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Forgiveness:  What about it in the time of the Tribulation?

Gary Googe Jun 05

We’ve seen in other studies on our website that God is not imputing sins to people in this present age of grace.  [4Us2UsMinistries.com — Forgiveness:  Are the sins of everyone forgiven? and Forgiveness:  What is the “gotcha” passage?Instead of being charged to mankind, our sins were charged to Christ when He bore them all on the cross.

II Corinthians 5:19

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us [all believers] the word of reconciliation. [Emphasis added]

But some have asked if this will be true after the Rapture of the Church and in the time of the coming seven-year period of Tribulation that immediately follows that? They ask this because this present age of grace will have come to an end with the Rapture.  The final seven years of the Dispensation of Law will then come into place.  What will be the situation then on all this?

This non-imputation of sins in this present age does not by itself provide salvation.  It just means that man’s sins are no longer unforgiven.  Because all our sins were charged to Christ with Him having completely paid the penalty for them, it would be wrong to charge any of us with them as well.  There’s nothing in Scripture that tells us anyone’s sins are ever recharged to them.  What people must have for salvation is the righteousness of Christ applied to them.

II Corinthians 5:20-21

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he [God the Father] hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

That righteousness only comes when a person accepts the gospel message provided for us through the writings of the apostle Paul.

I Corinthians 15:1-4

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;

By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, 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: [Emphasis added]

Christendom always makes an issue out of people’s sins for salvation.  Their sins are presented as an obstacle to their salvation.  There’s a real sense in which they act as though the accomplishments of Christ on the cross never happened.  However, man’s sins are no longer an obstacle because that “obstacle” was totally removed through what Jesus Christ accomplished by His death, burial, and resurrection.  Christ died, paying the full penalty that was due, so that salvation could be a real possibility for all.  That’s the “good news” of the gospel message.  God sent Christ to address our sin problem once and for all! Now, so far as the Christian life is concerned, our sins are another matter altogether.  For us as believers, addressing our sins should be an ongoing activity.  Now that we are God’s people, we need to think and act like it.  This is what the second half of the apostle Paul’s epistles tend to be about.  Instead of all the natural and worldly lusts, there are many wonderful things we’re to choose to pursue.  Scripture gives us many summary statements about this.  Here are three.

Romans 12:1-2

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. [Emphasis added]

I Timothy 6:11

11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. [Emphasis added]

II Timothy 2:22

22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. [Emphasis added]

Isn’t it wonderful to know that the personal sin problem that was an obstacle to our salvation has been completely resolved through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection? There are many old hymns that speak of this which Christ accomplished.  The one called, “Nothing but the Blood” is one such hymn.

  1. What can wash away my sin?
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
    What can make me whole again?
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

    • Refrain:
      Oh! precious is the flow
      That makes me white as snow;
      No other fount I know,
      Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
  2. For my pardon, this I see,
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
    For my cleansing this my plea,
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
  3. Nothing can for sin atone,
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
    Naught of good that I have done,
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
  4. This is all my hope and peace,
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
    This is all my righteousness,
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
  5. Now by this I’ll overcome—
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
    Now by this I’ll reach my home—
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
  6. Glory! Glory! This I sing—
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus,
    All my praise for this I bring—
    Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

Yes, we can rejoice in the fact that the sin barrier between all mankind and God has been completely removed.  Now faith alone in this which Christ accomplished can provide eternal salvation to anyone.  Won’t this be just as true after the Rapture in the time of the Tribulation as it is now? Yes! This next passage we’ll look at addresses that.  First John is a book addressed specifically to Israel as the apostle John himself was commissioned as an apostle to Israel, not to the Gentiles.


These twelve [including John] Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:

But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Because Israel rejected his message, John’s message will now be especially important to believers living in the time of the coming Tribulation period before Christ’s return to establish His earthly kingdom.

I John 2:2

And he [Christ] is the propitiation for our sins [those of Israel]: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world. [Emphasis added]

Those people “of the whole world” includes Jews, but even Gentiles who become what are called proselyte Gentiles.  As that passage goes on to say, people in the time of the Tribulation will have to “keep His commandments” to ultimately gain salvation.

I John 2:3-5

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments [those of Christ and the Mosaic Law (Matthew 28:20)].

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. [Emphasis added]

However, this is quite different from our situation today in this present age of grace.  Note what Paul had to say about certain saved Corinthian believers.

I Corinthians 3:1-3

1 And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.

I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.

For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men? [Emphasis added]

As you can see from this passage, there’s no end to the sinfulness a believer can get into in our time and still be saved.  Yes, we shouldn’t, but we can act just like unbelievers and still be saved.  Our salvation is settled and sealed the moment we accept Christ as our Savior.  That’s because our faith is placed in what He did about our sin problem at the cross.

Ephesians 4:30

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. [Emphasis added]

Unfortunately, there are many who want to tell us that it is their faith in Christ’s work that will “wash away” their sins.  No, there’s nothing anyone can add to what Christ has already done.  Others tell us people must ask God to be forgiven of their sins.  Again, our sin problem and that of the entire world of mankind was addressed completely at the cross of Christ.  It is when we believe what Christ accomplished that God’s righteousness is applied to us for our salvation

II Corinthians 5:19-21

19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. [Emphasis added]

In some passages this is said to occur when we “receive” the forgiveness of sins. 

Acts 26:18

1To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. [Emphasis added]

In our time, it is when people receive by faith this forgiveness He provided [past tense] at the time of the cross and resurrection that justification then occurs.  This justification by faith in this is what we speak of as salvation.

It is common for people to misrepresent what we believe about this, speaking of it as what they call “universal reconciliation.”  While a work of reconciliation was clearly provided at the cross of Christ for the entire world, salvation does not occur until that work is believed [or “received”].

Always remember that forgiveness of sins is a matter of subtraction—sins are taken away.  In the case of justification, God’s righteousness is added to our account.  It is only when this occurs that salvation takes place. 

Now, what about in the coming time of Tribulation? Bear in mind that God’s program in the time of the Tribulation is not the same as the time in which we are living now.  In other words, in the time of the coming Tribulation many things will revert to being the way they were in the days of Peter and the apostles to Israel.  What Christ accomplished at the cross can’t be undone, but certain things will go back to being the way they were before this present age of grace.  Things were by no means the same then as they are for us today.  Note what Simon Peter told his listeners on the day of Pentecost recorded in the early Acts period.

Acts 2:38-40

38 Then Peter said unto them [the people of Israel], Repent [change your mind about the identity of Jesus, believing He IS your Messiah], and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye [these believing people of Israel] shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

39 For the promise is unto you [Israel], and to your children [the families of Israel], and to all that are afar off [scattered Israelites], even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.

However, at the time Peter spoke these words, he was still not aware of many of the truths that would later be revealed to and through the apostle Paul.  For instance, at that time Peter had no idea that Christ had died on a cross for the sins of the entire world of mankind.  Some claim that he did, but where in Scripture is the record of that? There is none! It would be through the apostle Paul that these things would be revealed and become known.  While a lengthy article could be written about all this, let me just give you a summary of how I see the means for salvation in that time.  Basically, people will simply need to accept Jesus as the Christ, the promised Messiah who bore the sins of the world and was resurrected to provide the way of salvation.

Revelation 1:5

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten [resurrected] of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth [the promised Messiah]. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood [a reference to His redemptive work on the cross], [Emphasis added]

I John 2:2-4

And he is the propitiation for our sins [having satisfied the justice of God by His death for our sins]: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

We even see that various elements of the Mosaic Law as a system of life will come back into play.

And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. [Emphasis added]

There will also be the need to continue in one’s faith, enduring in that faith to the end of their life or to the end of the Tribulation period [whichever comes first] to be saved.

Matthew 10:21-22

21 And the brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.

22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. [Emphasis added]

Their faithfulness will also be the basis for their rewards in the coming Kingdom on Earth.

Revelation 2:26

26 And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: [Emphasis added]

I Peter 1:13

13 Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind [a phrase meaning to prepare for action], be sober, and hope to the end [to the end of the Tribulation] for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation [the Second Coming] of Jesus Christ; [Emphasis added]

As always, faith in the Lord as He’s revealed to them at that time will be the key to their salvation.  This will involve them knowing and applying the right division of Scripture.  Such has always been the case.  That never changes.

II Timothy 2:15

15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.  [Emphasis added]

Therefore, what we need to conclude from all this is that most importantly we need to give our attention to God’s expectations of us today in this which is spoken of at the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

Ephesians 3:2

2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [Emphasis added]

None of us who are saved will be here on this Earth during the coming seven years of the Tribulation.  We’ll be in Heaven.  Meanwhile we need to give our attention primarily to the directives given to us in the Pauline epistles.  There are thirteen of them—Romans to Philemon in your Bible.  For it is there that we find not only the message a person must believe to gain salvation, but the things pertaining to the Christian way of life.  The whole Bible is for our learning, but the whole Bible is not TO us or ABOUT us.  That’s one of the most important principles you’ll ever learn in your study of the Bible.  Without it you will be thoroughly confused and probably not even realize it.  So, make it your plan to learn the full meaning of and apply what is called the right division of Scripture.  Without that understanding, I can assure you that your spiritual growth is greatly hindered and, perhaps, even your understanding of the means to your salvation.


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