What if the trustee of the “Bible” trust, called by some a “common law” trust, misuses the property in the trust estate for his own benefit and not for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ? Should that happen, 1 Corinthians 5-6 lays out the way the church is to judge the matter.
More importantly, the trustee of God’s property will be rewarded or judged by God depending upon how he administers the estate. The day of reckoning will come. See the chapters copied and pasted below.
The tithes, offerings, and gifts of a member of a corporate and/or 501(c)(3) or 508 church go into an account with belongs to the corporation or church. Those free will offerings of a member of a church which establishes a trust relationship with money and property belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ and administered by a trustee for His benefit goes into an account belonging to Jesus Christ. In the latter, the giving church member has no claim to ownership of that which he has given to the trust estate. He can give or not as he desires, but once he gives to the Lord, he no longer has any claim to the gift. The gift goes into a trust estate which belongs to the Lord only. The trustee has s duty under God to use the trust estate for the benefit of the owner, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Another important consideration is that a church and a pastor who understand and apply Bible church doctrine in the organization of a church are far less likely to behave wrongly in their dealings with the things of God. The pastors and believers in corporate, 501(c)(3) or 508 churches are much more likely to abuse their positions in the church, to steal, to forge, to embezzle from the organization for which they are responsible. A diligent online study confirms this.
As to the first consideration above, see The Judgment Seat of Christ, [Left click to go to the complete PDR. Chapters 4 and 8 are copied and pasted below.] by D.M. Paton, an old time Baptist preacher. Dr. Greg Dixon sent me the PDF to this book.
CHAPTER 4: THE JUDGMENT SEAT
We now arrive at the burning heart of this entire revelation as it concerns the Church—THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. “Wherefore we labour,”—the word means to love and seek for honour (Lange) in what Bengel calls the sole legitimate ambition in the world— “that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For”—as the fountain of motive in all holy ambition—“we must“—as a necessity inherent in Diving justice; for the vindication of God’s holiness, and for the satisfaction of our own highest and holiest instincts—“all”—all apostles, all prophets, all martyrs—“appear”—to our own consciences, to all the world, and above all to the Judge; a complete manifestation of all that has transpired within us, or in the external life (Lange)—“before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that every one may receive”—the technical word for receiving wages (Dean Alford)—“the things done in his body”—therefore thoughts and words as well as deeds, since the brain and the tongue are thus also involved—“according to that [plural] he hath done”—works exactly regulating reward: not according to the things that Christ did in His body; nor according to things done out of the body after death—“whether it [the award] be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). In the words of Lange—Paul’s tireless aim to please Christ “can only be fulfilled by his being found approved at that tribunal where he and his fellow believers are shortly to appear; for every action of God’s children during their bodily life must there be judged according to the law of strict righteousness, and each believer must be rewarded according to his good or evil conduct.”
For the sweep of the decree as quoted from Isaiah is absolutely universal— “. . . every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then,” –since it is universal and the Church is, therefore, not exempt— “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:11-12). Nor could it be otherwise. In view of the chaos of conflicting creed and conduct—the bitter controversies, the personal quarrels, the excommunications and anathemas—all denial of a judgment seat is inherently incredible and impossible: there must be a judgment seat; and there is. Molinos, the Quietist, when condemned as a heretic and led away to his prison cell— “We shall meet again,” said the old man to his judges, ‘in the judgment day; and then it will appear on which side, on yours or mine, is truth.” Furthermore, it rests upon the oath of God. “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:” (Isaiah 14:24). The decree establishing it as irrevocable as the life of God— “That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” (Isaiah 45:23). So then, says the Apostle, “But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” (Romans 14:10), let us forbear to judge, for we shall be judged, and, therefore, the bedrock of all our action is to be the approval of our Divine Judge. “We labour” (A.V.)— “we strive” (Alford)— “we are eager” (Stanley)— “we make it our aim” (R.V.)— “we are ambitious (R. V., margin) to be well-pleasing unto Him. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
The tribunal [The portable tribunal carried about with him by a Roman magistrate.], before which disciples appear, is peculiar. (1) It is a Bema, not a Thronos; a judgment seat for the investigation of disciples, not a throne for the arraignment of rebels: for the Judge (2 Timothy 4:8) is “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.” (Matthew 18:23). It is the first of our Lord’s three judgments (Romans 14:12; Matthew 25:31; Revelation 20:12) on His return; “For the time is come that judgment must beat the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).
- Churches are judged now (Revelation 2:5). The Church is never judged corporately—as the Body or Bride—either here or hereafter; but disciples, apart from their collective standing, in their individual responsibility as servants, must render account. So the Church, as an entity, is never named in the Apocalypse, except once (Revelation 22:17), where the reference is to the present Age; nor do the children of God appear as aught but ‘servants” throughout that book of judgment, except once (Revelation 21:7), when the Millennial Age has passed into the Eternal. The fact that the judgment of the wicked is by itself, separated by a thousand years (Revelation 20:17), reveals that in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “it is genuine Christians of whom Paul is speaking; all whose shortcomings and failures will one day be exposed, and who therefore make it their aim to avoid such defects” (International Critical Commentary). Individual judgment is not possible for believers as such, for in justification no believer differs from any other; but individual judgment as servants yields a variety of adjudication as infinite as the service and the sanctification.
(2) Thus those examined are Christians only. “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2). It is a final investigation of the whole Church of God. No Book of Life is produced, for it is no judgment of the lost: “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” (Psalm 1:5).
(3) Nor is it a judgment for life. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1). The believer was crucified with Christ, and on Calvary exhausted the penalties of Hell: on that ground he can be judged no more.
(4) The process is individual: “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12). “We”—it is Christian; “must”—it is inevitable; “all”—it is universal; “made manifest”—it is public; “judgment seat”—it is judicial; “stand”—it is in resurrection; “each”—it is individual; “give account”—it is responsibility; “to God”—it is Divine.
The procedure is revealed as exclusively judicial; “that every one may receive the things done in his body” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Not, that each may receive something from God, but “that every one may receive the things [he himself has] done”: it is not a general granting of glory, irrespective of service; but an exercise of the Divine Law— “as he hath done, so shall it be done to him.” (Leviticus 24:19). “Be not deceived”—is a word to disciples— “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7). Paul puts it with exquisite clearness, and twofold emphasis. “Whatsoever good thing”—for a judge approves— “any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” (Ephesians 6:8). On the other hand— “Ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong”—for a judge censures— “shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” (Colossians 3:24b-25).
Our works and conduct are put in as the evidence: “the things done in his body” (2 Corinthians 5:10). We must all “appear in our true light” (Alford): as the fossil imprint of a bird’s claw, made ages earlier by a momentary alighting when the stone was soft, now records that act in solid rock, so our actions are the unerring imprint of our characters; the things done reveal what the body was. Like a palimpsest, when the heat of fire (1 Corinthians 3:13) passes over it, so our life silently steals forth in lines every one of which we ourselves wrote: so that what our eyes looked on, what our ears listened to; what our hearts loved, what our minds believed, what our lips said, what our hands wrought, where our feet walked—these are the unimpeachable evidences of the Judgment Seat. Secrets (1 Corinthians 4:5), motives (Matthew 6:1), soul-attitudes (Luke 6:36-38), and just Church decisions (Matthew 18:18), also sway the adjudication.
- Even the lovely modifications of our Lord’s attitude foretold in such passages as Matthew 5:7— “blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy”—and Luke 6:37— “condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned”—are still fundamentally judicial—that is, the recoil of a disciple’s conduct upon himself. But no lovelier revelation could be conceived of how we may deal with our forgotten “For in MANY things we offend ALL.” (James 3:2): but “if ye forgive men their trespasses, YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER WILL ALSO FORGIVE YOU.” (Matthew 6:14). “For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38).
The evidence wholly decides the award: “whether it [the award] be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The Greek points to the award: “that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it”—i.e., what he receives— “be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Reward (as distinct from salvation, which is through faith, against deserts) is strictly defined by works. So somewhere there exists a draft by the hand of God of what our life might have been, and still can be: some have lived wonderfully near God’s thought for them: let us find and follow that Divine original.
So Paul says: “But with me”—as an example and model to all Christians— “it is a very small thing”—it is a matter of the least importance— “that I should be judged of you”—the Church of Christ. (1 Corinthians 4:3). When “all they which are in Asia be turned away” from Paul (2 Timothy 1:15), there must have been personal attacks, solemn denunciations, ecclesiastical censures, even excommunication of the Apostle: in wide areas of the Church his name had become a bye-word: even Paul. When his priestly executioners brought Savonarola to the stake, they cried— “We excommunicate you from the Church militant here upon earth!” “But not from the Church triumphant in heaven!” answered the lonely hero. Men may not judge me, the Apostle says; but then neither do I judge myself; it is not because I am infallible that I rate human judgment so lightly, but because neither they nor I are competent to judge. “Yea, I judge not mine own self” (1 Corinthians 4:3)—I cannot pass even on myself, the final judgment— “For I know NOTHING by myself;”—I am conscious of no sin— “yet am I not hereby [for all that] justified”—found blameless, irreproachable, a perfect steward. (1 Corinthians 4:4). So Paul now administers the great heart-tonic: he takes our wrist, like a master-surgeon, and with his hypodermic syringe inserts beneath the skin perhaps as powerful a heart-strychnine as I, for one, have ever known. “HE THAT JUDGETH ME IS THE LORD.” (1 Corinthians 4:4). A believer’s friends may overpraise him, and his critics over blame; the world will totally misunderstand him in any case; his own conscience may flatter: the LORD only can appraise us exactly, and judge to a nicety. “Therefore judge nothing”—pass no final sentence— “before the time”—our judgment must come; but its time, its season, is not yet: “until the Lord come”—to judge. (1 Corinthians 4:5). If even my own conscience, knowing my motives and inner life, must be set aside as a judge, of how much less value is the praise or blame of men, whose judgment is purely external; and if an enlightened conscience ruled by Scripture does not condemn, the sharp criticisms of men need not unduly depress. Early in the Great War a young man sat at a table in a London restaurant. Two young ladies, seated at another table, watched him for a few minutes, whispering together; and then, approaching him, offered him a little box. He opened it, and in it lay –a white feather. “How strange,” he remarked, “that I should receive two such gifts in one day: this morning I received the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace.” If we are clear in the forum of conscience, we may have good hope that we shall be clear at the bar of God. “Beloved, if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” (1 John 3:21). “Let them say what they will,” said a good man now gone to his rest; “they cannot hurt me; I live too near the Great White Throne for that.”
CHAPTER 8: CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY
It is in the nature of a trust that a day must come for a report of the trust to be put in; and so, after a prolonged period during which His servants trade with the talents he had entrusted to them, Jesus says that “the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them” (Matthew 25:19). The parable covers the entire period from the Nobleman’s departure to his return—that is, from our Lord’s Ascension to the Second Advent; and so embraces all who have conducted His business on earth for nearly two thousand years: it covers the period, and the only period, in which the Church of Christ exists, and so is a comprehensive history of the work and judgment of the Church. The goods entrusted are small, but the returns possible on the outlay are enormous. To the very highest servant, who turns one pound into ten, our Lord says, “Well, thou good servant because thou hast been faithful in a very little” (Luke 19:17); obscure, nameless, often landless, sometimes homeless, even friendless, without rank or power, nevertheless we hold in our hands a trust which, rightly used, can change into incalculable wealth and power in the day of Messiah’s Kingdom.
Now our Lord casts the main emphasis on the third servant—seven verses are devoted to the servant who was a failure, and only three each to the successful servants: therefore, on this servant’s identity depends Christ’s main teaching in the parable; and unless we understand that he may be ourselves, ours will be a concealed peril, like a man-trap hidden under forest leaves. For every truth, appropriated, falls on the soul like an electric shock; whereas it is obvious that the believer who denies the application of the passage to himself, while he may be committing every offence of which the third servant can be guilty, so encases himself in a coat of steel that God’s sword falls on him blunted and harmless. It is of vital import to know the spiritual standing of the third servant.
Now this servant is proved a child of God by the following facts.
- Equally with the other servants he is entrusted with our Lord’s goods on His ascension; but Christ has never entrusted and never does entrust, His work on earth to the unsaved: therefore this is a saved soul equally with the rest. Jesus calls them all ‘His own servants’ (Luke 19:13); literally, “slaves,” bought with their Master’s money, and owned by Him. About to take a journey, the Nobleman is obliged to hand over this property of his, which he is unable to manage personally as before, to other faithful hands during the time of his absence. He therefore calls, not strange labourers, but his own servants, belonging to him as his servants; and as their master, since he may expect that they will regard his interest as their own, entrusts to them and their hands the property he leaves behind” (Goebel). The servants differ greatly in capacity—in the extremes, as five to one; but they differ not at all in the possession of a common trust.
- The three servants are judged together, at one spot and at one time; but the wicked dead are not judged until the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:5, 12), a thousand years after the judgment of the redeemed. So also the slothful servant is judged last of the three, as last risen and last rapt; for he is “that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will” (Luke 12:47). As judged together, all three servants are the redeemed, judged in the one and only judgment in which the Church, and the Church alone, appears (2 Corinthians 5:10); and as this judgment is in the Parousia, the only access to which is by rapture, all the unsaved are of necessity physically excluded. None can reach the Judgment Seat except the saved. At a meeting in Toronto a Christian lady came up to the speaker and said— “You alarm me! I thought I was not coming into any kind of judgment. How then am I to know that I am saved?” “Madam,” he said, “the answer is very simple. The moment you stand before the Judgment Seat you will know you are saved, for none but the saved will ever stand there.” The lost from among the dead are not judged until the great White Throne appears, a thousand years later.
- All three are judged, like the Seven Churches, solely on the ground of their works: their faith in, and love for, the absent King are implied and assumed: their standing is never challenged. If the third servant were an unsaved soul, his works could in no way, and on no ground, be accepted: between the two Advents, it is the redeemed alone who are judged according to their works; for only those who have received from Christ can work for Every servant of God has a personal service for Christ in the world, a sacred trust to fulfil; it is that mission, that trust, which constitutes him a ‘servant’—the title by which the Apostles most loved to describe themselves (Romans 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; James1:1; Jude 1): the salvation a believer receives is the sole ground on which he can trade at all, and it is the Church alone which is the market where God’s trade is forever going on. “It is evident that the design is not to describe a man entirely fallen from faith, an apostate; but one who, although he has not dissolved his connexion as a servant, or squandered his talent, yet has not used it to his Lord’s advantage, one who has not done his duty” (Olshausen).
- Overwhelming is the final proof. In the twin parable of the Pounds, the unsaved are placed in careful contrast with the saved, as Citizens and as Servants, the only two classes in the world, sharply sundering mankind: the Servants our Lord entrusts with His all on earth, the Citizens send the message after the ascended Christ— “We will not have this Man to reign over us;” a message which, as Archbishop Trench says, will have its full and final fulfilment in the great apostasy of the last days. All three Servants have accepted Jesus as Lord, and have entered vitally into the service of God; “His own Servants, e., who have become His in faith, in contradistinction to the Citizens who would not” (Steir), and who are slain without mercy before His face (Luke 19:27). “Whilst the one Servant represents an inactive member of the body of Christ, the Church, who failed to perform his duty, these Citizens are open rebels, and hence their Lord orders them to be killed: it is evident that this penal proceeding is essentially distinguished from the reproof administered to the one Servant” (Olshausen).
Now therefore we see the danger to us all which our Lord flashes out like a red light upon the line—a danger which, remarkably enough, is greatest to the lowliest disciple. What is the peril? Undervaluing what God has given us. Christ gives to each servant what He sees he can wisely use; as much as he can handle and profit by; no servant can say, Lord, Thou gavest me nothing: no servant is expected by Christ to produce results greater than his abilities or his opportunities; the poorest, the most unlettered, the most obscure have the ‘very little’ which yet can coin enormous future wealth. “A talent is entrusted also to the idle servant ‘according to his own ability’: he is therefore just as able, and for this reason just as bound, to work spontaneously with his gifts, as all other servants with theirs” (Goebel). But he so undervalues his opportunity as to bury it in the earth—in earthliness; his carnality is his shame because he is a child of God, and as such betrays his trust: “the circumstance rendering him guilty is, that he to whom the money belonged was no stranger to him, but his master to whom he was bound as a servant” (Goebel). For it is not the possession of the talents that determines our reward, but solely our use of them: it is the second five and the second two, not the first five and the first two, on which reward alone is given. So Jesus describes the third servant as the exact opposite of the first two: instead of “good” and “faithful,” He says he is “wicked” and “slothful”: not “good” in the general sense, but a good servant: and so not bad (or wicked) in a general sense but a bad servant: the goodness of the one consisted in his faithfulness, the badness of the other in his sloth. “This distinctive name comprehends all his guilt, Thou slothful servant” (Steir); unprofitable (Matthew 25:30), but not unregenerate, or apostate; he did not misemploy, nor embezzle, nor squander, but simply hid his money. So what exactly does our Lord charge him with? Unbelief, unregeneration, rebellion, apostasy, adultery, theft, murder? Nay: it is simply a servant of God who has made nothing of his life; all he has done wrong is merely to withhold his powers from serving God; he hoarded, when he ought to have expended; he had no sacred sense of responsibility. “The parable is not for gross sinners: the warning is for those who, being equipped of God for a sphere of activity in His kingdom, hide their talent” (Trench). He says, As I cannot be so holy as God requires, I give up the attempt to satisfy such strictness: I object profoundly to the doctrine of reward according to works, and deny all responsibility in a servant of Christ beyond his responsibility to maintain the gift of grace with which he was entrusted at his conversion. But his answer (as his Lord says) implies that he knew the truth. The Judge answers—Your very consciousness of the severity of the principle ought to have made you more careful, not less, to meet its requirements. “Thereby must the evil servant bear testimony with his own mouth to the innermost truth, and the most perfect right, according to which the Lord requires fruit from what He sows or gives—that God demands fruits and works” (Steir). For the believer to have at his judgment only what he had at his conversion will be his condemnation. As his life had been negative, so is his punishment: he is cast into the darkness outside the brilliantly lit festal hall:
- Since the Parousia is a place of thick darkness (Psalm 18:9), indwelt by the Shekinah Glory (Matthew 16:27), to be cast forth from the inner ring of light on the threshold of the Kingdom is to be expelled into the external dark of the Pavilion of Cloud (Psalm 18:11).
“Nothing is said here of any further punishment of the servant; enough that he has no part in the kingdom of the Lord” (Goebel). Over lost opportunities, wasted graces, slighted privileges, a sold birthright, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
- “If the servant is not a believer, but a mere professor, then we have in the parable nothing to represent the Christian who fails in faithfulness” (C. G. Trumbull).
Both the faithful servants are remarkable examples of “boldness in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17): both come joyfully forward, for they have facts in their hands—the talents doubled; and both are invited at once into the joy of their Lord—our Lord’s joy in His Kingdom, for which He endured the cross, despising the shame, “the authority God will confer on Him on His second coming from heaven in kingly power and glory to establish the Messianic Kingdom” (Goebel).
- It must be the Millennial Kingdom, for our Lord’s everlasting Kingdom as the Son of God—as distinct from the kingdom the Nobleman goes away to obtain (Luke 19:12)—is inherently His, without beginning or end, never conferred: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is FOR EVER AND EVER” (Hebrews 1:8).
So also would the third servant had he been found faithful. “He has no share in the kingdom of his lord, and therefore he who is like him will have no share in the Kingdom of Christ” (Goebel). Both faithful servants had exercised all their faculties and powers in the interests of their Master; the long delay in His return had not made them slothful or negligent, but, on the contrary, had afforded them longer time for greater gains; and what they had gained in the Church, they reap in the Kingdom. The “well done” is conferred for no reason but one—because they have done well. “The period is not given them for idle waiting. It is of the most critical importance for themselves, because it is appointed them as a test-time, on the use of which their own participation in the Kingdom of Christ and their position in it will depend” (Goebel). For the way to advance our own interests is to advance our Lord’s: each gained cent-per-cent for their Lord, and for each pound (Luke 19:17) the reward is a city: the more devoted the life, the more blazing the glory. No servant had more than one pound: No servant was without one pound: every servant had an equal opportunity of making ten pounds: yet ONLY ONE (so far as we know) did so. “It is an experiment of the future King, in the course of which His servants first prove their fidelity in a little sum of money, and then for their reward take part in managing His Kingdom” (Goebel). For while the ten cities and the five cities are figurative, because every phrase in a parable is ipso facto figurative, nevertheless our Lord reveals that the “many things” over which He puts the faithful servant will be no less than royalty. “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give POWER OVER THE NATIONS: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:26-27). Then follows the judgment on the wicked among Israel and the Gentiles. “When the King has thus distributed praise and blame, rewards and penalties, to those who stand in the more immediate relations of servants to Him, to those of His own household, He proceeds to execute vengeance on His enemies, on all who had openly cast off allegiance to Him, and denied that they belonged to His House at all” (Trench).
So “the Coming One remains the Lord of all these servants, of the unfaithful as well as the faithful; and in the case of the latter will show Himself as Lord in the reckoning” (Steir). For as profound the punishment of sloth, so magnificent is the reward of fidelity; it cuts both ways: in exact proportion as we accept the promised enormous premium on fidelity, so we are compelled to acknowledge the gravity of the consequences of unfaithfulness. “In the times between the departure of their Lord and His second coming His disciples are to work with what He committed to them on His departure for Him and His cause with faithful diligence, because the [The Judgment Seat] most glorious reward awaits such fidelity at the hour of Christ’s return, while the heaviest punishment threatens the selfish indolence that would decline active employment of what it has received” (Goebel).
Thus we confront our crisis. Officers are required for the administration of a kingdom: so God has deliberately interposed a prolonged period between the two advents, that our Lord might be enabled to so test His servants, in His absence, as to discover which are fitted for positions of responsibility and trust at His return. The Nobleman, before He departed, laid plans for the selection of officers to aid Him in the administration of the Kingdom; He devised a plan for bringing to light who those officers are on His return; this plan is in operation at the present moment, purposely so contrived as to reveal individual capacity for office, and personal fitness for trust; and—most impressive of all—the Long Journey is now nearly over, and at any moment the investigation may begin. “Make haste about cultivating a Christlike character. The harvest is great; the toil is heavy; the sun is drawing to the west; the reckoning is at hand. There is no time to lose; set about it as you have never done before, and say, ‘This one thing I do’” (A. Maclaren).