Many people, including too many Christians, think that believing is a Law that works for everyone in the world. Thousands of books have been written promoting the “Power of Positive Thinking” with claims that if you can believe it, you can receive it. Others believe that faith means a belief in something for which there is no proof. We have all heard the statement “You just have to take it by faith, brother.” Perhaps you have heard the saying, “the man who trusted that the rope would hold him should have first counted the strands.”
But are these beliefs REALLY true?
Empirical evidence in life seems to indicate that this may not be the case. We all know people who believed (trusted) things that turned out to produce different results than they expected to receive, like the Broker who assured you of great returns on a bad investment or the used car salesman who sold you a vehicle that turned out to be a lemon. Given incidents like these, how many people will purchase a vehicle they have never seen, and just rely on faith?
Now trust is firm confidence in things hoped for, a conviction regarding things not seen.Hebrew 11:1 (REV)
Trust, in and of itself, has no power to produce results. What then is trust in the context of Hebrews 11? In both ancient secular Greek and in the Bible pistis means “confidence, trust, assurance.” Translated into Latin, it is fides, which is where our English word “faith” came from. Merriam-Webster defines trust as “assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.”
Hebrews 11 is the roll-call of those people who are examples of living a life of trust in the promises of GOD: by trust Abel, by trust Enoch, by trust Noah, by trust Abraham, by trust Sarah, etc
For by it (trust) the people of old obtained a good testimony from God. 3By trust we understand that the ages have been put in order by the word of God, so that what is seen has not been made out of things that are visible. 13All these people were still living by trust when they died, not having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, and saluted them, and professed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. (emphasis added)Hebrews 11:2-3,13 (REV)
Although these people BELIEVED they did not RECEIVE ALL the promises in their lifetime. Was their trust in vain? Or, was it a firm conviction based upon a reliable promise? When we read on in Hebrews 11, we learn what trust enabled these people to do:
And what more should I say? For the time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David, and Samuel, and the prophets, 33who through TRUST conquered kingdoms, enforced righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34quenched the power of ﬁre, escaped the mouth of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became strong in war, put to ﬂight foreign armies.Hebrews 11:32-34 (REV)
These believers who put their trust in the promises of GOD, not only benefited during their lifetime, but will obtain the promises in the future. When it comes to trust, it is of upmost importance to consider WHOM or WHAT we are trusting, as well as their ability to produce the expected results. In fact, this is one of the first lessons we can learn from God’s Word.
In the Garden of Eden, God gave dominion to the first man, Adam:
Yahweh God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to work it and to care for it. 16Yahweh God commanded the man, saying, “Of every tree of the garden you may eat, yes, eat, 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you must not eat of it, for in the day that you eat of it you will die, yes, die.”Genesis 2:15-17 (REV)
Then along came Satan, who spoke to Eve, and questioned what God had said.
He said to the woman, “Has God really said, ‘You must not eat of any tree of the garden?”Genesis 3:1 (REV)
When Eve paraphrased God’s instructions, the serpent directly contradicted what God had said and told the woman:
“No! You will not ‘die, yes, die.’ 5for God knows that in the day you eat it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”Genesis 3:4,5 (REV)
Eve was now faced with a choice. WHOM (God or Satan) or WHAT (the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge) should she trust? She could trust what God said, and not eat the fruit, because HE had the ability to bring HIS promise to pass: death. Or she could believe what Satan had said, and trust that the fruit had the power to make her like God.
Eve chose to believe Satan, trusted in the fruit and convinced Adam to trust her, and he also ate the fruit. The result of their misplaced trust, what they RECEIVED, was disastrous, not only for Adam and Eve but to all their offspring. They were cast out of the Garden, the ground was cursed, and the death sentence was pronounced:
Cursed is the ground for your sake. In toil you will eat from it all the days of your life. 18It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the ﬁeld. 19By the sweat of your face will you eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you will return.”Genesis 3:17-19 (REV)
Attack against one’s belief in God’s promises and what they will receive is a critical tool in the enemy’s arsenal. Jesus, the second Adam, was faced with a similar choice when he was tempted by Satan:
And the Devil said to him, “To you I will give all this authority, and their glory, for it has been handed over to me, and I can give it to anyone I want to. 7Therefore, if you will bow down in worship before me, it will all be yours.” 8And Jesus answered and said to him, “It is written, Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.”Luke 4:6-8 (REV)
Jesus knew that Satan had the ability to back up his promise because of the choice Adam and Eve made. He also knew that GOD had the ability to back up HIS promised plan of redemption. He had a choice to make, WHOM should he trust?
Jesus made a decision, and as always, placed his Trust in GOD.
During his ministry, Jesus taught his disciples to do likewise:
And as they passed by in the morning, they saw the ﬁg tree withered away from the roots. 21And Peter, remembering, says to him, “Rabbi, look! The ﬁg tree that you cursed has withered away.” 22And Jesus, answering, says to them, “Have trust in God. 23Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be snatched up and thrown into the sea!’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says comes to pass, it will happen for him. 24Therefore I say to you, all the things you pray and ask for, believe that you have received them, and you will have them.Mark 11:20-24 (REV)
Jesus was teaching WHOM and WHAT to trust when he said that a person with trust could tell a mountain to be cast into the ocean and it would be done. We know that we do not have the ability to move mountains by the power of our faith, but rather, by our trust in GOD’s ability to move the mountain.
It is important to distinguish the biblical definition of “faith” from today’s definition that has permeated the Christian Church and society. When most people think of “faith,” they think of it in terms of the modern definition: “firm belief in something for which there is no proof” (Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary; 11th edition). When religious people have no proof for what they believe, we often hear them say, “You just have to take it by faith.” It is vital to understand that “belief in something for which there is no proof” is not the biblical definition of “faith.” (see REV Appendix #16, “Faith” is “Trust”)
Jesus never asked anyone to believe he was the Messiah without proof. He healed the sick, raised the dead, and did miracles, and he asked people to believe because of the miracles that he did:
But if I am doing them, though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you will come to know and continue to know that the Father is in union with me, and I am in union with the Father.John 10:38 (REV)
Everyone believes (trusts) in something or someone, and trust may require action on our part. Would you trust in someone you have never met before, and just take it by faith, with the same degree of trust you would have in someone with whom you had experiential knowledge of their trustworthy past actions? We trust things in life on a daily basis. We look at the gas gauge in our vehicle and trust we have enough fuel to reach our destination. We sit on a chair because we believe from past experience it will support our weight. We will never know these things or develop trust in them if we fail to ACT by driving the vehicle or sitting on the chair.
Biblical trust is exactly the same. It requires action (i.e., works) to be proven:
So also trust by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 18But someone will say, “You have trust, and I have works.” Show me your trust without your works, and I will show you my trust by my works.James 2:17, 18 (REV)
So what is the lesson that we can learn from the biblical definition of Faith/Trust?
When we trust in the promises of GOD, we can rest in the blessed assurance that what He has promised He is not only able and willing, but will absolutely perform.
I have written these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you can know that you have life in the age to come. 14And this is the confidence that we have toward him: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.1 John 5:13-15 (REV)
If you do as Jesus taught, and have TRUST in GOD, the result will be that you will RECEIVE what GOD has promised.
WHOM DO YOU TRUST? WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE? WHAT WILL YOU RECEIVE?