Does a Christian have to endure to be saved?
This is a basic question that many Christians struggle through in their Christian walk. It comes from a passage in Matthew which says, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) Does this mean that if a Christian does not endure, in some way, he will not make it into heaven? This is an example of Christians who may know considerable Scripture, but do not know how God divided Scripture into dispensations.
What is a dispensation? A dispensation is a period of time, from God’s perspective, where God shows that man, no matter how much truth or blessing is given from God, will choose to rebel and be separated from God’s presence, unless he humbles himself to God’s will. There is no way you can rightly divide God’s truth and harmonize it from Genesis to Revelation without an understanding of dispensations. Most Christians are dispensational, but many do not admit it.
Matthew 24 is called the Olivet Discourse. Jesus had taken the disciples out of the city of Jerusalem to the Mount of Olives and was describing what would happen during a specific period of time.
- Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple.
- 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
- 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
- 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. (Matt. 24:1-4)
Note several things about this passage. First, it is right after Jesus’ rebuke of the Pharisees (Matt. 23). Secondly, Jesus prophesied that the stones of the city, in fact, the temple, would be thrown down (Matt. 24:2) For this reason some have attempted to define this chapter to the destruction of the temple in 70 A.D., but that is a misunderstanding of Scripture. Thirdly, the disciples want to know what will happen at the “end of the age.” (Matt. 24:3) The disciples did not fully understand the ages as they reveal their lack of understanding as recorded in Acts 1:6. The end of the Age will be the last segment of the Jewish Age in which they were living. This will be described in a future article related to Daniel 9:24-27 and the seventy weeks that Daniel describes. Fourthly, Jesus tells them to listen and be alert, because there will be many who will try to deceive them. In fact, the enemy, Satan himself, wants nothing more than to deceive, confuse, divide and destroy those who are pursuing the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then Jesus begins to describe what the end of the Age will be like. Jesus said,
- 7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.
- 8 “All these are the beginning of sorrows.
- 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.
- 10 “And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.
- 11 “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.
- 12 “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. (Matt. 24:7-12)
The end of the age will be filled with nations warring against nation, with famines, with earthquakes and tribulation. Notice that Israel, “you,” will be the target of the enemy in the tribulation. Notice there will be many false prophets, that is, there will be great confusion and deception. And notice that the love of God will grow cold, because people will not remain faithful to God.
That is a description of the last seven years of Israel’s history. That period of history is so destructive, because it is the last opportunity for the enemy, Satan, to destroy the Jews. He wants to destroy the Jews, because if he can destroy the Jews, then God cannot fulfill His covenants He made to Abraham and David. Those will be fulfilled at the Second Advent when Jesus returns. If there were no Jews, then the covenants could not be fulfilled.
We are experiencing troubled times today, but it will intensify during that period. So, in the middle of describing that tribulational time, Jesus made the statement, “But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13) Every word has meaning.
The basic meaning of the word “saved” is “delivered.” When a person is saved at salvation, he is delivered from condemnation. When a person is “saved” in the Tribulation, it means that he is delivered from the coming wrath of the Lord Jesus Christ and subsequent torments when he returns at the Second Advent and delivered into the new age called the Millennium. Hence, the verse means that the person who endures, that is, he holds onto his faith in life, he will be delivered into the Millennium.
It is not talking about “saved from eternal condemnation.” Once a person genuinely trusts in Jesus Christ as his Savior, he has eternal life. He is eternally secure. He did nothing for salvation. He can do nothing to lose his salvation. His salvation did not depend on him. His eternal security does not depend on him. It all depends on the mercy and sovereign will of God.