An Appendix To
From the Main Message Of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry,
To this author's knowledge, somewhere between 60-65% of all Christians who seriously believe in and expect the soon Second Coming of Christ (some don't), believe in Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Of the others, increasing numbers believe in a relatively new doctrine called "Post Tribulation/Pre-Wrath". This doctrine says that Christians will go through the Great Tribulation but be evacuated via the Rapture before the "Wrath". There are also many Amillennialists, who to the author's understanding don't believe there will be a future Great Tribulation, and there are people who hold to the Peterits view, which says that there will be no future Second Coming of Christ. They believe that all the prophecies of the Second Coming were fulfilled in 70 AD. People who hold to all four views are constantly engaged in wars of words with people who hold the other views. Yet to this author's perception, they, and several lesser known lines of doctrine, are all telling Christians the same basic thing: They will never have to face the wrath of God. But is this really true?
This view is based on I Thessalonians 5:9 which says
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ".
Does this verse means that no Christian will ever have to face the wrath of God? That is what people who hold all four of the views mentioned above believe. In connection with that, the "Post Tribulation/ Pre-Wrath" crowd specifically believe that the Tribulation is not the wrath. This understanding of the verse encourages Christians to live complacent worldly lives. If they do that, they won't be ready for the Second Coming. That is what makes it so treacherous. Here, and elsewhere in this site, this author says different: the Tribulation is the wrath, and Christians will be here when it happens.
In the Book of Revelation, chapter 15:1, which is the beginning of the passage about the Seven Bowls (or vials) of God's wrath, we read...
And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvelous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God.
It is obvious that the Seven Bowls are poured out during the Tribulation, and the bowls are bowls of God's wrath. The Tribulation is the wrath!
The Author's Answer
It is this author's contention that millions of Christians have read something into I Thessalonians 5:9 that Paul never intended. Furthermore, this is the only verse in the Bible that says that, although a few do seem to support their understanding of it. That is, again, the belief that Christians will never have to face God's wrath.
Incidentally, that was the problem that the Prophet Jeremiah faced prior to the fall of Jerusalem. He was warning people of Jerusalem that they were going to suffer the wrath of God, via the Babylonians, if they did not repent. However, at the time, there were false prophets in Jerusalem who were telling the people that they would experience nothing but God's blessings. That was what the people wanted to hear, so they believed the false prophets and persecuted Jeremiah. But who was right? See II Chronicles 36:15-17.
So will Christians have to face the wrath of God? Let’s put this question in Biblical perspective by comparing it to another related idea: Does God intend for everyone to be saved? Some Christians teach that He does. After all, the following verses do seem to support the idea:
First, 1 Timothy 2:3-4,
“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”
Then 2 Peter 3:9,
“The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
So there is seeming Biblical support for the idea that everyone will eventually be saved. However, in Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus says this:
"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
This one statement defeats the false idea that everyone will eventually be saved. Only a relatively few people, what the Bible elsewhere calls "the remnant" (See Romans 9:27), will be saved. In the same way, although God has not appointed us to wrath, that is not the same as saying that no Christians will ever suffer wrath. On the contrary, the New Testament, taken as a whole, suggests that many will.
Now looking back at I Thessalonians 5:9, if interpreted the way many Christians understand it, and taken to its full logical conclusion, it means that once people become Christians, they can sin any way and as much as they want, with no fear of judgment. Some Christians actually believe that. However, Hebrew 10:26-31 (an Epistle believed to have been written by Paul) says this:
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.
Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.
How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?
For we know him who said, "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," and again, "The Lord will judge his people."
It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
As this applies to the Great Tribulation, consider the words of Jesus in Luke 12:42-48. (Understand that the context of this passage is about the Second Coming.)
"Who then is the faithful and wise manager, whom the master puts in charge of his servants to give them their food allowance at the proper time?
It will be good for that servant whom the master finds doing so when he returns.
I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.
But suppose the servant says to himself, 'My master is taking a long time in coming,' and he then begins to beat the menservants and maidservants and to eat and drink and get drunk.
The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers.
"That servant who knows his master's will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows.
But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”
In short, although Christians are not appointed to wrath, Christians who sin willfully and/or neglect to live the Christian lives they should will suffer wrath. We understand that it is not God's perfect will for Christians to suffer wrath and in fact it can be said that it is not His will for anyone to suffer wrath. That is what I Timothy 2:3-4 and II Peter 3:9 are really about. Nevertheless, in practice, many people will suffer wrath, many Christians included. Furthermore, although we are saved by grace and not of works, there is nevertheless a standard of performance that we are required to measure up to. If we do not, we will suffer for it. Paul made this clear in I Corinthians 3:12-15
“If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.
If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.
If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.” (emphasis mine-author)
However, as Paul implies, we will do the suffering in this life, so we will not have to do it in the next life. Peter also referred to this truth in I Peter 4:17-19.
“For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (emphasis mine-author)
And, "If it is hard for the righteous to be saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?"
So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good.”
This is what that Scripture makes clear, if you consider the totality of what the Word says about this issue. Most Christians don’t. On the contrary, there are many people who call themselves Christians who actually practice the extreme error mentioned above; that is, they go on sinning willfully after "getting saved". However, most of them are part of the “once saved, always saved” crowd, which is another dangerous error. Most Christians do live cleaner lives after they get saved, but is that enough? No! We have to live the lives we are called to live to be ready.
When the Tribulation begins, Christians who have been so confident that they would never suffer wrath are going to get a terrible surprise, because most of them will not have been living as the Lord requires.
That’s what the Scripture shows.
It is this author's prayer that you and many other Christians will listen.
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