Faith vs. Belief

The parable of the talents.


By Craig Portwood


Many Christians seem to rest in their perceived confidence that they are assured of salvation for their belief in Christ. Many times, believers will state that they are safe in the knowledge that Christ is the only way to salvation – and they are saved by their faith. They will point to scriptures such as Acts 16:31 and Romans 10:9, believing that since they believe Christ is the Messiah who died for the sins of the world, they can rest in that belief without a care.


Acts 16: 31:


And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.



Romans 10:9:


That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.



For all this, many believers have confused faith with belief, imagining that if they believe hard enough, it is proof of their faith in him. The question remains however, is belief truly enough? Are faith and belief the same thing?


Christians are taught much about faith in the Bible. We know that we can move mountains with it. We can heal with it. It is impossible to please God without it. Yet how many times are we willing to put it to the test?


Oftentimes, believers are reluctant to test their faith. They have been given a measure of faith, but are unwilling to put that faith to the test, in fear that it may fail them, and that they might lose their faith. Despite the fact that faith untested is a sign of a lack of faith, there are believers who are content to never test that faith that it might grow. It is in essence, hidden in the ground.


In Matthew chapter 25, we are given a story called the parable of the talents.


It is interesting to note that, although in context, the word “talent” referred to a measure of money by weight, the English word talent means capacity, capability, or aptitude. Indeed, we all have various skills, abilities and capabilities as believers which we can use to further the cause of the gospel. We also have “gifts” of the spirit by which we are known to be believers in Christ. One gift we all must possess if we are truly believers, is the gift of faith.


In this simile, Christ describes a man who left his servants in charge of his business, giving each of them talents of money, according to their individual abilities. To one he gave five talents, to a second he gave two, and to the last he gave one. The man then left on a long journey.


Matthew 25:14-15:


For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.



The first servant to whom his master gave five talents, used what he had been given by his master and doubled them. The second servant to whom he had given two talents, also used what he had been given and doubled them.


Matthew 25:16-17:


Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents. And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.



The third servant however, was afraid to use his talent, hiding it and keeping it buried in the ground.


Matthew 25:18:


But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.


Upon his return, he approached his servants to see how they fared in his absence. The first servant gave an account of what he had done in his masters absence.


Matthew 25:19-20:


After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them. And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.



His master was pleased that his servant had done so well, and rewarded him accordingly.


Matthew 25:21:


His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.



He likewise approached the second servant for an accounting.


Matthew 25:22:


He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.



As was done with the first, he praised the second, rewarding him.


Matthew 25:23:

His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.


Next, the servant that had been given the one talent approached his Lord and plead his case.


Matthew 25:24-25:


Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.



Now, should we suppose that his master should be pleased that the servant kept what he was given, neither losing nor gaining? The answer is clear in the following verse.


Matthew 25:26-28:

His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed: Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.



Notice that there was no question of the “wicked” servant's belief. He knew all too well who is master was – and feared to disappoint him. Despite this, he did nothing to increase what he had been given – and suffered a terrible consequence because of it.

Matthew 25:29-30:

For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.


Many believers express today their complete confidence in their salvation as though they have arrived at a safe destination instead of embarking upon an arduous journey. Many of them attend a “church,” socialize at all the associated functions and for all intents and purposes, do the same thing they have always done – never growing in faith or knowledge. Worse yet, some treat their experience as a religious social club – a comfortable safe place to meet people who share a common belief.


Few of them consider the fact that if they truly have God's spirit and trust in him, rather than enjoy a comfortable, carefree existence, they will be tried and tested that God might mold them into a useful instrument that he can use to reveal his glory to a world which is hostile to him.


It is this author's hope that you will use whatever talents you have been given, to gain an increase that you might present to him on that day when all accounts are settled and the reckoning – for good or for evil, is counted for eternity.