Separation of Church and God

Jerald Finney
© December, 2009

 “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

Can we agree that Satan likes nothing better than to keep the lost from God, and to separate both the saved and God’s churches from God? If so, this article may be of interest to you because it is concerned with the latter—the separation of God’s churches from God.

The Bible itself is God’s book of theology, history, law, and grace. The Bible (1) chronicles history from the beginning to the end, although some of that history is in the form of prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled; (2) lays out the principles of law and grace for both Israel and Gentile nations; and (3) applies principles to history and law as regards individuals, families, nations, and churches. Once grounded in truth in God’s church in conjunction with Holy Spirit led study of God’s Word, God’s people are then equipped to apply His principles as individuals, families, and as citizens of the nation which they inhabit.

This article deals primarily with the doctrines of the church and separation of church and state. Satan knows that Christ “loved the church and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word” (Ep. 5.24-26). Satan also knows that individuals, families, and nations will not succeed in their God-given goals without churches where God is loved and the whole counsel of God is preached with “all longsuffering and doctrine” (See, e.g., 2 Ti. 3 and 4). After all, God’s churches are the “pillar and ground [i.e., foundation] of the truth” (2 Ti. 3.15). In the church age, God establishes churches for His people, and only His people have the ability to apply His principles by growing in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom concerning the Bible (theology), history, law, and grace.

If Satan can separate churches from God, then individuals, families, and nations will fall. Therefore believers should be diligent in keeping the following admonition of the Apostle Paul to churches:

“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Co. 11.1-3).

After an intensive study of biblical principles concerning church and state, history, law, and grace, I have concluded that Satan has seduced most of America’s churches. Please consider my arguments below before you quit reading. Then make up your mind as to the truth of my assertions.

Historically, many Bible believing Baptists stood for religious freedom in the face of persecution, not only in the American colonies but also since the beginning of the church age—separation of church and state, or religious liberty, or soul liberty was a Baptist distinctive.[fn1] How sad to see that many Baptists compromised the love relationship between Christ and his church soon after the United States Constitution and the First Amendment thereto were ratified. They compromised some biblical doctrines. For example, many Baptist churches incorporated for anti-biblical reasons. In the twentieth century, Baptist churches further violated the principle of separation of church and state by acquiring Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) (“501c3”) status.

One must diligently search the Scriptures and apply the relevant principles to the facts concerning incorporation and 501c3 to understand that incorporation and 501c3 of a church violate biblical principles. I have fully explained the nature of incorporation and 501c3 and the relevant biblical principles in two books and also in two articles on this blog.[fn2]  An honest study by a born again believer can arrive at no other conclusion than that “a corporation cannot be the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ. The incorporated part of an incorporated church is not the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ, but rather an extramarital illicit relationship existing alongside the marriage.”[fn3] Incorporation and 501c3 for churches is an exemption-definition-control scheme devised by civil government.[fn4]

The Bible explains and applies the principles of apostasy to the nation Israel as well as to the church. The history and consequences of apostasy concerning the nation Israel, God’s chosen nation and the only theocracy He ever ordained, is clearly recorded in the Old Testament. While under God, and recorded in the book of Judges, when Israel forsook the Lord and followed other gods, they provoked the Lord who “delivered them into the hands of spoilers that spoiled them, and he sold them into the hands of their enemies round about, so that they could not any longer stand before their enemies” (Jud. 2.12-14). Since she had no earthly king, Israel had no choice but to turn to the Lord. The Israelites would “cry unto the Lord” who would then raise them up a deliverer, a judge, whom God would use to deliver them.

Israel reached the point where she decided that she did not like being directly under God. The road to total apostasy for the nation Israel began when Israel demanded a king so that, as they said, “we may also be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go our before us, and fight our battles” (see 1 S. 8). God gave Israel what she wanted, but warned them of the consequences (1 S. 8.11-17). God’s Word makes clear that this act of Israel was wicked (see 1 S. 12). Even though the nation had done wickedly, God, through Samuel, told Israel:

“… Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people” (1 S. 12.20-22).

Israel was now within the permissive, as opposed to the perfect, will of God.

After she rejected God, Israel was ruled and led by her king, not God. After the division into the northern and southern kingdoms, Judah had some good kings, but Israel never had a good king. Under her good kings who followed the Lord, Judah was ordered according to God’s principles, the people honored God, and God blessed the nation. However, Judah and Israel never chose to be under God when ruled by evil kings. As a result, both kingdoms became more and more evil until they both reached the point of no return (total apostasy) and the only remedy was judgment. At that point, God arranged, as prophesied, first that Israel would be taken captive by Assyria, then Judah would be taken captive by Babylon.

This same pattern of apostasy, as prophesied and explained in the New Testament, has been followed by churches in America. Of course, there has always been a remnant of true churches and believers who teach and practice the whole counsel of God. Baptist churches in the United States were warned by God’s prophets such as Isaac Backus and others not to incorporate because incorporation violated biblical principles; but many or most refused to look at the issue from a biblical point of view. Most of the same Baptists who had fought long and hard for religious freedom in America entered the road to apostasy soon after the ratification of the Constitution—they ran down to their state governments and sought and received corporate status from a lesser sovereign. They could do this because the First Amendment to the United States Constitution did not apply to the states until well into the twentieth century.[fn5] They could not do this on the federal level because of the First Amendment:

On February 21, 1811 President James Madison vetoed a bill entitled “An Act incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Church in the town of Alexander, in the District of Columbia” the District of Columbia being under federal jurisdiction. He stated that the bill violated the religion clause of the First Amendment.[fn6]

In all biblical covenants to which God is a party, the parties to the covenant accept duties and obligations underlining the fact that power is established through the consent of both sides rather than through tyranny by the more powerful party.[fn7] God gives churches (as well as individuals, families, and nations) free will. Churches choose to either honor or dishonor the Sovereign who is their spiritual Bridegroom, Husband, and Head. Through incorporation, churches choose the seductions of a lesser sovereign and place themselves at least partially under the permissive, as opposed to the perfect or directive, will of God. They violate the principle of separation, specifically the principle of separation of church and state for which our Baptist forefathers stood, suffered, and died. They choose the road toward apostasy. Like Israel who dishonored her love relationship with God the Father, these churches dishonor their love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.[fn8]

Of course, for a long time, God honored America and America’s Bible believing churches even though most had chosen to dishonor their love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ; but a little leaven[fn9] will grow and eventually pervert the truths in the Word of God. “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (See, e.g., Ga. 7.5-9. This principle is seen throughout the Bible.). False teaching takes its toll on churches and unrepentant heretic[fn10] churches will eventually go into complete apostasy, denying redemptive truth. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pe. 2.1). Many churches and cults deny truth concerning Christ’s person as son of God, God Himself, (1 Jn. 2.18-28; 4.1-5)and salvation by grace through faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.

The New Testament makes clear that the visible churches, except for a remnant, will go into apostasy (See, e.g. 2 Th. 2.3-4; 1 Ti. 4.6; Jude 4). Church apostasy has a great effect on nations. As Dr. J. Vernon McGee has taught, the steps in the downfall of a nation are religious apostasy, moral awfulness and political anarchy. Gentile world apostasy comes in seven stages: “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Ro. 1.21-23). As a result of this Gentile world apostasy, mankind will sink into the depths of depravity (See Ro. 1.24-32).

The apostasy is usually introduced by ungodly men who will “wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Ti. 3.13). Our Lord warned against false teachers (See, e.g., Mt. 5.19; 7.15, 21-23; 15.9; 24.4-5, 11; Mk. 13.22). Peter, Paul, and Jude traced the origin of apostasy to false teachers, explained their methods of operation, and warned the church to beware of apostasy (See Ac. 20.28-31; Ga. 1.8-9; 3.1; 2 Co. 11.4, 19; Tit. 1.10-11; 1 Ti. 4.1-2, 3-5; 2 Pe. 2.1-3, 15-19; (all 2 Pe. 2 deals with false teachers); 3.3-4; 2 Jn. 9-11; Jude 4). Jude predicts the apostasy of the professing church and describes the cause and course of the apostasy. As in 2 Timothy and 2 Peter, the apostasy is treated as already having set in.

Apostasy has been apparent in some of the mainline denominations for a long time. Even many Bible believing Baptist churches have steadily increased in heretical teaching since the birth of the United States. For example, incorporation in authentic American churches was followed by the assaults of religious modernism, the building of huge edifices, watered down versions of the Word of God, infiltrations by psychology and other human techniques, organizing and operating churches like businesses to one degree or another, and so forth. The erosion of God’s New Testament churches was already being noted by some American preachers in the 1800s.

We are witnessing the inevitable consequences of the leaven of union of church and state through incorporation and 501c3 tax exemption. A wife who takes that first step away from her husband by fraternizing with another lover damages the marriage relationship and the journey toward the destruction of the marriage has begun. We now see the fruition of the practice of false doctrine in the apostate church growth and emerging church movements. In addition, most or many even so-called “Bible believing churches” today define their doctrine based upon the desires and philosophies of man. Many “Baptist” churches are now “Baptist” in name only. More and more close their doors each year. Thank the Lord that many heretical and apostate “Baptist” change their names from “Baptist”—it is too bad more of those type churches do not do so.  Many have “a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.”

Some incorporated churches have good pastors who still preach and apply biblical principles concerning individuals and families and reach out to the lost through missions programs, public ministries such as door to door evangelism, street preaching, helping the poor, etc.; but I again repeat, as time marches on more and more of those churches are being cursed with pastors who are leading them into heresy to a greater or lesser degree and sometimes into apostasy. The road to total apostasy and judgment in Israel, after Israel chose to be ruled by a king, took 400 years. America has been a nation for only 235 years, but look at the spiritual condition of her churches, generally speaking.

This situation would not have arisen had pastors and churches loved their Savior, Lord, Head, Bridegroom, and Husband. Have you ever applied the principles of love in the Bible to your love for the Lord Jesus Christ in order to determine if you really love Him? I explain in two of my books how a church denies her love for the Lord Jesus Christ when she incorporates or becomes a legal entity in any way, including securing 501c3 religious organization status.[fn11]

Saying that one loves God is easy. Not many “Bible-believing” pastors and Christians will admit to not loving God. In fact, most will be infuriated if their love for the Lord is questioned. What is the proof of their love for God, according to the word of God? Is it the fact that they win souls; that they preach the Gospel; that they do many wonderful works; that they say unto Jesus, Lord, Lord; that they prophesy in Christ’s name (that they have the gift of prophecy so that they understand all mysteries, and all knowledge); that they cast out devils in Jesus name; that they do many wonderful works in Jesus name; that they speak with the tongues of men and of angels; that they have all faith, so that they can remove mountains; that they bestow all their goods to feed the poor; that they give their bodies to be burned?  If one does all those things and more, but does not have “charity” (supreme love for God and man), it profits him nothing, and he is nothing but is as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal (See Song of Solomon, esp. 8.7 and 1 Co. 13. Many of us forget that these verses should be used not only to examine our love for our fellow man, but also, and more importantly, our love for God.). God’s Word tells us that love is not an emotion or feeling, but action. 1 Corinthians 13 tells us what actions constitute love. Jesus Christ personified love through His actions, not through His Words. His Words merely proclaimed His love which were backed up by His actions. We show our love for Him through our actions.

The relationship of a church to her Lord is of utmost importance. You may be like the church at Ephesus. If so–and in spite of your works, labor, patience, and the fact that you “cannot bear those who are evil, and hast born, and hast patience, and for Jesus’ names sake have labored, and hast not fainted”—the Lord has somewhat against you, because you have left your first love. He wants you to repent and do the first works. If you do not, He will come to you quickly and remove your candlestick—in other words, you will no longer be a church even though you may call yourself a church.

You can, for the time being, choose the type church you want to be in America without persecution. You can be like the church at Ephesus, the church at Pergamos, the church at Thyatira, the church at Sardis, the church at Philadelphia, or the church at Laodicia. If you are a church in America, you cannot presently experience tribulation and poverty like the revered church at Smryna, but you can still choose, as did the church at Philadelphia, to keep the word of His patience and not deny His name. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.”

[1] I would note that “true Christianity is not found by any visible tracing through one set of people. It has been enwrapped in all who have followed purely apostolic principle through the ages; and thus the purity of Baptist life is found in the essence of their doctrines and practices by whomever enforced…. Pure doctrine, as it is found uncorrupted in the word of God, is the only unbroken line of succession which can be traced in Christianity.” See, e.g., Thomas Armitage, The History of the Baptists, Volume 1 (New York: Bryan, Taylor, & Co.; Chicago: Morningside Publishing Co., 1887), pp. 1-12 reprinted by Baptist Bible College in Srpingfield, Mo., 1977.

[2] The books are: Jerald Finney, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2008 and Xulon Press, 2008), Section VI; (this book thoroughly analyses the biblical principles and the American application of those principles); Jerald Finney, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Company, 2009 and also Xulon Press, 2009). The articles are “Separation of church and state: Christians who call evil good and good evil” and “The Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) exemption-definition-control scheme.” A link to that article is included below. One can hear my audio teaching on the subject by clicking the player included with the article.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Ibid. See Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed and Chapter 5 of Separation of Church and State.

[5] I explain how the First Amendment came to be applied to the states in Section V of God Betrayed. In that section, I also explain how the United States Supreme Court redefined the term “separation of church and state” in such a way that the new definition has been used to remove from practically all civil government matters.

[6] See God Betrayed, p. 365 for the full quote of President Madison’s objections to the bill.

[7] This accurate description was stated in Tashbih Sayyed, Ph.D., Levitt Letter, “A Muslim Observes A Jewish Land,” November 2009, p. 2.

[8] See God Betrayed and also, Jerald Finney The Most Important Thing:  Loving God and/or Winning Souls? (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2008).

[9] Leaven means false doctrine or something which corrupts or depraves that with which it is mixed. “Beware the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Saducees…. How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.” Mt. 16.6, 11-12.

[10] “Heresy,” in its modern sense, means “any opinion which is repugnant to the doctrines of Scriptures. However, as men differ in the interpretation of Scripture, an opinion deemed heretical  by one body of Christians, may be deemed orthodox by another.” See AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “heresy.” Of course, Scripture contains truth and no alternatives to truth are possible.
One needs to consider the original sense of the meaning of “heresy” and “heretic.” Established churches have killed millions of those whom they labeled “heretics.” They did this because they denied choice to those who disagreed with the state religion. Thus, harlot religious organizations have perverted Scripture in order to force unity. These state religions, heretics themselves according to the modern sense, falsely labeled even true believers “heretics.” “The word “heresy” is derived from the Greek very hairein, which translates: “make-choice-between-alternatives” or “to exercise choice in the presence of alternatives.” See Leonard Verduin, The Reformers and Their Stepchildren (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1964), p. 72 and Leorard Verduin, The First Amendment and the Remnant (Sarasota, Florida: The Christian Hymnary Publishers, 1998), pp. xiii-xiv, 20.
The Word of God teaches that God gives everyone freedom of conscience to choose truth or error, regardless of civil government laws which require imprisonment, persecution, and death for “heretics.”

[11] God Betrayed and The Most Important Thing:  Loving God and/or Winning Souls?