Can people that hear the Gospel during the Age of Grace and refuse it, be saved during the tribulation?
Go back to II Thessalonians, because I think the following thought should immediately come to any student of Scripture: If people have missed being saved during this Age of Grace or Church Age, are they going to get a second chance? No. Here we see Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit in II Thessalonians Chapter 2) identify those who cannot be saved with the message of the 144,000 during the Tribulation. Paul is not associated with prophecy per se. He’s associated with the doctrines of Grace and with mysteries. Nevertheless he connects the end of the Church Age with the Tribulation by a description of what will take place as the Anti-christ comes on the scene here in II Thessalonians Chapter 2:
II Thessalonians 2:3
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first (the Church being raptured), and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; “
II Thessalonians 2:7,8
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work (that goes back to the tower of Babel): only he who now letteth (hindereth) will let, (continue to hinder) until he be taken out of the way.” I always teach it’s the Holy Spirit who is the hindering force in the person of the believer, until he’s taken out of the way, which would be in the departure when the Church is removed in verse 3:
“And then (when the Church is gone, and the Holy Spirit in His role as indwelling the believer has ended. Of course the Holy Spirit will be back on the earth as the Omnipresence of God) shall that Wicked (one) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth (at the end of the seven years), and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming;”
II Thessalonians 2:9,10
“Even him (Anti-christ), whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish (unbelievers); because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.”
Now get the picture. Those who will be ready to accept the coming of the Anti-christ will be those who had the opportunity to hear the Gospel, the truth of the Word of God, but they loved their unrighteousness and they spurned God’s offer of salvation. Now verse 11:
II Thessalonians 2:11a
“And for this cause…”
As we are entering into the Tribulation in this verse, we are entering in with God dealing in the supernatural. Today, we are fairly unaccustomed to that. God still works in miraculous ways, but we’re not living where the supernatural takes place commonly.
II Thessalonians 2:11
“And for this cause (because this group of people have heard the Gospel and rejected it and so it is for that cause) God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a (and again I like to use the article `the’) lie:”
There has been one lie all through Scripture. And I call it `the‘ lie. That is when Satan tells a person, “You can be God.” They are going to believe it. God is going to send these people “strong delusion” who have heard the Gospel and rejected it. And these will be the very first people who will proclaim the Anti-christ as the god of this world, the one they have been looking for. But the ones who have never heard the True Gospel will have a chance in the Tribulation by the preaching of the 144,000. And now verse 12:
II Thessalonians 2:12
“That they all might be damned (or condemned) who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
Go back to the Book of Ephesians Chapter 1, because we have almost the same kind of language (so that you will know what the Apostle Paul is talking about). As we come down to the appearance of the Anti-christ and the Church has been removed, what should they, the unrighteous that were left behind, believe?
“In whom ye also trusted (Paul writes to believers only), after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”
Let’s take time to look at the Gospel again in I Corinthians Chapter 15, especially as we look at the awful things that are about to come upon the earth. I think there is nothing wrong with the whole concept of literally being scared out of our boots. And maybe fear will prompt someone to seek God’s saving Grace in order to escape some of these things. I think that is one of the reasons it is put in here. Now I don’t subscribe to the fear concept, but on the other hand, when the Scripture makes it so plain that these terrible days are coming on the earth, and we can escape it by simply partaking of God’s salvation, then why not. Why be foolish and spurn so great a salvation only to end up in the horrors that are coming upon the earth. Now I Corinthians 15:1-4, and here is the most explicit definition of the Gospel that you can find.
I Corinthians 15:1-4
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand (positionally); By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.” You must know what you believed. Here it is in verses 3 and 4. This is our Gospel:
“For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received (from our ascended Lord), how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” That’s what the Book of Ephesians calls the truth of the Gospel. This is what Paul is referring to in II Thessalonians Chapter 2:10:
II Thessalonians 2:10
“And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth….”
What is the love of the truth? The Gospel. And what’s the Gospel? That Christ died for my sins, was buried, and that He arose from the dead. Those of you who have been in my classes over the years know that I do not ascribe to just an easy-believism. In other words, just saying that, yes, I believe that Christ lived, and that He died, and I believe that He rose from the dead; that’s not what the Bible is talking about. The Bible is talking about a concerted faith and trust in that very act of God. That God Himself paid the penalty for all our sins. I have told my classes many times (and I like to put it this way): if you or I had been the only person living, Christ would have still gone to the Cross to purchase our redemption. When you have that kind of faith, that you can say that I believe that with all my heart, and can say that you know He is alive, I know that His Word is true; then God sees that faith as salvation. Romans 4 makes it so clear. It wasn’t by works that Abraham was saved, but by faith. What was Abraham’s faith? He believed God! And God counted it unto him as righteousness. He was a believer.
Folks who have heard this Gospel, and have been convicted by the Holy Spirit that they need this Gospel and reject it. They are the ones that will have no further chance at salvation and will be blinded from the truth. But there are literally billions of people upon the face of the earth tonight who have never heard the Gospel. I always maintain in every city that I teach, that there are multitudes who have never heard the Gospel. Now I know that is hard for us to believe. But listen, there are people who may walk into a place of business and there may be a preacher on the radio or television preaching the Gospel in all of it’s truth and sincerity. But they don’t hear it. They don’t pay any attention to it. So I maintain they are going to still be candidates for the preaching of the 144,000.
I feel that the only ones who will be completely condemned are the ones we have talked about, who have completely heard, understood, were convicted by it and said, “No thank you” or, “I’ll do it later,” or whatever. We even have church people who have been in my classes, who have come and said, “Les, we have never heard the Gospel before.” And they had been in church all their life. That is a sad commentary I know, but it’s still the truth. So as these 144,000 Jews go out around the world, there’s no one being saved as a second chance. But only those who have never heard the True Gospel. The ones who have rejected and are doomed will also be the first to take the mark of the beast, the 666. For us believers tonight we don’t have that to fear as we will be gone when that comes on the scene for the Tribulation people. But they will accept that mark of the beast at the drop of a hat for they have already been completely deluded by a Sovereign act of God, that the Anti-christ is the man the world is looking for.