Charles Spurgeon once wrote, “You may think that it is easy to define faith, and so it is, but it is easier still to confuse people with your definition.” Martin Luther defined faith as “a lively, reckless confidence in God.” The Quaker scholar J. Elton Trueblood said, “Faith is not belief without proof, but trust without reservation.” In her excellent book The Secret of a Happy Christian Life, in a very practical vein, Hannah Smith wrote, “Faith is the simplest and plainest thing in the world…it is simply believing God.”
All of these that I have just quoted were paraphrasing the words of Hebrews 11 from the New Testament where the writer of Scripture said, “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The Berkeley version states: “But faith forms a solid ground for what is hoped for, a conviction of unseen realities.”
In analyzing what the Bible says about faith, I have come to the conclusion that real faith contains two elements: a belief that is intellectual and appeals to the mind, and trust which is experiential and demands a response to what you believe. It is one thing to accept something as a fact intellectually, and it is totally something else to be so convinced of what you believe that you act upon it, realizing that your very life may depend on your commitment.
Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6
Years ago Charles Blondin, the great acrobat, and entertainer, walked across Niagara Falls on a tight wire pushing a wheelbarrow in front of him. Having completed the arduous journey above the churning white water of the rapids, Blondin was cheered as the crowd burst into thunderous applause. Finally, Blondin spoke to a boy who was in the front as he asked, “Son, do you think that I could push you across the falls in the wheelbarrow?” Without hesitation, the boy said, “Sure!” “Fine,” drawled the acrobat, “Now you get in and I’ll push you across,” whereupon the nervous lad quickly pushed for the back of the crowd and the security of his mother’s apron.
You know, when it comes to trusting God, many of us are like that lad. We really believe that God can get us across the angry waters of life’s Niagaras, but we are not sure we want to take the ride. Belief, we have that; but we are short on trust, and without trust your faith is incomplete. Many of the songs of the Faith talk about the importance of trust. Remember the words of the refrain, “Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus than to trust and obey.” George Beverly Shea sings it so well, “Come every soul by sin oppressed, there’s mercy with the Lord, and He will surely give you rest by trusting in His Word. Only trust Him, only trust Him,” and so forth.
Trust is the relaxation of a little puppy before the embers of the fire; trust is the hands of a little child reaching towards his mother’s arms; it is the unspoken look in the eyes of two lovers, the confidence that you have in someone; the assurance in your heart that God, who cannot lie, will never let you down. Trust is faith in action, it is rest from your anxious striving, it is freedom from worry, it is surrender and abandonment to the will of a loving Heavenly Father. It is the confidence that God is fully in control, therefore you may rest in His protection. “Being confident of this,” wrote Paul as he described the life of trust, “that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). If you believe that, why can’t you trust Him?
Resource reading: Philippians 1:1-11