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Chapter 3
The Seal of God and the Mark of the Beast

It is imperative that we identify the mark of the beast, for our salvation depends upon our rejection of this mark. So let us first seek the identifying characteristics of those who compose this remnant which will receive the great joy of salvation. The prophet Zephaniah plainly identifies the remnant. They are believers who possess three character traits.

The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies, neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth (Zephaniah 3:13).

These people of the remnant thus possess the following characteristics:

1. They do no iniquity (in Godís strength, yielding to Him day by day and moment by moment they have confessed and forsaken their sins).

2. They speak no lies.

3. They possess no deceitful tongue.

Characteristics 2 and 3 are allied. The term "guile" is a single word incorporating lying with deceit.

It is of no small import that these two characteristics are the precise characteristics cited as a summary of Christís character.

For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:21, 22).

It is vital that we ponder this passage, for here all Christians are admonished to seek Godís power, which is sent through the Holy Spirit, in order to emulate Christís character. Notice Christís character was summarized as possessing two features ó

1. He did no sin.

2. There was no guile in His mouth.

Thus the remnant of Zephaniah 3:13 are those who have followed Christís example in His character. Yet today many members of the clergy make no calls for their flock to earnestly seek, through prayer, the faith which will provide them with the power of the Holy Spirit to develop characters akin to that of Jesus. Of even greater concern is the fact that not a few shepherds of the flock encourage their members to believe that consistent sin in the life is no barrier to salvation. Those who accept such unscriptural error will receive the mark of the beast for they are clearly unqualified to be a portion of the remnant who shall be saved.

Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved (Romans 9:27).

Some may cry, "Legalism"! No! A thousand times, No! To reflect Christís character is simply to love Him tenderly and wholeheartedly.

If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14:15).

Further, let us notice what Scripture attests concerning the end-time saints. It is not without great significance that the words immediately following Christís severe denunciation of those who receive the mark of the beast are as follows:

Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and have the faith of Jesus (Revelation 14:12).

The question rightly arises, Are we not saved by grace (Godís mercy), and grace alone? The answer to this question is an emphatic Yes! Scripture testifies to this fact.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

Thus even the possession of a Christ-like character provides no ground or basis for our salvation. Christís immeasurable grace, His mercy, alone saves us from our sins. This fact must never be minimized. It is a central gospel fact. That grace is provided for us through the death of our Saviour on Calvary. We are not saved by the development of a Christ-like character. But, we cannot be saved without it, for the possession of such a character, as we have seen, is an inevitable result of partaking of Godís grace.

So important is this truth that Christ impressed it on the tables of stone when preparing His ten commandments. Unfortunately the Roman Catholic Church has deigned to entirely expunge this matter from the ten commandments. God wrote,

And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:6).

Godís mercy in providing salvation, that is, His saving grace, is not bestowed without conditions. These conditions are love for Him and keeping His commandments. This passage of Scripture, while present in Roman Catholic versions of Scripture such as the Douay Version, and the Jerusalem Bible, has been removed from Roman Catholic catechisms, as has the remainder of the second commandment.

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments (Exodus 20:4-6).

Keep this in mind as we further evaluate the meaning of the mark of the beast. Those who have read John Paulís Apostolic Letter and have been confused by his continual reference to the Sabbath commandment as the third commandment need to understand that the Roman Catholic Churchís expulsion of the second commandment from the decalogue necessitates the altering of the numeration of the ten commandments. Thus Roman Catholics refer to the Sabbath commandment as the third and not the fourth, as Scripture testifies.

The Bible teaches that the entire ground for our salvation is grace, while the condition upon which grace is bestowed is faith that is manifested in obedience to Godís commandments (Eph. 2:8, James 2:9,10), an obedience found in Godís last-day saints (Revelation 14:12). Scripture even asserts that it is the remnant who keep Godís commandments, upon whom the dragon, who in Revelation 12:9 is identified as Satan, focuses his great rage in the last days of earthís history (Revelation 12:17).

We have seen that the remnant will possess the character of Christ which is summarized in 1 Peter 2:22 by two features ó He did no sin, and no guile was found in His mouth. But there is another very important group at the end of time which will possess this same character. Indeed, this group of faithful people, called by another name, are identical to the remnant. They are crucial to our discovery of the nature of the mark of the beast.

This synonym for the remnant is the 144,000. Listen to the summary of their characters.

And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God (Revelation 14:5).

We see that they share with Christ mouths without guile, and are faultless (sinless) before the throne of God. God declares,

I will not justify the wicked (Exodus 23:7).

Of course, the remnant/144,000, are redeemed sinners, for all have sinned (Romans 3:23). But in the power of the Holy Spirit they have developed a life of overcoming.

This is a characteristic of genuine belief. Many Christians accept two statements of Scripture with no better belief than do Satan and his angels. Let it not be forgotten that

the devils also believe and tremble (James 2:19).

But this intellectual acknowledgment alone is Satanís counterfeit version of belief. Be not deceived, Satan has counterfeited every virtue of God.

Yet Scripture does assent

that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:15, 16).

Here Christ guaranteed eternal life on the condition of belief. Paul and Silas gave the same assurance to the jailer.

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:31).

So then in what way does genuine belief differ from the belief that Satan and his angels possess, and that which he offers as a deceptive substitute for the genuine? The following passage presents the features of true belief in Christ.

Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him. By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous. For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:1-5).

Take note that this entire passage is related to genuine belief, for this fact is stated in the first and the last verses of the passage.

Now let us highlight the seven character features of true belief enumerated in this passage of Godís Word:

1. We must be born of God ó the new birth experience (verses 1,4).

2. We love our neighbor as ourselves (verses 1,2).

3. We love God with the whole heart (verses 1,2,3).

4. We keep (obey) Godís commandments (verses 2,3).

5. We must overcome the world/worldliness (verses 4,5).

6. We must have victory over sin (verse 4).

7. We must have faith, the faith of Jesus (verse 4).

Few Christians who describe themselves as "believers" measure up to these criteria. The five foolish virgins were "believers," but because they lacked the oil in their lamps, the symbol of the Holy Spirit and His power in their lives, they failed to attain eternal life for they had accepted the devilís counterfeit belief.

The same is true of the Christians described by Christ, who will be aghast that they have failed to gain eternal life.

Not every man that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity (Matthew 7:21-23).

We observe that these "believers" did many works, but they did not possess the character of Christ for they did not do the will of God. Many of these have been beguiled by preachers who have promised salvation to those who neglect to meet the conditions. The remnant/144,000 have not accepted such sophistries.

Let us now return to the 144,000, for it is they who enlighten our understanding of the mark of the beast. The redeemed are first mentioned by this designation as follows:

And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. (Revelation 7:2Ė4).

Some have interpreted this group as being composed solely of Jews. No doubt it will include faithful Jews who have accepted Christ, but other details of this group and the fact that they are synonymous with the remnant excludes the view that the 144,000 is entirely composed of ethnic Jews. This passage must be understood in the New Testament usage of the term "Israel" or "Abrahamís seed."

And if ye be Christís, then are ye Abrahamís seed, and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3:29).

Revelation 7:2,3 reveals that prior to the release of the winds of strife which will lead to the seven last plagues, the 144,000 will receive the seal of the living God in their foreheads. Bear in mind that the mark of the beast is also placed in the forehead, but in addition it may be received in the right hand (Revelation 13:16). We have documented from scripture that those who receive the mark of the beast compose the lost. We shall see that those who receive the seal of the living God are the redeemed. Thus if we can elucidate the meaning of the seal of the living God, we will in no wise be in difficulty in understanding the nature of the mark of the beast.

The seal of the living God represents character. This is evidenced by Scripture for the seal of the living God is described as follows:

And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with him an hundred forty and four thousand, having his Fatherís name written in their foreheads (Revelation 14:1).

The seal of God thus is the Fatherís name inscribed in the forehead. What does this mean? Godís name represents His character. In the Lordís prayer we are encouraged to pray

Hallowed be thy name (Matthew 6:9).

We hallow His name because it enshrines His pure and holy character.

As we have seen, the 144,000 do possess the character of Christ.

And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God (Revelation 14:5).

The seal is represented in the forehead because it is a character developed through deep conviction. If the seal of the living God represents Godís character reflected in the lives of true believers, then the mark of the beast represents Satanís character in the life. This should come as no surprise, as rather than living a life without sin and possessing no guile, the Bible represents him as the originator of sin (Ezekiel 28:15) and the father of lies (John 8:44).

Manifestly the seal of the living God represents the character of God which will dwell in the hearts of the redeemed at the end of time and the mark of the beast, by contrast, represents the character of Satan which will be planted in the hearts of all those who have not sought the conditions upon which Godís grace will be imparted. It is not possible for Christ to take those to heaven at His coming who refuse to permit Him to take sin from their lives. Such would continue to sin in heaven and the entire plan of salvation would thus be thwarted. That plan is to cleanse the universe of sin. This can only be achieved when sin and sinners are no more. God assures us that affliction (sin) will not recur.

What do ye imagine against the Lord? he will make an utter end: affliction shall not rise up the second time (Nahum 1:9).

We may wonder at the purpose of the question. The answer is clear as we observe the doctrines accepted by most Christians. They imagine that the Lord will not make an end of sin, for they claim that the wicked live on forever in hell. The Bible teaches they will be destroyed (see the book, The Mystery of Death, by the same authors).

But what external evidence will indicate the distinction between those who possess the seal of the living God and those cursed with the mark of the beast? The term "seal of the living God" originates from the practice in Bible times of rulers at all levels possessing a distinctive seal of their authority. Each seal contained three mandatory elements:

1. The name of the ruler.

2. The authority of the ruler.

3. The region over which the ruler governed.

When Pilateís seal was placed over the tomb of Christ, it displayed these three mandatory elements: name ó Pontius Pilate; authority ó governor; region governed ó Judea. Similarly, Augustus, the ruler of the Roman Empire, possessed a seal. Its designation stated: name ó Caesar Augustus; authority ó emperor; region governed ó the Roman Empire.

So important is Godís seal that He did not commence a word of Scripture before placing His seal upon the words therein.

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

Here all three elements of the Seal of God are incorporated. Name ó God; authority ó Creator (sometimes referred to as the Maker of all); area governed ó the heaven and the earth.

At the conclusion of Creation week the Sabbath was instituted. Here once more the seal of the living God was displayed.

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made: and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made (Genesis 2:1-3).

In this passage Godís name is inserted three times, His authority is mentioned on four occasions (Ďmakeí three times, and Ďcreatedí once), and His region of governance once.

Since the ten commandments are a transcript of Godís character it comes as no surprise to discover that it contains the seal of the living God. While some commandments contain Godís name, the fourth commandment alone contains all three elements.

Remember the Sabbath to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour and do all thy work, But the seventh day is the sabbath of Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it: (Exodus 20:8-11).

These elements are found in verse 11: Godís name ó the Lord; His authority ó made; His region of governance ó heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is.

There is a most important reason why the seal of the living God is located in the fourth commandment. This commandment commences

Remember the sabbath day to keep it holy (Exodus 20:8).

There is only one manner in which we can truly keep Godís Sabbath and that is in holiness. In order to keep the Sabbath holy, men must themselves be holy. If one has stolen a hundred dollars during the week and has not confessed that sin nor made restitution, no matter how earnestly that individual may worship the Lord on the holy Sabbath day, he has not kept the Sabbath day holy. It is little wonder that the Jews referred to Friday as the preparation day. It was a day to examine each heart and make right any wrongs so that the Sabbath could be kept in holiness unto the Lord.

Thus the Sabbath is the key to obedience to Godís law, for it is only as we obey each one of the other nine commandments that we can keep the Sabbath holy. The Sabbath commandment with its intrinsic call to a holy life is the only commandment which centers on our total character. Thus it was most appropriate that God placed His seal within this commandment, for the seal of the living God is Christís character within the heart.

Indeed the entire Bible has as its theme Godís loving offer of the gift of His seal. This is the purpose for its presence in the very first verse of Scripture. It is the reason that it is found in the very last message God in His love gives to mankind.

When Christ related the signs of His coming to His disciples, He made a very important promise which was also a prophecy.

And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations, and then shall the end come (Matthew 24:14).

It will be observed that at this time Christ did not present the precise content of this last message to mankind to be presented prior to His second coming. However, in Revelation this message is expounded. It is termed, for obvious reasons, the three angelsí messages. We have already referred to the third angelís message concerning Godís wrath upon those who receive the mark of the beast. This is the last of the three angelsí messages. The introduction to these messages specifically states that they are the gospel messages to be taken worldwide.

And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people (Revelation 14:6).

If we examine the first of these angelsí messages we discover that it contains the seal of the living God. Indeed the final portion referring to the all-important subject of worship is almost an exact quotation of the last portion of the fourth commandment.

Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters (Revelation 14:7).

Notice that this message contains the three mandatory elements of the sealóGodís name (God), His authority (made), and the territory of His rulership (heaven and earth, the sea and the fountains of water).

Indeed the great purpose of Scripture is to offer to every human being the seal of the living God, for God is unwilling that any should perish (2 Peter 3:9).

The Sabbath day is of the greatest significance, for full obedience to this commandment ensures a sanctified life.

Moreover I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them (Ezekiel 20:12).

It will be observed in the new earth for only holy people reside there.

For as the new heavens and the new earth, which I will make, shall remain before me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed and your name remain. And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me, saith the Lord (Isaiah 66:22, 23).

If Sabbath observance is the external sign of the seal of the living God, then clearly the adherence to a counterfeit Sabbath, one which God has never blessed or hallowed, is the external sign of the mark of the beast at the close of probationary time. Each symbolizes the character of its founder. The seventh-day Sabbath was instituted by Christ; the counterfeit Sabbath promoted in the popeís Apostolic Letter, entered the Christian church via paganism as confirmed by the Baptist author, Edward Hiscox (see Chapter I of this book).

The popeís claim that Sunday worship was instituted to remember the resurrection of Christ carries with it no thread of biblical unction. It is not "Easter which returns week by week," as the pope asserts. If we are to construct a human basis for the selection of a day of worship, some surely would select Friday, the day of Christís crucifixion. Others would select Thursday, the day of the first Communion service.

It was the lack of Scriptural support for Sunday observance which caused the Council of Trent (convened 1545Ė1563) to deny the Bible as the lone rule of faith. The Council of Trent was called to counter the Reformation. At one point the bishops present were evenly divided as to whether it would be a good ploy to follow the Protestant lead and declare the Bible as the sole source of faith and doctrine or to retain church authority and tradition, in addition to Scripture, as the rule of faith.

The newly founded Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) perceptively recognized that if the Scriptures alone were the rule of faith, the Catholic Church would lose its mandate for Sunday observance.

The Jesuits found in Cardinal Gaspare de Fosso, Archbishop of Reggio, a city in the "toe" of Italy, one who acknowledged their reasoning. The day following his discussions with the Jesuits, January 18, 1562, Cardinal de Fosso arose in the Council of Trent and stated,

Such is the condition of the heretics [Protestants] of this age that on nothing do they rely more than that, under the pretence of the Word of God, they overthrow the authority of the ChruchÖ.The authority of the Church, then, is illustrated most clearly by the Scriptures; for while on the one hand she recomends them, declares them to be divineÖon the other hand, the legal precepts in the Scriptures taught by the Lord have ceased by virture of the same authority. The Sabbath, the most glorious day of the law, has been changed into the Lordís day.

Here the church authority and church tradition is placed above the Scripture. Cardinal de Fossoís argument swayed the thinking of the assembled bishops and the Council of Trent entrenched church authority as at least equal, and in practice, above Scripture, as its authority for faith, practice, and doctrine.

Unfortunately, the rash of Christian "conversions" from paganism which transpired after the "conversion" of Emperor Constantine, led to the introduction of many pagan religious practices to which a veneer of Christianity was applied. Worship on the first day of the week, Sunday, was just one of these practices. The fact that Christ rose on that day was a convenient veneer to apply to that rite of paganism.

The end-time prophecy of Revelation 13:15-17, warning of the enactment of dire penalties for those who refuse to receive the mark of the beast, is a cause to ponder John Paulís call for civil legislation to ensure Sunday observance. The new canons which call for unspecified penalties for any person who teaches

Öa doctrine condemned by the Roman Pontiff, or by an ecumenical council, or obstinately rejects the teachings mentioned in Canon 750 s 2, or in Canon 752 and, when warned by the Apostolic See or by the Ordinary, does not retract (Canon 1371 cited in the popeís Apostolic Letter of May 28, 1998 entitled Ad Tuendam Fidem),

generate considerable concern for all lovers of the principles of religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

It is time to raise, once more, the cry of religious liberty around the lands of this earth (see the book entitled, Liberty in the Balance, authored by Colin and Russell Standish). It is time to study Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is time to make our calling and election sure (2 Peter 1:10). It is time to eschew all non-Scriptural doctrines and practices. It is time to seek God with the whole heart.

We have identified the mark of the beast. We have yet to identify the beast power and the "he" who empowers the beast. The beast will be identified in Chapter 6 ó Identification of the First Beast of Revelation 13. The "he" will be identified in Chapter 7 of this series ó The Second Beast of Revelation 13.  These are the two superpowers of the end time.

Let us recapitulate the Biblical evidence defining the seal of the living God and mark of the beast.

At the close of earthís history every individual will have heard the everlasting gospel of Revelation 14:6 Ė 12. If it is preached "to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." (Revelation 14:6). Those who accept Christís salvation receive the seal of the living God. Those who reject it receive the mark of the beast.

Those who receive the seal of the living God will have developed the character of Christ which the Bible summarizes as two characteristicsóHe did no sin and no guile was found in His mouth (1 Peter 2:22). This is demonstrated in the life by true Sabbathkeeping, for the Sabbath is the commandment of total character, since it may only be kept in holiness. Holiness is the possession of Christís character.

The mark of the beast is received by those who develop the character of Satan, a character of rebellion against God. This is manifested by observing a counterfeit day of worshipóthe day of paganism, Sunday, a day of worship for which the Bible provides no mandate.

Those who receive the mark of the beast will be "rewarded" with eternal destruction. This is an act of love by God, for they would never find happiness amongst holy beings and their continued sin would insure the external pollution of the universe.

Those who receive the seal of the living God receive eternal life for in Christís strength and through His spilt blood, they have been fitted for heaven. The choice is ours today.

 


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