“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” – John 3:16

4.0 Walking in the Way

Taking Up THE Cross Daily

“And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” – Luke 9:23

The remaining sections of this book, starting with this chapter, are written to the Christian who has already been born again, as covered in the first half of this book. This chapter also serves as an overview if you will of the following four chapters.

So again, I say, welcome new brother or sister in Christ! You have been born again of the Spirit of Life, and it is now Christ who abides in you, and you in Him. You have been redeemed from death to life through the blood of Christ. Amen!

When you come to Christ you are giving Him your life to do with as He pleases; you are now a bondservant of Christ, for He bought and paid for you with His blood, having redeemed (purchased) you from slavery to sin.

However, realize that you are now just a baby, an infant in Christ as we have discussed. You are extremely vulnerable to the forces of evil and the deceptions of both Satan and man (these are called snares), which will be laid out in front of, and all around you, to try to cause you to stumble, fall, turn-back, quit or turn out of the true path to eternal life!

Scripture is abundantly clear that the way of life of a Christian only begins when one is born-again. You have not yet received your crown of life, which you will be awarded if you remain faithful until death.

While salvation to eternal life in heaven with God begins with you being “born again”, eternal (final) salvation is achieved where you receive your “Crown of Life” as described in the Bible; this is awarded to you on the Great Day of Judgment by Christ.

Be very aware and attentive that there are other very real and clearly defined conditions for eternal salvation as written in the Bible; salvation consists of all of these elements:

  1. Be “Born Again “of the Spirit (hopefully you have already now done this step),
  2. Submission to the will of God through Obedience to the commandments of Christ as given in the New Testament (not the Old Testament Mosaic Law); this is also called dying to self, for it is no longer you that lives, but Christ in you. You are now seeking God’s will be done, not your own will, and
  3. Abounding in the work of the Lord (producing fruit); this is also referred to as “proving your faith” to be real and genuine, For if you do not act on your faith, it will neither justify you before God, nor save you to eternal life, for it will be what the Bible calls a “dead faith”, and
  4. Perseverance in faith unto Death

You cannot omit any of those conditions and meet the criteria that the Bible gives for being eternally saved. The next few chapters of this book deal with each of those topics in more detail.

It seems that the Christian evangelical world spends 99% of its time, money and effort in preaching on how one is to be born-again, and almost nothing thereafter to train you up properly in the way of a Christian (or maybe it’s just that I’m dull of hearing) and ensure that you know what the Bible has given as requirements to one obtaining eternal life.

The life of a true Christian is marked by obedience, action (good works) and perseverance unto death. Christianity is as much about action as it is about profession. For if you do not act on your faith, your faith will neither justify nor save you to eternal salvation but is what the Bible calls a “dead faith”. Such a faith will neither justify you, nor save you to eternal life. There are true believers, and there are “make believers” (the hypocrites, who profess and do not do); God is not mocked, and He will sort those out on the Day of Judgment.

It is prudent here to recall the words of Jesus on this subject:

“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” – Matthew 7:21-27

Scripture is also very clear that one can fall-away from, turn-back, go “apostate,” “backslide,” or simply quit the faith, even after being born-again. The “once saved always saved” teaching is a false teaching. A Christian is not “saved” (past tense) but works out their salvation (present tense) ongoing during their lifetime of service to Christ.

And if you don’t press on firmly studying and learning the Word of Life (the Bible) each and every day, you won’t know what Christ expects from those who call on His name. And ignorance is not condoned by the Bible. If you don’t know what Scripture says that Christ has commanded, how can you be obedient? If you don’t know His commandments, how can you do them? And so on…

True Christianity therefore is a way of life until death, which involves:

  1. Continued repentance (and avoidance of deliberate sin),
  2. Continued obedience to the word of God (the commands of Christ),
  3. Continual studying and reading (eating) of the Word of God,
  4. Continual prayer,
  5. Continual worship,
  6. Continual thanksgiving, and
  7. Continual service

The Bible refers to this as walking in “The Way” of Jesus. You now live in (abide in) Christ, and He lives in (abides in) you; you have also been sealed by the Holy Spirit. You are always and continually exhorted to be “growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ”. You do this each, and every, day.

Please know that the Bible doesn’t say that the way of a Christian is always easy and good times, as we still live in this fallen world, and we also have our old natures still with us (our fleshly bodies). It is also written that: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you.” But know that you can now persevere in all things through the strength of Christ who lives in you; you are not living on your own “will power” and strength any longer.

Also, be aware that the way of a Christian down throughout the centuries has been one of extreme peril; even today in many parts of the world this way is marked by trial, tribulation, persecution and even death. Even in the more “enlightened” parts of the world, a Christian will face mocking, scorn, ridicule, and even discrimination. If you want to get a fuller appreciation of the atrocities committed against Christians over the years, I recommend reading an (early edition) of the Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (The Actes and Monuments) by Jon Foxe. You will get a much greater understanding of the persecution that Christians have endured, particularly at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church (Popery), which is not Biblical Christianity!

However, for many (most?) of us today, the biggest risk we have to final salvation to eternal life is not persecution or anything men do to us, it is through our own sheer neglect of being diligent (and therefore being ignorant) to be “always growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Yes, a Christian can lose his crown of life simply through ignorance of the Word of God and sheer neglect. I almost did that myself, and it is only due to the unbelievable lovingkindness, mercy, grace and patience of the Lord who pursued me and drew me back onto the path to eternal life. I still don’t quite know why He did that and I’ve learned my lesson. I’m a slow learning myself. Perhaps it was so I could help others from having gone through that experience myself of falling away; or, maybe it was so I could write this book to help others avoid the same mistakes I made. Regardless, I’m eternally grateful!

Additionally, I strongly recommend reading the The Pilgrim’s Progress book by John Bunyan, which portrays the walk (pilgrimage) of a “Christian” from the “City of Destruction” (this world) to that which is to come, the “Heavenly City” (The New Jerusalem, heaven itself). The book, while written as a novel, is chock full of rock-solid Biblical truth, and is free from the false teachings which are common today and which I am warning you about in this book (see the wolves chapter). The book really gives you great insight into the “way” or “path” or “walk” of a Christian’s life.

“Christian”, the main character in the book, runs across all manner of people (helpful and not so helpful), demons, worldly lures (snares), and false teachings (Wolves) which try to: trip him up, stop him from proceeding, turn him from the straight and narrow path to life or to get him to quit and turn back towards things of the world. Scripture talks about “putting on the full armor” of God, so you can fend off the attacks and also stand firm in the faith; this subject is covered more in the chapter on perseverance. You will also notice that many of the verses that are given for this chapter are repeated in the chapter on perseverance, as that is a very important topic repeatedly stressed in Scripture.

You will also note in particular by reading it that the “once saved always saved” false teaching which is of epidemic proportions today had not infected Christian doctrine, teaching and publications at the time that the book was written. It’s almost as if the entire book of James has been ripped out of modern Christian Bibles and teachings.

You will also see that the esteemed writer of that day aligns with what I’m writing in this book also (or actually vice versa, given that I come after him), perhaps giving you some confidence that what I’m saying herein (on this matter, as well as others) is indeed true and in accordance with Scripture.

Below is a small snippet from Pilgrim’s Progress on this exact topic, right as Christian had finally come up to the gates of the heavenly city itself, which is our eternal destination:

Now, just as the gates [of the heavenly city, the New Jerusalem, in heaven where we will spend eternity] were opened to let in the men, I looked in after them, and behold the city shone like the sun; the streets also were paved with gold; and in them walked many men, with crowns on their heads, palms in their hands, and golden harps, to sing praises withal.

There were also of them that had wings, and they answered one another without intermission, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord.

And after that they shut up the gates; which, when I had seen, I wished myself among them.

Now, while I was gazing upon all these things, I turned my head to look back, and saw Ignorance come up to the river side; but he soon got over, and that without half the difficulty which the other two men met with. For it happened that there was then in that place one Vain-Hope, a ferryman, that with his boat helped him over; so he, as the other I saw, did ascend the hill, to come up to the gate; only he came alone, neither did any man meet him with the least encouragement. When he was come up to the gate, he looked up to the writing that was above, and then began to knock, supposing that entrance should have been quickly administered to him; but he was asked by the men that looked over the top of the gate, Whence come you? and what would you have? He answered, I have ate and drank in the presence of the King, and he has taught in our streets.

Then they asked him for his certificate, that they might go in and show it to the King: so he fumbled in his bosom for one, and found none. Then said they, Have you none? but the man answered never a word. So they told the King, but he would not come down to see him, but commanded the two shining ones, that conducted Christian and Hopeful to the city, to go out and take Ignorance, and bind him hand and foot, and have him away. Then they took him up, and carried him through the air to the door that I saw in the side of the hill, and put him in there. Then I saw that there was a way to hell, even from the gate of heaven, as well as from the City of Destruction.

And finally, the words of Paul give much guidance to us here:

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ – 1 Timothy 6:12-14

And

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8

We must always strive to hear “well done, good and faithful servant”. To be a servant means to be obedient (to the commands of Christ) and to be an active worker in the Kingdom of the Lord (the vineyard). We are not called to idleness or negligence in the keeping of our salvation. We are also to count the cost of eternal salvation – are we willing to sacrifice everything of this world, even our very life itself, to keep it.

As you can plainly see, scripture is very explicit and replete with warnings about not “falling away” from the faith, “departing” from the faith, being led astray, “so that no one will take your crown (of life)”; yes, the Bible is clear that others will want to see you stumble and fall again! Do you think it worthy to sacrifice EVERYTHING of this world and this life for your eternal soul? Many Christians have had to sacrifice everything, their: fame, jobs, power, possessions, friends, family, fortunes and even their lives for their faith.

Even the great Apostle Paul writes that he had not yet obtained his Crown of Life, that he presses on towards it, counting everything else as loss compared to what is found in Christ:

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:7-14

So, let us now press on to maturity in Christ! I didn’t write this section to scare you, but to properly prepare you and inform you so you don’t come up short of eternal life; so please keep reading the remainder of this book, it is just as important as the first half.

False Teaching(s) You Will Encounter:

  • Saying the “sinner’s prayer” “saves” you forever to eternal life, no matter how you live your life thereafter (i.e. even if you don’t repent and lead a changed life, nor are obedient to Christ, nor prove your faith through works, nor persevere in faith unto death)
  • You are saved by “faith only”
  • A Christian is “once saved always saved” no matter what they do or how they live the rest of their life
  • Being “born-again” is the only required step one has to take for eternal life (i.e. obedience, works and perseverance are not required)
  • A Christian cannot “fall away” from the faith
  • Calvinism (“original sin”, total depravity, perseverance of the saints, limited atonement, etc, etc…). Nearly everything about Calvinism is wrong and not in agreement with Scripture.
  • Man can earn salvation through good works, or even buy it through money (e.g. the deception of Popery)
  • Man can through observing the institutes of religion obtain salvation (i.e. performing ceremonies, etc), also the deception of Popery

Related Scripture:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. – Matthew 16:24-25

“…as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15b

Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. And this we will do, if God permits. For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away… – Hebrews 6:1-6a

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. – Colossians 1:28-29

Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil. – Hebrews 5:11-14

But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. –  2 Corinthians 11:3

Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen. – 2 Peter 3:14-17

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:15-20

Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ “Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall.” – Matthew 7:21-27

“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” – John 14:15

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself. – James 2:14-17

Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who testified the good confession before Pontius Pilate, that you keep the commandment without stain or reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ. – 1 Timothy 6:12-14

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. – Colossians 2:6-7

And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. –  Luke 9:23-26

Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— or we walk by faith, not by sight— we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. – 2 Corinthians 5:6-8

Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. – James 1:12

Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to cast some of you into prison, so that you will be tested, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt by the second death.’ – Revelation 2:10-11

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ. – Philippians 3:8

If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. – John 15:18-19

Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. – 1 Peter 5:8-9

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love. – 1 Corinthians 6:13-14

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.  – 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV)

 

But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God. – Acts 20:24

I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. – Revelation 3:11

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him.
– Psalm 103:11

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight. –  Proverbs 3:5-6

In the morning, O Lord, You will hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to You and eagerly watch. –  Psalm 5:3

Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. –  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Lord is my shepherd,
I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;
He guides me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. –  Psalm 23

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. –  2 Corinthians 4:16

He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. –  John 12:25

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. – Ephesians 6:10-13

The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. –  Lamentations 3:22-23

“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’” – Matthew 25:23 (ESV)

But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:7-14

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“You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” – John 8:32

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