“But he who endures to the end shall be saved.”
“ But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control PERSEVERANCE, to PERSEVERANCE godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love…for if you do these things you will never stumble.”
1 Peter 5:6, 10
A less popular topic on salvation is our 5th P of salvation PERSEVERANCE. Enduring, persevering does not fit into the thinking of those who focus only on the first P of salvation…the penalty of sin.
Almost all who ask, “Are you saved?” refer to salvation from the PENALTY of sin….eternal death or hell. Few would go on to mention that salvation means saving from the POWER of sin. Even fewer would talk about preparing for the second coming of Christ when He will take us from the PRESENCE of sin. An even more abstract thought is to understand the plan of salvation and how one day, the PROPENSITY (the desire or inclination) to sin will be taken completely away. Why? It will be because the redeemed of all ages will understand about the sting of sin through their own personal experience and through the science of the cross.
Truly Jesus is able and will save us to the uttermost….He will take us from the guttermost to the uttermost. No one can take this away from you as long as you are in Christ. But, what happens if you slip back and are overcome by sin?
And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
John 10: 28-29
It is true that there is not a single person or an army of people on this earth can overcome Christ so that they snatch you away from Him. So how does perseverance and endurance fit into the vocabulary or experience of the person who is in Christ? Are these admonitions really necessary?
Jesus told a parable that helps us to understand about perseverance to the end.
The disciples listened as Jesus told this parable. They were like the crowd, they did not understand it.
The Parable of the Sower
Then He taught them many things by parables, and said to them in His teaching: “Listen! Behold, a sower went out to sow. And it happened, as he sowed,that some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds of the air came and devoured it. Some fell on stony ground, where it did not have much earth; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched, and because it had no root it withered away. And some seed fell among thorns; and the thorns grew up and choked it, and it yielded no crop. But other seed fell on good ground and yielded a crop that sprang up, increased and produced: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
And He said to them, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
Mark 4: 2-9
No doubt, those who heard this parable had ears. But, the Savior asks us to understand the deep meaning of this parable. Just hearing the words is not enough to reap the benefits. from God’s word.
Although the disciples did not understand the parable, they did something that all of us should do when we don’t understand….they were alone with Jesus and simply asked to know the meaning of the parable. It is true that we receive not because we ask not.
But when He was alone, those around Him with the twelve asked Him about the parable.
Mark 4: 10
The Parable of the Sower Explained
And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How then will you understand all the parables? The sower sows the word. And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with gladness; and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. Afterward, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble. Now these are the ones sown among thorns; they are the ones who hear the word, and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. But these are the ones sown on good ground, those who hear the word, accept it, and bear fruit: some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some a hundred.”
Mark 4: 13-20
Sower = The Holy Spirit that “guides us into all truth.”
Wayside hearers = Satan immediately takes the word away
Stony ground hearers = receive it with gladness, but there is no root. They endure for a short time.
Thorn bush hearers = cares of the world and the pursuit of richness choke the word.
Notice that all heard and all responded favorably and they started on their experience, but either Satan, passiveness, or the allure of the world stop the experience.
So, what type of hearer are you?
There are many things in this world that can end an experience with Christ. That is why we are encouraged to endure to prepare…to put on the whole armor of God. If our experience with Christ is not in danger, we would not be told to do such things. Even Christ’s closest disciples were warned. Jesus told Peter that Satan would try to take away his trust…his faith.
And the Lord said,“Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.”
Luke 22: 31-32
Was it possible that Peter’s faith could fail? Of course, this is why Jesus prayed that it wouldn’t. Good news! Jesus has prayed that your faith would not fail.
Peter would be put to the test many times. The first was when Jesus was taken and sent before the rulers. Peter denied knowing Jesus three times! Then Jesus was crucified. He watched as the source of his faith was nailed to the cross. How low Peter must have felt during this time.
Have you ever been low in your experience with Christ? Has your faith about given out? Jesus has prayed for you!
There is something more powerful than the prayers of Jesus. It is the one thing at the center of the Great Controversy….It is the power of choice. Wars, death, divorce, hatred, sickness, and misery have all come about because of bad choices. So can choice end of an experience with Christ? Is it possible to have known the way of life and Jesus himself and then chose to go back into the world?
Jesus told another parable about the dangers of not enduring or continuing the faith journey in Christ. It was a parable about a house swept clean.
“When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest, and finds none. Then he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when he comes, he finds it empty, swept, and put in order. Then he goes and takes with him seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter and dwell there; and the last state of that man is worse than the first. So shall it also be with this wicked generation.”
Matthew 12: 43-45
Jesus saves to the uttermost. He will drive out the unclean spirits in our house or lives. He puts it in order, but the danger is having a house or life that is empty. Like the parable of the sower, the life is to produce fruit. The solution is to have the house occupied by a different spirit that produce fruit of the spirit.
“…Instead, be filled with the Spirit.”
We are told that the very words that Jesus speaks to us throughout the entire Bible is life. If we are to grow and produce fruit we must eat and digest the words of our Lord.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life.
Someone has said that if you are not growing, you are dying. It is certainly true in the spiritual sense. If we are just maintaining, we are like the man who was given money and buried it rather than invest it so he could realize a profit. That parable by Jesus speaks to this concept.
“For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.”
This parable was not about money, it was about an experience that is stagnant. The servant is both wicked and lazy.
Jesus called him a “wicked and lazy servant.” Verse 26 To be stagnant in the spiritual sense is to be like the church that was neither hot nor cold.
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
The word vomit appears another time in the new testament scripture. It comes at the end of a warning about being overcome by the world and sin.
For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.”
2 Peter 2: 20-22
This sounds a lot like the parable of Jesus about the house we read earlier. One’s house or life was put in order after the evil was cast out, the other had escaped the garbage of the world. The orderly house became disorder again as was the person who had escaped had been entangled again and compared to a sow being washed and going right back to the mud.
These parables are not about houses, dogs, and pigs. They are illustrations demonstrating the possibility of being clean in the Lord, but returning back and becoming dirty again.
How does this happen? Jesus has shown us in these parables and others the enemy of perseverance:
With the parable about the seed, the things to watch out for are: 1.) Superficiality in our experience. We should be real and not REALigous. 2.) Responding the wrong way when hard times come upon you. 3.) Letting the cares of the world weigh you down.
With the parable of the house, we are to keep our house or our life filled with the Holy Spirit which comes through God’s word. How can we expect to live spiritually if we starve ourselves by only eating one time a week?
With the truth found in 2 Peter, we are to stay clear of any temptations or habits that would draw us away from the strong arm of Jesus.
An old man once said, “I wake up in the morning and the devil votes for me and the Lord votes for me. Whoever I vote for gets me.” The power of choice is powerful.
It is true there are some things God can not do:
1.) He cannot lie. He is truth.
2.) He cannot die. He alone has immortality
3.) He cannot sin. He is holy
4.) He cannot force you to follow him. He is love. Love does not force. Love draws. Love encourages. Love demonstrates itself by sacrificial actions.
“The religion of Christ means more than the forgiveness of sin; it means that sin is taken away, and that the vacuum is filled with the Spirit. It means that the mind is divinely illumined, that the heart is emptied of self, and filled with the presence of Christ. When this work is done for church members, the church will be a living, working church.”
Our High Calling P. 154
Next time, I will tell you my story of how I was washed and returned to the mud, but Christ would not give up on me and drew me back to him after 10 long years of eating in the pig pen. My testimony about leaving God and returning is, perhaps, more dramatic than my first conversion. It will give you hope if you are feeling the pull of God’s Spirit to return to him.
How to keep your house (life) filled with the Holy Spirit:
First, be filled with the Word. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Col. 3:16). This is a command—not an option. The following steps will help us make this verse a living reality.
1. Read and/or listen to the Word. The incarnate Word that dwelt among us must also dwell in us in the form of the inspired Word. Says the psalmist: “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). Without the Word of God and His commandments dwelling in our hearts and guiding the course of our lives, we are constantly exposed to the danger of coming under the influence of the evil one (see also Rom. 10:17; Rev. 1:3).
2. Study the Word in-depth. A deep and continual study of the Word is necessary so as to be filled with it; a superficial reading or listening will not get us very far (2 Tim. 2:15; Acts 17:11; Ps. 119:11). As Jacob wrestled with the Angel of the Lord and firmly declared that he would not leave Him until he received His blessing, we should also struggle with the Word of God until we clearly see Jesus Christ and His purpose in our lives.
3. Obey the Word. We should not focus on Bible study to satisfy our curiosity, but rather to maintain a fulfilling relationship with Jesus. “ ‘If anyone loves me,’ ” said Jesus, “ ‘he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him’ ” (John 14:23).