Let's try to avoid the doctrinal or theological discussions that should be left to the discretion of our senior pastors and others more qualified. There is enough that the Bible seems to be direct about, that we don't really need to get into those issues of Salvation which have a history of controversy. There are plenty of other websites and resources that do that well. Here are some of the parameters I hope to maintain during the life of this website.
I would prefer that participants not identify their specific religious background. That is necessary only in my case, since some measure of experience on my part has to be revealed. My profile should have enough info to answer most questions about the sincerity of my intent, and my qualifications to offer substantial comments on the Bible and its application to personal discipleship.
Jesus said, "Unless you take up your cross daily, you cannot be My disciple."Later, He commissioned us to "Go and make disciples..." I don't think these two can be separated. The evangelistic process is not complete until the "convert" is proficient and fairly consistent at this daily cross-bearing. To teach cross-bearing is evangelism. It is discipleship. No aspect of Christian living works the way it should without this daily "death to self," this daily co-crucifixion with Christ. Until Galatians 2:20 is the testimony of every believer, their discipleship is more likely to resemble spiritual anemia than a life "filled with all the fullness of God" (By the way, all these things in quotes are in the Bible, and are about this subject. )
Usually, the essential elements of Salvation are listed as redemption, justification, sanctification, and glorification, and other similar terms and various definitions and sequences. These terms are used by Paul in some very specific ways, and even Peter admits that some of Paul's writings are "hard to understand." So we won't be focusing on these terms, except in the context of those verses that deal with our daily cross-bearing.
What is daily cross-bearing? It sounds bad, does it hurt? What happens to me if I don't like it? What if I try and fail? Is it hard? How much do I have to know? How long does it take to learn it? Are you serious?!? Why?
God will help you. It can be hard or easy or both. It can be learned quickly, and yet is still new and meaningful as long as you live. You never stop learning, you never stop growing, the paradigm shifts seem to be endless, the simplicity is astonishing, and yet the complexity is immeasurable. Living a life in which Jesus is living His life by God's power through you is so real and meaningful that you will come to feel "enlightened." Even if all of this were not so, there is such great value in just making the effort to obey Jesus' teaching, that you will never forget the experience.
Some basic concepts.
Crucifixion. Leave all of the painful details for later. What matters in cross-bearing is that Jesus allowed Himself to be executed. He willingly sacrificed Himself for us. "He was obedient even to death."
Our co-crucifixion is to be voluntary on our part. It is something we submit to. It is something we willingly accept. It is something we are committed to and discipline ourselves to achieve on a daily basis. (Yes, I'm afraid that really does mean that we do some form of this each morning.) For some people, each day will be very similar. For others, you will go through weeks doing this one way, and then you will go through some sort of "phase shift" and gradually develop another style, and then another. It is not about words or procedures, and certainly not about rituals. It is more like a daily recommitment to obey Jesus and to disregard our own will if necessary. But it is much more than that, this is just a thumbnail image of what some have called "the Normal Christian Life."
Short-cut: You may not have time to read further, and I am honored that you have gotten this far. I will be adding material occasionally, so if you have to leave now, in a few weeks there might be something new that will be helpful to you. Just in case I don't have the opportunity to help you now, let me suggest that you memorize Galatians 2:20, ask God to help you understand and apply it to your life, and commit yourself to listening to God Himself, and He will teach you all that you need to know, just by a different path.