John The Baptist
Then there arose a question between some of John's disciples and the Jews about purifying. And they came unto John, and said unto him, "Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him."
John answered and said, "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, "I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him." He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled."John defines himself as not part of The Bride.
Jesus said in Matthew 11:11
" Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he."John is not part of The Kingdom, which is The Church we know from the Kingdom parables.
I know people have other interpretations of these verses, but none of them hold up to me. For the latter they say John isn't part of the Kingdom yet because he isn't Resurrected yet. But we of The Church are citizens of The Kingdom already even while we're still mortal. We're simply citizens who are currently residents of Satan's Kingdom. That is one of the themes of Philippians.
The Church has a promise that the Holy Spirit shall never leave us.
John 14:16-18 " And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."
Romans 8:9 tells us, “…if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ.” This verse very clearly states that if someone does not have the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, then that person is not saved. Therefore, if the Holy Spirit were to leave a believer, that person would have lost the saving relationship with Christ. Yet this is contrary to what the Bible teaches about Eternal Security. Salvation cannot be lost.
But Old Testament believers lacked this promise. The Spirit departed from Saul (1 Samuel 16:14), and David feared it might depart from him as we see in Psalm 51:11. He didn't depart from David however, in this one way David was a prelude of this special promise of The Church.
The Holy Spirit played a role in Pre-Christian times, but the type of relationship he has with believers now began at Pentecost in Acts 2.
Some might insist this isn't a matter of The Church being unique but simply that things changed at The Cross, and by no means proves there will come a time when things like this will return to how they were before Pentecost.
1 Corinthians 13:8-12 does say the Gifts of the Spirit shall cease "when that which is perfect is come". However the secessionist argument that that moment is the completion of the Canon has no Biblical support. Joel 2:28-32 which describes the Church Age condition of The Holy Spirit is also linked to the Sixth Seal. I personally believe "when that which is perfect is come" refers to The Rapture/Resurrection of The Church, when we are perfected. 1 Corinthians 15:52 "In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed." And Paul goes on to elaborate on that.
Sealed in The Holy Spirit
2 Corinthians 1:22 says we are Sealed with The Spirit in our Hearts. Like how the Law of the New Covenant is now written on our Hearts rather then in Stone.
Ephesians 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".
Ephesians 4:30 " And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."
Pre-Tribbers understand the Uniqueness of The Church, but insist we're not in The 70th Week at all. I laugh when I see Pre-Tribbers and Pre-Wrathers talking about the Trumpet Judgments saying "there are no references to The Church, the only believers are those Sealed (the 144,000) being protected". But being Sealed is a unique to The Church characteristic.
Paul also said this Sealing lasts until the Day of Redemption. Revelation 14:3-4 says of the 144,000. "which were redeemed from the earth. These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb." Which to me supports the Mid-Trib Rapture. The Day of Redemption is the Resurrection and Rapture of The Church.
There is a constant debate about if the 144,000 are a literal number or symbolic and simply represents The Church. It can however be both, a specific group representing the whole. The whole of the Church still living on Earth during the first half of the 70th Week.
When the Bowls of Wrath are poured out, there are no references to those faithful to God being Sealed. It's the followers of Satan and the Beast who are Marked. Every Futurist view but Mid-Trib desires to view the Sealed 144,000 and the Marked as existing at the same time, but no passage in Revelation discuses them at the same time. Only 14 (which I view as part of the transition from the first half of the 70th Week to the second) mentions them in the same chapter. But still distinctly different parts.
I proved in the second post I made on this Blog that those beheaded for not taking The Mark aren't part of The Church.