by Jared Martin | 24 October 2023
Money. We all need it. We can’t live without it. But what would you do if your credit card stopped working and the shops refused to take your cash? How would you survive?
Christians’ fear of this originates in Revelation 13, which describes a beast that comes up out of the earth with horns like a lamb and speaking like a dragon. This terrifying beast performs supernatural signs and wonders—it even makes fire come down from heaven to earth. Countless millions are drawn into this display of satanic power and willingly accept “the mark of the beast.”
As generally interpreted, this mark ensures their survival and allows them to continue buying and selling. Jesus’ followers refuse to accept this mark and are instantly banned from the world’s financial systems. Credit cards, debit cards, cash, shares, cryptocurrency, NFTs… they’re all worthless.
In desperation they ration out their stockpiles of canned beans and try to grow as many vegetables in their backyards as possible. Never have cucumbers and spinach leaves looked so good!
But their supplies slowly run out and starvation sets in. “So, prepare for the end-times!” cries the evangelist. “Beware the mark of the beast!” proclaims the pastor, “because there will come a time when God’s true remnant people will not be allowed to buy or sell!”
Faith, not credit cards
This is a frightening scenario, but is it really what the Bible is teaching? When Jesus revealed the future to the apostle John, was He really trying to warn us about food and finances, or was He trying to warn us of something more important?
Dr Ranko Stefanovic, Professor of New Testament at Andrews University, suggests in his book The Revelation of Jesus Christ (Berrien Springs: Andrews University Press, 2009) that while pastors and evangelists usually interpret the phrase “buying or selling” literally, and go on to describe an apocalyptic world without credit cards, that the figurative context of Revelation 13 calls for a figurative interpretation.
Revelation 18 describes “the merchants of the earth,” a group who have become wealthy through their business with Babylon, a religious system that competes with the true religion of the Bible. At the judgment of Babylon (Revelation 18:9-20), these “merchants” “weep and mourn” because they have no one left to “buy” their “merchandise.”
Who are these merchants, and what merchandise are they now unable to sell? Stefanovic writes,
“The merchants” of Revelation 18 are the figurative commercial salespeople of Babylon who sell and distribute the spiritual merchandise of her [Babylon’s] corrupt doctrines and policies.
These merchants aren’t selling TV’s and refrigerators to Catholics and banning sales to Adventists. According to the SDA Bible Commentary (Volume 7, p 861) these merchants are selling false religion, corrupt doctrines, twisted religious practices, and a counterfeit way of salvation.
If you thought that having your credit card stop working was scary, this should be infinitely more frightening!
Approved theology only!
There will come a time when only those who are officially sanctioned by the Babylonian system will be able to teach religion. These pastors, evangelists, spiritual influencers, independent ministry leaders, and preachers of all descriptions will knowingly teach a false version of Christianity.
They may teach that Jesus is not God, that Jesus is a created being, that Satan is not real, that the Holy Spirit is just a ‘force,’ that the Trinity is fake, that you go straight to heaven when you die, that hell is a real place, that all religions lead to salvation, that the seventh-day Sabbath is not important, that sin isn’t really that bad, that everyone will be saved, that sinless sanctification is possible, that male headship theology is biblical, that we will need to stand without a mediator at the end of time, that the Holy Spirit will abandon Christians in the final hours of earth’s history, and that Jesus will not return until a final generation becomes perfect and stops sinning.
There is an endless number of heresies that could be included in this list, but as diabolical as they are, that’s not the scary part. The scary part is that the Babylonian, anti-God, anti-Christ, anti-Gospel system will dictate who can teach religion and preach its false gospel, and silence anyone with an alternative view. When this happens, it will certainly be challenging to be a true follower of Jesus in a world that is opposed to Him and His message.
But perhaps we don’t need to wait for the future to experience what the events of Revelation 18 will be like. Maybe they’re already here.
An Adventist false gospel?
Wherever you live, you don’t have to search very hard to hear the heresies listed above being proclaimed in books, YouTube, and social media—even from some “supporting” independent ministries that call themselves Adventist. As millions of dollars of tithes and offerings flow into the ministries’ bank accounts, Adventists are endorsing the proclamation of a false gospel.
Consider the many pastors who have left ministry over the years because of the never-ending misery caused by those who fund and support divisive messages. Add to this some church administrators who have crushed those with dissenting opinions and belittled those with differing ideas.
The spirit of Babylon is alive and well throughout the world, and instead of rejecting it and boldly preaching the true gospel in our churches, we’ve been worrying about a cashless society and credit cards that won’t work. The devil must be laughing to have fooled us so easily for so long.
What’s the solution to the situation we find ourselves in? Here’s my challenge to everyone who preaches from an Adventist pulpit, teaches in an Adventist school, or leads the Adventist church across all its organizations.
- Spend time with Jesus (Revelation 14:6-7). You can’t share His message if you don’t know Him personally.
- Know what Jesus teaches and follow what He says (Revelation 14:8). Babylon isn’t going to stop preaching its false gospel, so make sure you know what the true gospel says and find the most loving and compassionate ways to share it.
- Trust in Jesus (Revelation 14:9-12). Let His faith cover your faith, let His works cover your works, let His life cover your life, and then rejoice in the experience of salvation.
When you do this, Jesus will shine through you like a light on the hill, and when Babylon’s gospel is being bought and sold all around you, you’ll have something infinitely more valuable that no amount of money can buy: you’ll be able to call Jesus your personal Savior and friend.
This is the way to survive the mark of the beast.
Jared Martin is the senior pastor of Coastlife Adventist Church in Queensland, Australia.