Pristine Grace

Christ - The Lamb slain From the Foundation of the World
by Don Fortner

NOTE: This article is from Don's commentary on the book of Revelation which can be read here in its entirety.

‘And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (Revelation 13:8)

Revelation 13:1-18

    Rather than focussing our attention on the beasts described in this chapter and the mark of the beast, we should concentrate upon him who saves his people from the power and influence of the beast - Christ - ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ Because of him, God's elect have nothing to fear from antichrist and his religion.

    William Hendriksen gave this clear, concise description of the beasts.’ The first (beast) is a monster of indescribable horror. The second has a harmless appearance and for that very reason is more dangerous than the first. The first beast comes out of the sea. The second arises from the land. The first is Satan's hand. The second is the devil's mind. The first represents the persecuting power of satan operating in and through the nations of the world and their governments. The second symbolizes the false religions and philosophies of this world. Both of these beasts oppose the church throughout this dispensation.’

    In this vision, we are assured of two facts. First, Satan's warfare against the church of Christ will never end as long as time shall stand. Second, Satan's wrath against God's elect shall never be successful. His number is the number of failure. As we read through these eighteen verses, five things are clearly revealed to us.

  1. The beast rising up from the sea (The sea represents the nations and governments of the world - Isa. 17:12; Rev. 17:15.) represents all the civil, political powers of the world bent upon the destruction of Christ's church (vv. 1-7).
     
  2. Though relentlessly persecuted, God's church is always safe and secure, preserved and protected in Christ by divine grace (vv. 8-10).
     
  3. The beast coming up out of the earth represents all the false religion of the world, by which multitudes are deceived and damned (vv. 11-17).
     
  4. The number of the beast is the number of failure, frustration, and defeat (v. 18).

    There is no cause for alarm or despair. The number of the beast is the number of man. It is 666. Man was created on the sixth day. Six is not seven, and never shall be seven. Seven is the number of perfection, victory, and triumph. Seven is the number of completion, conquest, and joy. Six is one short of seven. Six misses the mark. Six never comes to completion. Six is always failure! Let all who worship the Lamb and receive not the mark of the beast (refuse to be identified with freewill, works religion of any kind) rejoice. Victory is ours! The number of the beast is 666, which means failure upon failure, upon failure! It is the number of man, because the religion of the beast glories in man. Therefore, it must fail. Once more, we are assured that though we must endure much tribulation, ‘We are more than conquerors through him that loved us’ (Rom. 8:37).
     
  5. It is not possible for God's elect to be deceived, because their names are written ‘in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ (v. 8).

    The strong delusion of false religion, the religion of this present age, (freewillism, decisionism, works salvation), is such a strong delusion, such a great counterfeit that our Lord tells us plainly, ‘If it were possible,’ the false prophets, with all their signs and wonders, would ‘deceive the very elect.’ But, thanks be unto God, it is not possible for God's elect to be deceived. The seal of God is upon them (Rev. 7:3). Those who are born of God have an anointing, and they know (by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of Holy Scripture an unction from the Holy One,’ and they know (by the inner witness of the Holy Spirit and the testimony of Holy Scripture) the difference between the truth and a lie (1 John 2:20-27). God's elect know the difference between freewill and free grace. The multitudes will go after the stranger and follow him to destruction. But Christ's sheep ‘hear his voice’ and ‘follow him.’ ‘And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers’ (John 10:3-5).

    Without question, we are living in days of darkness, deception, and delusion. ‘Many false prophets are gone out into the world’ in the ‘spirit of antichrist’ (1 John 4:1-3). Before this age is finished, we are told, the influence of the beast (antichrist) will be so great that ‘all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him,’ worship under his influence (v. 8). There is great cause for concern. Immortal souls are at stake. Multitudes are being damned by the religion by which they hope to be saved (2 Thess. 2:8-12). But there is no cause for concern regarding God's elect. They cannot be deceived. God will not allow it! In the midst of this vision of woe, we are reminded of three comforting, soul-cheering truths taught throughout the Word of God. Read verse 8 again. Here are three bright, shining lights of assurance which are the basis of our confidence.

The eternal election of grace

    John speaks of ‘the book of life’ and those whose names are written in it as well as those whose names are not written in it. There is a book in which the names of God's elect are registered and have been registered ‘from the foundation of the world.’ This book is called ‘The Lamb's Book of Life’ (Rev. 21:27). It does not matter whether the book literally exists or is merely symbolical of God's immutable purpose. It teaches us that there is yet a remnant according to the election of grace (Rom. 11:5). Even in the darkest days of apostasy, though all the world seems to be engulfed in the religion of antichrist, God has an elect people whom he will save, a people who cannot and will not perish with the world. Be sure you understand this wonderful gospel doctrine. The election of grace took place, and the names of God's elect were inscribed in the Lamb's Book of Life, from the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Thess. 2:13-14). Divine election is altogether the work of God's eternal, sovereign grace, which was given to chosen sinners in Christ before the world began (Eph. 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:9; Jer. 31:3). And all those whose names have been inscribed in the book of life from eternity shall, most assuredly, attain eternal life in this world and eternal glory in the world to come (Titus 1:2; 2 Tim. 2:19). We trace the promise of life back to its original source in the sovereign purpose of God's free grace. And we find that the veracity of God, his very truth and faithfulness, is pledged in an oath taken by God himself, by which he bound the honor of his name to the salvation of his people (Heb. 6:14-20). All God's elect shall be saved (Rom. 8:28-30).

The eternal redemption of God's elect by Christ

    Our Savior is described as ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.’ In those words the Holy Spirit tells us that redemption was virtually accomplished for all the chosen before the world began. In the mind and purpose of God, Christ was slain from eternity as our covenant Surety. Just as Abraham, having purposed in his heart to slay his son, is said to have actually done so (Gen. 22:10-12; Heb. 11:17; James 2:21), so God the Father is said to have sacrificed his Son for the redemption of his people before the world began. Had it not been for the eternal accomplishments of grace in the covenant (Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:3-6; 2 Tim. 1:9), God would have immediately destroyed the human race when Adam sinned. God's benevolence and longsuffering with reprobate men is the result of his eternal purpose of grace toward his elect (2 Peter 3:9). The reason God allows the world to exist, the reason he tolerates the wickedness of the reprobate is just this - The Lamb of God was slain for his people before the world began; and those people for whom he was slain must be saved.

    Everything in the Book of God points to Christ, the Lamb of God slain from the foundation of the world. In virtually all the prophecies of the Old Testament, Christ was presented as one already sacrificed (Ps. 22; 40; 69; 85; 89; Isa. 53). All the types portraying our Savior's sacrifice bear testimony to him as the Lamb that had been slain. In every generation from Abel to Malachi, the same sacrifices were offered in faith. And that faith was based upon the divine revelation that the only way of acceptance with God is by the blood of ‘the Lamb slain.’ God almighty regarded Christ as the Lamb slain from eternity and looked upon his elect in Christ as redeemed, forgiven, justified, and ‘accepted in the Beloved’ (Rom. 8:29-30; Eph. 1:3-6). And when the Son of God actually died at Calvary, he died according to the eternal purpose of God, which can never be frustrated, defeated, or overturned (Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; 1 Peter 1:18- 20).

The eternal security of God's elect

    The whole point of John giving us this word about Christ is to assure us that those for whom this Lamb was slain, whose names were written in the book of life from eternity, can never perish. Christ's atonement for sin is an effectual atonement, made for a particular people, by which he obtained their eternal redemption (Gal. 3:13; Isa. 53:8; Heb. 9:12). Those chosen sinners, for whom the Lamb of God was slain ‘shall never perish’ (John 10:27-30), because...The purpose of God cannot be frustrated (2 Tim. 1:9)..The blood of Christ cannot be nullified, made of non-effect, or shed in vain (Isa. 53:9- 11)...The seal of the Spirit cannot be broken (Eph. 1:13-14; 4:30)..The grace of God cannot be defeated (Rom. 9:11-18)...The gifts of God cannot be taken away (Rom. 11:29)...And the promise of God cannot be broken (Titus 1:2).