“Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matt 24:12-13)
“He will speak out against the Most High, and wear down the saints of the Highest One…”
Many are sensing strongly and clearly within their spirits radically different times are about to come upon this world. I do not believe these times we are about to enter, if we haven’t experienced the birth pangs already, will be full of glorious accounts of dragons vanquished, beauties rescued, and heroes exalted. Far from it. I believe they will be, simply, a series of continual events in the lives of God’s people, both personal and corporate, that will all add up to a war of attrition. We will not face the hammer, as much as the piece of sand paper. Those who put their hopes in this war being fought and won on supernatural battlefields of opposing signs and wonders will stand a good chance of being deceived by them (2 Thess. 2:8-12, Matt. 24:24, Matt. 7:22). Oh, there will indeed be signs and wonders employed on both sides, and some battles will no doubt be won there. However, that will not be what wins the war. Those, on the other hand, who recognize and have prepared for the battle will be saved.
What will triumph will be what Jesus said, in one word, it will be: endurance. We must endure, because if there is anything Satan has proven it is that he is persistent. He does not know when to admit defeat. He was defeated by Jesus in the desert, and still he persists. He was soundly, completely, and finally defeated at the Cross, and still he persists. James says “even his demons believe, and shudder.” And yet they, and he, persist. As Daniel promises above, his goal will be to “wear down the saints” through his persistent, unrelenting resistance. So good at it will he be that Jesus warned, “Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved. But for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days” (Mark 13:20). This tells us two things: had God not stepped in the enemy would have worn down all the saints—every last one of us. It also tells us the only ones left in the battle when Jesus returns to “shorten the days” will be the “elect,” because all lesser men would have already succumbed.
In His definitive teaching concerning discipleship, found in John 15:1-17, Jesus repeated continually His command to, “Abide in Me, and I in you.” The definition of the root for abide is meno: to “continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, and stand (with). To tarry (for).” This is enduring love—enduring relationship. This is relationship that requires both action and steadfastness. It is not the mushy, all forgiving, all-merciful, all-graceful, happy-go-lucky love modern Christendom is preaching. No. This is day-to-day, rubber-meets-the-road, shoe-leather, blood, sweat, and tears determination to cling desperately to God in the face of Satan’s persistent, quiet determination to deceive, frustrate, undermine, and eventually bring the numbness of lawlessness [of “love growing cold”] to the saints. I believe the reason God called David the “man after His own heart,” was because David clung to God like a rabid Gila-monster in all situations. I have heard that once a Gila-monster bites you, unless it decides to let go you must cut off its head to make it give up. What is coming will take Gila-monster type faith and determination—hanging on in spite of everything Satan can throw at us to make us loose our grip. In other words: abiding, enduring relationship and faith—meno type faith.
A number, myself included, have been in God’s endurance boot camp for many, many years now. We have a promise that drives us, a vision that consumes us, and a deep inner knowledge God is going to use us in a mighty way. Those like us are men of action, men of passion—men who are not predisposed to wait patiently, and yet that is precisely the gauntlet we have been forced to run by a God teaching us the importance of endurance. We are like stallions standing in the gates before the race: pawing at the cage that restrains us, chewing at the bit that constrains us, and straining at the bridle that holds us back from the race we know we were born to run. What a great irony, this: we were not sewn up to wait by the same God that now calls us to. We’re not fond of it, but endure we must. We, like Jesus, “for the joy set before us endure our crosses, despising the shame, that one day we might sit in the throne room of God” (Heb. 12:2). The enduring love we are learning won’t allow us to quit, and so we trod on with clenched teeth through this valley.
We long ago turned our backs on all the trappings of modern Christendom, knowing its trust in numbers and easy evangelism would lead to its demise when the time came to endure. We cannot abide the superficiality, shallowness, and boasting we witness in her “worship” music and lavish temples, for that is the antithesis of reality and endurance. We are outcasts, because we can’t smile when we know a time of great sadness is coming, and we can’t speak of peace and good tidings in view of the ugliness of the roiling clouds of war on the horizon. We cannot abide such a complete and total lack of reverence for “the One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity” we witness today. And we cannot abide conversion without discipleship we witness so rampant, for those allowed to remain babes will never endure. Our messages depress those intent on pursuing happiness over depth, so apart from the few we know who run the gauntlet themselves we stand alone, knowing that too is a part of the process.
We have been, and are now, experiencing what it means to be “worn down,” for this is real time training for coming trials. The God who commands our obedience is anxious for us to prove to both ourselves, and Him, we are worthy. Our defeat, if it comes, will not be through sudden attack. but rather persistent discouragement. We will not fall from being gored, but through slowly bleeding out from a thousand pin pricks. This is the way of “wearing down.” I speak from experience. I am not proud to confess this, for I have been driven to the brink of retirement more times than I care to say. Satan knows exactly how and where to strike, even at the elect, and I am certainly not immune. None of us are. This is why our callouses must be slowly and persistently built upon: layer by layer and cell by cell.
It is a war of attrition, yet when the time we are being groomed for comes our lamps, like those of the five wise virgins (Matt. 25), will have been trimmed with the oil of endurance while others will be beset by forces they are ill-equipped to repel. And this is precisely why God is teaching His elect endurance, consistency, and persistence now through walking desert paths, suffering excommunication, losing earthly fortunes, suffering betrayal, and beating back the numbness that comes from too many days at war, when all around them are led to false pastures seen through rose colored glasses the world, religion, and their smiling Sunday prophets have handed them.
If you are still reading this you are probably among us, for most who find this too depressing will have already looked away. If you are still with me, I don’t need to tell you what to do. You already know. I wrote this not to instruct, but to let you know you’re not alone. I think you knew that too, for at times it gets so very lonely. Sometimes I know it’s just good to hear it—as Peter said, “To be stirred up by way of reminder.” I speak to myself as much as you when I encourage you to abide in Christ, maintain your disciplines, continue to serve wherever He guides you today, never trust in your emotions, believe the vision is alive, and continue to place one foot of faith and endurance in front of the other. The time comes soon when all will be revealed, and the reason for our testing will be made manifest. Until then, we must hang in and hang on, because for now this is our lot in life.