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February 16, 2012 Ė Fading Endurance
13 But he who endures to the end will be saved. Ė Matthew 24:13 AMP
Chapter Twenty-Four of Matthew is literally a prophecy waiting to be fulfilled. Jesus is very specific about famines, earthquakes, and even the rise of false teachers. As some of these events are unfolding before our very eyes daily in the headlines, others have not yet come to pass. But the key to the Christian believer is found in todayís verse. Those who endure to the end will be saved.
This is a verse overlooked by most Christians. Often there is a fear or an uneasiness that accompanies Bible prophecy of any kind. Many believers feel like someone well educated has to interpret prophecy because some prophecies contain so many symbols. But in Matthew Chapter Twenty-Four, Jesus simply tells it like it is. He doesnít beat around the bush or leave any room for misunderstanding. And enduring to the end sure doesnít mean something completely different. Now, almost two thousand years later, endurance has taken on a whole new meaning.
In present day Christian circles, the word endure has many negative connotations. Christians endure hardships. We hear news stories of international missionaries who are taken hostage and endure countless hours of torture at the hands of their captors. But the way Jesus uses the word endure in todayís verse, it is completely different from those negative meanings.
What Jesus meant was for us all to stand firm in our faith. He said we would be hated by everyone (Matthew 24:9). He said false prophets will deceive believers (Matthew 24:11). But like todayís verse says, if we endure through it all, and stand resolute by His Word, we will be saved. This one verse alone has so much more meaning than a simple salvation message.
This is where a major stumbling block has been placed before the Christian today. Society as well as the church has in recent years been all about love and peace. We are supposed to accept everyoneís behavior, regardless of how bizarre it may seem to us. If you worship Jesus, but your neighbor chooses to worship the oak tree in his backyard, we have to be tolerant of that behavior. This is all fine. Christians are not supposed to judge those outside of the body of believers (1 Corinthians 5:12), but we are supposed to separate ourselves from them (2 Corinthians 6:17). So whereís the line? How do we find the balance so that our endurance doesnít lead to tolerance?
The balance is found inside the Word. We are not told to endure unbelievers, but to separate ourselves from them. That doesnít mean cutting yourself off from society (1 Corinthians 5:10); it simply means not having relationships with ungodly people. We are also told to avoid false teaching completely (2 Timothy 3:5).
The sad truth is that society has taught a doctrine of toleration for years. The church at Thyatira was condemned by Jesus for tolerating false teaching (Revelation 2:20). The believers there knew the teaching contradicted Godís Word, yet they allowed the woman spreading the lies to continue in her activities. Thatís where the difference between endurance and tolerance comes into play. Anything in our life that contradicts Godís Word that we allow to continue is toleration. If we donít take measures in a godly way to put an end to that which we know is wrong in our life, we tolerate it. Whether itís false teaching from the pulpit or obscene jokes at work, Christians become tolerant in more ways than they know. To endure in our faith, we must stand against tolerance. In the end, thatís the only way we can be saved.
Itís time for Christianity to be set apart from society. Society tolerates homosexuality, greed, lust, and idol worship. None of these things are considered illegal in the world, only free choices. The fact is all of these things are considered illegal or immoral by the Word, yet believers and churches alike do nothing but tolerate them every day in some form or another. When will it end? When will the body stop tolerating and start enduring?
Want the truth? Not everyone will endure. There will be a great number of Christians who will fall away from the faith (2 Thessalonians 2:3). They will be led astray by all sorts of false doctrines or simply turn their back on God completely. And there is nothing any of us can do to stop it.
But there is one thing we can do. We can endure. We can stand by our faith and always live by the Word. We can choose to never compromise or tolerate anything that contradicts what the Bible says. And we can rest easy knowing that our endurance never faded and in the end weíll be saved.
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