The Endurance of the Saints
There are nearly two dozen New Testament scriptures that speak of enduring or holding fast to the end. The wrong way to read these scriptures is to think, “I must sweat and strive and endure or be disqualified from the kingdom.” If the Christian race is a marathon, it begins at the finish line. Christ has already endured which is why, in him, we can have peace when troubles come.
So why does the Bible contain so many exhortations to endure? Because you and I have a great need for endurance, and God has promised to supply that need (along with all our other needs) according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Php 4:19).
It is essential that you see God as your need-supplier, otherwise you will get distracted by scriptures like this:
There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name. This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus. (Rev 14:11-12, NIV)
The New International Version Bible makes it sound like your salvation is contingent upon your endurance and commandment-keeping. In other words, you’d better follow the rules and show some moral fiber when faced with persecution.
This is bad advice! Live like this and you’ll be as restless as those who worship the beast. Let’s look at that scripture in a literal translation:
Here is endurance of the saints: here are those keeping the commands of God and the faith of Jesus. (Rev 14:12 YLT)
John is saying, “Do you see it? Under this incredible pressure from a corrupt world system, the saints are enduring. Those who trust Jesus are staying faithful in the face of persecution.” John is not saying, “This calls for…” but “Here it is! Look! See what God is doing – he is keeping his saints!”
We don’t endure to become Christians; we endure because we are Christians – because Christ is in us and he is the all-time Overcomer and Endurer. As John says, it is the “faith of Jesus” that makes this possible.
It may not be in your nature to endure but rest assured it is in his nature, and as you allow him to express his life through yours, you too will endure to the end. Keep your focus on Jesus and you will be amazed at what you can endure.
The circus of endurance
Have you ever read how the first-century Christians endured horrific persecution. Can you imagine what it must’ve been like to be rounded up with other believers and sent to the Roman circus to face the lions? Can you imagine sitting in the holding cell waiting for your turn to be torn and devoured?
In my natural flesh I would have been climbing the walls trying to get out. Or perhaps I would be curled up in the fetal position trembling with fear.
Yet when you read about these Christ-followers you’ll find that many actually volunteered for the circus. Like Paul, they considered it an honor to share a martyr’s death with Christ. In other words, when the pressure came they found within themselves the supernatural steel of Christ’s endurance. They literally had Christ’s courage.
It’s the same today. I know of Chinese pastors who have thought nothing of going to prison. If you know anything about Chinese prisons you will know that’s not normal to be untroubled by such things, and yet they are. They endure the unendurable because Christ empowers them.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (Jas 1:2-4)
In Christ you already lack nothing but you won’t know you lack nothing until you’ve been tested by the trials of life. It is only when you have gone past the point of your own strength and found your heavenly Father, strong and smiling, that you begin to realize that when you are weak, you can be strong indeed.
It is not a joyful thing to be persecuted. The joy comes in discovering through the trial that the faith God has put within you is purer than gold.
In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. (1 Pet 1:6-7)
The trials of life are not to see whether we can manufacture the Right Stuff for Jesus, for we can’t manufacture faith at all. Saving, enduring faith is a gift from God. The purpose of life’s trials is to show you that God’s gifts are awesome!
The marvelous gift
The faith he has given you – Jesus’ faith, remember – is not brittle but strong. You might not know this but when the trial comes you will and then you will rejoice. You will marvel like John and say, “Look! Here now is endurance of the saints!” You will marvel like Paul and say, “I am not discouraged. Even though on the outside it seems everything is falling apart, on the inside God is revealing his amazing life” (2 Cor 4:16).
What is the endurance of the saints? What is the secret to survival in a hostile world? It is the faith of Jesus working in those who receive it.
Understand that patient endurance is a fruit (Gal 5:22). You absolutely cannot produce the patience you need to endure life’s toughest trials so don’t even try. As branches we’re not called to produce fruit but to bear the fruit that he, the Living Vine, produces in us. Our part is to abide in the Vine – to rest in him, to trust him, and to quit trying to make it happen apart from him.
Our part is to behold Jesus who has already endured and marvel with gratitude as he continues to endure.
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“Allow him to express his life through yours.” Yes!
Very good Paul.
Please explain Hebrews 6 4-12
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I really need to read this article today.
God bless you!
This is excellent. I found it balanced and encouraging. I’ve always disliked/distrusted the weird martyrdom teachings out there, that seem to be implying that we can earn favor by suffering. The longer I study/meditate on the grace gospel, the more it makes sense. Thanks for existing Paul haha. 🙂
Amen to that, brother! Abide in the Vine! My wife and I have found that to be the key to life -resting in him and trusting in him instead of stressing out trying to make things happen. Then He makes it happen his way, effortlessly!
Happy Thanksgiving from the USA. We are thankful for you, Paul, keep on preaching! I share your web site and posts with brothers and sisters wherever I go.
Keep enduring Paul! Always a pleasure to read your words – in spite of me not telling you very often… Erik
Spiritual development, growing up spiritually, discipleship, or simply becoming who Christ already made you is a fruit, a reflex of Grace, a by product of the New Birth. It’s not that Believers don’t sin or mess up it’s that our attitude and thinking about sin has changed.
We see many admonitions to endure but it’s never in context of us staying saved. So good to see fellow believers encouraging others to embrace Grace and realize our salvation is 100% secure for all eternity. Tradition says endure to prove your saved or endure or you won’t be saved. Jesus is saying endure because you are already saved and secure 😊
1john 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?
These are great verses, they ask the question, “who are the overcomers”, and then gives the answer, “them that rely on, trust in Jesus”.
Yet we are so easily persuaded to trust in ourselves where self-righteousness and condemnation reign.
Thank you for your ministry which continues to establish me in righteousness, that being Jesus righteousness.
“Our part is to behold Jesus…”, indeed!
I ceretainly cannot understand why anyone would volunteer to go to the Roman circus. Christ gave his life so we didn’t have to. He died so we can live. That’s my frame of mind on that. I’m sure. I’m sure nro one volunteered to have their heads cut off by Isis, especially children. That just infuriates me. I have not been able to understand the lack of God’s protection there but Isis was formed by evil men, I believe, in America. The Bible warns of such things as it the Holocaust. I have so very much to learn and so apt. to get impatient. Thanks Paul for everything
Hi John, I don’t think they volunteered, it was rather that they found that they had the grace to be overcomers. I remember reading ‘Tortured for Christ’ by Richard Wurmbrand and Brother Yun’s ‘The Heavenly Man’, it was amazing what they went through (certainly not by there own strength) they were carried. Brothers willingly taking other brothers beatings. I can only hazard a guess they discovered there was actually great joy in following Jesus teaching ‘no greater love is there than this, that a man lay his life down for a brother’.
I like your point that it’s not something we try to earn or get but rather already “have”! That is the thing we struggle with in a “feeling” oriented Christianity. We judge our walk by what we go thru rather than whom were walking with! I have always been amazed at those who were burned at the stake and praising God as they burned alive! There has to be a supernatural endurance beyond us. And you’re right Paul, it’s not until we’re in it that we will need it. My pastor used to say “you’ll never know what kind of tea you are until you are thrown into a little hot water”. It’s the persecution concept or fear of the unknown that causes anxiety which we are also told to avoid. (Phil 4:6-7) But at the same token I am working out my salvation like going to the gym spiritually, reading his word, being transformed by renewing my my mind, exercising my faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil 3) My goal in anything I face be it comfortable, irritable or terrible is Jesus! Nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, no matter the circumstance! – Pastor Jeff
I was listening to another preacher and he was saying, things like Anger, Adultery, Sexual sins can get you to he’ll. Is that true ? He was using scripture from Mathew 5.
Those sins can make your life hell, but since Jesus paid the penalty for all sin they can’t send you there.
First off Jesus was speaking to Jews who understood the Law. His message really wasn’t to the Gentiles. If you don’t know the Lord, the the Law still applies to you. 1Tim 1:8-10
Such activities or any sin can send you to hell if you are not born again. But such activity as a believer will make your life a living hell.
It will only disqualify you from what God would rather do which is abundantly above all we can ask or even think!!! We all love Eph 2:8-9 but verse 10 is linked to it – We are his workmanship created for good works in Christ Jesus that God prepared before hand that we should walk in them Eph 2:10 – The wages of sin is death for everybody, believer and unbeliever. But if the Holy Spirit is inside you you will know when you are crossing the line and putting yourself in harms way of the enemy. If these sins can send a believer to hell than Jesus died for nothing!!
These sins cannot send even unbelievers to hell. Jesus dealt with them on the cross. The blood of Jesus paid for and put away these sins for everybody once for all times. Not just for christians but for everybody. Christians cannot go to hell not because they don’t commit these sins but because they believe in Jesus. Likewise, sinners will go to hell not because they commit these sins but because of their disbelieve in Jesus Christ.
Great article it helps me trust in him even more…