The question is asked: Do people who have rejected the gospel now, have a second chance after the Lord takes the church to be with himself? Let us look at the scriptures to find the answer.
The shut door.
In Luke 13:23 the question is put to the Lord: “Are such as are to be saved few in number?” The Lord’s answer to the Jew was to strive earnestly to enter in through the narrow door. Then the telling words in verse 25: “From the time that the master of the house shall have risen up and shall have shut the door, and ye shall begin to stand without and knock at the door, saying, Lord, open to us; and he answering shall say to you, I know not whence ye are: then shall ye begin to say …” These solemn words show that there is a time coming when matters will be final. The shut door is the symbol of that. No amount of appeal or pleading changes it, as is seen in the subsequent verses. Notice that there is no repentance - just claims of familiarity and proximity; they had eaten in his presence, and he had taught in their streets. Notice also that the parable speaks of the master of the house rising up to shut the door. Where is the Lord now? From Acts 2:34 (and Psalm 110) he is sitting at the Father’s right hand. When he “rises up” I believe it will be to gather his own at the rapture (1Thess. 4:16) and then to judge the earth before taking up his kingdom. This judgment is recorded in 2 Thess. 1:8, “in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who know not God, and those who do not obey the glad tidings of our Lord Jesus Christ”. I believe that these verses are sufficient to show that there is no further opportunity given to those who reject the gospel now.
However there is another obvious example of the shut door. Noah is described as “a preacher of righteousness. The time came when the animals, Noah and his family went into the ark, then God shut him in (Genesis 7:16). This has the stamp of finality as that dispensation, or period of God’s dealings with men, came to a close. There is a distinct parallel with Noah’s dispensation and ours. Enoch was translated before the judgment of the flood. He is a type of the church – translated before the judgment. Noah and his family are a type of the faithful Jewish remnant who will go through the judgment. Those who refused God’s testimony through Noah had no second chance.
Any repentance during judgment?
Why do some say that there is a second chance? I suppose it is due to the fact that after the church is taken there is a gospel preached, and multitudes are blessed. I put to you that those who are blessed are not those who have refused the gospel of the grace of God in our period. The above scripture in 2 Thessalonians 1 is sufficient for that. Further, such persons will not be granted the opportunity to repent. It seems that even repentance is a “gift” of God. Look at 2 Timothy 2::25. Speaking there about those who oppose the truth, “if God perhaps may sometime give them repentance …”
Notice that when God is dealing in judgment on persons in Revelation, there is no repentance. Look at Rev. 6:15-17; they hide in the caves and acknowledge it to be the great day of God’s wrath, but there is no mention of repentance. If you think I am reading too much into such verses, look at Rev. 9:20-21. It twice states explicitly that they did not repent. Worse in chapter 16:9 - they blasphemed the name of God and did not repent to give him glory. The same is said again in verse 11, and they blasphemed God in verse 21. In Romans we are told that it is the goodness of God that leads us to repentance. Judgment is not God’s desire; scripture speaks of it as his “strange work”.
Who will be converted and who will preach during the tribulation?
I believe it will be young Jewish evangelists who will spread the word and those who receive it will be those who have not had the opportunity to reject the gospel of the grace of God in our present period. This will no doubt include many millions in China, Mongolia, Central Asia, Africa, India, etc. It will be the gospel of Christ’s coming kingdom, not the gospel of the one body united to Christ in heaven by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, because the church will be with Christ in glory. That is why I say it will be Jewish preachers. Young - because those 20 or older at the Lord’s return are assumed to be responsible when it comes to matters of judgment. You will remember that none of the Israelites who were 20 or older, who came out of Egypt, went into the land of Canaan, except Joshua and Caleb.
In conclusion I see that scripture shows that when persons of responsible years reject the testimony that God gives them in our time, there is no further chance. In Hebrews 10:29-31, to disregard Moses’ law invoked the penalty of death, but “of how much worse punishment … shall he be judged worthy who has trodden underfoot the Son of God … and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” And finally in verse 31, “It is a fearful thing falling into the hands of the living God”.