What does Endure to the End Mean?

Scripture often encourages us to endure in the faith or warns us about falling away. Does this demand work on our part?

The Bible often encourages us to endure in faith. For example, Joshua urged God’s Old Testament people to “cleave unto the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:7). Speaking of the end times, Jesus warned against falling away, saying, “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13).

Doesn’t this demand work on our part?

Faith Is a Work of God

Some people think of faith as something we do. This can result in us placing the emphasis in the wrong place. If enduring to the end means being faithful or keeping the commandments, then we’re all in big trouble because we’ve already failed to measure up to God’s standard of perfection (Romans 3:23).

Thankfully, enduring to the end means trusting in Christ’s completed work for us. That trust, or faith, is a gift of God (Ephesians 2:8). It is created in our hearts by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). From beginning to end, faith is the work of God.

A person may listen to the gospel message and then receive faith. We can read God’s promises in the Bible and be assured of the perfection Jesus has won for us. Yet, even here, we are recipients. The active agent is God.

Imagine that a firefighter rescued an unconscious person from a burning building. The man was laid down in a safe place, far away from the fire. After a while, the man regains consciousness. He stands and watches as his house burns to the ground. But he doesn’t go rushing back into it. It would be absurd if he later bragged about how he contributed to his rescue by remaining in safety and not returning to the burning building.

This is what it means to endure to the end. Remaining or enduring in Christ’s saving work doesn’t contribute to being saved. Like the firefighter, Christ already did it all.

Keep The Focus On Jesus

Imagine if that firefighter heard the man bragging about how he helped in his rescue after the firefighter had put himself in extreme danger to rescue him. He wouldn’t just feel unappreciated. He would be angry.

This illustrates how claiming that we, in any way, contribute to our salvation is an incredible insult to Jesus. He sacrificed so much to save us. It would anger him because we are taking credit for what he did and because it calls into question his payment for our sins.

To use another illustration, imagine that some of your loved ones foolishly got themselves deeply in debt. Although they were at fault, you wanted to help them. Therefore, you sold many of your possessions and used the money to pay for everything they owed. You can hardly contain your excitement as you anticipate telling them this great news. You can’t wait to see their joy.

You arrive at their house and tell them to sit down because you have some news to share. “Your debt has been paid in full! You have nothing to worry about!” They react with great joy. But then, in the subsequent weeks, they start sending you the minimum payment on their debt. You are confused and angry. You ask them what they are doing. “Don’t you know that I paid your debt because I love you? It is my gift to you. Do you think that your little payments can even come close to paying me back? You are showing me that you don’t appreciate how much I had to give for you. Your attempt to pay me back ruins everything. It turns my act of love into nothing more than a business transaction!”

Endure In Faith

Jesus rescued all the world. Sadly, not all receive this gift. If you wrote out an extraordinarily generous check to pay off the debts of your loved ones, but they didn’t believe you were good for it so they left it on the table, they would never receive the benefit of that gift. In a similar way, those who do not trust solely in Jesus do not receive the benefit of his saving work.

Paul describes how Jesus came “to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached” (Colossians 1:22–23). Did you notice how important faith is in those words? It’s essential! No wonder Paul encourages them to continue in the faith.

Faith has sometimes been illustrated as a hand extending from the heart, taking hold of Christ’s saving work and making it ours personally. Those who believe in Jesus now enjoy a new relationship with God (John 1:12). This happens through the gift of faith.

God encourages us to endure to the end. Endure by trusting in our efforts? Certainly not! Rather, endure by trusting in Christ’s saving work for us. Then, on the Last Day, you’ll stand on his perfect record for you. Stand in the confidence faith brings every day until then!


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