Believe Faith Trust
Believe, faith, and trust are similar terms. How do they relate to the character of God?
Traditional Legal Model – At one extreme, it is simply trusting even without evidence. Such faith will not stand up well when the pressure comes.
Biblical Healing Model – God gives evidence on which we can base our relationship to Him. Having that relationship and knowledge of His true character develops in us the love that will see us through trials.
Here is a verse that seems to define faith:
“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1)
That verse includes past, present and future tenses:
- Past: “things not seen”
- Present: “faith is”
- Future: “things hoped for”
Now faith is (present) the substance of things hoped for (future), the evidence of things not seen (past).
Substance” = Greek “hupostasis” (G5287)
- hupo = under, as in hypodermic (under the skin)
- stasis = standing
Faith is what is standing under or holding up the hope.
Faith, as commonly used, seems to imply a lack of evidence:
“Having faith is believing in something you just know ain’t true.” Mark Twain
Twain is saying that you need faith for something that is not true and implies that, with evidence, we do not need faith. However, the Bible says that faith is the evidence or we have faith because of evidence – not because of a lack of it.
There are parallel statements in Hebrews 11:1:
- Substance of things hoped for – hope to see in the future
- Evidence of things not seen – things not seen in the past
Substance is equivalent to evidence. Substance could be used to substantiate (or establish) something as truth:
- to establish by proof or competent evidence: to substantiate a charge.
- to give substantial existence to: to substantiate an idea through action.
- to affirm as having substance; give body to; strengthen: to substantiate a friendship.
Evidence of What?
“Evidence” – many versions of Hebrews 11:1 say “confidence” or “assurance” which are both considered synonyms for faith. So, the evidence is that which brings confidence or assurance or hope.
What are the “things hoped for,” “the things not seen”? Colossians refers to things not seen or understood in the past:
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” (Col 1:26-27)
This mystery was previously hidden but, in Paul’s day, it was being made known to God’s saints.
- “Even the mystery
- [the mystery] which hath been hid from ages and from generations,
- but now [the mystery] is made manifest to his saints:
- To whom [his saints] God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles;
- which [the mystery] is Christ in you, the hope of glory:” (Col 1:26-27)
The suggestion is that the mystery being revealed is “Christ in you” or, at least, the potential for that. That is certainly something to be hoped for as God has always intended to bless us with His indwelling presence:
“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (2 Cor 6:16)
Hope for the Future Based on the Past
We get only faint glimpses of the potential meaning of what God wants to give us:
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor 2:9)
“The heart of man” (mankind in general) does not understand the plan of God. More than anything, He is preparing for us the conditions for that indwelling presence (God and Christ in you) to occur. To those who are willing to receive it, that plan is gradually opened:
“But God hath revealed them [the unspecified “things” of verse 9] unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but [by or from] the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.” (1 Cor 2:10-12)
We (Paul and the Corinthians) might know (and have faith in) what is freely given or promised (the Greek word translated “given” is in the Greek aorist tense – past, present or future not specified) because of the evidence we already have. So, again, faith bases its hope for the future on the evidence of the past.
Faith can be a Noun or a Verb
Faith is the Greek word “pistis” which can mean either an attitude of mind (noun) or a pattern of conduct (verb). Those sound like two quite different things but they are connected as one (the conduct) is the product or result of the other (the attitude) as in:
“Now the just [justified or made right with God, attitude of mind] shall live [pattern of conduct] by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.” (Heb 10:38)
Christians have faith in the existence of God, His love for us, creation, the flood and the future, eternal life. Is it blind faith to believe in any of those? No, it is faith coming from an awareness and understanding of evidence. There is no such thing as blind faith. Faith is built on evidence. If one says they have faith without evidence it is not faith but merely presumption.
But then what about this?
“Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” (Heb 11:3)
We weren’t there when the worlds were framed (created) so how can we have faith in that? Because God said it in His Word and we have reason to have faith in God.
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Rom 10:17)
“But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” (John 20:31)
“Faith” is the noun but you get it through having the relationship.
“By faith [pistis, noun] Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.” (Heb 11:7)
What were the things Noah had “not seen as yet”? Certainly, rain and all the upheavals to the earth resulting from the flood. He was “moved with fear” but had God threatened him? No, it was a warning of what was coming. What was he afraid of? – Was it God or the coming flood? Neither. He reverenced God and obeyed by preparing as instructed. Therefore, he did not have to fear the flood.
He did fear God in the sense of respecting God and His word. He respected it enough to build a big boat on dry land and likely endure the ridicule of many people. Noah acted (did the right thing) to build the ark because he had faith based the evidence of his relationship with God.
The same “By faith” is used of other characters in Hebrews 11. They each became righteous or right with God by acting based on their faith in God.
Where Does Our Faith Come From?
“Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith [pistis, the noun]; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2)
How is He the author of our faith?
- He is the reason we have faith
- He is the source of our faith
- He first had/demonstrated faith in His Father
Here is a good description of where faith comes from by a contributor to this site.
“Faith springs up and thrives when we focus on the truth about what God is really like, His character and how He really feels about us. Faith is actually a state of mind that grows naturally out of a healthy relationship with someone who is trustworthy. It is not something that we have to work hard at producing, but is the natural kind of trust that is evident in a small child toward a loving, protective, emotionally-balanced parent.” (Floyd Philips)
Believing in the Name
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)
The actual name of Jesus (or Yashua, Yeshua etc) is much less significant than the character of the one being referred to. Just knowing a name is insignificant. However, knowing and trusting in the character of a person is something.
Trust has to be earned and must be based on evidence or proof that one is trustworthy. It is produced by experience in a relationship.
“O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.” (Psa 34:8)
The test by “taste” produces trust for the future.
“Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” (Pro 3:5-6)
We can have faith for the future because of trust in the past. Trust is based on trustworthiness which must be demonstrated. Could a brand new (say a suddenly-converted Christian) have perfect trust in God? No; they will develop trust as the relationship grows.
Can you truly trust someone who you believe will kill (or, worse, condemn to everlasting burning) you if you mess up? Can an understanding of the true character of an ever-merciful, non-violent God of selfless love increase your faith more than an understanding of a god who requires appeasement, imposes punishment for disobedience and actually threatens with death or worse if you don’t follow meet His requirements? I would think so.
Don’t All Have Faith?
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.” (Rom 12:3)
A key word here is the “you” which refers to the “brethren” (verse 1); the members of the church in Rome. It is not that every person alive is given faith as seen in these verses:
“He answereth him, and saith, O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him unto me.” (Mark 9:19)
“And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith.” (2 Thess 3:2)
“But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Heb 11:6)
See a video of a group study on the meaning of believe, faith, trust.
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