Sent: Friday, July 6, 2018 2:07 PM
Subject: _________________________ inquiries regarding 501c3….
Dear Brother _______________:
Thank you for your interest in organizing a church in a way that pleases our Lord. I have spent thousands upon thousands of hours over the last 15 years (not to mention my less intense but sincere studies before that time) seeking the Bible answers to some of your questions and the application of those answers in church organization. I had to study relevant Bible principles, law, and history in the process. I have discussed the issues with pastors and other believers who were interested in the issues and sought their insights. Sadly, those who do not like what I say have been unwilling to have a studied discourse; instead, they, like liberals in the political realm, refuse to have a studied and logical, much less spiritual discourse about the issues. They call me names, insult me, warn people against my teachings (without explanation other than, perhaps, “he is a heretic; stay away from him and what he has to say,” etc.).
I can only give you resources that will help you in your search for the truth about the spiritual matters you inquire about.
As to questions 1 and 3, the one that covers them more succinctly than others on the website is:
Some essays and articles that address question no. 4 are linked to at:
For studies on the relevant Bible teachings, see the following pages for links to teachings:
As to question 2, I would have to do a lot of legal study and research to answer that question. I do not have time to keep up with every matter, so I choose to limit my work to eternal matters.
As to question 5, my advice is that you not only earnestly pray but also seek. However, keep in mind that many churches and pastors teach and practice various heresies which are detrimental to the believers and also to the cause of Christ. There are many heresies; examples include those taught and practiced by Charismatics, Catholics, most Protestants, Calvinists, etc.
Let me give you one specific example of a damnable heresy which is proliferating, I believe, in many American churches: the heresy of “pastoral authority.” Many who practice that heresy are cults, according to what I believe to be the definition of “cult.” Some adhere to some Bible principles and even preach and teach a lot of truth, according to the Bible. But, no matter what truth they may preach, teach, and practice, the “pastoral authority” heresy leads to some very bad consequences for the members and for the glory of God, even leading many lost people to blaspheme the name of Christ for the wrong reasons.
Now of course, there are degrees of this heresy, and some churches are still basically sound even though they, to a lesser extent, have fallen for this heresy. What was once one of the largest churches (maybe the largest) in America practiced this heresy of pastoral authority; the chickens came home to roost, a pastor of the church (and the church) was disgraced before the entire nation, membership of the church, the attached College, and other ministries have declined tremendously, and the elite now actively use the testimonies of former members and proven immoralities and “cultic” and other practices of pastors, present and past, of the church and other pastors and churches who have followed the teachings of the church to cause millions to blaspheme the name of the Lord.
Of course, the church mentioned in the last paragraph was one of the largest (or the largest) church corporate, 501c3 religious organizations in America; and the pastors and many members bragged about it. When a church takes corporate 501c3 status, that church, by practicing heresy as to the matter of church organization, has compromised her love for the Lord Jesus Christ and started down a slippery road toward more heresy and apostasy. Yet the church continues on to this day without ever having repented of her sins, a major one of which is corporate 501c3 legal status.
What does “pastoral authority” mean? It simply means that the pastor of each local church is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (no matter what the Bible says), so he has the authority to control the thinking and actions of all his [emphasis on “his”] members down to with whom they can have fellowship, to whom and about what they can and cannot talk, where they can spend their money, where they can go to school and how to finance it (making sure, for one example that I was informed of, that they give a considerable amount of their student loans to the them), whether or not they could sell their homes or cars, and whom they can or cannot not marry, etc. Versions of this heresy teach that the Holy Spirit speaks to the Pastor about every matter involving every member of the church, that if the Holy Spirit did not speak to the Pastor about a matter, the Holy Spirit did not speak to a particular member about that matter, or that only the pastor has the “vision” to lead the ministries of a church. The members of the church become agents of the pastor who fits them into his agenda, which is supposedly from God.
A church can be properly organized according to the Bible and still be heretical (or even apostate) about other important matters. Some churches are properly organized but teach and practice, for example, the gross heresy of “pastoral authority.”
One other comment. God does not want legal churches (churches organized according to man’s law). He wants spiritual churches (churches organized according to God’s Bible precepts). Due to the First Amendment of the US Const. and corresponding state constitutional provisions, one can organize a church in the United States according to Bible principles without persecution.
May the Lord richly bless you as you seek to know and understand His truths regarding these important matters you inquire about. The believer must study (not just read) the Bible to avoid becoming the victim of religious charlatans. “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; read the verse in context to make the application).
Response: The word sheol, “place of the dead,” is translated “hell” or sometimes as “grave.” In telling the fate of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus taught that before the Cross, there were two compartments in sheol: one for the lost, and one for the saved, called “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk 16:22). To the latter Christ went in death, as did the thief crucified with Him to whom He said, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:43). There He proclaimed to the redeemed the good news of His death having paid for their sins. Those in sheol could hear what Jesus said (see Lk 16:23-31); and He may even have addressed a few words to them. Thus Peter writes, “He preached to the spirits in prison [sheol]; which sometime were disobedient…” (1 Pt 3:19-20). After His resurrection, Jesus took the souls and spirits of the redeemed to heaven (“he led captivity captive” [Eph 4:8]). Now the souls and spirits of the redeemed upon death go immediately to be with Christ (“absent from the body, present with the Lord” [2 Cor 5:6-8]), when He will bring them to rejoin their resurrected bodies at the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13-18).
Questions answered in From Berean Call, Psychology and Psychotherapy (part 2), Feb. 1, 2018: