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An Open Letter
to Tribulation Saints:

- '99 - by R. Totten, M.Div.

- - - (The following is a "tongue-in-cheek" letter which wrongly assumes a Pre-Tribulational rapture can occur --thus, pointing out flaws in the pre-Trib position).

Dearest Friends,

I write this letter to be read in the time after the Pre-tribulation "rapture" has finally happened, and so, it is written to you who now find yourselves left behind on earth because you were not born again, and did not truly believe in Christ at the time of the rapture.

The "rapture" was that event, you undoubtedly recall, when Christ removed all Christians from the earth to meet him in the clouds (1 Thes. 4:15-17), which this letter assumes has finally happened just before the seven-year time-period known as "the tribulation" (Mat. 24:21). As a pastor and teacher of the Bible, I feel some degree of responsibility to inform and prepare you concerning your situation, in which you will have to face the tough tribulational events now coming over the whole earth.

Your predicament is quite serious, so this is very important: Try to find a Holy Bible (containing 66 books), which you must study and know well ---although that task will present some very thorny problems--- because if you are reading this at the beginning of the tribulation, then all of you "tribulation saints" are brand new "baby" believers in Christ. There are no older believers to help you in person, so, you'll have to survive on your own, without such a support group ...there is no true "Church" on earth... that's why I'm concerned to write to you.

First, let me answer the question: "What exactly IS the Church?" The Bible calls it the "body of Christ" (Eph. 1:22,23), which we'll define as: all people everywhere who have trusted in Christ and his death on the cross to pay for their sins, who therefore have been united with Christ and placed into his mystical "body". ...Since the Church was removed at the pretrib rapture, and is not on earth during the tribulation, you believers in the tribulation are not part of the Church, the "body of Christ", even though you have trusted in Christ's death for you on the cross. During the Church-age (before the Tribulation), the instant a person truly believed in Christ, he was "baptized in one [Holy] Spirit into one body" (1 Cor. 12:13), which was Christ's body, the Church. However, since the Church-age ended with the start of the tribulation, you are not part of the Church, and so, you can not possibly be baptized in the Holy Spirit, so, you also have no spiritual gifts, which belong to the Church. ...In addition, each Church-era believer was indwelt by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:9), as Jesus said, the Spirit "lives with you and will be in you" (Jn. 14:17). But, in an article in Moody Monthly magazine (Oct., 1985, p.91), pre-tribulationist Kenneth G. Hanna said tribulation saints, such as you, will neither be baptized in the Holy Spirit, nor indwelt by Him. ...For all believers during the Church-age, our spiritual situation or "position" was what the apostle Paul called being "IN" Christ (Eph. 1:3), but, you tribulation saints cannot be "IN Christ," because you are not part of Christ's body. These things were unique to the Church-age, which ended with the pretrib rapture, when the tribulation began.

Thus, here are some implications for you tribulation saints: In your study of the Bible, there is only somewhat limited help for you, because the Old Testament was not addressed to you but to Israel, and the New Testament was basically for the Church. Perhaps of some help are small parts of the gospels, and a few other snippets from the New Testament, however, those portions of the Bible that are addressed to the Church, or teach about the Body of Christ, are basically only of academic interest to you, but are of little applicational benefit to your lives, for example:

I mentioned Ephesians: It was written to those "IN Christ" (in his body, the Church), and its main theme is what is OURS (not yours). ...Therefore, all the following things are not promised to you tribulation saints who are not "IN" Christ's body, the Church: "In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Eph. 1:7); "in him we were also chosen" (1:11); we are "sealed with the promised Holy Spirit" (1:13); we are "raised up with Christ and seated in the heavenly realms" (2:6); in Christ, we gain the promises of God (2:3); we are reconciled to God (2:6); with believing Israelites, we are God's people (2:19); we are heirs together with Israel (3:6); we can approach God with confidence (3:12); we have unity of the Spirit and one body (4:3); we have evangelists, pastors and teachers (4:11); we have spiritual armour in Christ (6:8-10). All these things were specially given to those "IN" Christ, who are the Church ...which, sadly, you are not.

----That, then, was just an example of how you tribulation saints must work your way through the Bible, hoping you may still find a few gleanings of promises to get you through the very hard times of the tribulation. If you're a Gentile, then you are not part of the Church, and you're not a Jew, so it is questionable what Bible-promises apply to you. Of course, you can still pray to a merciful God, based on his gracious nature, -----but, alas, prayer is also based on our acceptability to God "IN Christ".

All of this is not too encouraging, I know, but I felt obligated to write to you, to leave you some explanation, so you could understand why you are so powerless against the devil and the flesh, as Paul says, "in him you ...put off the sinful nature" (Col. 2:11). Maybe you'll see why there is so little peace in your hearts and minds, which is found "in Christ Jesus" (Php. 4:7). Since you tribulation saints cannot possibly be "in Christ," (because only the Church is "in Him"), I just thought this would help you at least make some sense of it all. Even though you do not have "the blessed hope" (the pre-trib rapture), try to keep your chins up as you somehow muddle through the next few years until Christ's glorious appearing. ...See you at Armageddon.

...In Christ (me, not you), - Pastor Totten

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Post Script

The above letter is obviously "tongue-in-cheek". However, I would urge and challenge Bible teachers of the pre-trib (or mid-trib) rapture persuasion to come to the aid of such "tribulation saints" (supposedly not the Church), and help them in their terribly distressing situation. If pre-trib theology is true, how could such people even be saved? Please leave these poor fellows a written example of the Bible teaching and gospel message they should share during a tribulation when one could not accept or invite Christ (through the Holy Spirit) "into" one's heart, since (according to pre-trib teachers) the Holy Spirit will not indwell anybody on earth. The agency by which Christ dwells in our hearts is by the Holy Spirit. How is it possible for someone to be "saved" and also NOT be in Christ, since it is in Christ that we are crucified, dead, buried, raised (Rom. 6:1-10) and justified (Gal. 2:17)? Only the Church is "in" Christ. Is it God's plan to back out and renege on the scriptural offer of such a great salvation available "in" Christ? Such a notion would have to be well demonstrated and supported in scripture, ----but instead, it is soundly contradicted by God's Word.

If by such sheer necessity, it is admitted that saved persons must be "in Christ," then the Bible says that such persons must be part of the body of Christ (which is the clear teaching of Paul ---see Eph.2:16), where the body of Christ is the Church (Eph.1:22-23). So, it is unavoidable that the Church will and must be present on earth during the great tribulation, ---and indeed, we do find tribulational saints who die "IN the Lord" Jesus during the great tribulation (Rev.14:13), having resisted the Antichrist and his mark. ----Since the Church (the body of Christ) is clearly on earth during the tribulation, then this fact removes one of the main reasons given for why there must be a rapture before the tribulation.

Since the tribulational "wrath" of God is a big concern, remember that the tribulation saints are blood-bought believers (Rev.7:14), "in the Lord," who can no more be subject to God's wrath than any churchly saint before the tribulation. No, it is only the wrath of man and the Devil that will touch the tribulation saints . . .as is even true with saints before the tribulation.

EXHORTATION - Let the Church focus on growing very close and obedient to the Lord Jesus, serving him in fulfilling the Great Commission ; honestly studying the Word ; prayerfully preparing our hearts for the tough and deceptive times the appear to soon be coming over the earth ; not hoping for a pre-trib evacuation from earth (that will not occur) ; not instilling the false hope of it into young unsuspecting believers, setting them up for a crisis of faith and a possible fall ; ...and not giving inquireres into the faith a strong reason to reject the credibility and inerrancy of the Bible, after many recognize the Antichrist is ruling on earth and the rapture did not occur beforehand.

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