Some people feel that sincerity is key, and to a degree they are correct because one cannot be emotionally detached totally from one’s mind. Faith without some emotional component actually is an oxymoron. In other words, faith is a matter of not just what’s in your head but also one’s heart.
On the other hand, there is great truth in the phrase, “One can be very sincere about what they believe, but if their belief is in the wrong object, they are simply sincerely wrong.”
We all have ‘faith’ in something, if you define faith as a set of beliefs which govern your attitudes, speech, and behavior. For example, true atheists would often tend to have lifestyles which are licentious and self-centered if they honestly feel they are not accountable to a higher authority.
Agnostics who have some integrity are in a quandary. On one hand, they may choose a life of licentiousness, gratifying all their desires, Or, they may choose to live a semi-guilty lifestyle of a ‘good person’. In doing so, though they may not state it in words, they seek to live whatever they vaguely feel would be acceptable to a God (who might exist) who sets some moral or ethical standards, of which they are not quite sure. However they are hopeful they will ‘make the grade’ when they die.
Then there are those who are very religious, truly believing there is a god (Muslims) or gods (Hindus), and who follow a strict set of religious activities to achieve whatever type of afterlife that religion promises.
In addition, there are people who believe in an unbiblical view of Jesus Christ. For example, Mormons do not believe Jesus Christ is God the Son, eternally pre-existent before time. True Mormons believe Jesus ‘became’ a god, and so can all the followers of the Mormon faith (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints), which encourages many (but not all) morally good, ethical practices.
Then there are wonderful church-going folks who believe they are Christians due chiefly to their church attendance, living a good ‘Christian life’, giving money, involvement in the church choir … the list goes on.
NONE OF THESE PEOPLE ARE SAVED. Please hear me on this: “Just any type of faith does not save me.”
Let’s state this truth another way. There are innumerable types of faith and faith objects which do NOT save a person. No matter how sincere they are.
For example, I may believe that a car can take me to the store; but if there in no engine or gas in the tank, its not going anywhere. I may believe that dying as a martyr may gain my entrance into some sort of heaven, but it that belief is not founded on truth, no amount of sincerity will change that which is not true into something that becomes true.
Sincerity of faith in not as important as the actual object of faith. I may sincerely believe that I can earn salvation and entrance into heaven, but if the Doorkeeper (God) says otherwise, my ‘faith’ is useless.
Let’s get to the bottom line. Jesus Christ clearly claimed to be God’s Son; literally God in the flesh. No other major religious leader has ever made that claim, and then backed it up by fulfilled prophecy and historically verifiable resurrection.
I may have ‘small’ faith [Jesus said “a mustard seed”] in Him and His claims to have paid totally for my sins by His sacrifice on the cross, and be plagued with some doubts. Nevertheless, I have much more assurance of salvation when I come to God on His terms than on my syncretistic (man-made) philosophy of religion or what I think makes me acceptable to Him, bypassing His only offered solution to my sin problem.
Now, you may say that’s just my opinion. True. But what did Jesus have to say about ‘faith”
In John 3:36, Jesus states, “He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
So, how does Jesus define “faith”?
He says that those who believe in the ways He defines it have eternal life (are saved from their sins and hell and made residents of heaven), but the opposite of faith is the one who does not obey whatever Jesus has said (especially in regards to coming to Him as THE way, THE life, and THE truth for salvation JN 14:6)) and, in fact, is rejecting the Son.
That’s why many so-called Christians will not be going to heaven, along with all Hindis, Muslims, ‘good people’, church attendees, Mormons, atheists, agnostics, etc.
All of these have ‘faith’ in something, but since the object of their faith is wrong, their degree of sincerity does not alter the Truth.
Conversely, those who claim to be Christians should be demonstrating obedience to Christ (JN 3:36) in seeking to follow and obey what He says based on love, and not because they are trying to ‘earn’ salvation. (Eph. 2:8-10) And, those who claim to be Christians, but are living a life the Bible characterizes as sinful, should pause to ask if they are really indeed saved.
True faith results in action , which in the case of actual Christians produces a lifestyle where the person begins to act more and more alike Jesus Himself. Obedience to Christ and the Word Of God (which He stated was infallible) is what faith is all about. Where do you stand?
As someone once asked, “If you were pulled into court on the charge that you were a follower of Jesus, would there be sufficient evidence to convict you?”