Trials and tribulations (Rom. 5: 3, 4), infirmities, reproaches, necessities, persecutions, distresses for Christ’s sake (2 Cor. 12: 10) are doubtless - according to our capacity and need, and God’s purpose for us and our observers - a part of our testing, tempering and toughening for that dogged endurance the Scripture calls “patience,” but they are intermittent or chronic throughout this dispensation, and have no essential connection with the time of the Advent.


On the other hand, there is reserved a still future period of fiery trial and trouble related to the Day of the Lord - and “that Day (may) come upon you unawares” (Luke 21: 34) if, living in the End-time, we are heedless, self-indulgent, worldly-minded.  And from this distress perplexity - heart failing - fear - and world-wide snare, escape is not a mere matter of course for us Christians.  Indeed, the exact contrary is the truth; “Watch ye, therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand (Gk. “Be set” - doubtless by angel envoys) before the Son of Man.”  Here then we hear our Lord Himself say that only the worthy will escape this tribulation.


He tells us that the way to be accounted worthy of escaping - not through it, but away from it - is by constant watchfulness and, indeed, by specific prayer to that very effect and end - a prayer honestly impossible to those already sure of unconditional immunity.


Let us remember and reflect that the Church is only in ultimate ideal a homogeneous unity, for it is certainly not yet an equality of smooth consistency like that of fine flour.  It is composed not only of little children, young men and fathers, but of babes and adults, of carnal and of spiritually-minded believers.  Ideally, Christians are Salt - but actually many have lost their savour, pungency, distinctiveness; ideally Christians are Light - but actually, the light that is in many is darkness.


There is no “professing Church” revealed in Scripture.  But there is a Laodicean Church as well as a Philadelphian Church.  And if these and the other apocalyptic churches are representative of the spiritual states of assemblies, in John’s day, and throughout the Christian era, and also at the Advent, then the ever-Living Word of the Lord to the Philadelphian “angel” has an encouraging message for us at this moment.  The Lord’s promise runs - “Because thou hast kept the Word of My patience (perseveringly and hopefully believed in My Coming), I also will keep thee from (Gk. “out of” - i.e., away from) the hour of temptation (tribulation) which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth" (Rev. 3: 10).


Escape, then, is clearly possible; the Great Tribulation of the last days is not inevitable and inescapable.  But it has a conditional exemption which is a quid pro quo - Christ’s keeping of us in return for our own keeping of Him and of His Word, enduring to the End.  Hence His Words in Luke 21: 36 and Rev. 3: 10 tally, as we should of course expect.