It’s the End that Counts
And the gospel must first be proclaimed to all nations. And when they bring you to trial and deliver you over, do not be anxious beforehand what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour, for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death.And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. –Mark 13:10-13
The closing thought in the passage above ought to concern you. Jesus was stating a condition to salvation that is both easy to miss and easy to misunderstand. Here’s the part we miss: He who endures to the end will be saved; not the one who starts well, but the one who finishes well.
This passage presents Jesus’ realistic appraisal of how things will unfold on earth as the end approaches. Not only will the gospel be proclaimed to all nations, but those who proclaim it will also bear the cost. Some will be brought to trial, some betrayed by siblings, parents, and children, some will give their lives. Those associated with Jesus’ name will be hated by all. Then He adds, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Although the context indicates that Jesus was speaking about the close of history, His words also apply to the course of our lives. Unless Jesus returns during our lifetime, you and I have an end we are coming to. There’s a finish line ahead. The point isn’t when but how we will get to the end of life. Will we cross the finish line enduring or not?
And here’s the part that is easy to misunderstand: Jesus is not saying you are saved by enduring. He is saying that those who are truly saved do endure.
Here is a good example of Scripture interpreting Scripture. In 1 John 2:19, the apostle John is talking about believers who didn’t endure, didn’t persevere. John said, “They went out from us because they were not of us. If they had of been of us, they would have remained with us, but they went out from us so that it might be manifested that they were in fact never really of us.”
Now that’s not talking about local church membership. John was not describing people who leave a church; he was talking about people who leave the Church—people who depart from faith in Christ. People who backslide and never return make it very clear that they never really had saving faith.
In fact, the apostle Paul expressed his own vulnerability to not enduring in 1 Corinthians 9. He said, “I am afraid that when I have preached to others, I myself would become disqualified.” How is it that a person can follow Christ and live for Christ and even preach Christ and still walk away from the faith? Here’s how: "they went out from us because they were not of us." He who endures to the end will be saved.
Lord, if the apostle Paul needed a reality check, I know I need one too. Help me hang on to You with everything I’ve got, even as I’m speaking to others about You. Never let me lose my sense of dependence on You. Keep me pressing on as I follow in Your Son’s steps, realizing it is Your plan to use my time here to grow me into someone more and more like Him. Your will be done, Father, in Jesus’ name, amen.