Mormons often respond to a Christian’s insistence that a person’s works do not contribute anything to salvation by pointing to those passages in the Bible (i.e. Matthew 10:22) that tell us to endure until the end. They then claim that those passages are saying that the Bible says we have to do something to be saved; namely, endure.
At first blush, that appears to be a legitimate argument. But that is only how it appears to be. There are two things that show the fallacy of this defense. First, there are the numerous Bible passages that state that salvation and eternal life are God’s gift to us received only through faith – passages like Ephesians 2:8-9. One of my favorite passages in this regard is John 3:15-18. There Jesus talks about salvation and everlasting life. Five times in that brief section he talks about believing. There is not even one sniff of talk about our work. Or we could look at a passage like Romans 11:6 (“And if by grace, then it is no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.”) which show that God’s grace and human work don’t mix. In other words, God makes it plain through such passages that he doesn’t consider enduring to the end a work that contributes to our salvation. If he considered it as such a work, passages such as the ones listed would be false and deceptive.
The second point deals with the question of when we are saved or when we receive eternal life. It is true that sometimes the Bible talks about this happening in the future referring to when we fully experience that in heaven. But it is just as true that the Bible often talks about believers having salvation and eternal life right now. “For by grace are ye saved through faith.” (Ephesians 2:8) “Are ye saved” is a present tense describing a present reality, not a future happening. Or look at Jesus’ words: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) Again “hath” is a present tense. Note also “is passed” not “will be passed”. Salvation and eternal life, according to Scripture, does not lie only in the future for believers. It is their present possession with the full experience of it awaiting them in heaven.
My point in all this is that “enduring” is something believers do only after they have already been saved! It is not part of their being saved – it doesn’t contribute to their salvation. Think of a man lying unconscious in his burning house. A firefighter heroically rescues him and carries him to safety. There he is attended to by paramedics and regains consciousness. Although it is probably unnecessary, they warn him not to return to his burning house. So he stays a safe distance away. Think of how ridiculous he would sound if he would begin telling people that he contributed to his rescue by staying that safe distance away. Or think of how the firefighter who rescued him would react to such statements. Although there is no such thing as a perfect illustration, this is similar to anybody claiming that they contributed to their salvation by enduring to the end. Such statements don’t please our Savior who rescued us by giving everything for us, including his very life.
No, what pleases Jesus is when we give him complete credit for our salvation. He so richly deserves that because salvation is all about what he did for us. His blood washed away all our sins. His perfect righteousness is credited to our account. He saved us when we could do nothing – when we were dead in sins. To him be every bit of praise and glory!