What are the elemental requirements of Christianity? Do you have to believe in God? Believe in the trinity? Believe Jesus Christ died for our sins? Do you have to die?
Let me paint a picture here with some scripture. In John chapter 2 Christ enters into the temple near the time of Passover with his disciples. As He enters into the temple He notices that salesmen are selling sacrificial offerings in the temple, As the story goes He makes a whip out of cords and gets rid of the Salesmen. The Jews asked him by what authority he did these things and He responds by saying, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.”
I believe that just as in John 3 Christ sees the situation as it truly is, not just what was said, but the intentions of the heart. He sees the motivation behind the question and responds to it. ( In John 3 Nichodmus speaks to Christ about Christ’s miracles and Christ responded with, You must be born again.) Christ was saying that I see your frustration with me, but I know that this is right so kill me and I will rise again. I am willing to die before you defile the temple of My Father.
Once again painting the picture, in Matt 16 Christ takes his disciples up to Caesarea Philippi and asks them ,”Who do people say that I am?” Peter gives the million dollar response, That He is the Christ the Son of the living God. And Christ in turn tells the disciples that upon this proclamation I will build my church and the gates of death and hades will not prevail against it. Basically Christ is giving them the keys to heaven as he says that whatever you agree on here on earth will be done because of the power I am giving to you.
Then when Christ explains His upcoming death Peter rebukes Him. Christ immediately explains the necessity of following Him and carring a cross.
Can you see it? Christ is explaining the cost of the power of son-ship. It is in the self sacrifice. He explains the power then instructs that to be my disciple you must pick up your cross and follow me. There is no other way. These two elements are required to be together. There would not be salvation for us if Christ would of just taught great things and lived a famous life. We didn’t need a hero we needed a Messiah.
I think we have read these scriptures too many times and in a way neutered them of there potency. If the thought of carrying a cross has become nonchalant to you let me rephrase it. To be a Christian you must die. You must die to your desires, you must die to your sins, you must die so that the enemy has nothing to threaten you with. This is the liberation of the believer that led millions to actually, real life, bloody, slow deaths. Did you know that all of the 12 disciples (minus John because of prophecy) were murdered in brutal fashion. Did you know that every hour of the day Christians are being murdered for there faith. (Every Christian should own Jesus Freaks published by Bethany House and Foxes Book of Martyrs)
This may seem extreme and it should, it has to be a daily death to obtain the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 4:3 For a time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.