Friday, December 24, 2010

Should We Trust God's Ministers?

The Bible teaches that we should put our trust in God, not men.

"Do not put your trust in princes, Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help" (Psalm 146:3).

"Cursed is the man who trusts in man And makes flesh his strength, Whose heart departs from the LORD" (Jeremiah 17:5). Rather, we are to trust God (verse 7).

Ministers are men, and we are to put our trust in God, not men, not even ministers. But we are to respect ministers and respect the offices they hold (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, Philippians 2:29-30, Hebrews 13:17).

Nowhere are we instructed or commanded to "TRUST" any men, even God's ministers.

Trust comes in degrees. There is a kind of limited trust that we can give to other people. I trust that when I give the cashier at a store a $20 bill to pay for a $2.24 purchase, she will give me $17.76 in change, not $2.76 claiming I only gave her a five dollar bill so she can pocket the difference. Yet I know there is a chance that can happen. (In fact, something similar did happen to me at a fast food restaurant years ago.) If I know someone well, such as a family member, friend, co-worker, or Church member, I can trust that person more (or less) than a stranger. But I always know that a human being, any human being, can make mistakes or sin, sometimes in surprising ways.

I am reminded of this after reading a post by John Carmack in COG Perspective blog, then reading a post by John Elliot in the blog for his UCG congregation.

Here is a post from John Carmack:

Here is the post from John Elliot in a UCG congregational site:

Mr. Elliot warns his readers that any members of his congregation who spread "concerns" that Mr. Elliot regards as misinformation will be told to stay home until they "work through their distrust of Church leadership". In other words, he is teaching his members that they should trust the ministry at UCG headquarters.

This statement by John Elliot comes across to me as a declaration of war against members of his congregation who obey God's word to put their trust in God, not men. It is not that he is wrong to teach his members to show respect to the office of the ministry by not harshly criticizing the ministers in the church they attend. But it is the reason he gives. He wants them to TRUST the leadership. That is wrong, according to the Bible. That kind of trust we should give only to God.

I would imagine some members of Mr. Elliot's congregation will face a conscience problem attending his congregation, especially if they feel they are hearing the voice of a stranger coming between them and God, not the voice of Christ (John 10:1-5).

Ministers are human. They make mistakes. Some of them sin. We are to respect them, to respect the office they hold, to obey them when such obedience does not come into conflict with God's law, but we are not to put our trust and faith in them. Trust and faith should be given to God alone.

More to come...

Here are links to related sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Our Attitude and Approach Towards God's Word, Chapter 1

How to Understand the Bible, Chapter 1

Focusing on the Bible, Chapter 5

Practicing What We Preach, Chapter 6

Changing Doctrine, Chapter 6

A Lesson from the Autobiography, Chapter 6

The Source of Our Beliefs, Chapter 6

Faith, Chapter 6

A Brief History of the Scattering of the Church, Chapter 5

Government in the Church, Chapter 5

Following the Bible -- Pattern of Government, Chapter 6

Church Government, Chapter 7

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Trust is the foundation of every relationship. If you don't have trust, you don't have anything.

You give some good comments and examples of trust in various relationships.

I think your question is worded in an interesting way, "Should We Trust God's Ministers?"

One would think that a minister, especially one that believes and represents he is a *true* minister of God, would be full of trust and faithfulness.

Any organization has to have some level of trust in its leadership. Is it really any surprise that a minister representing the organization calls for people to work out their distrust?

A foundation with little to no trust in it's leadership will not survive. It's inner turmoil; a cancer.

Having said that, Mr. Elliot's response seems a little over the top.

The whole UCG situation seems to me like parents of teenagers who haven't developed a relationship of trust in the pre-adolescent years, now trying to tighten controls on a rebellious teen with independent thoughts.