CGG Weekly, May 6, 2016

"Endurance is nobler than strength and patience than beauty."
John Ruskin

In my high school yearbook, quotes were placed under the pictures of each senior. I do not remember the quote that was under my name, but I do remember one of them. It was "Winners never quit, quitters never win."

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill's similar warning, "Never give in," from his famous address at Harrow School on October 29, 1941, was good advice during World War II, and it is still good advice today. It should have even more meaning for us as true Christians as we fight the Christian fight daily against unseen spiritual powers (Ephesians 6:12) and struggle toward God's Kingdom without chance of flight or furlough, knowing no spiritual rest until Christ's return.

Revelation 12:7-12 describes a time when Satan and his angels fight against the archangel Michael and his angels. Satan will lose the battle and be cast back down to earth. When that happens, it will trigger a time of trouble this world has never seen. Some of us may live into this time, so we should prepare now to develop the steadfast endurance and faith to survive to the end.

The Tribulation will be a time characterized by deceit, by lies and everything false. British writer Dresden James once wrote: "When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous and its speaker a raving lunatic." In His Olivet Prophecy, Jesus says something similar:

And Jesus answered and said to them: "Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,' and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name's sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 24:4-13)

It is easy to assume that we will endure and therefore interpret Christ's words as meaning we must merely be patient until the end. But the history of God's church shows that Christ knew exactly what He was saying. Over the years many who joined the fellowship of God's church have, for various reasons, gone back into this world.

The Greek word for "endure" is hupomeno, which means "to endure under heavy provocation." Revelation 13:10 speaks about just how terrible this time will be: "If anyone is meant for captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed by the sword, then by the sword he must be killed. This requires steadfast endurance and faith from the saints" (New English Translation). Revelation 14:12-13 makes a similar statement.

Revelation 6:9 is also about the Tribulation: "When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held." These people are martyred "[because of] the Word of God . . . and [because of] the testimony which they held." "Testimony" is the Greek word martureo, which means "to bear witness, to be a witness, to give testimony." From this word we get "martyr," a witness: They witness for Christ by their deaths.

The book, Lone Survivor, is about four Navy SEALs who left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader. Less than twenty-four hours later, only one of those SEALs remained alive. It is the story of the fire-team leader, Marcus Luttrell, and the desperate battle that led, ultimately, to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. But it is also about, more than anything, what Navy SEAL training produced in those men. Our training, our struggles, our sufferings, should produce the same things in us. If it does, just like those Navy SEALs, we will never give up and never give in.

Many drop out of the SEAL program before reaching the real physical and mental training called BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEALS) training. They go through indoctrination training ("Indoc") for a few weeks to prepare them for the seven-month BUD/S course. Many drop out during Indoc. When Luttrell's Indoc began, there were 164 candidates, yet at the beginning of BUD/S Phase One, only 98 were left. At week five, known as "hell week," their ranks were down to 54. After hell week, the most demanding six days of training in any fighting force in the world, only 32 remained. Only Great Britain's legendary SAS does anything comparable.

When someone wanted to quit, he would ring a bell at the Commander's door and place his helmet in a line at the door. During the first nine hours of hell week, ten helmets lay at the door. Instructors say that, when someone makes up his mind to quit, and he is talked into staying, he never makes it. If the thought of quitting enters a man's head, he is not a Navy SEAL. As Jesus says in Luke 9:62. "No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God."

Christ's admonition to endure to the end is in itself a solemn prophecy that Christians will have difficult times. How can we make sure that we will endure? How can we ensure that we will never give in? The answer can be found in another Churchill speech, this one about Dunkirk, given in the House of Commons, June 4, 1940:

We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.

Here is the ingredient that will ensure that we endure through whatever trials or troubles we may face. That quality is resolve, the determination to reach the goal no matter what. To endure until the end requires commitment and resolve. It is planting the goal of the Kingdom of God in our minds with a burning desire to reach it no matter what.

Revelation 12:11 contains a positive statement, which we should never forget as we endure: "But they overcame [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives so much that they were afraid to die." If we have the commitment, the resolve, and the firm faith in God, we will endure to the end! Never give in!