Links Daily Devotional

Belief and Faith

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” (Romans 1:16-17, ESV)

“Are belief and faith the same thing, or are they different?” This question came up in a recent conversation I had with a friend. After several minutes of expressing our ideas, we concluded they hold some similarities and are also quite different. I am not an expert on these two terms so I went on an exploration and here are some of my thoughts.

Beliefs are a product of our mind—an opinion or judgment in which a person is fully persuaded—and are often birthed out of our culture and upbringing. Our beliefs can change over time, especially if they are based on what feels good for that season instead of on truth. Hence, when we experience a crisis in our lives (financial, health, relational, emotional), our beliefs can let us down and we might even feel abandoned by God.

Mere belief in God does not necessarily move us to invest ourselves in following Jesus at all costs. We can believe in God and still question or even ignore his character. If we navigate life on belief alone, we might be easily swayed to change our beliefs when suffering comes.

While beliefs are an intellectual experience, faith is a state of being. It flows out of a spirit of conviction and commitment toward something or someone. Author Rea Nolan Martin has written vividly about real faith: “It is living life midair—standing commando on a tightrope fifty stories up with no preconception of the outcome. It is trusting beyond all reason and evidence that you have not been abandoned” (“Faith and Belief Are Not The Same,”

The apostle Paul shared with the Romans that the gospel is the power of God to everyone who believes. For our journey with Jesus to begin, it is essential to believe the gospel is true. And then we walk the path toward, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Faith gets activated by belief and then grows over time to the degree we are willing to name and remember when and where God has shown his presence in our lives. This opens space for us to rest in the truth of his goodness. Biblical faith is built on belief in Jesus’ story—his life, his death, his resurrection, and his ascension. In this way, faith and belief work hand in hand.

I have walked many fairways with only an intellectual belief that I was good enough to compete against the best women golfers in the world. But when I took action by remembering my hundreds of hours of practice and preparation, my belief moved to faith that I was right where I was supposed to be and that was when I played my best.

Our spiritual journey unfolds in a similar way: First we believe and then our faith grows into a trust in Jesus that he is with us regardless of the many unknowns we encounter in this life. It is a journey we will walk until we see him face to face.

Tracy Hanson
July 21, 2014
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