A verse in Christian Scriptures with which many persons of other faiths are extremely familiar runs as follows (words in brackets mine in spirit of an amplified reading of Christian Scriptures).
For God did so love the world, that His Son — the only begotten — He gave, that every one who is believing in Him may not perish, but may have life age-during (eternal life) — John 3:16, from Young’s Literal (Verbatim, no attempt at interpretation) Translation of the original Greek to English, acronym, YLT.
A perusal of the verbatim translation reveals a slight difference from the popular translations (e.g. NKJV, RSV etc.) that is of significant importance, namely, rather than, ‘whosoever believes in Him’, the verbatim of the Greek reads, ‘every one who is believing in Him’, should not perish, but may have life that lasts for as long as God’s purposes endure.
Any person who is familiar with English grammar knows that, whereas, ‘whosoever believes in Him’ can have interpretation as a one-time historical transaction, ‘every one who is believing in Him’ only can be interpreted as a transaction that is present continuous. We have then that the verbatim rendition of John 3:16 does a better job of sensitizing us to the spiritual reality that eternal life does not derive from some one-time historical transaction with God, but rather from a present continuous transaction that remains valid at every point in time in context of relationship with God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
As is evidenced all through Christian Scriptures (see for example, Matthew 24:12–14), there is not any such thing as ‘once saved, always saved’. Salvation and eternal life are earned in the present continuous.
But how then is salvation earned in the present continuous? Subsequent to a decision to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, which is tantamount to willingness to obey the command to love as Christ as loved (John 13:34), how exactly does a person reiterate his or her initial confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior in context of a present continuous commitment to faith in the name of Jesus Christ?
The Holy Spirit provides answers throughout the New Testament of Christian Scriptures. A verse provided by Apostle Paul provides a succinct summary of how to go about maintenance of eternal life in the present continuous. The verse in question is as follows, and is accompanied by a statement by our Lord Jesus Christ that is found in John 12:24–25.
For, if we have become planted together to the likeness of His death, so also we shall be of the rising again (Romans 6:5, YLT).
Verily, verily, I say to you, if the grain of the wheat, having fallen to the earth, may not die, itself remaineth alone; and if it may die, it doth bear much fruit; he who is loving his life shall lose it, and he who is hating his life in this world (he who will not do evil to maintain or increase his status, possessions, or life in this world) — to life age-during shall keep it (John 12:24–25).
Jesus did not die because His friends asked Him to die. In fact, His disciples attempted to convince Him that dying did not make any sense (Matthew 16:21–23).
Jesus chose to die. Only those who die willingly are able to attain to a (spiritual) death like Christ’s.
It is God who plants the person who dies a death like Christ’s. This is evident in the words by Apostle Paul, and is evident in the following Scripture.
And Jehovah doth lead thee continually, and hath satisfied in drought thy soul, and thy bones He armeth, and thou hast been as a watered garden, and as an outlet of waters, whose waters lie (fail) not (Isaiah 58:11).
What does it mean that it is God who plants?
The death to self does not transpire without event, that is, absent taking up of a cross willingly, is not actualized. It is metaphysical, that is, spiritual, Yes, but it requires certain events that are customized to a believer for its initiation. It is God, who in eternity plans those events, as such, plants the believer in the opportunity for a death like that of Christ’s. But if a believer resents the event that is supposed to induce his or her death, as such does not, in context of such an event, live in obedience of faith to The Father, the opportunity for arrival at a death like that of Christ’s is lost. In the words of our Lord Jesus Christ?
And whoever doth not receive his cross (whoever refuses the events designed for actualization of his or her death to self, a death like Christ’s) and follow after me, is not worthy of me (Matthew 10:38).
If you are to arrive at a death like that of Christ’s, in every circumstance of life, you are willing to ask, “Lord, what will you have me do?”
The death that makes resurrection possible, is the death of the self. Jesus makes clear that if a man will not die to self, he or she is not able to produce any fruits, meaning there is not arrival at capacity for overcoming any of the world (1John 5:4), sin (Romans 6:14), the devil (1John 2:14; James 4:7), or fear of death (Hebrews 2:14–15). To die like Christ then, is to die to the self.
Only those who die to the self, that is, who voluntarily choose not to consider their needs superior to those of their fellow man, who then, inclusive of their own selves, consider all men images of God, who then, because the self has died, as such does not exist to be gratified, choose to live to the praise of the glory of God (2 Corinthians 5:15) are able to attain to a death like that of Christ.
To die to self is not to despise earthly conveniences, but rather that the demand for earthly conveniences — cars, houses, clothes etc. — is not rooted in lust of the eyes (a coveting of what neighbors have); not rooted in lust of the flesh (sexual immorality or anger); and is not rooted in the ostentation of life (the desire to feel better than others on basis of accruing of a larger amount of money).
Only those who die a death like that of Christ’s attain to the resurrection power that brings power for putting of the self to death, and for overcoming each of sin, the world, the devil, and fear of death.
The power of the gospel is attained to only by those who, via dying of a death like Christ’s attain, spiritually speaking, to a resurrection like that of Christ.
Only those who die like Christ, as such, attain to the resurrection from the dead are declared ‘sons of God’. It is the Holy Spirit who resurrects, in a spiritual sense, those who voluntarily choose to die a death like Christ’s. The Scriptural evidence?
Who (our Lord Jesus Christ) is marked out Son of God in power, according to the Spirit of sanctification, by the rising again from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 1:4).
Only those who voluntarily are willing to be sanctified, equivalently, voluntarily are willing to die to the self are able to die a death like Christ’s, as such, qualify for resurrection from the dead, and the declaration that they are sons of God.
It is sons of God who overcome the self, sin, the world, the devil, and fear of death.
The way you receive Christ is exactly the way in which you maintain your relationship with Christ. How do we receive Christ? Well, if we truly understand what it means to have faith in the name of Jesus — we are expressly commanded to believe in the name of Jesus Christ (1 John 3:23) — when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, we make the following Affirmations of Faith.
We affirm by faith, at timing of first confession of faith, and subsequently by our faith and experiential fellowship of The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit that:
Jesus is the only begotten Son of God;
Jesus lived a sinless life so His righteousness can be credited to us;
Jesus died so the price for our sin is paid;
Jesus resurrected, so we are able to resurrect spiritually, as such, become sons of God who have the capacity for living by a faith that works through love (Galatians 5:6);
Jesus ascended to the heavens so we are able to receive the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit who sanctifies us, teaches us, and transforms us into the spiritual nature of Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:13–14);
Jesus ministers in the heavenly sanctuary in our behalf, applying His blood to the objective of our sanctification, that is, our cleansing from every defilement of body, soul, and spirit (1 Peter 1:1–2).
If you seek eternal life in the present continuous, you continue in the enumerated affirmations in the present continuous.
The Scriptural evidence?
As then, ye did receive Christ Jesus the Lord, in Him walk ye, being rooted and built up in Him, and confirmed in the faith (by the Holy Spirit), as ye were taught — abounding in it (in the faith) in thanksgiving (Colossians 2:6–7).
Only those who continue to affirm, in their words and actions, that which they affirmed when they first received Jesus as Lord and Savior are confirmed in the faith by the Holy Spirit.
The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ has declared that He, Jesus is the first born from the dead, and that He, Jesus is first, that is, preeminent in all things (Colossians 1:15–18).
What does this mean?
Well, it means no one can resurrect better than Jesus. If you seek to resurrect different from Jesus, as such, seek to die different from Jesus, you not only are unable to become like Him, you become disqualified from participation in His reign, for Jesus must be first in all things.
So then, any spirit that attempts to lure you into differentiating yourself, into make yourself look unique in relation to Jesus or your brothers and sisters in Christ via adoption of philosophies or lifestyles that are contrary to teachings in Christian Scriptures? Well, if truly you desire to be declared a son of God, you jettison all of that seeming uniqueness at the altar of salvation.
The Scriptural Evidence?
To Titus — true child according to a common faith (a faith that is the same for all who subscribe to it, no matter their worldly status): Grace, kindness, peace, from God The Father, and The Lord Jesus Christ our Savior (Titus 1:4).
Being diligent to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; one body and one Spirit, according as also ye were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in you all (Ephesians 4:3–6).
If you are to attain to resurrection from the dead, and the declaration that you are a son of God, as such, arrive at eternal life in the present continuous, it only is possible if you do it like He (Jesus) — who alone must be preeminent — did it.