Evaṃ svākkhāte, bhikkhave, mayā dhamme uttāne vivaṭe pakāsite chinnapilotike ye te bhikkhū dhammānusārino saddhānusārino sabbe te sambodhiparāyanā.
In this teaching there are mendicants who are followers of principles, or followers by faith. All of them are bound for awakening.
Evaṃ svākkhāte, bhikkhave, mayā dhamme uttāne vivaṭe pakāsite chinnapilotike yesaṃ mayi saddhāmattaṃ pemamattaṃ sabbe te saggaparāyanā”ti.
In this teaching there are those who have a degree of faith and love for me. All of them are bound for heaven.” (MN 22)
Alagaddūpama sutta says those who have a degree of faith and love for the Buddha would go to sagga. So developing a degree of faith and love for the Buddha seems a great refuge to anyone in this world.
Kīṭāgiri Sutta says faith follower (saddhānusārī) has a degee of faith and love for the Blessed One.
Idha, bhikkhave, ekacco puggalo ye te santā vimokkhā atikkamma rūpe āruppā te na kāyena phusitvā viharati, paññāya cassa disvā ekacce āsavā parikkhīṇā honti, tathāgate cassa saddhāmattaṃ hoti pemamattaṃ, api cassa ime dhammā honti, seyyathidaṃ—saddhindriyaṃ, vīriyindriyaṃ, satindriyaṃ, samādhindriyaṃ, paññindriyaṃ. Ayaṃ vuccati, bhikkhave, puggalo saddhānusārī.
It’s a person who doesn’t have direct meditative experience of the peaceful liberations that are formless, transcending form. Nevertheless, having seen with wisdom, some of their defilements have come to an end. And they have a degree of faith and love for the Realized One. And they have the following qualities: the faculties of faith, energy, mindfulness, immersion, and wisdom. This person is called a follower by faith (MN 70).
According to Alagaddūpama sutta there is a chance to go to heaven those who have a degree of faith and love for the Buddha. But those are not bound for Nibbāna.
Faith follower aslo got only a degree of faith and love for the Buddha. This makes it difficult to understand the degree of faith and love.
When it comes to a saddhānusārīn, he would never die off before attaining fruit of stream entry (sotāpattipala).
There never goto underhuman realms due to that reason.
abhabbo ca tāva kālaṃ kātuṃ yāva na sotāpattiphalaṃ sacchikaroti’.
They can’t die without realizing the fruit of stream-entry (SN 25.1).
However, according to Mahākammavibhaṅga sutta there is no certainity to be reborn in a heavenly realm without attaining atleast stream entry.
But some other person here refrains from killing living creatures, stealing, committing sexual misconduct, or using speech that’s false, divisive, harsh, or nonsensical. And they’re contented, kind-hearted, and have right view. When their body breaks up, after death, they’re reborn in a place of loss, a bad place, the underworld, hell (MN 136).
How to understand "a degree of faith and love for the Realized One"?