Wagner Email Bag: What Is Belief?


I came across an interesting email interaction I had with a Watermark member that I thought might be instructive/informative to more folks.  Take a look at this question, see how you would reply, and then search Scripture with me to see what a biblical response would be.  Would love to see your thoughts/comments!

From: Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxx
Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2012 1:43 PM
To: pastoraloffice
Subject: Question for Todd


I called to see if I could talk to you a little about this, but discovered that you were in a meeting that goes for a long time; so I’m sending my question via email……..

A good question has come up that we are discussing in Community, and I’d really like to get your input. The question is whether or not it’s good enough to confess that Christ is the son of God, that He died for our sins, and the confession of our sins for us to get to heaven……..going to John 5:24 and many many other verses where hearing the word, and believing gives eternal life. We also have several places like Matt 7:21-23 which says that it just isn’t that simple. John 3:18-21 seems to take that middle ground of describing what “belief” is by telling us that whoever lives by the truth comes into the light…….therefore adding that its more than just confession, but living by the truth…………..so I think that it all falls on the definition of “belief”, and what that means………so if you don’t mind imparting your thoughts on this subject, many of us would appreciate your insight.

Thanks again.


From: pastoraloffice [mailto:pastoraloffice@watermark.org]
Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 9:40 AM
To: Xxxxxxx Xxxxxxx
Cc: Jeff Kramer
Subject: RE: Question for Todd

Clay…great question, and I’m glad this is something you are discussing in the context of community/searching Scripture on with others.  That is typically the best way that I learn, and I’m encouraged that your group is challenging each other in this way.

To answer your question, I do think it comes down to how you define the word “believe”. Romans 10:9-10 says, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses,resulting in salvation.”  I think we can go through life with an intellectual understanding of the Gospel, but not allowing it to transfer to heart knowledge/infuse the core of our being.  That kind of belief changes you and re-centers your life.

Faith in something isn’t a feeling, but something to be put into action.  I often like to say that we are “saved by faith alone, but the faith that saves is never alone”, something I think I ripped off Martin Luther’s friend friend Melanchthon that he surmised from the Pastoral Epistles. You can check out this video that I helped our friends at Igniter Media put together…it more addresses the question of being saved by grace or works, but it is still applicable to your question of what qualifies that belief:


Below are also some links to messages where I’ve taught on this before.  It would be great if you could go back and listen to these as well:



Hope that helps.  Keep throwing those thoughts around in your group…I’ve CC’d Jeff Kramer here, who is the point person on staff for your community group so he can throw in and be of any help that he needs to…I know he’d love to join the discussion!

Todd Wagner| pastoraloffice@watermark.org




Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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