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. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
The disciples were confused. They were sitting with Jesus on the Mount of Olives overlooking the temple, one of the greatest structures on earth, the center of Jewish worship. They expected Jesus, whom they knew was the Messiah, to build His kingdom on earth as described in the Old Testament scriptures. Instead, He described an unexpected reality. Jesus taught he would come back, but first everything would be destroyed and chaos would ensue on earth. He told the disciples they would go through tribulation up to death, however they were not to worry, they would endure and be delivered to a glorious future.
What is enduring to the end? Verse 13 describes this action and outcome for believers. They would endure to the end and be saved. The question is do we endure under our own power or the power of God? The detailed study and answer to this question has become known as the doctrine of the perseverance, or preservation, of the saints.
This doctrine demonstrates the power of God in keeping His chosen in faith. It is predicated on two key elements:
- God’s Work – Just like cannot bring ourselves to saving faith, we also cannot preserve ourselves to the end on our own strength. 1 Peter 1:5 states that Christians “are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation.” “He chose us in Him before the foundations of the world” – Eph 1:4. Our salvation was not of ourselves, otherwise we would boast. God chose you and preserves you, as per His plan from the beginning. This is not a “God sees the future and knows who will persevere, thus He chose you” ideal. God desires that all come Him and be saved. – 1 Tim 2:4.
- The Christian’s Synergistic Work – We work in tandem with God in faith to persevere. God wishes all would come to repentance and be saved, however we have a choice. “You are not willing to come to Me that you may have life” – John 5:40. Revelation 2:11 – “He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.” Who is an overcomer? The apostle John tells us in 1 John 5:4-5 – “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. Who is he that overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” The Christian’s faith in Jesus Christ and the resulting turn from the world makes us overcomers, enduring the temptations, trials and tribulations of our time in this world.
Many theologians have grappled with the intertwining of God’s call and sovereignty with the Christian’s response in faith and endurance. In answering the disciple’s question, Jesus made it simple. All Christians face hardships, even today those trials can be extreme, such as resilience in the face of death. We are called to endure to the end in our synergistic work utilizing the power of God. We do this by faithfully calling on our Lord, putting our steadfast, complete trust in Him. In our faith He will provide the power to endure to the end.