The Great Tribulation; Christ Before Church Questions

Matthew 13:41; Matthew 24:21; Matthew 24:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 19:10; Revelation 19:14
That the saints are caught away before vengeance* bursts upon professors is quite certain, because it is when Christ appears that He executes vengeance. (2 Thess. 1:8-108In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; 10When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. (2 Thessalonians 1:8‑10) and a multitude of passages.) Now when Christ appears, we appear with Him. (Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4).) Matt. 13:41, 4341The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; (Matthew 13:41)
43Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 13:43)
only proves that, when the wicked are judged, the righteous shine forth; but they had been previously gathered into the garner, in order to do so. In verse 49 the judgment severs the wicked from among the just. This is not the rapture. Judgment leaves the just where they were; one is taken and the other left, as in Matt. 24 In this last case the sphere is narrower, but the principle is the same. It is well to remark that the explanation does not refer to the same event as the parable explained, but gives further particulars. This is a general rule of interpretation. The public visible judgment of God explains what has to be understood when it is not visible. Privilege is a matter of faith.
Or will the saints be suffered, except those fallen asleep, to go through all the tribulation, and then delivered and blessed, after the tares have been taken in hand, at the revelation of Christ? If so, how are Rev. 19:1414And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14) and Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4) to be explained?
Or will some of the saints be taken before the others, one class being abundantly, the other scarcely, saved; one receiving a reward, the other saved so as by fire; one consisting of those who will open to Him immediately, and the other of those whom that day will more or less take by surprise? See, too, Rev. 3:1010Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. (Revelation 3:10). If so, how are 1 Cor. 15:5151Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (1 Corinthians 15:51), Matt. 24:2222And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:22), and generally those passages which declare that Christ will come with all His saints—how are such to be explained?')
As regards suffering and death for His name, it is a privilege compared with those left on earth; but it is only in this case for righteousness and the prophetic knowledge of the name of Jesus, for "the spirit of prophecy is the testimony of Jesus." They did not confess and know Him as Son of God, as the members of the church did. When forced by growing wickedness, through grace they would not deny divine hopes, and they will have their reward. They would have done better to have owned Him in peace, when not so forced; but God is wise and perfect in all things.
The tares are declared to be taken in hand before the wheat is gathered into the garner; but, as we have seen, when the tares are burnt, the wheat is already in the garner and then shines forth. As regards the unparalleled tribulation in Matt. 24, and the passages from which that is taken, it is exclusively Jewish. There is no passage to prove there is such a tribulation but those which prove it is Jewish. As to the more general tribulation mentioned in Rev. 3, it is only mentioned to declare that the saints shall be kept from that hour. Then, again, a countless multitude come out of the great tribulation in Rev. 7 Rev. 19:1414And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. (Revelation 19:14) and Col. 3:44When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4), of course, agree with and confirm all other scriptures on the subject. These only go, however, to prove distinctly that the saints are with Christ before He appears; but not how long they have been so.
`Some of the saints' is vague. It speaks as if they were one common category. The day will not take any by surprise that go to heaven. They will be gone before the day which comes at Christ's appearing. But there is a difference. The saints who have fallen asleep, and those belonging to the church alive, will be caught up to meet Christ in the air when He descends then from His Father's throne. But neither 1 Peter 4:17, 1817For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God? 18And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear? (1 Peter 4:17‑18) nor 1 Cor. 3, applies to this. One applies to laborers even in the apostle's days; the other to the contrast between the righteous and the ungodly. Those who are not manifested as members of Christ when He receives the church to Himself will either remain on earth as God's people during the millennium, or if killed, as we have seen, have part in the kingdom on high. 1 Cor. 15:5151Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, (1 Corinthians 15:51) applies, as is there seen, to the manifested members of the church of God. Matt. 24:2222And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Matthew 24:22) has nothing to do with the matter. It is the sparing the Jewish saints or remnant, saving flesh, in the time of their peculiar trouble. When Christ appears, all the saints, conformed to His risen image, will appear with Him in glory. He will "be glorified in his saints and admired in all them that believe, in that day." He will also come attended with all His holy angels. It is evident that He can come with only those who are with Him. The people spared on earth, when He comes and judges, do not come with Him.
[1861.]