A Simple Framework For Thinking About Belief, Trust, and Faith

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No doubt you have been in a group discussion when this question comes up: “What’s the difference between believing and faith?” Or between faith and trust? Or belief and trust?

Certainly these terms all seem to describe the same sort of action, right? 

Since a) the words are synonyms, b) may be used as nouns or verbs, and c) depending on the Bible translation, belief/believing, trust, and/or faith can be used interchangeably. In fact, according to BDAG, the Greek noun πιστις, most often translated faith, can mean “faith, belief, or trust.” Consult the Blue Letter Bible website, or whatever resource you use for Greek and Hebrew, to identify the original word.

Aside from that, what is a simple framework for thinking about these three words?

In the Streams In The Desert devotional book, the 12/15 entry begins with these words:

The word trust is the heart word of faith. It is the Old Testament word, the word given to the early and infant stage of faith. The word faith expresses more the act of the will, the word belief the act of the mind or intellect, but trust is the language of the heart. The other has reference more to a truth believed or a thing expected.

Trust implies more than this, it sees and feels, and leans upon a person… (No author’s name is given)

The difference in meaning can be outlined as followed:

  • Faith – the act of the will
  • Belief – the act of the mind or intellect
  • Trust – the language of the heart

Every use of faith, belief/believing, and trust will not fit into this box. But the outline is extremely useful in thinking about the differences between faith, belief, and trust. 

Until next time –

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all. (2 Corinthians 13:14)