Q. Re: Tribulation Believers. You mention that the difference between the Church and tribulation believers lies in the basis of our faith. You wrote “we believe though we have not seen”, “we” being the Church. How then do you explain the apostles and all who came to faith as a result of being with Jesus and witnessing the miracles during his ministry on earth? I believe they are considered a part of the Church since the old testament saints end with John the Baptist. Jesus even specifically mentions to Thomas when he needed to see His hands and feet for proof, saying “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” This leads me to believe the difference between the two believers lies solely in the Holy Spirit, which seals us as we are reborn into a new creation. What are your thoughts?
A. I’ve received several questions like this, and my response is that you’re trying to turn a general principle into a hard and fast rule. The fact that there have been people who came to faith after having some kind of personal encounter with the Lord, whether knowing Him as the disciples did, or in a vision or dream as many more have, does not negate the statement He made to Thomas in John 20:29.
This is similar to the statement in Hebrews 9:27 that man is destined to die once and after that to face judgment. By my count the Bible mentions 8 people who died, then were brought back to life, and then died again. And who knows how many more have had the same experience throughout the Church age? Does that mean Hebrews 9:27 is false? No. It means the writer was stating a general principle that has been born out in human experience.
The Church has been blessed beyond any other group because the overwhelming majority of born again believers have become so by faith alone. This too is a general principle that has been born out in human experience.
Having the seal of the Holy Spirit as a deposit that guarantees our inheritance is one of these blessings, but it’s not the only thing that makes us different from all other believers. Only the Church is the Bride of Christ. Only the Church is exempt from having to give evidence of our faith through outward acts of obedience. Only the Church will dwell in the New Jerusalem. Only the Church has been designated as Kings and Priests. Only the Church is seated with Christ in the heavenly realms, and only the Church will be held up in ages yet to come as God’s demonstration of the incomparable riches of His grace.