Can A Person Take The Mark (666) And Later Repent And Turn To God?
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The answer as to whether a person can take the mark of the beast (666) and still be saved is really a yes and no answer. Let me explain.
Certainly, after listening to John Mac Arthur's interpretation of the order of events and their placement on the tribulation period calendar I have to question his theory. Revelation 13:8 is very clear that everyone on earth will take the mark except those who come to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. This declaration is made at the midway point of the tribulation period. It also states in Revelation 12:17 that when the Jewish remnant flees to Petra, they will all know Jesus as Savior. This event also happens at about the midway point of the tribulation period. So the timing of events tells me that everyone on earth will be forced to make a decision to worship either the antichrist or Jesus Christ by the midway point of the tribulation period. Meaning, their fate will be settled by the halfway point.
Pastor Mac Arthur stated that he believes the 144,000 will not even start their witnessing ministry until the second half of the tribulation period. Although I greatly respect him and his teaching, I have to disagree with his timing of events and here's why.
When the two witnesses come on the scene at what I believe will be the beginning of the tribulation period, they will quickly convert 144,000 witnesses. These individuals will immediately be sent out to preach the Gospel to every nation starting in Israel and ultimately spreading throughout the rest of the world.
Following this great company of witnesses, angels will be sent out to every corner of the world seeking out individuals from whom the 144,000 witnesses could not reach. The Bible says these angels will go and preach the Gospel to all the world and present it clearly in their own language. Between the witnesses and the angels the Bible says that every single person throughout the world will hear the Gospel and be presented with a choice before the mark is even introduced (Revelation 14:6, 7).
The Bible then presents another angel that will follow saying:
If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, the same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (Revelation 14:9b-11)
So as far as I can see, the first half of the tribulation period, God sends out witnesses and angels to convert as many to Jesus Christ as will come. When the mark is presented by the antichrist at the midway point, God will send out one last angelic warning to whomsoever will listen not to take his mark but to worship God. But unfortunately, the Bible declares in Revelation 13:8, despite God's efforts that the vast majority will choose to reject God, and take the mark and worship the antichrist.
This timeline is consistent with God's character and biblical history. When God destroyed the world the first time with a flood, He sent Noah to present salvation and preach 120 years before judgment fell. Before God sent judgment on the children of Israel, He sent prophets to preach repentance to His people before judgment fell. So you can be sure, before God's Holy Wrath falls on this world, He will make every attempt possible to save as many as will come to Him in repentance.
Now that we have our timing of events in the right order, and consistent with God's character and Bible history, we can attempt to answer the question at hand.
Is it consistent with the character of God and Bible teaching that a person could take the mark of the antichrist, and later repent and find forgiveness?
Here's where the answer to the question becomes a yes and no answer. Let me cover the yes answer first.
We find during the latter part of the tribulation period that God will send a series of horrible wars and plagues that will both kill and torment mankind. It is strange that after two of these horrible judgments God makes special note in His Scriptures, that despite clearly knowing who sent these judgments and also had control to stop them, mankind refused to repent and instead chose to curse/blaspheme God (Revelation 9:18-21, 16:9-11).
As I look at these passages I have to wonder why God would even care if they repented and gave glory to Him especially after He clearly declared that the fate of anyone who took the mark of the beast would be the Lake of Fire (Revelation 14:9-11). But I believe it is consistent with the character of God, that even with this declaration of eternal doom, if they choose to repent and worship God, He would forgive them and save them even after taking the mark. Why else make a point of their refusal to repent if it were not possible even in this last hour.
So, yes, I do believe that if a person, after taking the mark of the beast, does choose to repent and turn to God, that person would find forgiveness. It should also be stated that God declared certain doom on the children of Israel through His prophets many times, but later stated that repentance was still available (Amos 5:21-25, 9:8; Hosea 6:1, 14:1).
So, with that said, I don't believe the question is whether repentance will be available for those who take the mark, but rather, would they seek it? That's when I believe the answer to this question swiftly changes to "No".
It is my belief that after God sends out witnesses and angels not only to give proof of His divine existence, but to present a clear presentation of the Gospel to every person, that after rejecting the Savior, their nature will be changed and they will believe the lie of the antichrist (II Thessalonians 2:9-11; Romans 1:19-32). From that moment on they will forever change embracing the mark of the beast with all their heart (Romans 1:19-32). Even if repentance is possible, and it appears it is, I believe Scripture indicates it won't even enter their mind but they will instead choose to curse and blaspheme their only hope of salvation.
It is a dangerous thing to reject God when He is near. We simply don't know when it will be our last opportunity before He turns us over to a reprobate mind forever changing our nature (Romans 1:26-32).
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