Enduring to the End
Jesus Christ said to his disciples, “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:14). Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is the gate that leads to the Way. The Book of Mormon teaches this more clearly:
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 (2 Nephi 31:17-18; pg 114).
Once we have entered the path, we must continue on the path that leads to eternal life. Mormons call this enduring to the end. Again, the Book of Mormon gives us a good explanation of what this means. It says:
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 (2 Nephi 31:20; pg 114).
We must endure with steadiness in obedience to Jesus Christ’s commands, being filled with hope and love. We must feast on Christ’s words, which means we must continue to study His words in the scriptures and those given by revelation through living prophets. This corresponds to what the Apostle Paul said as he discussed faith, hope, and charity (see 1 Corinthians 13).
Enduring to the end does not means that Mormons expect to be perfect. Part of enduring is continuing to improve oneself through repentance whenever something is out of harmony with God’s will. Because people continue to make mistakes, the Lord has provided a way to renew these covenants. Every Sunday, Mormons partake of the Sacrament, usually called the Eucharist or Lord’s Supper in other churches. The Sacrament consists of broken bread and water to symbolize the body and blood of Jesus Christ. For faithful Mormons, this represents a renewal of the covenants and commitments made at baptism and an opportunity to meditate upon the atoning mission of Jesus Christ.
Enduring to the end also requires service to others. The Book of Mormon teaches that “when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God” (Mosiah 2:17; pg 148). A person endures by growing in Godly attributes. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, an Apostle in the Mormon Church said:
The Apostle Paul taught that the Lord’s teachings and teachers were given that we may all attain “the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13). This process requires far more than acquiring knowledge. It is not even enough for us to be convinced of the gospel; we must act and think so that we are converted by it. In contrast to the institutions of the world, which teach us to know something, the gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something (The Challenge to Become, Conference Report, October 2000)
He says further,
From such teachings we conclude that the Final Judgment is not just an evaluation of a sum total of good and evil acts–what we have done. It is an acknowledgment of the final effect of our acts and thoughts–what we have become. It is not enough for anyone just to go through the motions. The commandments, ordinances, and covenants of the gospel are not a list of deposits required to be made in some heavenly account. The gospel of Jesus Christ is a plan that shows us how to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become.
Peter said something similar in his general epistle. He counseled the righteous followers of Christ in his day to become “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:4). To do this, he says, we must “add to [our] faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity” (2 Peter 1:5-7).
The Book of Mormon described one individual who endured righteously. His name was Ether and he was a prophet to a wicked people. Of him, the Book of Mormon says:
For he did cry from the morning, even until the going down of the sun, exhorting the people to believe in God unto repentance lest they should be destroyed, saying unto them that by faith all things are fulfilled—Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, be led to glorify God (Ether 12:3-4, pg 509).
This path of hope and faith in God which brings men to do good is the narrow path that Jesus spoke of that leads us toward eternal life. Eternal life is to know Jesus Christ and God (see John 17:3) because we have become like them (see 1 John 3:2). Then, through power of the atonement and resurrection of Jesus Christ, those who have followed this path will be cleansed from their sins and taken at last to Heaven to dwell with Christ and God forever.