Enduring or Enjoying Salvation
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

This discussion arose from a series of Scriptures which were published in the local newspaper and seemed to indicate that you could fall from grace. We suggested to you that there were some twenty-five verses of Scripture which might seem to indicate such a thing. However, when they are examined in the light of their context, it is revealed not that you could lose a precious possession such as eternal life, but rather that grace and God's goodness provides our deliverance.

We suggested to you that this discussion arose from the Scriptures that were published. We are not attempting to answer any particular argument. We are seeking to present the Word of God in the light of its context. It is not necessary for us to know everything that is taught by everyone. We know the Word of God, and we know it in its context. Then, if anything arises that is contrary to that, we will be able to recognize it as error.

In this lesson, we are considering a verse of Scripture in chapter 24 of the gospel of Matthew that is often used to suggest that a person can lose his salvation after once he has accepted it as God's free gift. This same thing is repeated a little differently in chapter 15 of the gospel of Mark, but we notice it here in Matthew, chapter 24.

Matthew 24:

1And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8All these are the beginning of sorrows.
9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
15When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)
16Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
17Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
18Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
19And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
20But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened.
23Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
25Behold, I have told you before.
26Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
27For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
28For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

We are going to stop our reading there for that is sufficient for us to get the setting of the chapter in which this particular controversial verse is found. Notice especially verse 13:

Matthew 24:

13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Enduring To The End

This verse of Scripture is used by a lot of well-meaning people to suggest that it is possible for you to lose your salvation after once you have received it as God's free gift. They say that if you don't endure to the end, you can't be saved, and they give you this verse of Scripture as proof of that fact. I don't want to be unkind, and I don't want to sound unkind because certainly I am not, but the tragic thing to me about people who teach that sort of thing on the basis of this verse—the saddest thing to me—is that their salvation is more or less endurance. They're striving; they're enduring; they are not enjoying. They are fearful. They wonder if maybe they have endured enough, or if after enduring for quite a long time, they might fail in a moment of weakness, and a whole lifetime of endurance will go down the drain. They are not enjoying. They are enduring.

I like to see people in relation to the Lord Jesus Christ enjoy their salvation, every single minute of it. I like for them to know that it's sure, and that it is to be enjoyed.

You have a perfect right to ask if this verse of Scripture is not talking about enduring to the end so that you might be saved at last. What does it mean? And as I have suggested to you before, this verse of Scripture, as every verse of Scripture, should be interpreted in the light of its context. By its context, we mean the verses surrounding it. If we find out what the verses surrounding the verse of Scripture say, then we will know what this particular verse of Scripture says.

Background Of The Passage

So let's go back over this chapter, not in as much detail as we would if we were bringing you a lesson on Matthew, chapter 24, in its entirety, but giving you a bird's-eye view of the chapter that we may learn exactly what it says.

In the first verse you will notice that the disciples, true to form, as they came out of the temple, said to Jesus, “Isn't this a majestic building? Isn't it wonderful? Isn't it beautiful? Just think of the great piece of architecture that has been formed in the building of this building!”

That was true, and the Jews were exceedingly proud of their temple. The Lord Jesus Christ dropped a bombshell into their midst when He said, “You see all these things here that you're so proud of, the only things that mean so much to you? Well, I'm going to tell you something. There's going to come a day when there will not be one stone left on another.” Keep in mind that all of these stones in the temple were hand cut, hand hewed. It took many years to build it. It was a magnificent piece of architecture, and Jesus was saying, “There's going to come a day when not one of these stones will be left upon another.”

You have to have a little insight into Jewish thinking if you're able to understand their response. The Jews felt that the temple was permanent, and they felt if the temple were ever destroyed the world would come to an end. Immediately after they had gone out of the Mount of Olives with Him and were alone, in the third verse they said:

Matthew 24:

3…Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

Three Questions Asked Jesus

Actually, they asked Him three questions. They said, “Jesus, tell us, when is the temple going to be destroyed? When is it that not one stone will be left upon another? And, Jesus, tell us, what shall be the sign of Thy coming?” That was question number two. “And what shall be the sign of the end of the age?” These three things in their minds were related to the destruction of the temple.

If you are an observant student of the Word, you will notice that Matthew—notice carefully what I am saying—Matthew does not record the answer to the first question. Each of the gospel writers recorded those things which the Holy Spirit led them to record. They didn't record everything that was said on every given occasion. That is the reason Luke would be recording some things that Matthew did not. That is the reason Mark records some things that John does not. Same incident, but a different aspect. They were not contradictory. They were not at fault. The Holy Spirit was directing them to record certain things related to the purpose of their gospel.

Different Emphasis In Each Gospel

For example, the gospel of Matthew is addressed to the Jews. Matthew recorded particularly everything of Jewish interest. It doesn't mean he did not record anything that wasn't of Jewish interest, but the emphasis was upon Jewish interests.

Mark's gospel was addressed to the Romans. That is why it is shorter than any of the others. They were always in a hurry. Mark knew how to write, knew how to speak, to his audiences. For example, instead of giving all the details that Matthew gave in any given circumstance, Mark would use the word straightway . Much was involved in that word straightway . He knew the Romans didn't have a lot of time to look up a lot of Scripture. Matthew quotes a lot from the Old Testament. Mark knew that these Roman soldiers, busy defending the Roman Empire, didn't have time to look up a lot of passages of Scripture, so he just used the word straightway , and his gospel is much shorter.

Luke, of course, was writing for the Gentiles, all of the Gentiles. He emphasized things that were related more to the Gentiles than to the Jews.

John was writing that people might believe that Jesus Christ was the Son of God. He addressed it to Jews and Gentiles alike and emphasized everything related to the deity of Christ.

Matthew, writing for the interests of the Jews, didn't talk about the destruction of the Temple because the destruction of the Temple was the work of the Gentiles. That's left for Luke to talk about, so the answer to this first question, “When will the temple be destroyed?”, is recorded in chapter 21 of the gospel of Luke. Matthew didn't talk about it.

End Of The Present Age

Immediately he begins to answer the third question. The second question was, “Lord, what shall be the sign of Thy coming?” The third question was, “What shall be the sign of [this is very important] the end of the world?” More accurately, it is the “end of the age.” This earth isn't going to be destroyed when this age is over. This earth is going to be renovated and changed, and a new earth is eventually going to come forth out of it. So the questions are, “What shall be the sign of Thy coming, and what shall be the sign of the end of the age?”

The reason I want you to notice that is that every time you see the word end in Matthew, chapter 24, it's not talking about the end of your life or the end of my life. It's talking about the end of the age. Do you see what a tremendous difference it makes? It's talking about the end of the age in question. If you will notice verse 13, the verse that brought up this discussion:

Matthew 24:

13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

If we took that verse of Scripture out of Matthew, chapter 24, and printed it on a little card and handed it out to people, they could say, “This verse of Scripture says that if I don't endure until the end of my life, I'm going to lose my salvation.” That is what it sounds like it says. But it is not the end of life; it is the end of the age in question.

What is the end of the age in question? What age is it that is in the mind of the Lord Jesus Christ? In verse 4, in answer to their question, He said:

Matthew 24:

4…Take heed that no man deceive you.
5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

He said, “First thing, before we talk about the end of the age, you had better be on your guard. There is always going to be someone coming along and saying, ‘I'm the Messiah'.” Remember, He is talking to Jews now, and the word Christ means “Messiah.” “There will be a lot of folk who come along and say, ‘I am the Messiah'.”

If you read Jewish history, if you make any effort at all to follow it from the time of Christ down to the present moment, you will find there have been numerous people who have said, “I am the Messiah.” And the Jews have been partly responsible for it. They are so anxious for deliverance that they have said that they will proclaim any man their Messiah who will provide deliverance for them. Perish the thought, but it is true that when Franklin D. Roosevelt was in office, a delegation waited upon him and said if he arranged for them to have full control of the land of Palestine, they would declare him their Messiah. I would hate to think that he was, but nevertheless, that is what they said.

Wars In Prophecy

So the Lord Jesus Christ said, “There will be many men come from the beginning, so don't let anyone deceive you.” Then in verse 6:

Matthew 24:

6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

The end of what? The end of the age. Not the end of life, but the end of the age. He said, “Before the end of the age comes, there will be wars and rumors of wars.” So every time you hear about a war, don't get all panicky and say, “The end of the age is about to happen.” Whenever you hear about someone's going to war, and it looks pretty bad, and it looks as if the world is going to be destroyed, don't be upset. “The end is not yet.”

That is the reason I have said many, many times that I am not concerned about our present distress. I hesitate to say that because if you quoted just that much of what I said, you could go out of here and misquote me; you could go out of here and say, “Joe Temple says he doesn't care what happens. He doesn't care whether Russia annihilates the United States, and he doesn't care whether the whole world goes communist.” That isn't what I said. What I said is, I am not concerned about this civilization of ours being annihilated by the atomic bomb because it is not going to happen. If it's going to happen, then the Word of God isn't true. If it's going to happen, then our faith is in vain; we don't have anything to stand on. I'm not concerned about all these missiles that they're manufacturing and all the rest of it. If these missiles destroy civilization, then there will not be any war because the end can't be yet. That's what the Lord Jesus Christ is saying, “the end of the age.” A lot of things have to happen, and God can't let this civilization be destroyed until His prophecy is fulfilled.

The Beginning Of Sorrows

In verse 7, He gives you the reason you don't need to be so alarmed when you hear of wars and rumors of wars. The reason is that before the end of the age can ever begin:

Matthew 24:

7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
8All these are the beginning of sorrows.

What is he saying? He is saying to these Jews living in His day and for the Jews who would read it from that time down to the present hour, “Now, don't you be alarmed when you hear of wars and rumors of wars.” The end of the age cannot even begin until a certain thing happens—until there is a war that is described in the idiomatic speech recorded in verse 7, ”nation rising against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.” Those are idiomatic forms of expression—nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom. If you follow them through the Word of God, you find that in every instance, they refer to total war in the view of the person who was speaking.

What was in view when the Lord Jesus Christ was speaking? Were they talking about Palestine? Were they talking about Washington? What were they talking about? They were talking about the world, the entire universe. That is what they were talking about. And so He said, “You don't need to even look for the end until you see a total world war accompanied by famine and pestilence and earthquakes. When you see a total world war accompanied by famine and pestilence and earthquakes, then you can begin to look for the end of the age, and don't bother looking for it until then.”

“Oh,” you say, “wait a minute. If you say a thing like that, then all these people who lived for all these years didn't have anything to look for.” Yes, they did. They didn't know when that world war was going to occur.

I want to suggest to you something that I believe with all of my heart, and if you don't agree with me, we'll just go right on loving each other in spite of it. I'll be like Dr. Pettingill was. Dr. Pettingill was a pre-millennialist. He believed that the Lord was coming for the Church, and there were a lot of men who were post-millennialists who did not believe the Lord was coming. Dr. Pettingill used to say, “Well, bless their hearts! They love the Lord. They're saved, and when the Lord comes, He's going to take them whether they know it or not. Every time I pass one on the way up, I'm going to say, ‘I told you so,' all the way up.”

The Sign Of The End Of The Age

That's just the way I feel about this, even though you may not agree with me. When it happens, I'm going to say, “I told you so,” because this is exactly what is going to happen. I believe with all of my heart that we have seen the sign of the end of the age. I believe that the First World War of 1914-1917 was the sign of the end of the age. We've seen another, the global war that was just finished a few years later. We have seen a second sign of the end of the age. There may be another global war. That I do not know. There may be two more. That I do not know. But it does not change the facts of the Scripture that we have seen the sign which tells us that the end of the age is beginning. Now will you please notice verse 8:

Matthew 24:

8All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Literally, “All of these are the beginning of travail.” Or even more literally still, “All of these are the birth pangs of a new age.” These that are happening are the birth pangs of a new age which will begin when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to this earth in power and in glory.

Then a new age will begin, but before that new age begins, there are going to be a number of birth pangs, a number of labor pains, so-to-speak. There is going to be a period of travail. In verse 9, the Lord Jesus Christ said:

Matthew 24:

9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted,…

After the first birth pang occurs, there is going to be a period of affliction.

Rapture Of The Church

All Scripture must be interpreted in the light of the whole Word of God, not just part of it. Between verses 8 and 9 an event takes place. Though it is not recorded in Matthew, it is recorded in many other places in the Word of God. Between verses 8 and 9, there is an event that you and I, if we are born again, are looking forward to. That event is called the Rapture of the Church . That event is the catching up—the taking out—of the Bride of Christ. Mark what I say to you. If you are born again, if you know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior, one of these days the trump of God is going to sound, and you'll hear it. The dead in Christ will rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air.

Most of the world won't know anything about this. Dead folk will hear that trumpet. Their bodies will arise out of the grave. We'll hear it. You say, “How are we going to hear it without everyone's hearing it?” Well, I've never seen one of these things, but I am told that there is on the market today a whistle that dogs can hear and humans can't. If you want to call your dog without disturbing everyone, get one of those whistles. Of course, you would look silly blowing a whistle with nothing coming out of it but with all the dogs in the country running to your feet because they can hear it and no one else can.

That is exactly the way it is going to be with this trump. The trump of God is going to sound, and every Christian is going to hear it. I'm looking forward to hearing the sound of that trump, and when I hear it, I'm going to be caught up just like steel is caught up to a magnet because my Lord has promised me He is going to save me from the hour of trial that is coming to try the world.

No matter how bad things get, I'm not concerned about them. I'm concerned about my loved ones. I'm concerned about my friends who will have to go through the terrible time of affliction if they do not receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior. I am not concerned for myself because I know that I shall be saved from the hour of trial that is to come upon the world.

Tribulation Period

After all the believers are caught up, the judgment of God comes upon the earth, and the people who are left upon the earth are going to endure terrible tribulation, particularly the Jewish nation. It is true that here and there some Jews have accepted Jesus Christ as their Messiah, but the vast bulk of the Jewish nation isn't interested, and they're going to be left to go through the tribulation. He describes that tribulation beginning with verse 9. I want to emphasize that. From verse 9 on, we are in the midst of the Tribulation.

Matthew 24:

9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.
10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Deliverance At The Coming Of Christ

The Lord Jesus Christ is saying through Matthew here, “This is going to be a terrible time—an awful time—but if you are able to physically live through it for these seven years, you will be delivered. Many people will die. They will die like flies, for the judgment of God is terrible. But if you are able to live through the Tribulation, you will be delivered with the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in glory. That is the reason, in verse 29, He says:

Matthew 24:

29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Notice verse 31:

Matthew 24:

31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

That is the deliverance that is promised if these people are able to live through the tribulation. So you see, this verse of Scripture has absolutely nothing to do with a person's salvation. You are saved by faith through grace, and you have the assurance of your relationship to Jesus Christ at the present time.

I never like to speak critically of anyone's prayer because I realize that the Lord knows what we mean in our hearts, even though we may not always say the right words. But sometimes, I hear people pray, “and save us at last around Thy throne for Jesus' sake,” as though you have to travel all through this life with great uncertainty and finally get up there and find out that you're saved.

Conclusion

I'm glad that I know now that Jesus Christ is my Savior and I'm not enduring; I'm enjoying my relationship with Jesus Christ.


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