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.
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.