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

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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.

 

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