Belief in God vs. Trust in God

Peter Enns has once again stirred the soup of my mind with a recent post titled: “Why I Don’t Believe in God Anymore.” However the title is supposed to be somewhat provocative and induce a further look. In truth Enns insightfully presents a distinction between belief in God and trust in God. After reading his article I felt motivated to move past the ceiling of basic belief in God and move into a greater realm of trust–despite the risks. For their is no trust without risk. Here is an excerpt of Enns piece:

I see a huge difference between “I believe in a God who cares for me” and “I trust God at this particular moment.” The first is a bit safer, an article of faith. The latter is unnerving, risky–because I have let go.
You’ve all heard of the “trust fall.” There’s a reason they don’t call it a “belief fall.” Belief  can reside in our heads. Trust is doing it, risking it. Trust is humility, putting ourselves in the hand of another. Trust requires something of us that belief doesn’t.
When God promises Abraham that he will have more offspring than the stars in the sky, translations of the next verse conventionally say that Abraham “believed” God. (Genesis 15:6)
“Believe” isn’t the right word there. “Trust” is. The Hebrew word is the same one we get “amen” from. “Amen” is not a social cue that grace is finished and it’s time to eat. It is the final word in the prayer: we’re done talking now, Lord, and we now move to trust.
God promised an old man a lot of kids. Abraham trusted God to come through. That is way harder than believing. Believing has wiggle room. Trusting doesn’t.
The same thing holds for the gospel. “Believing” in God–or even having “faith” in him–doesn’t cut it. At least the way these words are used today.
Beliefs can be collated into a “belief system”–an intellectual construction of what sorts of things are right to think and not think about God. Followers of Jesus, however, are called to do something much harder.
Jesus tells a famous story about why those who follow him need not worry about anything. Don’t fret about how much you have, what you wear, or what you will eat. Don’t worry. Trust. (Matthew 6:25-34)
Jesus illustrates the point in what at first blush seems rather off topic–at best marginally helpful. He tells us to consider the grass of the field and the birds of the sky. Look at them, Jesus says. They’re doing just fine and they don’t worry for a second.
Of course they don’t worry, Jesus, because they are–if I’m not mistaken–grass and birds. Grass doesn’t have a brain and birds are skittish little things that fly into windows. These things aren’t really relevant, Jesus, because, you see, by definition, Jesus, these things are incapable of worry.
And when you put it that way, you can see the profound point–and challenge–of what Jesus is saying: worry should be as impossible for us as it is for grass and birds. His followers–if they get it–should be as incapable of worry as insentient grass and bird-brained birds.
“Believing in God” doesn’t get you to that place Jesus is describing here. Belief leaves room for worry. Trust explodes it.

About StriderMTB

Hi, I'm Matt. "Strider" from Lord of the Rings is my favorite literary character of all time and for various reasons I write under the pseudonym "StriderMTB. As my blog suggests I seek to live out both the excitement and tension of a Christian walk with Christ in the 3rd world context of Asia. I started my blog as an unmarried man who was blessed to oversee an orphanage of amazing children in South-East Asia. As of 2022, I am a happily married man to an amazing missionary wife serving together on the mission field. I hate lima beans and love to pour milk over my ice-cream. I try to stay active in both reading and writing and this blog is a smattering of my many thoughts. I see the Kingdom of God as Jesus preached it and lived to be the only hope for a broken world and an apathetic church.
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14 Responses to Belief in God vs. Trust in God

  1. KIRAN KUMAR says:

    belief and trust are very close and have very thin line between them , trust comes when you have seen both sides coin , you know all the consequences and still you make a call , and when you are not aware of other side of the coin , you don’t know the consequences and you make a call thinking that there can be only one result , it is your belief.
    Today the whole world is fighting not for food ,money or power,but just because their belief is different then others and they think there can not be any other side of the coin

  2. Terry Kraft says:

    It has taken me a long time to distinguish this difference between belief and trust. I believe I have used the terms interchangeably with my understanding only going as far as what it takes to just believe. The Bible tells us that even the devils believe. However, now I am finding that trusting God for his promises is the crux of the matter. I believe that trusting God is the actual proof that we believe in him. Trusting seems so much more difficult, even though we may understand how great, powerful and beyond our comprehension God is. How can we truly believe in him if we don’t trust him with our lives for what he has told us in His Word. I believe our individual natures play a role in this as well. My personality is one that requires someone to prove themselves, make sure I understand everything in complete detail first, skeptical, questioning. That approach does not work so well with God. Believing that Christ died for our sins is one thing. Trusting that this act of him dying on the cross has atoned for and completely paid for my sin and assures me of eternal life with him just because I believe and trust in him is a wholly different manner. How could one worry if we completely trusted in that reality? I believe that this point is clarified in Mark 9:23 & 24. Jesus encounters a boy who is ill and tells the boy’s father “if you believe, all things are possible”. The father says “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief!”. That may well mean “Lord I believe but help me to truly trust in the fact that you can do this thing”. Lord, do what you need to do in me to build my trust in you for the things that I believe about you.

    I believe that true trust in the current world we live in is becoming more and more difficult. And so it should be with items like identity theft and all kinds of other forces trying to do us harm. We warn our children about exposing themselves on the Internet, we worry about protecting our financial accounts from hackers, we are inundated with people trying to pull one over on us. This all heightens our sense of distrust. We don’t want to be vulnerable so we limit our trust and circle the wagons tighter. So is the difference between living in “the world” and “His kingdom”. No wonder it is a struggle. Holy spirit, help us in discerning the balance in these two realities we live in. Getting to the root of the issue that hinders our true trusting in God is crucial. Lord, reveal to us other truths that help us to build our true trust in you as we also are careful about limiting who and what we trust in the world.

  3. 915mammo@comcast says:

    I trust god because i beileve god is incapable of lying and as a result i can put my faith in him as an object of belief. However, there are many things i believe but i do not trust. If god tells me i live on this planet until jan 1, 2060, i both believe god and also can trust him. However, if my doctor tells me the same thing, i may beieve him with a profound skepticism but i do not trust him.

  4. Faith says:

    Thank you for the clarity

  5. william Biscorner says:

    But it seems that everyone is changing the basic idea which Jesus ordained – that we should “believe” in the Son, “believe” in God. Everyone is changing Jesus’ words to mean “trust” when there was no “trust” intended. It doesn’t matter how we “Feel” what Jesus might have intended, only what He spoke! This is how we ended up with so many denomination – from peoples opinions and feelings, instead of just taking Jesus at His word…

    • StriderMTB says:

      Thanks for the comment. I do get what you are saying. I am of the opinion faith and belief means much more than mental agreement in the perspective of Jesus. Faith is a loyalty of commitment that abandons hope in other “saviors” or devices. Trust is a good fit. If you have faith in your wife’s faithfulness you trust her to abandon everything that is contrary to faithfulness.

  6. Pingback: Is Believing Enough? – Lorne Robinson's Blog

  7. Arasi Emmanuella says:

    This is an awesome article .God bless you.I was greatly blessed.

    • StriderMTB says:

      Glad to hear! Shalom to you 🙂

      • Dave jacobson says:

        I have struggled over this issue for years. Believing that the Bible is the Word of God is relatively easy. Examine the book do research and you will establish that the Bible is the word of god. Once you get over that little hump you are no nearer to salvation. Well you are nearer than if you never established the fact that The Bible IS The Word of God. One passage that has recently caught my my interest is in Galatians. I sent this e-mail to a friend recently:
        ‘ Galatians 3.14

        …..All this he suffered…..and that through faith we might receive the promised gift of the Spirit.

        Do we receive the Spirit by faith or through faith in the death etc. of Jesus we receive the Spirit.

        In other words in believing (faith) in the death of Jesus we receive the gift.

        In other words through faith in Him we receive the promise and not by faith in receiving the promise but by faith in what He did and in so believing we received the gift and that is a supernatural experience which we are inwardly aware of.

        You know you are saved!’

        Kindest regards


      • StriderMTB says:

        Great word. Good distinction. Thanks Dave!

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