Unless You Believe[what?]
And Jesus said to them, “You are from beneath; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Then they said to Him, “Who are You?” And Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning” (John 8:23-25).
Jesus in his ministry often took the time to explain to the people who he was and why they needed to believe it. He told them that he came down from heaven, that he was the only one to see God. That being the Only Begotten Son of God made him equal with God (John 10).
The word he is not in the original; it is added into the text and actually reads for if you do not believe that I am you’re dead in your sins. This is crucial because you are not a believer if you do not believe who the Son of God says He is. One of the most important statements was unless you believe I am [he] you will die in your sins. Here Jesus is quoting the Old Testament identifying who he really is and fulfilling I AM is the name of God introduced to Moses. God said His name to Moses as, “I am who I am” (Ex. 3:15).
Jesus is saying that forgiveness of your sins, the very work he did on the cross cannot be applied unless you understand who died for you. So believing Jesus is the savior in a general sense is not enough. Believing Jesus is the Son of God in a general sense without actually understanding it is a claim to deity is not enough.
Jesus again applies this name of God for Himself in John 8:56-58 “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?”
“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” I AM in Greek is Ego emi; is in the present indicative active form of the verb “to be.” Meaning, what is true of His being before is true of Him today, that He has no change from eternity past to eternity future (Malachi 3:6).
It was God who called Abraham out Gen.12:7-11: “And the LORD appeared unto Abram.” Stephen retelling this account says in Acts 7:2 tells us “The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran.” “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.” It was God who interacted with Abraham.
They understood Jesus perfectly because we see their reaction to Jesus saying “Abraham rejoiced to see My day” and that He is I AM. (John 8:59) “Then they took up stones to throw at Him.” The only other time they picked up stones is recorded in John 10:30-33 when he said “I and My Father are one” (In Greek We are one). Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”
Again they understood His claim was being equal with God; being God. The Jewish leaders considered this idea blasphemous, they clearly understood his claim to be deity as elsewhere: “Therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (Jn. 5:18). So when Jesus tells them “Just what I have been saying to you from the beginning” (John 8:23-25), this was a consistent message of his explaining who he was. It was essential to grasp this fact and believe “for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.” Their choice to reject his message was to reject God himself.
at the last supper he again makes it clear to his disciples John 13:19: “Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He” Again the word He is added and not in the original text and reads “you may believe that I am.” What Jesus is emphasizing is that he foretells the future is the same one who is mentioned in the Scripture that foretells the future (Isaiah 48:3). That He is also whom the Scriptures speaks of (John 5:39). He foretold of his betrayal to prove He was the one Scripture spoke of; to prove His deity. What He spoke when fulfilled would give them understanding in knowing who He is.
At Jesus’ arrest he once again identified his true identity. John 18:5-6: They answered Him, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus said to them, “I am He.” And Judas, who betrayed Him, also stood with them. Then-- when He said to them, “I am He,”-- they drew back and fell to the ground.” Why did they fall back? Because Jesus identified himself as their creator and it was with power, not because the Roman legion was bunch of bumblers.
John 5:23: “All must honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.” Do you withhold honor from the Son? Then you do so to the Father. To deny the same honor to the Jesus as you would the Father, is to deny honor to both.
Paul makes it clear “…I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Ones faith must be in God for it to be valid if it is in any religious thing it will negate it.
I John 5:9-13 “If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater; for this is the witness of God which He has testified of His Son. He who believes in the Son of God has the witness in himself; he who does not believe God has made Him a liar, because he has not believed the testimony that God has given of His Son. And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”
“And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent the Son as Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God” (I John 4:14-15)
Is John concerned with only words or the meaning the words have? The confession of our faith must be the same revelation that Peter had in Matthew 16 when Jesus asked the disciples whom they think He is. Peter said the Christ (anointed one) the Son of the Living God, meaning the eternal one (I AM). We should not overlook his revelation came directly from the Father and Jesus acknowledged it.
“And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.”
(I John 5:20) Him who is true is the Son according to John, he is the true God who has given us understanding of the what is true. If one does not understand whom the Son is revealed by the Spirit the do not know the Father and do not have eternal life. So when we state Heb.4:14: “Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession,” and “Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides with him” (1 Jn.4:15). It means the Son is equal in nature to the Father, that the Son is God just as the Father is God. This is the witness of the Holy Spirit or one does not have a witness from the Spirit of Truth.
Paul the apostle writes Philippians 2:9-11: “Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
To have every knee of every created thing bow to the Son is to worship. To confess Jesus is Lord (kurious) brings glory to the Father who sent him.
More than 100 times in the New Testament Jesus Christ is identified as Lord. This isn't some title that one can ignore. This is who He is. Thus to fail to know Him as Lord is not to know Him at all - and is not saved by the God/man of the Scriptures that we are to call on (Romans 10), for no lesser “Christ” or Son of God can be the Savior. While one may not understand the full implications of His Lordship at the time of receiving Christ, any mistaken notion that the “Savior” who is being received is anything less than “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36) is to misunderstand the gospel itself and thus not to be saved.