Revelation 13:8

Sermon preached on May 11, 2014 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2014. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

Michael R. Bloomberg, former mayor of New York, told the New York Times last month that he's done so much good that if there's a heaven, he won't have to stop for an interview, he'll walk right in. He made the comments when he was announcing plans to spend $50 million on gun control efforts this year. He reportedly said,

"I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to heaven I'm not stopping to be interviewed. I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in heaven. It's not even close."

He thinks that he's earned place in heaven, that he deserves a place.

Country music star, Alan Jackson, had a #1 hit back in 2001 entitled "Where I Come From". Part of the song goes like this:

I said where I come fromIt's cornbread and chickenWhere I come from a lotta front porch sittin'Where I come from tryin' to make a livin'And workin' hard to get to heavenWhere I come from.

Many people think that we can indeed work for a place in heaven.

A few days ago I read about a man who enlisted in the Marines in 2003 at the height of the war in Iraq. He served there for 4 years. After that he returned home to serve in the Nashville police department, where he trained new officers. When he died suddenly a longtime friend said of him,

"I am certain he earned his place in heaven."

Recently a soccer (I think) coach in Germany was so pleased by how one of his players performed in a game that that he said afterwards,

"I've told Marco that he has earned a place in heaven for that. I've never seen anything like it."

How strange—he thinks that you get into heaven by being a sports star by helping your team win. Can that possibly be true? Of course not.

One of the things the Bible tells us is that in order to get into heaven one has know God. We have to be born again by believing in Jesus. Those who claim to do so must resist apostasy. They must flee idolatry. You can't serve and worship a false god and get into heaven. Those who get into heaven are the ones that follow and serve Jesus. They are people who are faithful to Him. The great question is—

Who is responsible for this salvation?

Why do people remain faithful to Jesus in times of great apostasy? It's vitally important that we be clear on that because it has everything to do with the kind of attitude we have before God.

How should we live before God? One of the main things about the Christian life is how we conduct ourselves before God. God wants you to live before Him a certain way.

One of the things that is a tremendous help to us in this regard is knowing who is ultimately responsible for our salvation.

If you're ultimately responsible for your salvation, then you have some reason to boast, to be proud, to think well of yourself. But if God, and God alone is responsible for your salvation, then it's a whole different story.

So what we're going to do this morning is look at what light our text throws on this matter so that we can see how we should live. It says, (Revelation 13:8)

"All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—
all whose names have not been written
in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain
from the creation of the world."

The first thing we see in our text is that

everyone whose name is not written in the Lamb's book of life will worship the beast.

All the inhabitants of the earth do that. The term, the, 'inhabitants of the earth' does not refer to all people. In the book of Revelation this phrase is used a special way. G. K. Beale points out that the phrase 'the inhabitants of the earth', (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 290)

"is a technical term throughout Revelation for unbelieving idolaters, who suffer under various forms of retributive tribulation (see on 6:10 and cf. 8:13; 11:10; 12:12; 13:8, 12, 14; 14:6; 17:2, 8)."

'The inhabitants of the earth' is used in Revelation refers to those opposed to God. They are 'earth dwellers' in contrast to those who are God's followers. For example, in Revelation 6:10 the saints in heaven cry out,

"How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true,
until you judge the inhabitants of the earth
and avenge our blood?"

They not asking that God punish everyone on the earth. They're asking God that how long before He judges those who are persecuting God's people. The inhabitants of the earth are enemies of God, who are against His people. In Revelation 11:10 when God's two witnesses are killed, we read,

"The inhabitants of the earth
will gloat over them and will celebrate
by sending each other gifts,
because these two prophets had
tormented those who live on the earth."

Christians won't celebrate the death of God's two witnesses. They will mourn their deaths. It's those that are opposed to God who will celebrate when the beast from the Abyss comes up and attacks them and kills them.

In Revelation 17:2 'the inhabitants of the earth' are described as those who,

"were intoxicated with the wine of her
[the great prostitute's] adulteries."

So when it says that all the inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast, it means those who are not God's elect. They are 'the inhabitants of the earth', or 'earth-dwellers'.

Christians, on the other hand, even though they live on the earth, are not really part of it. They are not included in the phrase, 'the inhabitants of the earth'. As the old saying about Christians says,

"We are in the world but not of the world."

We are pilgrims and strangers here. We do not belong to the world. We are citizens of heaven. (Philippians 3:20) Even though we live on this earth, we have been raised with Christ. (Colossians 3:1) Our old self has been crucified with Christ. (Romans 6:6) Christians are those who do not love the world or anything in the world. (1 John 2:15) This world is not our home. It is the home of the earth dwellers.

Our text tells us is that all earth-dwellers will worship the beast. There is no exception. It says,

"All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—"

Everyone of them falls for the deception of the beast. They all worship Him.

Now there are some clear implications from our text that we should not miss.

This shows us how the fall has affected human beings.

Human beings, apart from God's grace, are open to deception. Human beings, on our own, are unable to keep themselves from idolatry. G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 702)

"The point here is that the multitudes throughout the earth who worship the beast do so because their names 'have not been written in the book of life.' They are deceived into worshiping him because they do not have the eternal life-giving protection granted those whose names are in the book."

The only thing that keeps us is God's grace. On our own we go astray. As we read in Isaiah 53:6,

"We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to his own way;"

Sin has affected us so that our natural and inevitable predisposition is to go astray. Like sheep we are prone to wander.

Paul makes this same point in Romans 3:9–18. In the first part of the book Paul examined both Gentiles and Jews and concluded that all were sinners. He said,

"Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin. As it is written:
'There is no one righteous,not even one;
there is no one who understands,
no one who seeks God. All have turned away,
they have together become worthless;
there is no one who does good, not even one.
Their throats are open graves;
their tongues practice deceit.
The poison of vipers is on their lips.
Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.
Their feet are swift to shed blood;
ruin and misery mark their ways, and the way of peace
they do not know. There is no
fear of God before their eyes."

On our own we flee from God.

So what keeps Christians from idolatry? Why do Christians persevere when everyone else fails? Why do the saints remain faithful to God?

You persevere because you are in the Lamb's book of life.

It's because of God's election. It's because God wrote our names in the book of life. It's because God is faithful. Our salvation stretches back to before the foundation of the world. Those who are not in the Lamb's book of life worship the beast.

We can have assurance of our salvation and our ultimate perseverance because our names have been written in the Lamb's book of life.

God's grace is everything.

In the text before us we have a picture of what we would be like without grace. You've all heard the old expression,

"There but for the grace of God, go I."

That's exactly what we have here. It says that everyone who is not written in the Lamb's book of life will worship the beast. They will all be deceived.

There are three lessons for us here.

First, it shows us that

we ought to be exceedingly humble and we ought to be exalting God, extoling His name, rejoicing in Him for His great salvation.

Yesterday morning I was at the SUNY Canton graduation. One of their top students gave a little speech. One of the main themes of her speech was how the graduates must not forget to thank the most important person who helped them graduate—themselves.

No. We are not the most important person in anything we do. It's grace. It's grace. It's grace. In John 15:5 Jesus said to His disciples,

"I am the vine; you are the branches.
If a man remains in me and I in him,
he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

We are kept in Jesus because God wrote our names in His book before the foundation of the world. We are kept from idolatry only because of His faithfulness.

This means that one of the main characteristics we are to display as we walk before God is humility. In Micah 6:8 we read,

"He has showed you, O man,
what is good. And what does the LORD require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
and to walk humbly with your God."

We are saved by grace and this means that we cannot boast in ourselves before God. In Ephesians 2:8–10 we read,

"For it is by grace you have been saved,
through faith—and this not from yourselves,
it is the gift of God—not by works,
so that no one can boast.
For we are God's workmanship, created
in Christ Jesus to do good works,
which God prepared in advance for us to do."

We need to be very careful about this. The tendency to pride is strong in most of us. Even Moses, the meekest man on the face of the earth—failed at one point and did not honor God. He was prevented from entering the Promised Land because of His sin.

We need to cultivate humility. We need to be like George Whitefield. George Whitefield was one of the most eloquent preachers who ever lived, and was instrumental in spreading the gospel during the Great Awakening of the 1730's and 40's. He said this about his fitness to be saved: (Journals p. 38)

"Whatever foreseen fitness for salvation others may talk of and glory in, I disclaim any such thing. If I trace myself from my cradle to my manhood, I can see nothing in me but a fitness to be damned. [I speak the truth in Christ, I lie not]."

He had an accurate view of things.

If we are going to boast—it must be in the Lord. Our salvation is all of grace. We see this clearly in 1 Corinthians 1:26–31 where Paul wrote,

"Brothers, think of what you were
when you were called.
Not many of you were wise by human standards;
not many were influential; not many were of noble birth.
But God chose the foolish things
of the world to shame the wise;
God chose the weak things of the world
to shame the strong.
He chose the lowly things of this world
and the despised things—
and the things that are not—
to nullify the things that are,
so that no one may boast before him.
It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus,
who has become for us wisdom from God—that is,
our righteousness, holiness and redemption.
Therefore, as it is written:
'Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.'"

Secondly, for Christians, this means that

you can be confident that God is going to keep you.

If you believe in Jesus you have been written in the Lamb's book of life. G. K. Beale writes, (Revelation: NIGTC, p. 703)

"Genuine believers have assurance that their souls can weather any Satanic storm because of the safety accorded by the Lamb's book."

Our text is a dramatic testimony to God's election and God's keeping His people.

Thirdly, our text deals a death blow to one of the great excuses for sin. This is the argument that excuses sin because

everyone is doing it.

You hear it all the time. Someone will essentially say,

"What I'm doing is okay because everyone is doing it."

But there are two things wrong with that argument.

First, it's not true. There are some who do not sin. There are some who do not worship the beast. They are the ones that the beast makes war against and kills. Those who belong to the Lamb do not worship the beast. As the apostle John said about knowing God in 1 John 2:3–4,

"We know that we have come to know him
if we obey his commands.
The man who says, I know him, but does not do
what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in him."

The second thing that is wrong with the argument 'everyone is doing it' (which really means, 'most people are doing it') is the fact that Jesus said, (Matthew 7:13–14)

"Enter through the narrow gate.
For wide is the gate and broad
is the road that leads to destruction,
and many enter through it.
But small is the gate and narrow
the road that leads to life, and only a few find it."

If you want to go to hell—just do what most people are doing. What society accepts today will lead you to hell. Today's political correctness will lead you to hell.

Years ago Apple Computer had an advertising campaign called, "Think Different". That's what Christians are to do in our society.

For those of you who are parents or grandparents, there's a lesson for us here as well.

Teach your children that they can be different. Many parents today assume that their children to be like everyone else and they seem ready to accept it. No. Teach your children to follow God and expect them to follow God, to be different from everyone else. With God's grace they can do it. Pray for God's grace to be strong in them.

Lastly, if you're not a Christian, our text shows you that

you need Jesus.

Only He can save you. You need Jesus to save you.

But you may say,

"What if my name is not in the Lamb's book of life?"

That's not the right way to look at it because at this point we can't tell if your name is there or not. So any speculation is only that.

What I can tell you is that it may be there and that if you respond to the gospel call it is certainly there. Jesus commands you to believe on Him. He is calling you right now. If you go to Him He will not reject you. As Jesus said in John 6:37,

"All that the Father gives me will come to me,
and whoever comes to me I will never drive away."

Go to Jesus now.