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.
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.
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.
The third servant however, was afraid to use his talent, hiding it and keeping it buried in the ground.
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.
His master was pleased that his servant had done so well, and rewarded him accordingly.
He likewise approached the second servant for an accounting.
As was done with the first, he praised the second, rewarding him.
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.
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.
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.
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.