If I Take The Mark of The Beast Will I Lose My Salvation?

The popular declaration in Christendom today is, “Do not take the mark of the beast, because if you do, you will go to hell.” A related question is, “Can you lose your salvation by taking the mark of the beast during the tribulation?” There is a great deal of confusion about the mark of the beast, and few sermons adequately address this subject. Rather than just accept the mantra, “Do not take the mark of the beast!,” let’s carefully dig into the scriptures for help.

This issue really involves a number of corollary questions, and if you don’t answer these questions with careful biblical analysis, you can end up making assumptions that have no biblical support. Let’s unpack this whole issue with several smaller questions:

1. What is the mark of the beast?
2. What the mark of the beast is not.
3. Who will take the mark of the beast?
4. What does it mean to worship the beast?
5. What will happen if one refuses to take the mark of the beast?
6. What will happen if one does take the mark of the beast AND worships the beast?

Let’s address each of these as concisely as we can, and at all times let’s keep in mind fundamental but critically important Biblical Principles of Interpretation (Use these drop down menus for more information.)

Why are there so many different opinions about biblical doctrine? One cannot randomly read verses in the Bible and attribute meaning based on personal subjective experiences, or by pulling whatever allegorical meaning you want them to have, nor is it wise to simply accept other people’s opinions. Since the early days of the complete canon (approximately 96 AD when John finished the book of Revelation), methods have been developed that provide reliable approaches to accurately interpreting the true meaning of the scriptures. You don’t have to be a graduate of a seminary to learn these solid methods. Exegesis is the act of studying a passage critically and objectively and expressing the author’s intended meaning, while hermeneutics is the study of the principles by which the passage is to be interpreted. Hermeneutics involves grammatical (rules of grammar), historical (facts of history), and literal (plain meaning) rules of interpretation. In their briefest form, a few of the principles of interpretation should always include these:

  1. The Bible is the best interpreter of itself.
  2. Text must be interpreted in context, both immediate and broad.
  3. Read from the text, not into it.
  4. Understand when verses are to be taken literally or figuratively.

These are the principles in abbreviated form, but there are books and entire treatises written about how to properly study and interpret the books of the Bible. Not applying a systematic approach to Bible interpretation too often results in interpretations that are nothing more than shooting from the hip or just accepting the latest “opinions,” both of which are extremely dangerous when it comes to God’s Word.”

Why this brief lesson on proper Bible interpretation? Because we are living in a time when American churches have all but abandoned good expository preaching, and heresy has infected churches with false doctrines, and many believers have been and are being misled. Few Christians have learned the basics of studying the Bible and learning how to apply its truths, and American Christians have come to believe all kinds of nonsense. If you want to be an astronomer, you can’t just guess or make up your own rules. You’ve got to learn the rules of astronomy. If you want to be a brain surgeon, you’ve got to learn human anatomy and neurology. If you want to learn how to read and interpret the Bible, you can’t just guess or make up your own rules. You need to learn exegesis and the principles hermeneutics. If you really want to learn the meaning and application of God’s Word as he intended, know that it will be hard work–very hard work. You can see from this single article on one small biblical subject, the mark of the beast, that a systematic approach to correctly interpreting the Word of God will take time, lots of reading, research with reliable commentaries, perhaps the use of a concordance and other Bible tools, and of course prayer and meditation. As long as this article is, a more thorough study would be much longer. By way of encouragement, you can be sure that applying basic rules of interpretation in your own studies will open up a whole new world of understanding God’s Word, and you will be abundantly blessed. Even better, you will become a blessing to others who need help understanding God’s Word.

1. What is the mark of the beast?

“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:16-17 (NASB)

The only thing we know for sure is that this mark is to be placed on the right hand or the forehead, and that it is needed to buy or sell in the market. That’s not much to go on, and while there is a lot of speculation about what the mark of the beast could be, we prefer to look to the Word of God for direct help. In this verse the purpose of the mark is to allow people to buy or sell, and there is no mention of worshipping the beast or of being condemned for taking the mark. We’ll have to look at other verses for additional help.

We are told that the mark has a number, the number of man, and that the number is represented by 666.

Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for the number is that of a man; and his number is six hundred and sixty-six. Revelation 13:18 (NASB)

One obvious point is that this mark of the beast finds its source in satan not God. We know that because the number 6 represents man (and the idea of being incomplete) and the number 7 represents God (and the idea of completion or perfection). The threefold repetition of 6 into 666 is a way to heighten the emphasize that the mark is a worldly mark belonging to man’s identification, and in the tribulation it is given by satan’s delegate, the second beast (aka the false prophet). Of course, we could also know this based on the name God gave this, “mark of the beast.” Even the name tells us it belongs to the beast.

What is the purpose of a mark, and who is the mark intended to protect or condemn?

The word “mark” in the original Greek is “charagma,” which is from “charassō,” meaning “I engrave,” and was the term for images or names of the emperor on Roman coins. In the ancient world, marks like tattoos or brands were given to slaves and soldiers. A mark was a sign of ownership and loyalty. A mark was also a way of separating those subjects from the rest of the population, and that kind of mark was used over and over again in the Bible as a mark of protection. In other words, the one to whom the mark is devoted used that mark to identify those who belonged to him, and to shield them from his judgment to be rendered against all who do not have the mark. Here are some examples from the Bible.

Then the glory of the God of Israel went up from the cherub on which it had been, to the threshold of the temple. And He called to the man clothed in linen at whose loins was the writing case. The LORD said to him, “Go through the midst of the city, even through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations which are being committed in its midst.” But to the others He said in my hearing, “Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare. Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark. Ezekiel 9:3-6 (NASB)

In the Old Testament, God marked Israel with blood on their doorposts to spare them when He killed Egypt’s firstborn. He marked Rahab with a scarlet cord to keep her and those with her from being killed. Notice again that God’s mark was to protect them from His wrath.

An excellent example of how God uses a mark is seen with the 144,000 in Revelation. God sealed, with a mark on the forehead, the 144,000 to preserve them from His wrath against the unbelieving world Rev 7:2-4

And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed. (NASB)

Who has repeatedly counterfeited God’s plans and symbols throughout all of history? Of course, it is satan.

So is it any surprise that satan would copy God’s idea of using a mark on his faithful servants (also called slaves) to turn his own wrath away from them and directly against those whom he did not mark?

The false prophet marks the unsaved to weed out and separate the Christians in preparation for his unrelenting wrath against God’s people. The mark of the beast will signify that the person bearing it is a worshiper and loyal follower of the beast, and those who do not have the mark will be subject to execution. In much the same way, the Roman emperors required their subjects to prove their loyalty by offering sacrifices to Caesar. Those who refused were subject to execution.

You might be thinking, “Wait, satan is not going to protect his worshippers who are marked in the same way that God protects His,” and you would be right. God is a loving and gracious God who will save his chosen ones for eternity, although they will suffer persecution and even death during the tribulation. God’s mark of protection in the past was to separate and to protect the ones He loves. Satan, on the other hand, hates everyone, even those who worship him. The difference is that while satan hates those who worship him and who bear the mark of the beast, satan hates Christians with a vengeance that is unparalleled. He doesn’t mark his own to keep them safe and secure. He marks his own to separate them from the object of his ultimate vengeance, God’s chosen ones. Satan has most certainly not forgotten the defeat he suffered at the cross, which became paramount at the resurrection of Jesus, and satan’s war against God is manifested in his war against Christians.

It’s not God who will demand that everyone take the mark of the beast. It is satan. Ultimately, why would satan want people to get a mark? There are two obvious reasons. First, since the vast majority who worship the beast and take the mark will be separated from Christians, Christians who do not worship the beast and who do not take the mark will be blatantly exposed and revealed to the beast. Why is that important to satan? Because he wants to know who the genuine Christians are so they can be persecuted and murdered. The second reason satan would want everyone to take the mark is so he can control everyone under his one world government and one world currency. Remember anyone who does not take the mark cannot buy or sell. Satan wants total control over the entire world, and he wants the worship of every person on the planet. He will seek to kill everyone who doesn’t worship him, and the easy way to identify them will be to find the ones without the mark.

2. What the mark of the beast is Not.

Is the mark only an imprint of some kind in the skin that allows people to buy and sell, or is it also a symbol that publicly acknowledges that the person does worship the beast?

The context of these verses in Rev 13:16-17 tells us that the “he” is the false prophet, also known as the second beast. This false prophet will have great power given to him by satan and delegated to him by the first beast or the anti-christ. This false prophet will lead a world wide cult worship of the first beast, and he will cause “. . . all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves,” to take the mark of the beast. 

The “all” who take the mark are unbelievers, not believers. (See Rev 6:10; 8:13; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6; 17:2, 8) When we understand that Rev 13:16-17 tells us that all unbelievers are forced to accept the mark, we no longer battle in our minds with the notion that believers will take the mark. They will not because they are not “earth dwellers” or unbelievers as defined by scripture itself. This does not mean believers won’t struggle and suffer by refusing to take the mark and refusing to worship the beast. Living in the tribulation will be the worst experience humans will ever experience on the planet. It will be a nightmare of epic proportions. Jesus said in Matthew 24:21, “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will.”

But this is not the only reason to believe that there is a distinction between unbelievers and believers. Let’s continue, because there is much more in Revelation to help us understand the mark. You can’t read one verse and draw an ultimate conclusion. If you thought this biblical analysis of the mark of the beast was going to be easy, think again.

Could it be that some escape getting the mark, either because they are off the grid, or simply because they refuse to take the mark? In other words, even though everyone is told they must get the mark, perhaps that leaves out a remnant who do not take the mark. Consider a brief analogy. In America, the IRS requires that everyone files tax returns and pays taxes based on the IRS tax schedules, but a small number of Americans do not file their tax returns, and some file tax returns but do not pay all the taxes owed. All are required to do so, but not all do. Likewise, it is possible that not all will take the mark and worship the beast, and that is very likely since we know that there will be a remnant who are saved during the tribulation. In fact, there will be believers who survive the tribulation and are on earth at the beginning of the thousand year rule of Christ’s millennium.

No mention is made in Rev 13:17 of people taking the mark and worshipping the beast, and no mention is made of losing one’s salvation by taking the mark only. As a corollary, if everyone must take the mark and the mark condemns everyone to hell forever, then there would be no possibility of salvation during the tribulation.

We know that there will be those who are saved during the tribulation, and here’s how we know. God sends 144,000 to evangelize on earth, plus he sends two witnesses who preach the gospel with great power, and he also sends an Angel to travel the entire world sharing the gospel plan of salvation. Why would God do all of that if there was no possibility of anyone repenting and being saved? Of course, God could do like He did with Isaac who preached for 60 years with not a single person saved, or like Noah who preached for 120 years before the flood with no one coming to the Lord. But there is more to explain salvation during the tribulation.

The verses in Revelation that discuss the mark of the beast specifically address those who worship the beast and are condemned to hell, and those who refuse to worship the beast and are not condemned to hell. If all were condemned to hell, there would be no discussion of the saved during the tribulation. But we have more specific verses that make it crystal clear that multitudes will be saved during the tribulation:

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands.” Revelation 7:9 (NASB)

And how do we know this “great multitude” is from the tribulation period? A couple of verses further and we are told.

“Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, ‘These who are clothed in the white robes, who are they, and where have they come from?’ 14 I said to him, ‘My lord, you know.’ And he said to me, ‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'” Revelation 7:13-14 (NASB)

3. Who will take the mark of the beast?

As a preliminary but important matter, let’s clear up one issue right away. Christians today will not have to face the whole “mark of the beast” issue during the tribulation, since Christians alive today will be taken home to Heaven in the rapture, which happens prior to the seven year tribulation. Accepting or rejecting the mark of the beast is a tribulation matter. It is surprising how many people today think Christians will go through the tribulation, but if we look to the scriptures, we find overwhelming clarity that we will be taken in the rapture prior to the tribulation. To clear this up in your mind once and for all, separately review Proof The Rapture Happens Before The Tribulation:

Once you understand that the mark of the beast is only a tribulation issue and that only people who miss the rapture (which means those left behind in the tribulation are not Christians), you can then study Revelation with that context.

Most people assume that everyone who is living in the tribulation must take the mark of the beast, and those who do not take the mark lose their salvation and are condemned forever. But this is not what Revelation tells us. Since the mark of the beast is so clearly connected to worshipping the beast, let’s start with these verses:

“Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon. He exercises all the authority of the first beast in his presence. And he makes the earth and those who dwell in it to worship the first beast, whose fatal wound was healed.” Revelation 13:11-12 (NASB)

The meaning of “those who dwell in it [the earth]” is often abbreviated “earth dwellers,” and it always refers to unbelievers, not believers. This is important to know if we are to really understand the mark and worshipping the beast.

And they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who live on the earth?” NASB Rev 6:10

Here the saved are asking God how long it will be until the earth dwellers will be judged, which clearly means the earth dwellers are unbelievers who will be judged by God.

The author of Revelation, the Apostle John, referred to those who would be deceived as “those who dwell on the earth,” and their names are not in the book of life, (meaning they are unsaved) in Rev 13:8:

“All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” Revelation 13:8 (NASB)

This verse is not difficult to interpret from the plain meaning of the text. All who dwell on the earth, again the earth dwellers, are defined as those who “will worship him [the beast]” and this group of earth dwellers is further limited to those “whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.”

You’ve got to love how this verse is packed full of doctrine and meaning and clarification for those of us trying to understand the mark of the beast and its relationship to worshipping the beast. You have to chuckle at how the Apostle John slipped the doctrine of predestination into this verse, and he made certain he left no ambiguity whatsoever on the doctrine, affirming the first chapter of Ephesians and other verses as well.

Clearly it is unbelievers who worship the beast, and it is unbelievers who are deceived by the great deceiver. In the tribulation only unbelievers will be deceived, and believers will not be deceived. Since deception is a key to understanding the mark of the beast, let’s dig deeper into the biblical view of deception.

Deception is The First Birth Pain

It’s important that we don’t miss a major biblical emphasis that spans the Bible from cover to cover, the importance of deception from the fall of Eve and Adam to the last day of the seven year tribulation on judgment day, also known as the Day of the Lord. Here’s a very brief summary of satan’s deception and the role it plays in the world, and especially in the lives and destiny of unbelievers.

It started with deception in the Garden of Eden. Satan deceived Eve and Adam. Satan is himself called the great deceiver and the father of lies. Throughout history satan uses deception as his main tool to recruit servants into his kingdom of darkness. Actually, he doesn’t have to recruit anyone, since every human being is born in sin and only by faith in Christ are they transferred from darkness into the Kingdom of Light. In other words, if a person is not saved by the blood of the Lamb, they automatically belong to satan. Since satan is the “god of this world,” it has been easy for him to set up institutions, governments, financial systems, and world systems to deceive many.

When Jesus’ disciples ask him that amazing question in Matthew 24:3, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?,” Jesus went on to give the longest and most detailed answer to any question he was ever asked. When someone wants to address an important subject, what they lead with is an indication of what they consider most important. Jesus warned his disciples by leading with a warning against deception, and he did so three times, which is a biblical pattern for adding great importance to the idea. Deception is the first birth pain that Jesus reveals as a warning for those who will be living in the tribulation.

4. And Jesus answered and said to them, ‘See to it that no one misleads [or deceives] you. 5. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead [or deceives] many. 6. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. 7. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. 8. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. 9. “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead [or deceives] many.” Matthew 24:4-11 (NASB)

All those who worship the beast in the tribulation are unbelievers.

Does it not also make sense that this same group of unbelievers who worship the beast will gladly receive the mark of the beast, and that would be especially so because they cannot buy or sell without the mark. Deception is the key to satan’s success. He is the great deceiver, but he cannot deceive God’s elect:

“For false christs and false prophets will arise, and will provide signs and wonders, in order to mislead, if possible, the elect.” NASB Mark 13:22

First, who is this verse quoting? Jesus Christ himself, so let there be no question about the truth and power behind this verse. Second, notice the explicit language in this verse indicating it is impossible for God’s elect to be deceived by satan in the tribulation. The verse says, “. . . in order to mislead, if possible, the elect,” meaning it is not possible to mislead the elect. Don’t miss this point. It’s important.

What is the grand deception during the tribulation? Satan through the beast deceives the entire world in believing that he is the peace maker who brings peace to the world. He is so charismatic with such great power and influence that he sells the entire world on his one world agenda with him as the sole dictator. And the great surprise will be that even Israel is deceived into believing that the beast, the anti-christ, is the messiah who will save them. Satan is the greatest deceiver of all time.

4. What does it mean to “worship the beast?”

Worshipping the beast is the great offense to God, and this is really at the core of all the questions surrounding the mark of the beast.

“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. ” Revelation 14:9-10 (NASB)

The word “and” is a conjunction, and when it connects two phrases, both must be in play together at the same time. In other words, anyone who worships the beast AND receives the mark will be condemned forever. What this verse does not say is that anyone who receives the mark of the beast will be condemned forever. It says anyone who worships the beast and receives the mark will be condemned. Somehow many Christians miss this requirement. We don’t see verses that condemn a person forever just for taking the mark, but you will see that worshipping the beast is identified with unbelievers who will be condemned in Rev 13:7-8

“It was also given to him to make war with the saints and to overcome them, and authority over every tribe and people and tongue and nation was given to him. All who dwell on the earth will worship him, everyone whose name has not been written from the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who has been slain.” (NASB)

Also, please don’t miss another important fact revealed in Rev 14:9-10. The verse says, “If anyone worships the beast and his image . . .” The false prophet rallies everyone to worship the beast, but he also rallies everyone to worship an image that was created as a false god, and he was given the power to animate the image so it apparently can look or talk like it is alive. In the tribulation people are going to actually worship this false image, besides worshipping the beast himself.

This harkens back to old testament stories of kings making false images and ordering their subjects to worship the image, like Nebuchadnezzar when he had a 90 foot high stone image created in the dessert and ordered everyone to worship it. Anyone who refused would get the death sentence. Sound familiar? When Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused, they were sent to the fiery furnace, which God then used to reveal himself to the king. Notice that the three who refused to worship the image of the king were saved from their fiery ordeal and saved from death, just as people in the tribulation who refuse to worship the beast will be saved spiritually. Daniel 3:1-7

“Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold, the height of which was sixty cubits and its width six cubits; he set it up on the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2 Then Nebuchadnezzar the king sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up. 3 Then the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates and all the rulers of the provinces were assembled for the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up; and they stood before the image that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 4 Then the herald loudly proclaimed: “To you the command is given, O peoples, nations and men of every language, 5 that at the moment you hear the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, you are to fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king has set up. 6 But whoever does not fall down and worship shall immediately be cast into the midst of a furnace of blazing fire.” 7 Therefore at that time, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, flute, lyre, trigon, psaltery, bagpipe and all kinds of music, all the peoples, nations and men of every language fell down and worshiped the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king had set up.” (NASB)

When the Apostle Paul arrived in Athens, he saw false gods everywhere. The worship of images of false gods is one of the things that makes God’s blood boil, so to speak, and brought God’s wrath down upon these kings and nations. So it is no small matter that in the tribulation mention is made in this verse that people will suffer God’s wrath for worshipping an image of a false god.

In another verse where only the mark of the beast is mentioned and not worshipping the beast, no mention is made of suffering God’s wrath and going to hell, but the mark is described as necessary to buy or sell. Rev 13:16-17

“And he causes all, the small and the great, and the rich and the poor, and the free men and the slaves, to be given a mark on their right hand or on their forehead, and he provides that no one will be able to buy or to sell, except the one who has the mark, either the name of the beast or the number of his name.” (NASB)

And again we see that the mark of the beast and worshipping the beast are both required to condemn someone to hell in Rev 19:20 Rev 19:20

“And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.” (NASB)

So you see it is the worshipping of the beast that condemns a soul to eternal wrath, not the mark of the beast. However, let’s be clear, everyone who worships the beast also will take the mark of the beast.

The importance to God of His creation worshipping Him and not the beast and not satan (or any other false gods) cannot be overstated. The well known first question and answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism correctly gets this:

Question: “What is the chief end of man?”
Answer: “The chief end of man is to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever.”

This is seen throughout the old and new testaments, but even here in the book of Revelation, which you might correctly think is a book about God’s judgment and wrath, we are reminded of the importance above all things of glorifying God. We see this in Rev 5:8-14. After the Lamb (Jesus) takes the book of seal judgments from the right hand of God, the four living creatures and the 24 elders “fell down before the Lamb, each one holding a harp and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. And they sang a new song, saying,”

“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation. You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.” And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” And the elders fell down and worshiped. Rev 5:8-14 NASB

This all happens at the beginning of the announcement of the seven seal judgments. This is the setting or the intro to the judgments, which tells us this is foremost in God’s mind as He has His judgments announced one after another. But we are reminded two more times that most important to God is that He alone be the one worshipped. When the wrath of God is to be finished, we have another reminder of the primary purpose of man, which is to worship and bring glory to God in chapter 15, which will be sung in Heaven before God Almighty:

“Great and marvelous are Your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the nations!
“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy;
For ALL THE NATIONS WILL COME AND WORSHIP BEFORE YOU,
FOR YOUR RIGHTEOUS ACTS HAVE BEEN REVEALED.” Revelation 15:3-4 (NASB, Capitals included)

If it isn’t clear yet that God will not allow any other to receive His worship and His glory, let’s go all the way to the end of the story, so to speak, to Revelation 22:13 (NASB) where Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.”

The point is that God calls us to worship Him and to bring Him glory, and this emphasis from the throne of God in Revelation reminds us that worship is at the crux of this whole subject of the mark of the beast. It is worshipping the beast that condemns a person for eternity, because they have rejected God and they worship and glorify the beast and satan, and not God. The mark of the beast is not the main point–worship is. The mark is an affirmation of a person’s worship, but not the determinant of a person’s eternal destiny.

5. What will happen if one refuses to take the mark of the beast?

Here is where it gets interesting, because in Revelation where taking the mark condemns a person to hell, the verse also indicates the person worships the beast. So is it taking the mark that condemns a person, or is it the refusal to take the mark AND the refusal to worship the beast?

This verse states that anyone who does both together will be condemned. Notice the conjunction “and” which requires both components. If both were not required, instead of “and” you would see “or”. It is interesting also to notice that worshipping the beast comes first.

“If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will 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 goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:9-11 (NASB)

We know from the rest of the Bible that God has never accepted anyone into the Kingdom who worships satan and satan’s false gods. We are to worship God and God alone, and he is a jealous God. From the previous 65 books in the Bible we can easily conclude that if one refuses to worship God (and therefore acknowledge God as one’s savior through Christ), that one is condemned to hell. So in Revelation when we read that “If anyone worships the beast and his image . . . he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God . . .”

The bigger challenge is understanding where the mark of the beast fits into all this. We have to be very careful in interpreting the Bible that we do not add to what is not there, and that we do not assume what is not stated. There is NO verse in the entire Bible that specifically states that if you accept the mark of the beast but do not worship the beast, that you are condemned to hell. While many have assumed that is the case, there is no verse that actually states that. Therefore, we must be careful not to assume that is the case. At the end of the Bible at the end of the book of Revelation, God warns against adding to his Word:

“I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues which are written in this book; and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the tree of life and from the holy city, which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:18-19 (NASB)

You and I must be very very careful not to add to God’s Word. The book of Revelation does not state that if you take the mark of the beast without worshipping the beast that you will either lose your salvation or that you will be condemned to the Lake of Fire. It’s not there, so do not add it.

6. What will happen if one does take the mark of the beast AND worships the beast?

This question is easier to answer:

“And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone.” Revelation 19:20 (NASB)

Again, notice that the false prophet deceived unbelievers who took the mark AND worshipped the beast, and they are condemned to an eternity in the Lake of Fire. I realize I’m probably repeating myself here, but believers cannot be deceived, and believers cannot lose their salvation. This means that anyone who becomes a genuine believer during the tribulation will not have to fear losing their salvation, although they certainly may fear horrible persecution, torture, and even death.

Do Not Neglect Biblical Doctrines When Studying The Mark of The Beast

The context of the mark of the beast in the book of Revelation must be taken within the context of all of Bible prophesy and of the entire Bible. That means there are major and minor doctrines that must not be contradicted when interpreting the mark of the beast. 

Doctrine: Predestination

It is a major biblical doctrine that God chooses us, we don’t choose God. [John 15:16] God chose us before the foundation of the world. Why some people have trouble with this doctrine is hard to understand, because of all doctrines, this one is made abundantly clear in unambiguous text. Let’s just look at a few verses to bring this point home.

3. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, 4. just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love 5. He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, 6. to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8. which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight 9. He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him 10. with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him 11. also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will, 12. to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory. 13. In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, 14. who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory. Ephesians 1:3-14 (NASB)

These 12 verses in Ephesians are some of the most powerful in all of the Bible, and they are so packed full of incredible doctrine to warm the heart and encourage us as Christians. After reading these verses, must we ever fear for our salvation or the security of our souls, even during the tribulation? Absolutely not! There is nothing in all of the scriptures that contradicts God’s absolute sovereignty in choosing some to be saved for eternity, and not choosing the rest. On the contrary, it is affirmed over and over again, and once you know this, you’ll see it in verses, in parables, and in the stories of people’s lives in the old and new testaments. Did you chose God, or did God chose you? We know the answer.

“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” John 15:16 (NASB)

“I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours.” John 17:9 (NASB)

“14. What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! 15. For He says to Moses, “I WILL HAVE MERCY ON WHOM I HAVE MERCY, AND I WILL HAVE COMPASSION ON WHOM I HAVE COMPASSION.” 16. So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. 17. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I RAISED YOU UP, TO DEMONSTRATE MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MIGHT BE PROCLAIMED THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE EARTH.” 18. So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” Romans 9:14-18 (NASB)

God would have been justified in bringing His wrath to the earth long ago because of man’s rejection of their Creator and the sin upon sin, but in His forbearance to save more souls whom he predestined, he has not brought this world to an end yet. Here’s more valuable insight into God’s mind revealing that He specifically chose some to be vessels of His wrath: 

“19. You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” 20. On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? 21. Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? 22. What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? 23. And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, 24. even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. Romans 9:19-24 (NASB)

God not only chooses who will be saved before the foundation of the world, but He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires. This has always been true since the creation of Adam and Eve, and it will be true to the end all the way through the seven year tribulation. God is sovereign, and He is absolutely sovereign in all matters in creation and in all the affairs of man.

2. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 3. “Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.” 4. But what is the divine response to him? “I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.” 5. In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice. 6. But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace. Romans 11:2-6 (NASB) 

God has planned a remnant of believers during the tribulation, and he knows who they will be. He predestined them before the foundation of the world, and he will protect them from deception, from eternal condemnation which is saved for those who take the mark of the beast AND worship of the beast. You do not hold the power to determine your salvation. Even your faith in Christ is a gift from God, and you are not responsible to hang onto your salvation as though you could lose it. God secures your salvation once and forever.

Doctrine: The Security of the Believer

Is It Possible To Be Saved During The Tribulation and Loose Your Salvation By Taking the mark of the beast? It is very clear throughout the Bible that once saved by the blood of the Lamb, you cannot then lose your salvation. The security of the believer is a major biblical doctrine that stands up against the most intense exegesis. 

If you would like more assurance that a believer cannot lose their salvation once they have been genuinely saved, please review these verses on the Security of the Believer

Ephesians 1:13-14 ESV

In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

1 Peter 1:3-5 ESV

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

Hebrews 13:5 ESV

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

Ephesians 4:30 ESV

And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Romans 8:30 ESV

And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

John 10:28 ESV

I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

John 5:24 ESV

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.

1 John 2:25 ESV

And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

Titus 1:2 ESV

In hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began

2 Timothy 1:9 ESV

Who saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,

1 Thessalonians 5:9

For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

1 Thessalonians 1:4 ESV

For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you.

Philippians 1:6 ESV

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:4-5 ESV

Even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will.

2 Corinthians 1:22 ESV

And who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.

Romans 11:29 ESV

For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

Romans 8:28-39 ESV

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

Romans 8:23 ESV 

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

Romans 8:9 ESV

You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.

Romans 5:10 ESV

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Romans 5:9 ESV

Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.

John 14:16 ESV

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever,

John 10:27-29 ESV

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

John 6:37-40 ESV

All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

If you are genuinely saved during the tribulation, as many will be, you will not lose your salvation, although you will be persecuted and many will have to die for their faith. The security of the believer is a major biblical doctrine, and there is no indication, but much biblical support, that makes it crystal clear you cannot lose your salvation by some physical act or some belief that you alone conceive. Having been chosen by God and saved by the blood of the Lamb, you do not have the power or authority to snatch your soul out of the bosom of God, and God says he will never lose even one.

Let’s say this in very plain language. Anyone in the tribulation who is genuinely saved by God will never lose their salvation no matter what, and anyone in the tribulation who is not genuinely saved is already condemned to hell. Worshipping the beast and taking a mark to affirm that worship is indicative of the unsaved, not the saved.

Many Do Not Take The Mark and Do Not Worship The Beast During The Tribulation

We are told in Rev 20:4 that there are those who live during the tribulation who are beheaded for their testimony of Jesus and those who do not take the mark and who do not worship the beast, and these are saved and taken to Heaven:

“Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.” Revelation 20:4 (NASB)

This verse describes the destiny of two groups of people. The first group are those who were beheaded during the tribulation because of their testimony of Jesus and the Word of God. The second group separated by the conjunction “and” did not receive the mark of the beast. Both groups are saved for eternity. This second group also does not worship the beast, because you cannot worship God and satan. You belong to the kingdom of darkness or you belong to the Kingdom of God.

A Brief Narrative Definition of The Mark of The Beast
(Caution: This definition will not be fully understood unless you have read the full biblical analysis above and read all the verses.)

During the seven year tribulation the mark of the beast will be placed on the forehead or right hand of all unbelievers who have not been predestined by God for eternal salvation. Genuine Christians will not worship the beast, and therefore they won’t take the mark of the beast. The vast majority of the entire earth’s population will refuse to give their hearts to God. Despite all the horrendous judgments unfolding during the tribulation, and especially during the last half of the tribulation, even after four billion people have died on the earth, nearly every person on earth will still worship false gods and practice evil. These are the people who will eagerly want to worship the beast, and they will volunteer to take the mark of the beast as proof of their loyalty and worship, in addition to the fact that they cannot buy or sell without the mark.

But God has kept a remnant for Himself. This remnant of believers in the tribulation will not worship the beast and will refuse to take the mark of the beast. Some will probably hide and try to survive in remote places on the earth, some will suffer great persecution but escape death, and others will be murdered or beheaded for their faith in Christ. This remnant will not fear the mark of the beast, as though it were some kind of ritual curse that could rob them of their eternal salvation. Having been chosen by God and saved by God, and having their eternal security entrusted to God, who has never lost one, believers cannot lose their salvation before or during the tribulation.

Even if a believer in weakness and fear does accept the mark of the beast in order to feed his family (to buy and sell), he would not and could not lose his eternal salvation. God’s heart for forgiveness is the same yesterday, today, and during the tribulation. There is no sin that God does not forgive through Jesus Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross, except blasphemy of the Holy Spirit (which is actually rejecting God’s salvation). All of eternity finds its apex–the center of all time–at the cross when Christ was crucified. All time before the cross points forward to the cross, and time after the cross points back to the cross. God sent His only son to die on the cross so that fallen man could be reconciled to Himself. Forgiveness is at the core of God’s entire plan with the human race from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. God is not going to throw out the most central point of everything He has done for His creation. Any believer who is alive during the tribulation will have the same opportunity for forgiveness that you and I have today. Just as it is true that anyone who rejects God today and who dies without being saved will find their destiny in the Lake of Fire, so during the tribulation anyone who rejects God and dies without being saved will find their destiny in the Lake of Fire.

The mark of the beast is proof of a heart that worships the beast and not God, and it is symbolic of the destiny of all sinners who are not saved, even to the end of the great tribulation.

 

 

 

 

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