All posts by Jerald Finney

Jerald Finney has been the lead counsel for the Biblical Law Center ("BLC") since May, 2005. The BLC helps churches who desire to organize according to New Testament principles. Finney practices law in Austin, Texas, and can be reached at 512-385-0761 (home); 512-785-8445 (cell); all of which are on the website the Lord has led him to create. Over the last few years he has lectured and preached on the issues concerning government, church, and separation of church and state. God called Finney, a Christian and fundamental Baptist since his salvation, to enter the University of Texas School of Law in 1990 at the age of 43 to stand in the gap concerning legal issues facing Christians. Since being saved, he has been a faithful and active member of a local fundamental, Bible-believing Baptist church. He received his JD degree in 1993 and has followed the Lord in the practice of law since that time. Finney received his law license in November 1993 and began practicing law in January, 1994. All along he was seeking the Lord’s direction. The Lord initially led Finney to practice criminal law. He knew that not many, if any, of the Christian law firms dealt with or specialized in criminal law, and that some Christians were being charged with crimes for their Christian behavior and for taking a stand for God’s principles. The Lord confirmed Finney's choice. Very soon after he started practicing, he helped an Eastern Orthodox priest with a criminal charge. He was charged under a criminal statute for trying to expose the promotion of sodomy and other sins within a Catholic Church. God gave the victory in that case. Then Steve, a Christian who counseled outside abortion clinics, called Finney. He was charged with a crime under the Austin, Texas Sign Ordinance for his activities outside an abortion clinic. Being a new lawyer, Finney called the Rutherford Institute. They asked him to send them a summary of the facts and a copy of the Sign Ordinance. Then they told him that the case could not be won and that they would not help. Steve lost at trial, but God gave the victory on appeal. The Austin Police Department immediately cited Steve for violation of the state sign ordinance. The Lord gave the victory at trial. Finney's first felony trial came about a year and six months after he started practicing law. A single Christian mother was charged with third degree felony injury to a child for spanking her six year old son. She left some prominent stripes across his rear end and also a stripe across his face when he turned suddenly during the spanking. The Lord gave the victory at trial. At the same time, Finney was also representing another Christian married lady who was charged with the same crime for spanking her little girl with a switch. On the date the trial in that case was to begin, the prosecutor, with prompting by the judge, lowered the offer to deferred adjudication probation of short duration on a misdemeanor charge with very few conditions on the probation. In a deferred adjudication in Texas, there is never a judgment of guilt if the probationer successfully completes the term of the probation, (and, with successful completion of the probation, the probationer can now file a Motion for Nondisclosure which, if granted, requires the file to be sealed so that the general public has no access to it). The mother decided to take the offer. The Lord has also allowed Finney to help Christian parents in numerous situations involving Child Protective Services (“CPS”) infringement into parental rights. God has given the victory in all those situations. The Lord has also used Finney to intervene in numerous situations where government officials or private companies tried to deny certain Christians their rights to do door-to-door evangelization, preach on the street, hand out gospel literature in the public forum, and pass out gospel tracts and communicate the gospel at their place of employment. Finney has also fought other legal spiritual battles including a criminal case in San Antonio. A peaceful pro-life advocate was arrested and charged with criminal trespass for handing pro-life literature giving information about the development of the unborn baby, places to go for help, and other information to women entering an abortion clinic. All the above-mentioned cases as well as others not mentioned were handled free of charge (except the last spanking case for which Finney received $750). In 2005 Finney became lead counsel for the Biblical Law Center. Since his early Christian life, he has considered the issue of separation of church and state as taught in the Bible to be one of the primary issues facing New Testament churches today. He believes, based upon what the Bible teaches, that operating as a corporation (sole or aggregate), unincorporated association, or any other type of legal entity and/or getting a tax exempt status from the federal government at the very least puts the church under the headship of both the Lord and the state, and may even take the church from under the headship of Christ and put the church under the headship of the state. He believes that taking scriptures out of context and applying human reasoning contrary to biblical teaching (such as “Obey every ordinance of man,” or “We should be good stewards and incorporation is good stewardship”) in order to justify unbiblical marriage with the state causes our Lord much grief. Once he took on the position as counsel for the BLC, it was necessary to do an in-depth study of the issue of separation of church and state. He began with the Bible. He initially read through the Bible at least five times (and many more times since then) primarily seeking the answer to the question, “Does the Bible have anything to say about this issue?” He was amazed at what He learned. The Bible gives God’s principles concerning separation of church and state, the purpose of a church, the purpose of the civil government, the headship of church, the headship of civil government, the principles by which each is to be guided, and much more concerning these two God ordained institutions. He continued to read the Bible daily seeking insights into these and other issues. He also began to read other books. he had already read starting shortly after being saved, books and other information by Christian authors. For example, he had read, among other works, A Christian Manifesto[1], The Light and the Glory,[2] From Sea to Shining Sea,[3] The Myth of Separation and some other works by David Barton, [4]Rewriting America’s History,[5] and America’s God and Country.[6] These resources inspired, influenced and guided him and millions of other Christians, gave them philosophical and historical underpinning, and led them into battlefields such as politics, law, and education armed with what they learned from those resources. Sometime in 2006 he began to realize that some of the books by Christian authors which he had come to depend upon were misleading, at the very least. Other books revealed to him that some of the above mentioned books had misinformed and misled sincere Christians by revising and/or misrepresenting the true history of separation of church and state in America. In 2006, he read One Nation Under Law[7] which cites a wealth of resources for one seeking to understand the history of separation of church and state in the United States and of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.[8] Reading One Nation Under Law, some of the books it cited, and some other books was a launching pad into the universe of historical information which he never dreamed existed. He had expected to be misled in the secular law school he attended. He was amazed that he had been misled by Christian brothers. I asked myself, “How could Peter Marshall and others have missed this vital information?” At an Unregistered Baptist Fellowship conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, James R. Beller, a Baptist historian, gave a PowerPoint presentation which gave him the answer to this question. Finney bought two of Beller's books and read them. Those books filled in the details not mentioned in Pastor Beller’s concise PowerPoint presentation. Since that time, God has led Finney into an in depth study of the issues of government, church, and separation of church and state. God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and the other books he has written and listed on this website were written as a result of those studies. God Betrayed is not a rehash of the same information that has been circulated in the Fundamental Baptist and Christian community through sermons, books, seminars, etc. since at least 1982, the year Finney was saved. God Betrayed and Finney's other books reveal facts and information that must be understood in order for a pastor and other Christians to begin to successfully (in God's eyes) fight the spiritual warfare we are engaged in according to knowledge. Finney believes that the lack of attention to the biblical doctrines concerning government, church (which is likened to the wife and bride of Christ), and separation of church and state, has had dire consequences for individuals, families, churches, and America. Unless pastors educate themselves on these doctrines and their application in America, the rapid downhill slide will continue at an accelerating pace. [1] Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, (Westchester, Illinois: Crossway Books, 1981). [2] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, The Light and the Glory, (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1977). [3] Peter Marshall and David Manuel, From Sea to Shining Sea (Old Tappan, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company, 1986). [4] David Barton, The Myth of Separation, What is the Correct relationship between Church and State? (Aledo, Texas: Wallbuilder Press, 1992). [5] Catherine Millard, Rewriting America’s History (Camp Hill, Pennsylvania: Horizon House Publishers, 1991). [6] William J. Federer, America’s God and Country, Encyclopedia of Quotations (Coppell, Texas: FAME Publishing, Inc., 1994). [7] Mark Douglas McGarvie, One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005). [8] The First Amendment to the United States Constitution states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” The religion clause, properly interpreted, as is shown in God Betrayed, is a correct application of the biblical principle of separation of church and state.

Answer to a Bible College Vice-President’s Article on Church Incorporation: “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate?”

Many Bible Colleges and their leaders give advice on church incorporation without Bible, legal, or historical knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. Click here to go to an article giving such advice by “Dr.” Charles Brown, Executive Vice President of Landmark Baptist College; plus a rebuttal article by Jerald Finney published in “The Trumpet.” The title of the article is “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate.?” The issue is also covered in Chapter 9, page 97 of the 3rd edition of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?  (Click to go to a PDF of that book).

Note. I would now change some terminology used in the rebuttal argument mentioned above. For example, I referred to “pure New Testament church” in the article. After many more years of study, I would now use instead, “church under the authority of Jesus Christ and Him only” or something similar to that. Nonetheless, such minor misnomers do not change the truth of the conclusions.

Matthew 16:18: “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” This is the first verse in the Bible with the word “church.” There are many “churches” (local visible assemblies) in America today who profess to follow Jesus Christ. Is it not important that such a church, for one thing, be built under the sole authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and the principles for Christ’s churches (assemblies) laid out in the New Testament?


[Click here to go back and review Question 2 and other questions.]

Reply and Answer to Question 2

Some very relevant questions among many others for a church who desires to please our Lord are:

(1) Do your documents of church governance conform with Bible principle and example? For example, are your documents designed to address a law of man such as state non-profit incorporation law or federal IRC Section 501(c)(3) or 508? Even if your documents state Bible principles, is not the authority who decides contested issues should the civil government challenge your stated policies the relevant civil government agency with provision for appeal to civil court? In other words, who is the ultimate authority over the issue (this is the question to be answered, not, “Will your civil authority rule correctly should they contest your statements and practices?”)
(2) Does not a church who incorporates voluntarily contract with civil government? Does not that church agree to abide by all the law of incorporation under which they freely choose to incorporate? To understand church corporate 501c3 adn 508 status see Does not a church who applies for 501c3 status agree that her authority as to the rules that she freely agree to will be the federal government? Does not a church who assumes 508 status agree that she is placing herself under the authority of a law of man for many purposes? See
(3) Do not New Testament principles for church organization make clear that God, even though He gives man free will to go by His commandments and principles, desire that a church be under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ only? See, e.g., Ephesians 1.22, Ephesians 4, and the whole book of Ephesians (See, Colossians 1.18.
(3) Does not the First Amendment separate church and state (not God and state) in conformity to Bible principle? See, e.g.,
(4) Do not the constitutions of all states give churches a choice: operate outside the authority of state non-profit corporation law or become non-profit corporations (or other types of legal entities) under the authority for many purposes of man’s law?
(5) Does earthly, temporal, legal church organization (incorporation (aggregate or sole), 501c3 and 508 status and other types of legal entity status) conform with Bible principles for church organization? Does not Bible principle make clear that a church is to be under the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ only? Does not incorporation and any other type of legal church organization (organization under man’s law) place a church under the authority of man’s law for many purposes? Does not church legal status transform a church from spiritual, eternal, heavenly status only to a hybrid organization partly spiritual, eternal, and heavenly and partly worldly, temporal, and earthly?
(6) Who is a church to obey – God or man? See, e.g., the epistles of Paul, 1 and 2 Peter,
(7) Do Romans 13, 1 Peter 2.13, etc. require that churches obey every ordinance of man except, possibly, a proscription against preaching the gospel? See

The above are a sampling of questions which a church and a “Christian” attorney should ask when deciding how to organize. The answers to the questions will determine what documents a church drafts and what she puts in those documents. Will she draft, for example, a church covenant? Will her controlling document be the Word of God only? Will her controlling documents for many purposes be a charter, a constitution, by-laws, Internal Revenue Code Section 501c3 or 508? The choice belongs to the church. Their choice to remain under God only is protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions.

I humbly submit that, according to Bible principle, a church should be a spiritual organism, not a worldly organization. Using man’s methods (which do not conform to God’s methods) always ultimately results in dire consequences. Taking a first step in dishonoring one’s lover, the Lord Jesus Christ, puts a church on the slippery slope down toward heresy and apostasy. Revelation 2:4-5: “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy 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.”

God bless you and all ADF staff and lawyers as you seek to please our Lord.

As to the proper response by believers and churches to the Obergefell decision, I respectfully offer the following: RESPONSE TO OBERGEFELL, THE UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT SAME SEX MARRIAGE DECISION


Reply and Answer to Question 1

[Click here to go back and review Question 1 and other questions.]

Dear Pastor ________________,

Thank you for contacting me. I respectfully submit the following reply with all humility and love to a brother in Christ.

Your letter indicates that you may have some problems, at least technically, with your trust arrangement. As long as nothing happens to bring those problems to the forefront, what you are doing will “work.” Let me respectfully point out some potential flaws in what you have done.

For example, you state that your “church” is deeded to the Lord Jesus Christ. Sometimes people refer to a meetinghouse as a “church.” A church, in the Bible sense, is an assembly of born again believers (perhaps infested with some tares impersonating believers). A trustee can acquire or convey property to and from the trust estate, but one cannot put a church in a trust estate. Only property (real and personal) and money can be put in a trust estate. In order for a real property to be properly deeded to a trust estate, the trustee has to sign the deed. In a trust relationship, the trustee as legal owner of the property can sign a deed. The trust documents make clear that the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of the property is the Lord Jesus Christ, and that the trustee, the legal owner, manages all properties and monies in the trust estate for the benefit of the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of the property.

I do not send out generic DOTs. To do so would be a disservice to you and your church. I would be glad to guide you to resources which explain the principles. In fact, you can find the principles on my website.

There are no certain words needed to create a trust relationship, just so the elements of the trust are present in the relationship. If you understand the principles, your church can establish a proper trust (with a caveat mentioned in the P.S. below). For reasons I have stated in at least one essay or article on the website, creating a trust relationship in writing is much to be preferred over a non-written trust arrangement.

As you probably know, you need a trustor (the church), a trustee (the legal owner of the trust estate), and a beneficiary (the Lord Jesus Christ) who, if the trust is properly established, is the true, beneficial, and equitable owner of the trust estate.

In order to properly establish a trust relationship, a church (or at least leaders in the church) need to understand all about the assets they wish to put in trust, the debts if any and who holds the debts, etc. One also, in order to do this in a way that glorifies our Lord, needs to understand certain Bible principles, the history of the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions and the relationship of this type of trust to the legal system in America. American law did not originate or create the concept of trust, but American law recognizes the relationship. In establishing a trust, one should be careful to make sure that the trust created is not a legal entity.

Another factor involved is whether or not a church has made itself a legal entity in some way other than church organization. For example, does the church hold a bank account, insurance, etc. in the name of the church? Has the church entered into any contract(s) explicitly or constructively?

Since you know all the facts about your church situation, you can take the principles and tailor a trust accordingly (taking into consideration the caveat in the P.S. below).

I hope that helps.

Brother Jerald Finney

P.S. I respectfully add this caveat.

It appears from your letter that you may have consulted, not only with _______________, but also with others. I have come across several trust relationships which are pushed by certain pastors and others. All the ones I have seen, except that of the BLC, are a disgrace to our Lord. One of the so-called “law centers” (operated out of a church under the leadership of a pastoral authority heretic) which has successfully misled quite a number of churches does not even understand that what they promote is a trust, that the trust they establish actually makes the church a legal entity in that, in their published words, “the church holds property through a trustee in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Their understanding of what they are doing is severely flawed. Others which I have seen have no less problems. It seems that believers think they can just jump into the arena of church and state law without spending the time to grow in the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom needed to proceed in a manner which glorifies God.

1 Corinthians 12:8 “For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit. A great pastor and Bible teacher said this, commenting on that verse:

“‘Wisdom’ means insight into truth. I do not think everyone can come to an understanding of the Bible, which is the reason we need teachers, and the Spirit of God has given us teachers. ‘Wisdom’ is insight into the truth of the Word of God. ‘Knowledge’ means to investigate or to dig into the truth. Many people simply do not have the time to dig into the Word of God to dig out the nuggets. I think [teaching the Bible] is my gift. The teacher and the student should be working together as partners, each exercising his own gift.”

The Holy Spirit gifts everyone in a church.  A pastor, or any man, who tries to master too many things will fall short on most, or all, of the matters he deals with. For example, many lawyers practice in several areas of law. Practicing in more than one, or at most 2 kinds of law means that the lawyer cannot possibly keep up with the constant changes in each area of law being implemented by the court system, by the legislature and executive branches, etc.

Similarly, a pastor who thinks he can practice law, pastor a church, lead all meaningful ministries of the church,  properly carry out his duties as father and husband, etc. is violating Bible precept. A pastor who delves into church organization and the concept of trust while carrying on his other responsibilities cannot possibly understand all he needs to know to properly deal with the issue of trust.

The Lord has gifted me, and I boast on Him, not on me, with special knowledge in the area of church organization. That expertise was gained through many years of intense study of first the relevant Bible principles, then history and law. Perhaps you have someone in your church who has the calling and time to take on such an endeavor.

Feel free to contact me at any time for any reason.

May the Lord bless you as you proceed according to His precepts and His will.

Questions on the trust, incorporation, etc. answered

At one time, I would keep questions from pastors and other men of God concerning church incorporation, 501c3 and 508, establishing a trust by a church, etc. After I had accumulated a number of questions to which I replied, I would publish them. In this post, I will publish the questions and answers as I receive them starting 8/1/18.

Question 2

I am an ADF Honor Corp attorney. Attorneys post questions to other associates. The following question was posted on 8/14/18:

Re: Documents of church governance
Sam –
ADF and CLS both put out some excellent white papers on the issue a few years back after the Orbergefell decision.
I’m guessing that those papers are still online. They have sample language to include in church docs that I have used as templates for a number of different churches.
God bless
Ben Boyd

Click here to see my answer to this question.

Question 1

E-mail received 8/1/18:
Dear Brother Finney,
I am Pastor of ________ ___________ Church, [City, state, and e-mail address]. …  Our Church is deeded to the Lord Jesus Christ, its true & Beneficial Owner. I am reviewing our docs, & tried to find a ‘sample’ of your Bible Trust doc.
The site link is not operational.  Is it possible you could send me a pdf?
I just located your publications, & plan to order accordingly.  Thank you for any help you can provide.
Regards, [Name omitted]  [Phone no. omitted]
PS: [Website omitted] I have an avocation as an inventor.

Click here to go to my answer to that question.


Berean Call’s Answer to Important Bible Question

Question: I read with empathy and agreement your excellent article “Jews, Gentiles, and the Church.” However, one thing you said puzzled me. It was this: “Essential also is an understanding that the church was created through offering to both Jews and Gentiles a ‘new covenant’ relationship with God.” My understanding of the “new covenant” is Jeremiah 31:31-40. This covenant is identified clearly as the New Covenant. It is a covenant addressed solely to the Nation of Israel. The church has no part in it—indeed it will not be instituted until after the close of the church age (the catching up of the church). Your statement, quoted above, seems to imply that the new covenant was offered to the church. Is that what you meant, or have I misunderstood you?
Response: As you note, the Scriptures speak of “covenants.” When Israel came to Sinai, and before the giving of the Law, the Lord said, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, andkeep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (Exodus 19:5-6, our emphasis).
The only “covenant” in view is the one that God made with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3), which would be a blessing to all nations. We know this because the Law that was given, beginning in chapter 20, limits the priesthood to the tribe of Levi alone. Yet, in Exodus 19, the Lord states to all Israel “If ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Israel refused, and the Law was instituted.
That offer would be repeated centuries later by the promised Seed: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). It was the fullness of time. “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).
In his first epistle, Peter echoes the words spoken by God in Exodus 19 (1 Peter 1:1): “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ…. But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:5, 9).
The New Covenant is not “instituted?” It is “solely for Israel”? The longest quotation of any Old Testament passage by any writer in the New Testament is said to be in Hebrews 8:8-12. There, the unidentified writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 in full. It is the core of the inspired writer’s argument that Jesus is “the mediator of a better covenant” and that the old covenant (the Law) was insufficient. The inspired writer proclaims, “For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Hebrews 8:7). The covenant of Jeremiah 31 must be in operation. The language will not allow a differing opinion. 
Between Hebrews 4:14 and 10:18, the writer argues that the sacrifices performed by the priesthood of the old covenant could not bring about the forgiveness of sins. Therefore (he concludes), a new sacrifice and a new priesthood were necessary. They came as a result of Christ’s once-for-all death on the Cross. In light of the “operational” New Covenant, the Old Covenant has ceased to have a role in the lives of New Testament believers, for, “…he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away” (Hebrews 8:13). In Hebrews 10:16-17 he clinches the argument by repeating Jeremiah 31:31-34 in Hebrews 10:16-17 to show that Jesus’ sacrifice of himself as the “Great High Priest” is the one truly effectual sacrifice for sins. Consequently, the New Covenant has no need of bloody sacrifices or Levitical priests to offer the sacrifices. As Jesus declared, “it is finished!” (John 19:30).

On church corporate, 501c3 status and other matters

Published online on July 6, 2018:
From: ______________________________
Sent: Friday, July 6, 2018 2:07 PM
Subject: _________________________ inquiries regarding 501c3….
Greetings Mr. Jerald.
Grace and peace to you in Jesus name.
1. How should a new church operate and open up legally,  if they are not incorporated and or 501c3, 508??
2. Is habeas corpus null and or obliterated because of executive order Obama ndaa act 2012? Does ndaa give military to detain citizens without warrants and up to execution?
3. Why do most churches take 501c3, or the incorporated route? Especially if its unbiblical? What verses should i study to prove that its unbiblical?
4. If a church is incorporated or 501c3, or 508, can they be sued if they refuse to marry homosexual or lesbian couples legally,  because they are created by the government state?
Same question about abortion,  can they preach against abortion if they are a mega church or could they be sued?
5. I am looking seeking for a church that is not 501 c3, incorporated ect, how do i find them?
Thank you
These are the main ones for now.
God bless in Jesus name.

In Christ,


Dear Brother _______________:

Thank you for your interest in organizing a church in a way that pleases our Lord. I have spent thousands upon thousands of hours over the last 15 years (not to mention my less intense but sincere studies before that time) seeking the Bible answers to some of your questions and the application of those answers in church organization. I had to study relevant Bible principles, law, and history in the process. I have discussed the issues with pastors and other believers who were interested in the issues and sought their insights. Sadly, those who do not like what I say have been unwilling to have a studied discourse; instead, they, like liberals in the political realm, refuse to have a studied and logical, much less spiritual discourse about the issues. They call me names, insult me, warn people against my teachings (without explanation other than, perhaps, “he is a heretic; stay away from him and what he has to say,” etc.).

I can only give you resources that will help you in your search for the truth about the spiritual matters you inquire about.

As to questions 1 and 3, the one that covers them more succinctly than others on the website is:

Some essays and articles that address question no. 4 are linked to at:

Essays, Articles, and Other Resources Related to the Doctrine of the Church, Incorporation, 501c3, Etc.

For studies on the relevant Bible teachings, see the following pages for links to teachings:

Online version of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application

For a short course, see:

As to question 2, I would have to do a lot of legal study and research to answer that question. I do not have time to keep up with every matter, so I choose to limit my work to eternal matters.

As to question 5, my advice is that you not only earnestly pray but also seek. However, keep in mind that many churches and pastors teach and practice various heresies which are detrimental to the believers and also to the cause of Christ. There are many heresies; examples include those taught and practiced by Charismatics, Catholics, most Protestants, Calvinists, etc.

Let me give you one specific example of a damnable heresy which is proliferating, I believe, in many American churches: the heresy of “pastoral authority.” Many who practice that heresy are cults, according to what I believe to be the definition of “cult.” Some adhere to some Bible principles and even preach and teach a lot of truth, according to the Bible. But, no matter what truth they may preach, teach, and practice, the “pastoral authority” heresy leads to some very bad consequences for the members and for the glory of God, even leading many lost people to blaspheme the name of Christ for the wrong reasons.

Now of course, there are degrees of this heresy, and some churches are still basically sound even though they, to a lesser extent, have fallen for this heresy. What was once one of the largest churches (maybe the largest) in America practiced this heresy of pastoral authority; the chickens came home to roost, a pastor of the church (and the church) was disgraced before the entire nation, membership of the church, the attached College, and other ministries have declined tremendously, and the elite now actively use the testimonies of former members and proven immoralities and “cultic” and other practices of pastors, present and past, of the church and other pastors and churches who have followed the teachings of the church to cause millions to blaspheme the name of the Lord.

Of course, the church mentioned in the last paragraph was one of the largest (or the largest) church corporate, 501c3 religious organizations in America; and the pastors and many members bragged about it. When a church takes corporate 501c3 status, that church, by practicing heresy as to the matter of church organization, has compromised her love for the Lord Jesus Christ and started down a slippery road toward more heresy and apostasy. Yet the church continues on to this day without ever having repented of her sins, a major one of which is corporate 501c3 legal status.

What does “pastoral authority” mean?  It simply means that the pastor of each local church is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice (no matter what the Bible says), so he has the authority to control the thinking and actions of all his  [emphasis on “his”] members down to with whom they can have fellowship, to whom and about what they can and cannot talk, where they can spend their money, where they can go to school and how to finance it (making sure, for one example that I was informed of, that they give a considerable amount of their student loans to the them), whether or not they could sell their homes or cars, and whom they can or cannot not marry, etc.  Versions of this heresy teach that the Holy Spirit speaks to the Pastor about every matter involving every member of the church, that if the Holy Spirit did not speak to the Pastor about a matter, the Holy Spirit did not speak to a particular member about that matter, or that only the pastor has the “vision” to lead the ministries of a church. The members of the church become agents of the pastor who fits them into his agenda, which is supposedly from God.

A church can be properly organized according to the Bible and still be heretical (or even apostate) about other important matters. Some churches are properly organized but teach and practice, for example, the gross heresy of “pastoral authority.”

One other comment. God does not want legal churches (churches organized according to man’s law). He wants spiritual churches (churches organized according to God’s Bible precepts). Due to the First Amendment of the US Const. and corresponding state constitutional provisions, one can organize a church in the United States according to Bible principles without persecution.

May the Lord richly bless you as you seek to know and understand His truths regarding these important matters you inquire about.  The believer must study (not just read) the Bible to avoid becoming the victim of religious charlatans.  “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15; read the verse in context to make the application).

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney

Questions Answered by the Berean Call

From Berean Call, July 27, 2018:
What a Sovereign God Cannot Do. This includes teaching on the Calvinist heresy concerning the sovereignty of God, love, and some other matters.
From Berean Call, Psychology and Psychotherapy (part 1), January 6, 2018:
Question: You emphasize that salvation is based on the fact that Christ “paid the penalty for our sins.”  Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance has no entry for “penalty,” nor did Jesus or the apostles ever mention that a penalty for our sins was paid. If I ask fellow Christians where to find this view in the Bible, either they don’t know the answer or they imply that I’m not saved. I pose that question to you.
Response: Nor is the word “trinity” found in either the Bible or Strong’s, yet it’s a basic teaching of Scripture. Was not the casting of Adam and Eve out of the Garden a penalty for their sin? Isn’t the death that came upon Adam and Eve and all of their descendants to this day also a penalty for sin that would continue in eternal separation from God without His pardon? In declaring, “the soul that sinneth, it shall die (Eze 18:13, 20); sin bringeth forth death (Jas 1:15); the strength of sin is the law” (1 Cor 15:56), isn’t Scripture saying that death is the penalty for sin? Does not a penalty have to be paid? Granted, the Bible nowhere uses that exact terminology about Christ paying the penalty for sin. But isn’t that what’s implied when it says, “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed” (Is 53:5), or “Christ died for our sins” (1 Cor 15:3), or “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb 2:9), as well as in many similar verses? If death is the penalty for sin and Christ died for all, then surely He paid the penalty in full for all of us, or we would have to pay [it] ourselves. Our salvation is a matter of God’s justice, “that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Heb 2:9), et al. Our salvation is a matter of God’s justice, “that he [God] might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom 3:26).
I don’t understand your objection to saying that the penalty was paid. Wasn’t the force of Christ’s triumphant cry from the cross, “It is finished [tetelestai]” (Jn 19:30), meaning “paid in full”? I am grateful that Christ paid the full penalty for my sins so that God can be just in pardoning me, the sinner! There is no other means of salvation.
Question: We’re told that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pt 3:8); and that “a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night” (Ps 90:4). Is there any special prophetic significance that might tell us how close we are to the Lord’s return?
Response: There is no prophetic significance. The phrases “with the Lord” and “in thy sight” are the keys to understanding this rather simple and straightforward declaration: God is outside of time and therefore, in relation to Him, time is meaningless. Thus Paul can say that we are already seated “together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:6). God, being independent of time, sees not only what to us is past but also our present and future as having already happened. Thus His foreknowledge of what in our experience hasn’t yet occurred would have no effect upon its happening and would leave us free to make genuine choices.
Here is what John Wesley said in a sermon more than 200 years ago: “There is no such thing as either foreknowledge or afterknowledge in God. All time, or rather all eternity (for time is only that small fragment of eternity which is allotted to the children of men), being present to God at once, He does not know one thing from another, or one thing after another; but sees all things in one point of view, from everlasting to everlasting. As all time, with everything that exists therein, is preset with Him at once, so he sees at once whatever was, is, or will be to the end of time” (John Wesley, Sermons on Several Occasions, 1833, p. 39).
Question: What did Paul mean when he said that he and the other Apostles were “the last appointed unto death”? Did that mean that no one else after them would ever be martyred for their faith? If so, he was wrong.
Response: Paul wasn’t wrong when he wrote these words: “For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men” (1 Cor 4:9). Some argue that Paul and the other Apostles thought that the Rapture would occur in their day. Not so. Although he taught believers to expect the Rapture at any moment (Php 3:20-21; 1 Thess 1:9-10; Titus 2:13, etc.), Paul knew that he would be martyred before it occurred: “For I know…that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in…” (Acts 20:29); “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Tm 4:6). Likewise, Peter wrote, “Knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle…I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance” (2 Pt 1:14-15). The Apostles didn’t expect to be raptured but knew they must each die for their Lord.
Christ declared that His disciples in all ages would be hated by the world and would suffer the same as He had at its hands (Jn 15:18-21); Paul implied that Christians would continue to suffer martyrdom (Rom 8:35-37) and warned that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Tm 3:12). We know that has been the case throughout history, and even greater numbers of believers will be killed by Antichrist (Rv 6:9-11; 13:7, 15; 20:4). Obviously Paul did not mean that the Apostles were the last who would be martyred for Christ. They were the last who were “appointed unto death;” i.e., who must die for Christ. Their lives would have been spared had they denied Christ. No one is fool enough to die for what he knows is a lie. The fact that not one of the disciples retracted anything to save his life is powerful evidence of the validity of the Gospels and the Book of Acts. It was thus essential that they die as martyrs, and they were the last upon whom that necessity was imposed.
Question: The Apostles’ Creed says that Jesus “descended into hell.” I’ve read your rejection of the Hagan/Copeland teaching that Jesus was tortured in hell by Satan. Did Jesus descend into hell or not? I searched the Scriptures and have no answer.

Response: The word sheol, “place of the dead,” is translated “hell” or sometimes as “grave.” In telling the fate of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus taught that before the Cross, there were two compartments in sheol: one for the lost, and one for the saved, called “Abraham’s bosom” (Lk 16:22). To the latter Christ went in death, as did the thief crucified with Him to whom He said, “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Lk 23:43). There He proclaimed to the redeemed the good news of His death having paid for their sins. Those in sheol could hear what Jesus said (see Lk 16:23-31); and He may even have addressed a few words to them. Thus Peter writes, “He preached to the spirits in prison [sheol]; which sometime were disobedient…” (1 Pt 3:19-20). After His resurrection, Jesus took the souls and spirits of the redeemed to heaven (“he led captivity captive” [Eph 4:8]). Now the souls and spirits of the redeemed upon death go immediately to be with Christ (“absent from the body, present with the Lord” [2 Cor 5:6-8]), when He will bring them to rejoin their resurrected bodies at the Rapture (1 Thess 4:13-18).

Questions answered in From Berean Call, Psychology and Psychotherapy (part 2), Feb. 1, 2018:

Question: The Bible says, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Then why do I so often fail to do His will and to please Him? I more often please myself by doing my own will. Why?
Question: You justify God for sending people to hell because He has provided salvation for them in Christ. That won’t do, for millions and probably billions will spend eternity in hell. God knew that! How could a good God create anyone whom He knew would suffer eternally?
Question: “Broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat” (Mt 7:13). How has God “won” if there are more souls in hell than in heaven?
Question: Is it really biblical for you or anyone else to point out others’ faults? Isn’t this judging when we are not to judge? Doesn’t the Scripture say that the servant is to be left to the correction of his master, who is Christ?