Anyone who is at least thirty-five years old will probably remember one of the most brilliant advertising campaigns to date. The American Express company featured well-known celebrities in commercial scenarios checking into hotels, renting cars, and paying for dinner in restaurants. As they presented their American Express card they would say, "Don't leave home without it."
Fast forward to recent years and we find ourselves in the days of Apple Pay and other mobile payment apps. There was a time when cash was king but regardless of which method of payment you prefer to use, we are still able to buy and sell when, how, and where we choose. There is a day coming when commerce and worship will be intrinsically linked. It will be a time when buying or selling requires worship.
If I want to go to the store and buy a few groceries for dinner, all I need is my preferred form of payment and depending on the situation, a form of identification such as my driver's license. I pick up my bread, pickles, and cold cuts and pay the cashier without giving the transaction a second thought.
How many times have you swiped your credit card for gas, a hotel room, dinner with your spouse, or paying your utility bill? I'm certain it's probably hundreds of times and whether you paid by cash, check, or card, buying, and selling is something that is second nature to us. If you own a business, your entire livelihood depends on your ability to sell goods or services and collect payments. At first glance, buying and selling are activities that we can all take for granted because it is so woven into the fabric of our daily lives.
Because commerce is so routine, many of us don't stop to think about what would happen if someone would come to power and drastically alter the mechanisms in which we engage in buying and selling. This scenario has unfolded numerous times in history and on occasion, it will ostracize a certain segment of the population so they aren't able to buy or sell.
This is the sort of unimaginable evil that Jewish people had to endure in the 1930s as German laws were changed to prohibit commerce with them. More recently we have vicious rulers in Cuba, North Korea, and in Venezuela who can brutally crush dissent with impunity. Oftentimes, these despots will use controls over commerce and commodities to keep people in line.
The desperate food shortages now being realized in Venezuela and North Korea are the direct result of evil men being consumed by the lust for absolute power. I watch the global economies and the interwoven complexities of today's financial markets with great interest. If there is a selloff in an Asian market, the reverberations are felt in other markets around the world and on Main Street.
I don't know what will trigger the beginning of an economy controlled by one man but regardless of how it transpires, we see continued global economic crisis and geopolitical upheaval as indicative of the last days.
Moreover, the massive influx of refugees into Europe and the U.S., along with the spike in terror attacks in prominent Western cities and capitals-may result in a consolidation of power by one man based on the demand for peace and safety.
Coercion, exclusion and deprivation are the methods evil men use, and as ruthless as these men are, someone much worse will emerge on the world stage. A day is coming when one man will take control of the global financial infrastructure. This man will be the Antichrist and when he comes to power, the Bible makes it clear that no one will be able to buy or sell without the mark (his name or the number of his name) on their right hand or forehead.
He will have an accomplice in compelling people to take his mark. The False Prophet will perform great signs, exercise great authority, and causes people to take the mark of the beast (Antichrist) in order to buy or sell. People who refuse to worship the beast and take his mark are unable to purchase anything including the basic necessities of life. When the Antichrist comes on the scene he will be a deceiver straight from hell. Daniel 11:36 says he will speak against the One true God and exalt himself. This man is going to be persuasive; lying signs and wonders will cause people to be loyal to him.
There is something even more troubling about the Antichrist's rise to power. This may be oversimplified for some readers but for the sake of others who aren't familiar with Bible prophecy, please allow me to explain a very important detail that is frankly a matter of eternal life or death. Worship is the centerpiece of the Antichrist's economy. A time is coming when cash, checks, and credit cards will be useless. The Bible makes it clear that no one can buy or sell unless they have Antichrist's mark. take a close look at what the Bible says about this worship based economic system.
"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, 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. 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" ( Revelation 13:16-18).
"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, 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. 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" (Revelation 14:9-11).
The Bible makes it very clear that taking the mark and worship are intricately linked together. Notice the apostle John wrote, "And they have no rest, day or night, those worshippers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name" (Revelation 14:11).
In these cases, people have willfully either rejected Christ altogether or have known Him but have fallen into deception. I believe the current slide toward the emergent church and ecumenism is setting up lukewarm Christians to embrace a one-world religious system. The bottom line is this: People who truly belong to Jesus are not going to be deceived.
Satanic deception is already at work in the world right now preparing the way for Antichrist. There is a willful process of turning aside into false teaching. Remember the warning in Matthew 24:24 when Jesus warns that false prophets would appear and perform great signs and wonders that would deceive even the elect if that were possible.
A growing number of prominent evangelical teachers and leaders who are teaching that it is possible to receive the mark of the beast and still be saved and go to heaven! This is utter foolishness and a downright dangerous teaching. There is an eternally important point you must remember. Receiving the mark of the beast and worshipping him are intrinsically linked together.
If you receive the mark of the beast, you will worship him; you will be able to buy and sell and be eternally lost. Moreover, you have worshiped Satan because he gives authority to the Antichrist. I'm warning you as a Bible teacher and friend, you can't receive the mark of the beast and go to heaven.
The Bible clearly says that anyone who receives the mark will be tormented day and night with fire forever and cannot repent after taking the mark. Throughout biblical history, the same scenario has played out. People either choose to serve the Lord or to serve Satan. Walking with Jesus will cost us, but He has overcome the world.
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world" (John 16:33).
I want to remind you that there are believers all over this planet suffering for their faith right now. Ministries such as Barnabas Fund, Voice of the Martyrs, and others tell us about countless instances of our Christian family being persecuted even now. In many parts of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Christians are hungry, destitute, ostracized, and persecuted by governmental authorities and extremists groups. This is not an anomaly, this has been the norm for Christians over the last twenty centuries. I'm left wondering why many Christians here in the West are lulled into believing that we are the "lucky" generation that receives a pass.
I absolutely stand on biblical authority regarding a pre-millennial Rapture and that believers will indeed be raptured before God pours out His wrath on an unrepentant world. It is certain that followers of Jesus are not appointed to God's wrath. It is equally certain that there will be believers living in the end times will be persecuted for their faithfulness to Jesus. We are constantly told through Scripture to endure until the end, to finish well, and to abide in Him.
I want to exhort you to remain strong in the Lord no matter what comes our way. It's biblical to look at the big picture of global conditions to understand the times and discern the season we are in. It doesn't require an advanced degree in theology to see that things conditions are deteriorating in regard to how Christians and Christianity are viewed here in the West.
Some of you will read this article about the coming worldwide persecution of Christians and will dismiss the warning because you are 100 percent convinced that you won't be around for it but will be raptured before global persecution begins It has already begun. on various levels. Unfortunately, your ironclad belief in a pre-Tribulation Rapture is based on your opinion and own personal interpretation of Scripture and not biblical fact.
The trials and tribulations believers are going to endure are not God's wrath being poured out. We aren't appointed to it and therefore won't be here for it. I want to close by saying that as we approach the time of Jesus' return, the days will continue to grow evil, violent, and the love of many will grow cold. We need to be salt and light in this world that desperately needs it. We see preparations and global economic shifts being made that will ultimately result in a global economy under the Antichrist.
Look at what is happening right now in places like Venezuela. It's an indicator as to how rapidly social unrest and chaotic conditions deteriorate when evil men rule. Millions of people in Venezuela are forced to eat horses and domestic animals right now for food! Hospitals in the capital Caracas are in shambles and the unsanitary conditions are unbelievable. This is just the tip of the approaching iceberg because when Antichrist demands worship in order to participate in the economy, while many people will receive his mark, faithful believers won't.
We must remember we are in the world and not of it. We are told to endure to the end and that Jesus would never leave or forsake us. The Holy Spirit will enable the faithful remnant to stand firm until we are caught up together with Him in the air. Blessings to you as you continue to finish well for Jesus.