Scripture is clear that we must persevere to the end if we are to be saved:
Hebrews 3:14 says, "For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end."
1 Corinthians 15:1-2 says, "Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain."
Mark 13:13 says, "You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved."
These verses (and many more) encourage us to think not so much about when we were saved, but will we be saved in the end. I'm afraid that many "so-called" believers in Christ say they are saved based on their past decision for Christ rather than their present faith in Christ. And this present faith is a faith that must fight to persevere in the midst of a world filled with trials and temptations.
Perhaps more than any other biblical author, the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that we must persevere in our faith if we are to be finally saved. In fact, he tells us two things that we are to hold on to if we are to persevere to the end.
Hebrews 10:23 says, "Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful." The confession of our hope is our belief in the gospel. It is our continual dependence on Jesus and what he did for us on the cross. In order to persevere to the end, we must cling to the cross, for the cross is where we run to see the reality of God's love for us and the reality of God's plan for us. We must hold on tightly to the cross. But the beauty of this verse is that our holding on to Christ is dependent on Him holding on to us. Since he is faithful, we can be faithful to Him, "for He who promised is faithful." In our times of pain and suffering we can come like little lambs knowing that our Shepherd holds us close to his side and will never let us go.
The next verse gives us the second thing we must hold on to if we are to persevere to the end. Verse 24 says, "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near." As we hold on to the cross we must also hold on to community. We must meet together to encourage one another. We must meet together to build our faith and battle unbelief. This meeting is not optional, it is vital if we are persevere to the end.
For the original audience, this was much more difficult. These new believers faced perecution all around them. Therefore, it was tempting to forsake their times of meeting together because they feared what would happen to them as a result. Today, we neglect close community with other believers for different reasons-mainly selfish reasons. But the writer of Hebrews would remind us that we need others in order to persevere to the end. We need encouragement and love that flows from a close community that cares about the outcome of our faith. We need to love and be loved, to encourage and be encouraged, and all the more, "as the Day draws near."
Sometimes it's difficult to feel as though God is sustaining us as we walk through the trials of this life. But that is often when God uses His people, the church, to sustain us and stir us up when we're down and distraught. Even the Apostle Paul, who some would label a spiritual giant of the faith, needed others to keep him going. At one point he says, "When we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest, but were afflicted at every turn--fighting without and fear within. But God, (listen to these next words) who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus" (2 Cor. 6:7).
Are you facing a trial? Are you struggling to keep going? I encourage you to hold on to the cross and hold on to the community of believers near you. God is faithful. He will hold on to you as you hold on to him.