Recall that Jesus has warned His disciples that before His coming and the end of the age many false Christs would arise and mislead many looking for a more worldly leader to give them a more worldly kingdom. Because “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one” (1Jo 5:19), those pledging loyalty to His heavenly kingdom would also be hated by all the nations of this world who would persecute them, causing many to fall away and hate and betray one another. Many false prophets dressed like sheep would also arise and with their smooth and flattering words deceive many to take the bait of their peace and safety message, offering them an alternative, worldly religion more pleasing to their sensual desires and less costly to their flesh. As a result of such widespread apostasy from the truth, Jesus warned that lawlessness would increase so that the love of most would grow cold. For being lulled by the worldly spirit of the age rather than led by the Holy Spirit of Christ, the salt of the earth would lose its savor to no longer be a restraining influence against evil. See Mat 24:4-12.
Also recall that the disciples’ intent in asking for a sign was that they might not be swept away in the coming destruction that Jesus predicted for Jerusalem and the temple. Are we then to suppose in light of His answer to the intent of their question that those will be saved who are misled by false Christs to war after a more worldly kingdom? Shall we hold out hope that those will be saved who are caused to stumble because of tribulation, or are deceived by false prophets to fall away from the truth to a more worldly religion? Should we believe that somehow those will still be saved whose love has grown cold, who are like salt that has become tasteless, useless even for the manure pile (Luk 14:34-35) and who are no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men (Mat 5:13)? Finally, should we suppose that this warning to His closest disciples could not possibly apply to us also because we are already saved, having put our hand to the plow by saying a sinner’s prayer, and were told that we can never lose our salvation by someone who was dressed so nice and seemed so sincere that he couldn’t possibly have been a false prophet? (Does a false prophet know he is a false prophet, or does the nature of deception prevent him from knowing that he himself is deceived?)
On the contrary, who does Jesus say will be saved? See Mat 24:13; cf. Mat 10:22. What is another word for endure? See Rom 12:12, Jam 1:12. Notice that the Greek word also has the connotation of patience in the midst of suffering; see Rom 12:12 KJV, 1Pe 2:20. What does this remind us about the manner in which Christians as the sheep of God’s pasture following Jesus’ example as the Lamb of God are to endure hardship and tribulation if they are to be saved? See 1Pe 2:21-23; cf. Gal 6:9.
In light of Jesus’ words in Mat 24:9-12 what are we to understand it means to endure to the end in order to be saved? Does it mean that those who put their hand to the plow and look back are fit for the kingdom of God? See Luk 9:62. Does it mean that those who deny Jesus before men, whether in word or in deed, will not be denied by Him before His Father? See Mat 10:32-33, Tit 1:16, 2Ti 2:12. Does it mean that those who do not hold fast the seed of God’s word with an honest and good heart and bear fruit with perseverance will be gathered like wheat into His barn and not burned up like chaff in an unquenchable fire? See Luk 8:15, Mat 3:12. Does it mean that those who are selfishly ambitious and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, will find eternal life along with those who by perseverance in doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality? See Rom 2:4-8. Does it mean that those who do not hold fast the beginning of their assurance and the boast of their hope firm until the end will become partakers of Christ along with those who are of His house? See Heb 3:6,14. Does it mean that those who shrink back to destruction will be counted among those who have faith to the preserving of their soul? See Heb 10:39. Does it mean that those who do not lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles to run with the endurance the race that is set before them will still win the imperishable prize? See Heb 12:1-3, 1Co 9:24-27. Does it mean that those who are tested but fail the test and are not faithful until death will still receive the crown of life? See Rev 2:10. Does it mean that those who like the Israelites were saved out of their bondage in the land of Egypt will inherit the kingdom of God if they are also like them in lacking faith to enter the land of promise and supplant the wicked giants who abide there? See Num 13:30-14:4, 14:26-38, 1Co 10:1-6 and consider the seven deadly sins of pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath, sloth and gluttony that are like giants to our flesh but which Christians must likewise overcome by the Spirit if they are to inherit the land of promise in the kingdom of God. See also Num 33:55, Jos 23:12-13, Jdg 2:1-3.
Did Jesus say that those who endure to the end might be saved? Is there anyone whose word we could trust more than Jesus’ to come to pass and be fulfilled? See Mat 24:35. What encouragement ought this to give us in the midst of temptations and trials to remain faithful and steadfast to the truth of Christ even when the love of the many around us has grown cold and they are falling away to a more worldly religion? In light of what it means to endure to the end, are we holding fast the confession of our hope without wavering (Heb 10:23) in order that we will be saved? Cf. 2Ti 4:7-8.
1. Such has been the example also of numerous martyrs throughout history, who bore their sufferings patiently, without reviling, entrusting themselves to God in spite of often inhumane tortures; the accounts of many tortured to death for their faith is instructive: after refusing to deny their faith in Christ upon threat of torture, they would simply reply in the words of Jeremiah, “Behold, I am in your hands; do with me as is good and right in your sight” (Jer 26:14).↩