"In God we trust" is emblazoned in green ink on our American currency. This phrase became our national motto in 1956. After 9-11, it became popular to sing "God Bless America" during the seventh-inning stretch at baseball games.
The idea of trusting in God is woven into the fabric of American history, despite the continuing efforts of atheists to remove all mention of God associated with anything government related. But is historical revision really necessary? I mean, does America really trust in God?
I'm not talking about atheists or agnostics or the more current category of the nones. I'm wondering about those who confess a belief in God and say they trust in God.
Belief isn't trust
Trust in God isn't a matter of belief—what a person believes about God. It's a confidence in God and His nature (Heb 11:6). Many people say they believe in God, in Jesus, in the Bible, have faith, and so on. But that belief doesn't always translate into trust.
In the book of James, we're told that demons believe in God. They know He exists but they don't trust in Him, they fear Him (James 2:19)!
Belief doesn't always translate into trust
The Bible is full of examples of people who have a belief in God but don't trust in Him. One book of the Bible illustrates this well—the book of Judges. Thankfully, many examples of people who believe and genuinely trust in God are found throughout the Bible.
The obvious examples
Noah built an ark—a huge ship—because he heeded God's warning and trusted His guidance (Gen 6:11-22). God warned Noah of a cataclysmic flood. He believed God even though Noah had never experienced either rain or flooding.
Noah's obedience to God demonstrated his trust in God—a personal and complete trust.
Abraham, the great patriarch of Israel, became the father of many nations—people groups—because he trusted in God. His trust in God transcends mere belief as seen by his willingness to slay the son God promised to give him (Heb 11:8-12, 17-19).
God considered Abraham to be righteous and a friend, not because of a mere belief but his complete and personal trust in God (James 2:23).
Genuine faith is a simple, personal, confident trust in God
King David trusted God in a very personal way as expressed through the many Psalms he wrote (Psalm 23). He trusted God through many difficulties, betrayals, and even when he utterly failed God (2 Samuel 12:7-13; Psalm 51).
These three men led extraordinary lives and appear to have extraordinary faith. They did. They do. But this is the very type of faith—a simple, personal, confident trust in God—any person can have that exemplifies true faith in God.
Faith, trust, and risk
Faith, believe, and trust are common words in the Bible and may be used interchangeably. But their true biblical meanings are best understood and illustrated through the lives of people such as Noah, Abraham, and David.
The eleventh chapter of Hebrews gives many examples of these people. The genuine faith of all of them is described in Hebrews 11:6—
No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
Genuine faith involves an element of trust and trust is always a risk. It requires a commitment to move beyond the fear of failure.
Genuine faith involves an element of trust and trust is always a risk
Faith in the face of failure
Real faith—a commitment of trust—is often clarified and confirmed by what appears as a failure at first. Consider Abraham who was known as a father of those who live by faith (Rom 4:10-12 GW).
Abraham was promised a son but he and his wife tried to make this happen through Sarah's servant Hagar and it was a colossal failure (Gen 16:1-6). Abraham waited 25 years for the son God promised to give him through his wife Sarah (Gen 12:1-4; 17:15-19).
Even after Isaac, the promised son was born, Abraham's faith was tested beyond belief. God told him to sacrifice him! As God saw Abraham's childlike trust in his willingness to slay his son, God honored Abraham and promised even greater blessing (Gen 22:1-18).
The story of Abraham, Isaac, and God's command to sacrifice this promised son is a story all its own—a story of redemption.
Genuine faith is often clarified and confirmed by what appears as a failure at first
Faith is impractical
For more than 45 years, my wife and I have lived by faith in a simple way. At times we've been questioned and even mocked for the simplicity of our faith. Yet, God has proved faithful and blessed us with many opportunities to serve Him and blessings beyond.
Our faith was tested in many ways over the years. It still is tested as we move into different phases of our life. This is to be expected.
Faith is not a practical pursuit, it's a matter of trust in God and His faithfulness to honor our trust in Him (Heb 11:6). Faith is more than what we believe about God.
True, genuine faith is a complete and personal trust in God—a childlike trust. What kind of faith is needed to please God? This is what Jesus instructed His first followers—
I can guarantee this truth: Whoever doesn’t receive the kingdom of God as a little child receives it will never enter it. (Luke 18:17 GW—context– Luke 17:15-17)
True, genuine faith is a complete and personal trust in God—a childlike trust
What kind of faith do you have?
Is your faith more than beliefs about God?