(Taking Up Your 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
Again, I say welcome new brother or sister in Christ! You have been born again of the Spirit, and Christ now abides in you, and you in Him. You have been redeemed from death to life, buried with Christ and raised up to new life in Him; your sins have been forgiven through the blood of Christ on the cross. Amen! But understand that your ultimate goal is not simply to be born again – it is eternal life! As you will read in the upcoming chapters, Scripture is clear that obedience, action (i.e., good works, bearing fruit for the Lord) and persevering in faith are all required to obtain eternal salvation. Eternal salvation consists of all of these elements:
- Being born again of the Spirit: you have already taken this step,
- 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” and “taking up your cross daily,” for it is no longer you that lives, but Christ in you. You are now seeking God’s will to be done, not your own will,
- Abounding in the work of the Lord (producing fruit): For if you do not act on your faith, it will neither justify you before God, nor save you to eternal life. A genuine saving faith will naturally result in good works for the Lord. Those who only profess faith have what the Bible calls a “dead faith” for “faith without works is dead,” and
- Finishing the race: persevering in faith unto death
You cannot omit any of those conditions and meet the criteria that the Bible gives for being saved to eternal life. The next few chapters of this book deal with each of those topics in more detail. But first, while the nature of salvation was briefly discussed in the prior chapter on The Path to Eternal Life, I want to discuss it more fully here to set a solid foundation on which to proceed.
SALVATION IS A PROCESS, NOT A ONE-TIME EVENT
Being born again is simply the first, but by far the most important, step on the road to eternal (final) salvation; said differently, being born again is a necessary but not sufficient requirement for eternal salvation – when you receive your crown of life. The chapters in this section of the book are therefore just as important as the prior chapters were on Accepting Christ. We are exhorted not to be ignorant of the complete plan of salvation as given to us by God in Scripture; we read:
The so-called “modern” and liberal “Christian” churches of today are not training up their members, or even their pastors or elders, to know the complete plan of salvation as given in Scripture. Wayne Jackson writes: 
Scripture exhorts us to be always “growing in the grace and understanding” of the Lord; and that is what we will be continuing to do in this section of the book, as we follow along the path to eternal life as given in Scripture. Know that Scripture clearly teaches us that eternal salvation doesn’t occur in an instant, nor is it a one-time event or prayer; it is a continually progressive process (called sanctification) that starts at the moment you are born again (initial salvation, forgiveness of sins), continues throughout the life of a Christian as they walk with the Lord, and doesn’t complete until one receives their crown of life (final salvation) – awarded to you on the great Day of Judgment by Christ. The term sanctified means to be set apart for the Lord, being made to conform more and more to the image of Christ. This is why Scripture exhorts us to:
As you can see from the verses above, God is still at work in you, and will be for the rest of your life. You will hear many say they are “saved.” However, recognize that people mean different things when they say that. Some mean that they said the “sinner’s prayer” once and believe they are saved “by faith alone/only” (all the way to eternal life) regardless of how they live the rest of their life – in obedience to Christ or not. I have explained those are both false teachings. Wayne Jackson explains how the words “saved” and “salvation” are used in Scripture: 
And further on the nature of salvation: 
Furthermore, we don’t (can’t) reach a state of perfect salvation while still in our earthly, fleshly bodies. Wayne Jackson writes: 
A WAY OF LIFE UNTIL DEATH
Christianity is a way of life until death, which involves:
- Continued repentance (and avoidance of deliberate, willful sin),
- Continued obedience to the Word of God (and specifically to the commands of Christ),
- Continual reading and studying (eating) of the Word of God, so that we are growing “in the grace and understanding” of the Lord,
- Continual prayer,
- Continual worship,
- Continual thanksgiving, and
- Continual service (good works)
The Bible refers to this as walking in “The Way” of Jesus, for Christ is “the way, and the truth and the life.” You now live in (abide in) Christ, and He lives in (abides in) you. The way of a Christian only begins when one is born again, and the Christian is called to “deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” It seems to me 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 on how to train you up properly in the way of a Christian. Scripture exhorts us to:
- “Make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10 KJV),
- “Work out your salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12),
- “Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called” (1 Timothy 6:12),
- “Finish the course…keep the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7), for
- “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 [the Great Day of Judgment]” (2 Timothy 4:8)
These verses involve a number of different aspects, but the central theme is that we must not take our (future final, eternal) salvation for granted! Matthew Henry writes on Philippians 2:12-13: 
FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD
Furthermore, 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 life; it will be what the Bible calls a “dead faith.” There are true believers and there are “make believers” (the hypocrites, who profess and do not do). But God is not mocked; He will sort those out on the Day of Judgment. We are called to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord.” It is prudent here to recall the words of Jesus on this subject:
Only you can determine whether you are rocky, thorny, or good soil! Only you can determine if you will “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” and be able to say: “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.” 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.
PRESS ON TO MATURITY
While Scripture warns us that the Christian must expect to face trials, tribulation and persecution in their walk with Christ, for many of us today, the biggest risk we face it is our own sheer neglect of being diligent in our continued study of the Word. Realize that at this point you are just a baby, an “infant” in Christ, and we are strongly exhorted to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” and be “leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity.” If you don’t press on 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 (see Acts 17:22-32, Romans 4:15, Leviticus 5:17-18, 2 Peter 3:18, 2 Timothy 2:15). If you don’t know what Scripture says about what Christ has commanded, how can you be obedient? If you don’t know His commandments, how can you do them? And so on…
You don’t want to find yourself many years into your Christian walk and yet still need to be reminded of the very basics of the faith:
Furthermore, a Christian can lose (and even be tricked out of!) his crown of life simply through ignorance of the Word of God and sheer neglect. I almost did that myself; I fell away once – I was the thorny soil, where the Word was choked out by the cares and concerns of this world. That I am again walking with Christ now is only due to the unbelievable lovingkindness, mercy, grace and patience of the Lord who pursued me and drew me back again. I still don’t quite know why He did that, but I’ve learned my lesson. Perhaps it was so I could help others from having gone through the experience myself of falling away after having once started out; or, maybe it was so I could write this book to help others avoid the same mistakes I made. Regardless, I’m eternally grateful!
When starting out, a newly born-again Christian is extremely vulnerable to the forces of evil led by Satan, and also to the deceptions of man. I have explained that there are “snares” (traps, pitfalls) setup to try to stop you at each step along the way to eternal life, and that they don’t stop even after you are born again. These snares are laid out in front of and all around you, to try to cause you to stumble and fall, to turn you out of the straight and narrow path to eternal life, and to cause you to quit the faith altogether and turn back to this world and it’s sinful fleshly ways.
This is why you see false teachings identified all the way through this book, continuing from start to finish. I am trying to warn you about the snares (and doctrines of demons) that you will almost surely encounter. I’m trying to help you from falling away from Christ and back towards the world as I did, for it is written:
I strongly recommend reading The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan as soon as you can right after this book. It portrays the walk (pilgrimage) of “Christian” from the “City of Destruction” (this world) to that which is to come, the “Heavenly City” (The New Jerusalem, eternal life in heaven). The book, while written as an allegory, is chock full of rock-solid biblical truth and it is also free from the many false teachings which are common today. In particular, you will also note 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. The book really gives 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 get him to quit and turn back towards things of the world. Scripture warns us: “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!
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 truth in accordance with Scripture. Below is a small snippet from The Pilgrim’s Progress which describes where Christian finally arrives at the gates of the heavenly city itself, New Jerusalem, which is our eternal destination (heavenly, not earthly), and he sees that “that there was a way to hell, even from the gate of heaven”: 
I implore you, dear Christian reader, do not be ignorant of the complete plan of salvation that Scripture actually teaches. We must approach God on His terms, not ours. We must seek and do His will, not ours. We must fight the good fight of faith and finish the course!
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT OF FAITH
We also read in Scripture that the way of a Christian is not always easy. Jesus warns us about this:
The way of a Christian down throughout the centuries has been one of extreme peril. Even today, in many parts of the world, a Christian’s life is marked by trial, tribulation and even persecution unto death. Even in the more “enlightened” parts of the world, a Christian can still face mocking, scorn, ridicule, discrimination and economic sanctions. If you want to get a fuller appreciation of the atrocities committed against Christians over the years, I recommend reading Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (The Actes and Monuments). Doing so will give you a much greater understanding of the persecution that the Christians who have gone before us have endured. Living as a Christian in a fallen world takes courage, strength of character, endurance and above all, complete trust in the Lord in all things at all times.
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. Do you think it worthy to sacrifice everything of this world, even your own 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. The apostle Paul writes:
Scripture is also very clear (with repeated warnings) that one must persevere in faith until death, and that one can “fall away” from, “depart” from, turn-back, go “apostate,” “backslide,” or simply quit the faith, even after being born again. The widely popular “once saved always saved” false teaching is in clear contradiction with what is written in Scripture. Paul further writes that he had not yet obtained his Crown of Life, that he still presses on towards it, counting everything else as loss compared to what is found in Christ:
Scripture talks about “putting on the full armor” of God, so you can fend off the attacks of the enemy (Satan and his forces of evil, including the men who choose to follow him), and also stand firm in the faith; this subject is covered more in the upcoming chapters on perseverance and The Armor of God. You will notice that many of the verses used in this chapter are also repeated in those chapters as well. But also know that you will be able to persevere through the strength of Christ who lives in you; you are not living on your own “will power” and strength any longer, and that you can now “do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Know that you will be able to stand in the face of trials and tribulation and persevere in faith by the strength of Christ who now lives in you:
So, therefore, let us now press on to maturity in Christ! I didn’t write this chapter to scare you, but to properly prepare and inform you so you don’t come up short of eternal life.
FALSE TEACHING(S) YOU WILL ENCOUNTER:
- Saying a “Sinner’s Prayer” Saves You
- You Are Saved by Faith Alone/Only
- Once Saved Always Saved
- Being born again is the only required step one has to take for eternal life (i.e., obedience, works and perseverance are not required)
- Roman Catholicism Masquerading as Christianity (man can obtain salvation through observing the institutes of religion, i.e., performing ceremonies, sacraments, etc.)
- Universalism (i.e., any name, or any religion, even one you make up, or even no belief at all, can save you to eternal life)
- Sabbath Keeping/Legalism (you must observe the “Sabbath” or OT Jewish laws, holidays, etc.)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” – John 14:6
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
“If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” – Joshua 24:15
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
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 3:14-18
“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
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” – John 14:15 [Note: This verse is often distorted by those who falsely claim we are still under the Ten Commandments of the Mosaic Law because the word “commandments” is used here. The word commandments here refers to the commands of Christ as given in the New Testament.]
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
Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. – Colossians 2:6-8
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
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 16:13-14
“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
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
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. – Psalm 23:1-3
“He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.” – John 12:25-26
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)