The character of the 144000
In Revelation chapters 7 and 14, we are given a view of a group called the 144,000. Revelation 14:1-5 gives a detailed description of the characteristics of these people and reveals them to be a unique group of Christians, who are different in several ways from any other Christians who have ever lived on this earth. One of the striking marks of these Christians is that they have “the Father's name,” written in their foreheads.
A little thought will make it clear that this name refers to God's character rather than to His nature or His intrinsic qualities. Notice that this fact, that they have the Father's name in their foreheads is stated as one of the peculiar marks of these Christians which sets them apart from all Christians. This name of the Father written in their foreheads is not something which all Christians possess or else there would be no special significance in mentioning it as one of the characteristics of these special people.
Yet, all Christians do have the Father's nature. As the apostle Peter tells us,
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. (2 Pet 1:4)
All Christians do have the Father's nature. The moment a person truly believes the exceeding great and precious promises in the word of God, then he truly becomes a partaker of the divine nature of God, and so becomes a member of the family of God. He receives God's family name and as a recipient of the divine nature he truly has received salvation. At the very moment when a person receives this name of God, this nature of God, he has the assurance that he is a child of God and has received eternal life.
But let us consider something: Every new-born baby is a member of his family. From the moment he is born he receives the family name. The family has certain unique characteristics which are his, he has no choice about them, they are his, just by virtue of the fact that he was born. Nothing can change this reality, nothing can make him not a family member, as long as he is born into the family. However, no new-born baby is qualified to represent the family. In fact, many persons who are in their teens and even older are not qualified to represent their family and the father or mother would not choose such a person to represent them. Why not? Because in order to represent the family, a person needs to have a proper understanding of what the family stands for. He needs to understand the principles which characterize the family.
In the same way, every new-born Christian is assured of salvation. He has received the nature of divinity which is a perfect nature. His instinct is to do good and only to do good and in this sense, he has a perfect nature. This must be, because he has partaken of the divine nature and the divine nature is a perfect nature. There is no imperfection in God. Let us note, however, that a perfect nature does not necessarily mean a perfect character . Nature and character are two different things. Nature is what we are born with, character is what we develop as we pass through the experiences of life.
Yet it is important for us to know that perfection of character is not a requirement for salvation. Perfection of character is a process and requires time. If perfection of character was the requirement for salvation, the thief on the cross could never have been saved, Rahab could not have been saved, they, and many others would have fallen short of the mark and been lost. Yet all of these are represented in the Scriptures as being people who will be in heaven. On what basis have they been saved? They have been saved because they all, through faith, became partakers of the divine nature. They were born again through faith and truly became the children of God. They never learned enough about God and His ways to perfectly represent Him, but they were truly His children nevertheless and on this basis they will be saved. They did not develop perfect characters, few men ever did, but they had the perfect nature of God. When they surrendered to God, they gave Him their lives in all things which they knew to be His will and in this sense, they were perfect. This is the only kind of perfection which is required for salvation and they had it.
Character of the 144,000
The state of the 144,000 is different, however. It is clear that in describing these people God is focusing on perfection of character, rather than perfection of nature. These are not simply born-again Christians, qualified for salvation and no more. These are people who are fit to represent God in the world. These are mature members of the divine family, fully aware of the will and the ways of God and well able to reveal His character to the world. The have the Father's name in their foreheads and it is clear that this represents His last name. The focus is on His character as opposed to His nature. Revelation 14 is talking about character development, not the new birth.
The difference between these and other Christians is apparent. It is clear that in focusing on these people, God is not pointing to the qualifications necessary for salvation, but rather to the character which will be developed in those who will finally represent Him on earth in the final moments of time. It is qualification for a job, not qualification for salvation .
The fact is, many Christians will be saved who were defiled with women, that is, who were involved with false religious systems. But the 144,000 are entirely free from such defilement. Many will be saved who did not follow the Lamb perfectly, but the 144,000 will follow Him without deviation. Many will be saved who had character faults even up to the moment of death, but there will be no such blemish on the 144,000.
It is clear that God has a special purpose for the 144,000 and that this purpose makes it necessary for them to have perfect characters. They must be people who perfectly express the principles of God's character in the world, but we must not make the mistake of thinking that this is a necessity for salvation.