Yesterday in Elder’s Quorum we had a discussion on enduring to the end.
It is common for discussions on this topic to focus on what seems to be a doctrine of “white-knuckling it to the end;” how to maintain being a “faithful Latter-Day Saint” until you die. It seems that this is the universally accepted teaching regarding this commandment.
The traditionally taught version of this injunction does not bring a lot of hope. In fact, I imagine some see this principle as only for those that have the type of herculean endurance to discipline themselves to the end of their life.
Or they believe the inverse – which produces a type of vain hope. It goes something like this – as long as I am an active member of the Church, and keep the basic commandments, and keep trying to self-improve, I am an acceptable candidate for exaltation when I die.
But what if this commandment means something radically different than commonly thought? It could be a game changer.
To understand what it means to endure to the end we have to understand what the meaning of the gate that puts us on the straight and narrow path.
Nephi both sees this in a dream, and then teaches the doctrine of this gate in the concluding chapters of his record.
For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive.
The gate to enter the strait and narrow path is the experience of becoming born again.
The gate is being baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost
The gate is becoming a new creature in Christ.
The gate is receiving a mighty change of heart.
The experience of spiritual rebirth is what puts us on the path.
The retention of the status of being reborn, a new creature in Christ, and having a mighty change of heart is the status that keeps you on the path.
The strait and narrow path is retaining the born again condition of being baptized by fire and the Holy Ghost.
This is why it is strait and narrow. It takes diligence unto prayer and continual deep repentance, and calling upon God to maintain the path – or to retain this condition of being born again.
Consider how Mormon teaches the same principle.
And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.
Notice that what needs to endure on the path is the perfect love one receives when they are in a born again state. And we are to endure in this perfect love “until the end shall come” when you dwell with God.
Enduring to the end means enduring in a state of being born again.
It means enduring in a state of perfect love.
There is a sharp contrast between this doctrine to the traditional teaching.
You can be an active Latter-Day Saint, with all the tokens of active membership, attendance, and recommends, and still not be a person filled with perfect love.
You can live the forms of a Latter-Day Saint, and not have received or retained a mighty change of heart.
You can be an active Latter-Day Saint and “worthily” hold a recommend and still not be on the strait and narrow path.
And what is the end to which we are to endure?
Nephi crystalizes the doctrine of Christ when he wrote:
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
We are to endure to the moment the Father says to us : Ye shall have eternal life.
In other words, we continue on the path of daily sanctification in a state of perfect love, until the words of eternal life are spoken to us – which is the calling and election made sure.
“The end” is not death. It is the promise of exaltation.
We learn to endure in a state of being born again until we are sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise.
Enduring to end is a powerful principle that suggests to us that it is possible to retain the nature we receive when we are filled with the transformative power of the Holy Ghost.
The Father, by his grace, will teach us how to and make it possible to endure in such a state.
As Joseph Smith taught:
“The other Comforter spoken of is a subject of great interest, and perhaps understood by few of this generation. After a person has faith in Christ, repents of his sins, and is baptized for the remission of his sins and receives the Holy Ghost, (by the laying on of hands), which is the first Comforter, then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God, and the Lord will soon say unto him, Son, thou shalt be exalted. When the Lord has thoroughly proved him, and finds that the man is determined to serve Him at all hazards, then the man will find his calling and his election made sure”
When Joseph says “then let him continue to humble himself before God, hungering and thirsting after righteousness, and living by every word of God” he is describing the principle of enduring to the end.
What a remarkable principle! We can endure in this state of joy. We can be taught to retain and endure in the state of being born again and being filled with the Holy Ghost.