on getting saved during the tribulation period, if you can’t live for the Lord now, how will you live for the Lord then?
In Matthew 24:21 Jesus said, “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
The great tribulation will be a time when divine wrath is to be visited on the earth, particularly upon Israel, but the promise to the church is that it has been delivered from the wrath to come.
Romans 5:9 says, “Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.”
If the church is destined to suffer, surely the Bible would have mentioned it. Some claim that the church has to go through the great tribulation to be purified, but that places the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ in a negative position. The Bible plainly teaches that the blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, cleanses from all sin (I John 1:7). If it takes the great tribulation to purify the church, then what about the church throughout past generations? No. The truth is, purification comes about as one evidences faith in Christ and what Christ did for us at the cross.
Again, the rapture of the church will take place before the great tribulation begins. And while the earth suffers through it, the saints of God will be in heaven, to stand before the judgment seat of Christ and then attend the marriage supper of the Lamb.
The purpose of the judgment seat of Christ will be to judge the works of every believer. The judgment of the believer’s sins is already past, for Jesus bore our sins in His body on the cross at Calvary. Our sins never will be brought to our account again, for they have been forgiven and forgotten. However, a careful ledger has been kept of every work the believer has performed since he has become a Christian. Believers will be judged on: the basis of their doctrinal beliefs, true or false; conduct toward others, kind or unkind; stewardship, faithful or unfaithful; words, good or bad; talents, used or wasted; attitudes, Christlike or selfish; motives, right or wrong; traits, spiritual or carnal; and deeds, worthy or worthless.
The deeds performed in a worthy manner will be rewarded, but those deeds Christ judges unworthy will be burned and will cause the believer lost rewards.
Following the judgment seat of Christ will be the marriage supper of the Lamb attended by all the redeemed from every dispensation who will live in the New Jerusalem, which is the bride of Christ.
John the Revelator wrote: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb” (Rev. 19:7-9).
I am so looking forward to the rapture and seeing the Lord Jesus Christ face-to-face. What a day of rejoicing that will be!