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Faith vs. Belief

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This past weekend I heard an excellent message on the difference between belief and faith. It was a message that made me rethink my belief system. It made me rethink my faith. It was the realization that belief and faith are not the same thing.

“If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. 18 But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.”
– Daniel 3:17-18

The speaker used the previous passage to break down the difference between belief and faith and I believe I got it. I think I am finally grasping hold of what I have been missing.

There is a distinct difference between belief and faith. What is belief? It is a principle, proposition, idea that is accepted as true; opinion, conviction; religious faith; trust or confidence. What is faith? It is the confident assurance in the character and nature of God; a strong or unshakeable belief in something, without proof or evidence.

We looked in Daniel and the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. In those two verses above, there is a clear difference between belief and faith that I had never seen before, and as the speaker pointed this out, it all sank in and I experienced another aha moment as well as a moment of peace.

In verse 17, the men declare that even if they are thrown into the furnace, God is able to deliver them from it as well as deliver them from the King. Those are strong and powerful words. They state that God is able. They do not say that God will but that if He so chooses, then He will. They believe in God. They believe in the power of God. They believe He can deliver them from King Nebuchadnezzar. This was their belief.

Now comes the moment when faith steps in, as they proclaim that even if God does not deliver them, they still would not worship or serve the King’s god. Their faith said that even if they were to perish, it still did not change that God is good. Biblical faith is not placed in the outcome of a situation but instead in God. This was so profound for me. It was a moment of realizing that every battle belongs to the Lord and He controls the outcome. My faith says that God is good no matter the outcome of my situation. I believe that God can save the day. I believe that He can work miracles. My faith says that whether or not I follow Him will not be dependent on things working out to my benefit. It says that I will follow Him no matter what.

Then came those great passages in Hebrews 11. (33-39)

“who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies. 35Women received back their dead, raised to life again. There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. 36 Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. 37 They were put to death by stoning;[a] they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated—38 the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.
39 These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promise.”

As he read that passage, I heard things that I had never paid attention to in the past. Through faith there were those who conquered kingdoms, shut the mouths of lions, escaped the sword, and much more, but then there were those who were put into prison, stoned to death, tortured, sawed in two, killed by the sword. What a mix. No matter how good or how bad, whether or not they received what had been promised to them, their faith was not shaken. They chose to follow and obey God even when they could not see the outcome, choosing to follow even when the outcome may not have been one that they would have chosen. They each had a faith in the character and nature of God.

Faith is what pleases God. “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6. I learned that my faith is not about all of my beliefs and convictions. I have a ton of those, but those things are not what pleases God. What pleases God is when I put every ounce of my trust, my faith in Him even when I do not know the outcome, when I do not understand and when I may not get my way.

In order to have that kind of faith, I must draw near to Him. I have to pursue Him. “Come near to God and he will come near to you.” James 4:8

So where do you find your faith? Is it found in a belief system or it is found in Christ?

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  • Wendell

    Im really moved by your articel, thank you very much and God bless. Now i know what really a faith is. Again thank your very much

  • Manix73

    Excellent! Very clear explanation of belief vs. faith…the LORD bless you all the more…

  • Segun

    This is quite interesting and revealing! It adds another dimension to my spiritual thinking. Thank you for this piece.

  • Rick

    I believe the missing component to account for the difference between faith and belief is experience. The experience may not serve as proof to anyone else, but it would account for ones ability to take a given action in support of ones belief. My life is a pursuit of a spiritual experience or awakening that enables me to take actions that will close the gap between my belief and the reality of what faith can produce in my life.

    • Shelby

      Excellent, Rick…you nailed it! Belief gets you to the door; faith is a gift from the Spirit. If you seek, knock, and ask, faith is the gift…the gift of knowing that you know. Faith is the EVIDENCE of things not seen. When you find the treasure hidden in the field, when you discover, through seeking, the pearl of great worth, all doubt and unbelief vanishes. It is definitively at spiritual “experience”. Well done my friend!

      • Faith is evidence of nothing except the willingness of people to persuade themselves the implausible is believable; you could call it gullibility…

        • Ultima

          It is only gullibility if your faith is misplaced. Your whole world model is based on beliefs. You can believe something is true or believe it is false – and this decision is based on your faith in your source of information.

          • Nice try, but your argument doesn’t work.

            Actual knowledge can be verified; unsubstantiated beliefs can never be verified.

          • Arosek

            Ironically, belief is something that we use every day to make decision, both consciously and subconsciously. Belief is not exclusive to religious association. We decide to believ a friends promise, a contract for new employment, and so forth. all of which is based on what is prsented; whether it be previous experience with the friend, their ability, the Company’s reputation, etc. Thiswe act accordingly based on what we believed (thought to be true).

          • Arosek, although that’s true, it is a different quality of belief, one that is underpinned by something. Religious belief, which is what we were addressing here, completely lacks that dimension.

  • In the Christian world there are those whose faith hinges on their obedience and then there are those who know they are lost sinners; who know they would be hell bound if had not been for what God did for them in the gift of His ONLY begotten Son Jesus Christ…in short one of the above relies on their present obedience while the other relies on what God has done for them and from that basis look to His Word to direct their lives.
    Here is where faith and doctrine are both used and is the rub that so many oppose.
    What is not evident in your wonderful explanation of a faith centered in God and His unfailing promises is the importance of repentance as well as God’s will as He is the one who chooses; who are thecalled;the elect…and I would have to say that those who are the called; the chosen; the elect would have such a faith as you have presented; a faith that no matter what happens to them in this life be it good or bad; again as you have so clearly described in human language what saving faith is like…all that they do to please God; all the faults they see in their lives; all the successes they have in overcoming where they onve were to where they are now; all of this they will never low to discourage them or be the reason for their hope. It all centered in God and His goodness.
    Thank You

  • Gerald Collins

    The word to believe is a state of mind in which it takes a set of facts whether they are true or false makes no different to the mind, and sets them up for a standard to be compared with. Believing never can change one thing from one state to another for there is no action required to believe in something or about something.


    God bless you and your ministry.

  • pingpong

    I’m Thai sorry for my naive catholic and english flaw. Faith is like gambling and believe is and educated guess.

  • christen

    You were given THE measure of faith at salvation. Your Faith only has to be that measure…everything else is belief after salvation. And only good comes from god. If something “bad” is shaking your world then you’ve given thought to a suggestion from the enemy. When you walk in the spirit with eyes on him then only pressure can come against you. Its up to you to stand in the tempation or move on through the “out” god always provides. Belief is what makes faith work.

  • Belief is what makes people stupid and gullible…

    • cbj

      Do you consider yourself stupid and gullible, since it appears you have a lot of confidence that what you believe is true. Or do you mean to say that only those who believe that God is real are stupid and gullible. Either way you have a lot of confidence in what you believe. Calling people “stupid and gullible” because they believe differently than you do seems both harsh and arrogant.

      • I meant to say what I said; that faith makes people stupid and gullible. I didn’t call people “stupid and gullible”.I see in your follow on comment you deliver a lecture on the use of language, which is strange as your comprehension seems a little lacking.

  • cbj

    “faith” is a noun that has been “barrowed” from the French language.
    “belief” is the noun form of the English verb “to believe.”
    “faith” has just about completely replaced “belief” in the English language

    Originally it was:
    Verb = to believe, and Noun = belief
    Now it is
    Verb = to believe, and Noun = faith

    Therefore, as far as the English language is concerned there is absolutely no difference between “faith” and “belief.”

    And the same can be said about the Greek New Testament. There is just one word (pistis) that can be translated as “faith” or “belief.”