Did you know that the Gospel changes during the period of the Great Tribulation? Find out more below.
The Great Tribulation We know that a time of tribulation is coming. The Bible makes clear, such as in Isaiah 24:1-13 & 19-20, and later detailed in Revelation 6, 8, 9, 11 & 16 that God has a plan at some future time to judge and desolate the Earth. Many refer to this period as the Great Tribulation period. Regarding that time Jesus said, “[f]or then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will again” (Matthew 24:21). The time of the Great Tribulation will be initially troubling, we believe, because it will be initiated by the Rapture, an event in which all saints in the world will be gathered to Jesus in heaven, leaving the world momentarily devoid of any saints and attendant influence of the Holy Spirit of God. Further adding to the trial of those days, as the judgment of God begins to unfold on the earth, is the fact that God’s plan of salvation will change. God’s Plan of Salvation Before the Tribulation Before the Great Tribulation, people are saved by their belief in Jesus Christ. According to Scripture, by believing in Jesus Christ, and what He has done, people can be forgiven of their sins and inherit eternal life with God; this is salvation, and we receive it by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8-9). In this regard, Jesus said that “God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world that He might judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. Anyone who believes in Him is not judged, but anyone who does not believe is already judged, because he has not believed in the name of the One and Only Son of God” (John 3:16-18). It is also written that “if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. With the heart one believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth one confesses, resulting in salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
In relation to Jesus Christ, the Bible states among many other things that Jesus (1) is God (John 1:1) and the one and only Son of God (John 3:16), (2) is the expression of God the Father to all of humanity, and called “the Word” (John 1:1-14), (3) became a man, having been born of the virgin, Mary (Luke 2:1-7), (4) is a lineal descendant of Israel’s King David (Matthew 1:1-16), (5) lived a sinless life (2 Corinthians 5:21), (6) died on a cross, shedding His blood as a sacrifice to atone for the sins of mankind (John 19), and (7) now sits at the right hand of the Father (Hebrews 1:1-4), waiting to return to the Earth in glory as the King of Kings at the time determined by the Father (Matthew 24, Revelation 19). God’s Plan of Salvation During the Tribulation Unlike now--the period before the Great Tribulation--the Bible indicates that during the Great Tribulation period, additional requirements must be added to a person’s faith in order to obtain salvation. Indeed, Jesus said, “[b]ut the one who endures to the end is the one who will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:13-14). Rejection of the Mark of the Beast and Refusal to Worship the Antichrist The endurance described by Jesus is further explained by reference to detail provided in the prophetic book of Revelation wherein John writes, “[t]hen another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb’” (Revelation 14:9-10). From this passage in Revelation, we know that during the Great Tribulation period, a person must, in addition to faith in Jesus, (a) refuse to worship the antichrist beast or his image, and (b) reject the mark of the antichrist kingdom (also known as the “mark of the beast”) that is mandated to be affixed to the right hand or forehead of all persons. The mark of the beast appears to be some form of identification with the religious, economic and/or social system promoted by the antichrist. Consequences for Rejection of the Mark of the Beast and Refusal to Worship the Antichrist The rejection of the mark of the beast will indeed constitute endurance, because the proposed mark will be required to participate in commerce. As Revelation 13:16-18 indicates, the antichrist administration will cause “all, the small and the great, the rich and the poor, and the free and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, and he decrees that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six.” (See also Revelation 14:9-11, 15:2, 16:2, 20:4; Revelation 9:4.) Therefore, people who desire to be saved and inherit the Kingdom of God during the time of the Great Tribulation will, if they reject the mark and refuse to worship the antichrist and his kingdom, be unable to purchase food and water, to travel, to have a bank account, and otherwise engage in many of the simple activities of life that are needed to live. Moreover, these saints will be hunted down by the antichrist for their insolence against his kingdom, and they will be imprisoned and martyred. As John writes about the antichrist in this regard: “It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority was given to him over every tribe, people, language, and nation. All who live on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written since the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slaughtered. If anyone has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is destined for captivity, to captivity he goes; if anyone kills with the sword, with the sword he must be killed. Here is the perseverance and the faith of the saints” (Revelation 13:7-10). To make matters even worse, Jesus warns, in another end times discussion that "[b]rother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved" (Matthew 10:21-22). Thus, it will be difficult to trust anyone during that time, because the inability to participate in commerce and persecution will cause people to do the unthinkable. Family members who have hidden, or or supplied food, water and other needs to their family member "saints" (who haven't taken the mark and cannot participate in commerce) will suddenly turn on them--disclosing them to the antichrist government. The pressure on all will be great, which is why Jesus' counsel is to run (Matthew 10:23, 24:16) (and hide, Isaiah 26:20, Proverbs 22:3, Proverbs 27:12, Proverbs 28:12, Psalm 27:5, Psalm 31:20, Psalm 64:2, Exodus 2:3, 1 Samuel 19:2)--presumably so that the identity of the persecuted saints is not known. The End of the Great Tribulation Period The Great Tribulation period culminates in the exceedingly terrible and momentous “the Day of the Lord,” when Jesus, the One and Only Son of God, will return to Earth to establish His kingdom, and He will reign over all mankind (Daniel 7:13-14, Joel 2, Amos 5:18-20, Zechariah 12:10, Matthew 24 and Revelation 19). This event is known as the “Second Coming of Christ.” Reward for Endurance As noted above, Jesus promises that those who endure to the end will be saved (Matthew 10:22). In addition, for those whose endurance “to the end,” as Jesus describes, culminates in their martyrdom, Scripture indicates that a very special reward is promised: Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their foreheads and on their hands; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who has a part in the first resurrection; over these the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and will reign with Him for a thousand years (Revelation 20:4-6). Eternal Condemnation for Failing to Endure For those who fail to endure “to the end,” as Jesus describes, that is to say, those who succumb to the desire to engage in commerce, perhaps because of starvation, by getting the “mark of the beast,” or the desire to stop the persecution, perhaps because the threat of death is too frightening, Scripture indicates, as mentioned above, that a very devastating consequence is promised--a consequence far worse than death:
“[t]hen another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb’” (Revelation 14:9-10).
Conclusion Therefore, considering the immense significance of the reward for endurance relative to the punishment for failing to endure, we encourage all saints during the time of the Great Tribulation to embrace the following Gospel of the Tribulation:
Believe that Jesus Christ is the one and only Son of God and that, as God and Lord, Jesus Christ died on a cross for your sins, rose from the grave, lives forever, and will one day return as the Messiah, King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
Reject the application of any mark (necessary for you to buy or sell) required by any government, kingdom, world leader or religion to be affixed in any form to your person, particularly on your right hand or forehead. If you have to do so, as the Word of God instructs, run and hide.
Refuse to worship any person or thing other than God as described in the Bible.
Hold fast and endure to these commitments until the first to occur of the end of your life or the end of the Tribulation period, which will be marked by the arrival of Jesus Christ as the Messiah, as described in Revelation 19:11-16.
Help your friends and loved ones who may be left behind by providing them with a copy of our Letter to the Saints at the Time of the Great Tribulation.