Segment VII
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The Meaning of “Faith in Christ” Distorted

Because “faith in Christ” has been transformed into “presumptions about Christ,” Jesus will set the record straight with the testimony of martyrs. Many pastors are teaching fables as truth, and many people have deceived themselves into thinking that God is pleased with their actions when the opposite is true. (See Isaiah 1-4 for a review of this ever-persistent problem.) The fruit of religious presumption is decadence. The devil’s deceptions are clever. He is a master of gradualism. He induces intellectual games that lead to compromises because he knows that sin has consequences. For example, Americans have been wrestling with the abortion issue for thirty-five years and the Unites States is just as divided today on the subject as when the controversy started. The funny thing about this controversy is that hardly anyone is addressing the sinful, immoral behavior that produces unwanted babies. Why is there so much silence about sexual promiscuity? The devil knows that once an immoral couple conceives, tough choices are ahead. Something has to be done with the fruit of promiscuity. Therefore, the controversy moves away from the cause of the problem to dealing with the consequences of sinful behavior, and there are no human solutions to the problem of sin!


Biblical faith means a complete surrender to God’s will – to go, to be, and to do all that He asks at any cost.  This is the faith that Jesus lived by (Luke 22:42; Hebrews 5:7) and during the Great Tribulation; this faith will cost many saints their lives. There is no wiggle room on this. The saints will be bitterly persecuted for forty-two months. (Revelation 13:5) The Bible clearly predicts this persecution, but millions of people have presumptively chosen to believe in a pre-tribulation rapture, expecting to avoid suffering and martyrdom.

An intellectual assent to truth cannot withstand the purifying fires of persecution. Jesus willingly went to His death because of the faith He exercised in His Father each day. When Jesus arrived at the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked the Father to remove the cup of martyrdom from His lips, but it was the will of the Father that Jesus die. (John 3:16) Similarly, many martyrs will submit to death because it is the will of Jesus that they do so. Jesus has put the saints on notice of this coming extremity saying, “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” (Revelation 13:10)

In the later study on the trumpets, you will see that Jesus breaks the fifth seal on or about the time of the sixth trumpet. (Revelation 9:14,15) Therefore, the martyrdom of the fifth seal will begin approximately 1,040 days into the Great Tribulation. Ultimately, one-third of the saints will be slaughtered because of the Word of God and the testimony they maintain. Please examine the chart above and the one below carefully, Consider the vertical alignment of the events listed in the charts. In the chart above, you can observe the relationships that exist between the six seals, which operate in pairs. In the chart below, you can see how the wrath of the fourth seal is implemented by the destruction caused by the first four trumpets.

A Composite View of Revelation’s Timing

·The judgment of the dead continues during the Great Tribulation. This is necessary because many will not live long enough to be sealed or receive the mark of the beast.

(The first four trumpets include a series of horrific events. Before the first trumpet, an earthquake literally shakes the entire globe. Then, a hail of meteoric firestorms will burn up a third of all the trees and al the green grass, followed by two horrific asteroid impacts and a great darkness caused, perhaps, by hundreds of volcanic eruptions.) Twenty-five percent of Earth will perish during the first four trumpets. The fifth trumpet marks the appearing of the devil masquerading as Almighty God, and after five months of tormenting wicked people who are willing to worship him, the sixth trumpet sounds. When the sixth trumpet sounds, the devil’s forces will be allowed to kill one-third of the worlds’ population so that he can establish total dominion over Earth. (Revelation 9:15) Notice on the chart above how the fifth seal is broken immediately after the sixth trumpet sounds. When the slaughter of the fifth seal is finished, Earth’s population will be reduced to about 50% of what it was before the Great Tribulation began.


The Identity of the Altar

“…I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and the testimony they had maintained.” When the fifth seal was broken, John saw the souls of martyrs located under the altar. This language speaks volumes if you already understand the prerequisite doctrine of parallel temples. The altar mentioned in the fifth seal refers to the bronze Altar of Burnt Offering. You may recall, this altar was located in the courtyard of the temple (Exodus 40:6), while the golden Altar of Incense was located inside the tabernacle, near the veil. (Exodus 40:5; Leviticus 16:12) Since the golden Altar of Incense is specifically mentioned in Revelation 8:3, this has led some people to assume the altar mentioned in the fifth seal is also the golden Altar of Incense. We can discover the true identity of this altar by comparing the heavenly altar with the altars used in the earthy temple. (Hebrews 8:1-5) Notice this text: “Present your burnt offerings on the altar of the Lord your God, both the meat and the blood. The blood of your sacrifices must be poured beside the altar of the Lord your God, but you may eat the meat.” (Deuteronomy 12:27, See also Leviticus 5:9; 8:15.) This text indicates that the blood of animal sacrifices was poured into a container beneath the Altar of Burnt Offering in the earthy temple. Once this point is understood, the parallel becomes obvious.

The souls of the martyrs are under the Altar of Burnt Offering in Heaven. They are located in Heaven because they represent human beings sacrificed for the cause of Christ. The Bible says they were slain because of their faithfulness to the Word of God and the testimony they maintained. Remember the campaign to translate and distribute the Bible after the second seal was broken (the large sword, the sword of truth, placed in the rider’s right hand). Do you remember our study of the second seal about how the translation and distribution of the Bible would cause men to kill one another? The breaking of the fifth seal will be the fulfilling of the second seal. The Bible says these souls under the altar were slain because of the Word of God. During the Great Tribulation, God will have a people who stand on the Bible and the Bible alone as the Word of God. A time is coming when all people who obey the Word of God (Abel the faithful) will be regarded as enemies of God (Cain the presumptuous). In the same way, the Crisis Government (Babylon) will regard the saints as enemies and later, Lucifer, who will be masquerading as Almighty God, will insist on their death. Jesus warned His disciples, “All this I have told you so that you will not go astray. They will put you out of the synagogue; in fact, a time is coming when anyone who kills you will think he is offering a service to God. They will do such things because they have not known the Father or me. I have told you this, so that when the time comes you will remember that I warned you. I did not tell you this at first because I was with you.” (John 16:1-4)

Who Has Greater Guilt?

The fifth seal is a problem for people who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture. Advocates of a pre-tribulation rapture believe that they are worthy of escaping the suffering of the Great Tribulation, because they “believed in Christ” before the Great Tribulation began. This is foolish. James wrote, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that – and shutter.” (James 2:19) Believing in God is one thing; obeying God at any cost is another. Currently, a large majority of the world rejects the authority of Christ, as well as His teachings, and Earth’s population is exploding faster than the gospel can travel. Billions of people on Earth have not had a chance to thoughtfully consider the gospel of Christ. They cannot consider it because they are immersed in barriers of culture, language, religious arrogance, and ignorance. Should these people be punished for 42 months with suffering and martyrdom while the ruptured saints are playing harps in Heaven? How can Jesus torment the heathen (meaning all of the “unsaved”) with a Great Tribulation, when proclaiming and demonstrating the gospel to the heathen is the responsibility of Christians? (Matthew 28:19,20) Who has the greater guilt: The pagans who did not or could not hear the gospel because Christians did not come to their village, or Christians who chose a fine paying job instead of traveling to remote villages to share the gospel? The “great escape” (as some call the pre-tribulation rapture) is plausible when presumption has displaced faith in Christ. If Jesus, our Lord and Master, came to Earth to suffer and die for us, should His servants do less for Him? Jesus said, “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” (John 15:20,21)

Saints as Sacrifices

John was shown the souls of martyrs under the Altar of Burnt Offering in Heaven because they are sacrificial martyrs. Before I can address what this statement means, I have to explain a few items. First, the doctrine of soul sleep becomes highly important once again in our study on Revelation. The souls of all the dead people are dead – awaiting either the first resurrection or the second. (John 6:39, 40; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18; Revelation 20:5) The souls of Abel, Stephen, Paul, and millions of other martyrs are not located under the Altar of Burnt Offering in Heaven now. Dead souls are not in Hell, either. Furthermore, the souls of those martyred during the fifth seal are not to be confused with people who have been martyred for the cause of Christ through the ages. The souls under the Altar represent people who will die for Jesus after the fifth seal is broken.

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