John asks this quality question:
“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).
You may have commented on these verses before, but I couldn’t find it. It seems to support the idea of the perseverance of the saints.
I’ve recently been in a discussion with a fellow DTS grad who takes a different view of the Olivet Discourse regarding the Rapture. I recently wrote a magazine article defending the idea that in Matt 24:36-44, the Lord discusses the Rapture. My friend, also a Classic Dispensationalist, disagrees. As I told him, the first 44 verses of Matthew 24 are difficult to interpret, and my position is certainly a minority position among Dispensationalists.
The issue raised by John’s question may seem unrelated to the Rapture, but it is not, at least not in my opinion.
The point in verses 12-13 is that some or even many believers will not persevere until the end of the Tribulation and hence will not survive those seven years. That is, they will not be alive at the end of the Tribulation but will instead have already died.
The word saved in Matt 24:13 clearly does not refer to being born again. I have six proofs.
First, this salvation is future (“he will be saved”). Salvation from eternal condemnation is a past event for the believer (Eph 2:8-9).
Second, the condition for this future salvation is perseverance in good works, not faith in Christ. But salvation from eternal condemnation is by faith alone, apart from works (John 3:16; 6:28-29; Eph 2:8-9; Rev 22:17).
Third, the only other use of the word saved in Matthew 24 refers to physically surviving the Tribulation: “unless those days were cut short, no flesh would be saved” (Matt 24:22).
Fourth, the word save refers to deliverance from problems in this life over 70% of the time in the NT. Hence this is not a surprising use.
Fifth, everlasting life cannot be lost (John 3:16; 5:24; 10:28-29; 11:26). Yet the people being mentioned are not only believers, but they are believers who loved God for a time, and then their love will grow cold. Compare Rev 2:4, “you have left your first love.”
Sixth, perseverance in good works in the Bible is a condition of eternal rewards, which are not the same thing as having everlasting life (Matt 24:45-51; 25:1-13, 14-30, 31-46; Luke 19:16-26; 2 Tim 2:11-13; 1 John 2:28; Rev 2:26; 3:21).
Here is how Matt 24:13 is related to the Rapture. All church age believers will be gone before the time discussed in Matt 24:4-35, which is the Tribulation. We know that in the church age, not all believers endure to the end of their lives in faithfulness (e.g., 2 Tim 2:12; 1 John 2:28). However, the Tribulation is a unique time in which 100% of the believers alive at the end will be faithful. Every unfaithful believer will have died. That is why at the Judgment of the Sheep and the Goats, 100% of the sheep (Gentile believers) can be identified by the way they faithfully treated Jewish believers (“the least of these My brethren”).
If Matt 24:13 dealt with church age believers, it would not be a true statement.
The idea held by many Calvinists and Arminians that Matt 24:13 is saying that only those who persevere in faith and good works will gain final salvation is not supported by Scripture. Though well-intentioned, that view actually promotes works salvation. Our eternal destiny became final the moment we believed in Jesus for it (John 11:26). For the believer, our salvation from eternal condemnation is already final.
Thanks for the good question, John.