My reply to pastor teaching on Matthew 16.18 and Ephesians 1.22 thereafter questioned by accountant about church non-taxable status and the First Amendment

Charity Baptist Tabernacle “Churches Under Christ Ministry”
Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 14, 2019



Hello Brother Finney,

I have been preaching/teaching on Mt. 16:18 and Eph. 1:22 for the last two weeks. After the service one gentleman (who is an accountant) asked me to show him where in the First Amendment it says that churches are non-taxable.

Just checking with you if I answered him correctly. The phrase, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion OR PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF….”  Would not taxing the church fall under, “…prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”?

Thanks for the 15 page article it was very helpful, also the one about Sovereignty.

And to your question, yes our church would like to be one of your “Lighthouse Churches”.

Keeping the Faith,
Brother ________________ for


Dear Brother ____________________,

What a blessing to hear that you are teaching these matters. By so doing, you are already a “lighthouse church.” I hope to set up some online conferences for pastors and churches who are fighting this battle for Christ’s churches. I will let you know when we get that going. Keep up the good work and let us keep in contact.

The only way a church, an individual, or a business can become taxable is for Congress to pass a law taxing them. For Congress to pass a law taxing churches is forbidden by the First Amendment. You correctly pointed out to the accountant that for Congress to tax a church would violate the First Amendment free exercise clause. It would also violate the First Amendment establishment clause because taxing churches would require a law made by Congress which would control churches, a law respecting an establishment of religion.

It does not violate the First Amendment for civil government to tax individuals and businesses. Only churches and religions have First Amendment protections. Of course, due to the 501(c)(3) and 508 laws made by Congress in 1954, churches can choose to place themselves under federal government controls by becoming tax exempt as opposed to non-taxable. First Amendment churches are non-taxable. 501(c)(3) and 508 churches are tax exempt. When a church freely applies for 501(c)(3) status or claims 508 status, that church becomes tax exempt, not non-taxable. Tax exempt status places another authority over a church other than the Lord Jesus Christ; and certain rules enforceable by the Internal Revenue Service come with that status. First Amendment non-taxable status gives churches protection from federal government intervention in any way, unless the church has chosen to become a legal entity by applying for state non-profit corporation status or has made herself a legal entity by some other action.

I believe 501(c)(3) and 508 are unconstitutional as applied to churches in that they violate the First Amendment religion clause: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof.” 501(c)(3) or 508 status for churches respects an establishment of religion and prevents the free exercise thereof. Yet most churches, not being churches of Christ or churches under Christ, freely embrace 501(c)(3) and 508 status, thereby betraying their first love.

The accountant, like almost all attorneys, including myself until 2005, never knew the true history of the First Amendment. I had studied a Christian revisionist history of the First Amendment. The real history of the First Amendment makes very very clear that the First Amendment was meant to separate church and state and, in so doing, it was meant, among other things, to prevent the federal government from taxing churches and/or using tax money to support any religion or church.

In addition, the United States Supreme Court, although wrong about removing God from civil government matters, was right to declare that the First Amendment has erected a high and impregnable wall between church and state, a wall that was meant to keep church and the federal government completely separate:

  • “The constitutional inhibition of legislation on the subject of religion has a double aspect. On the one hand it forestalls compulsion by law of the acceptance of any creed or the practice of any form of worship…. On the other hand, it safeguards the free exercise of the chosen form of religion…. The interrelation of the ‘establishment’ and ‘free exercise’ clauses [according to the United States Supreme Court] has been well summarized as follows: ‘The structure of our government has, for the preservation of civil liberty, rescued the temporal institutions from religious interference. On the other hand, it has secured religious liberty from the invasion of the civil authority.’” Donald T. Kramer, J.D. Annotation: Supreme Court Cases Involving Establishment and Freedom of Religion Clauses of Federal Constitution, 37 L. Ed. 2d 1147 § 2 citing Everson v. Board of Education, 330 U.S. 1, 91 L. Ed. 711, 67 S. Ct. 504, 168 A.L.R. 1392 (1947), reh’g denied 330 U.S. 855, 91 L. Ed. 1297, 67 S. Ct. 962. For a full discussion of Everson and the removal of God from practically all civil government affairs, see Section V of God Betrayed.

In the words of Jefferson, the clause against establishment of religion by law was intended to erect ‘a wall of separation between Church and State.’” McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 210-211 (1948). Jefferson, contrary to the assertions of Christian revisionists, clearly believed in a secular state and separation of church and state.

Separation of church and state does not equate to separation of God and state. It does not mean that civil government should keep God out of civil government. God ordained civil government in order for man to have direct control over certain matters: the protection of life, liberty, and property. God desires every individual, family, civil, and church government to choose to recognize Him and to operate within the jurisdictional boundaries He set out in His Word. He also desires total separation of church and state. See Part I of God Betrayed for explanation.

I would also suggest that you refer the accountant to the Law Review Articles linked to on the following webpage: LAW REVIEW ARTICLES: 501(C)(3), 1ST AMENDMENT HISTORY, ETC.

May the Lord continue to richly bless you and and this Churches Under Christ Ministry as we go forward for His Glory.

Brother Jerald Finney

The Church Bible Trust Relationship/How a Church Can Nullify Her Efforts to Remain Under Christ Only

Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 11, 2019

More and more churches are seeking to exercise their Bible freedom and duty to operate under the Lord Jesus Christ in all things; to repent, do the first works as churches of Christ before He removes their candlesticks. American churches who desire to do so are protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions. This short essay will give a simple explanation of the trust relationship used by churches in order to remain under Christ and Christ alone. Then, it will explain ways some of those churches nullify that attempt to honor the Lord Jesus Christ.

The “common law” or “Bible” trust is a fiduciary relationship with money and/or property recognized but not created by man’s law. This relationship is created by an agreement between a trustor and trustee, is private, creates no contract with the state (the state is not a party), and is not subject to control by civil government and its courts. Trust documents, if any, are never required to be filed in man’s legal system through any of its courts or agencies. This type of trust is not a legal entity. The trust relationship can be established orally or in writing; a properly drafted writing is better.  If not in writing, and if the facts show the intent to establish a relationship with property and/or money to be held by a trustee for the benefit of the true owner of the money and/or property then a trust relationship has been established. This is so no matter the terms used. It is not necessary to use the terms “trust,” “trustor,” “trustee,” “trust estate,” or “beneficiary” for a trust relationship to come into existence.

The trustor creates the relationship and names a trustee who agrees to administer a trust estate funded by the trustor (and others, if any, who wish to contribute to the trust estate) solely for the benefit of another, the true owner of the trust estate, the beneficiary. The trustor merely establishes the trust relationship. The trustee administers the trust estate solely for the benefit of the owner of the trust estate. Once assets are placed in the trust estate, those assets permanently belong to the beneficiary, not to the trustor.

An inactive trust is no trust at all. The elements of valid trust are: trustor, trustee, beneficiary, and trust estate. If an element is missing, there is no trust. If there is no trustor, trustee, trust estate and beneficiary there is no trust. Without a trust estate, there is no trust. For a trust relationship to exist, all elements of the trust must exist. If there is no trust estate, there can be no trust. One cannot establish a fiduciary relationship with property if there is no property.

Some churches have properly drafted and executed documents establishing a proper trust relationship in order to remain under the Lord Jesus Christ only; but they have nullified their efforts by never listing trust property to the trust estate in an appendix to the trust document. All property and assets in the trust estate should be listed in the appendix. Again, if no property is placed in the trust estate, the trust is non-existent. The Appendix should list all personal property (song books, pews, musical instruments, etc.), real property, motor vehicles, bank accounts and other assets held in trust estate.

Another way churches who have set up a trust relationship with money and property (Declaration of Trust, Procedures, or whatever the document is titled) nullify their efforts to remain under Christ only is to act legally. When a church acts legally, she is a legal entity subject to the jurisdiction of civil government.

What is a legal entity? A legal entity is an entity that can be sued, sues, can be charged with a crime, enters into contracts or acts legally in any way. When a church acts legally, she has declared herself to be a legal entity.

How can a church act legally? She can, for example, hold deed to real property, open a bank account, hold title to motor vehicle(s), hold insurance, contract, borrow money, incorporate the church or a ministry of the church, get Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508 status for the church or a ministry of the church, have employees, pay salaries or do anything else in accordance with or subject to man’s legal system and not according to New Testament church guidelines and example. A church who holds insurance admits that she is a legal worldly entity who can be sued. Doing anything is man’s system makes a church a legal entity subject to man’s law.

A properly implemented trust relationship with money and/or property keeps a church entirely out of man’s earthly legal systems and under the Lord Jesus Christ in all things. That is, if the church does not misstep and declare herself to be a legal entity subject to the law of man in some other way. And thank the Lord and The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus who in putting Christ first in all things paid the price that gave all Americans freedom of religion and soul liberty as guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions.

“… 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. … For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Ephesians 5.25-27, 30).

Can One Become a “Sovereign Citizen?”

Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 8, 2019

The sovereign citizen movement grew out of a belief in government abuses of power. Can one really become a sovereign citizen? Yes and no. Does the Bible teach earthly sovereignty for the individual? Yes and no. This short article addresses these issues primarily in the American context.

Technically, everyone born in a nation is a legal or lawful entity subject to the laws of that nation no matter what steps he takes to divorce himself from the law and become “sovereign.” Practically, one may be able to live his entire life as sovereign and never get entangled with the laws of a nation.

Some, in their attempt to become sovereign, do not get a social security number, a driver’s license, or any other government document that ties them to man’s law. American civil government, before the social security number, the driver’s license, or any other kind of license or government contract or document, considered everyone born in America to be a legal entity and so it is today. Today those who have no social security or other government number or license are considered to be citizens and legal entities. Nonetheless, one may be able to live his life as a “sovereign citizen.”

One who takes steps to become a “sovereign citizen” may, for all practical purposes, remain so because American civil government may never interfere with his life in any way. No one in America is forced to get a driver’s license or a social security number or to enter into any agreement with the civil government or with any individual or company. As long as a person controls his life so as not to interfere with or harm the rights of life, liberty, and property of any other person or entity or does interfere with the rights of others and does not get caught, the effects of being a legal or lawful entity will be nonexistent unless he is falsely accused.

If one can remain unnoticed by and outside the jurisdiction of civil government, the effects of being a legal or lawful entity will be nonexistent. Moving to the middle of the Alaskan wilderness by oneself or with one’s family may be the best choice for the man who wishes to remain sovereign. Living in the middle of New York City might work if, in addition to finding and remaining outside any civil government contracts and licenses, one finds a way to provide for himself and those, if any, to whom he is responsible and he:

  • does not enter into any contract with civil government or get any government license or number;
  • does not enter into and/or violate any contracts or agreements with another;
  • does not harm another and get sued for so doing;
  • does not commit a crime and get cited or charged and apprehended;
  • does not get falsely accused of a crime and get cited or charged and apprehended;
  • does not harm or interfere with another’s life, liberty, or property (or without being found out if he does so); and
  • does not act legally in any way.

If anyone commits a crime, he will be charged (if police have facts which give probable cause to believe he did it). If he knowingly, intentionally, negligently (and sometimes recklessly) harms another and causes damages, the victim can file a civil suit for damages. Therefore, one is a legal entity who has, practically speaking, come under the technical definition of “legal entity.” One can choose, even though he may not do so, to enter into agreements or contracts with others. If he ever hires someone to do a job for him, he entered a contract with them to do the work. If he hired them, they did the job as agreed, and he does not pay them as agreed for their services completed, they can sue him whether he has a social security or other government number or not, whether he claims to be “sovereign” or not. One can choose to act legally or not. But one cannot choose to completely remove himself from the legal system such that he is not liable for his crimes or torts. Etc. Therefore, by definition, one is a “legal entity.”

God ordained civil government for certain purposes. He gave civil government jurisdiction over certain matters – the protection of life, liberty, and property. Without direct earthly control of man by man, as is proved by the period between the Fall and the Flood, mankind quickly becomes totally corrupted; violence fills the earth. Jesus did not fight civil government, nor did the apostles and Historic Christians (Historic Baptists by whatever name called).  They did not fight it even though they always chose to obey God rather than men when man’s law contradicted God’s law and forbid them to honor God. They did not fight it although it was tyrannical and was not under God as God ordained. They obeyed God in all things and man as to those matters which did not cause them to violate God’s commandments.

God’s Word teaches that God put earthly controls, civil governments, in place to control earthly fleshly people, those who are not born again of the Spirit (not spiritual beings), and those who say that they are but are not or who say they are but walk in the flesh. Just because civil governments are corrupt and guided, for the most part, by the god of this world and his principles does not mean that one should, according to the will of God, treat civil government as having no authority. Jesus, the apostles, and authentic Christians over the last two thousand years have followed Bible teaching and honored civil government as long as civil governments and combinations of religion and state such as the Catholic/Protestant establishments did not try to force them to dishonor God’s law. When that happened, they lay down their lives for the faith rather than betray our Lord.

Letter and reply to a born again believer who left a church that would not discuss the issue of church corporate 501(c)(3) status

Letter received January 8, 2019:

Bro Finney,

Do you think going to talk to Pastors would make a difference? (I could take them your book) or are they all not willing to listen because they have to report numbers to their denominations?

I had met a very old Pastor outside of San Marcos that had to close down his church under the pressure about 10 years ago. He was in his late 80’s and it was just too much for him.  He would not go 501c3.

I have to tell you, i stopped going to the little Hispanic church – after my conversation with the pastor and the two elders .. I kinda go the cold shoulder. It made me sad and I did have one more conversation with the pastor and he hem hogged and said that it wasn’t his decision alone .. excuses excuses.  To tell you the truth –  I lost respect for him.

That church was not New Testament.. It was like a Hebraic root church, they sang so pretty and they study Hebrew and they meet on Friday nights for 2 hours and Saturdays all day almost from 11am to about 6pm. it was very nice and the music was great but to me it seemed like they were saying two things at once.

  • they want to only celebrate Biblical Holidays …
  • they only use Yeshua or Hashem – they do not say Jesus …
  • they keep Sabbath day …

I know they love Him but at the same time they wanted to be a 501c3.. .. to me it seemed like double talk – they are not in obedience – they are just going through the motions.

Thank you for all the work you do for Him.


My Reply

Dear _____________________,

They are off on a lot of Bible doctrines. Let me first deal with the church corporate 501(c)(3) status, then briefly mention the other matters you spoke of.

There are false theologies which teach union of church and state. Some branches of the universal church doctrine have no problem with combination of church and state because they believe the “true church” is in heaven and that they can do what they want since God has given no commandments or principles for the organization, conduct, etc. of the local assemblies on earth. Certain Christian Revisionists have adopted theologies such as replacement theology, reconstructionism, dominionism, and theonomy  nd other “Christian” revisionists believe that the principles that applied to Israel (union of religion and state under the theocracy) are to be applied to church and state in Gentile nations. Impossible! God was over Israel – both the religion and the civil government – and both worked together under Him.

Such heresies adopt an unbiblical definition of “theocracy.” The Bible truth is that since God has not ordained theocracy for Gentile nations (and Israel rejected her theocracy), there can be no Bible theocracy today. So religion (Catholicism first, then Protestantism) invented a “theocracy” which combines church and state and which would put religion over state if implemented as they desire. They work toward that end in America on a gradual basis – first to combine church and state, then to establish one religion. This is a worldwide effort by false religions (an ecumenical movement) which will ultimately bring in the one world religion headed by the religious whore of whores, the Catholic Church.

So the church you left may be the product of one of those heresies, or they may never have really studied the matter out.. I suggest that you get and read The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus which explains this. Also, read the first three sections of God Betrayed (free online).

Be encouraged. The Bible tells us of the apostasy of the church. These things are to be expected. He will always have a remnant until His earthly kingdom is established. We, His remnant, will be rewarded as we stand for Him. We serve Him because we love Him. All we can do is give out God’s truths. Of course, God’s ideal is for His children to also be a member of a local church under Christ. As you know, churches (assemblies of people, ekklesias) are everywhere in America, but local churches of Christ are few and far between. See, The New Testament of Jesus Christ:  His Executor Named and Empowered.

As to the other matters you brought up:

  • They probably celebrate the Jewish “holidays” which are not for God’s New Testament Churches.
  • New Testament churches are to worship on Sunday, not on the Sabbath.
  • The Lord’s name in English is Jesus, not Yeshua or Hashem. On the day of Pentecost, God used his preacher to speak to them all in their language at the same time. He did not speak to them in Hebrew or Greek, but in their individual languages.
  • We have the Word of God in English—the King James Bible. So why learn a foreign language?

They are off base on a lot of matters. They do not rightly divide the Word of truth. 2 Corinthians 11:14: “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.” John 15:10: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”

God bless as you seek the Lord’s will.

Brother Jerald Finney