1 Thessalonians 1:2 We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
Let us probe the connection between hope and endurance by asking a very crucial and practical question: are Christians supposed to endure in the path of obedience in order to inherit the blessings of heaven; or are Christians supposed to endure because the blessings of heaven are certainly and infallibly theirs?
Let’s ask it another way: is endurance in the path of obedience to Christ a condition we must meet in order to obtain the inheritance of salvation; or is the inheritance of salvation already a guaranteed gift so that our confidence in it is what enables us to endure?
Or to ask it one other way: Is the message of the gospel, You must endure to the end in order to be saved; or is the message of the gospel, You shall endure to the end because you are saved?
The biblical answer to all six of these questions is a resounding YES! You must endure to the end in order to be saved. And you shall endure precisely because you are saved. Salvation is both the reward of endurance, and the free gift of grace. We endure in order to inherit the blessings of heaven and because we are sure that the blessings of heaven are certainly ours.
Now the reason I stress this is that the place you must go to strengthen your hope is to the Scriptures, and what you will find when you do is both of these teachings (the “must” and the “shall”; the “in order to” and the “because”). And I don’t want you to mangle the Scriptures, or miss the precious encouragement of God in both kinds of texts. Let me illustrate these two kinds of Scripture and try to show how both are really intended to strengthen and sustain your hope and empower your endurance. First let’s look at the SHALLS, and then at the MUSTS.