Must I believe that Jesus is God in order to be saved from sin and receive eternal life?
Jesus specifically warned a Jewish audience in John 8:24 stating,
24 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.”
In the Greek text, the “He” is not present, and the Scripture therefore reads,
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am, you will die in your sins.”
“I am” from John 8:24 in the Greek reads as follows,
1. **I = egó:** I (only expressed when emphatic)Original Word: ἐγώPart of Speech: Personal PronounTransliteration: egóPhonetic Spelling: (eg-o’)Definition: I (only expressed when emphatic)Usage: I, the first-person pronoun.
2. am = eimí (the basic Greek verb which expresses being, i.e. “to be”) – am, is. 1510 (eimí), and its counterparts, (properly) convey “straight-forward” being (existence, i.e. without explicit limits). **eimí (“is, am”)** – in the present tense, indicative mood – can be time-inclusive (“omnitemporal,” like the Hebrew imperfect tense). Only the context indicates whether the present tense also has “timeless” implications. For example, 1510 (eimí) is aptly used in Christ’s great “I am” (ego eimi . . . ) that also include His eternality (self-existent life) as our life, bread, light,” etc. See Jn 7:34, 8:58, etc.Example: Jn 14:6: “I am (1510 /eimí) the way, the truth and the life.” Here 1510 (eimí) naturally accords with the fact Christ is eternal – maning “I am (was, will be).” The “I am formula (Gk egō eimi)” harks back to God’s only name, “Yahweh” (OT/3068, “the lord”) – meaning “He who always was, is, and will be.” Compare Jn 8:58 with Ex 3:14. See also Rev 4:8 and 2962 /kýrios (“Lord”).
Must one initially believe or understand that Jesus is God, Elohim, I AM, to be saved by grace through faith and enter into covenant relationship with the Father and receive eternal life through the indwelling Holy Spirit? No…BUT…the one who is truly born again by faith in Jesus as Lord having believed with a sincere heart that Jesus Christ died to pay their sin-debt and they believe that Jesus was resurrected from the dead for their justification leading to eternal life (Romans 10:9-10), the one who is truly born again WILL UNDERSTAND AND ACKNOWLEDGE THAT JESUS CHRIST IS GOD HAVING MANIFEST IN FLESH TO PROVIDE BLOOD ATONEMENT FOR THEIR SIN. If anyone suggests they are a child of the Living God, a Christian by faith in Jesus as Lord, and they reject the deity of Jesus Christ, they do NOT possess the Holy Spirit and they remain in their sin.
It is the indwelling Holy Spirit who is our Teacher, our Wisdom, our Knowledge, concerning spiritual matters (1 John 2:27; John 14:26) and the one who possesses the Holy Spirit as Guarantor of covenant relationship with the Father by faith in Jesus as Lord (Ephesians 1:13-14) will KNOW that Jesus is God, Creator, Elohim, I AM, eternally (1 John 2:22). Do not be deceived! It is a Christian’s acknowledgement and understanding that Jesus Christ is God, eternally, that differentiates the Christian from every religion, sect, cult in the World.