Questions & Answers
Enduring to the end?
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, "Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?" And Jesus answered and said to them, "See to it that no one misleads you. For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many. You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs. Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:1-24
Don't you find it amazing that considering the bulk of the NT expressing total confidence in Christ that a whole religion can isolate and stand upon a verse here and a verse there ... especially since Jesus said it?
I find it rather interesting how easily we miss the odd response Jesus gave to a very direct question. Of course, we can always compensate for our ignorance by forcing a conclusion that fits. After all, isn't it commonly held by many that the answer to the question regarding "When will it happen?" is "When the gospel has been preached to the whole world." And of course we've got it figured out with modern technology and communication that we're almost to the point where everybody will have heard this good news. Rather ironic ... with all this communication anything but the "gospel" is being communicated.
They wanted to know when, but he prepared them for the coming purposeful misleading and hatred of those who preach not Christ but themselves. Along with the wars and rumors of war they might as well get used to a world in turmoil where men set themselves up as "The Deliverer". He basically told them not to be surprised when they become the target of hatred because of the good news they preach, nor to be fooled when mass fall-outs occur in the world around them, especially among those who follow those who claim to speak for God.
The "falling away" is connected to the religious following of man and the systems he builds even though it may claim to represent him. The disciples of Jesus would have already been familiar with this sense of falling away as they had experienced it during the course of their time with Jesus. Consider the "feeding of the 5000" where it seemed that Israel would "receive" Jesus but only ran from him when he refused to fit their expectations. When asked by Jesus, "Do you also want to leave?" they had no answer except, "We have no one else to turn to but you because we know you are from God."
The "endurance" Jesus spoke of rested solely in him ... even though "his own" rejected him. The endurance is not the result of a determination to keep it going it is the reality in the inward knowledge that we have nothing or no one else but Christ. He did not say, "but the one who determines to endure to the end", he simply spoke the truth about the one who actually does. If you pay attention to the letters these men wrote you can't help but notice the sense of the miraculous regarding those who belong to Christ.