Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"But the one who endures to the end will be saved." Matthew 24:13 "By your endurance you will gain your lives." Luke 21:19 -- Although objectively justified, are an individual's efforts the source of his/her endurance to the end?

Great question! Through scripture, I’m convinced that the answer is yes. Yes, our individual efforts are the source of our endurance to the end. It’s what’s behind our individual effort that really matters. The Christian will be saved and will be brought to final salvation in the end only because of the merit of Jesus Christ. Because of His life, death, and resurrection, all who believe and trust in Jesus and His work on the cross will be saved and kept by His power. John 10:27-29 states “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” Jesus saves His sheep. Jesus gives His sheep eternal life. Jesus keeps His sheep to the end. The Father gives these sheep to Jesus. The Father makes sure that His sheep are kept unto the end. Therefore, the credit for our arriving justified on the last day goes only to God and His Christ. There is a human part to endurance though. Although our efforts are not the grounds on which we are saved, they do matter and what Matthew says is true “the one who endures to the end will be saved.” Every day the Christian must fight, he must war with sin, temptation and the flesh. Here is the connection between God’s part in keeping His sheep and our part in fighting as sheep; the only reason that the Christian can fight is because God is keeping Him and enabling him to fight. The only reason the Christian has the strength to endure is because God is keeping him and giving him strength to endure. I think Paul deals very well with this topic of endurance in Philippians. Philippians 1:6 states “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Paul is basically saying God began the initial work of salvation. God will finish the work of salvation. Hebrews 12:1-2 states that Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith. What God begins He finishes. Salvation and the keeping of it belongs to God and there is rest for the Christian when he realizes that God is the Savior and Protector of his soul. Based on this knowledge of God as Savior and Protector, Author and Finisher, the believer has all the provisions and strength to fight and endure in the Christian life because he already knows God is protecting him and keeping him. In Philippians 2:12, Paul encourages the Philippian believers to “work out” their salvation with fear and trembling. “Work out” means to literally “get it done” concerning their salvation. Now, to the person who reads this and discards the fact that God keeps His sheep primarily, it would sound like “I keep my salvation” and “My working out is the reason I am saved”. But one does not need to go too much further in Paul’s writing to see that much more is going on in this “working out” than merely our human efforts. Paul says in the next verse that the ground for our working is “for (because) it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” God is responsible for our working. We run the race of endurance because God is moving our muscles in the stride. We fight the good fight of faith because God is working AND willing in us to fight. To use the illustration of sports, it is God who works in the team to play the game, its God who causes the team to win the game and it is God who is the arena for the team to play in. We are called to suit up and play – and play hard. We are called to go teach, make disciples, war with sin, examine ourselves, kill the flesh, and resist the devil but God is at work both in keeping us so that we can do all these things and in working through us, willing and working for His glory. Endure to the end means just that: endure to the end.

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1 comment:

Dee said...

Ah the thin line of Human Responsibility and the Sovereignty of God. What a delight my friend.

;) Dee