This morning I remembered a question my sweet departed friend Shar would ask of people over and over again: Do you recognize where we are in prophesy? The main thing she tried to get people to understand is that first we need to study Biblical prophesy so that we aren’t caught unawares. This morning I went to Matt 24:3-14, specifically “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (vv 12-13)
More pain is coming–guaranteed, but it comes with a promise: “he who endures to the end shall be saved”. This specific verse is best understood when read in context. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” (Matt 24:9-14)
Those who endure to the end are the opposite of those in the previous verse whose love grows cold. Jesus’ statement that he who endures to the end will be saved cannot be taken to mean that our salvation is somehow dependent on our personal ability to remain saved. Rather, it is a promise of perseverance. Those who have the grace to endure to the end are the ones who are genuinely saved by grace. The grace and strength can’t come from ourselves, it only comes from the Lord. “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13)
The various trials Jesus mentions will reveal our true colors. “Most will grow cold” and fall away from Christ, showing that they are professors only and not truly born again (Matt 24:12). But those who endure and stand firm in the faith, despite incitements to do otherwise, are showing that they are genuine children of God “who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:5, ESV, emphasis added).
Those who endure to the end and are saved will stand firm through false teaching. We are warned “many false prophets will arise and lead many astray” (Matt 24:11) We tend to imagine a “false prophet” as a flamboyant type, easily spotted and easily rejected. However, if this were true, then many would not be deceived by them. Instead, the false prophets are men and women with outward displays of Christianity, charismatic charm, and a way with words. They weave their heresies with Scripture, just as Satan does (see Luke 4:1–10), so that those who do not know God’s Word thoroughly are taken in by their great-sounding teachings (2 Tim 4:3–4).
We are already seeing this take place with the explosion in recent years of hyper-grace teaching and the prosperity gospel. Millions are being deceived, with Bibles in their laps, because the words of the false prophets are ego-soothing, exciting, and more desirable than Scripture’s focus upon self-sacrifice and surrender. Those who endure to the end and are saved will stand firm even in the midst of a rampantly sinful culture.
We are seeing the cause-and-effect play out before our eyes daily: “because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold”. As culture redefines reality according to its lusts and depravity, those clinging to scriptural definitions of sin are being quickly outnumbered. As wickedness becomes more popular and socially acceptable, people without a solid biblical worldview are being swept up by its grandiose promises.
They are “rethinking” and “reevaluating” the Bible’s relevance in our modern world. The definitions of gender, sexuality, and morality are being challenged, even within some segments of the church, causing those unschooled in truth to collapse beneath the weight of these “new insights.” It is no wonder that the flicker of love that may have been ignited by the Holy Spirit is squelched in favor of a new love and a new god created in the image of the culture.
When Jesus says, “The one who endures to the end will be saved”, He is speaking of those who are truly born again, whose lives are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. True followers of Jesus Christ will withstand the onslaught of wickedness, recognize and reject false teaching, and cling fast to the truth of God’s Word. They will overcome this world and be granted reward in the world to come (Rev 3:21). Those who have been sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Eph 1:13; 4:30; 2 Cor 1:22) have His power working in them to enable them to stand firm (Rom 14:4; Jude 1:24–25).
Don’t assume you have plenty of time because the Son of God will return like a thief in the night (Matt 24:42-44). Make certain you have a right relationship with the Lord and that you haven’t been deceived. Ask the Lord to show you if you truly belong to Him, so that you can see it for yourself by your fruit (Matt 7:16). Be willing to have Him open your eyes to the truth of where you stand in light of eternity, because to get it wrong will be an eternity of devastation. “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (Heb 3:13) And pray not only for yourself, but those you love, even those you have to love from afar. You’ve been given today. What will you do with it in light of eternity?