” . . . That He May Be With You Forever”

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Many people are concerned about the end of the world. Books are written, movies find new-creative ways to show us how it will all end, and there are seemingly a million or so options about how to interpret the “End Times” passages in the Bible. Interestingly, with all this attention focused upon the end, there is one area that gets missed that I believe is vital.

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Before I go any farther there are three things you must know:

(1)  If you disagree with my position on Eschatology, then you are free to go once you read #3 below, unless you want to learn a bit what another position believes. However, if your point is to read and then make some snarky comments on how you disagree with the millennial position, then please don’t comment. You will be deleted.

(2)   I spent two full years of seminary studying everything I could find concerning what the Bible and theologians say about the End Times. My 150pg TH.M. thesis was the culmination of that study.

(3)   I believe the position that best fits Biblical hermeneutics is Dispensational Premillennialism (DP). Now I am not saying every aspect of DP is perfect or the best interpretation. But I believe it is the overall best position to hold, hermeneuticually!

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 In all my reading of eschatology (a study of the end times as the Bible speaks of it), I found with all the thoroughness of all the authors and all the theologies that are written, they all seem to skim by the work of the Holy Spirit in the End. So, I would like to show you (from a Dispensational Premillennial view) how the Holy Spirit functions in the End.

First, here is a review of the DP ends times:[1]

Throughout the visual above, God the Father and God the Son (Jesus Christ), are the focus. Rightfully they should be since Jesus is King of kings and Lord of lords, and God the Father’s spews forth His stored up wrath. Moreover, it makes biblical sense that the Holy Spirit’s work is mostly unseen in light of his role in always pointing away from Himself (John 15:26; 1 Tim 3:16). However, with this two out of three Trinity understanding, the Bible student will surely miss out on the wonders of the work of the Holy Spirit while the Father and Son are on display. A proper study and understanding must arise to have the full Trinitarian perspective of the End.

The Holy Spirit in the Rapture of the Church

Simply put, the Holy Spirit’s work during the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13-18) is crucial as it involves resurrection, which is completing the purpose of salvation. The Holy Spirit was involved in both the death and resurrection of Christ (Heb 9:14; Rom 1:4; 8:11), so it only makes sense that the same Spirit which raised Christ will also raise Christ’s saints. Two verses make this clear: (1) Romans 8:11: “[since] the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.” The clear understanding of this passage is obvious. Due to the fact that the Holy Spirit was the agent of Christ’s resurrection and lifted Jesus’ physical body out of death to give Him life, so also the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the believer, gives life both now and on the day of resurrection. For the church, this is the day of the Rapture. (2) Galatians 5:5, “For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness.” “The hope of righteousness” in the context is set as an opposite of the worthlessness of trusting in external, religious activities to save (5:2-6). The apostle Paul points out that true believers already possess an imputed righteous “by faith.” However, this righteousness is incomplete without total sanctification and glorification. Believers in this life now are still waiting for the completed and perfect righteousness that is yet to come described by Paul in Romans as: “the glory of the children of God” (Rom 8:21). This “glory” is found in the event of the Rapture when the Holy Spirit raises the church from death to life (cf. John 6:40, 63; 2 Cor 3:6).

The Holy Spirit in the Tribulation

            The Holy Spirit will be present and active during the tribulation, even though 2 Thessalonians shows that He will be “taken out of the way.” He will not be carrying out His present, unique ministry related to the Church since the completed body of Christ will be in heaven. Rather the Holy Spirit will be present in bringing the elect of the tribulation to faith in Christ. This activity will involve saving millions, protecting certain individuals from death, and continued evangelism.

Saving Millions: I believe the Rapture will possibly be the greatest evangelistic tool in human history. Millions of people disappear from the face of the earth in a split second which will probably cauChristianRaptureNewspaperse all kinds of theories and explanations. At this time, the Spirit may bring to the minds of friends and loved ones about the warnings and truth of the Rapture. In this moment of time,they will realize what has happened; they have been left behind because of their lack of repentance and faith in Christ. God will use this mind-numbing realization to bring them to faith in His Son. There is no Scripture that explicitly states this, but by the time you get to the halfway point in the Tribulation, there are many who have died and gone to Heaven because of their faith during the tribulation (Rev 6:9-11; 7:9). So, when did they gain salvation? It had to after the rapture and with no witnesses from the church left, the Holy Spirit had to do His work.

Furthermore, the Holy Spirit’s saving work is found in the salvation of the 144,000 Jews in Revelation 7 and in their evangelism, bringing “a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues … who come out of the great tribulation” (Rev 7:9, 14). “Thus the Spirit will do in the future what He has done in the past,”[2] that is, eternally saving people!

Protection: the Spirit’s protects God’s people from spiritual (Eph 1:13-14) and sometimes physical harm (cf. Gen 7:1; Josh 6:22-33). The New Testament term is called “sealing.” Indeed, all who have been “sealed” by God are His forever, though they will physical die. Alongside, the Holy Spirit will seal certain individuals from physical harm during the Tribulation. One example is the 144,000 Jewish evangelists. They are seen at the beginning (Rev 7) and the end of the tribulation (Rev 14) unharmed making them immune from physical and spiritual death. They are given seals on their foreheads (Rev 14:1), which highlights the inward reality of their spiritual seal and also God’s enablement to serve throughout the Tribulation time (Eph 1:13-14; 4:30). Yes, the sealing of the Holy Spirit will happen spiritually in all who are saved during the Tribulation, but these men will be sealed and set apart to never suffer physical death.

Witnessing: witnessing and saving will not stop in the Tribulation, but God will use 144,00 Jews, Two Witnesses (Rev 11), and an angel (Rev 16) to continue to proclaim the saving message of the Gospel in Christ. How does this relate to the Holy Spirit?

In the book of Acts, Jesus tells His disciples “you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now and you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth” (1:8, emphasis mine). One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is that the chosen people of God can bear witness. This should not come as a great surprise since the Holy Spirit is Himself the greatest Witness (cf. John 15:26; Heb 10:14-15).

In the Tribulation time, there will be much witnessing and this all by the power of the Holy Spirit. For He is the one who empowered a weak Moses to speak in front of Pharaoh (Exod 4:14-15), filled the prophets mouths, despite their weaknesses (2 Pet 1:21), and enabled the apostles to be bold in the infancy of the church (Acts 1:8). During the tribulation, God will enable and embolden not just the 144,000 who are the probable cause of the innumerable number of salvation saints (Rev 7), but will also be the power and witness behind the Two Witnesses (Rev 11).

The Holy Spirit in the Millennium

            The tells much concerning the millennial age. Revelation 20 is wide-angle lens of its contents, while the Old Testament fills in more details. From these details, we can safely summarize that the Holy Spirit will be working in the Millennium to save and indwell.king_of_kings

Salvation: from the Old Testament (and passages from the New), it can be gathered that children will be born (cf. Isa 11:8) apparently by those un-glorified redeemed who come out of the tribulation. These babies will be born in an incredible environment and government (Isa 24:23; 40:10-11), as Christ will be on the Throne to make sure righteousness will reign. Yet, as with all of Adam’s race (Rom 5:12), they will be born with a sin nature (cf. Isa 66:24; Rev 20:7-8). The Holy Spirit must (and will!) be active in the lives of these unregenerate people born in the millennium, by doing what He has always done in bringing people to repentance and faith. This work of salvation is related to the Spirit in the case of Israel and the fulfillment of her new covenant (Isa 59:21; Eze 36:25-28; Zech 12:10; 14:16).

Indwelling: the New Covenant provides for the indwelling of the Spirit in believing Israel, which up until the halfway point of the Tribulation, Israel was hard-hearted. Isaiah 59:21 alludes to Israel’s believing and indwelling: “‘As for Me, this is My covenant with them,’ says the LORD: ‘My Spirit which is upon you’” and Ezekiel 36:27 confirms, “I will put My Spirit within you.” All this more show that the Holy Spirit will complete the work promised to Israel to indwell at their salvation in the millennial age (Jer 31:31-34; Rom 11:26).

Yet, not just Israel will be indwelt, Jesus, the Christ-King, will be also indwelt. The Holy Spirit came on Jesus at His baptism and remained on Him throughout His ministry (Lk 4:1). According to Isaiah, the Spirit still remains on Him today and will continue throughout eternity. Isaiah writes, in speaking of the reign of Messiah in the Millennial Kingdom, “The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD” (Isa 11:2).

By the Spirit’s filling of Christ, Jesus will “delight in the fear of the LORD, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked” (Isa 11:3-4).

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is seen at work in Millennium with unbelievers, believers, and in Christ.

The Holy Spirit in the Eternal State

It is very difficult to find Scripture passages to find what the Holy Spireternal stateit will be doing in the eternal state. Even books on the Holy Spirit that include the Holy Spirit’s work in Eschatology seem to stop at the Millennial Kingdom and never look into the work of the Spirit for eternity. Consequently, I find it best to make some definite statements and one probable statement concerning His work.

DEFINITE:

(1)   The Holy Spirit will be involved in the creating of the New Heavens and New Earth. Just as the initial creation was found with order by the handiwork of the Holy Spirit (Gen 1:2; Job 33:4; Ps 104:29 cf. Isa 32:15), as well as fashioning the re-creation after the flood (Gen 8:1), and in creation of people (Exod 14:19-20; 15:10) and the church (Acts 2:1-4), so also the Spirit will be involved in the new creation where “there will no longer be any curse” (Rev 22:3; cf. Rom 8:22).

(2)   The Holy Spirit will finish His work in causing all God’s people to be “unto the full measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Eph 4:13; cf. 3:16-19). The New Testament teaches that all God’s people will one day be like Jesus: “we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2). The Spirit’s role is to complete full sanctification and it will be done in the eternal state (Rom 8:29; 2 Cor 3:18).

(3)   The Holy Spirit in the new creation will be to give God’s people an everlasting, joyful fellowship with the Triune God.

PROBABLE:

(1)   The Holy Spirit will continue to indwell His people (John 16:7), empower to rule wisely with Christ (Deut 34:9; Judg 3:10), and move in our hearts to glorify God and worship the Father and Son (John 16:4; Rev 19:1-10). The argument lies in looking at Adam, the first man, before the Fall. Adam was fully indwelt by the Spirit (Gen 2:7) and yet perfect. Therefore, on the new earth the Spirit will continue to fully indwell, but to a greater extent because the sin nature has been removed. Also, Jesus said to the disciples in the upper room, “I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper—that is, the Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:16-17a). Forever means forever.

 

Although the Holy Spirit works to keep the focus off Himself (Jn 16:14), the active work of the Holy Spirit is indeed found in the End Times. The Holy Spirit’s work in the End Times period (spanning from Rapture to Millennium) will show that he is continually active in convicting, saving, sanctifying, and glorifying men and women, as well as continuing to be active in the lives of glorified saints in the Eternal State.

It would be my hope and joy that there would be a greater focus on not just the biblical doctrines of Eschatology, but that the Holy Spirit would lead and guide us into discovering its truths and how they are related to Him. After all, He is “the Helper…that is, the Spirit of truth” (Jn 14:16).

HS EschatologyCHART: The Holy Spirit in Eschatology[3]

 

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[1] Blue Letter Bible, “Premillennialism,” Blueletterbible.com, accessed March 28, 2012, http://www.blueletterbible.org/faq/dispre.html.

[2] Robert G. Gromacki, “Part IV: The Holy Spirit” in Understanding Christian Theology. Edited by Charles R. Swindol and Roy B. Zuck (Nashville: Nelson Reference, 2003), 533.

[3] Charles C. Ryrie, The Holy Spirit (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1997), 188.

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  • Kyle

    Greg, thank you for your work on the Holy Spirit’s work in the
    Tribulation. Being a non-pretrib though could you explain your thoughts
    on the post-Rapture time. Since you said there is “no Scripture
    explicitly stating this” I would thing we should tread carefully. The
    explanations from my other pre-trib buddies doesn’t really suffice so
    maybe you can help?

    Also, you may want to re-write your section
    on our imputed righteousness and the Rapture. It sounds like you are
    saying there is still work to be done apart from Christ’s finished work
    of a righteous life and obedience to death.

    Thanks!

    • Jason

      Kyle, I don’t think Greg is arguing Christ’s work is incomplete, but saying there are future aspects of our salvation yet to be inherited, i.e. a glorified body 🙂

    • Kyle,

      Thanks for you comment.

      1) Jason said it right. I would never say the work of Christ is incomplete. My focus is on the future aspects of our salvation that the HS will do.

      2) I did tread lightly concerning the post-Rapture mass-salvation by stating that there is no explicit teaching. However, I believe there is good reason to think this might happen, which is why I said, “by the time you get to the halfway point in the Tribulation, there are many who have died and gone to Heaven because of their faith during the tribulation (Rev 6:9-11; 7:9).” A “great multitude which no one could count” has to be saved and killed for their testimony, as well as the 144,000 Jewish evangelists at one time. This salvation must happen sometime in the 3.5 years from Rapture to mid-point. All I suggesting is that the Rapture may be an event that the HS uses to do this. Either way, there is a mass evangelism at the beginning portion of the tribulation.

      • Kyle

        It doesn’t really seem like treading lightly you propose one doctrine (rapture) and another (many come to saving faith) but with your Scriptural support not supporting how they harmonize. Especially, when, according to your post: 1) the Spirit taken out of the way, 2) the church witness is gone too, and 3) 144,000 sealed believers are assumed to be great Jewish evangelists.

        I just know to reconcile how, if the Church is the salt (preservative) to the world (through the Spirit), and both are taken out of the way why God haters would suddenly turn to God when they are experiencing the wrath of God. Not only would i think the world gets worse but that a great multitude (Rev. 7:9) comes to saving faith. May be the burden of proof is on me but coming objectively to the Word it seems hard to believe. Unless, the sealed 144,000 Jews are some mighty good missionaries – which does not seem to be stated in that chapter.

        Just as word of caution: Let the Bible speak for itself and not insert our own beliefs into it.

        Thanks