January 19, 2023
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.
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:
- The elements of the trust relationship are trustor, trustee, trust estate, and beneficiary.
- The trustor church declares the trust relationship and appoints a trustee.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Titles to motor vehicles, if any, in the trust estate are held in the name of the trust.
- Banks accounts, if any, holding funds in the trust estate are held in the name of the trust.
- 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].
- 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.
- “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.”
- The beneficiary, the Lord Jesus Christ, is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of everything in the trust estate.
- 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.”
[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.