To understand the question at hand, and the existance of Tribulation Saints after the rapture we need to understand the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the body of Christ. This relationship began on the Day of Pentacost when the Holy Spirit (the comforter) came to earth as Christ had promised. The idea is not necessarily a complicated one, but we could spend hours and days discussing the details of such events and the relationship that was formed when Pentacost occurred. In favour of brevity, we will look at a few 'key' concepts.
The Receiving of the Spirit
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you. -- John 14:26
Facts about the Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit has always been present and ministering upon the earth
Gen 1:2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
Prior to the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon and filled believers
Num 24:2 And Balaam lifted up his eyes, and he saw Israel abiding in his tents according to their tribes; and the spirit of God came upon him.
Jdg 3:10 And the Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel, and went out to war: and the LORD delivered Chushanrishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand; and his hand prevailed against Chushanrishathaim.
Jdg 6:34 But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.
1Sa 10:6 And the Spirit of the LORD will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them, and shalt be turned into another man.
1Sa 19:20 And Saul sent messengers to take David: and when they saw the company of the prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as appointed over them, the Spirit of God was upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied.
2Ch 15:1 And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded:
2Ch 20:14 Then upon Jahaziel the son of Zechariah, the son of Benaiah, the son of Jeiel, the son of Mattaniah, a Levite of the sons of Asaph, came the Spirit of the LORD in the midst of the congregation;
Luke 1:67 And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying,
However we also know that His presence was not permanent:
1Samuel 16:13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah.
1Samuel 16:14 But the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD troubled him
Psalms 51:11 Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me.
This last verse would be wierd for David to say, if it could not become so.
Prior to the Day of Pentecost, John explains that the Holy Spirit "had not yet been given because Jesus was not yet glorified" (John 7:39). Notice that the Holy Spirit has always been omnipresent and ministering upon the earth, but the book of John clearly tells of Christ relaying that the Holy Spirit "had not yet been given"
John 14:16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;
The Holy Spirit came to the earth to begin a new ministry on the Day of Pentecost.
Acts 1:4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
Acts 1:5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
Acts 1:6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
Acts 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
Acts 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 11:15 And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.
Finally the new ministry of the Holy Spirit during this - the church age - is baptizing believers into the Body of Christ (1Cor. 12:5, 12-13) wherein believers are permanently indwelt and sealed with the Spirit:
2Co 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
Eph 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Eph 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.
1 John 3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.
1Th 4:8 He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
Eph 2:22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
It is also important to grasp two aspects regarding this important transition which took place on the Day of Pentecost:
The Holy Spirit ministered on earth before the formation of the Church (Likewise it seems logical that He could continue to minister on the earth in this same manner after the departure of the Church at the Rapture.)
The Holy Spirit never permanently indwelt believers prior to the Day of Pentecost. The birth of the church at Pentacost gave way to a unique spiritual organism. This mystery Church that the Old Testament prophets did not understand (because of their frame of reference and understanding), began a unique relationship with the Holy Spirit that the OT forefather's could only dream of.
As we can see their was an augmentation of the Saint upon the day of Pentecost. We receive the spirit and are bodies become temples of the Holy Spirit through our faith in Christ. Their are elements that we share with the Old Testament Saints, but their is much more in our relationship with the Spirit than they had. This same difference is what the Bible appears to teach will occur but in a reverse direction upon the day of the rapture. At the Rapture of the Church when the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth in the 'sense' as He came at Pentecost but He continues to minister upon the earth in the Tribulation period in the same 'sense' He did
priorto the day of Pentecost.
His "coming" on the Day of Pentecost and then "removal" at the Rapture of the Church has no effect upon His role in salvation. Salvation was bought for all by the Blood of the Lamb. Salvation since Christ's sacrifice has always been by grace through faith alone and by spiritual change and regeneration in which the Holy Spirit plays a key role (John 3:5-8; Gal. 4:29).
Who is the Restrainer?
In a key passage concerning "the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him,"
Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. -- 2 Thes 2:1-4
Paul tells us that 'that day' cannot come unless the man of sin is revealed, but that the man of sin was being actively restrained.
Paul Goes on:
And now ye know whatwithholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only hewho now letteth will let, until hebe taken out of the way. -- 2 Thes 2:6-7 (emphasis mine)
The Restrainer is referred to both in the neuter (what) and masculine (he) gender. This mix of gender appears in relation to the Holy Spirit Who is a person, but described using a Greek term which is neuter in gender ( pneuma [pneuma] . It is also said that the Restrainer "now restrains" and will continue to do so until "He is taken out of the way." Since the man of sin has yet to be revealed, we can infer that the Restrainer, whoever or whatever he is, has been effectively suppressing the revelation of the man of sin for over 2000 years.
As stated in the previous article, there are several clues to who this restrainer is.
* The Restrainer is referred to as both neuter ( to; katevcon [to katechon] , "what is restraining") and masculine ( oJ katevcwn [ho katechon] , "He who now restrains").
* The Restrainer existed in Paul's day.
* The Restrainer has been continually and effectively restraining for 2,000 years so far.
* The Restrainer is powerful enough to suppress the spiritual powers of darkness seeking to promote the man of sin.
* The restraint is global.
Numerous suggestions have been made concerning the identity of the Restrainer:
Several of these views do not necessarily involve a supernatural force. These include the Jewish state and James, Paul and the preaching of the gospel, the Roman Empire,26 and human government. Other views may be grouped as hostile supernatural views, which include Satan, a hostile false prophet, a general hostile force in the form of the mystery of lawlessness and human government, and the preincarnate state of the man of lawlessness. In several views oJ katevcwn [ho katechon] is seen as a benevolent supernatural figure rather than a hostile one. Usually an angel, such as Michael, or another type of heavenly being, such as Elijah, or a mythological being, is suggested. The most common supernatural figure suggested, though, is God Himself. (1)
Of the various suggestions, it would seem that the Restrainer must be supernatural in power. For what government could restrain Satan and do so continuously for 2,000 years? Yet, Scripture indicates that the Holy Spirit had just such a ministry (Gen. 6:3; 20:6; John 16:18). It seems the best solution for the identity of the Restrainer is the Holy Spirit Himself.
"The first participle ( to; katevco [to katecho] ) conforms to the gender of pneu'ma [pneuma] . The second participle oJ katevcwn [ho katechon] confirms the personality of the Holy Spirit."
Ah... did we see that. If this is so, this is very significant to the doctrine of the pretribulation rapture. For as we know the Holy Spirit indwells those who are baptized into the Body of Christ permanently when we accept Christ. It would therefor be impossible for the Holy Spirit to depart from indwelling us Christians.... so if he cannot be taken away from us born again Christians, and he is taken from the earth, as scripture suggests (restrainer), then we MUST HAVE TO GO WITH HIM! Praise the Lord!
The Holy Spirit came down into the world at Pentecost in a special sense in which He had never been in the world, to dwell in the Church, the body of believers which is called the temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor. 6:19). When all believers are removed to heaven according to the promise made to the church in Philadelphia (Rev. 3:10+), . . . the Holy Spirit goes out of the world in the sense that He came into it at Pentecost. (3)
Herein lies Paul's point in his letter to the Thessalonians. Some of them thought that they had already entered the Day of the Lord, but Paul reassures them that this could not be the case for the man of sin must first be revealed and he will not be revealed until the Restrainer has been taken out of the way. He was reminding them that they would be "gathered together" to Christ before the man of sin would be revealed. (Rapture)
Since the ministry of the Holy Spirit includes indwelling believers and working through the church, then ejk mevsou gevnhtai [ek mesou genetai] ("taken out of the way") could possibly refer to the removal of the Holy Spirit through the removal of the church in the pretribulational rapture. Since the passage concerns the gathering of believers, this cryptic apocalyptic reference to the Spirit, who indwells the church, is probably in view. This would be an encouragement to the Thessalonian believers to stop being alarmed about any false teaching on the Day of the Lord. (4)
Who or what is restraining the satanically empowered movement against God's law and is postponing the revelation of the man of sin? Some say it is the Roman Empire. But the empire has long vanished and "the holder back" is not yet revealed. Another suggestion is that this is Satan, but it is difficult to see why he would hold back sin. Others suggest that human governments are holding back sin and the revealing of the Antichrist. But human governments will not end prior to the Antichrist's unveiling. Nor do all governments restrain sin; many encourage it! The Holy Spirit of God is the only Person with sufficient (supernatural) power to do this restraining. Some object to this being the Holy Spirit on the grounds that to katechon in 2 Thessalonians 2:6 is neuter ("what is holding back"). But this is no problem for two reasons: (a) The neuter is sometimes used of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 15:26; 16:13-14). (b) In 2 Thessalonians 2:7 the words are masculine: ho katechon, the one who . . . holds it back. How does He do it? Through Christians, whom He indwells and through whom He works in society to hold back the swelling tide of lawless living. How will He be taken out of the way? When the church leaves the earth in the Rapture, the Holy Spirit will be taken out of the way in the sense that His unique lawlessness-restraining ministry through God's people will be removed (cf. Gen. 6:3). The removal of the Restrainer at the time of the Rapture must obviously precede the day of the Lord. Paul's reasoning is thus a strong argument for the pretribulational Rapture: the Thessalonians were not in the Great Tribulation because the Rapture had not yet occurred. (5)
Many suggestions have been made to identify the restraining force of 1Th. 4:6, 7. These include: (1) human government; (2) preaching of the gospel; (3) the binding of Satan; (4) the providence of God; (5) the Jewish state; (6) the church; (7) the Holy Spirit; and 8) Michael. Whatever now restrains the Antichrist of 1Th. 4:3, 4, 8-10 from being revealed in the fullness of his apostasy and evil, must be more than human or even angelic power. (6)
Regarding the association of the Holy Spirit with the gospel, it might be said that neither the Spirit nor the gospel (or the Word of God) operate independently of each other. This is true of Creation when God spoke and the Spirit hovered over the waters (Gen. 1:1-3). The gospel came in power and in the Holy Spirit (1Th. 1:5). Sanctification comes through both the Word and the Spirit (cf. Ps. 119:9, 11; 1Th. 4:8; 2Th. 2:13; 2Ti. 3:16-17). The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God (Eph. 6:17). (7)
Now onto the question at Hand.
How are People Saved in the Tribulation?
When the Holy Spirit, as the Restrainer, is taken out of the way, the Body of Christ will go with Him, but He will still minister on the earth to save souls during the Tribulation to follow. In the same way He participated in regenerating people prior to Pentecost so will He after the Rapture. The difference is here that the path to God has already been won through the blood of the lamb. Whereas the bible teaches us the Old Testament Saints were in Paradise, prior to Christ's death, at which point he ministered to the Saints and opened the door to heaven - our destination upon death. (See - The Doctrine of Hell).
From this chapter (Rev. 7+) it should be evident that the Holy Spirit will be still at work in the Tribulation, for the work of regeneration is His particular ministry. While the work of restraining evil is removed, allowing the Antichrist to begin his evil rise to power, the Holy Spirit Himself will still be in the world and will have an active ministry. While He will no longer be baptizing (for that is a special ministry for the Church only), He will be performing some of His other ministries, such as regeneration, filling, sealing, etc. In all this, the second purpose of the Tribulation will be accomplished: that of bringing about a worldwide revival. (8)
For further discussion of the role of the Holy Spirit during the Tribulation, see [Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology, 263-274].
I hope this provides some help and thought over this issue. It is a confusing issue at first, but upon careful study and literal understanding of the scriptures, it seems to align quite well with God's overall purpose for the Church, Israel and the Days to come.
1. Charles E. Powell, "The Identity of the 'Restrainer' in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7," in Bibliotheca Sacra, vol. 154 no. 615 (Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, July-Sep 1997), 328-329.
2. Powell, "The Identity of the "Restrainer" in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7," 330.
3. Barnhouse, Revelation, 120-121.
4. Powell, "The Identity of the "Restrainer" in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7," 330.
5. Thomas L. Constable, "2 Thessalonians," in John F. Walvoord, and Roy B. Zuck, eds., The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, 1983), 2Th. 2:7.
6. John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Word Publishing, 1997), 2Th. 2:6.
7. Powell, "The Identity of the "Restrainer" in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-7," 331.
8. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, The Footsteps of Messiah, rev ed. (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 2003), 224.