What If I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be Saved? – Once Saved.org
 

What If I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be Saved?

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In this video, I want to address what I’d say is the number one issue that people write to me about. Of all the issues out there, this one issue dominates by far in the emails that I get. People will tell me that they believe in Christ, but they also have doubts and fears that maybe their faith isn’t strong enough to save them. They go back and forth between feeling good about their relationship with the Lord and feeling despair. They accept the Bible as truth and the need for Jesus to save them, but then they see areas in their lives where they are unfaithful, where their faith is weak or nonexistent, often struggling with sin, feeling ungodly impulses, or having ungodly intrusive thoughts and behaviors that come out of nowhere. In those moments, they begin to fear that maybe their faith really isn’t strong enough to save them. They believe, but maybe not enough. If that’s you, then you’re in the right place, for we’re going to look at the terms, “faith” and “faithfulness,” and what happens when you don’t have enough. Those two terms are related, but they are not the same, and when you improperly mix them together, tying them both to your salvation, you can get really messed up in your assurance that you are truly saved. Let’s look into it.

As we look at these two terms, faith and faithfulness, two verses immediately come to mind. The first is Hebrews 11:6:

“…without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

And the second is 1 Corinthians 4:2:

“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2 KJV)

In looking at these two verses, two works stand out. The first is the word “impossible.” Without faith, it is impossible to please God. There is absolutely no way we can please God without having faith. But what does that even mean, to have faith? How much faith? And if you don’t have enough, does that mean you no longer please God? How much faith do you have to have to please God?

The second word that stands out is the word, “required.” If we are to be God’s stewards or servants, it is not just recommended or desirable, but it is absolutely required that we be found faithful. Faithfulness is a requirement.  There are no ifs, ands, or buts, in that statement. We are required to be faithful. So, what if we’re not faithful, or perhaps we are sometimes faithful but not always faithful? How faithful do you have to be? Perfectly faithful?

To address this topic, we’re going to look at four things. Here’s our outline for this video:  

  1. Definitions
    • What does “faith” mean?
    • What is the difference between “faith,” “believe,” and “faithful”?
  2. Salvation
    • Are we saved by faith alone or faith + works
      (works that demonstrate our faithfulness)?
      • James 2:24 – Justified by works, not faith alone.
      • The Ten Commandments – Do we have to obey them to be saved?
      • Matthew 7:21 – Only those who do the will of the Father will enter heaven.
    • Can a Christian be unfaithful and still be saved?
    • How much faith is required to be saved?
  3. Discipleship (After You Are Saved)
    • Is discipleship by faith alone or faith + works?
    • How much faith is required to be a good disciple?
    • The danger of improperly mixing faith and faithfulness together in your view of salvation (Loss of Assurance).
  4. Practical Applications
    • What to do when your faithfulness fails.
    • How Jesus is your Advocate.
    • How to increase your faith, making it your strongest defensive weapon.

That’s our outline for this video, and I’ve also indexed the video so you can jump to any of these topics. You can find that index either by hovering the mouse cursor over the progress bar on the video itself, or in the description.

So, let’s get into it, starting with:

1. Definitions

What Does “Faith” Mean?

The Bible defines the word “faith” in Hebrews 11:1 –

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

The first thing to note about faith is this word, “substance.” Faith is the substance of what we hope for. This word, “substance,” is the Greek word, “hypostasis,” (hoop-os’-tas-is) which comes from two Greek words, “hypo,” (hoop-o’) meaning “under,” and “istēmi,” meaning “to make firm” or “to stand.”  In other words, it means, “to make firm underneath,” “a firm foundation.”

Faith is the firm foundation upon which Christianity stands.
Faith is the firm foundation of what we hope for.

Jesus spoke of the wise man building his house upon a rock instead of sand. That rock, that foundation, is faith in Christ. Faith is our foundation.

The second word to note is the word, “evidence.” Faith is the evidence of things not seen. This word, “evidence,” is the Greek word, “elegchos,” (el’-eng-khos) which means “proof,” “that by which a thing is proved or tested.” It also means “conviction.”

The proof or evidence that we see is what gives us a strong conviction to believe that the Bible is true. We don’t believe the Bible is true because we’re told to. We believe it is true because of the evidence, the proof that it’s true, and that is what builds strong conviction and a firm foundation. 

So, to put this all together, we have a biblical definition of faith:

Faith is the firm foundation that we stand on, based on the proof or evidence that we see, leading to the strong conviction to accept that the Bible is true.

That’s what faith is. It’s not believing because you are supposed to believe. It’s not hoping something is true. Faith is the strong conviction that the Bible is true, based on the evidence that you see, giving you a firm foundation for your beliefs.

What is the Difference Between
“Faith,” “Believe,” and “Faithful”?

In New Testament Greek, we see three primary forms of the word, “faith”: as a noun, as a verb, and as an adjective. The noun form is translated as “faith,” while the verb form is translated as “believe,” and the adjective form is translated as “faithful.” All of these come from the same Greek word. Let’s look at each of these.

The Noun Form of “Faith”

The noun form of “Faith” is the Greek word, “pistis.” which means, “firm persuasion,” “a strong conviction that something is true.” It is more than just an intellectual belief that something is true. It goes beyond that, carrying the predominate idea of trust or confidence that something is true – firm persuasion, firm trust, firm confidence.

I can intellectually believe that an old wooden chair can hold me, but to have faith means I commit my trust in it to the point of being willing to sit on it. I’m committing my actions to what I believe to be true, based on the proof, the evidence that I see. 

The word, “trust,” is central to having biblical faith. We don’t just believe. We trust. That means we commit our actions to be in agreement with what we trust to be true. We sit in the wooden chair. We don’t just talk about how it can support us. We live out our faith, our belief that it can hold us, by sitting in the chair. 

Conviction – Trust – Action
All of these go together as biblical faith.

We have conviction that something is true, which leads to trust, and that trust affects our actions. It’s not intellectual agreement. It’s faith that you live, that you trust, that affects your actions.

Trust also conveys the idea of not necessarily having 100% of the facts, hence the phrase in Hebrews 11:1, “the evidence of things not seen.” We see evidence and proof of things that we can’t see with 100% clarity. It we did, we wouldn’t need faith or trust. We have faith in a God we cannot see, and we trust in His promises, based on the evidence of the Bible, archeological records, historical accounts, etc. even when the world around us is in chaos as if it were godless.

Faith is our firm foundation, our sure conviction, based on the evidence that we see, which causes us to trust and act, to live out our lives, in accord with our beliefs.

By faith, as our firm foundation, we trust that Jesus paid for all of our sins on the cross and that He alone gives us eternal life. We don’t just know that He is the Savior, but we trust that He is our Savior. We have placed our personal trust into Him, our faith, which means we’re not trusting in anything else, such as our own obedience or goodness. It is that faith, that trust, that confidence, that firm foundation in Him alone that saves us. When it comes down to it, in a biblical sense, faith is not just believing the Bible is true, but trusting in a Person, namely Christ.

“Therefore being justified by faith (pistis), we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1 KJV)

By faith, that firm foundation, that firm conviction based on evidence, we are justified, declared just by God, to where we can now have peace with God without fear.

The Verb Form of “Faith”

The verb form of “faith” is the Greek word, “pisteuō,” which means, “to believe into something to the point of committing your trust to it.” It is the word most often translated as, “believe.” Believe is simply the verb form of the word, “faith”. It is the very act of deciding to believe, deciding to place your fidelity, your trust into what you hold to be true. It is an action, a verb. It is not just accepting something to be true, but believing into it, reaching a point where you place your trust in it. That act of going from understanding something to be true to believing into it so that you place your trust in it, is what it means “to believe.”

I can understand that Christ died for my sins and hold that in my mind as being true. Biblically, that’s not what it means to believe. Biblically, to believe means I go from understanding something to be true to where I act on it by placing my trust into it. Specifically, it is going from understanding that Jesus is the Savior of the world to Him becoming MY Savior, the One in Whom I have placed my trust. I believe into Christ. I put my trust into Him to save me. I don’t just understand about Him. I activity place my trust into Him and nothing else to save me. That act of placing your trust into Him is what it means to believe.

The very moment we make the decision to place our faith, our trust, into Christ to save us, is the moment we believe in Him. We can attend church our whole lives and hold the belief that the Bible is true without ever believing into it, trusting into it that it is true for us personally, that we trust in it, into Christ. We don’t just intellectually believe that Jesus is the Christ, but we believe by committing our trust to Him as our only means of salvation, and nothing else. 

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth (pisteuō – notice that it’s a verb, an action) in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16 KJV)

To believe in Christ means we commit our trust into Him and nothing else to save us.

The Adjective Form of “Faith”

The adjective form of “faith” is the Greek word, “pistos,” which is often translates as the word, “faithful.” The word “faithful” or “pistos,” means “having proven or shown yourself to have faith.” Being faithful comes after having believed, and it carries the idea of having completed an action, having acted on the faith that you have already come to believe. In other words, it’s the proof of our faith. Our faith is proven by our faithfulness.

True “pistos,” or faithfulness, demonstrates an unshakable loyalty by our proven actions. We don’t just say something is true. We prove it by the way we live. We prove ourselves to be faithful by obeying God and doing His will, just as God proves Himself to be faithful by carrying out His commitments to us, based on His promises. You’ll generally see the word “faithful” tied to some action that proves that the person has faith and is trustworthy.

Faithful (pistos) is He that calleth you, Who also will do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:24 KJV)

Being faithful means having acted in line with our faith. 

In summary, we have all three of these English words (faith, believe, faithful) tied to the same Greek word:

pistis           noun             Faith – strong conviction, committed trust
pisteuō       verb               Believe – the act of placing your faith, trust pistos          adjective      Faithful – faith proven by action

Or, to look at it another way:

FAITH (noun) – I have strong conviction that Jesus really died on the cross to pay for my sins and rose from the dead so that I can have eternal life.

BELIEVE (verb) – Therefore, I choose to place my faith, my trust, into Him alone to save me.

FAITHFUL (adjective) – And now that I trust in Him, I want to live every day for Him, proving to myself and to others by my faithfulness that my faith is real.

Faith, believe, faithful – our strong conviction, our firm foundation based on evidence, that leads to trust, that leads to proven action.

Let’s now move to the second topic:

2. Salvation

I’m going to start this off with what might appear to some to be a controversial statement.

We are saved by FAITH, not by FAITHFULNESS.

I guarantee you, that statement will make some people uncomfortable. Salvation is based on faith alone, not based on our being faithful. We are expected to be faithful as part of discipleship, becoming more and more like Christ, but faithfulness is not what saves us. Our faithfulness or lack of faithfulness does not affect our salvation. It only gives evidence that we are already saved. Therefore, we are not saved by faithfulness. We are saved by God’s grace through our faith in Christ alone. We are not saved by the things we do, things that prove us to be faithful. It comes down to a centuries-old debate of whether salvation is based on faith or faith + works. So, let’s examine:

Are we saved by faith alone or faith + works
(works that demonstrate our faithfulness)?

To answer this debate, let’s look at three controversial areas of Scripture that seem to say we are saved by faith + works: 

  • James 2:24 – Justified by works, not faith alone.
  • The Ten Commandments – Do we have to obey them to be saved? A lot of people say that we do.
  • Matthew 7:21 – Only those who do the will of the Father will enter into heaven.

 

James 2:24 – Justified by works, not faith alone

For many Christians, there appears to be a contradiction between the writings of Paul and that of James. For Paul wrote that we are justified by faith in Christ alone:

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1 KJV)

Jesus also taught that we are saved by faith alone:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on Me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47 KJV)

By contrast, James wrote that we are justified by works, not by faith only:

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24 KJV)

On the surface, James’ statement directly contradicts the statements of Paul and Jesus. Paul says we’re justified by faith alone, Jesus confirms we are saved by faith, while James says that our justification is not based on faith alone but also on works. Which is it?

Well, let’s start with what we do know, that the Bible is the inspired Word of God, which means there can be no contradictions. God’s Word is perfect just as He is perfect. Therefore, all of these statements must be true. If one is not true, then the Bible is no longer perfect and then how do you trust any of it? All three statements must be true. So, how do you explain this difference so that they are all true statements?

Some try to say that the book of James was only written to Jews and doesn’t apply to the Church. But if that’s true, then you have multiple plans of salvation, the Church being saved by faith only, while the Jews are saved by faith plus works. That is not a solution, for the Bible teaches only one plan of salvation for all time. Also, such a position would directly contradict what Paul said about the works of the law in Romans 3:

“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight (“no flesh” includes both Jew and Gentile): for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20 KJV)

Paul said that no one has ever been saved by doing “the deeds of the law,” by doing good works of obeying God’s commandments. He said the purpose of the law was to show us that we are sinners before God, not to justify us. Doing good deeds and walking in obedience has never saved anyone because God’s standard is His own perfection. Even the best of us cannot meet that standard. Then how can works help us get saved? They can’t.

Then how do we resolve this debate about faith versus works so that James, Paul and Jesus are in agreement?

If we look at Paul’s statement:

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:” (Romans 5:1 KJV)

And then look at James’ statement:

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24 KJV)

We find that the key word in both statements is the word, “justified.” What does this word mean?

If you look this word up in Strong’s dictionary, you’ll find that the word, “justified,” in the Greek can be used in two different ways. It has a dual usage.

The word, “justified,” is translated from the Greek word, “dikaioō.” (dik-ah-yo’-o) Strongs lists three definitions of this Greek word:

1. To render righteous or to cause one to be righteous.

2. To declare, pronounce, one to be just, righteous.

These first two definitions describe what God does. Through our faith in Christ:

  • God renders us righteous in His sight or causes us to be righteous.
  • He declares, pronounces us to be just, righteous.

But Strongs give us a third definition of this word “justified,” meaning:

3. To show, exhibit, evince, one to be righteous, such as he is and wishes himself to be considered.

This third definition describes what we do to give evidence that we are now saved:

  • We show ourselves, we exhibit, we give evidence that we are now righteous, such as we are and wish to be considered.

This Greek word for “justified” can be used in these two different ways: One referring to what God does to save us, declaring a sinner to be just and righteous through faith in Christ, while the other usage is that of referring to what we do as saved believers, giving evidence that we are in fact now righteous in God’s sight. One usage is describing what God does, the other describing our response and what we do after we are saved. We give evidence in our behavior, by what we do, that we are now righteous children of God. We are justified by God in His sight, and then by our actions we show ourselves to be justified, confirming to us and to those around us that we are truly saved.

How do we know which of these two usages James intended when he used the word, “justified”? Was he talking about what God does to save us, or about what we do to show ourselves to be saved? Which usage did James intend?

Let’s let Scripture tell us. In James 2:24, James wrote:

“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” (James 2:24 KJV)

But just a few verses later, he wrote this at the start of chapter 3:

“For in many things we offend all…” (James 3:2 KJV)

This word “offend” means in the Greek, “to fall, to stumble, to sin, to become wretched.” James is talking about sin in this verse and he’s speaking to believers, saying that we all sin in many things we do. Let me ask you: If we all sin in many things we do, even to the point of wretchedness before a perfectly holy God, then how can our works be a cause of our salvation? 

James isn’t talking about being saved by faith plus works. In telling the church that “for in many things we offend all,” James’ concern is that these people in the church are not acting like they are saved. Their behavior doesn’t match who they say they are in Christ. Their behavior is even to the point of offending, being wretched. That’s why he wrote the letter. They are not exhibiting evidence that they are justified, saved, in Christ. 

That sounds a lot like this third definition of the word, “justified:”

3. We show ourselves, we exhibit, we give evidence that we are now righteous, such as we are and wish to be considered.

James was concerned about the behavior of these people who were gathering together as the church and who called themselves, “Christians,” but they weren’t acting like Christians. They weren’t giving evidence that they are now justified, that they wanted to be seen as being justified. That’s why James wrote this letter.

And that goes along with the main theme of the book of James, which is found in chapter 1:

“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” (James 1:22 KJV)

James was concerned that these people in the church may not even be saved but may have deceived themselves into thinking they were saved, because their behavior didn’t match that of people who were saved, people who had been declared justified and righteous. They weren’t exhibiting, or showing evidence, that they were saved. He follows this up by saying:

 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” (James 2:17 KJV)

And:

“Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” (James 2:18-19 KJV)

James isn’t talking about the requirement of works to be saved. He’s talking about how when someone is saved, they should be showing or giving evidence by their good works that they are saved. There should be a change. Truly saved Christians are to show their faith by their works. The works don’t save them. They only show or give evidence that they are already saved. If all you have is in intellectual belief that the Bible is true and there’s no change in your life, then you are no better than the devil, for he also believes that the Bible is true. That’s what James is saying.

Why must there be a change? Why must there be evidence that you are justified? Because when you are saved, you are changed on this inside. 

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)

You’re changed because God’s Holy Spirit now lives inside you and will remain sealed inside you until you are fully redeemed with an eternal body.

“…after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 KJV)

If God’s Spirit now lives inside you, you ought to be seeing proof of a changed life, evidence that something has changed to make you more like Christ, that Christ now lives in you, not to prove to God that you are saved because He already knows, but to give YOU and others around you the assurance that you are truly saved and not just believing something intellectually.

That doesn’t mean you will walk in perfect obedience, for we still live in fleshly bodies and struggle with sin. Some sin habits can take a long time from which to break free. Still, there ought to be some evidence of salvation that you can see, a change in heart, a change in attitude, a change in direction, to justify or prove in your own mind that you have been saved. 

James wanted to see evidence of their salvation, to which Paul wholeheartedly agrees.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 2 that we are saved by faith alone, but then after being saved, we should be doing the good works God has prepared for us. The first part is salvation. The second part is discipleship, which follows salvation:

SALVATION

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV)

DISCIPLESHIP

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 KJV)

Verse 10 uses the phrase, “in Christ Jesus.” To be “in Christ” means you are already saved. Salvation has already happened. Verse 10 is not about salvation, becoming saved. It’s about discipleship, becoming more and more like Christ after you are saved. After we are saved, we should be more and more doing the good works God has prepared for us to do. We should be giving evidence of our salvation, exactly what James said, so that we ourselves can see that we’re saved and have assurance within our own minds, and to give witness to others that we are truly saved.

So, as we look back now at all three statements made by Paul, Jesus, and James, we come to this conclusion:

Paul, Jesus, and James are in agreement. All of these statements are true. We are saved by faith, but after being saved, we should be doing good works to give evidence of our salvation. The good works don’t save us. Instead, they justify or give evidence that our salvation is real. Paul, James and Jesus are in agreement. There is no conflict, no contradiction between them.

The Ten Commandments – Do we have to obey them to be saved?

Again, let’s let Scripture tell us the answer. In many places, Paul writes that we are no longer under the law. Here’s one example from Romans 6:

“For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace.” (Romans 6:14 KJV)

I’ve had a number of people write to me, saying that when Paul says we are no longer under the law, that he wasn’t including the Ten Commandments. They say he was only speaking of the Mosaic law governing Temple worship. That’s what we are no longer under. But we are definitely still under the Ten Commandments, they say, which are not part of that Mosaic law. They say that obeying the Ten Commandments is definitely required to be saved. How about it? 

In saying that we are no longer under the law, was Paul only speaking of the Mosaic law and not the Ten Commandments and therefore, we’re still required to obey the Ten Commandments to be saved?

What does Scripture say? Well, to those of you who still believe we have to obey the Ten Commandments to be saved, Scripture totally disagrees. Here’s what Paul wrote in Romans 7:

“But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not in the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet.” (Romans 7:6-7 KJV)

In this passage, Paul says “we are delivered from the law.” That means we are no longer under the law. Obeying the law is not a requirement for salvation. We’ve been delivered from the law. We are now under grace.

But then Paul does something interesting that settles this debate as to whether the Ten Commandments are part of “the law.” First, he shows us the purpose of the law, which is to prove that we are sinners, saying, “I had not known sin, but by the law.” The purpose of the law was to reveal that we are all sinners who need to be saved. That’s why God gave the law, not to save us by the law, but to show that we need a Savior.

But then He gives an example saying, “I had not known lust, except the law said, Thou shalt not covet.” Paul singles out and lists the tenth Commandment, Thou shalt not covet, as being part of the law that we are no longer under. This proves that, according to Paul, the Ten Commandments are part of the law which he repeatedly says that we are no longer required to obey to be saved. Clearly, Scripture teaches that the Ten Commandments are part of the law. And clearly Paul says we are no longer under the law but under grace. We do not have to obey the Ten Commandments to be saved. I didn’t invent this. Paul said it. This proves it.

Therefore, obeying the Ten Commandments has nothing, NOTHING, to do with salvation. Our salvation does not require that we obey the Ten Commandments. However, after we are saved, as part of discipleship, where we learn to become more and more like Christ, God expects us to walk obediently as Christ did. As part of discipleship after we are already saved, yes, we are to obey the Ten Commandments. But that is discipleship, after we are saved, and it has nothing to do with salvation.

I want you to hear me clearly. I’m not throwing out the Ten Commandments. I’m just showing how Paul says that obeying them is not required to be saved. But for discipleship, after we’re saved, yes obeying the Ten Commandments and all of God’s commandments are expected. We will not lose salvation if we don’t, but to become more and more like Christ in our discipleship means we are more and more learning to obey God. Obedience is important, but it’s part of discipleship, not salvation.

Salvation is a gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. We are saved by faith alone and then afterwards, as part of discipleship, yes, we are to obey the Ten Commandments. But whether we do or don’t does not affect our salvation, which is by faith in Christ alone. For we have been delivered from the law.

The next argument typically raised by people who say we are saved by faith + works comes from Matthew 7.

Matthew 7:21 – Only those who do the will of the Father will enter heaven.

In Matthew 7, Jesus made a very clear statement:

“Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21 KJV)

Many say that this proves that to be saved, you not only have to believe in Christ, but you also have to do the will of the Father. In other words, you have to have faith + works, obeying all of the Father’s commandments. But is that what Jesus is saying?

The real question here is this: What is “the will of the Father”?

How about if we let Jesus define what “the will of the Father” means? He told us plainly in John 6:

“And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on Him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40 KJV)

According to Jesus, to do the will of the Father means to believe on Him. That means salvation by faith alone, trusting only in Jesus to save you, not trusting in that plus your good works. 

In fact, in the very next verse of Matthew 7, Jesus said that those who believe in faith + works to save them are the very ones who will NOT enter the kingdom of heaven:

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy name? and in Thy name have cast out devils? and in Thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:22-23 KJV)

These people believe in Jesus. They call Him their Lord. They have faith. But they also believe their salvation depends on their works, faith + works. And when they stand before Jesus, they show that they believe, calling Him Lord, and then they point out to Him that they also have “done many wonderful works,” thinking that those good words would certainly justify them in His sight. They have faith + works. Jesus doesn’t deny their works. But He rejects them. They will not be allowed to enter the kingdom of heaven. They will not be saved.

Why?

Because they aren’t trusting solely in Christ to save them. They believe in Christ, but they also believe in themselves, that they have to show good works, to prove themselves worthy to be saved. They are trusting in Christ and also trusting in themselves, which means they are not trusting only in Christ, 100%. And Christ rejects them, those who believe in faith + works.

Paul spoke of such people who believe in faith + works in Romans 10, where he wrote:

“For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness (through their works), have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:3-4 KJV)

No good work we do makes us worthy of salvation. God’s standard is perfection and no good work we do can meet that standard. People who believe in faith + works are not believing the Gospel, that we are saved only through faith in Christ. They are still holding onto the notion that they need to justify themselves by their good works, by their obedience. Christ did His part, and now they have to do their part. That position of needing faith + works is a complete rejection of the Gospel.

So, looking back at Matthew 7:21, the meaning is clear:

Only those who “do the will of the Father”
(believe in Christ alone to save them) will enter the kingdom of heaven.

Those who believe in Christ but also believe that they need good works will be rejected for they have not believed the Gospel. They believe another gospel that isn’t the Gospel at all. If that’s you, you need to repent and believe the true Gospel, that we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone, not by works. That’s what Matthew 7 teaches. That’s what Paul teaches. That’s what James teaches. They are all in agreement. No contradictions.

This leads to the next question:

Can a Christian be unfaithful and still be saved?

What happens when a saved Christian is completely unfaithful. Will that Christian be saved? 

The answer is yes. We are saved by faith alone and not by faithfulness. Therefore, unfaithfulness after we’re saved does not affect our salvation. To prove this, we have two examples in Scripture.

The first example is in 1 Corinthians 5, where a saved Christian was living unfaithfully in unrepentant sexual immorality by sleeping with his father’s wife. The church confronted him, but he refused to change his behavior. He remained unrepentant. 

Therefore, Paul wrote that he had decided:

“To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5 KJV)

This unrepentant Christian would be put to physical death, delivered unto Satan for the destruction of his flesh. But then it says his spirit would still be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus. How could he possibly be saved if he was living in sexual immorality and was totally unrepentant? The only way, the ONLY way, is if all of his sins (past, present, and future, those very sins that he was committing) were forgiven the moment he believed on Christ to save him. He was standing forever cleansed by the blood of Christ, even while engaging in unrepentant sin. That doesn’t mean he had license to sin, for he was going to be put to physical death. God was going to take him home early, not as punishment for sin because that sin was paid for already on the cross. God was going to take him home early out of mercy to keep the church pure and to keep him from going even farther into destructive sin. We never want to push God to that point. There’s still a penalty for sin for a Christian, but it’s not the loss of salvation. If you’ve got a sin problem in your life, put an end to it before God does. You won’t lose your salvation, but it won’t be pleasant.

A second example of unfaithful Christians being saved is found in 1 Corinthians 3, describing what will happen to Christians who have no good works at the Judgment Seat of Christ. As Christians, we will all stand before Christ at His Judgment Seat, where we will give an account of our lives. Christ will judge us, those who are saved, for our works, how faithfully or unfaithfully we lived for Him after we were saved. This is not a judgment for salvation, for we are saved by faith, not by works. This is a judgment of our discipleship, what we did with our lives AFTER being saved. Paul makes it clear that even those who live unfaithfully, who have no good works to show for their lives, will still be saved. This is strictly a judgment of our discipleship works where we can receive or lose rewards that go beyond salvation. Paul wrote:

“If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15 KJV)

Christians who live for themselves and have no good works for Christ will still be saved. Their works on earth will be burned up and deemed worthless in Christ’s evaluation, and they may lose rewards in heaven that they could have had. But those people will still be saved.

God’s forgiveness is complete the moment we trust in Christ for our salvation. Even if we live unfaithfully, we will still be saved. We may well lose rewards at the Judgement Seat of Christ, and like the first example, if we are truly unfaithful God can reach a point where He may discipline us, even up to the point of putting us to physical death, taking us home early. But salvation is never taken away. Salvation is not a reward for our behavior. It is a free gift, given by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. It can never be earned by our good behavior, and it can never be lost by our bad behavior, because again, salvation is a free gift that comes by faith in Christ alone.

Ok, so if we’re saved by faith alone, then how much faith is needed?

How much faith is required to be saved?

What people who ask this question are fearfully thinking is that maybe they don’t have enough faith to be saved. How much is enough? I’m going to answer this by first giving a statement that again may seem controversial but is actually fairly obvious once you understand it.

The faith required to be eternally saved is very narrow and small.

Too many people write to me asking things like: “What if I have doubts about the Bible? What if I don’t believe some of the things like Noah’s ark or the rapture? What if I have a bad thought about God or intrusive sinful thoughts? Do these things mean I’m not saved because I don’t have enough faith to believe God’s Word and live it?”

 It comes down to the question of how much faith it takes to get saved. And I’ll tell you the answer:

Salvation requires very little faith, even as small as a mustard seed, as Jesus put it.

To be eternally saved requires only a little faith. The thief on the cross probably had the least amount of faith. All he said to Jesus was:

“…Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” (Luke 23:42 KJV)

That’s it. That’s all he said. That’s how little faith he had, to which Jesus replied:

“…Verily I say unto thee, to day shalt thou be with Me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43 KJV)

It only takes a small amount of faith to be eternally saved. But what specifically is that amount? What do you have to believe to have enough faith for salvation? Today we know more about what happened after the thief said those words, after the cross. We know how the story ended. So, what about today?

How Much Faith is Enough? It’s still just a small amount. It’s believing the three parts of the Gospel. Paul tells us those three parts in 1 Corinthians 15: 

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that
(1) Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures;
And that
(2) He was buried, and that
(3) He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures
:”
(1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV)

This is the amount of faith you have to have to be saved. It’s not much, just three things.

These are the three things you have to believe to be saved. It’s the Gospel. These are the three things you have to place your trust in:

  1. That Christ died for your sins, which means recognizing that you are a sinner before God who needs to be saved and that Jesus is the only One Who can save you.
  2. That He was buried, having died on the cross in your place, a sentence you and I deserve.
  3. That He rose again the third day. Because he rose from the dead, we too can have that eternal life.

That’s it. That’s the Gospel. Those three things. Having enough faith to be saved means you have faith in those three things alone to save you, nothing more. You can question Noah’s ark and a hundred other things. You can struggle with sin and have bad thoughts, all those things that make you worry about your salvation. But if you came to a point in your life where you believed in just those three things and put your trust in them, trusting in Christ and His promise to save you, you are eternally saved. That’s all the faith you have to have – trusting in those three things. And once you are saved, you can never lose it, because salvation is a gift, not a reward for good behavior.

These three parts make up the entire Gospel. It is having faith in the Gospel that saves you. You can have doubts and struggles with sin in a hundred different ways, but if you have believed in and trusted in these three parts of the Gospel, you are forever eternally saved. And once you are saved, that can never be lost because salvation is a gift of God’s grace, His unmerited favor, not a reward.

To further show that your salvation cannot be lost, consider this verse from Romans 11:

“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” (Romans 11:29 KJV)

In most cases in the New Testament, the word “repentance” is from the Greek word, “metanoia,” which means, “a change of mind.” That would be fine in this case, saying that when God gives us a gift, He’s not going to change His mind. But in this verse, a much stronger Greek word is used. In this verse, the words “without repentance” are translated from one single word in the Greek, the word, “ametamelētos,” which means, “irrevocable.”  The gifts and the calling of God are “irrevocable.” They cannot be revoked. Most translations other than the King James use the word “irrevocable” in this verse.

If salvation is a gift and a calling, which is it, it is irrevocable. Your salvation can never be revoked, or else this statement is a lie. But God never lies, so this statement must be true. Your salvation, which is a gift and a calling of God’s grace through faith in Christ alone, is irrevocable. It can never be revoked, no matter what. It can never be taken back or cancelled, regardless of how faithfully or unfaithfully you live after you are saved. That’s eternal security. That’s Once Saved, Always Saved. 

How much faith is required to be saved?

The faith required to be eternally saved is very narrow and small. (It is believing the Gospel)

That’s it.

And that’s a great lead-in to our next topic:

3. Discipleship (After You Are Saved)

Christian faith is more than just getting saved. It is about becoming saved so that we can then become disciples of Christ, becoming like Him in the way we live our lives, becoming faithful. Again, the word “faithful” means “proven faith,” “giving proof or evidence that we have saving faith by our actions, how live.” Our faithfulness gives proof or evidence that we have saving faith.

We need faith to be saved. We then need to be faithful to be good disciples.  Living faithfully for Christ is discipleship, how you live AFTER you are saved. Salvation is no longer an issue. That is secure. It can never be revoked. From that point onward, the issue then becomes how to live like Christ, to live faithfully for God, how to be a good disciple. 

Let’s take that same question we asked about salvation and ask it about discipleship, living for Christ after we’re already saved.

Is Discipleship by Faith Alone or Faith + Works?

We’ve proven that salvation is by faith alone, not by faith + works. Discipleship, however, AFTER you are saved, is NOT by faith alone. Discipleship is by faith + works. 

Again, in Ephesians 2, Paul tells us first about salvation and then about discipleship:

SALVATION

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV)

DISCIPLESHIP

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10 KJV)

We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. It is a free gift that can never be lost. It can never be revoked. But after we’re saved comes discipleship in verse 10. Paul used the phrase, “in Christ Jesus,” which refers to someone who is already in Christ, already saved. Verse 10 is not a salvation verse. Verse 10 is talking about life AFTER you are saved, after you are in Christ. It is about becoming a disciple of Christ. As good disciples of Christ, we are to do the good works God has prepared for us to do. Discipleship is about faith that leads to good works. Or said another way, good discipleship produces good works. Good discipleship requires faith + works. It requires us to be faithful in how we live.

To be a disciple means to be an apprentice, one who is learning to become like his or her Master. At first, we won’t be very good at it. But over time, we should be learning to become more and more like Jesus, doing more and more good works that God has prepared for us to do. We become mature in our faith and in our faithfulness.

While salvation is a one-time commitment of faith, discipleship is a lifelong development of faithfulness.

And along the way, there will be times when our faithfulness to God will fail. Our salvation won’t fail, but our faithfulness will, because we’re still that apprentice, we’re still immature in our faith, we’re still learning to become like our Master. Discipleship is a lifelong development of faithfulness.

How much faith is required to be a good disciple?

Earlier, I said:

The faith required to be eternally saved is very narrow and small.

It only requires believing the three parts of the Gospel. That’s it.

By contrast:

The faith required to become a good disciple of Christ after being saved is very broad and large. In fact, it’s enormous, even infinite.

Salvation requires very little faith, even as small as a mustard seed, as Jesus put it. But then, after you are saved,

Discipleship requires enormous faith, so much faith that you will never have enough. It takes enormous faith to become a strong disciple of Christ, following in His footsteps, becoming like Him, living sacrificially for others instead of yourself. Hebrews 11 lists some of the champions of faith, some of whom were sawn in two because they had the courage to stand on their faith, even when it meant dying a painful death for God. Some first century Christians were burned at the stake or fed to lions because they were determined to remain faithful. That required enormous faith.

Consider Abraham. Hebrews 11 says, 

“By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.” (Hebrews 11:8 KJV)

God told Abraham to pack up all of his belongings and head out from his home, never to return. A logical question Abraham probably asked was, “Lord, where am I going and how long will this journey take?” To which God replied, “You don’t need to know that. Just go.”  

Imagine God telling you that today, to just pack up everything you own in your car and go. So, you load up the car and just start driving, not having any idea where you are going or how long it will take. Do you go north, south, east, west? Which direction? When should you stop? You ask God but He doesn’t answer. He just told you to go. At that point, you have to make a decision: Do you need all the answers up front, or can you just go, trusting that the One Who told you to go will make it all work out OK? Abraham just went, not knowing where he was going or how long it will take, and it was a long journey that took a long time. He just kept going until God told him to stop. His faithful actions gave evidence of his faith in God.

One of the scary parts of discipleship that can cause us to fail in our faithfulness is that quite often God will tell us to do something and not tell us why or how. Like Abraham, God may not even give us a clear picture of where we are going. He’ll tell us to do step 1 and not tell us what step 2 is until we obey step 1. Do we trust God even when we don’t have any of the answers? Do we trust Him to do what’s good and right to the point where we don’t even need to know the answers?

Or, consider Moses:

In Exodus 4, God told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let His people go. Moses’ first reaction was to make excuses as to why he could not do that.

“And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue. And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?” (Exodus 4:10-11 KJV)

Who was Moses to tell the Lord that he was not eloquent enough to deliver a message, and therefore could not do what God had called him to do? God will often pick an area that we are weak in, so that we have to trust in Him and not in our own skills or abilities. God may tell us to do something that is totally one of our weaknesses. He may say to someone who is afraid to talk in public, “Go stand on that street corner and preach the Gospel. Oh, and bring a microphone with a loudspeaker.”

We wouldn’t need faith to do something we’re already skilled at. God intentionally picks things we’re not skilled at so that we have to depend on Him, we have to exercise faith. Such faithfulness can require enormous faith and trust in the One Who is asking you to do something.

Discipleship is about walking by faith, without knowing all the answers or even where we’re going, without having the skills or experience to do what God is asking you to do, but instead trusting that God will provide you with those skills in the moment when you need them. It’s about having faith in the character of God to always do what is right and good, that He will never let us down. As disciples of Christ, we are to walk by faith.

Being faithful is not just about obedience, but about trusting in the character of God to always do what’s right when you don’t have all the answers or abilities, and to still do what He says anyway.

You’re not skilled enough. You don’t know enough. But you do it anyway, because you trust in Him. It takes time and maturity in Christ, becoming His disciple, to develop that kind of faithfulness. It doesn’t happen overnight.

For this reason,

The faith required to become a good disciple of Christ after being saved is very broad and large (trusting Him in every area of your life and following Him faithfully).

We’ll never have enough faith for that on our own. That’s why we need to depend on Him. Thankfully, that enormous level of faith is not what is required to be saved. 

But here’s where I see a lot of Christians make a mistake, and it has to do with:

The danger of improperly mixing faith and faithfulness
together in your view of salvation (Loss of Assurance).

We are saved by faith, not by faithfulness. 
To be saved requires only faith in the Gospel. Salvation does not require faithfulness, how we act and what we do with our faith. Discipleship does, but not salvation. But if a Christian mistakenly starts linking faithfulness to their understanding of salvation, that Christian can get really messed up in their understand of what it means to be saved, resulting in a loss of assurance. They see unfaithfulness in their lives and immediately begin questioning whether they are truly saved, becoming fearful that maybe their faith isn’t strong enough to save them, for if they are truly saved, they would be faithful. The state of their salvation hasn’t changed, but the assurance within themselves that they are saved begins to get shaky, and they become fearful.

The Correct View: Faithfulness is part of discipleship, not salvation. It can take a long time for a new Christian to learn to walk faithfully, to be like Christ. A saved person should live faithfully. God wants and expects His children to live faithfully. But that can take time, especially for someone new to the faith who may still have addictions to sin that need to be worked out. 

Just because you are unfaithful DOES NOT mean you are not saved. Maybe you just need to grow in your Christian maturity, your discipleship.

Don’t link faith and faithfulness together in your view of salvation. As long as you have believed (trusted in) those three points of the Gospel (that Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose again from the dead), you are and will remain eternally saved. And your salvation is irrevocable. It is not dependent on your faithfulness.

Instead of doubting your salvation, question your discipleship, your walk with Christ now that you are saved. And ask God for help. Maybe the Holy Spirit inside you is prompting you to move on toward maturity in Christ. Ask God how to grow in Christ and ask Him to help you in those areas of unfaithfulness. He will help you! He is a good Father, the best. That’s the kind of prayer He loves to answer. 

Here’s the other part of this danger of mixing faith and faithfulness in your view of salvation:

One of the primary weapons Satan uses against Christians is to get them to doubt their salvation. If he can do that, then those Christians become unfruitful and have no power, because they are not walking in faith, but in fear and doubt. Their focus turns inward on themselves instead of outward in taking the Gospel to others. Don’t give Satan that victory in your life. Remain firm in trusting the simple Gospel. That’s all you need for salvation.

Then, when you see unfaithfulness in your life, simply recognize that you need to become more mature in your discipleship of Christ, to become more transformed to be like Him. It’s not a salvation issue. It’s not salvation that you need. It’s discipleship! 

Then, ask God how He would have you become more transformed to be like Christ. What’s the next step He would have you take? That’s a whole different question than, “Am I really saved?” That approach will bring you peace of mind and it will keep you moving on an upward trajectory, because you remain firm in knowing that you are saved, firmly trusting in Christ, because you have believed and trusted in the three parts of the Gospel, which is all you need for salvation.

Salvation itself cannot be lost. But your assurance of salvation within yourself can be lost when you fail to separate the ongoing, daily process of growing in faithfulness to the one-time act of faith where you asked Christ to save you. 

Faith has to do with salvation. Faithfulness has to do with discipleship, living out your faith. Faith for salvation will never fail. Faithfulness will fail from time to time, because we’re not perfected yet.

To sum up these differences between faith and faithfulness, salvation and discipleship, I’ll refer back to a chart I used in an earlier video.

First come salvation – we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. The very moment we believe in Christ to save us, we are eternally saved. All of our sins (past, present, and future) are washed away and the penalty of sin, which is death, eternal separation from God, is forever removed. We are declared just, righteous, holy and sanctified. We are given Christ’s own holiness, His righteousness. We no longer stand in our own righteousness. We stand forever in His righteousness. We are adopted into God’s family so that we are now a child of God. More than that, God’s Holy Spirit indwells us at that moment and is sealed inside of us. That means for all eternity, we have a new position, a new identity of being “in Christ.” That is now who we are. It will never change. It cannot be revoked. In God’s eyes, we are now 100% holy and righteousness, because we stand in Christ’s righteousness. That will never change for all eternity.

But then right after salvation comes discipleship.

Discipleship is where we learn to be faithful. Day-by-day we are to become more like Christ. We learn to walk in faith, to live our lives faithfully. Where in salvation, the penalty of sin was removed the moment we believed in Christ, in discipleship, the practice of sin is now removed day-by-day as we learn more and more to live like Jesus. We gradually learn to walk in our new identity, that of being a just, righteous, holy, sanctified, child of God. And we will never in this life be perfect at it because we’re not perfected yet.

But there’s coming a day, at the rapture, at the resurrection, when we’ll be given our eternal bodies that are perfected. At that moment, not only have the penalty of sin and the practice of sin been removed, but the very presence of sin will be forever removed. We will then be perfected to live in God’s presence.

So, if you are a Christian who is struggling, don’t let yourself be discouraged. Recognize that your salvation is forever secure. Recognize that it’s your discipleship that needs work and that’s ok. We’re all imperfect and need to grow in Christ. Ask God to help you do that. And be encouraged that there’s coming a day when you will be perfect in body, mind, soul and spirit. God will see to that, so that you can live forever in His perfect presence. He will not let you down.  

Now, for our last topic: 

4. Practical Applications

Let’s get practical, starting with:

What to do when your faithfulness fails.

I’ve already mentioned some of this, but just to recap. When your faithfulness fails, what should you do?

First, don’t tie your moments of faithlessness to your salvation. We just went through this. Faithfulness has nothing to do with salvation. Faith does. We will spend a lifetime learning to walk in faithfulness, failing at times to live like Christ, whereas faith for salvation is a one-time commitment to trust in Christ that lasts forever.

Recognize that struggling to overcome sin, dealing with sinful thoughts, failing to obey God, all are part of discipleship, not salvation. We need to grow in our discipleship, whereas we are already perfected in our salvation.

Second, don’t give up your inner assurance of your salvation. As far as God is concerned, you are totally assured of your salvation the moment you placed your faith in Christ. But within yourself, within your mind, you can easily lose that sense of assurance if you incorrectly tie faithfulness you see in your life to your salvation, because you will fail in your faithfulness from time to time.

Don’t give up your inner assurance of salvation when you see your own failures of living faithfully. Recognize that your faithfulness is a work in progress, until you are finally and forever with Christ.

Third, ask God to help you with that challenge, remembering the perfect character of God. God is perfect in His character and love for you. He is eager to help you become mature in your discipleship. He’s not angry or looking to condemn you. Simply admit to God your struggle with faithfulness and ask Him how to do better.

God never condemns His children. He is always faithful to love His children and provides for them. In moments of our unfaithfulness, God is always there to help us, not condemn us. All condemnation was forever settled on the cross. He is a good Father, the best. We don’t need to be fearful. Instead, we can come boldly into His presence and ask for help, knowing that He is character and love for us never changes.

Forth, practice doing good. When we don’t see evidence of salvation through good works, we can begin to mistakenly question our salvation. That leads to fear, doubt and worry. Instead of walking confidently with God, we begin to fear that maybe we’ve blown it, or maybe we’ve just been deceiving ourselves that we’re really saved. We can lose the assurance of salvation within ourselves. 

For that problem, James gives this cure:

“But be ye doers of the word…” (James 1:22 KJV)

Develop the practice of being a doer of the Word. Paul would agree with that. Be deliberate about it. Find ways to demonstrate your salvation. Make every effort to give evidence that you are saved and are moving in the right direction, becoming more and more like Christ in righteousness. When you see that evidence of a changed life, it strengthens your assurance of salvation, and it calms those fears. You become sure and confident, walking with God, as you see and sense His Holy Spirit at work within you. Practice being a doer of the Word.

How Jesus is your Advocate.

In 1 John 2, John tells us that Jesus is our Advocate:

“My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:” (1 John 2:1 KJV)

This word, “Advocate,” means “one who pleads another’s cause before a judge.” Jesus is our Advocate. There’s a dual application of this: one is for salvation, the other discipleship. For salvation, Jesus stands before the Father when we sin and testifies that our sin is covered by His blood, which is why salvation can never be lost.

But the other application is for discipleship. John didn’t write this to the unsaved, but to the Church, those who are already saved, telling us that Jesus is our Advocate.

Why would we need an Advocate if we’re already saved?

For discipleship – He’s saying that when our faithfulness fails and we sin in our daily walk, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous, Who will help us. How does He help us?

For that, we can look to the example of Peter when he denied the Lord three times. Jesus gave us a glimpse of what it means to have an Advocate, when He said to Peter:

“And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.” (Luke 22:31-32 KJV)

Peter’s faith in Christ never failed, but his faithfulness did fail. It failed in a major way. But we see Christ already praying for Peter before it all happened that his faith would not fail, and it didn’t. He never lost faith in Christ, even though he acted unfaithfully. 

The phrase, “and when thou art converted,” is not talking about salvation. The word, “converted,” means “to turn around,” “to return.” Peter strayed in his faithfulness, but Christ was praying for him to return, to recover from that fall. Because Christ was praying for Peter, Christ told him that He was sure that Peter would return to a state of faithfulness. And when he returned to that faithfulness, Christ told him to “strengthen thy brethren.”

Did you know that when you fail in your faithfulness that Christ is already praying for you? We all need to be strengthened, every one of us. And we each have an Advocate, Jesus, praying for us on our behalf, first that our faith will not fail, but then also to give us strength to live faithfully and to help us to recover when we fail.

In moments when you fail, call upon Jesus, your Advocate, to help you. He’s already praying for you. The more you ask, the more He will help. And He will be faithful, always faithful, to help you. So, ask Him. Submit whatever you are struggling with to Him and ask Him to help you.

This is not a battle you have to fight on your own. Then, when you recover, be ready to help those around you who may be struggling.

Then the last practical application:

How to increase your faith,
making it your strongest defensive weapon.

It should be to goal of every Christian to increase his or her faith. We are saved by faith alone, and that saving faith can be very small, like that of the thief on the cross. But after we are saved, God wants us to live faithfully. Our faithfulness, our ability to walk faithfully, is powered by our faith. If our faith never increases and we stay just at the lowest level of faith required for salvation, then it’s going to be very difficult to walk faithfully, as trials and temptations come our way. We need to be increasing our faith every day.

In Ephesians 6, Paul listed faith as our primary defensive weapon, our shield, that protects us from the assaults of the enemy and helps or enables us to walk faithfully before God.

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” (Ephesians 6:16 KJV)

Paul used the words, “above all,” meaning that this taking up of the shield of faith is the most importing thing we can do as saved Christians to defend ourselves. He says that there are fiery darts being thrown at us and the one thing that will protect us and quench those fiery darts is our faith. 

Do you struggle against temptations, against sin, having impure thoughts, ungodliness? Welcome to the world we live in. This fallen world is working nonstop, 24/7, to lead everyone in it, including Christians, away from God. Every form of media is being used to reshape our thinking in ungodly ways. If left unchallenged, that will result in ungodly behavior.

Above all, we need to increase our faith and make that shield as strong as possible. Do you desire to have a triumphant walk of faithfulness and joy, instead of guilt or shame? Increase your faith. It is your #1 defense.

But how? How do you increase faith? Paul told us in Romans 10:

“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.” (Romans 10:17 KJV)

Faith is a gift from God. The way He bestows that gift is through the hearing of His Word. The more you are into the Word of God, or rather the more you let God’s Word get into you, the more your faith will grow, and the less likely you will be deceived by the enemy.

Absorbing God’s Word into your mind, into your heart, is what builds faith. 

If you don’t grow your faith through the Word of God, you will be easy prey for the enemy’s attacks. You won’t be able to stand.

This is critical. God wants you to stand. He wants you to live a victorious Christian life that honors Him. We all want that, too. The way to do that is through a deliberate decision to increase our faith through the Word of God. 

Let’s talk about how. How do you increase faith through the Word of God?

Each of us is different. Our personalities are different. Each of us is gifted in different ways. The way that works for me may not be the best way that works for you.  Find what works for you. Ask God. Let Him tell you.

Let me give you 5 recommendations for increasing faith. These work for me. Adjust these, maybe add a few more, so that they fit who you are, your personality. The important thing is to have a plan for increasing your faith. It won’t happen unless you take deliberate steps.

Here are my 5 recommendations for increasing faith:

  1. Read significant portions of God’s Word every day.
    Be deliberate. Start a reading plan. It doesn’t have to take long, even under a half hour, or split it up and read portions throughout the day. Doing this brings your mind back to the center of God’s Word every day and keeps you on track. I use a “Through the Bible in a Year” daily reading plan that gives me every day a chapter in the Old Testament, a Psalm, and a Chapter in the New Testament. With the plan I’m on, by the end of the year, I will have read through the Old Testament once, and the New Testament twice. There are numerous plans out there, including devotional plans. Pick one that interests you. Mine is an online plan that’s available for free. It’s called YouVersion and there’s a mobile YouVersion app you can download to your phone:

    https://www.youversion.com 
    I use the “Robert Roberts” plan.

    If you are not familiar with the Bible, before jumping into a plan, I would start with the New Testament book of John, followed by Romans. If you understand those two books, you understand the most important parts of the Bible, Who Jesus is and God’s plan of salvation and redemption. 

  2. Have a good study Bible that allows you to look up commentaries and the meaning of words.
    The one I use most often is an online Bible called Blue Letter Bible. It’s available on PC or on a mobile phone app. Here’s the address:

    https://www.blueletterbible.org  

  3. Memorize God’s Word daily.
    This is the one thing that has transformed my discipleship the most. I spend only a few minutes each day reviewing verses that I’ve memorized. It will jumpstart your faith by building that strong foundation of knowing God’s Word in your heart and mind.

    Start with verses on salvation to build your sense of salvation assurance. I did a 21-day series on Salvation Assurance that lists many of the verses you can memorize. Memorization is the fastest way to transform your mind and build faith. It’s not that hard. Just pick one verse that means something to you and memorize it. Repeat it back daily until you have it memorized. Then pick another verse. At the end of the year, you will have over a hundred verses memorized by spending only a couple of minutes each day.

    There are many apps out there that you can put on your phone to keep track of memory verses and to prompt you daily to recite them. The best one I’ve found is the one I use now, called Remember Me. I use their phone app but here’s their website:

    https://www.remem.me 

  4. Balance the media you watch and listen to – music, TV, Internet, books. 
    Most of what’s on TV and the Internet presents a worldly view of morality and godlessness. Realize that most of what’s out there is not trying to entertain you as much as influence you. If that’s all you watch, then that’s what you are feeding your mind. Listen to godly music. Find some entertainment that is not offensive to God. Create a balance.
  5. Engage with other Christians to encourage each other.
    God created church for a reason, so that we could come together and encourage one another, pray for one another, and be strengthened in our faith together. We’re not alone, so don’t try to go it alone.

    “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25 KJV)

    And going to church is just one way to encourage each other. Join a small group of other like-minded Christians. Spend time around people who share your faith. There are many ways to do this.

Those are five ways I go about increasing my faith. Find what works for you. Paul wrote a command in Romans 12:

“And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Romans 12:2 KJV)

We increase our faith by renewing our mind daily with the Word of God and the godly influences we allow into our lives. Do you want to be transformed to walk as faithfully as Paul? Then make the deliberate decision to renew your mind daily. It will happen. And when it does, nothing will shake you. You will be immovable, able to stand before God and before this ungodly world, with honor and no fear or regrets.

Conclusion

Finally, let’s end this video by going back to the two verses I used at the start: 

The first is Hebrews 11:6:

“…without faith it is impossible to please Him…” (Hebrews 11:6 KJV)

And the second is 1 Corinthians 4:2:

“Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2 KJV)

Our relationship with God is centered around faith. We cannot please Him without it. We cannot walk faithfully without it.

We said that there are two levels of faith:

Faith for Salvation – This is the smallest level of faith, just enough to be saved. It requires only a morsel of faith, believing simply that (1) Jesus died for your sins, which implies acknowledging that you are a sinner before God who needs to be saved, (2) that He died and was buried, and that (3) He rose from the dead, showing that you can have forgiveness, love, and eternal life. No greater faith than that is needed to be saved.

Then there’s:

Faith for Discipleship – This is the largest amount of faith, enough faith to walk faithfully for Christ every day after you are saved.  Living faithfully for Christ demands so much faith that we’ll never be 100% perfect at it until we are with God in heaven, in our perfect eternal bodies. That’s why we need to develop faith daily. There will be days where your faithfulness for Christ will fail. That’s how we learn. That’s part of growing in Christian maturity.

Learn to separate your faith for discipleship from your faith for salvation so that you don’t grow fearful over your salvation when you fail in discipleship.

Faith for salvation is a one-time decision to trust Jesus to save you that can never be lost and lasts for eternity. It never fails because God’s Holy Spirit indwells us, keeping us in the faith.

Faith for discipleship is a daily decision to follow Christ and become like Him. It will fail from time-to-time, but we have an Advocate, Christ Himself, Who is ready to help us. Commit yourself daily, with His help, to increase your faith through the Word of God so that you become mature in Christ.

And with that, I’ll end with this question:

What If After All This You Are Still Not Sure You Are Even Saved?

Maybe you are wondering whether you have even that smallest amount of faith needed for salvation. Then take the first step. Make a decision today to place your trust in Christ to save you. It doesn’t take a lot of faith. But like the thief on the cross, it does take some. He made a decision to ask Jesus to save him, and that simple act, as small as his faith was, was enough for him to be saved forever. If that’s you:

CHOOSE TODAY to believe in Christ to save you, believing that He died on the cross to pay for all your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead to give you eternal life, and that He will not only save you but will keep you saved forever. 

Whatever you may have done, and no matter how badly you may have blown it in the past, don’t think for a second that God has given up on you.  

The Lord’s Desire is to Save You!
He is For You, Not Against You.

“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9 KJV)

It is not the Lord’s desire that even one person should perish. It is not too late. If you think that, that’s just the enemy talking, trying to get you to give up on God. Don’t give in to that negative thought. God is for you, not against you, and He desires you with an everlasting love. He longs to pour out blessings upon you. Let Him.

So, if you are not 100% sure of your salvation, my closing wish for you is this:

Make Sure You Are Saved Right Now! Don’t put it off. So, believe on Him and let Him set you free!

Salvation = God’s Grace Alone Through Faith Alone on Christ Alone

Believing the Gospel means placing your entire trust on Christ for your salvation, believing that Christ:

  1. Died for your sins

  2. Was buried 

  3. Rose from the dead

As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

Nothing more. Nothing less. There are no other requirements to be saved than to believe on Jesus. Once you place your faith in Christ for your salvation, you are born again, and you are forever a child of God. Our Father is a good Father Who will never abandon you but will preserve you in the faith and never let you go. 

If you are not certain about your salvation, time is getting very late. Don’t take the chance of missing out on God. 

Making Sure You Are Saved Is As Easy As ABC

Admit to God that you have sinned.

Believe that Jesus, God’s Son, died to pay for
your sins 100%, was buried and rose from the dead.

Call upon Jesus and ask Him to forgive you and save you.

If you make that decision to call upon Him, God gives you this assurance:

“For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 KJV)

Thank you for watching.


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