Will the Church Pass Through the Tribulation? Part 3 -- By: Henry Clarence Thiessen

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 092:367 (Jul 1935)
Article: Will the Church Pass Through the Tribulation? Part 3
Author: Henry Clarence Thiessen


Will the Church Pass Through the Tribulation?
Part 3

Henry Clarence Thiessen

(Concluded from the April number)

{Editor’s note: Footnotes in the original printed edition were numbered 63–87, but in this electronic edition are numbered 1–25 respectively.}

3. The Nature and Purpose of the Tribulation. Those who hold that the Church will pass through the Tribulation fail to perceive the true nature and purpose of the Tribulation. They argue that inasmuch as God permitted the Church to be persecuted during the second and third centuries by pagan Rome, and during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries by papal Rome, that therefore we have no ground for supposing that she will escape the persecutions of the Tribulation. So realistically does one writer accept the fact that the Church will suffer persecution and martyrdom during that period that he dwells on the method of execution that will be employed. He says: “It is significant that the only form of martyrdom mentioned in connection with the Tribulation is beheading, which is one of the quickest and least painful modes of execution, seeing that it results in instantaneous death; especially when inflicted by the guillotine, as most likely will be the case: following the example set during that miniature Tribulation, ‘The Reign of Terror’ during the time of the French Commune.”1 To this we need only reply that whatever may be the fact as to the painlessness of death by beheading, such a view is a far cry from Paul’s “looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). It should be said also that the French Reign of Terror, terrible as that was, is not an exact parallel of the Tribulation.

This declaration may startle some and they may say,

Are not both periods characterized by lawlessness, ungodliness, and bloodshedding? To this we, of course, reply in the affirmative; but to think of the Tribulation as primarily a time of the outbreaking of man’s pent-up wickedness is missing the point. We maintain that the Tribulation is primarily God’s visitation of judgment upon a Christ and God-rejecting world, both Gentile and Jewish.

Let us return to Rev 3:10 once more. The writer describes the “hour of trial” from which Christ promises to keep the Church in Philadelphia as “that hour which is to come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.” Now the word for dwell used here (κατοικέω) is a strong word. It is ...

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