27 May 2024

About Enduring Unto the End

I’ve been thinking yet again on my heartbeat flat-lining on Good Friday April 22, 2011, and going somewhere on the periphery of Heaven.

Again, reflecting on the many hospital pages that documented my heart stopping (I clinically died three times and was brought back with the defibrillation paddles) was a reminder, in large part, about two things. One, it affirmed that the pre-Trib Rapture is the true biblical view and Jesus is on the very cusp of calling His people–the Church—into Glory. Two, it emphasized how important it is for all believers in Christ to finish the race set before us.

What I saw was just what we read in Hebrews chapter 12: the cloud of witnesses was accompanying me as we ran toward the very throne of God. It was a victory lap, and we were headed toward Heaven’s finish line! (That’s the title of a book I hope to write soon.)

Obviously, I haven’t finished that race because here I sit telling you about my experience yet again. I know in the deepest reaches of my soul that what I saw on that day in 2011 was meant to encourage me to “keep on keeping on” in the assignment I’ve been given. We believers must all “endure unto the end.”

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all,” said Vince Lombardi, the famous Green Bay Packer coach of the 1960s known for his draconian training regimen in preparing his players. He put his observation into practice against his opponents by making sure it was the opponents, not his team members, who became fatigued. Each Packer player was totally spent at the end of each practice session, having left all he had on the field.

When strength was returned and fully pumped up on game day, there was more than enough to overpower those not as intensively conditioned. The result was a championship team that continues to be memorialized in sports lore all these years later. No team could match Lombardi’s when the exhaustion set in during the later stages of the games they played during the height of their power. There were teams that could match their natural athletic abilities, but none could match their endurance.

The game was won by the intense time of preparation as much as it was won on the actual field of play.

This sports analogy isn’t far-fetched. Paul, the great champion for taking the Gospel of Christ forth, used just such a comparison to describe his life, death, and glorious future in God’s kingdom:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy. 4:4–8).

Paul was obviously a sports fan. In his writings, he used imagery like running a race, beating the air, finishing the course, and others that indicate he at least took interest in the society of his day. That culture was filled with sports activities that were a natural subject matter for the great teacher to interject as he presented the Gospel and biblical matters.

The games of the day included Olympic-type events, with the races in particular turning on the fans’ cheers. Judges placed crowns of laurels (formed from leaves) upon the victors’ heads.

Paul linked the races of his time to the bema judgment (the judgment seat of Christ), where children of God will receive crowns of victory based upon how they ran the race for Christ’s cause during their lifetimes. The very nature of such a race indicates the necessity of enduring–persevering—through the long, sometimes uphill miles of living righteously.

Most often, Paul used such analogies to indicate, as in the verses above, the fact that Christians should be willing to endure. In many places, the apostle taught us how to build our spiritual stamina. That preparation most often was wrapped around prayer, Scripture study, and practical action–witnessing and teaching truth to others.

God’s Word telling us to endure is one topic that has caused anxiety-ridden questions among some. It seems to some that the command to “endure,” according to the language used, is a requirement for achieving salvation. One must “endure unto the end” to be saved—to win in the game of life, thus secure one’s place in Heaven for eternity.

Endurance is one thing God requires of His children. As a matter of fact, He demands it. But, what does the term “endurance” used in the Scriptures, causing anxieties among some believers, mean, exactly?

A close examination of the key verses involved is necessary to understand the term in God’s prophetic lexicon. One such reference is found in Paul’s words about a departure from Bible doctrine at the end of the Church Age:

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Timothy 4:3–5).

Paul was prophesying a time–indeed, I am convinced we are in that time—when many within the very heart of the Christian Church will move away from preaching and teaching that people are lost and need the Savior, Jesus Christ, alone (John 14:6). This failure to endure the sound doctrine taught by Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles would, Paul indicated, be a fatigue that would make cowards of many, causing them and those they teach to turn to lies.

We see today this very thing. The Gospel message that declares humankind is lost in sin, thus must turn to the shed blood of Jesus Christ for remission of that deadly sin, has been changed to give the feel-good message that God is love and would never condemn those He knows to be less than perfect. The fable makers teach the do-good message that we must go along with the world of philanthropists who preach a social gospel to feed, clothe, and, in general, show the have-nots that humanism is their savior.

Much of the Church today, thus, has failed to “endure until the end.”

Jesus pronounced, in strong language, the role “endurance” will play in the days leading up to His second advent:

“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved” (Matthew 24:11–13).

Jesus even asks in one instance whether He will find any faith on earth when He returns. And this is where the anxiety comes in for some. Is Jesus saying that those who do not hold to absolute Bible truth until the very end won’t be “saved”? Must we—and those of the Tribulation era—never slip up and sin, departing from truth, or else suffer the eternal damnation of Hell fire?

The answer is found within the character of the One who issued the solemn statement. Jesus, who said, “It is finished,” when He completed the redemption plan of God on the cross at Calvary, also said:

“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 10:29).

Saints “endure” through Christ. We don’t have the ability to resist this fallen world apart from the strength found only in our Savior. The supernatural endurance required to “endure unto the end” is not in us but in Jesus, who paid the full price for our eternal souls:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

When we are “in” Christ, we will “endure” because Christ “endures.” He is the same yesterday, today, and forever!

Now, this doesn’t excuse the Christian from remaining faithful to God. In that sense, “endurance” is our responsibility. It is our responsibility to the very end of our lives or until the Rapture of Christ’s Body, the Church. We are to strengthen ourselves for spiritual battle in order to not become fatigued through prayer, Bible study, and telling others about Christ. We put on the whole armor of God as we are directed to do in Ephesians 6.

God equips us. He doesn’t demand such a hard thing without providing the ability–even the absolute guarantee—of that sort of “endurance” that takes His child “unto the end.”

Those who fail to exercise their witness in whatever way God directs become flabby, ineffective ambassadors in Christ’s royal service. There is always a heavy price to pay for such sloth—not through the loss of salvation for those who are truly in Christ’s grip, but through a loss of position within the kingdom of God.

Those who fail to endure in the center of God’s will suffer loss of rewards when they kneel before their Savior at the judgment seat of Christ.

That is one primary reason we at Rapture Ready exhort Christians to join in our efforts in these closing days of the Age of Grace–the Church Age. There are many, many opportunities to labor, to “endure,” during the trying times presented by this dynamic website effort to reach the lost world for Christ.

Many are writing articles, many are writing encouraging emails, and some are giving in other ways to God’s work on raptureready.com.

One area we very much need help with is finances. Donations have dwindled, yet the ministry-associated needs of Christ have never been more pronounced. Enduring to the end also means supporting Christ-centered ministries with our monetary offerings. If hundreds of millions of dollars can be contributed to myriad worldly causes, many of which actively support anti-God activities, why don’t those who hold to Bible truth support faithful ministries with greatly abundant offerings?

Jesus said: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).

Let us run the race until we reach Heaven’s finish line. You and I will then hear the Lord who died for us say:

“Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:23).

— Terry

An Unheeded Warning

On Sunday, May 19, the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other top government officials crashed and burned. All on board perished.

The Iranian president was a key factor in the October 7, 2023, Hamas’ barbaric slaughter of Israelis as well as those from other nations, including the U.S. According to many sources, such as a recent article on Harbinger’s Daily, he planned and funded the gruesome attack that resulted in the murder of over 1,200 people and the kidnapping of over 250 hostages, many of whom their captors later tortured and killed.

Was the May 19th helicopter crash the Lord’s response to the man responsible for so much bloodshed and great suffering in Israel? I’m certain that what appeared to most as an accident was, in reality, God’s response as well as a warning of what lies ahead for those who now seek to divide and destroy Israel and its people (see Joel 3:1-3).

The words of Ecclesiastes 8:11-12 reveal that because God’s “sentence against an evil deed is not executed speedily, the heart of the children of man is fully set to do evil.” In the end, the best result is for those who trust God or, as Solomon put it, “I know that it will be well with those who fear God, because they fear before him.”

We know that all those involved in the October 7, 2023, attack will face the severity of God’s wrath after they die, if not also beforehand. Regardless of their fate in this life, the Lord’s judgment for their vile acts will be an eternal fate worse than we can imagine.

The wicked misinterpret God’s patience and continue in their wicked ways. Raisi, thinking he was above reproach for his monstrous actions, continued to breathe out threats to destroy Israel, never imagining that the Lord would so soon hold him accountable for his great wickedness.

At times, the Lord punishes sin as a warning for all to see and take heed. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah was just such a time when He displayed His displeasure with all those who would defile His purposes for a man, woman, and marriage. Though recorded for all to read in Genesis 19, most today ignore the warning with some mistakenly thinking that God approves of such behavior.

The Warning: Don’t Mess with Israel

Last December, Hasan Bitmez, age 54, suffered a heart attack on the floor of the Turkish parliament immediately after declaring that Israel “will suffer the wrath of Allah.” The New York Post reported his death two days later. Perhaps Raisi regarded this heart attack as just a coincidence, but not anymore.

On his Facebook page, former policeman and prophecy analyst Marty (MW) Breeden stated that Bitmez and Raisi were two “of the most vile and vicious leaders AGAINST Israel and the Jews…. They BOTH called for the annihilation of the Jewish State and the people, and God dealt with them accordingly!”

I agree with Marty; these deaths constitute this warning for all those who would dare to mess with Israel: Don’t do it. The Lord doesn’t always respond so decisively or quickly to evil. However, when He does, it’s dramatic and unmistakable for those paying attention.

Breeden also wrote, “One would THINK this should strike great fear in those who oppose Israel… but these are hard-hearted evil men, and it will likely not.”

Will Anyone Heed God’s Warning?

The world’s response to the death of the Iranian president tells us God’s warning here will go unheeded by the world’s leaders. Members of the UN, including the Deputy U.S. Ambassador to the UN, stood for a moment of silence to honor Raisi. In response, someone quipped, “What’s next, a moment of silence for Hitler?” President Biden showed his respect for Raisi with a message of condolences to Iran on the death of its leader.

How dare this administration honor a man who not only has much American blood on his hands but is responsible for the senseless slaughter of many of his own countrymen, as well as the barbaric and brutal atrocities of October 7, 2023? The key motto of his administration was “Death to America.” Why is the U.S. paying tribute to one who sought our annihilation as well as that of Israel?

Sadly, far too many Christians and church leaders will also regard the deaths of Raisi and Bitmez as having nothing to do with Bible prophecy or God’s promises to Israel. Blind to the many other signs of the last days, they will continue to teach that He has rejected Israel and replaced the nation with the church.

The Bible tells us a much different story. Although there’s much suffering ahead for the Jewish people during the latter half of the upcoming Tribulation, the Lord will most assuredly restore a glorious kingdom to Israel. In the end, God will fight for His people. The deaths of these two men are just warning shots across the bow for all those who continue to oppose Israel and seek to harm the Jewish people. In the end, they will pay a great price, just as will the coming antichrist.

The words of Psalm 92:6-9 speak to the fate of those who oppose the Lord, which, of course, includes His people:

“The stupid man cannot know;
the fool cannot understand this:
that though the wicked sprout like grass
and all evildoers flourish,
they are doomed to destruction forever;
but you, O Lord, are on high forever.
For behold, your enemies, O Lord,
for behold, your enemies shall perish;
all evildoers shall be scattered.”

God’s Word is sure, and though He most often shows restraint, He acts often enough to warn the wicked of their fate.

We expect those apart from Christ to miss God’s warnings and the signs of the imminent Day of the Lord, but what about those who foolishly teach that the church has replaced Israel? Will they pause for a moment to consider the Lord’s defense of His people, or will it go unheeded with them as well?