Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Holy Spirit's Ministry during the Tribulation

In the Old Testament days, the Holy Spirit did not indwell the faithful, it came upon them. Sometimes the Spirit left them. John explains that until Pentecost, the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:39) It wasn't until Acts that the Spirit began to indwell believers. (Acts 1:4,8; Acts 2:1-13)

In the Old Testament, the full mystery of the Trinity was not revealed. Some clues show us that occasionally the OT Saints knew of a coming Redeemer, and that they knew of the Spirit, but not that there was Father-Son-Holy Spirit working together and as One God.

That was the past. In the future, the Tribulation Saints will not receive the Spirit as an indwelling deposit of guaranteed eternal security, either. The Spirit will return to the OT ministry of drawing the people to God and encouraging them from the outside of the body. 2 Thessalonians 2 overall has a good NT interpretation of the Spirit's work during the Tribulation. In sum, the ministry of the indwelling Holy Spirit is a gift to the Church Age saints and to us alone.

Why do the Church Age Saints receive this gift, but not Old Testament Saints nor Tribulation Saints? Jack Kelley thinks it is because there was plenty of evidence of God's work in the world during Old Testament times and there will be again in Tribulation times, but the Church Saints are told to believe by faith. (John 20:29). It is a hard go to believe during the church age, because although God has made Himself evident in the world so that none would be without excuse, (Romans 1:19-20) satan is god of this world (2 Cor 4:4) and does his deceiving work constantly, blinding the minds of all those who do not have the spirit of the Lord within them.

In the Tribulation, just as it was in the OT, the saints will be responsible keeping their faith alive without indwelling support of the Holy Spirit. There are many verses which urge the Tribulation saints to overcome, to persevere. Revelation 12:14 is one, "Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." Jesus said that of the last days, "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." Matthew 10:22 and also Matthew 24:13 and Revelation 2:26-28 urge perseverance. A vivid illustration of lack of perseverance is from Mark 4:17: "And have no root in themselves, and so endure but for a time: afterward, when affliction or persecution ariseth for the word's sake, immediately they are offended."

There is precedent for God's removal of the Spirit prior to a worldwide judgment. In Genesis 6:3 He says, "My Spirit will not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." The Great Tribulation will not start until He is taken out of the way (but not entirely removed), as 2 Thessalonians 2:7 states. Genesis 19:22 also shows us a picture of the Tribulation as Lot is standing at the  edge of the city and dallying and the angel tells him he cannot start the judgment "until you are safely out of the way." The Spirit will not be indwelling believers during the Tribulation! Imagine your own faith during this time of the Church Age and how hard it is already to resist sin, to grow, and to maintain devotion to the Lord through trials. Now imagine how hard it will be for Tribulation Saints, and then worse, their eternal security is NOT assured! Knowing this, every Christian should be on their knees, every night, praying for the lost, and every day, rustling the hedges for unbelievers to share the Gospel with!

During the Tribulation it will be extraordinarily hard for people to come to faith. Even though they know Who is bringing the plagues and judgments on them, as Revelation 6:21 shows us: "And huge hailstones, about one hundred pounds each, came down from heaven upon men; and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail, because its plague was extremely severe," they still refuse to repent. They simply refuse:

"And the rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts." (Revelation 9:20,21)

The Church Age is full of grace and mercy, and that is thanks to the gift of the indwelling Holy Spirit. If you are praying for someone to come to repentance of their sins and to faith in the Resurrected Jesus, pray that they do so now. Don't say "well, at least during the Tribulation they will SEE God's hand at work and come to believe, even though it will be terrible." The Spirit will not be there to help them as an indwelling ministry, hearts will be hardening daily, and even if they do come to faith, they are at risk of losing it, like Saul did. If you are one who is on the fence and figuring that the rapture will be the sign and you'll repent then and afterward, the same is true for you. "Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (2 Corinthians 6:2).


  1. Preach it, sister! Excellent message.

  2. Greetings Elizabeth,

    Great post, but please help me out with the John 10:28-29 and the impossibility of losing salvation - is this not applicable in the Trib?


  3. I interpret the Parable of the 10 Virgins (which is a Tribulation moment not a Church Age parable) where five of the virgins used to have oil (the Holy Spirit) but ran out and were barred from the Kingdom. Also Rev. 16:15 which warns tribulation believers to stay awake and keep their clothing (righteousness) with them.

    Also, the Trib is a return to the Old Testament age to finish the last 7 years for the Jews. In OT times they didn't have Eternal Security and had to be obedient to the commandments as evidence of their faith. Remember, the last 7 years is a resumption of what was stopped prior to the prophecy's fulfillment and that means a total reversion to the Old Testament ways: including salvation gained and lost.

    So, no, it is my interpretation based on the above scriptures and the ones int he post that the Tribulation Saints can lose their salvation, and that OSAS is a blessing only for the church. I know others do not think this, but to me, the bible explains that the Trib is totally about the Jews' last 7 years and that means in ways of faith, too, not only punishment

    For a longer treatment of the subject, I refer you to Jack Kelley's scripture by scripture explanation...beginning with the verse you cited.

    Let me know what you think.

  4. Elizabeth, thank you for your response and referral to Jack Kelly's article. I completely agree. In keeping with the Bride/Bridegroom/Wedding scenario would you agree that the Church Age is analogous to the actual Wedding Ceremony where we are permanently joined to the Lord and at the Rapture we head to the Wedding feast, which follows the Ceremony?

    Thanks, AMH

  5. I haven't studied the post-rapture events as closely so your interpretation may vary. I believe that the rapture happens, then the Bema Judgment, where the church members are evaluated individually for their faithfulness on earth, and crowns are given.(2 Corinthians 5:10/ 2 Tim 4:8/ James 1:12)

    Rev 19:8 shows the bride being given her white linens, Revelation 19:9 speaks of the marriage supper of the Lamb and then in Rev 21-9 you notice we have changed from Bride of the Lamb to "Wife of the Lamb." I believe the Bema seat precedes that, and then we eat!

    Thomas Ice believes: "the 'many' who are bidden to attend the marriage feast on earth are all the Old Testament saints and the Tribulation saints resurrected after the Second Coming" and that the supper takes place on earth during the Millennium reign. He uses these scriptures for his basis: Matthew 8:11/ Luke 13:28-29/ Luke 22:16-18, 29-30/

    As I said, I haven't studied it closely because I focus all my attention on the pre-rapture events. What's your opinion of the chronology ?

  6. Hello again, I agree with the chronology of: rapture, Bema, feast. Since the feast is always after the ceremony I have come to think that the actual "marriage" is taking place right now as each believer is irreversibly joined to Christ and sealed with the Holy Spirit. It does seem to fit also with the OT saints and Trib saints being the "many" invited to the feast. I do now more clearly see the OT ways revisited in Daniels 70th week. Thank you for your posts and discussion.


  7. How is it possible to be saved and inwardly born again as many upon many will do during the Tribulation but do so without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit? Is it possible to be born again without the indwelling Spirit? Can a scriptual case be made that this is possible?

    1. Hi, Anonymous,

      Thanks for your thoughtful question. Yes, a case can be made from the bible that it is possible to be saved without the Spirit indwelling us.

      Saints from whatever age have always been saved in the same way, faith in the Messiah. In OT times, they had faith in the promise of a future Messiah. Today, we have faith in the the Messiah we look back to His work on the cross

      The Tribulation is simply a resumption of the Old Testament times. The Times of the Israelites was paused so Jesus could come, deliver the Good News, and extend its message to the Gentiles. Paul explains this in Romans 11:25.

      During the Tribulation the Spirit will not indwell but He will still draw, just like He did before 33AD.

      The gift of indwelling Spirit of grace is a unique gift to the Church.

    2. Thank you for your reply. If the Tribulation is a resumption of Old Testament times then why are those in the tribulation described as those who "have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rev 7:14). Being washed by the blood of the Lamb hardly seems like an Old Testament economy. In Rev 12:11 it states, "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even unto death." Again, the blood of the Lamb plays a prominent role in the overcoming victory of these tribulation believers. As previously stated, it hardly seems they will be saved under a Old Testament way of doing things. So it is a hard thing to embrace that having been washed by and overcoming by the blood of the Lamb because of their faith that they have no Spirit indwelling them. Why will tribulation saints have to go back to days like the Old Testament when we're already almost 2,000 years beyond those days and the blood of Christ has actually been shed in time and space? Since Christ shed His blood hasn't faith in Him always carried with it the promise of the indwelling Spirit?

      Thank you for allowing my questions and blessings to you.

    3. Thanks for your questions. I can only answer quickly now because I have to leave for work, but I'll answer with more scriptures later.

      They mention the Lamb because even though it's Old Testament times, we haven't gone back in time. They are still looking backward to the cross and the Lamb's work that is the propitiation.

      Why does the OT times resume? I mentioned the decree. I'll answer more on that later. In short, God decreed a certain amount of time (years) on earth in which He planned to work through His people Israel. Then Messiah comes. No one expected that the decree years would be paused and 2000+ years for the Messiah to build His church, though, in a two-stage plan with a hidden middle. He paused it 7 years short, and there are still 7 years left to go in the decree. After the Church age ends, those last 7 years will resume, to finish His work with the Jews. All Israel isn't saved, are they? The will be by the end of the 7 years. There are scriptures which speak to this.

    4. Ezekiel 36:27 and other passages show that Millennial believers will have the Holy Spirit dwell within them. Up until the pre-trib rapture all believers will have the Holy Spirit dwell within them. Yet it is taught that for a brief three and a half year period at the end of the age that those who come to Christ during the tribulation will not have the Spirit dwell within them when they believe. Out of all of church history before and after the tribulation believers will have the Spirit within but during the tribulation they won't. Sincerely speaking this seems confusing. How can one be made alive in Christ (Ephe 2:5) without the indwelling Spirit? Can one be born again without the Spirit within? How does the pre-trib view reconcile these things?

    5. Ezekiel 36:27 and other passages let us know Millennial believers will have the Spirit dwelling within them. It is taught that all believers up until a pre-trib rapture will have the Spirit dwell within them. Yet it is also taught that for a brief seven year period at the end of the age the Holy Spirit will not indwell believers. All believers beginning at Pentecost have the Spirit within and after Christ returns believers will have the Spirit within. Yet those who come to Christ during the tribulation wil not have the Spirit within. Sincerely speaking, this seems confusing. If tribulation believers are to be saved and made alive in Christ (Ephe 2:5, Rev 7:14)) how can being made alive in Christ be accomplished without the Spirit within? How can these things be reonciled?

    6. It's not taught that the Spirit is indwelling all through history. Old Testament saints did not have the spirit in them, except for rare exceptions (i.e John the Baptist). The Spirit came upon for certain periods to accomplish certain tasks, but then withdrew.

      The Ezekiel verse you shared (thanks for using scripture!) refers to the day at the end of the age. The two verses prior (context, context context!) indicate that it's an end of days verse because it has not happened yet. "I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "

      There's more here about the OT saints having only selective and temporary Spirit indwelling

  8. Ezekiel 36:27 that I used is in the context of the nation having returned to the land (see Ezek 36:24, 28). Again, why return to an OT economy of salvation once Christ came and the Spirit began to be poured out? The 483rd year of Daniel's 70 weeks is when the Messiah was cut off. Yet we now know that this Messiah, Jesus, was raised and ascended to the right hand of the Father and began to pour out the Spirit - "Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear" (Acts 2:33). So we see the Spirit indwelling believers during the Millennium and we see all believers since Pentecost (483rd year) receiving the Spirit within. Yet after the gap when Daniel's 70th week begins the Holy Spirit will not dwell within believers? That is where my real questions lie. Why is there supposed to be a brief 7 year period at the end of the age coinciding with Daniel's 70th week when the Spirit will not dwell within? If ChrIst has came and shed His blood and was rasied and ascended to the Father and pours out the Holy Spirit then why is there a need to go back to a OT economy at the end of the age when the Spirit is not given to indwell? God's whole purpose was to get us to this point so why revert for a brief 7 year period?

    Thank you and blessings to you this day.

    1. Why the pause and then resumption of the time for the last 7 years?

      OK, in Daniel 9, God sent Gabriel to speak with Daniel in chapter 9 and in the vision God decreed 490 years for the Israelites. There were three divisions of this 490, seven sevens, sixty-two sevens, and one seven. 7 sevens was rebuilding the temple at Jerusalem. The 62 sevens was the times of the Israelites. Then a pause, the First Coming & building the church, known in Romans 11:25 as the times of the Gentiles, then when the church is complete, the last 7.

      God's 'entire point' was not to get us to this point. He has two plans, one for His people the Israelites and one for His people the Gentiles, as well as the wrath that must be rendered unto the pagan world. Daniel 9:24 outlines 6 things God will accomplish with the Israelites throughout the entire 490 years.

      By that list you can see that they all have not been accomplished yet. The last 3 will occur at the end during the last 7 and the Millennium. So to answer your question why revert for a brief 7 year period?

      --because God finishes what He starts
      --because He ordained it this way