Genuine saving faith, which only those who have lost their life for the sake of Christ have, is proven valid and is completed by works. These works are the proof of genuine saving faith. These are righteous works, not just religious activity. These works are acts that conform to God’s revealed Word. James tells us that these are acts of compassion such as giving to the poor and helping them to be warm and filled instead of just telling them that you will pray for them. We are not saved because we do these things, no; we do these things because we are genuinely saved.
34 And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. 35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. 36 For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37 For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:34-38 (NASB)
Jesus is coming back soon. Are you ready? Are you trusting in man-made or self-made religion to be what God will recognize as sufficient so that Christ will be your Advocate before the Father when you are judged? Without Christ as your Advocate, you will have no defense. How does Christ become our Advocate? How do we know if He is our Advocate? Let us examine Christ’s own words about this.
23 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. 24 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. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 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 (NASB)
What does it mean to “come after” Christ? Is this simply the act of joining a church? Jesus is taking to people who have been following Him and listening to His teachings as He ministered to them. He turns to this large group of people and tells them plainly that to be His disciple one must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Christ. If one does not do this then they CANNOT be Christ’s disciples. What does it mean to deny self? This is relinquishing personal control of one’s life in surrender to Lordship of Christ who is control of it. The taking up ones own personal cross is referring complete commitment to Christ even if it means death or persecution. When Christ says that His disciples must follow Him He is referring to living ones life according to His example as well as coming into fellowship with His other disciples.
Christ then tells us that these things sum together into a losing of ones life for His sake. Those who deny themselves, take up their crosses, and follow Him have given up a self-centered life of rebellion against God for the sake of Christ and the gospel. In return, they will find everlasting communion with God. On the other hand, those who live a self-centered life focused on the present world will not find eternal life with God. Those who have found eternal life with God have lost their life for Christ’s sake, but have actually saved their life.