What are trust, faith, belief, and hope?


Question: “What are the differences between trust, faith, belief, and hope?”

Bible Answers

Paul said, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation (1 Corinthians 3:10).  

A foundation is the first principle of Christian life and knowledge (Hebrews 6:1), and must support all that is built upon it.  

If we desire a full Christian life in Christ, we must start with a strong and well-developed foundation.  A foundation built of Trust and Love, Faith, Belief, and Hope in God.  A foundation that permits us to receive and operate in all that God has promised and given us.

Luke 6:48-49 says, A man building a house [his soul], who dug deep [into scripture] and laid the foundation on the rock [Christ]. And when a flood [Satan’s problems] arose … and broke against that house and could not shake it, because it had been well built. A man who built a house on the ground without a foundation, and when the stream [Satan’s problems] broke against it, immediately it fell, and the ruin of that house [his soul] was great.  

While some claim that trust, faith, and belief are all synonyms, a review of the Greek will demonstrate that while “faith” surely includes the element of “belief,” and they are interdependent on each other, and are similar, being from the root of “trust,” they are not the same.

Trust (Peithó) is a complete confidence or assured reliance on the character, ability, reliability, strength, or truth of someone or something.  Trust is a human characteristic, a personal choice. We choose to trust God, Satan, ourselves or others.

Faith (Pistis) is faith, belief, trust, a conviction of truth, confidence, assurance, persuasion, or divine persuasion. It is from the root of trust, which supplies the core meaning of faith "divine persuasion.” Faith is a noun and a noun is a word for a person, place, or thing.  We can say that faith is the confidence of what is yet unseen. Faith is a spiritual gift from God, and never something that can be produced by human effort.  In short, faith is God's “divine persuasion.” God provides faith, but it is our responsibility to operate and grow in it, and not to kill our faith with doubt and unbelief.

Believe (Pisteuó) is believe in, have faith in, trust in, place confidence in, to entrust, adheres to, rely on, accept, to think to be true, or to be persuaded of. Believe is the verb form of faith. A verb can express a physical action, a mental action, or a state of being.  A verb is an action word. Believe comes from the word faith, and is derived from the root word, trust.  Like faith, there is a human component of believe and spiritual component of believe. In short, for believers, believe is to be persuaded by the Lord, hence the saying, “faith to believe.”

Hope (Elpis) is trust, confidence, earnest, anticipate, and intense expectation.  An absolute assurance that God will do well for me in the future.  Unfortunately, many think of hope as meaning just a wishing and a hoping.  Hope is not doubt but intense expectation.

By definition, we can see that hope works with faith, but it is not faith. Paul says in Romans 15:13, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.   

Hope looks forward with desire, confidence, and expectation. There is no power for the present without hope for the future. While despair looks at present realities; hope sees ultimate realities. God is a God of hope and has placed hope within us.

Trusts, faith, believe, and hope all have one word in common from the original Greek.  All can be translated “confidence” or “confidence in.”  I personally like the conviction that the word confidence contains.  “Lord, I have confidence in you.” “I have confidence in your Word.”

 Confidence defines trust, faith, believe, and hope.


The greatest thing God wants from us is to love and trust Him. Trusting God is the stimulus by which we get results in every area of our lives. We cannot experience faith in God if we do not trust Him.  We learn to trust God when we learn to know Him, love Him, and to worship Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).

The beginning of trust is believing God is who He says He is and the completion of trust is when we make God our Lord by completely surrendering all that we are and have - ourselves, our occupation, our resources, our time, and our families to God.  

Proverbs 3:5 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.  However, in real life, most of us have a hard time trusting God completely at one time or another. Part of the problem with trusting God is that God’s ways don’t always make sense to us.  We want it to make sense.  We want it our way and in our timing.  We need to trust God with His ways and His timing for our life. We need to Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.

In order to trust God completely, we need to make Him the Lord of our life.  But many of us do not want to give control of our lives over to another.  At the first sign of any difficulty, we think that God must not love us because He is permitting this difficulty to happen.  We need to remember that we do not see the big picture as God does. God may be waiting for a part of the picture to develop that is not yet ready and that includes us, we may not be ready.

We need to keep trusting God regardless of what is happening around us, even if things seem hopeless.  We need to keep our eyes on Him rather than on our problem. He will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on Him: because he trust in Him (Isaiah 26:3).  God is very aware of each thing that is happening to you.  We need to turn control completely over to our heavenly Father and stop trying to figure out a solution ourselves.     


If you owned a large ship, but had never been to sea, you have the right to be the captain or you could turn the responsibility over to someone with the proper credentials and experience to be the captain and you would be a ship hand.  You may not know the route the captain is taking, but you know he will get you there.  In the same way, we need to turn our life over, in trust, to Captain Jesus.

Surrendering to God is trusting God

We are only free of the world’s cares when we surrender our will and desires to God and let Him, as our captain, handle all of our cares. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you (1 Peter 5:7). Unfortunately, the enemy will keep trying to slip in his negative thoughts.  I find that I will be going along fine in the Lord when suddenly I realize that my thoughts are back on a problem or doubt. Once I realize it, I cast the thought out of my mind in the name of Jesus and fill it with scripture such as casting all my anxiety on him.

With some problems, we turn it over to the Lord and wait on Him while with other problems we can ask the Lord, “What is your will,” “What would you have me do,” or “What is your solution.”  In each case it still is in God’s hands.  In you, Lord my God, I put my trust (Psalm 25:1).

Trust test

The following three questions will help determine if you fully trust God.

1.  Romans 15:13 says, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.  Are you filled with all joy and peace?

2.  Christ asks, Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46).  Are you doing what He says, are you being fully obedient?

3.  Paul said, …for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content (Philippians 4:11).  Do you trust God to the point of being content?  

If you answered no to any of the above questions, then today is the day you need to turn your life completely over to God for In God I put my trust (Psalm 56:4).


Contentment is being satisfied with what we have, who we are, and where we are going in our life because we trust God.  A person may say, “I trust God,” but are consumed by their desires. When their desires consume them, they have moved away from trusting God with their life and lose the joy of contentment because they are putting their interests above those of God.     

Do you trust God sufficiently to be your Captain?

Contentment does not mean never advancing; it does mean giving the Lord your desires and being patiently satisfied with what you have until the Lord fulfills your desires.

It takes time to learn to be content. Even the apostle Paul had to learn. I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances (Philippians 4:11).

The secret to contentment is developing a relationship of trust with the God of hope who is able to fill us with all joy and peace and hope.  The key to contentment and blessing rest in trusting God.

I am calm and quiet… at peace, like a baby with its mother (Psalm 131:2).

Many miss God’s blessing because they are not willing to fully trust Him.  A person trusts the one they follow.  We need to ask ourselves, “Who am I following?”  

A message from the Lord said, “So trust me.  Rely on me. In time you will have understanding.  Yes, you have been disappointed. Trust in me – in the end it will all come together.  Just trust in me.”

Psalm 84:12 says, O Lord Almighty, blessed is the man who trusts in you.


Faith in God is not referring to what God can do as much as who He is.  Faith trusts in God and His Word.

What is the source of faith

In Ephesians 2:8, Paul tells us the source of faith.  For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God, Faith is a gift from God. Faith is taking God at His Word, for The Lord’s word is flawless (Psalm 18:30).  

There is a human faith and there is a supernatural faith that only comes to those who have received God.

Human faith is limited to the five senses, what one can see, taste, hear, smell, or feel.

Supernatural faith permits us to believe things that we cannot see.  You have not seen God or the devil.  You have not seen heaven or hell.  How can you believe in things you cannot see? The answer is that you cannot believe in invisible things with human faith but you can with God's supernatural faith.

Heb. 12:2 says ...Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. And Romans 12:3 says, God has dealt to every man a measure of faith.  We do not know how big a measure is, maybe it is a cup of faith, maybe a quart of faith, but God says that we only need one seed, one little seed to move a mountain (Matthew 17:20).  Seed faith is watered with the Word of God.

God has given us a gift of supernatural faith at salvation, and it is never taken from us or leaves us. Faith becomes a permanent part of our born-again spirit, but we can easily kill faith with doubt. We need to quench doubt to let faith flourish.  

God did not give us different measures of faith; we all received the same measure of faith. There is no lack of faith within any Christian. God gives faith equally to all. For God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11). God does give a person extra faith for a limited time as needed for a special situation. One of the fruits of the Spirit is faith (Galatians 5:22). However, what we do with our faith is up to us.  

In Galatians 2:20, Paul says, I live by the faith of the Son of God. Paul is saying that he has the same measure of faith that Jesus had. If there is only one measure of faith, then we also have the same faith as Jesus. If we have the same faith as Jesus and Paul, why do most not see the results of such faith? And why do we hear that we need to build our faith up? In a way the statement is true. Doubt is what tears faith down and eliminating doubt and exercising our faith builds it up.

Jesus did say that He had never seen such great faith as the centurion manifested (Matt. 8:10), and He did speak of His disciple's little faith (Matt. 8:26).  However, He was speaking about how much faith He saw, not how much they had.  Few of us use all the faith we have been given. Many Christians spend their time asking for more faith instead of using what they have.

Most people do not doubt that faith works.  However, they doubt that they have enough faith to get the job done. As long as Satan can keep you believing that you do not have enough faith, he can keep you powerless and ineffective.  

Source of doubt

Faith is from God; doubt is from Satan. While we may receive doubt from many different directions, it still originates with the devil.

What of God’s faith

What is God’s faith like?  When the Lord created the universe, Genesis 1:3 tells us that God created light on the first day but didn't create the sun, moon, and stars until the fourth day of creation (Gen. 1:14-19). The Lord called light into being first and three days later created a source for the light to come from. That's not the way natural man does things, but God calls things that are not as though they were. That's supernatural.

Heb. 11:3 says, Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things visible. God created everything we see out of what we cannot see. Faith believes in things that we do not see. It is putting God’s Word first. That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the Power of God (1 Corinthians 2:5). It is having confidence that God will fulfill His promises in His perfect timing.

Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1).  This is not blind faith, but faith based on “the evidence of” things not seen. We can have faith in the “things not seen” when we base it on the evidence of the Word of God and the evidence of our experience with God and His creation that surrounds us.

Can faith be increased

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5). The Lord did not respond by telling them how to have more faith, but to use the faith they have and they would do great things.

The things that pertain unto life and godliness, through faith are given us through the knowledge of God. That's why Romans 10:17 says, faith comes by hearing the Word of God.  The amount of faith we operate in is often directly proportional to the amount of knowledge of God’s Word that you have hidden in your heart.  Paul said, and I pray … your faith may become effective through the knowledge of every good thing which is in you (Philemon 1:6).

People would eventually see results if they didn’t give up, but they give up because they believe they do not have what it takes.  We just need to acknowledge what we have and begin to learn the laws from the Word that govern the operation of faith.  We need to believe and not doubt.  Let us picture and speak the answers that we are seeking.

James said,  Faith without works is dead (James 2:20). What is “works” and what does “dead” mean?  Works include, praying in faith, claiming in faith, demanding in faith, blessing in faith, and helping others as the Lord directs us, in the power and authority to represent Him. The word “dead” means unproductive, inactive, and idle. A lot of us have more faith lying inactive and unproductive than active.

The woman with the issue of blood was healed by her faith, not Christ’s faith.  He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Mark 5:34. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed. Mark 6:56b. They received by exercising their faith in Jesus.

The importance of faith in receiving healing cannot be over emphasized. Do not expect to receive from God if you do not have the “faith to believe” that what God promised in His Word will be fulfilled.  James 5:15 says, The prayer of faith shall heal the sick. No faith, no healing.

Faith from love

Many are missing faith because they are not walking in love. The only thing that counts is faith working through love (Galatians 5:6).  This is Godly love that is more interested in what it can do to help others than its self. Walking in faith through love moves the hand of God.

What we see

Many have a hard time picturing internal healing.  In John 7:38, we have the Holy Spirit pictured as streams of living waters.  The river of life can be whatever you want it to be within the will of God.  Picture the river of life flowing from the throne of God to you with healing, prosperity, restoration, blessings, and your prayer request.  By faith, whatever you need and God has promised, you will receive in God’s timing.

 Picture God’s blessings and promises streaming to

you from heaven on the Holy Spirit’s living water

Faith permits a person to see beyond what they see to what they want. See yourself with the answer.  If you see yourself sick, you will be sick. The devil tries to change our picture so that we fear rather than believe. Fear is unbelief and doubt, and it kills faith. In faith, we take possession of God’s promises by picturing the desired results.

Speaking in Tongues and Faith

We want the guidance of the Holy Spirit in every area of our life. The gift of tongues is a priceless treasure. Speaking in a Holy Spirit given language is always a source of spiritual edification and building of our confidence and faith.  But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit (Jude 1:20).    

God will perform His Word by faith

God says, I will hasten my word to perform it (Jeremiah 1:12). God stands behind His Word with all the power in heaven. The God who spoke this world into existence and hung it in the sky, says that He will hasten to perform His Word.  He will stand behind His promises.  That’s God’s part, but we must also do our part with faith and without doubting.

God's Word should never be doubted, because God cannot lie. Whatever God says He is able to make good. God is not a man that he should lie; neither the son of man that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? (Numbers 23:19).

I love God’s guarantee.  If we ask anything according to his will … we know that we have what we asked of him (1Jn 5:14-15), if you have the faith to believe within God’s conditions, you will receive in God’s perfect timing.

This is not positive thinking.  Positive confession says, “If you believe hard enough, it will come true.” Christianity says, “This is the Word of God, it is true; therefore I believe it.”

Why is meditation important to faith

Meditating on the Word is much more than just reading, as reading gets the Word into our mind, but meditating permits God to provide additional understanding through revelation and for the Word to grow in our heart.  The Word in our heart is not as susceptible to doubt as when the Word is only in our mind.  Paul said, I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ (Galatians 1:12).  By spending time in the Word, prayer, praise and meditation, revelation will come. Revelation exposes faith and moves knowledge from “I believe” to “I know.”   

Real faith is taking God at His Word.  We are relying on God’s Word to work in answer to our request.  The more of God's Word you have hidden in your heart, the easier it is to believe and exercise faith in God and in His Word.  

Faith can be difficult because we are not willing to relinquish our will, and rely solely on God. Complete trust in God demands that we quit trying to "make it happen" and trust God "to make it happen," in His way and His timing.


Believing encompasses what God is able to do and that He will do all that He has promised in His Word.

Belief may be based on human reasoning and contained within our senses or it may be inbirthed by the Lord similarly to faith as believing is derived from faith (pístis). If you believe, then you are expecting.

Spiritual faith then provides the conviction to spiritually believe, and most of the above comments on faith then apply to believing. Believe then is the action component of faith.

A message from the Lord said, “I hear all the cries of your heart and I am moving on your behalf.  So ask.  But you must believe when you ask.  You must believe in order for my power to be released for you. Then add to your hope, faith, then I will hear, and it releases my power to accomplish my blessings.  Don’t hold back, don’t hold back.”

The enemy of faith and belief

What is the primary enemy of faith and believing that leads to destruction of trust?  The greatest enemy is doubt and unbelief. While often considered the same, they are significantly different. Doubt is when we cannot understand but we want to understand.  To doubt is to be in a wavering state of mind, as James said, to be double minded. Doubt believes but also includes but, but, but. You hesitate and waver between opinions. The Greek word means “to be uncertain, to waver or to hesitate.”

Unbelief is when we refuse to believe God’s Word and refuse to do what it tells us to do.  It is a conscious turning away from Him to other gods and other things. Doubt falls between belief and unbelief, but is closer to belief.  Doubt is “cannot believe” while unbelief is “will not believe.” Doubt is “honest questioning.” Unbelief is “obstinacy.”  Doubt struggles to believe.  Unbelief will not believe.

Satan works hard to keep you in doubt and tries to block you from receiving understanding.  Doubt is like a small match in a large pile of leaves.  Be on guard for thoughts of doubt from the enemy and seek the truth of God in faith. The remedy for doubt is truth from the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.  

I would be negligent not to point out that sin will separate you from God and will make faith and belief of no avail as God will not answer the prayers of a person who is withholding sin from repentance. If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me (Psalm 66:18). We must approach God with a pure heart filled with faith.

What then is the difference between faith and believe

Natural belief exists within our five senses and does not believe what it cannot see.  Spiritual faith permits us to believe what we cannot see.  Faith and believe are like two sides of the same coin. They both have trust as their primary root in Greek.  Faith is a noun, a conviction of truth of divine persuasion of the yet unseen. It is a spiritual gift from God. While believe is the verb form of faith, it provides the action for faith and thus trust.  

For example, by faith we accept air, even though we cannot see it. Air is a noun like faith is a noun. If we stop here, air will provide little benefit. However, breathing is an action, a verb like believing is a verb. When we combine air and breathing, our bodies receive needed oxygen.  Believing then adds action to our faith.

While I can believe there is a God and still not have faith or trust in God, I cannot have faith or trust in God if I do not believe in God.  It is our responsibility then to believe and operate within the faith God placed within us and to cast doubt away.


Trust is a human characteristic. We decide to have confidence and reliance on a person or a thing.

Faith is from God and is divine persuasion.  It believes in what we yet do not see.  Belief is the action component of faith as persuaded by the Lord.  Hope is a confident and intense expectation in the future.

Faith and believe are components of trust.  We do not normally need more faith; rather, we need to eliminate doubt that kills faith, by the renewing of our mind. We also build our faith by exercising it.

As we meditate on the Word, it sinks into our heart where God gives us revelation and it becomes alive so that we can operate in trust, faith, and belief, in such confidence that doubt has little chance, but that we know if we ask in God’s will, we will receive.  

Is it illogical to believe that God saved you, that He loves you so much that He died on the cross for you, but not to believe that He will fulfill your prayer when you ask in accordance with His conditions and will.

Where is the doubt coming from?  Doubt is not from God, and normally not from us, though it can be from confrontation with our own logic.  Doubt is normally from Satan.  Recognize the source and bind the thought and cast the doubt out in the name of Jesus Christ. Replace the pictures of doubt with pictures of the answer.  When you have trust and faith in God and confidently believe that He will, His great power is able to flow.

Trust then is the foundation for faith and believing in God. When you truly trust God, then you want God to be the Lord of your life. You trust Him with all of your life.

We have a choice to trust God and follow His kingdom, or we can trust Satan’s kingdom and follow the world. While Satan’s kingdom is temporary, God’s kingdom is eternal. You must follow one or the other. You cannot straddle the fence; you cannot be lukewarm toward God.

So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth (Revelation 3:16).

Time is always in the hand of God, but you have the Word of God in your hand.  With trust and faith, John says, you can have confidence before God; and whatever you ask you receive from him (1 John 3:21-22).

Trusting and loving God then is the foundation for faith, believing, and living a Christian life.  When you fully trust God, you will want Him to be the Lord of your life.  When He is your Lord, you can have complete faith and confidences that He will fulfill His Word.  

Next Section - What are Guilt, Conviction, and                      Condemnation?

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