“What does it mean to endure to the end, and why is it necessary?” Ensign, Mar. 1977, 62–63
Roy W. Doxey, professor emeritus of Church history and doctrine and dean emeritus of Religious Instruction at Brigham Young University and Regional Representative of the Twelve Some members of the Church seem to feel that because they have received baptism, and even the temple ordinances, their salvation is assured. But the prophets have taught that one must also endure to the end of this estate in righteousness to obtain the blessing of eternal life. The following scriptures are powerful proclamations of this truth:
Jesus: “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:13.)
Nephi: “And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved.” (2 Ne. 31:16.)
A modern-day revelation: “And again, I would that ye should learn that he only is saved who endureth unto the end. Even so. Amen.” (D&C 53:7.).
A latter-day prophet: “I say to the Latter-day [Saints], no amount of knowledge, no amount of testimony, no amount of sealing in the temples of God to our wives and children will save us; but the keeping of the commandments of God, being honest in our dealings with God and with our fellow men, paying our tithing, obeying the Word of Wisdom and doing our duty as Latter-day Saints—these are the things, and the only things that will save us.” (Heber J. Grant, as quoted in Roy W. Doxey, The Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants, Deseret Book Co., 1965, 4:538–39.)
It is revealed that even those who are sanctified by the Spirit “may … depart from the living God.” (D&C 20:32.) It is also true that they who have not yet received sanctification should be earnestly seeking at all times to be found faithful to the covenants they have made lest they lose their salvation in the celestial kingdom. In fact, those who are “not valiant in the testimony of Jesus … obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God,” and they receive a terrestrial kingdom. (D&C 76:79.) I understand that the blessing of the terrestrial kingdom will be theirs if they are “honorable” in keeping the moral laws; otherwise, they receive a place in the telestial kingdom. (See D&C 76:102–6.)
The gospel plan provides the fullest blessings of the eternities to those who are exemplars of the Master’s teachings and improve upon talents received. In applying the parable of the entrusted talents (see Matt. 25:14–30), the Prophet Joseph Smith said:
“You know, brethren, that when the Master in the Savior’s parable of the stewards called his servants before him he gave them several talents to improve on while he should tarry abroad for a little season, and when he returned he called for an accounting. So it is now. Our Master is absent only for a little season, and at the end of it He will call each to render an account; and where the five talents were bestowed, ten will be required; and he that has made no improvement will be cast out as an unprofitable servant, while the faithful will enjoy everlasting honors. Therefore we earnestly implore the grace of our Father to rest upon you, through Jesus Christ His Son, that you may not faint in the hour of temptation, nor be overcome in the time of persecution.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 68.)
It is strange indeed that some may think their lack of faithfulness to the responsibilities received in baptism will not be held against them in the day of judgment. The Savior forcefully expressed the need to remain faithful following baptism in these words:
“And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.” (3 Ne. 27:19.)
The scriptures condemn those who do not keep their covenants. The explicit statement of the Lord through Ezekiel is as follows:
“But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.” (Ezek. 18:24.)
This same truth is given in a modern revelation:
“And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.” (D&C 82:7.)
Expressed in the language of a present-day General Authority, we have the following:
“Even though we may have been faithful in the past, if we turn away, that faithfulness will profit us nothing. ‘No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’ [Luke 9:62].” (Howard W. Hunter, Conference Report, Apr. 1961, p. 18.)
The Lord said: “For if ye will not abide in my covenant ye are not worthy of me.” (D&C 98:15.)
The Lord will extend forgiveness to the member of the Church who has not been faithful to gospel covenants if there is true repentance. (See D&C 58:42–43.) Repentance should be immediate and long-lasting.
Some people assume, however, that because they may be able to repent after death, all the blessings of the gospel will be received. But when we depart from this sphere of existence, we will find that we are still the same individuals that we were upon this earth. Death does not change one’s attitudes or create in him a desire to repent, because “that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.” (Alma 34:34.)
To seek perfection through keeping the commandments is the way to endure to the end. There is no other way. Repentance of sins committed before and after baptism brings the Lord’s forgiveness and makes it possible to live the commandments. Living by every word of God in enduring to the end will make one’s calling and election sure, for if one follows the Master he will find rich treasures in this life and eventual eternal life with God.
Whenever I think of enduring to the end of mortality, I remember the following words of President Brigham Young:
“There are a great many texts which might be used, very comprehensive and full of meaning, but I know of none, either in the Old or New Testament, more so than that saying, said to have been made by the Savior, and I have no doubt it was, ‘If ye love me, keep my commandments.’ …
“How long? For a day? Keep the commandments of the Lord for a week? Observe and do his will for a month or a year? There is no promise to any individual, that I have any knowledge of, that he shall receive the reward of the just, unless he is faithful to the end.” (Journal of Discourses, 13:310–11.)