Lesson 6: The church Bible Trust relationship is not something new. Churches under Christ in every thing (under Christ alone) have, by definition, always honored it.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 1, 2022

Go to the following webpage for links to additional lessons:
Lessons on the Bible (Common Law) Trust

The purpose of this lesson and all ministry lessons is to glorify God. When one seeks Bible truth and presents what he believes to reflect that truth, the only motive that pleases God is love for the Lord and His truth. If you disagree with anything in this lesson, open minded debate is encouraged. Please do not become angry. Rather, engage this ministry in a Bible based search for truth (See, Ephesians 4:11-16), with the goal of glorifying God and finding the truth. Reasoning together should include the Bible principles and analysis of the common law or Bible trust as applied to the Bible principles. Open debate and honest study, with the Bible as the foundation, glorifies God, especially when considering the institution God loved and gave himself for. Respond in love as this and all lessons are inspired by love for God and His truth. I will publicly repent of any error which is revealed to me by love-centered discourse. God bless.
Ephesians 4:11-16: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

This short lesson, and the cited resources, explain:

  • That the Church Bible Trust Relationship recommended by this ministry is not new; the Lord Jesus originated it, describes it, and prescribes it in His Word.
  • New Testament churches, from the beginning of the church until this day, have always practiced the Bible trust relationship with property.
  • New Testament Churches, by honoring Christ “in every thing” have been vilified, abased, and persecuted, by other “churches,” and church-state establishments, to include those in America who combine with the state through incorporation (sole or aggregate), charitable trust status, Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status, etc.

When a church organizes according to New Testament Church Doctrine, that church, as a spiritual organism under the authority of Christ in every thing, applies the Biblical concept of trust. See, Trust is a Bible Concept for explanation of the Bible Trust, its origins, and application by a New Testament Church. A church who wishes to remain under Christ in every thing, has no other option; there is only one way for a church to organize according to God’s Word. The organization can be explained in terms used by this ministry, in terms of the concept of the Bible (common law) trust. God’s Word is clear: a church who practices the concept pleases and glorifies God, and a church who does not do so arrogates the prerogatives of (blasphemes) God.

Churches in the New Testament, the first church—the Church at Jerusalem and all other churches in the New Testament—established and practiced a Bible trust relationship with property.  All property was owned by God, not the church. The churches remained spiritual entities only.

No church owned property; only a worldly temporal legal entity can own property. See, Short Answers to Some Important Questions. Churches never met on property they owned. Members gave to God, not to the church. They gave of God’s own, not of their own (See, Exodus 19:5; Leviticus 25:23; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13; Psalm 24:1; Psalm 50:10; Psalm 89:11; Haggai 2:8; Trust is a Bible Concept explains this in some detail). When they gave to God, their gifts were held and managed by a person or persons, according to the will of our Lord as given in His Word (See, e.g., Acts 4:32-5:11 as to the church at Jerusalem and the sin and death of Ananias and Sapphira). The church at Jerusalem remained holy—totally set apart for God and under God; as a result, the church had great spiritual power and multitudes of women and men were saved and added to the Lord (Acts 4:12-5:16).

Since New Testament times, there has always existed a remnant of churches who remained spiritual entities under Christ in all things. They were true to Bible distinctives concerning many matters, including the matter of separation of church and state. To be separate from the state, a church cannot own property or act as a legal entity in any other manner. Churches refused to contract with the state and the state religion.

Historically, Christians in such churches, as warned by Jesus and the apostles, have been persecuted. Christians were persecuted from the beginning of the church. After union of church and state in the fourth century, the original established “church” as well as her offspring, the Protestant establishments, working with the state, tried to stamp out “heretics” and eliminate all other religions, including authentic New Testament churches, and their members. See, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application, pp. 127-132 for a brief history of those persecutions; see also, Persecution: A Consequence of Covenant Theology.

This persecution continued in the American colonies where a spiritual warfare between the dissenters, mainly Baptists, were persecuted by colonial established church-state unions. The result of that conflict was the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. America, with the adoption of the First Amendment became the second government in world history, of any lasting consequence, to grant religious freedom and soul liberty. Ibid., “History of Religious Freedom in America,” pp. 189-289.

Scores of churches in America have come to understand that Christ desires to be the only head or authority over churches who name His name; and, consequently, have established the Bible trust relationship with property. This Churches under Christ ministry has helped many churches to do so. Starting in the 1980’s, the Biblical Law Center, under the leadership of Attorney Al Cunningham, began to help churches come out from under civil government and establish Bible trust relationships with property.

A church can establish the relationship without a writing. However, should the trustee of the property owned by the Lord Jesus Christ wish to open a bank account to hold the funds in the trust estate, the trustee must show a written Declaration of Trust and related documents to the bank. Should the trustee with to purchase real estate for a meetinghouse, the property by owned by the Lord Jesus Christ, it is wise to have a Declaration of Trust which provides for the appointment of and transfers the powers of the trustee to a successor trustee. When this is done, successor trustees will have the authority to hold and manage the property. Merely holding title in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the title signed by “deacons” or some others, can lead to problems down the line. No matter the position given on the title, these deacons or others are acting as trustees. What happens should one or more of the trustees pass away. How will the property be transferred twenty-five or fifty years after purchase, the trustees are gone and the property needs to be sold or transferred?

Many of the trustees of trusts helped by this ministry have opened trust bank accounts or purchased real estate in the name of the trust. In every instance, they have showed the bank  or the seller of the real estate, title companies and lawyers, tax assessors (for property tax exemption purposes) the trust documents for their inspection. Those documents shine the light of Bible truth on many matters, thereby educated those in the world who had no idea of what a true New Testament church is. See, Lesson 4: The wisdom of a written Declaration of Trust. 

Courts in America have recognized the common law trust relationship with property, acknowledging that the relationship is not a legal entity but a defined relationship with property. Courts have held that property tax exemption cannot be withheld from property held in trust by churches and other religious organizations. See EN[i] for excerpts from and links to such cases. Here are some excerpts from the Endnote:

Indiana property tax exemption law specifically recognizes the trust relationship. Indiana Code Title 6. Taxation § 6-1.1-10-21 states:

Sec. 21 .  (a) The following tangible property is exempt from property taxation if it is owned by, or held in trust for the use of, a church or religious society:

(1) A building that is used for religious worship.

(2) The pews and furniture contained within a building that is used for religious worship.

(3) The tract of land upon which a building that is used for religious worship is situated.

Etc.

See, The Indiana Board of Tax Review Determines that Property Held in Trust for the Lord Jesus Christ Must Be Granted Property Tax Exemption for an essay chronicling a case testing the  church use of the Bible trust and a legal examination and decision by the Indiana Board of Tax Review. The Endnote also covers this in more detail. Property tax exemption on property used by churches, unlike federal tax exempt status, comes with no strings attached. It is just a courtesy which every state grants churches and other religious organizations.

WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 157 Wis.2d 539 (1990), 461 N.W.2d 143, Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs December 8, 1989. Decided August 2, 1990states (see Endnote for more): 

  • “Church” and “Congregation.” A church consists of those who are communicants, have made a public profession of religion and are united by a religious bond of common spiritual welfare. It is the spiritual body, not the legal one.
  • In Franke v. Mann,106 Wis. 118, 131, 81 N.W. 1014, 1018-19 (1900), the court further said that “[w]hat has been said is in harmony with the law regarding trusts for religious uses, whether the trustees be officers of a religious corporation or of an unincorporated ecclesiastical body. . . .” Id.at 131-32, 81 N.W. at 1019 (emphasis added).
  • In Holm v. Holm,81 Wis. 374, 382, 51 N.W. 579, 581 (1892), the facts included that the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Roche-a-Cree was a voluntary association until February 7, 1889. The court noted that “[p]rior to that date the title to the churches in which the members of the association worshiped was vested in trustees named in . . . deeds, and their successors in office. . . . The trusts imposed by such deeds appear to have been valid upon the principles stated by this court in adness v. Braunborg. . . .” Id.
  • In Franke v. Mann,106 Wis. 118, 131, 81 N.W. 1014, 1018-19 (1900), the court further said that “[w]hat has been said is in harmony with the law regarding trusts for religious uses, whether the trustees be officers of a religious corporation or of an unincorporated ecclesiastical body. . . .” Id. at 131-32, 81 N.W. at 1019 (emphasis added).
  • . We conclude that the trust constituted an “entity” which could claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats., for the benefit of the Basic Bible Church. We further conclude that the legislative history of the pertinent statutes does not disclose a legislative intent to require that a church or religious association be incorporated before it may claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4).

Note: In a Biblically correct trust relationship with property, the property is held in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ to be used according to His will as given in the Word of God, not the church, as is pointed out in these lessons.

God’s desires that churches should be holy, set apart for the Lord alone, totally separate from any worldly entanglement(s). See, for full Bible explanation, God Betrayed, pp. 1-188. The established church, the church who chooses to unite with civil government by contracting with the state, submits herself, to one degree or another, to an authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ. She works over, under, or with the state. Establishment contracts in America are unilaterally written into state law, and can be changed unilaterally, by the state or federal government without input from the church. The state makes an offer for churches to accept. The offer is written in a state or federal law.. The church can ignore the offer or accept it. When accepted, the completed contract—offer, consideration on the part of both parties (the state gets stated authority over the accepting church for many purposes and the church gets the “advantages” that come with being an artificial person under the Fourteenth Amendment; a person who can sue, be sued, enter into contracts, own property, pay salaries to hireling pastors, etc.), and acceptance. The contract gives the state authority over the church, but gives the church no authority over the state. The church is an established church.

An established church is unholy. She profaned herself by entering into an unholy union. Ibid., 125-188. She rejected God in order to be like the other churches. She became, in many ways, like other established churches, a business; and, with time, she becomes more and more business oriented, more and more worldly, and less and less heavenly. She has more and more earthly power, supposedly, but less and less heavenly power. A slide toward apostasy began when she chose to unite with the state by becoming a legal entity (a corporation (sole or aggregate), a charitable trust, of an Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt religious organization, etc. See, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? for explanation of legal entities and examination of church incorporation, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt religious churches).

American believers, churches, Bible colleges, and seminaries who support state church establishment have ignored or never studied, and certainly have never applied, Bible doctrine which explains the Bible principles regarding the relationship of church and state. To them, the substance of this essay appears to be something new and never thought of before. They, as to these matters, are like the Jewish religious leaders in the New Testament who proclaimed to the Lord, and to the early Christians, that they were the authorities on Scripture. Their authority was tradition and they ignored Christ’s admonitions to “search the Scriptures,” for they thought they had done so. God could not convince those heretics of their error. Likewise, God (in His Word) cannot convince those who refuse to study Scripture to learn the truth about church organization as to the relationship of Christ and His churches. Instead, they attack those who proclaim the truth in the same ways as the Jewish religious leaders attacked Jesus and the apostles. The nature of the attacks never change.

Established churches are like Israel, the only God-ordained theocratic nation, who rejected God’s sole authority in order to be like “all the nations, … in order that [their king might judge them, go out before them and fight their battles].” (1 Samuel 8). They have chosen to give “Caesar” authority that belongs to God. God allows them, as He allowed Israel, to do this. As Israel lost the favor of God, so have most American churches who betrayed Him by choosing another head or heads. As Israel started down the road to apostasy, so have American churches except for a small remnant. Many American churches are at the end of that road. Many others are fast approaching it. See, The Biblical Doctrine of the Church, sections on apostasy. In the process, they cause the world to blaspheme God.


EN[i] A. Another Victory for a Church under Christ (092419) A local property tax board in Minnesota denied the property tax exemption for real estate used as a meeting house for a church which had established a trust relationship with property. The property was used 100% for church purposes. The only recourse, after trying to reason with the local assessor and county attorney, was for the trustee to file petition in court. The trustee prevailed, after filing of Motion/brief and oral argument, and without trial. The property tax exemption was granted. The redacted Motion/brief is linked to for one to examine.

  1. The Indiana Board of Tax Review Determines that Property Held in Trust for the Lord Jesus Christ Must Be Granted Property Tax Exemption (012319). This article involves a property tax exemption for a Trinity Baptist Springs Church in Trinity Baptist Springs, Indiana organized under a Declaration of Trust. The Pastor, with the help of the Biblical Law Center, represented himself. The article links to the video of the property tax hearing held by the local property tax board who decided against the exemption. The case was appealed to the Indiana Board of Tax Review who reversed and order that the tax exemption be granted.

Indiana property tax exemption law specifically recognizes the trust relationship. Indiana Code Title 6. Taxation § 6-1.1-10-21 states:

Sec. 21 .  (a) The following tangible property is exempt from property taxation if it is owned by, or held in trust for the use of, a church or religious society:

(1) A building that is used for religious worship.

(2) The pews and furniture contained within a building that is used for religious worship.

(3) The tract of land upon which a building that is used for religious worship is situated.

(b) The following tangible property is exempt from property taxation if it is owned by, or held in trust for the use of, a church or religious society:

(1) A building that is used as a parsonage.

(2) The tract of land, not exceeding fifteen (15) acres, upon which a building that is used as a parsonage is situated.

(c) To obtain an exemption for parsonages, a church or religious society must provide the county assessor with an affidavit at the time the church or religious society applies for the exemptions.  The affidavit must state that:

(1) all parsonages are being used to house one (1) of the church’s or religious society’s rabbis, priests, preachers, ministers, or pastors;  and

(2) none of the parsonages are being used to make a profit.

The affidavit shall be signed under oath by the church’s or religious society’s head rabbi, priest, preacher, minister, or pastor.

(d) Property referred to in this section shall be assessed to the extent required under IC 6-1.1-11-9

  1. KOPSOMBUT-MYINT BUDDHIST CENTER, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, 728 N.W. 2d 327 (1986) Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Middle Section, at Nashville. Permission to Appeal Denied, April 6, 1987. IMPORTANT POINT: Property held in trust for a Buddhist Temple qualifies for a property tax exemption, if the property is used for religious purposes and the owner, any stockholder, officer, member or employee of such institution is not lawfully entitled to receive and pecuniary profit from the operations of that property in competition with like property owned by others which is not exempt. Property held in trust and which otherwise qualifies for the exemption is to be exempted from property tax.  Of note, for emphasis, it was obvious that corporate, 501(c)(3) status was not a prerequisite for religious property tax exemption. Also, this case deals with a “trust,” not a “business trust” “charitable trust” or some other type of trust that is a legal entity.” As to the trust relationship, the court stated:
  • “A valid trust need not be in writing. It can be created orally unless the language of the written conveyance excludes the existence of a trust. Sanderson v. Milligan,585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Linder v. Little,490 S.W.2d 717, 723 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1972); and Adrian v. Brown, 29 Tenn. App. 236, 243, 196 S.W.2d 118, 121 (1946). However, when a party seeks to establish an oral trust, it must do so by greater than a preponderance of the evidence. Sanderson v. Milligan, 585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Hunt v. Hunt, 169 Tenn. 1, 9, 80 S.W.2d 666, 669 (1935); and Browder v. Hite, 602 S.W.2d 489, 493 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980).
  • “The existence of a trust requires proof of three elements: (1) a trustee who holds trust property and who is subject to the equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another, (2) a beneficiary to whom the trustee owes the equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit, and (3) identifiable trust property. See G.G. Bogert & G.T. Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees 1, at 6 (rev. 2d ed. 1984) and Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 2 comment h (1957). We find that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center has proved the existence of each of these elements by clear and convincing evidence.” [p. 333].
  1. WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 166 Wis.2d 442 (1992), 480 N.W.2d 16, Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs October 4, 1991.Decided February 17, 1992.The Supreme Court of Wisconsin reviewed the evidence and concluded that “The evidence indicates that Basic Bible was established to evade taxation. Basic Bible failed to meet its burden of proving that it is a “church” or “religious association” under [Wisconsin law]. The court held that Basic Bible was not property tax exempt.” The fact that the church held “in trust” the property for which a property tax exemption was sought was not a factor in the decision.The Court concluded that incorporation and 501(c)(3) status is not a prerequisite for church property tax exemption; and, again, made clear that the fact that the church held the property “in trust” did not disqualify the church from property tax exemption. [My note. Many, many cases are on the record involving denials of “church,” or “religious organization” property tax exemption for incorporated 501(c)(3) tax scams. See, for some examples, III below. This is the only case I have found in which a “church” or “religious organization or society” which held property and/or money in trust was held to be such a scam. Also, by reading this entire case with knowledge, one versed in these matters readily sees that Basic Bible did not understand the law nor the Bible. One could write a lengthy analysis proving that. Also very interesting is the analysis of the pro se representation in this case.]

The Wisconsin Supreme Court stated, in its opinion from which the above was taken that:

  • The court of appeals had no obligation to look beyond the issues raised by Bible Baptist, but had the discretion to do so. The “church” was organized as a trust. The principle issue which it in its discretion addressed was the circuit court’s conclusion that for a ‘church’ to claim a tax exemption, it must be incorporated under the laws of Wisconsin or another state. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin agreed with the conclusion of the appeals court that the church need not be incorporated to claim a tax exemption.The Court stated: “We need not reiterate the excellent discussion and analysis underpinning that conclusion that appears in the court of appeals opinion. 157 Wis. 2d at 539-49” [the citation for this case].

The opinion from the court of appeals referred to by the Wisconsin Supreme Court was WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 157 Wis.2d 539 (1990), 461 N.W.2d 143, Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs December 8, 1989. Decided August 2, 1990Here are some very important points made on pp. 539-49 of that decision:

We hold … that the church was not required to show that it was incorporated as a religious society or corporation under ch. 187, Stats., or otherwise, to establish that its property is exempt from taxation under sec. 70.11(4).

The court examined the legislative history of the pertinent statutes to determine if a church or religious organization must be incorporated for its property to be tax exempt [under state law]. The court started with examination of the first exemption from taxation of the property of churches and religious organizations—in sec. 24, ch. 47, Revised Statutes of 1849. Chapter 47 prescribed the procedure by which persons belonging to a church congregation or religious society, “not already incorporated,” could incorporate. … The exemption was not limited to religious societies incorporated under ch. 47.

The court then looked at Chapter 130, Laws of 1868 which provided for the assessment of property for taxation and for exemptions therefrom. Section 2, 3d exempted “[p]ersonal property owned by any religious, scientific, literary or benevolent association, used exclusively for the purposes of such association, and the real property necessary for the location and convenience of the buildings of such association . . . not exceeding ten acres. . . .” Chapter 130 did not define “association.” The court then went to Wisconsin Statutes of 1898. Section 1038, subd. 3 was renumbered sec. 70.11(4), Stats., by sec. 16, ch. 69, Laws of 1921. Throughout its history, the exemption from taxation of property of churches and religious associations has been accorded in substantially the same language. No “linkage” has existed between the exemption statutes and those affecting the organization of churches and religious associations or societies.

Chapter 411, Laws of 1876, provided for the incorporation of religious societies. Apparently this act replaced ch. 47 of the revised statutes of 1849. Chapter 411 is silent as to the taxation or exemption of the property of religious societies incorporated thereunder.

The procedures for the incorporation of religious societies were included in ch. 91, Revised Statutes of 1878. Nash’s Wisconsin Annotations (1914), sec. 1990, ch. 91 at 753, states:

The revisers of 1878 in their note said: “Chapter 411, 1876, is taken to have been intended as a revision of the law for the incorporation of religious societies. The privilege of organizing a corporation is extended to all classes and denominations, it not being supposed the law means to be intolerant of any religious belief or to be partial in its offer of privileges.”

The same annotation at page 755 states:

“Church” and “Congregation.” A church consists of those who are communicants, have made a public profession of religion and are united by a religious bond of common spiritual welfare. It is the spiritual body, not the legal one. But a religious society or congregation, under the statute, is a voluntary association of persons, generally but not necessarily in connection with a church proper, united for the purpose of having a common place of worship and to provide a proper teacher to instruct them in doctrines and duties, etc. [Citations omitted.]

Decisions interpreting ch. 91, Revised Statutes of 1878, make plain that failure of a church or religious organization to incorporate thereunder did not affect the power of the church or religious organization to hold title to property. “Under the repeated decisions of this court, we must hold that the mere fact that [a] church or religious society had not yet been incorporated at the time of the delivery of [a] deed in no way frustrated the trust thereby created, if such trust was otherwise valid.” Fadness v. Braunborg, 73 Wis. 257, 278-79, 41 N.W. 84, 90 (1889) (emphasis in original).

In Holm v. Holm, 81 Wis. 374, 382, 51 N.W. 579, 581 (1892), the facts included that the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Roche-a-Cree was a voluntary association until February 7, 1889. The court noted that “[p]rior to that date the title to the churches in which the members of the association worshiped was vested in trustees named in . . . deeds, and their successors in office. . . . The trusts imposed by such deeds appear to have been valid upon the principles stated by this court in adness v. Braunborg. . . .” Id.

In Franke v. Mann, 106 Wis. 118, 131, 81 N.W. 1014, 1018-19 (1900), the court further said that “[w]hat has been said is in harmony with the law regarding trusts for religious uses, whether the trustees be officers of a religious corporation or of an unincorporated ecclesiastical body. . . .” Id. at 131-32, 81 N.W. at 1019 (emphasis added).

It is plain from these decisions that the court did not consider that the legislature, by offering to ecclesiastical bodies the advantages of incorporation, intended to impose corporate structure upon such bodies. The property of unincorporated ecclesiastical bodies was commonly held in trust for the benefit of the members.

The Basic Bible Church established that title to the real estate subject to foreclosure was held in the name of the trustees for the benefit of the church. We conclude that the trust constituted an “entity” which could claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats., for the benefit of the Basic Bible Church. We further conclude that the legislative history of the pertinent statutes does not disclose a legislative intent to require that a church or religious association be incorporated before it may claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s