Whenever I come across the ongoing debate among Christians about the timing of the Rapture, I am always amazed at a very important element that is often overlooked from those that do not support a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, and that is – God cannot judge Himself! Allow me to explain.
After Jesus ascended back up to heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father to wait until the time of earth’s judgment, He sent His Holy Spirit down to earth to dwell in believers and carry on the mission and ministry that He had begun. This is known as the Church Age and it began on Pentecost Sunday. The Holy Spirit is the third Person of the Triune God and His presence is here on earth through believers.
“Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19).
A believer receives God’s Holy Spirit at the moment that he or she accepts God’s Son, Jesus Christ as their personal Savior. After this takes place the believer is now equipped to carry out the will of God on earth. The Holy Spirit indwelt church, are His hands, feet and mouth in this lost world. So if the Spirit indwelt church of Jesus Christ were to have to endure the judgment of the Tribulation, then wouldn’t God be judging Himself? Since God is the ultimate Judge and there is no authority higher than Him, then the Judge cannot judge Himself.
This does not mean that believers won’t appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ because they will, (2 Corinthians 5:10 and Romans 14:10). However, the judgment of believers is a judgment of our rewards for our service to Him and our cleansing process to prepare us for our eternal lives. It is not a judgment of wrath or condemnation. That particular judgment is reserved for non-believers.
When Jesus was telling His disciples beforehand that He would send His Holy Spirit after He would leave earth, He described the Holy Spirit as being a conviction toward the world (see John 16:8-11). This current work of conviction toward the world is one of grace to bring sinners to repentance and salvation. Eventually this Age of Grace will end and the Holy Spirit indwelt church will be removed before the judgment of the world begins. Otherwise God would be judging Himself, would He not?
Since God cannot judge Himself, He will have to pull Himself out of the way of His own judgment upon the earth since the Spirit indwelt church is His presence in the world. Yes, it is true that God is everywhere but His ministry of spreading the gospel to lost sinners is conducted by His church. In past times the Lord has pulled Himself out of the way of His own judgment. In Ezekiel 10:4; 18 and 11:23, we read that the glory of God departed from Solomon’s temple just before He judged Judea by the hands of the Babylonians and had the temple destroyed. And when Jesus was lamenting over Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, He said while looking down at the second temple:
“See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Matthew 23:38-39).
Once again the glory of the Lord departed from Israel as the Lord Jesus Christ willingly went to the cross to die and pay the price for all our sins and four decades later the Romans would destroy the city and the temple in 70 A.D. as God’s judgment towards Israel for rejecting His Son. When God judges Israel for the third time, a.k.a. “the time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7)—His presence will be removed out of the way again by way of the Rapture of the church.
This is because the entire earth and all the nations will be judged simultaneously, (Jeremiah 30:11), resulting in the nation of Israel being saved through the judgment and coming to know that Jesus Christ has been their Lord all this time. The church cannot be on earth when this judgment begins.
For one thing God the Father has already laid His judgment upon His Son at the cross and Jesus Christ is the propitiation for our sins.
It is done and anyone that is a member of the church of Jesus Christ is not under condemnation, (Romans 8:1). The reason Israel has received judgment more than once is because they have not accepted that free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ. When they do, and they eventually will (Zechariah 12:10), then judgment will be no more for Israel.
We can certainly see that God has a track record of removing Himself away from the object of His judgment before He pours out His wrath. So then why are there Christians out there that think they will have to endure God’s severe judgment of the earth during the Tribulation period? It is because Satan hates the Church and attacks it by instilling fear in some of its members. Fear has the strong ability to takes one’s eyes off of Jesus. Just look at Peter when he took his eyes off of Jesus while walking on the water to Him.
The waves of the sea, (representing the troubles of the world), took him over and caused him to begin to sink, but Jesus grabbed His hand and brought him back up to safety. When we take our eyes off of Jesus all kinds of fearful lies from the enemy come creeping in. If we are in fear of the things that are soon coming upon the earth, we can easily forget the Lord’s promise that: “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
In Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians he gives edifying words concerning the “gathering together to Him” to the church and he warns not to be shaken in mind or troubled either by spirit, or by word, or by letter as though the day of Christ had come, (2 Thess. 2:1-2). If you are a born again believer in Jesus Christ, don’t worry you won’t miss the Rapture and have to be here for the judgment period of the Tribulation because you have His Holy Spirit in you as His seal and guarantee of that day! (See Ephesians 1:13-14 and 4:30.) And God’s own Word says that He will remove His Restraining Holy Spirit before the time of His judgment comes (2 Thess. 2:7).
God’s current presence on earth in the form of the Holy Spirit is “restraining” Satan from manifesting himself in the form of the Antichrist, the man of lawlessness and sin, from taking over the world. Jesus said that the gates of hell shall not prevail over His church (Matthew 16:18). Christ will protect His church by removing it way before hell is unleashed upon earth (Revelation 9:1-12). Jesus also said to His disciples, (and us, the church) that we are the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13).
Salt was especially known in those times as a preservative and the presence of the Spirit indwelt church is preserving the earth from being overcome by Satanic evil. This is because the church is HIS church and not ours. We can do nothing aside from His empowering in us via His Holy Spirit. No matter how strong anyone is in body or mind, you cannot combat Satan on your own. It is the Holy Spirit in the believer that protects Him from Satan’s evil influences and deception and it is important to be in communion with Him who dwells in you on a daily basis to remain victorious in this fallen world.
“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4b.)
If you have not received Jesus Christ as your Savior and invited Him into your heart, there is still time but its running very short. Do it today and you will be sealed with the promise and guarantee to be saved from the wrath to come and your current life will be filled with a new joy of the anticipation of the blessed hope of His coming (Titus 2:13).
If you are a new believer you may ask…“How do I know that I’m saved and have the Holy Spirit in me?” First, tell someone else that you’ve accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
If you can say that with genuine heartfelt truth, then you will know within yourself that you are a Holy Spirit indwelt believer because God’s Word says:
“…no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:3b).
Now when the Rapture of the church comes, you will go to be with the Lord, (1 Thess. 4:16-17), because God isn’t just removing His faithful believing people out of the way of His wrath, He is also removing Himself…since God can’t be judged!