The word "believe" when used in the bible is best defined as "trust" or "to trust." The word "faith" is best defined as "trust." These words we take as mysterious spiritual words are in fact, for the most part, simple relational words.
Faith, Belief, or Trust biblically speaking in regards to God is
Trusting the person of God in a relationship the same way we would trust a friend or family member
Being convinced that God is trustworthy, worthy of trust
Entrusting yourself to God, putting your security in God
Trusting that what God has said is true, taking God at His word
Knowing that God loves us and loves giving to us
Trust and Grace
Grace is what God has for us. Trust (faith) is what we have for God.
Trust is measurable (faith of a mustard seed, you of little faith..). It is measured by the quality of relationship. The better a relationship the more trust there is. God is the most trustworthy being that exists. When scriptures say that God is faithful that word faithful can also be translated as trustworthy. God is worthy of our trust. Our recognition of His trustworthiness is more important than our recognition of His praiseworthiness. It is by God's grace that we are saved through trust.
Although trust is measurable we shouldn't think of it simply as something we wield or use nor should we think of grace as something that God simply wields. They are both things that can be given but more so than that they are defined relationally. Grace is a favorable disposition that God has for you. It is His loving kindness towards you. Trust is the confidence you have for Christ and the security you feel you have in Christ. The more you doubt Him the less you trust Him. The more insecure you feel the less you trust Him.
In the Greek a root word for Grace means "I am happy." When you receive grace from God by trusting in His Son Jesus that means God is happy with you. Through trust and grace we are made righteous which means "right with God." We are right with God from the moment we first trust Jesus and forevermore after that. Being right with God means He is always happy with us.
Is Faith Blind?
Trusting that God exists is as simple as trusting that someone we've talked to only over the phone exists. Trust/Faith is not blind. It's object is just not available to view at the present time. We cannot see God but our trust causes us to act confidently as if we can. We cannot see the future but our trust in God's promises causes us to act as if we have seen the future.
Further and obvious evidence that faith is not blind is that Jesus' disciples walked with Him as a man and still trusted Him. In 1 John 1:1 John speaking of Jesus said, "We have heard, we have seen with our eyes, We have looked at and our hands have touched Him." Jesus often told people who could see Him to trust in Him, to believe in Him, to have faith in Him. While God the Father is still invisible Jesus said in John 14:9 "Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father." 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, "We live by trusting not by seeing." It does not say we cannot see but that we don't rely on our sight. We rely on, we trust, God. Faith is trusting God as a being and trusting what He says.
Is Faith Fact Based?
Believing is almost universally thought to be an unsure "maybe." Such as "I believe it may rain today." Saying, "I believe so" leaves the idea of "I think so, I'm not sure, I could easily be proven wrong." One mainstream definition of belief found on wiktionary.org is "mental acceptance of a claim as truth regardless of supporting evidence."
Faith/Trust is an utter confidence in some one's or some thing's trustworthiness. Trust that there is such a place as London leads us to act as if this were so even if we've never seen London. Trust is very much based in facts.
In some sense it doesn't matter if I get facts wrong. It does matter who I trust. If you as my friend have some wrong information about me that doesn't mean I will disown you. Neither will Jesus disown those who trust Him if they are wrong concerning facts about Him. God values our relationship with Him more than us knowing a checklist of facts about Him. Of course it is better to know the truth (facts) about the Truth (Jesus) but we must remember that the Holy Spirit promises to lead God's children to all truth as long as they are willing to follow.
Believe Falls Short of Biblical
Personally I think the word believe has no place in the bible as it falls miserably short to capture the meaning of the underlying Greek word. Believing is usually thought of as impersonal, distant, and unsure. Trusting is personal and confident. My discovery that "faith" means "trust" and "to believe" means "to trust" has greatly improved my relationship with God and my understanding of His scriptures. It reveals that God wants us to draw close to Him and not for us to learn facts about Him from a distance. God is our Father not a book of guesses. Relationship is the purpose of faith. It is truth in relation to God not true statements alone.
Words are nothing to fight about but having weak or incorrect words causes our perceptions to be shaped and thus affects how we live our lives day to day. If the word tolerance had been used instead of the word love in the bible our perception of God towards us would be greatly changed. I would think that God just puts up with me, doesn't care for me, and has little to no kindness towards me.
I have already shown how the word believe differs from trust. The word faith is unclear and has been given improper definitions by many. It gives us little to no idea of the relational intent that the word trust expresses. The prevalent idea is that believing or having faith is something I muster up on my own. Trust is something I put in someone else. God's trustworthiness is in focus rather than me and my effort.
Trusting God is the Will of God
Jesus said in John 10:10, "I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly." Jesus said in John 17:3, "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent." Jesus said in John 6:47 "Truly, truly I say to you, He who trusts in me has eternal life." Jesus said in John 6:40, "This is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and trusts in Him will have eternal life."
I encourage you to read that last paragraph again, as there is tremendous truth there. Now what then can we say is God's will for you and I? God's will for us is to trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God. God's will for your life is to love you as much as you will let Him. You let Him love you by trusting Him.
Remembering that Jesus is life (John 14:6, Colossians 3:4, 1 John 1:2) let's look at the scriptures from above with a more personal wording. Jesus said in John 10:10, "I have come so that you may have me, and lots of me." Jesus said in John 6:47 "If you trust me you have me forever." Jesus said in John 6:40, "This is the will of My Father, that you trust me and have me forever."
Finisher and Beginner
"Let us focus on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith/trust" (Hebrews 12:2)
God is the originator and the one who will complete our trust in Him. He is the one who matures it. The one who tops it all off and makes it all that it is supposed to be.
Our trust in God is won by Him over time in relationship with us. As He goes with us through our circumstances He proves Himself to be interactively trustworthy in those circumstances.
God may prove His trustworthiness by giving you unexpected provision when you face financial trouble. He may prove His trustworthiness by giving you miraculous protection during an accident. He may prove His trustworthiness by comforting you in your heartache. He may prove His trustworthiness by laying a promise on your heart that He later fulfills. He may prove His trustworthiness by healing you or answering your prayers. He may prove His trustworthiness by revealing truth to you at a time which you would understand and accept it that you know you couldn't have handled in the past.
God has done every single one of these things for me. May we not take God's trustworthiness to love us for granted! What aspect of God's trustworthiness should be most prevalent to us? That He is trustworthy to love you!
Faith/trust grows by learning more about who God is, getting to know Him, and growing in our relationship with Him. The more truth we learn about God and the more we get to know God the more trustworthy and loving we will find Him to be thus our trust (faith) in him will increase.
Philippians 1:6 says, "He who began a good work in you is faithful/trustworthy to complete it." Most people interpret the Christian life as "Ok God saved me and now I've begun a good work in myself and I'm going to try as best as I can to be faithful to complete this so that God will finally accept me someday in heaven." That mindset also says, "I'm trying to do this great work for God, and achieve holiness, and stand strong and firm in doing all the right things." The truth is that it is God who began a good work in us. It is God who is trustworthy to complete it. We're His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10). Our job is to trust God enough to simply rest in the work that He is doing in and through us.
Faith and Works
Works are a showing that you have trust in God. You can work without trust but you can't trust without it leading to works. These works are as simple as loving people God puts in your life or following God's leading into the unknown.
The life I live in the body, I live by trust in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)
We don't live our lives by trying to be good. We live our lives by trust in Jesus Christ; relational trust, putting our security in God, and trusting what He tells us is true to the point of being willing to act it out. Just as I trust my legs to be capable of allowing me to walk in everyday life I must trust Jesus Christ to be capable of allowing me to walk in love so that I may benefit God and others.
Faith is not based on commands. It is based on living your life day by day and doing the things you find to do as a result of trusting in God. To live by trust is not a matter of living by rules. It is a matter of living your life everyday trusting in God, knowing that He is good to you, and knowing that the things you do as a result of your trust are simply walking in a trustful relationship with God.
The more you trust the Father the freer you will live the way He wants you to live in the world. The reason we don't live the way He wants us to live in the world is because we ultimately don't trust Him and therefore feel like we have to do it all ourselves or we have to do things to earn His grace or earn His love.
Christian transformation comes not because we conform our lives to God's supposed standards and find out the rules and follow them devotedly. It comes by my growing relationship with God, and my growing affection for Him, and my growing trust in Him. He displaces the things in which sin takes its hold on my life.
God wants our relationship with Him to be based on growing trust and friendship. God doesn't base our relationship with Him on how much we obey Him or how many good things we do vs. how many bad things we do. The relationship God wants to have with us is the same kind we want to have with others, one of love and acceptance. Jesus doesn't want our relationship with Him to be burdensome but brotherly.
The Christian life is Christ's life, His works in and through us, His blessings, His ability, His direction, it is about His works not our works. If we could get that into, not simply our minds but our mindsets that our response to God is to simply rest and to trust Him then we will begin to see true fruit, true works that are really of God and not of ourselves.
Trusting God is the Work God Wants from Us
They said, "We want to perform God's works, too. What should we do?" Jesus told them, "This is the only work God wants from you: Trust in the one he has sent." (John 6:28-29)
What is the work of God? To trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God.
How can we do the works of God? Trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God.
How do we do the works of God? Trust in Jesus Christ the Son of God.
The very work of God is trusting in Jesus! Once again because this is important, Jesus said in John 6:29, "This is the work of God: to trust in Jesus Christ whom God has sent." If we work for God without trusting in Christ we don't do the work of God.
In Philippians 2 there is the well known scripture that says to "work out your salvation with fear and trembling." The Greek word for trembling is defined as: "used to describe the anxiety of one who distrusts his ability completely to meet all requirements, but devotedly does his utmost to fulfill his duty."
Philippians 2:12-13 (with trembling substituted for its definition):
"Work out your own salvation with reverence and an anxiety that distrusts your own ability to completely meet all the requirements; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure and purpose."
We most certainly must distrust our own ability to meet all requirements, and, as we saw earlier, our "duty" is to trust the God who is at work in us to will and to do according to His good pleasure. We are indeed His workmanship and "in deed" His workmanship.
Faith without works is dead (James 2:17) but remember Jesus said that the work is trusting in Him. The works James talks about then are actions produced by trust and performed with trust. They are God bred, God lead, and God fed. Without love (God) we are nothing. Without trust we act as if God is nothing, we don't know Him, and we can do it all on our own.
Faith as Currency
Often we put our trust in the amount of faith we think we have instead of putting our trust in Jesus Christ. We look at faith as a currency. "Alright God I've paid you with faith now you owe me." But faith is trust in God and His work. Faith is not a bribe we slip to God through prayer to get Him to serve us. Faith says, "Lord I trust you know what is best for me and when it is best for me and I will receive what you give with thankfulness."
You see faith as currency instead of trust if you're keeping God's rules because you think God is a bean counter and it takes so many good acts to get a particular blessing or if you think God is somehow obligated to bless you because you behaved and obeyed His rules. Step back and say, "Lord, I trust your decisions for me better than I trust my own. It is so much more beneficial on every level when I get something that you've given to me in your time frame, under your terms."
Trusting the Wrong Things
The opposite of biblical faith is trusting in something to the exclusion of God. Trust is only as good as what it is placed in. If you have faith in yourself in place of trusting God or even have faith in faith itself, your faith is in vain. Those who thought they could keep the law trusted in themselves rather than God.
We are not to count on our own good behavior. We are not to put faith in our amount of faith. Trust God to fulfill what it is that He wants to do instead of feeling like you've got to take on that responsibility by yourself. Base your faith on what Jesus did not on what you do.
We don't need to get our facts/truth straight we need to get our faith/trust straight. God will get us to the facts in His wise timing if we go to Him in trust. It is to your detriment to make trusting in God into trusting in your own faith. Faith is trust that Jesus Christ is trustworthy. The more we humble ourselves and seek to know Him the more we will trust Him.
Entrusting Yourself to God
It is not enough to have knowledge of God's love. It is better to also have security in His love. That security comes by trusting Him (faith) because trust (faith) is placing your security in God, entrusting yourself to Him. Trust is deferring your security to someone else.
When scripture says "love believes all things" we know that "believes" means "trusts." We can rightly say that "love entrusts all things (to God)." Remembering that God is love, this is evident in the Father entrusting everything to Jesus and Jesus entrusting everything to the Father. In the same way we show God that we love Him by entrusting everything to Him. This entrusting is sometimes called submission. Where you trust Christ you have life in His name. Where you don't trust Him then you get the anxiety of life, fears, and doubts.
Jesus said in John 14:1, "Let not your heart be troubled trust in God, and trust also in me." Jesus' cure for a troubled heart is trust in God and Himself. Just as when we were children we trusted our parents to take care of us and comfort us when we were troubled or afraid so we should trust God enough to go to Him when we are troubled because we realize that with Him is the safest place to be.
Choosing to Trust
One definition of faith I've heard is "the will to trust, the decision to follow the best light you have about God and not quit. Trust is a decision of the will won by the trustworthiness of its object."
Trust is still a choice. Logically trusting God is an easy choice but trust doesn't come just by knowledge of propositions, it comes by observation and experience. We humans are quick to doubt and slow to trust. This is for a good reason as there are many falsehoods and untrustworthy people in this world. God takes the wisest relational step of proving Himself trustworthy to us. If our trust is based only on propositions with no observation or experience then when difficulty comes we will trust God very little and likely not at all.
Trust is a natural byproduct of relationship that leads to a willful choice. Trust is the expression of the maturity of a relationship. Trust is not something you can demand from someone. You trust someone to the degree that you perceive them to be trustworthy. Sometimes we trust people who deceive us or claim authority over us and that trust is misplaced. Other times we refuse to trust someone who is trustworthy, or even God who is fully trustworthy. We do this because we don't perceive them correctly because we do not know them well enough. Trust is the fruit of a relationship in which you know that you are loved. God empowers our decision to trust by revealing His love for us. Doubt is conquered by Jesus as He captures your heart!
We know how much God loves us, and we have put our trust in his love. (1 John 4:16)