What is the difference in “faith” and “belief”? Much more than one may think when you break it down and especially when we speak of “ The Faith” as presented to us in the Holy Scriptures. Look them both up in some good dictionaries. You will find that most good dictionaries do not even refer to faith when describing belief. But then, they will refer to belief when they describe faith. There are reasons behind that. In fact, faith carries several facets that do not belong in the description of belief. A good brief definition of belief is: “A mental acceptance of something as truth“. Faith carries other aspects as well as that one. Faith requires the addition of “confidence” to belief. Confident belief. It also involves, at least in some cases, allegiance, loyalty, trust. If you believe something, but not strongly enough to act upon it, you are just believing
One can believe anything. We often have believed lies. Total falsehoods. Or, at least this writer has, and it is presumed that I am not the only sucker who falls for a scam now and then. We have a number of instances in the bible of someone believing a lie. Jacob was totally convinced that Joseph had been killed by a wild beast in Genesis 37:31-36.
The apostle Paul (known as Saul at that time) believed strongly that it was his duty to persecute the church, Christians, prior to his being spoken to miraculously by Jesus on the road to Damascus, Acts chapter 9. And many will believe they are living according to the wishes of God but will not in that final day…read Matthew 7:21-23. That’s frightening, isn’t it? So these facts show that just to believe something to be true, does not make it true, nor does it make it acceptable unto God. That too, should be frightening.
The Jews who were responsible for the crucifixion of Christ believed that he was not the messiah. They believed they were doing what God would want them to do. But that did not make it true and it did not cause the sin to be forgiven. So what this all boils down to is that no one can possibly hide behind ignorance of the edicts contained in the New Testament. The perfect law of liberty delivered by Jesus Christ. That is what is being taught in the verse cited above, Matthew 7:21-23.
So, what about faith? Faith is what it is going to take. So lets read some pertinent verses about faith and try and get the grasp of what is being taught about “the faith” as referred to in the scriptures. Here is one verse that you must remember and you must understand that it is not just saying believe.
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. (Hebrews 11:6)
And we must not pick up the word believe and run with it. Don’t skip over the phrases “he that cometh “ and “them that diligently seek him”. It would be extremely well if the reader would, at this point, read the entire 11th chapter of Hebrews to see what those of the Old Testament did to please God. See if each one’s faith did not move them to action.
Now, let’s look at some other important references to faith. Hebrews 11:1 says: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Now that needs to be thought about. What do we hope for, and it is not referring to things in this life. Our hope is salvation from our sins and eternal life with God and our savior. We hope for it through our trust in the bible as the word of God and through our faith in Jesus Christ as his Son who gave us the opportunity to be reconciled to the Father. Now, that is what it is, but that does not explain how we get it. But this verse does.
Romans 10:17: So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. So, the only place you can obtain faith in God, faith in Jesus Christ, and faith in the Holy Bible is from it. The more you study it and about it, the stronger your faith will grow. Everything one is to do religiously is to be done through faith. Now that restricts a lot of things. We cannot make up our minds as to what we would like to do but it must be, what does the bible say about it. There is a saying that a lot of people buy into, that is, What would Jesus do? That is a good question and you may trust in doing what He would do. BUT, you must know for sure what He would do. Guessing at it will always let you do what you want, not what He wants.
Let’s look at a few examples of people who did something which they obviously felt was alright, but wasn’t. And it shows also that God will not tolerate it.
Go back to the incident everyone has heard of concerning Cain and Abel. This entire tragedy would have been avoided, had it not been for the assumption on Cain’s part that he could depart from God’s instructions, even though slightly. Hebrews 11:4 explains it precisely: By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. Now read that carefully. By faith…what does that mean? It means that God had told them what to offer for a sacrifice and Abel believed that he meant it and so complied. How do I know that? Because.. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 shown above. Now it is obvious that Cain did not do that. He probably felt that the first of his vegetable crops would be a satisfactory offering. It wasn’t.
If you read the 11th chapter of Hebrews, you will have seen all the things Moses did by faith, doing exactly as God had instructed, but one incident of his will not be found there. One small incident caused God to refuse to let him enter the land of Canaan which He had promised the Israelites. They were traveling through the wilderness and found themselves without sufficient water and they complained to Moses. God spoke to Moses concerning it and now read the following two passages and compare what God told Moses to do with what Moses did.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink. (Numbers 20:7-8)
Now read verses 9-12: And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as he commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock? And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also. And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
He gave them water even though Moses had not acted in faith (according to God’s instruction) so Moses and Aaron were denied access to the promised land. The faith required of us is the same. We are to learn what is required of us and believe that we must do that, exactly, in order for our service to be pleasing unto God. God did not send Jesus, His only begotten Son to die a cruel death so we could live it up and do nothing in return. Don’t be deceived by the doctrine of faith only. Faith producing action is the answer. We are to devote ourselves to the task. Romans 12:1 says: I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. Why would Paul have written that if it was unnecessary?