We read in Matthew 10:22, after listing a number of warnings of trials: “… But he who endures to the end will be saved.”
Endurance is a very important concept for us living God’s Way. In fact, it is essential. At first thought, endurance may be considered similar to perseverance and yet God gives greater emphasis to endurance than He does to perseverance. In the Bible, perseverance or persevere occurs about 9 times while endure or enduring occurs over 30 times, not counting the over 45 occurrences in italics. When we look at endurance, it certainly includes the element of perseverance but it entails much more.
A definition of perseverance is to continue on, even though there may be difficulties and failures on the way, whereas endurance is more like surviving pain or hardship or opposition.
Matthew 24:9-13 is a very important message for the end-time Church, although it has applied during much of the history of the Church. It shows the importance of enduring:
“Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended…” Some versions have “fall away” in place of “be offended.” According to Ellicot’s commentary, the reference to “the many” points primarily to “believers in Christ” who found a stumbling block which caused them to be offended. Continuing: “… betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love [agape or godly love that true Christians have] of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
This passage shows that we may have to endure trials such as tribulation, killing, hatred, deception, offences, betrayal and lawlessness. But it ends on a very positive theme, an absolute promise from God who cannot lie, that the person who endures to the end through all of this shall be saved. “Shall,” in contractual terms, means: It is mandatory, it must happen.
Let us focus on our example, Jesus Christ. In Hebrews 12:2 we read, “… looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
When we look at His life, we find that it required great endurance. His life was threatened a number of times, even from when He was a young child. He had to fight the temptations of Satan. He was accused of blasphemy and even called illegitimate. He was accused of casting out demons by Beelzebub. He went through an illegal trial whose guilty outcome was already predetermined. And to top it off, He was beaten and executed in a manner usually applied to the worst criminals. In those days, it was a shameful thing to be crucified.
So why did He do it? Why did He come to earth and take the form of a human, knowing all this was prophesied to happen to Him? As we just read, it was for the joy that was set before Him. The joy of making possible that many brethren would join the God Family. He and His Father knew that this was the only way possible, and the outcome was so wonderful that no trial was too much for Him to achieve this outcome.
So how does this apply to us? We also have to endure many trials in life. But the outcome is stated in Psalm 16:11: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures evermore.” There is a wonderful life set out before us if we endure. Nothing could be more worthwhile.
God certainly offers us help and He gives us a promise in Romans 8:38-39: “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
We have God’s promise of help. We read what the apostle Paul said in Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” We can also have faith in God who shows no partiality, that we can endure to the end through Christ who strengthens us.