Norris: [W]hat kind of glory would it bring the Father to physically persecute His Son’s bride before His Son is married to her? I don’t know about you, but I think that is a sick and twisted concept. Yet this is what the pre-wrath crowd is wanting the Church to believe. (Source here).
Wesley Norris is under the moronic notion that the prewrath position teaches that God will gleefully delight in punishing his church during the great tribulation (see his other egregious comments in that link). He is slanderously wrong. The book of Revelation teaches that God will delight in punishing the wicked, because of their evil deeds including persecuting the church:
Now I heard the angel of the waters saying: “You are just–the one who is and who was, the Holy One—because you have passed these judgments, because they poured out the blood of your saints and prophets, so you have given them blood to drink. They got what they deserved!” (Rev 16:5–6).
Even the fifth-seal martyrs recognize that their suffering is not a result of a gleeful God desiring to punish his redeemed:
Now when the Lamb opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been violently killed because of the word of God and because of the testimony they had given. They cried out with a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Master, holy and true, before you judge those who live on the earth and avenge our blood?” Each of them was given a long white robe and they were told to rest for a little longer, until the full number was reached of both their fellow servants and their brothers who were going to be killed just as they had been.” (Rev 6:9–11)
I also get the impression that Norris is committing the ancient heresy of dualism, that God and Satan are both independent sovereign powers duking it out for a victory. He fails to recognize that God is absolutely sovereign and ordains all things to come to pass, both evil and good: “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10; cf. Prov 20:24). He also fails to recognize the distinctions of primary and secondary causes: “As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day” (Gen 50:20).
Notice God’s sovereign hand in the martyrdom of his people: “they were told to rest for a little longer, until the full number was reached of both their fellow servants and their brothers who were going to be killed just as they had been.” (Rev 6:11)
A question for Norris, “Is God unjust to allow his people to be persecuted today?” Reader, it is a dangerous thing to question the holy and good purposes of God. Job humbly recognized God’s sovereign purposes in decreeing sufferings in his own life: “Indeed, I am completely unworthy—how could I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth to silence myself” (Job 40:4).
God’s love and righteousness is maintained if we understand that God has an ultimate good purpose behind it. Certainly, God ordaining his people to suffer will not be something new during the great tribulation. Jesus promised that the church would suffer in every generation, including the last:
Won’t God give justice to his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he delay long to help them? I tell you, he will give them justice speedily. Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (Luke 18:7–8)
Another example of God’s purpose in suffering is the redemption of all of his people coming about through the most intense and unjust suffering that anyone could ever experience: the crucifixion of the Son of God. And yet we are taught explicitly that this was decreed by the will of God (Acts 2:23; 4:27–28). We may not know at the time why God brings suffering and trials into our life. But during these trials, we are called to trust God’s all-wise, all-good, and all-loving purposes.
However, a key reason for the great tribulation will be to purify the remnant’s faith. Blessings of freedom and comfort can easily breed complacency and external religiosity as Israel frequently testified to in the Old Testament. God brought comparable judgments upon Jerusalem: “For this is what the sovereign Lord says: How much worse will it be when I send my four terrible judgments—sword, famine, wild animals, and plague—to Jerusalem to kill both people and animals!” (Ezek 14:21; cf. Lev 26:18–29, Deut 32:23–27). These judgments had an aim to purify his people from their rebellious condition and bring them to repentance (cf. Ezek 14:22–23).
The church from its inception has experienced wars, famines, pestilence, and martyrdom. But for the last generation of the church they will indeed be unprecedented on a global scale. When these cluster of woes come to pass, “then the end will come” (Matt 24:5–14). Christians are under no condemnation from God since they are forgiven and justified. But this does not mean that God will not test and refine believers with suffering, as he did in the past. It is God’s prerogative—and loving purpose!—to purify his people before his return (1 Thess 3:13; 5:23; 1 Cor 1:8; Phil 1:10; Eph 5:27). This will not be a time to fear, but to faithfully stand firm for the occasion to bring glory to God in suffering and overcoming:
(12) Dear friends, do not be astonished that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as though something strange were happening to you. (13) But rejoice in the degree that you have shared in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice and be glad. (14) If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory, who is the Spirit of God, rests on you. (15) But let none of you suffer as a murderer or thief or criminal or as a troublemaker. (16) But if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but glorify God that you bear such a name. (17) For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house of God. And if it starts with us, what will be the fate of those who are disobedient to the gospel of God?” (1 Pet 4:12–17)