Christ Has Removed the Candlesticks of Most Traditional American “Bible Believing Churches”

Jerald Finney
February 27, 2023

Bible teaching on heresy and apostasy (from God Betrayed, published in 2008):


Every year for decades, Christ has removed the candlesticks of untold numbers of traditional American “Bible Believing Churches,” churches who do not have the power of God. Those churches are either ceasing to exist or going into apostasy (Emerging Church, Charismatic Movement, etc.). Sadly, most believers and churches have no clue as to why this is happening since they have not diligently studied and applied God’s Word. “Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God” (Matthew 22:29). Without knowing the Scriptures, a church cannot have the power of God. Christ does not come upon churches unawares. He admonishes before chastising, warns before laying waste.

Many of these “Bible Believing Churches” revel in their good works.  See, Revelation 2:2-3, 6. God tells a church who is doing a lot of good works, but has left her first love: “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent” (Revelation 2:5).

One first work involves falling in love with, studying and applying God’s Word. The church who does so will find her zeal for the Lord renewed; she will seek to purify her holy relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ; she will watch, fast, pray, reprove sin, carefully attend all the ordinances of God, walk as in His sight, and rest not till she has recovered all her lost ground, and got back the evidence of her acceptance with her Bridegroom.

Section I, Chapter 5: The Bible Trust Relationship with Property Does Not Organize a Church as a Trust

Click here to go to the following webpage for Table of Contents with links to all chapters of: Simply Church: The Holy Union of Christ and His Local Church

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.

Copyright © by Jerald Finney
February 21, 2021

Sometimes pastors or other members of churches who have declared a Bible Trust will say, “Our church is organized as a trust.” That is not true. A Bible (common law) Trust is not a legal entity or an organization. It is merely a relationship with property with a trustor, trustee, trust estate and beneficiary (the owner of all the property in the trust estate).

As explained in prior lessons, a Bible Trust is nothing more than a relationship with property. See, Basics and Elements of a Church Bible Trust Relationship with Property. When a church applies and practices the concept of the Bible Trust and other New Testament church doctrine, she is not organizing as a trust and she is not becoming a legal entity under man’s law. Neither the church nor the trust is an organization.

The Bible Trust is different from trusts whose creator and sovereign is the state. For example, charitable and business trusts are legal organizations formed by contracting with state government. When the state grants the application, the church becomes a charitable or business trust, a legal entity, subject to the authority of state government for many purposes. Like other types of legal entities, such trusts are bound by state rules and regulations of state law and agency regulation; any disputes are decided by the controlling party, the state, through her agencies and/or courts.

No documents are necessary for a church to declare and practice the Bible Trust relationship with property. She can simply do things God’s way and operate as did the churches in the New Testament. She is not subject to the jurisdiction of state law. However, should someone name her in a lawsuit, the pastor or other church representative must make a court appearance to contest jurisdiction. Remember that a church must not slip and do something which disqualifies her status as a non-legal entity in order to remain under God alone. See, How a Church Can Nullify the Bible Trust Relationship with Property.

However, should a church wish God’s money to be held in a bank account, title to God’s real estate for a meetinghouse to be held in His name, etc., she will need to execute proper trust documents.

God is jealous over his churches and wishes them to remain true to Him in all matters. A church who declares and applies Bible Trust doctrine and all other New Testament church doctrine is in God’s perfect will; she pleases and glorifies God. A church which organizes as a legal entity commits spiritual fornication and can be, at best, in God’s permissive will. She may be exemplary in many ways; but having left her first love, she has fallen and God says to her, “Repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of this place, except thou repent…. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit sayeth unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which in the midst of the paradise of God.” (Revelation 2:1-7).

Analysis of “’Freedom of Conscience:’ Rhode Island founder Roger Williams “Wall of Separation” as understood by Jefferson – American Minute with Bill Federer”

Click 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.

Jerald Finney
February 18, 2023

This article challenges Bill Federer’s American Minute publication: “Freedom of Conscience:” Rhode Island founder Roger Williams “Wall of Separation” as understood by Jefferson – American Minute with Bill Federer. In that article, Federer subtly challenges the historical fact that “separation of church and state” as used with reference to the First Amendment and to Bible principle is not meant to keep a church out of civil government, only civil government out of church matters. Keep in mind that the phrase “separation of church and state,” although not found in the federal or state constitutions, is a succinct way of describing the concept of the historical wall of separation between church and state as intended by the First Amendment.

Right off the bat, in the title, Federer begins to mislead the uneducated reader. Roger Williams’ writings and documented history make abundantly clear that he upheld Bible teaching and believed in and practiced both the “two-way wall of separation” as well as “freedom of conscience.” He was banished by Puritan Massachusetts for his disagreements with the established church on matters such as their denial of freedom of conscience through enforcement of all Ten of the Commandments and their “union of church and state,” with church over the colonial Massachusetts government. Instead of waiting to be shipped back to England, Williams and a group of followers left Massachusetts and started the colony of Rhode Island, the first civil government with any lasting influence with both separation of church and state and freedom of conscience (soul liberty). Thomas Jefferson, a deist who believed in a secular state, also believed in a two-way wall of separation as well as freedom of conscience. His beliefs were based upon human reasoning. Of course, Jefferson knew that the states had chosen to allow voluntary establishment of churches and that many churches had chosen to remain separate from the state. I deal with that matter more extensively in other challenges to Federer. See, Roger Williams: Quotes and other selected information from God Betrayed. For a documented history of Roger Williams as well as that of Thomas Jefferson (on the matter or church/state relationship), see God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. (For specifics on Roger Williams, see the index of the book.).

Unlike Federer, Roger Williams did not confuse “freedom of conscience” with the matter of “separation of church and state.” Williams knew that these were two separate matters although inextricably linked when a nation has one established church. Federer constantly refers to freedom of conscious when trying to make the point that church and state should not be separated (that the “wall” is only one way).

In his confusion, Federer mis-defines the true and historical meaning and application of the relationship of church and state in the American colonial and early republic context. He does this, in large part, by selectively choosing from historical quotes, writings, sermons, etc. He misrepresents the beliefs of many, to include those of the Puritans, Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, the Apostle Paul, and many others. For example, both our Lord Jesus Christ and the apostle Paul were clearly against union of church and state and for freedom of conscience. In fact, the believer has a choice, no matter the laws of civil government or an establishment of church or religion and state: honor God even unto the death of the body or dishonor God and bow down to the church/state establishment. Our Lord said, “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28). Jesus said it. Paul laid down his life practicing it.

Since the Danbury letter, Jefferson’s reply, and selected out-of-context quotes are widely misrepresented in “Christian” revisionist writings, as in this article by Federer, I will specifically address it. Federer claims that Jefferson explained who was limited by the “wall” in his letter to Samuel Miller, January 23, 1808, that being the federal government. Of course, that letter does not also explain something else that Jefferson believed, fought for, and wrote on extensively: the “wall” was definitely intended to keep the church (not Christians) out of civil government. As stated above, Jefferson was a deist who believed in a secular state. Furthermore, he did not believe in the trinity or in the miracles of Jesus. He went so far as to write his own Bible. Federer treats Madison and what he believed about the matter in like fashion. For more details see, God Betrayed; see also, Dispensation Theology versus Covenant Theology and Their Importance to the Issue of Church and State Relationship in America and Religious Liberty in America.

Along the way, Federer, again dwelling on freedom of conscience rather than separation of church and state, asks, “Freedom of Conscience”: how did it become enshrined in America’s legal tradition?” His answer is designed to carry the uneducated reader down the yellow brick road to a preconceived conclusion—that the wall of separation was meant to keep the government out of church matters but not the church out of government matters; i.e., that the church was intended by God to run the state and enforce all of God’s law. The Puritans in England and also in the colonies definitely did not believe that the King (the state) should be over the church. They came to America for religious freedom, for themselves only. Their colonial establishments in New England persecuted dissenters to the extent they could get away with. After hanging four Quakers for returning to Massachusetts after being banished by the establishment, England forbade them to execute any other dissenters. However, they continued to concoct every way they could to continue persecutions.

The colonial New England colonies combined church (not God) and civil government, the church being in the driver’s seat. They were Judaizers who believed the impossible—due to their wrong division of the word of God inherited from Augustine and John Calvin with modifications: that the rules for the only true theocracy ever ordained by God, the nation Israel, should be applied by a Gentile government. God was directly over both the civil government and the religion of Israel, and all the law and the Ten Commandments were strictly enforced. The Puritans substituted the Congregational Church for God. Their experiment quickly fell apart.

Federer states, that, throughout the Scriptures, Israel and the Church are referred to as the Lord’s “bride,” etc. and takes quotes out of context to support this matter. A contextual literal examination of Scripture makes clear that Israel was referred to as the bride of God the Father, but the bridegroom of the church is the Lord Jesus Christ. Again, all this is explained in God Betrayed. Scripture also makes clear to one who believes it, but not to one who wrongly divides it, that the relationship of “religion” and state in Gentile nations are not the same as those for God, religion, and state for the theocracy of Israel.

Of course, Federer is right when he states that God desires man to have free will and that man, in exercising that free will, choose to love God. God also gives nations a free will—honor or dishonor God and His Word. Believers in North Korea and other God rejecting nations have free will, but they may give their lives for exercising it, as did all the Apostles except John and untold millions of believers who have been viciously tortured and murdered because of their refusal to bow down to Catholic and Protestant church/state establishments. For example, the government of North Korea has chosen, of its own free will, not to honor God and God’s Word. If ta believer in North Korea is caught saying the name of Jesus in a positive way, handing out a Gospel Tract, possessing a Bible, or witnessing to another, he will be killed, and sometimes on the spot.

Federer states, “A controversy raged among inhabitants of Massachusetts, between ‘a covenant of grace’ versus ‘a covenant of works.’” There was no controversy in the colony of Massachusetts between “a covenant of grace” versus “a covenant of works.” How this inaccurate statement, and much more in the article fits together is beyond me. The spiritual battle in the New England colonies was between those who held a literal dispensational view—i.e., Dispensationalists—and the Puritans who believed a spiritualized, allegorized interpretation—i.e., Covenant Theologians. Covenant theology “represents the whole of history on the basis of two or three covenants called the the Covenant of Works, the Covenant of Grace, and, according to some Covenant Theologians, the Covenant of Redemption.” For explanation of the distinctions between the opposing factions in Massachusetts, between those holding the dispensational view and those holding to covenant theology, see Part I, Section I, Chapter 3 and also Part II Section I of God Betrayed; see also, Dispensation Theology versus Covenant Theology and Their Importance to the Issue of Church and State Relationship in America and Religious Liberty in America.

On the matter of separation of church and state, Federer misrepresents Roger Williams, Dr. John Clarke, statesmen such as Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Leland and many pastors, writers, statesmen, judges, etc.. He emphasizes their stand for soul liberty, but leaves out their stand for total separation of church and state and what that means. To get the true and documented history of the spiritual conflict in the colonies and early republic, see the histories in God Betrayed, The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/Christian Revisionism on Trial, and Religious Liberty in America.

State Constitutional provisions protect soul liberty (freedom of conscience) and forced establishment of churches. Soul liberty is the freedom to choose and follow God, a god, or no god without persecution by civil government. Religious establishment is the combining of church and state. The religion clause of the First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” The First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions separate church and state, absolutely on the federal level and by choice on the state level. Federal mandatory separation has never been forced upon the states, so churches in all the states still have the choice of either pleasing God (not combining with the state through man’s law) or grieving God (combining with the state as an established church though statutory contract—incorporation or charitable trust law).

When a church chooses to combine with a state, she gives up much of her First Amendment and state constitutional protections or religious liberty and becomes a legal person under the Fourteenth Amendment for many purposes. See, Short Answers to Some Important Questions.

Separation of church and state means exactly what it says. The highest federal and state laws were meant in their historical context to separate church and state, with the caveat explained in the last paragraph. Allowing state into church matters or church into state matters does not separate church and state.

Neither the First Amendment nor corresponding state constitutional provisions were meant to separate God and state which is something entirely different from separating church and state. See, Biblical Teaching of Self-Government, the online version of Part I, Section I, Chapter 3 of God Betrayed, for a basic understanding of the relationship of God (not the church) and state. From a more comprehensive understanding, especially in the American context, read the whole book.

Church establishment is always a product of man’s law. The first established church was the Roman Catholic church. Protestant churches which came out of Catholicism combined with the state when the opportunity presented itself. The Puritans in the New England colonies established the Congregational Church and the church was over the state. The Anglicans established the Church of England in the Southern colonies and the King was the head of the church. In all those colonies, as with prior unions of church and state, the colonial establishment legislated all ten of the commandments. Penalties for going against the establishment were severe and violation of any of the commandments were subject to extreme punishment.

Federer starts his article with quotes and comments to show that mankind has always believed in God. A better authority for that conclusion is the Word of God, and especially Romans 1:18-32 which states, in part: “

  • “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20).

The following stood for a two-way wall of separation between church and state:

  • Roger Williams. Federer notes that this (Rhode Island) was “the first place where the church was not controlled by the state.” That is inaccurate. “The state of Teprice in Armenia, in the ninth century, gave absolute freedom of opinion and conscience for one hundred and fifty years before being overcome. All around them were persecutions for conscience sake – they themselves had lost one hundred thousand members by persecutions in the reign of Theodora – yet here was a shelter offered to every creed and unbeliever alike. The Baptists have always set up religious liberty when they had the opportunity” (John T. Christian, A History of the Baptists, (Texarkana, Arkansas-Texas: Bogard Press), pp. 38-41, 51-52). The Catholic establisment in the Old World controlled the civil governments of many nations. In the Puritan colonies of Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Connecticut, the church controlled the state. The correct statement is, “Rhode Island was second civil government–the first with any lasting influence–in history to honor separation of church and state and soul liberty.”
  • Dr. John Clarke.
  • Thomas Jefferson.
  • James Madison.
  • John Leland
  • Many other men (and women) who were instrumental in the colonial warfare which led to the First Amendment.

The following were for union of church and state

  • The Puritans (The church in the New England colonies ran the state (church over state).
  • The Anglicans (the King was head over the church).
  • Many other Protestants, although, for the most part none of them achieved the status of the established church of a colony. After the advent of multiple establishments, many different churches chose to contract with the state for establishment. Under multiple establishment in America, the state is given much control over the church, but the church is given no control over the state.

Honest Biblical and historical scholarship disproves the Christian Historical Revisionism which predominates the “Christian” landscape on America. Christians, and especially Christian political activists in America, blindly continue to follow a refuge of lies even though educated secularists, who themselves revise to support their satanic goals, have extensively exposed the lies and the ignorance of the Christian community in general thereby causing millions to view Christians as uneducated ignoramuses and to blaspheme the name of God. God wants his children and churches to proceed with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. The methods of spiritual warfare matter to God; he has not and will not honor such efforts. This is a principle that runs throughout Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.

“Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place. And your covenant with death shall be disannulled, and your agreement with hell shall not stand; when the overflowing scourge shall pass through, then ye shall be trodden down by it” (Isaiah 28:17-18).

Section I, Chapter 4: Which Term, “”Steward” or “Trustee,” Is More Appropriate?

Click here to go to the following webpage for Table of Contents with links to all chapters of: Simply Church: The Holy Union of Christ and His Local Church

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.

Copyright © by Jerald Finney
February 9, 2023

Why not use the term “steward” instead of “trustee?” Over the years, several have suggested that “steward” should be used. For example, a gentleman at an Unregistered Baptist Fellowship Conference said to me something others have commented on over the years, “We use the term steward because Biblical law is over man’s law.”  This chapter will look at Bible teaching to address this and related matters:  the meanings of the words “steward,” “trust,” “trustee,” “beneficiary,” “trust estate;” the eternal and temporal applications of the relationship; just versus unjust stewardship according to God; and the consequences of just and unjust application of the relationship. This lesson will explain why the use of “trustee” is appropriate and preferable.

The Bible explains the God-ordained trust relationship with all property and the functions of each party to the trust relationship. That relationship has a trustor, a trustee or steward, a beneficiary, and a trust estate. The term “trust” is used in the Bible; “trustee” is explained but the term “trustee” is not used in the Bible. “Steward” is used in the Bible. Like “Trustee,” “Steward” refers to the person to whom someone commits the care and management of his goods for his benefit.

One use of term “trust” references a relationship with property, either material or spiritual. “Trust,” in the context of the common law trust relationship with property, means: “Property committed to a person’s care for use or management, and for which an account must be rendered. Every man’s talents and advantages are a trust committed to him by his Maker, and for the use or employment of which he is accountable.”

The suffix -or means a person who is something, such as lessor (a person who leases property) or trustor (a person who declares a trust relationship with property). A trustor commits, to the care of someone, God’s property for the sole benefit of God, the owner of the property, the owner of the property held in the trust estate. New Testament churches never owned or falsely claimed ownership of property; they were spiritual entities only, entirely separate from civil government and worldly entanglements. See, Is a Church a Spiritual or Legal Entity? In the context of the Bible trust declareded by a church, the trustor, a derivative of the term “trust,” declares the trust relationship, not with property of the church, since the church, when in obedience to the Word of God, claims ownership of no earthly property, but with property of the true owner of all things, God..

The suffix -ee is used (1) with some verbs to make nouns meaning someone who is affected by an action—as a trainee or an employee-and (2) with some verbs to make nouns meaning someone who performs an action—as a lessee, escapee. When added to the word trust, we have “trustee,” someone who performs an action. A trustee holds and manages property for the benefit of the owner of the property. Thus, even though the term “trustee” is not specifically mentioned in the Bible, trustee accurately describes the one to whom God has entrusted His property.

The beneficiary – that is, the true, equitable, and beneficial owner – of the property held in a Bible 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 the Trust. The trustor, in declaring the church Bible trust relationship with property is not naming or making the Lord Jesus Christ the Beneficiary or the Trust Estate; Christ is the Beneficiary–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).

The term “trust” refers to both temporal/earthly or material and eternal/heavenly or spiritual relationships. “Trust” relationships are found throughout the Bible, even when the word “trust,” “trustee,” or “steward” is not mentioned. Luke 16 speaks of a temporal material trust, and relates that trust to an eternal spiritual trust. 1 Thessalonians 2.4, and Titus 1.11 speak specifically and solely of the eternal spiritual trust.

The first time the relationship is mentioned is in Genesis 1.27-31, where obviously, although not explicitly stated, the relationship is both earthly and spiritual:

  • “27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. 28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. 29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which isupon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. 30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. 31 And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.”

All such earthly and spiritual relationships have several essentials: the possession(s); the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of the possession(s); the commitment by the true owner of the possession(s) to another’s care and management; and the one to whom is entrusted the care and management of the possession(s) for the benefit of the true owner. Every Bible dispensation presents a specific stewardship under God.

Only once in the Bible, in Luke 16.1-13, are the words “steward” and “trust” used in the same passage. That passage is concerned with an earthly steward dealing with earthly possessions of his earthly master, the true owner of the possessions. There, “steward” refers to the person who has a duty to manage the goods of his master, for his master’s benefit. However, the Lord makes a connection between one’s earthly stewardship and his eternal stewardship (“Stewardship” means the office of a steward). The Lord says, “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? … “Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk. 16.11, 13).

As has been pointed out, “steward,” in one context, has the same meaning as “trustee.” So why not use “steward” instead of using derivatives of the word “trust,” to include “trustee.” The conclusion will answer this question; but first, let us take a further look at “steward” and “trust.”

God entrusted mankind with all possessions, real and personal as well as spiritual. He owned all things—even the body, soul and spirit of man—but left all things, including the real estate, to man to be used for Him. God trusted man with all His earthly and eternal possessions. God committed all to man’s trust. He was “steward” or “trustee,” the one to whom God entrusted management and care of His possessions.

Now, let us examine the terms “steward” and “stewardship” from a Bible perspective. Then we will look more at “trust” and related terms—“trustor,” “trustee,” and “trust estate.”

The term “steward” is found in Genesis 15.2, 43.19, 44.1, 44.4; 1 Kings 16.9; Daniel 1.11; Matthew 20.8; Luke 8.3, 12.42; 16.1,2, 3, 8; 1 Corinthians 4.1,2; Titus 1:7. The word “stewardship” is used only three times in the Bible, all in Luke 16, verses 2, 3, and 4. “Stewardship” simply means “The office of a steward.”

A steward is a man who has charge of another’s goods. As defined in the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary, “steward” means: “(1) A man employed in great families to manage the domestic concerns, superintend the other servants, collect the rents or income, keep the accounts, &c. See Gen. xv. 2—xliii. (2) In Scripture and theology, a minister of Christ, whose duty is to dispense the provisions of the gospel, to preach its doctrines and administer its ordinances. It is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Cor. iv.”

The first meaning of “steward” is reflected in several passages of the Bible: Genesis 15.2, 43.19, 44.1, 44.4; 1 Kings 16.9; Matthew 20.8; Luke 8.3, 12.42, 16.1-13 (parable of the unjust steward). Certainly, although not directly dealing with the eternal meaning, many of those stewardships have spiritual applications: Matthew 20.8; Luke 12.42-48 (levels of punishment based upon whether or not the steward knew the Lord’s will), 16.1-13.

The eternal application alone is seen in 1 Corinthians 4.1, 2: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”; and Titus 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.”.

The story of a rich man and his unjust steward, which is related in Luke 16.1-13, is very instructive. The terms “trust” and “steward” are used in that parable. The master committed his goods to the steward’s trust (verses 1 and 11). The master was the beneficiary—“the true, beneficial, and equitable owner.”

The steward in this parable was an out-and-out-crook. He was guilty of malfeasance in office and misappropriation of funds. He wasted the goods of his master. His day of reckoning had come (Lk. 16.3). He was afraid of losing his stewardship, felt he could not do manual work, and was ashamed to beg. However, he, like many, was not ashamed to steal (verse 3). He did not repent, nor did he have regret or remorse for his actions. He was crooked—called “clever” by the world’s standards. He had no training for other work, his age was probably against him, he was too proud to beg, but he was not ashamed to be dishonest. He called all his master’s debtors and gave them big discounts.

The Bible tells us that the world loves its own but hates those who belong to God. “If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (Jn. 15:18-19). In Galatians 1.3-4, Paul says, “Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.” Again, in Romans 12.2, Paul says, “And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 Jn. 2:15).

The first commandment of the world is “self-preservation.” A shady business deal is winked at, questionable practices countenanced, and a clever crook is commended by the world. The law is on the side of the crook and the criminal many times. Every man, according to the world’s law, is innocent until proven guilty. God takes the opposite approach. God says that a man is guilty until proven innocent. “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3.23). A man can never be innocent before God, but he can be justified before Him. When a man trusts Jesus Christ as his Savior, he is justified by faith. See, e.g., Ro. 8.1.

The master did not punish the unjust steward, but commended him. Apparently the rich man got rich using the same kind of principles that his unjust steward used and he commended him, saying that the steward had done wisely. In what way? According to the principles of the world. This is the world that hates Christ. It makes its own rules. The law of the world is “dog eat dog.” The worldly master commended his worldly steward for his worldly wisdom according to his worldly dealings. The Lord Jesus said, “… For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.” That is, the children of this world, of this age, use their money more wisely than do the children of light.

Then, our Lord makes the most shocking and startling statement of all. It concerns the relationship of the “mammon of righteousness,” that is, riches, money: “Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations” (Lk. 16.9). Money is not evil in itself; it is amoral. The love of money is the root of all evil. For believers, money is to be spiritual. Our Lord said that we should lay up for ourselves treasures in heaven. We should be wise in the way we use our money. Then when we “fail” or come to the end of life, we will be welcomed in heaven.

Believers are spiritual stewards (trustees) of all that God commits to their trust; all of which is spiritual. We own nothing as believers. We are responsible to God for how we use His goods. We are to use the “mammon of unrighteousness” to gather spiritual wealth:

  • “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?  And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own. No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Lk. 16.10-13).

In this parable, the Lord Jesus is saying, “Do you think God is going to trust you with heavenly riches if you are not using properly or rightly the earthly possessions which He has given you?” Are you serving God or mammon? You cannot serve both.

Now, let us review and supplement “trust” and related terms. “Trustor,” “trustee,” and “trust estate” are derivatives of the word “trust,” a concept found throughout the Bible. The suffix “-ee” added to trust results in a new word meaning a person with to whom something is entrusted. A “trustor” is one who entrusts monies and properties to a “trustee” who holds the money and property entrusted to him in “trust” for the benefit of the true, equitable, and beneficial owner, the “beneficiary.”

Some meanings of trust, as given in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, are: “(1) Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person. He that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 20.25. (2) Something committed to a person’s care for use or management, and for which an account must be rendered. Every man’s talents and advantages are a trust committed to him by his Maker, and for the use or employment of which he is accountable.” In the context of definition (2), the word “trust” is mentioned four times in the Bible:

  1. “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thes. 2.4).
  2. “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (1 Ti. 1:11).
  3. “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).
  4. “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who [what trustor] will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own” (Lk. 16:11-12)?

In all these references, that which God entrusted was not material and spiritual, but spiritual only—“the true riches.”

The Lord spoke of this concept of trust, in conjunction with an earthly temporal example in Matthew 25.14-30 and Luke 19.12-27, although He used neither the word “trust” nor “steward” or “stewardship.” He spoke of an earthly master leaving certain amounts of his goods or money with his servants, according to their abilities. Actually, the more important parallel spiritual meaning was to the Lord and His servants. The master had an absolute right to his own goods, but he distributed to his servants to be used for the benefit of the master, the servants to be awarded according to their profitable use of the property entrusted to them. Some used the money productively and upon the master’s return presented him with a profit. The property belonged to the master, and the servants were to use it for the master’s benefit, not for their own benefit. Of course, they would be rewarded if they used the property wisely for the benefit of the master. One servant in each example returned only the original amount left in trust with them. The master instructed that the goods which he had left with the unprofitable servants be taken from them, and they were left with nothing. The profitable servants were rewarded by the master. In the story found in Matthew, the Master said, “[C]ast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 25.30). Men, as servants of the Master are likewise left in trust of all things for His benefit and will be rewarded or punished according to their use of His goods.

In conclusion, the words “steward” and “trustee” signify the same thing. However, the use of the term “trustee,” a word derived from the word “trust” by adding the suffix “-ee”  is preferable to the use of “steward” when describing the entire relationship. Why? For six reasons taken together. First, in only one context do the terms “steward” and “trustee” mean the same thing.

Second, the one time “trust” and “steward” are used in the same immediate verses, “steward” denotes the person with the responsibility over another’s goods and “trust” is used to signify the fiduciary relationship with the master’s goods or property (Lk. 16). Even though “steward” is the one with the duty to rightly administer the goods the master commits to his trust, the name given to the arrangement is “trust.”

Third, nowhere in the Bible are all the terms involved in the relationship reduced to singular (as “trustor”) or modified terms (as “trustee” or “trust estate”); yet, those terms accurately explain elements of the trust relationship even though the specific terms are not in the Bible.

Thus, fourth, the use of “trust” and derivatives is more practical. The term “trust” as a noun (and as an adjective) and its derivatives, more succinctly describe aspects of the relationship: “trustor,” “trustee,” and “trust estate.” On the other hand, the term “stewardship” is less adaptable: one can interchange “steward” and “trustee;” but the word “trust” describes the overall relationship. No word derived from “steward” describes the person who declares the stewardship (the “trustor”). No word derived from “steward” describes the estate the steward is responsible for (“trust estate”)—er, perhaps the “stewardship estate?”; but stewardship means the office of a steward. Parallel words leave less room for argument and misunderstanding. Imagine trying to explain these matters to a lost person.

Fifth, the church, not God, declares a Bible Trust relationship with property. To repeat: “Steward” refers to the person to whom someone commits the care and management of his goods for his benefit. In the church Bible Trust context, the church, the trustor, not God, commits the care and management of God’s goods for God’s benefit.

Finally, American law, although not legalizing or setting up the Bible concept of trust, recognizes it. In so doing, American law uses the Bible term “trust” and its derivatives.  For example, American Jurisprudence 2d Trusts, a highly regarded encyclopedia of American law, describes “trust” in § 1, as follows:

  • “The fundamental nature of a trust is the division of title, with the trustee being the holder of legal title and the beneficiary that of equitable title. By definition, the creation of a trust must involve a conveyance of property.
  • “A ‘trust’ exists where the legal title to property is held by one or more persons, under an equitable obligation to convey, apply, or deal with such property for the benefit of other persons. A trust has been defined as a fiduciary relationship with respect to property, subjecting the person by whom the title to the property is held to equitable duties to deal with the property for the benefit of another person, which arises as a result of a manifestation of an intention to create it. The Restatement definition is similar, providing that a trust, when not qualified by the word ‘resulting’ or ‘constructive,’ is a fiduciary relationship with respect to property, arising from a manifestation of intention to create that relationship and subjecting the person who holds title to the property to duties to deal with it for the benefit of charity or for one or more persons, at least one of whom is not the sole trustee.
  • “Caution: A trust consists not only of property, but also of the trust instrument, the trust’s beneficiaries and trustees, and the trust administrator [if any].”

American Jurisprudence 2d, Trusts § 2 makes clear that a “trust” is not a legal entity, but merely a fiduciary relationship with property. For one thing, this means that the one cannot sue the trust, since it is not recognized as a legal entity. This is not true of a “business trust,” a “charitable trust” or some other legal extensions of the “trust” relationship.

Even though particular words are not necessary to create the Bible Trust relationship, as a study of God’s Word reveals, using certain words is a simplified way of declaring the Bible Trust relationship. “No particular words are necessary to declare a trust if there exists reasonable certainty as to the intended property, object, and beneficiary. Further, the purpose and intention, rather than the use of any particular term, determines whether a valid trust has been established.” American Jurisprudence 2d, Trusts § 65. The preservation of God’s Word exactly as inspired by the Holy Spirit is very important to God. See, e.g., Psalm 12:6-7, Deuteronomy 4:1-2, Proverbs 30:5-6; Revelation 22:19. Within those Words are concepts which God wishes His children to understand, apply, and obey.

The important thing for the born-again believer, regardless of the terms used, is that he handle the use of God’s properties, both material and spiritual, according to the principle of trust as described in the Bible. Those faithful and wise churches who remain under God only will be blessed by their Lord. However, churches who choose to leave their first love by placing themselves at least partially under the state (for example, corporate (aggregate of sole) 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) churches), have left their first love and betrayed their Lord’s trust. They are unfaithful and act unwisely; they act either knowingly or unknowingly and will  be judged accordingly (see Lk. 12.42-48; see also Lk. 16 discussed above).

Section I, Chapter 3: How a Church Can Nullify the Bible Trust Relationship with Property

Click here to go to the following webpage for Table of Contents with links to all chapters of: Simply Church: The Holy Union of Christ and His Local Church

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.

 Jerald Finney
February 7, 2023

A church who practices New Testament doctrine concerning the trust relationship with property can nullify that relationship when she acts legally. By acting legally, a church places herself under another jurisdiction for many purposes. There are two ways a church may act legally. (1) Churches combine with the state—through contracting with a state for statutory status (incorporation, charitable trust, etc.)–or contracting with the federal government for tax exempt status under Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A). ). See, Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status and the essays linked to thereon for explanation. (2) Other churches who do not contract with the state or federal government through some statutory means simply act legally and thereby become legal entities subject to civil government jurisdiction for many purposes.

Churches who act legally are legal entities who have given up much of their First Amendment status and placed themselves under the Fourteenth Amendment for many purposes. A legal entity is an entity that can be sued, sue, charged with a crime, enter into contracts, or act legally in some other way.

A legal entity is a creature which is entirely distinct from a spiritual entity. See, Short Answers to Some Important Questions for explanations of matters such as the meaning of “legal entity” and “spiritual entity.” A corporation, for example, is an “artificial person” with no soul to save and no body to resurrect. See, for explanation, Corporation: A human being without a soul. In other words, when a church acts in a temporal worldly matter, that church becomes a legal entity and subjects herself to man’s law and the courts of the world as opposed to a spiritual entity subject to Christ and Christ alone. That church has “left her first love” by joining herself with another lover. She has chosen to abandon her First Amendment spiritual only status in favor of Fourteenth Amendment legal status and civil government control and jurisdiction for many purposes.

Remember, should a church who is not a legal entity be named in a criminal or civil suit, she should not submit to suit; the pastor or another mature church member with knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of these matters should make a special appearance contesting jurisdiction of the court over the church, pointing out that the church is not an earthly legal entity subject to court jurisdiction. The court cannot claim jurisdiction over a non-legal entity.

How can a non-statutory church act legally? She can, for example, hold a credit card, hold deed to real property, open a bank account, get an Employee Identification Number (EIN), hold title to motor vehicle(s), hold insurance, contract, borrow money, incorporate the church or a ministry of the church, apply for or claim federal tax-exempt status for the church or a ministry of the church, have employees, pay salaries, adopt a constitution and/or by-laws or do anything else in accordance with or subject to man’s legal system and not according to New Testament church guidelines and example. Our Lord looks at only one disregarded aspect of honoring the church relationship with Him as a serious infraction, especially when committed knowingly. Negligence and recklessness are no excuse. Church members should be diligent in the matter of the purity of God’s churches.

A church who holds insurance admits that she is a legal worldly entity who can be sued. Should a church Bible Trust obtain insurance (such as liability insurance on real estate) in the name of the trust, the insurance policy does not implicate the church. Some trustees get insurance in the name of the trust, but the insurance policy explicitly covers the church. The trustee must be careful to  make sure that the policy is not a church policy with the name of the trust on it. Insurance sellers are not familiar with the church Bible Trust and will, if the trustee of the trust allows, simply put the name of the trust on the standard church policy, thereby nullifying the Bible Trust by setting the church up as a legal entity.

A pastor of a church may also compromise the position of the church as a church under Christ alone by taking a license from the state to act in a pastoral capacity; a license to conduct marriage ceremonies, for example.

God gave churches and civil government distinct jurisdictions. However, he gave neither jurisdiction over the other. See, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Applicaiton. As long as a church honors God’s principles, no civil government has God-given jurisdiction over that church. The First Amendment to the Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions recognize this Bible principle. There are two caveats: (1) States allow churches a choice: remain under Christ alone or contract with the state for legal status. (2) The Federal government allows churches to apply for legal status under Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or claim such status under§  508(c)(1)(A). ). See, Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status and the essays linked to thereon for explanation.

God gave civil government authority to punish evildoers and reward those who do good. Jurisdiction over any evil doer, to include church members, who commit crime or violate their duty to another or others and thereby injure them. However, God gave civil government no jurisdiction over individuals who do good and honor God. A civil government who acts outside its God-given jurisdiction is tyrannical. In a tyrannical nation—such as North Korea, China, and many other nations—individual believers who come to the attention of the state are summarily executed, tortured, or imprisoned. No matter, “churches and believers should obey God rather than man,” even to the point of martyrdom. A tyrannical civil government such as North Korea can kill the body but cannot send the body, soul, and spirit to hell.

A properly implemented trust relationship with money and/or property keeps a church entirely out of man’s earthly legal systems and under the Lord Jesus Christ in all things. That is, if the church does not misstep and declare herself to be a legal entity subject to the law of man in some other way. Thank the Lord and the martyrs of Jesus who, in putting Christ first in all things, paid the price that led to the protections of religious freedom and soul liberty in First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions; churches in America can do things God’s way without persection. Sadly, only a small remnant do so.