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  • Writer's picturekeithburwell

When Grace Is Not Sufficient




The New Testament makes it clear that the New Covenant, which was ratified at the cross, made salvation available by grace through faith. Romans Chapter 4 makes it clear that this grace through faith is extended to all the descendants of Abraham from all nations.


[Rom 4:13-17 ESV] 13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith. 14 For if it is the adherents of the law who are to be the heirs, faith is null and the promise is void. 15 For the law brings wrath, but where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 That is why it depends on faith, in order that the promise may rest on grace and be guaranteed to all his offspring--not only to the adherent of the law but also to the one who shares the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all, 17 as it is written, "I have made you the father of many nations"--in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist.


Paul, in writing to the Romans in chapter 5 indicates that a fundamental rule of grace is that as sin grows, so does grace to cover it. [Rom 5:20-21 ESV] 20 Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.


So, then, if it is by grace (or God’s unmerited favor) that through faith, we can receive salvation, what is it that we must have faith in? Hebrews 1, makes the case clear that we must believe in Jesus’ atonement for sin through His death, burial, and resurrection.

[Heb 1:3 ESV] 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.




WHEN GRACE WOULD BE NEEDED MOST...

Therefore, if we have established through clear and unambiguous scripture, that ALL children of Abraham can obtain grace through faith in the shed blood of Jesus as that which saves us and allows us eternal life in the presence of God, AND that in a time where Godlessness will be rampant, and therefore grace should be abounding, then we have a question to answer. How is it that in Revelation, those who take the Mark of the Beast will be tormented forever and ever? How is it that grace cannot be found immediately upon realizing their mistake in taking the mark? Of all points in history when grace would be needed more than ever, it is nowhere to be found. Let’s look at the relevant scripture.


[Rev 13:11-18 ESV] 11 Then I saw another beast rising out of the earth. It had two horns like a lamb and it spoke like a dragon. 12 It exercises all the authority of the first beast in its presence, and makes the earth and its inhabitants worship the first beast, whose mortal wound was healed. 13 It performs great signs, even making fire come down from heaven to earth in front of people, 14 and by the signs that it is allowed to work in the presence of the beast it deceives those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image for the beast that was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 And it was allowed to give breath to the image of the beast, so that the image of the beast might even speak and might cause those who would not worship the image of the beast to be slain. 16 Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, 17 so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. 18 This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.

[Rev 14:9-13 ESV] 9 And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink the wine of God's wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name." 12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. 13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, "Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Blessed indeed," says the Spirit, "that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!"


From these passages we learn that the 2nd beast (false prophet) is given the power to make an image of the 1st beast. It is this image that then has the power to kill saints and also give everyone a mark. One critical point we need to see is that everyone will CLEARLY understand what the mark is when it comes. An angel will literally fly around the earth telling everyone not to take the mark or suffer eternal torment. God is not a “gotcha!” God. There will be no way for us to NOT know that we are taking the mark.



This passage also infers that once the mark is taken, it is a fait accompli. There is no turning back. Once the mark is taken, the eternal fate is sealed. This is why in the following section of chapter 14, the harvest of the Earth takes place (see previous post on the end time harvest). This is because there is no longer a valley of decision- those who didn’t take the mark are the saints who will go to Heaven. Everyone else took the mark and there is no further decision possible.


This goes against our conventional understanding in the 20th century. We have a mindset (for right or wrong) that says that as long as we are breathing, grace is still available to us no matter what we have done. We know that if we repent of our sins, and call upon the name of Jesus, He is faithful and just to forgive us. [1Jo 1:9 ESV] 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.


As we play out the future scenario in our minds of a family under the regime of the Beast, we could see the following occur over and over. The mother and the children, who are all saved, are threatened with their lives to renounce Christ and worship the Beast by taking the mark. Standing firm in their faith, they are martyred in front of their father and husband. The father, who does not believe in the salvation offered by Jesus, takes the mark but then is immediately remorseful of his decision. He cries out to God for forgiveness and realizes his fate. Yet, according to the scripture above in Rev.9-10, there is no way out. There is no turning back. This is a living being realizing that they have no way to escape eternal torment. We can’t even imagine being left with no option, but here it is in the scripture. So much so, in fact, that the very next image we see from John is that of the harvest of the earth because decisions can no longer be made. Free will is no more.



ETERNITY OFFERED, BUT AT VERY DIFFERENT COSTS...

These ideas- a removal of free will, an eternal fate without chance of redemption, faith WITHOUT grace, seem almost impossible to us. This flies directly in the face of what we discussed earlier in regards to grace through faith to receive salvation. What, then, can reconcile these two ideas? How can we have unlimited grace yet a cessation of free will and choice at the most critical time? The answer lies in the promise of salvation and the nature of the mark.


John 3:16 is often quoted because it is a very concise picture of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the New Covenant's elevator pitch, so to speak. But it is important because it clearly states the WHY we would accept Christ’s sacrifice and redemption for our sins. It is because of the promise of eternal life. The salvation given to us by God is not a million dollar check, it is not the cattle on a thousand hills, nor is it even all of our dreams come true. It is very plainly- eternal life. We shall not perish but have eternal life. Therefore, it stands to reason that if there is a counterfeit Christ that is demanding worship, then there is also an equal offer of eternal life available. Otherwise, why would a rational person choose anything but eternal life? The option must be on BOTH sides of the choice. Therefore, the beast must offer some sort of eternity to those who choose him over Jesus.


Now some might say one of the following as rebuttal to that- 1) God is the only one who can offer eternal life, or 2) John 3:16 says only those who have accepted Christ can obtain eternal life. I would refer you then to any number of passages that discuss the outer darkness or the lake of fire such as this- [Rev 14:11 ESV] 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name."



Which begs the question, if their torment goes up forever and ever, aren’t they alive? Therefore, don’t they technically have eternal life, albeit one no one would choose? The rebuttal to this then would be, “ Well, everyone who goes to hell since the beginning of time is tormented forever, so there is no difference between anyone who takes the mark and any other sinner since Adam. So John 3:16 is referring to life WITH God as opposed to eternal torment.” Okay, that may be true. It is obviously our almost universal church understanding of the plan for eternity- saved to Heaven, sinners to Hell, and then forever. But how, then, do we rectify THAT idea with this scripture? [Mat 10:28 ESV] 28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.


Yes- it speaks about Hell but it also speaks to God’s ability to destroy both body and soul. But, those who take the mark, are tormented forever and ever. Therefore, there must be a reason why these souls are not destroyed. Maybe there are others but the scripture speaks specifically about these souls. To possibly understand why, we must next go to both ends of the bible. First, to Revelation.

[Rev 22:1-2 ESV] 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.


From this passage, healing is found in the leaves of the tree of life. One would assume that if they are for healing, a steady and continuous diet will allow for life without end. While we are inferring this from Revelation, we can understand it more clearly from Genesis.

[Gen 3:22-24 ESV] 22 Then the LORD God said, "Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever--" 23 therefore the LORD God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.



From Genesis, we can see that indeed the tree of life provided for everlasting life. In fact, God suspended Free Will at that point and ushered them out of the garden so that they did not eat of the tree of life. They did not even have the ability to commit that second sin. Why? Why would it have been so bad or “impossible” to recover from this second sin?



REDEMPTION FOR ALL MANKIND...ONLY

The answer to this question lies in the manner in which we received our redemption and forgiveness of sin.

[Heb 9:22-28 ESV] 22 Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins. 23 Thus it was necessary for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these rites, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ has entered, not into holy places made with hands, which are copies of the true things, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God on our behalf. 25 Nor was it to offer himself repeatedly, as the high priest enters the holy places every year with blood not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer repeatedly since the foundation of the world. But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.


In order to save mankind, Jesus had to come as a man. Not an angel, not a divine council member, or any other supernatural being. He had to come as a man to redeem man. He then had to die as a man, and in turn, defeat death and Hell, which had power over mankind until then. In conjunction, mankind must die once, as Hebrews 9:27 says, and then judgment.


IN ORDER TO RECEIVE THE SALVATION OF JESUS CHRIST AND ENTER INTO HEAVEN AS A REDEEMED SAINT, EVERY PERSON MUST BE CAPABLE TO DIE A PHYSICAL DEATH. To be clear, dying is not the requirement of salvation, but rather the science which defines those who are eligible to receive the salvation. God freely gives salvation to those who believe but they have to be part of mankind to partake in it. As Paul said, [1Co 15:51-54 ESV] 51 Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. 53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. 54 When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."


We know that it is for man and no other beings based on Hebrews.

[Heb 1:13-14 ESV] 13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet"? 14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?


As can be seen, a distinction is made between angels and mankind, that salvation is for humanity, not angelic beings. We are getting closer to the answer to our question regarding the insufficiency of grace over the taking of the mark. Let us go through a series of If/Then statements to clarify our position up to now.

If...sin abounds,

Then... grace abounds much more.


If...grace is available through faith,

Then... it is available for salvation of mankind.


If...salvation is available for ALL mankind, but not for those taking the Mark of the Beast,

Then...taking the Mark of the Beast nullifies (or changes) a person's status as no longer human.


Am I making a huge leap in logic with this statement? I don't think so. In fact, I believe this is a simple, straightforward way of reconciling this disparity.

  1. We believe in the COMPLETE sufficiency of the blood of Christ to atone for all sin.

  2. This ability of the blood is FREELY given to all who believe.

  3. The Mark of the Beast is a final decision. There can be no change of heart or reconciliation to God through Christ Jesus.

  4. The greatest need for forgiveness and salvation in human history will be, arguably, after taking the Mark of the Beast. But it is not available.

  5. The Mark must change humans in some way, preventing the grace of God and atonement of the blood from being effective.


DOES THE MARK OF THE BEAST REMOVE YOUR HUMANITY?

Are there any clues that this could be true? Is there any corroborating scripture that may show this as the possible solution? Yes, I believe there are.


Jude, the half brother of Jesus, references the Book of Enoch and discusses the fate of the angels in chains- [Jde 1:6, 13-15 ESV] 6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day-- ... 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever. 14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him."

What then are these angels? These are the sons of God spoken of in Genesis 6. They, being supernatural beings, created children with the daughters of man. This created hybrid beings called the Nephilim- a mix of man and supernatural being. (Sidebar- if you are or have interpreted Genesis 6 in any other way then this, the mental and logical gymnastics that you must conduct to make it NOT angelic beings procreating with human women are overwhelming. The simplest explanation is the above.) The absolute #1 issue this created was the problem that God avoided by removing Adam and Eve from the garden after the fall. God said that if they would stay and eat of the tree of life (after sinning by eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil) they would then stay in their sin forever and be "unredeemable". Why would they be unredeemable? As we said above, they no longer would have the ability to die. Therefore, the sacrifice of Jesus, who came as a man to redeem man, would not have been sufficient for someone who was unable to die.




This would then be why the Nephilim were (and are) unredeemable, although they are half human. They are half supernatural, meaning they cannot die. This eliminates their qualification for redemption. Here is one example of unredeemable man. ( remember- before throwing this idea out, recall that it was Jude- the half brother of Jesus who wrote about these angels from the book of Enoch!)


Another possible proof of this theory is found in Revelation 9.

[Rev 9:6 ESV] 6 And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them.


Can you think of a scenario where if you were truly seeking death, you couldn't find it? At the very least, you could throw yourself off a cliff. How could it be possible that you could NOT die when you wanted to? Here is one answer-


You believed the lie of the Beast, when you were offered the ability to gain eternal life outside of the way in which God intended. You take the Mark, which gives you immortality outside of God's plan, and you quickly realize that by gaining life, you have lost your soul. When you try to kill yourself from grief, pain, agony, or anything else, you find out you cannot. The Beast's mark was final. How could it be "final"?


Recall the words that Paul used to the church in Corinth. [2Co 5:17 ESV] 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.


It stands to reason (and yes this is theory), that if we are new creatures in Christ, wouldn't someone be a new creature in the AntiChrist? By taking the mark, these people are becoming new creatures, APART FROM GOD.


Want more proof? [Rev 20:15 ESV] 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

[Mat 7:21-23 ESV] 21 "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'


I was always bothered by these passages. If everyone is born, then everyone's name is written in the book of life. How can one no longer be in a book of names which are literally a record of the people who exist? Answer- when you are no longer a creation of the most high God and are now a creation of the enemy and the Beast. You, through the taking of the Mark, became a NEW creature apart from God, one that He does not have written in the book of life because You no longer are the creation He created.



And how does God acknowledge this truth? When you say, at the judgment seat "Lord, Lord", He says- "Depart from me, I never knew you." How is it that God could not know you? To expand that thought- depart from me, you are a creature, a being, that has eternal life gained apart from me. I do not know you, I do not recognize you as part of my creation, and I am not able nor willing to redeem you by the blood because it wasn't shed for anyone but mankind.


This is possibly equatable to the blaspheming of the Holy Spirit, which is called the Unpardonable Sin. If we know that the temple of God is our body, and the Spirit of the Lord lives in us, if our body (temple) becomes corrupted by taking the abomination of the Mark, which causes the desolation of the Holy Spirit (read my article on the temple in the end times), then we cannot be forgiven as the Holy Spirit no longer resides in us as a down payment for Christ's return.


POSSIBLE EXPLANATION FOR THE MARK?

Lastly, what then could the Mark be that has the power to make someone a new creation apart from God? This is where I believe some prophecy can only be understood at the time of the end, which we are in.


What have we learned from science over the last 100 years that is the absolute unique defining "signature" of who we are? Thanks to Watson and Crick, we know it is our DNA. These strands define who we are- from hair color to baldness, from genetic disease to brain size. Our DNA is a profile of every individual person on the earth.



Imagine for a second that God doesn't read our emotions or actions or anything else about us but instead reads our DNA. Not that He doesn't know everything about us down to the number of hairs on our head, but what if it were our DNA that God has decided to use to catalog this information? What if our DNA strand is the language which is written in the Lamb's Book of Life?


Now... what if the Mark of the Beast was something that "changed" our DNA to allow us to live forever? Just like that- we become a new creation APART from the one who God knows. (Depart from me, I never knew you.)




 

A technology that has only been in existence for 8 years is now able to splice DNA and add or remove selected genomes. We now have the ability to change the human signature into a completely different creature. [Jhn 10:10 ESV] 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.


Is this not the ultimate theft? The ultimate destruction? We can rest in the knowledge that those alive during the Mark of the Beast will know without a doubt what they are doing by taking the mark. They will know they are choosing eternity apart from God and trying to achieve immortality on their own terms. This will absolutely be a choice. But it WILL BE A CHOICE. And there will be many who choose to take it.

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