Sealed and Delivered

Sealed and Delivered
Vol: 170 Issue: 4 Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I received an email from a member in Florida who noted the speed with which so much of what the Bible predicted economically for the last days is unfolding.  Her question is one that I receive, in one form, or another, on a fairly regular basis.

“Sweden has already gone to a cashless society and the power brokers here are pushing that here right now. What scares me is that suppose with the “cashless” economy we are required to have an implant or tatoo or however they’re going to do it before the AC takes control? What do we do?? We know it’s one step away from NWO and the AC but if he has NOT assumed power yet?? This has hit me like a ton of bricks and I would like your best answer. This stuff is all coming together so fast now that I’m getting to be very frightened.

After replying to her in an email, I felt led to expand the answer for anybody else out there contemplating the same question, “Can a person take the Mark of the Beast without meaning to?”  First, the short answer.  No.

The reason is because the Mark of the Beast is not merely an economic medium of exchange, like a debit or credit card, although it will surely incorporate those functions.  But if the Mark of the Beast were just about economics, my correspondent’s concern would be valid. 

But the Mark of the Beast is first and foremost a worship system.  First, one must pledge worship.  The penalty for refusing to worship the Beast is the withholding of the Mark, which will identify those who otherwise would escape the False Prophet’s attention.

“And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not WORSHIP the image of the beast should be killed.” (Revelation 13:15)

But the Bible makes plain that no man can serve two masters.  Those that agree to worship the Beast are rewarded with the Mark.  The Mark is a symbol of membership in the ‘church’ of antichrist, and among the privileges of membership under his rule is the right to life, a form of liberty and the right to pursue a form of economic happiness.

But in order to accept the Mark, there must first be a False Prophet to demand worship of the Beast.  FIRST comes the demand for worship.  THEN comes the Mark as a “reward” for worship. 

Like a high-tech Star of David in 1940’s Europe, only in reverse.  Those without the Mark will be identified for roundup and extermination.  You CANNOT accept it by accident. 

And for Christians, it is irrelevant in any case, since the antichrist cannot be revealed until AFTER the Restraining Holy Spirit is “taken out of the way” (along with the vessels He indwells.)

The Bible is specific about the Mark of the Beast being an issue of worship, rather than economics.   

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” (Revelation 14:9-11)

Some Christians find it difficult to reconcile the grace of God with such a harsh penalty – something I’ve always found baffling, since those same Christians have no problem with the concept of eternal damnation. 

But what about salvation by grace through faith?  Who are the Tribulation Saints?  And if the Holy Spirit has been withdrawn, how did they get saved?  

During the Tribulation, God’s grace is also withdrawn.  The Age of Grace concludes with the Rapture.  The Tribulation Period is the final, unfulfilled week of the Age of the Law.  

Revelation Chapter 7 describes an event so unique that Jesus devotes an entire chapter to its discussion.  It describes a special ‘sealing’ of “the servants of our God in their foreheads.” (Revelation 7:3)  These ‘servants of God’ are twelve thousand Jewish male virgins chosen from each of the twelve tribes of Israel — 144,000 in all.

The Greek word translated in Revelation 7:3 as “sealed” is sphragizo meaning, “to stamp for security or preservation.”

They are sphragizo in a miraculous manner, by the direct intervention of God, in exactly the same way Church Age believers are, through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.  Church Age believers are also sealed.

“. . . in Whom also after that ye believed, ye were sphragizo with that Holy Spirit of promise.” (Ephesians 1:13)

The sealing work of the Holy Spirit is the basis for our eternal security during the Church Age.  The Promise from Jesus is that He would send a Comforter, and that the Comforter would abide with us until He returns for us.

“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.” (John 14:16-18)

The Bible says that without the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, salvation is impossible.

“But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The doctrine of eternal security is proved by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all believers during the Age of Grace.  Absent the illuminating power of the Holy Spirit, the Bible says the Gospel is foolishness to the natural man.

Assessment:

There is a prevailing conceit within the Church that God loves the Gentiles best and therefore, His attention will still be focused on the Gentiles after the Church Age concludes at the Rapture.  But the Bible paints an entirely different portrait.

The purpose for the Tribulation is two-fold.  It is set aside as a time of JUDGEMENT for the Christ-rejecting Gentile world, and for the national redemption of Israel.  The Times of the Gentiles is over.  That’s not my opinion — it is the plain teaching of the Scripture.

“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” (Romans 11:25)

That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?  The musterion (mystery; previously unrevealed truth) is that God allowed the Jews to reject the Messiah in order to provide a limited opportunity for the Gentiles to be saved.  It is limited to that period UNTIL the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. 

And then what happens?  God turns His attention back to Israel.  It says so, right here, in black and white.

“And so ALL Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:  For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the father’s sakes.” (Romans 11:26-28)

One either subscribes the doctrine of replacement theology or one does not.  The New Covenant is with the believing Church during the Church Age, not with the unbelieving Gentiles of all ages.  The New Covenant is fulfilled at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb following the Rapture.

The Old Covenant is with the children of Israel.  It is fulfilled at the conclusion of Daniel’s Seventieth Week, when Israel enters into the Millennial Kingdom.

The 144,000 evangelists are sphragizo by the Holy Spirit to empower them as evangelists during the Tribulation Period, because it is only through the conviction of the Holy Spirit that men can be saved.

Those specially-sealed evangelists of Revelation 7 are Jewish male virgins from each of the Twelve Tribes. Their mission field is the whole House of Israel.  That does not preclude the salvation of Gentiles during this time, any more than Jews are precluded from salvation during the Church Age.

This is not dual-Covenant theology.  There is only one Covenant by which men are saved.  They are saved by faith that the shed Blood of Christ is sufficient to cleanse them of all sin.  That does not change during the Tribulation Period.

But the focus of God’s attention after the conclusion of the Age of Grace turns back to the Jews.  During the final Week of the Age of the Law, the universal ministry of the Holy Spirit is withdrawn. (2nd Thessalonians 2:7)

There will be believers in the Tribulation who will succumb to the antichrist’s coercion and accept his mark to save their families.  And Scripture is clear that those who do are forever lost.

Tribulation believers will be saved by faith in Christ and enduring until the end, as in the Church Age, but without the guarantee of eternal security or the automatic indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus described the tribulation as, “such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.” 

He warned that, “except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22

It is our job on this side of the Tribulation to give the warning of what is to come.  It is coming.  And it is coming soon.

Our blessed hope is found in the Scripture’s promise that Jesus comes for His Church first.  Butafter that, there is no guarantee of a second chance.

Better a blessed hope than a false one.

Originally Published: May 26, 2012

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