Church Submission to Christ – A Works Agenda?

On January 19, 2016, I received the following e-mail from a brother in Christ. My reply follows his e-mail below.

Mr. Finney,

I am deacon in a nondenominational church and in the past few years GOD has brought the issue of church incorporation and many other matters before me regarding how we relate to government. Needless to say it has not been taught thoroughly.   When I presented the problem to the “board” last year it was quickly rejected by pastor and most of other deacons except for one as unimportant and was promoting a “works agenda”.   I have prayed about the issue and GOD has at least softened my pastors heart in regards to hearing what is involved in unincorporating.   Which brings me to thanking you for all the valuable information in scripture and otherwise  you have put together on this subject.

I do have question for you   In reading your material I keep running across the statement “Ultimately, fewer and fewer souls are saved because of this compromise.”

This strikes as false to me.  Please back up with scripture.

Fewer and fewer souls are not saved NOT as a result of a individuals or churches failure to present the gospel.   GOD has foreknowledge of who will believe and he is not limited to providing them with the way of salvation because of the failures of a church or individual.   That would violate his attributes of Omniscience and Omnipotence.  Did he not know from eternity past who would and would not believe?

No doubt we are to be a SALT and LIGHT and be prepared to give the GOSPEL when the opportunity arises.

Your brother in CHRIST


My Reply:

Dear Brother __________,

Thanks for your e-mail. It is always good to hear from a believer who loves the Lord and is sensitive to the word of God and his precepts, and seeks to promote those precepts in his church body. Thank you for your interest and concerns. You ask a very good question.

The Bible is my authority. I would rather believe the word of God than any of man’s interpretations. I have thoroughly considered the issue you bring up and bowed my thoughts to the mind of Christ, as stated in his word. I followed the directive in Isaiah 28.9-13:

“Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:  For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.  To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.”

So, according to Scripture, one is not to leave out some lines and some precepts. One is to begin in Genesis and read and study through Revelation to grow in knowledge and understanding of a doctrine. That is what I did. I considered all the relevant doctrines of Christ, taking in all of related Scripture, just believing what I read, without interpretation. Therefore, I could not distort or leave out those parts that did not agree with an interpretation. One cannot fully understand all that God has for us in his word. Therefore, it is best just to believe it all.

Now, please allow me to first address the response of your pastor and other deacons who feel that getting a church under Christ according to the precepts of God – their reply that doing so is a “works agenda.” That response shows a complete lack of understanding of vital Bible doctrines. I am reminded, first of Titus 2:14: “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”

Let me now be more specific. As you probably know, I quote many verses concerning the matter of church order in my books. Let me just mention one here:

Ephesians 5:22-33  “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.”

Those verses show both the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. Those verses (and many other verses which I do not quote here) make clear the nature of the relationship and that churches are free to either honor or dishonor that relationship. God honors the relationship. The question is, “Will a church honor the relationship.” Should a church honor the relationship, she will be a “glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle,” since Christ will, without fail, honor the relationship. Christ gave himself for the church. The only question is whether a church will be subject to and give herself to Christ. A church is sanctified and cleansed ” with the washing of water by the word.” The church body is to get into the word of God, study the relevant precepts, and apply them in and to the body.

I surmise from your letter that the pastor and other deacons feel that believers are free, under God, to do whatever they decide to do as long as their motive is to do God’s work. Motive is important, but it can lead to heresy and even apostasy when God’s methods are not followed in doing God’s work. In fact, substituting man’s methods for God’s methods is the result of, at the very least, heresy. The Bible teaches that men are free to do whatever they want in regards to doing God’s work – they can choose to do things God’s way or they can choose to do things man’s way contrary to the ways of God. Of course, God desires that they follow his directions and not make up their own methodologies which are out of line with his word. You see, the method matters to God. I suggest listening to the sermon, “The Method Matters To God,” which can be accessed by going to the following webpage and scrolling down to sermons by Pastor Jason Cooley on the doctrine of the church

The Biblical Doctrine of the Church

The Biblical Doctrine of the Church

The Bible teaches, for the present time, the local autonomous spiritual body (church), not the universal visible or invisible church. There will be a universal visi…

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I believe in the sovereignty of God. I believe that the Bible makes clear that God is sovereign and that, as sovereign, he allows men to choose life or to choose death. There are many, many, many verses in the Bible that teach free will as there are that teach the sovereignty of God.

This is not a works doctrine, although it may be said to be in line with the word of God a works agenda. We are to work if we are saved, but we are not saved by our works. Faith is not a work. Repentance is not a work. Trusting Christ to save one from sin is the opposite of a work. Romans 4:5 “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

I agree that God has foreknowledge. God knows who will choose life and who will choose death. Nevertheless, we see his warnings and pleas for man to repent and choose life throughout Scripture. We also see that he points out the consequences of loving him as opposed to rejecting him throughout Scripture. The Lord instructs believers in the New Testament to preach the Gospel to everyone. Likewise, we see that God tells us about heresy and apostasy and where it leads. See my articles on apostasy below.

Heresy and apostasy

Heresy and apostasy

Jerald Finney Copyright © December 19, 2012  Note. This is a modified version of Section II, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical …

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Church Incorporation, 501c3, Heresy, and Apostasy

Church Incorporation, 501c3, Heresy, and Apostasy

Jerald Finney Copyright © November, 2010 Click the following for links to articles on: “Christian Issues, Heresy, And Apostasy” “When Did the Church Become a Busi…

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Recent accelerated apostasy in the United States

Apostasy at the end of the church age

Apostasy at the end of the church age

Jerald Finney Copyright © December 19, 2012 Click here to download and listen to Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on the “Apostasy at the end of the church age.” The …

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The apostasy of Israel and the apostasy of the church followed the same pattern and result(ed) in fewer and fewer coming to the Lord to the point that, eventually, in Israel, only a small remnant believed and followed God, his statutes and commandments; the point was reached where the only remedy available to God was judgment. The same is true of the church age – the apostasy has led to fewer and fewer coming to and following our Lord. God’s word explains what the results will be.

The Bible teaches that there are three steps in the downfall of a nation – religious apostasy, moral awfulness, and political anarchy. Romans 1.21-32, which gives the seven stages of Gentile world apostasy (verses 21-23) and the result of Gentile world apostasy (verses 24-32) demonstrate both the sovereignty of God and the free will of man.

Romans 1:21-32: “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. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.  For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:  Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

May the Lord bless you as you seek to do his will.

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney


Kicking someone out of church for speech, the state church versus the New Testament church, and Nicolaitism

January 16, 2016

AVVO is a website where individuals can ask legal questions and lawyers can respond. An individual asked the following question on AVVO:

“What are my legal rights? Can I be prohibited from attending this church for simply expressing my opinions? A pastor in Florida attempted to censure my First Amendment rights to Freedom of Speech by “counseling” me not to express my personal opinions about biblical matters with other members of the church. No matter that my conversations were private and one on one with other believers and only after small group studies outside the class room, not during the bible studies.”

8Several lawyers,  including me, answered the question. The asker chose my answer as the best answer, and then, in subsequent replies by him and me, I learned something I had not thought of.

The webpage with the questions and answers is copied and pasted below. For some reason, the website removed my answer, and the asker’s and my replies.

I suggest reading the following articles in conjunction with this dialogue:

  1. Can a church force a homosexual to turn straight to stay in the church? (Another AVVO question asked and answered.)

  2. First Amendment Protection of New Testament Churches/Federal Laws Protecting State Churches (Religious Organizations) by Jerald Finney, February 2010.

Copied and pasted below is the page to this date, January 17, 2016.






The cite for the webpage (where you may see the dialogue yourself as well as any future replies) is: What are my legal rights? Can I be prohibited from attending this church for simply expressing my opinions?