How Much Faith Do We Need?
Along the timeline of employment, one of my responsibilities was to interview over a hundred prospective candidates for a relatively large Christian ministry. It was vitally important to determine the spiritual foundation of these folks given what was expected of them from our ministry. One of the primary questions I asked was, “If an 8-year-old asked you, ‘What does it take to get into Heaven’, how would you respond?” What I was asking for, in the most basic terms, was, what is the gospel message? You cannot imagine the answers I received from some seminary-trained, Bible-believing, Christian leaders.
As I illustrated in Part 1 of this two-part series, our time on this earth is just a flash, yet it determines our eternal condition. The most important decision we can make on this side of the grave is, what is our heart-centered position regarding Jesus Christ?
Faith vs. Deeds, Which Comes First
I came to Christ through Apologetics, or logical grounds for the defense of Christian doctrine. However, there was a period of time between my acceptance of Scripture as factual (head) and my acceptance of Christ as Lord and Savior (heart). During that time, I believe if I had died, I would have gone to Hell for eternity.
Our salvation does not come from a fact-based acceptance that God exists and that Jesus died for our sins. It does not come from a prayer said in our childhood or our regular church attendance. Our walk with Christ must be deeper than our works/effort or our head knowledge (Eph. 2:8-10). It must come from faith and the development of a personal relationship with our Savior (John 14:6). Juxtaposed from the internal condition of our heart is the display of that devotion to Christ through our actions and deeds. James 2:14-16 makes it clear that “faith without deeds is dead”. What separates Biblical Christianity from all other False Teachings is that the works of a Christian FOLLOW their salvation rather than precede it.
Parable of the Official’s Son
In John 4:46-54, an official traveled from Capernaum to Cana, a distance of about 20 miles, to ask Jesus to heal his son who was near death. Jesus, without leaving Cana, tells the man his son is healed, which the official immediately accepts as truth. On his way back home, the official meets one of his servants who tells him the good news that his son was healed at the exact hour Jesus spoke those words. When the official arrived back home, he told his family about the miracle and they consequently all “believed”.
This official demonstrated a heart-felt belief in acceptance of Christ’s healing from just His spoken word. Further, the official went home and “confessed with his mouth” such that his entire household believed in Christ. These are signs of internal heart-felt trust, faith, and belief in Christ. They demonstrate a willingness to share that belief openly with others.
Jesus made the point in John 6:29,36 that a belief in miracles is not enough to be saved. He also suggested that the level of “belief” required for salvation was God-produced.
- John 6:29,36 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”, But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe.
Enough Faith, Enough Belief
How can we know, for sure, if we have enough “belief” or if our friends or family have enough faith to enter Heaven?
- Matthew 17:20 He said to them, “Because of your little faith. For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.”
- Do any of us have that much faith?
- Do we know if our kids, our parents, our siblings, or our friends have enough faith, or have shown enough fruit?
- How do we know if we believe just because of the miracles Scripture present to us?
Are we/they going through the motions of Christianity and if so, how do we know if we are merely grieving the Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:30), or we never asked the Holy Spirit into our hearts in the first place?
How many people do you know who say they are Christians but show no fruit in their lives?
- Galatians 5:22-23 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things, there is no law.
- Even those who demonstrate those “fruits” could be trying to earn their way to Heaven, (False Teachings) putting works before a true relationship with Christ.
The Answer to the Question of How Much Faith
Romans 10:9-10 If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.
In responding to that question, I would offer four introspective observations.
- Do our beliefs and our faith in Christ come from our head or our heart (Ezekiel 36:26)?
- Do we feel the grieving of the Holy Spirit when we sin and are compelled to repent (Eph. 4:30, Luke 13:3)?
- Do we confess with our mouth, our faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10)?
- Do we keep God’s commandments, even the ones we disagree with (1 John 2:3-6)?
For another perspective on the faith needed for Heaven, check out our “How to get to Heaven” page and the link it provides to a Billy Graham video.