I've encountered a teaching that seems to be quite prevalent, at least here in Israel. I first heard it taught in "The Purpose Driven Life" by Pastor Rick Warren and I have since encountered this teaching in 3 different Messianic Congregations here in Israel. That message is basically, 'forgiveness does not mean trust: that we as believers must forgive as Jesus taught, even 77 times (or 70 times 7 times) but that does not mean trusting the other person. They must re-earn our trust' and I basically just accepted this message as fact since it does seem to be reasonable. Then a few months ago, I finally watched the 1935 version of Les Miserables. For some inexplicable reason, I had been wanting to read or watch it for the last year or so but kept putting it off. When I finally encountered that scene with the Bishop and Jean Valjean, something hit me very hard about it. The way the bishop gave Jean the silver candlesticks when the police brought him back to the place and then the way the bishop told him before he left that he is always welcome there and that the front door is the proper way and not by any other means. It may be fictional, but it reminded me of a factual story.
The story from "The Cross and the Switchblade" and the way in which David Wilkerson led Niki Cruz and gang to the Lord. How he had finally gotten several gang members and others from the community together in an auditorium to share with them the Gospel message and how David Wilkerson asked Niki Cruz and his gang to take up the offering. As they were going through the passage up to the balcony, they noticed an exit door and were about to run off with the money when suddenly it occurred to them: 'This guy is trusting us. No one has ever trusted us before' and they brought the offering up to David. That single act of trust was instrumental in dissolving NYC gangs and eventually lead to hundreds of inner city Victory Outreach Missions throughout the world today, including one in Haifa, Israel.
So I started asking myself, "Why is it whenever this message of 'forgiveness does not equal trust' is taught, they do not bring any scriptural support for it?" And I'm kind of hard pressed. I am no doctor of scripture but I am quite familiar in a general overview sort of way and usually when I am troubled like this, the Lord will bring to memory scriptural support. But none arises to memory.
Three insights have been occurring to me and I'd really like some input here:
1) Forgiveness minus Trust really equals unforgiveness;
2) The person may be being hypocritical, saying to the other that they are forgiven, but their behavior, attitude and actions do not outwardly demonstrate it;
3) We are supposed to show to others the same Grace God showed us. God doesn't tell us, "I forgive you but now you must earn my trust". How then could we approach His Throne of Grace... How then will He welcome us into His Home?
If I am way off base here, then please let me know. I've been wrong many times in the past, and will be pleasantly surprised if I am way wrong about this: it will be an excellent reminder of how fallible I am and how much I need to be involved regularly in open discussions with other followers of Christ.
By Your Brother In Christ
I do need to clarify what I mean by Church. I'm referring to the common American format.
You have praise and worship, one pastor who preaches a sermon, and congregation that checks there good Christian card every Sunday.
Is this what the Church was supposed to be?
I am heartbroken. I just found out last night that someone very dear to me is deceived by a false teaching! I don't know what to do. I tried reasoning with them, but it has only caused a rift between us.
I am scared for this person spiritually and feel helpless where to go from here. Please pray the Holy Spirit opens their eyes! The sooner the better. And that He shows me how to best handle it.
By Fidei Defensor
The Church’s Purpose:
“God’s purpose in all this was to use the church to display his wisdom in its rich variety to all the unseen rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was his eternal plan, which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord; In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence.“ (Ephesians 3:10-12)
Here the purpose of the Church is revealed as displaying Wisdom who is Jesus Christ the Lord God (1 Corinthians 1:18-2:18, Colossians 2:2-3, 1 Corinthians 1:30), and His Gospel (John 6:40, John 3:16-18, John 14:6). That we are ambassadors, “So we are Christ's ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, "Come back to God!" (2 Corinthians 5:20).
The purpose of the church is to display and preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ and show Him to the world. At the same time our purpose is to be God’s family and know Jesus (Philippians 3:8-10).