Kelly asked: “I’ve heard that people will be saved during the tribulation, but how is that possible since believers will be removed, and the Holy Spirit dwells in believers?”
The Seven Year Tribulation, as depicted in the Book of Revelation, is a period of intense turmoil and suffering. It raises the poignant question: “Can a person be saved during the tribulation?” This question carries profound implications for our understanding of God's grace and mercy during this prophesied period. From a Biblical perspective, the answer is affirmative. Yes, a person can indeed find salvation during the Tribulation.
What Is The Tribulation
The Tribulation period, according to the book of Revelation, will be a time of immense hardship and divine judgement. However, Scripture also indicates that this period will witness a great multitude coming to faith in Christ, suggesting that salvation remains accessible.
Salvation During the Tribulation
Revelation 7:9-14, ESV, provides a vision of "a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes." The Apostle John, when asked about their identity, receives the response that "these are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
This passage strongly suggests that many will come to faith during the tribulation, their robes washed white, a symbol of purification and salvation. These individuals may include those who heard the Gospel before the tribulation but did not initially respond, and those hearing it for the first time during this period.
The Two Witnesses in Revelation 11:3-13 and the 144,000 Jewish evangelists in Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5 are presented as God's messengers during the Tribulation, further supporting the idea that God’s mercy extends even during this intense period of judgement.
Noted theologian Dr. David Jeremiah points out, "Even during the Tribulation, God's grace is still available. There will be unprecedented revival and recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, particularly among the Jewish people." (Dr. David Jeremiah, "The Book of Signs").
The Role of the Holy Spirit in Salvation
As you pointed out, it’s also true that the church will have been raptured prior to that. But just because the church is raptured, that doesn’t remove the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, and the power of God’s Word to save. The Holy Spirit will have a ministry on earth through the tribulation, just like He had before the day of Pentecost when He began dwelling in believers.
Just because believers leave and the Spirit indwells us, it doesn't mean that the Spirit of God will leave the planet at the rapture. He's alive and well, and is going to continue here on earth.
Some people have looked at 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8 as the removal of the Holy Spirit from the earth.
2 Thessalonians 2:7–8 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. Only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will kill with the breath of his mouth and bring to nothing by the appearance of his coming (ESV).
The Holy Spirit is currently restraining lawlessness, and that influence will be removed, allowing Satan to run wild. But the restraining influence of the Holy Spirit being removed does not mean He leaves the earth.
So, Kelly, you can't be saved without the work of the Holy spirit through the truth of God. That is true. But the Holy Spirit will be at work during the tribulation, drawing people to salvation through the power of God’s Word.
However, it's crucial to mention that the choice to follow Christ during the Tribulation comes with its challenges. Revelation 13:15-17, ESV, warns that those who refuse to worship the Beast's image will face persecution and death.