Section 1, Chapter 2: THE BASICS AND ELEMENTS OF A CHURCH BIBLE TRUST relationship with property

Click here to go to home page for the booklet
Simply Church: The Holy Union of Christ and His Local Church

 Jerald Finney
January 19, 2023

The Basics

The church Bible Trust is a plan or concept of God in Scripture, as Chapter 8 explains. The church who honors this plan does not organize as a trust; rather, she declares and practices the same relationship with property as did churches in the New Testament. The church does not apply to the state, according to state law, for Bible Trust status, as with a charitable or business trust. No trust papers are filed with the state because the trust relationship is private. The church remains totally under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and His word as long as she does not act legally. A trustee holds and manages, according to his fiduciary duty, the property in the trust estate for the benefit of the true owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ, not for the church. Gifts are to God and are held in His trust estate, not in a corporate or a church bank account. The trustee is the legal (temporary earthly) owner of the property and the Lord Jesus Christ is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner.

The Elements

As will be shown from Scripture in Chapter 8, the church Bible Trust relationship with property is according to God’s plan, God’s Bible Trust concept. This lesson will explain the elements of that relationship. Since a Bible Trust relationship is one in which church reaches an agreement with a person to hold and manage property for the benefit of the owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ, convenient terms for the elements of the relationship are trustor, trustee, beneficiary, and trust estate.

According to God’s Word in the Old Testament, God entrusted man with His earth and all that is in it. God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in the earth, including man and woman. He gave man the duty to hold and manage His earthly creations. A trustor or settlor is the one who establishes a trust agreement.

God was trustor of all things. He appointed man as trustee. The earth and the things that are in it compose the earthly trust estate of the trust established by God, the beneficiary (true, equitable, and beneficial owner).

A church can operate according to God’s plan of organization by observing God’s concept of trust without written documents as a spiritual entity only. However, should she wish to put God’s money in a bank account, or to use some of God’s money for a meetinghouse owned by the Lord Jesus Christ, she will need to declare and execute the trust relationship in writing. In either scenario:

  1. The elements of the trust relationship are trustor, trustee, trust estate, and beneficiary.
  2. The trustor church declares the trust relationship and appoints a trustee.
  3. The trustee agrees to become the legal (earthly, temporal) owner of the trust estate. He agrees to hold and manage the trust estate solely for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the owner of the trust estate, according to His will as expressed in His Word, the Holy King James Bible. The trustee receives no compensation for serving as trustee.
  4. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to use the estate for purposes consistent with the will of God as laid out in God’s Word.
  5. Real property in the trust estate, if any, is held in the name of the trust. Both the state and the Lord require someone to hold temporary earthly title to His real property. As to property on which a church meets, if no one holds legal title and if it is brought to the attention of the state, the state will declare someone to be legal owner of that property.
  6. Titles to motor vehicles, if any, in the trust estate are held in the name of the trust.
  7. Banks accounts, if any, holding funds in the trust estate are held in the name of the trust.
  8. The pastor should be trustee named in a church Bible trust agreement although a deacon or other mature male church member can serve as trustee. The pastor should be as qualified or more qualified as any man in the church to hold and manage God’s earthly property. Of course, the pastor can appoint others to perform certain duties; but he is the one ultimately responsible. See Endnote[i].
  9. The trust document, if any, should include language which prohibits the trustee from using any property, or proceeds from the conveyance of any property in the trust estate, for the benefit of himself or anyone else. Property can be real personal, and personal property includes money and bank accounts.
  10. “In no event will the ownership of any or all real or personal property or money in the Trust Estate ever inure to the benefit of or be transferred to any member or members of the church except as consistent with Bible guidelines.”
  11. The beneficiary, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of everything in the trust estate.
  12. All property in the trust estate is to be held and managed by the trustee, the legal (earthly) owner of the trust estate, solely for the benefit of and according to the will of the true, equitable and beneficial owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ.

A church Declaration of Trust should include language such as:

“The Beneficiary of this Trust is the Lord Jesus Christ, and all of the properties of the Trust Estate are held in Trust, by the Trustee, solely for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of all property including all property held in Trust. This Declaration of Trust is not naming or making the Lord Jesus Christ the Beneficiary or the Trust Estate; He is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of the earth and all that is in it (Exodus 19:5, Leviticus 25:23, 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:10, Psalm 89:11, Haggai 2:8). This document is merely declaring that truth.”


Endnote

[i] Timothy was a preacher with a special position of trust. Timothy was a trustee of a spiritual heritage: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:” (1 Ti. 6.20). Likewise, elders, which includes pastors, must meet specific requirements which not every man in a church can meet. (See, for example, Tit. 1.5-9). An elder must hold fast the Word of God, “that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Tit. 1.9-16, 2.2; see also, Ac. 11.30, 14.23, (ordained elders in every church), 15.2, 4, 6, 22-23, 16.4, 20.17, 21.18; 1 Ti. 5.1 (“rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father”), 1 Ti. 5.17-19; Ja. 5.14-15; He. 13.7, 17; 1 Pe. 5.1 (Peter the Apostle was an elder, here writing to “the elders who are among you”; 1 Pe. 5.5 (younger to submit to the elder, and all to submit to one another); 2 Jn. 1 and 3 Jn. 1 (John the Apostle was also an elder);

Biblically, a pastor must meet stringent God-given requirements:

  • “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop [pastor], he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Ti. 3.1-7).
  • “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;” (Tit. 1.7).

These requirements are strict because a pastor, and every member of a church, is entrusted by God to “take care of the church of God.” (1 Ti. 3.5).

“The elders [pastors included] which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Pe. 5.1-5).

The Bible proclaims: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (He. 13.7). “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” ( He. 13.17). “Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints….” (He. 13.24). “Them” is plural, and includes the pastor and other elders of a church.

The elders, including the pastor, are to oversee a church: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Ac. 20.28). Paul was speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus (Ac. 20.17-18).

A pastor is responsible to act as a ruler, trustee, steward, and overseer of a church. As such, he should be as qualified as any other church member to be the trustee of God’s trust estate.

Analysis of “Jefferson’s Virginia Statute & How Courts Twisted Meaning of First Amendment to make Government Hostile to Religious Liberty” on American Minute by Bill Federer

lick here to go to homepage with links to all analyses of “An American Minute by Bill Federer” Challenged

For a documented history of the spiritual warfare in America that started in the colonial period and continues to this day, see The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/Christian Revisionism on Trial.

The real problem in America is that the United States Supreme Court removed God all civil government matters. To understand how that happened, see Section V of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application, p. 194, available in online PDF.

Jerald Finney
January 18, 2023

Click here to go to The American Minute publication of:
American Minute with Bill Federer: “Jefferson’s Virginia Statute & How Courts Twisted Meaning of First Amendment to make Government Hostile to Religious Liberty”

I have removed the contents temporarily. I will add the completely revised article as soon as it is finished.

Section I Chapter 1 of Simply Church: Introduction

Click here to go to home page for the booklet
Simply Church: The Holy Union of Christ and His Local Church

Acting without knowledge, understanding and wisdom is not prudent for the believer who loves, or says he or she loves, the Lord. A believer and a church cannot love and glorify God by just following what someone else says. Sadly, most churches and believers act on the matter of church organization without thinking and as instructed by unthinking pastors, Bible Colleges, Seminaries, “Christian” media, and/or “Christian” lawyers and law firms. They act on misinformation without checking it out against the Word of God. Before organizing a church, they should fully answer and understand answers to questions like:

  • Does God desire union of church and state or separation of church and state?
  • What is church incorporation and federal tax exemption?
  • Do church incorporation and federal tax exemption establish unholy alliances with another lover?
  • Do church incorporation and federal tax exemption violate Bible principle and displease our Lord?
  • What is the Bible Trust relationship with property?
  • Is the Bible Trust relationship with property Biblical?
  • And the list goes on. For a thorough look at answers to all the above and many more relevant questions, see the resources linked to in the Appendix.

This booklet takes the position that local church use of the Bible Trust for holding and managing properties given to God for use according to His will comports with New Testament Church Doctrine. However, no church should act on this conclusion without thorough Holy Spirit led study of the Word of God and the Bible Trust Concept.

This Section will explain God’s Bible Trust Doctrine in some detail. The Bible Trust is a relationship with property; is not statutory; has no nexus with civil government, its authority or courts; and does not organize a church as a trust. The heavens, the earth and all that are in them belong to God.[1] God entrusts man with all His earthly property, and he entrusts His children with all things spiritual. An individual, a family, a nation, and a church are to hold and manage God’s property for his glory.

Following the chapters which explain the concept, this section shows, from the Bible, that the plan is God’s and that the churches in the New Testament followed the plan. For example, no church in the New Testament owned property. Why? Because those churches were eternal spiritual organisms made up of children of God indwelt by the Holy Spirit, not temporal worldly organizations.[2] Never were thy told to put Caesar above God as to heavenly matters, those things having to do with their relationship with God. As to those matters, they were to “obey God rather than men.”[3] Of course, they were also worldly citizens of their nation, but their duty to the nation was temporal. They were instructed to be ideal earthly citizens who also, as members of local churches, were to go out of their churches into all the world and perform a spiritual heavenly mission, the preaching of the gospel.[4]

Oh that we believers could have the attitude, actions, and goal of the Apostle Paul expressed in Philippians 3:7-14:

“7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, 9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.”


Footnotes

[1] See, e.g., 1 Chronicles 29:11; Psalm 24:1; 89:11-12;  Jeremiah 32:17-24; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Colossians 1:16;

[2] See, e.g., Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12.

[3] Acts, 5:29. See, Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (https://jeraldfinney.com/god-betrayed/books/render-unto-god-the-things-that-are-his-a-systematic-study-of-romans-13-and-related-verses/).

[4] Romans 12:17-21, Romans 13:8-10, 1Peter 4:12-19 (the actions of the believer toward those who temporally persecute them for being Christians); Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47-48; Acts 1:8.

Appendix to Simply Church

Click here to go to home page for the booklet
Simply Church: The Holy Union of Christ and His Local Church

Links to books, essays, and articles which explain all matters related to the church/state relationship from God’s perspective as prescribed in His Word. These resources explain why church non-profit corporation status, federal tax-exempt status, charitable trust status, or legal entity status of any kind is spiritual prostitution; combine the heavenly with the earthly, the holy with the unholy, the eternal with the temporal; grieve our Lord; start a church on a downward slide toward heresy and apostasy; and corrupt the church, the state, and the people. All aspects of these matters are covered in the materials linked to below.

All resources and links below are from on jeraldfinney.com.

Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church

Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities. This book explains why church corporate status, church Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax-exempt status or legal status of any kind is spiritual fornication. Churches who obtain such status betray their first love.

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. This book covers the Bible principles regarding God’s desired relationship between church and state and the American application of those principles. Section VI, “God Betrayed: Union of Church and State,” is an amplified version of Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities.

Short Course covering the material in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application.

Short Answers to Some Important Questions
gives links to short relevant articles which serve as good quick references:

The New Testament of Jesus Christ: His Executor Named and Empowered

  1.  What is a Spiritual entity?
  2.  What is a legal entity?
  3. Is a church a Spiritual entity, a legal entity, or a Spiritual/legal entity?
  4. Is it illegal for a church in America not to incorporate? Does a church have to be a 501c3?
  5. Does God Care if our Church is Incorporated?
  6. Should a Church Be a 508 Church?
  7. Does a church in America need an Employer (Tax) ID Number?
  8. Did President Trump do away with 501(c)(3) Requirements?
  9. What does church, inc. mean?
  10. Who Is the head of an incorporated church? 
  11. What is 501c3?
  12. What is 508?
  13. What is the history of the First Amendment?
  14. What is the History and Meaning of “Establishment of Religion” in America?
  15. What is an established church?
  16. What is a First Amendment Church?
  17. Question from a Church Concerning Church Organization
  18. The Bible Answer to the Question, “Is an Incorporated 501(c)(3) or 508 Church a Church of Christ?”

 Analysis of False reasons of Christians and Lawyers for church corporate, 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax-exempt status or legal status of any kind

Essays and articles linked to at https://jeraldfinney.com/miscellaneous-articles/.
Here are links to articles there which are relevant to church/state relationship:

Why Understanding and Applying Church and State Law Is Important for Believers and Churches

Introduction to Simply Church: God’s Simple Plan for Local Church Organization

Click here to go to home page for the booklet
Simply Church: The Holy Union of Christ and His Local Church

Jerald Finney
January 13, 2023

All individuals and institutions—families, nations, and churches—would do well to go to the Word of God, the Bible, for direction in their affairs. Things would be much simpler, far more fulfilling and rewarding, full of the blessings of God, and free from the judgments of God. Sadly, rarely does this occur. This booklet is concerned only with the matter of doing things God’s way, the Bible way, in the matter of the ordering the God-ordained institution of the church made up of local churches in their relationships to the God-ordained institution of civil government.

Doing things God’s way in the matter of local church organization is really simple, very simple. On the other hand, organizing a church man’s way is very complex, changes the very nature of a church from an eternal, heavenly organization to a temporal, earthly organization, and brings in man-made complexities that change the nature and functioning of a church. Joining church and state combines an temporal earthly power (civil government) with an eternal heavenly power (the local church). Such unions either place the church over the state, the state over the church, or makes them coequal partners. As history amply proves, all such unions inevitably corrupt the church, the state, and the people.

In America, churches may, without persecution, choose either to remain in relationship with Christ alone or to enter into an unholy union with state government (e.g., through non-profit corporation status) and/or federal government (thought “tax-exempt” status). A church who chooses to enter into unholy union with the state grieves our Lord, starts a slide toward heresy and apostasy, and profanes that which God desires, according to His Word, to remain holy, set apart for Him and Him alone.

God wishes the relationship of both husband and wife and Christ and his churches to be holy, set apart for God. Christ likens the relationship between his churches to the marriage relationship: “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.” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Christ paid a high price for the local churches. He has given church leaders a great responsibility in maintaining their holy status. “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Acts 20:28).

Suppose that one day, John Smith is at home when his wife Alice walks in the front door with her arms around another man, Joe. Alice says to her husband John,

“Hello, dear. I want you to meet Joe. I met him a couple of months ago and he and I have become good friends. We have talked over the phone and had lunch together a few times. That’s all. I have found him to be a very wise and compassionate man, concerned with my well-being, and yours as well. He has some wonderful suggestions as to how this marriage should be run. His ways are much better than your ways as to many matters. I think we should bring him into our relationship for wise counseling and direction. Not only that, he is a rich man and wants to help us out financially. You must agree with me that this new relationship will be far better?”

What would a husband who loved his wife say to her in this eventuality?

Sadly, most churches, like Eve, have been beguiled by the serpent through his subtilty, so that their minds have been corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. They have left their first love as did the church at Ephesus. They have chosen to combine with the state. They usually do so through contracting with the state and federal government for non-profit corporation status, federal tax-exempt status, charitable trust status. Some few do so by setting themselves up as legal entities by acting legally, entities subject to civil government control. A church acts legally when, for example, she takes out insurance on the church, holds property in the name of the church, opens a bank account in the name of the church.[1]

Churches have followed the wrong advice in structuring their relationship with the state. Many know that the example of the churches in the Word of God is complete separation of church and state. Nonetheless, they argue that times have changed and that churches can no longer follow the doctrine and practice of the original New Testament churches. They reason that the church must combine with the state:

  1. So that she can own property, hold a bank account, or act legally in some other manner.
  2. So that she can enter into contracts.
  3. To limit the liability of church members.
  4. So that one’s tithes, offerings and gifts will be tax deductible.
  5. Winning souls is the most important thing, even more important than loving God.
  6. My “Christian” lawyer disagrees with your opinion and advises me such and such.
  7. The church must combine with the state according to Romans 13, 1 Peter 2:13, or some other Scripture.
  8. The Word of God teaches that a church can choose to either combine with the state or not and that one should follow his convictions on the matter.
  9. ad nauseum.

After nineteen years working in the arena of church state relationships, I have found the excuses are seemingly endless. See, [2] for a link to webpages on all related issues including analyses of false reasons for church legal status. Pastors and churches who wish to do things man’s way are always backed up by other pastors, believers Bible colleges, seminaries, churches, and lawyers who will agree with them that their way is the right way. A small minority who have not already come to the knowledge of the truth on the matter defer to the Word of God, study the matter out, repent, and cast aside their unholy alliances.

For two thousand years, a remnant of believes, according to civil and religious laws of those in unholy union with one another, have been persecuted—beheaded, drowned, burned at the stake, mercilessly tortured, imprisoned, banished, deprived of all their property, etc.—because they refused to dishonor their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Except for a small remnant, churches in America choose to profane their relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ by becoming legally entwined with civil government. This is true in spite of the fact that the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions grant religious and soul liberty. Churches in the United States can do things God’s way with the protection of man’s laws.

This booklet will show churches how to do things God’s way, the simple way, as to their relationship with Christ; the same way that New Testament churches did so by following a concept, a plan utilized by God as to both earthly material and heavenly spiritual possessions from the creation of man until the end of time. Keep reading to see if these things are not so.[3]


Endnotes

[1] See the Appendix for links to resources which explain in detail why a church commits spiritual fornication and betrays her first love by choosing church corporate status, charitable trust status, federal tax exempt status or legal status of any kind.

[2]False reasons of Christians and Lawyers for church corporate, 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax-exempt status or legal status of any kind” (https://jeraldfinney.com/posts/false-reasons-of-christian-lawyers-and-pastors-for-combining-church-and-state/). Other resources which analyze all related questions include: Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities (https://jeraldfinney.com/god-betrayed/books/separation-of-church-and-state-gods-churches-spiritual-or-legal-entities/ ); God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (https://jeraldfinney.com/god-betrayed/books/god-betrayedseparation-of-church-and-state-the-biblical-principles-and-the-american-application/ ); Essays and articles linked to at https://jeraldfinney.com/miscellaneous-articles/.

[3] The Appendix gives links to resources which explain why church incorporation, federal tax exempt status, and other statutory or legal status of churches create unholy relationships between Christ and his local churches. These relationships are spiritual fornication since, by choosing to engage in them, a church takes on another lover besides the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

Preface to Simply Church: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love”

Click here to go to home page for the booklet
Simply Church: The Holy Union of Christ and His Local Church

Jerald Finney
January 11, 2023

Revelation 1-3, as well as other New Testament books, have many lessons for the churches. [1] One lesson has to do with the proper motivation for the relationship between Christ and the local church. Just as the relationship of husband wife can be profaned, so can the relationship between a church and Christ:

“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” (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Just as a husband who does not uncompromisingly love his wife can be guilty of adultery, so can a church who does not love the Lord Jesus Christ with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. A church can profane her love for the Lord by entering into unholy unions with other lovers, most notably with federal and/or state government.

Motive influences action. Love for Christ is the proper motivation for service, for preaching, teaching, contending for the faith, for good works, for all that the believer and church do.

Revelation 1-3 reveals that Christ is walking in the midst of every one of his churches, inspecting and judging them. He is observing their actions, attitudes, hearts, and motives. He sees their strengths and weaknesses. Every church should study Revelation 1-3 as well as other New Testament Scripture regarding the doctrine of the church so that she can measure, judge, and bring herself into line with the heart of God.

Many churches in America have “left their first love” (Revelation 2:4). Some, like the church at Ephesus, have hard workers who persevere for His name’s sake, work diligently even though weary, remain patient and steadfast, hate and condemn that which is morally wrong, remain moral in spite of surrounding immorality, abhor that which is wrong, hate false teachings, exercise spiritual discernment and keep themselves pure from doctrinal error. They stay in the battle even though it is wearisome to carry on.

Nonetheless, Christ has a solemn rebuke against many of these churches because they have left their first love. He knows their hearts. He knows that their motivation for service is not a love for Him.  The Church at Ephesus once had an unwavering love for Jesus Christ (Acts 19:17-21). However, within a generation, the church membership had an insensitive disregard for Christ and lacked a yieldedness to Him due to their waning love for Him.

Christ commanded the church at Ephesus to “remember.” They were to recall the joy of their salvation that they first experienced when they were abiding in Christ and feeling the peace of God in their hearts.

He then commanded them to repent and do the first works—that is, to return to Him, to a simple faith in, and genuine love for Him, and for what he had done for them on Calvary’s cross. History records the persecutions—burning at the state, beheading, drowning, extreme torture, imprisonment, banishment—of believers in Christ, members of churches who refused to prostitute their churches by remaining true to the Word of God.

The result of failing to heed Christ’s counsel are serious. Christ said that—if the church at Ephesus did not repent—He would cause her to lose her influence to the point that she would no longer exist as a light in the midst of darkness. Eventually, their light did burn out. Like the church at Ephesus, that of any church not motivated by love for the Savior and acting according to His Word is empty and futile. Their light is not shining, and many, because unrepentant, have ceased to exist.

The size of a church is not evidence of favor with God. The church at Philadelphia was small and insignificant compared to the church at Sardis, but God said that the large, “successful” church at Sardis was dead in his sight while this small, unpopular church at Philadelphia was spiritually thriving. (Revelation 3:1-6; 3:7-13). [2]


Endnotes

[1] Much insight for this preface gleaned from, Matt Costello,  “Christ Speaks to the Seven Churches” (Fresno, CA: Fundamentalist Evangelistic Association, http://www.feasite.org).

[2] The Appendix gives links to resources which explain why church incorporation, federal tax exempt status, and other statutory or legal status of churches betray the love relationship between Christ and His churches.