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Inquiry Concerning Organization of a Ministry Formed to Unify Believers Nationwide

Inquiry:

___________________________ To:jerald.finney@sbcglobal.net Thu, Feb 20 at 12:15 AM

I have a ministry that I have done since 2010 actively. I have regular records of activities, but have lived by and on faith. About 4 years ago, a man I met on a nationwide prayer call set up a 508c1a foundation for me with a clear Christian statement but the Lord always said to operate only on faith though some donations have been given. The next phase of what the Lord has called me to requires unity of believers nationwide and will require a lot of funding – major donors. This is the first time He has even allowed me to proceed in anyway with obtaining funding. I have some donors  interested but, of course, they want the 501c3 write off they are familiar with. I prayed about it and the Lord clearly said No to a 501. So I began to research and and came across your site.

Can you help point me in a direction where donors might have the documentation they could feel comfortable with? And/or would you recommend not using the 508c1a? I have read about the Sole Corporations. It’s very confusing and I understand peoples hesitancy. I also read on a site called start church – they warn against all of it and say the IRS code doesn’t release you from the regulations of the 501.

Of course, accountants and attorneys I have talked with have been of no assistance and basically help cement fear – which is also where late donors will go for advice. I do however have some that may be open and also some that may not care about the write off but those will not create enough revenue for what we need. I am open to keeping books and spending open for all to see and/or can document history of the work I’ve been doing. Can you point me to account or “authority” who can help validate?

Thank you for any assistance.

Blessings
_______________________


My Reply:

Dear ___________________,

I humbly, in love, respond to your concerns. First, let me respond to your primary concerns:

  1. 501(c)(1)(A) puts an organization in the same position as 501(c)(3). For explanation, see Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status.
  2. Although you are already against 501(c)(3) status, for full understanding of 501(c)(3) status, see, Federal government control of churches through 501(c)(3) tax exemptionand The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme. For a thorough look at the issues of 501(c)(3), 501(c)(1)(A), and church legal entity status such as incorporation, see Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?
  3. As to the corporation sole, see Critique of “Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole” Website. The links to that website may no longer be good, but the principles for corporation sole have not changed.
  4. The site, Start Church, is a very deceiving website. The authors of that site are con artists who do not understand the Bible doctrine of the church, but take advantage of unknowledgeable, unwise “Christians.” However, what they told you about corporation sole is very true. The corporation sole is nothing more than another form of incorporation. See the article in 3 above for full explanation.

Your inquiry raises some important questions:

  1. Does one learn the mind of God on this matter directly by revelation of God and nothing else?
  2. Where does one learn what God teaches about the organization, if any, which God ordained to do His work?
  3. For example, was the “church” founded and preserved by tradition and revelation to individuals only, not by unchangeable written Word?
  4. To what authority can one appeal for verification that a revelation of an individual is from God?
  5. As to a related issue: “What if one’s prophesies, or even a single prophesy, are proven to be false? Is the prophet a prophet of God?”
  6. Cannot anyone claim to have the truth, received by direct revelation of God, about doing the work of God or some other matter?
  7. If God preserved His precepts concerning a matter or matters in a written Word, do we have that Word in English?
  8. If God, in His Word, ordained an institution to do His work, what is that institution?
  9. If He ordained such an institution, did He give precepts for the organization, goals, purpose, fate, headship, etc. of that organization?

This ministry is founded upon a belief that the Bible is the basis for all matters of faith and practice. Of course, the Holy Spirit of God indwells every believer, and, among other things, teaches individuals the truths that are proclaimed in God’s Word. However, such truths are learned with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, through diligent study of the Bible. “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). Of course, the truth is to be preserved by churches under Christ. See, EN [i].

The Bible, in the New Testament, teaches the doctrine of the church; and lays out, in the epistles of Paul, all that a believer needs to know concerning a local church under Christ. Christ declared that He would build His church (Matthew 16:18), speaking of the institution of the church which is, for the present time, made up of local, autonomous, spiritual bodies under Christ.

The Epistles of Paul develop the doctrine of the church. They explain how, when, and of what materials, that church should be built, and what should be its position, relationships, privileges, and duties. Through Paul alone, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, we know that a church is not an organization but an organism, the body of Christ; instinct with His life, and heavenly in calling, promise and destiny. Through him alone, we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches, and the right conduct of such gatherings.

The church was a mystery “hid in God,” a wholly new thing proclaimed and founded, but not explained, by Christ. The revelation of this mystery was committed to Paul (See Ephesians 3). The divine purpose of the present local church, and the future eternal church (assembly), was to make Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing—Christ’s body.

Nowhere in God’s Word can one find authority for any institution, other than the church, to do God’s work. Every ministry, according to the Word of God, should be under the authority of a local, autonomous, church under Christ, for good reason. See, EN [1].

Another issue raised by your inquiry is unification of believers nationwide. Again, nowhere in the Bible can one find any teaching which would support such a thing. First, the Bible predicts apostasy for the church. To understand this, see the essays on heresy and apostasy at The Biblical Doctrine of the Church. The Bible teaches that there will always be a remnant of churches under Christ and believers who follow His commandments and precepts as given in the Word of God, but the professing church will go into apostasy. The great majority of “Christian” churches in America are now apostate or on the path to apostasy.

Second, Christ did not call His children and His churches to unify all believers. Their commission is given in Matthew 28:19-20, 16:15-16, and Luke 24:47. Of course, a local church is to seek unity. Again, see EN [1].

Third, one cannot unify those who differ on essentials. Some essentials are:

  1. A common authority. Churches and believers refer to many so called “interpretations” of the “Bible” as their authority. All those “interpretations are significantly different. Since one cannot refer to a non-existent original of the Word of God, which of those interpretations should one use. Which would be used by a “unified” nationwide organization? This ministry believes that God has kept His promise to preserves His Word—the King James Bible, in English. See, The King James Bible.
  2. A common understanding of the doctrine of the church. This ministry bases what it believes concerning the God-ordained institution for doing His work upon the King James Bible. See, The Bible Doctrine of the Church. Mass confusion and disagreement on this and many other matters among “believers” is the order of the day in America.
  3. A common understanding of the Bible doctrine of government. See, The Bible Doctrine of Government.
  4. A common understanding of the Bible doctrine concerning the relationship of church and state. Catholicism, Protestantism, the Charimatic Movement, Pentecostalism, and others, believe in union of church and state. Historic Baptists, as does this ministry, believes that the Word of God supports separation of church and state. See, Bible Doctrine Concerning the Relationship of Church and State. For an explanation of the ongoing theological warfare between various beliefs, and a history of the persecutions of dissenters against Protestant/Catholic union of church and state, and other matters, see, The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/A Case of Premeditated Murder: Christian Revisionists on Trial.

Our Lord knew that unity would be impossible in this present age. His Word makes this clear. Forgive me for not giving you more Bible authority to support this conclusion; I think I have given you enough information to consider as you move forward. I am sure that you understand, after reading this response, that this ministry helps New Testament Churches under Christ only; and not other extra-Biblical organizations.

God bless.
Brother Jerald Finney

P.S.

2 Corinthians 10:5 “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”

Colossians 2:6-8 “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”


Endnote

[i] Ephesians was written to the local church at Ephesus, and the principles therein are applicable for every local church under Christ.

Ephesians 4:11-16: “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

More lies of “Christian” law firms and lawyers concerning church organization

Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 11, 2020

See, for analysis of more lies:
False Reasons of “Christian” Lawyers and Pastors for Corporate,
501(c)(3) Status, or Legal Status of Any Kind

“This article [in the Constitution of Massachusetts] was drawn by [a] great lawyer; and men of that profession are interested in supporting religious teachers by force as really as any men in the world; for a great part of their gains come by controversies about religion; and when teachers and lawyers are in confederacy together, they will make words to mean any thing which they please.” Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), pp. 328-329. Backus was a Baptist leader who fought against religious establishments (church incorporation) during the colonial period and the years following the adoption of the United States Constitution.

“Christian” lawyers are still lying about facts, law, and history to support unholy union of church and state.

Here are some statements of “Christian” lawyers asked by pastors about establishing a “trust” relationship with property (includes money) so as to keep a church under Christ alone according to New Testament Church doctrine. The conclusions of those lawyers are first quoted in red. Then, each conclusion is requoted followed by a correct legal analysis of their conclusion:

  1. “A church may organize as a trust.”
  2. “No legal or religious reason mandates that legal form of governance [charitable trust].”
  3. “The church is a co-equal sovereign to the government. This position responded to the state-sponsored churches frequently seen in Europe. The early settlers did not want government involved in religion. Churches could not incorporate without becoming subordinate to the government or an instrument of the state. So churches were organized as charitable trusts. In the 1800s, various states began allowing churches to incorporate. Virginia did not allow churches to incorporate until 2006.”
  4. “When the income tax arrived, Congress mandated that churches become tax exempt simply because they are churches. Qualifying charitable trusts are treated as tax-exempt just as a nonprofit corporation under income tax laws. So a church organized as a trust is automatically tax exempt under Section 508 and described in Section 501(c)(3). Organizing as a charitable trust does not avoid classification as a Section 501(c)(3) organization.”
  5. “If the goal is to operate outside of Section 501(c)(3) requirements, nothing prevents a church from organizing as a for-profit entity.” Christian lawyers have assisted pastors in creating such churches. They claim that this is the only other option for a church.”
  6. “Organizing as a trust creates more problems than it solves. For example, trusts are governed by a state statute, just as nonprofit corporations are governed by state statute. In both cases, they are subordinate to the state statutes. In most states, charitable trusts can only amend the trust instrument with state AG and court permission. If charitable immunity exists in a state, the question exists whether it applies to charitable trusts. The fiduciary duty that a trustee owes is higher and more stringent than the fiduciary duty owned by a corporate director. In other words, a charitable trust is not the ideal entity.”
  7. “Corporation sole is an entity recognized in 7 states. It is commonly used by the Mormon and Catholic faiths for their Office of Bishop. The remaining 43 states treat the Office of Bishop as a charitable trust. Corporation sole is frequently listed among the top 5 fraudulent tax schemes. Currently, about 20 Catholic Dioceses have converted to nonprofit corporations in light of sexual misconduct judgments. The Catholics have exposed the weakness of organizing as charitable trusts.”
  8. “I do not think a church subordinates itself to the state by forming a nonprofit Corporation. I do not think Section 501(c)(3) is unbiblical.”

The legal conclusions above are repeated below in red. The correct legal analyses of those conclusions follow in black.

  1. “A church may organize as a trust.”

Correct legal analysis:

Yes, a church may organize as a trust, but a church should not organize as any kind of legal entity, including as a charitable or business trust. By organizing as a trust, a church submits herself to the law of the state of organization since charitable and business trusts and some other types of trusts are creatures of state law. Like an incorporated church, that church has given up much of her First Amendment protection in favor of Fourteenth Amendment status; that church has placed an authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ over the church for many matters.

However, a church can establish a common law trust, which is a relationship with money and property, whereby an appointed trustee holds the trust estate for the benefit of the beneficiary who is the true owner of all money and other property in the trust estate. The beneficiary is the Lord Jesus Christ. When this is done, the church is not organizing as a trust, and the church remains a spiritual entity, under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ only, as long as she does not make mistakes which compromise her status under Christ only. The church retains all her First Amendment protections. She is under God only, not under God and man. Unlike the established church who has submitted herself to an authority or authorities other than the Lord Jesus Christ, she is a law keeper not a law breaker. She honors both God and man. Many American churches are doing this very thing right now; contact this ministry for proof.

See, The Church Bible Trust Relationship Explained and How a Church Can Nullify Her Efforts to Remain Under Christ Only, How a Church Can Organize to Remain a New Testament Church (Holding Property In Trust For God Is A Scriptural Principle Recognized by American Law) What God Has Committed to Man’s Trust: “Ye Cannot Serve God and Mammon”: Steward or Trustee?, and the other articles linked to at The Bible Trust Relationship: Essays and Other Resources, which explain the common law trust relationship.

  1. “No legal or religious reason mandates that legal form of governance.”

Correct legal analysis:

True, but incomplete. To be correct, the statement should include:

  • No legal or religious reason mandates any legal form of governance for a church. Legal forms of governance include charitable trust, business trust, incorporation, unincorporated association, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508 status.
  • According to Bible doctrine, a church does not remain under Christ alone should that church organize under man’s law; that is, should she submit to a legal form of governance; “Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21; Mark 22:17; Luke 22:25).
  • Churches under Christ are under His authority alone. Churches under man are, at best, partially under man and partially under Christ. “Come out from among them and be ye separate” (2 Corinthians 6:14-17). “You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).” See, e.g., Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities; Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study or Romans 13 and Related Verses
  • The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions, protect churches who wish to remain outside of both federal and state laws such as Internal Revenue Code tax exemption law, state non-profit corporation law, charitable trust law, etc. The First Amendment religion clause separates church and state. The First Amendment separates church and state, not God and state. For explanation see, Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?
  • One way for a church to remain separate from civil law is by establishing an irrevocable common law trust, which is nothing more than a relationship with money and property whereby a trustee manages the trust estate owned by the beneficiary, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the true owner of the trust estate.
  • This type of trust is not the church, and the church is not the trust. A church who establishes this type of trust relationship is not a legal entity, as long as she does not do something which nullifies the status of the church as a non-legal entity. See, The Church Bible Trust Relationship Explained and How a Church Can Nullify Her Efforts to Remain Under Christ Only.
  • Banks, which open accounts for these type of trusts, usually send the trust documents to their legal departments for examination prior to opening the trust account. All trusts established by churches with the help of this Churches under Christ Ministry, have opened trust bank accounts. All real estate properties, held in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ, have been and are granted property tax exemption, usually without much trouble from the local property tax board. In two instances, there was trouble, but the trusts prevailed, one in court and one in the agency process, and the real estate got property tax exemption. Property tax exemption is a courtesy given churches, without rules or regulations, by all states since the beginning of this nation, and strengthens rather than diminishes religious freedom. See, Walz v. Tax Comm’n, 397 U.S. 664,, 676-680, 90 S.Ct. 1409, 1415, 25 L.Ed.2d 697 (1970).

See, The Indiana Board of Tax Review Determines that Property Held in Trust for the Lord Jesus Christ Must Be Granted Property Tax Exemption. The trustee, on behalf of the trust, prevailed in the agency process provided for by Indiana law. Links to video of the agency hearing and the FINAL DETERMINATION OF THE INDIANA BOARD OF TAX REVIEW.

See also, Another Victory for a Church under Christ. A local property tax board denied the property tax exemption on the property owned by the Lord Jesus Christ, and held in trust by the Pastor/Trustee who had a fiduciary duty to manage the Trust Estate, which included the meetinghouse and the land it was on for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true owner of the property. Other property in the Trust Estate includes a bank account, liability insurance, and personal property. In Minnesota, the only recourse is court action. The trust prevailed and the property tax exemption was granted, without trial, after a court petition was filed, motions were entered, and oral argument was made by the parties. The redacted written motion for the petitioner (trustee on behalf of the trust) can be viewed at, PETITIONER’S RESPONSE TO RESPONDENT’S MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF SUMMARY JUDGMENT AND MEMORANDUM IN SUPPORT OF PETITIONER’S CROSS-MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT” (This response was drafted by Jerald Finney).

For much more information on the common law trust used, see, https://jeraldfinney.com/; The Bible Trust Relationship: Essays and Other Resources.

  1. “The church is a co-equal sovereign to the government. This position responded to the state-sponsored churches frequently seen in Europe. The early settlers did not want government involved in religion. Churches could not incorporate without becoming subordinate to the government or an instrument of the state. So churches were organized as charitable trusts. In the 1800s, various states began allowing churches to incorporate. Virginia did not allow churches to incorporate until 2006.”

Correct legal analysis:

The only correct statement in this legal position is the last sentence, “Virginia did not allow churches to incorporate until 2006.” All before that statement is so ridiculous that only a functional illiterate on the subject would either state it or give it any merit. It is totally antithetical to history, to American law, and to what the Bible teaches concerning church and civil government. It is fraught with lies.

In the church state establishments, in Europe prior to and for some time after the colonization of America, the established (incorporated) churches worked hand in hand with the government for the same spiritual and political goals. The church/state establishments enforced all ten of the commandments. Usually dissenters were severely persecuted or killed. Most of the colonies had established churches. These church/state establishments continued to persecute dissenters.

During the American colonial period, a great theological battle, between established (incorporated) churches and dissenters, took place during the period between the arrival of the Anglicans in Jamestown in 1607 and the Puritans in Massachusetts in 1629, and the adoption of the First Amendment to the Constitution in 1791. These establishments enforced all ten commandments and persecuted dissenters. Puritans, for example, wanted freedom of religion for themselves only and relentlessly persecuted dissenters. The result of that spiritual warfare between the establishments and the dissenters led to the adoption of the First Amendment.

The established churches (incorporated churches) in the colonies controlled the state to one degree or another. On the other hand, contemporary established churches (incorporated, charitable trust, 501(c)(3) or 508 churches, etc.) in America have no control over the state whatsoever, but are subject to the law of incorporation under which they became established; the state is the creator and sovereign of the incorporated church for many purposes; 501(c)(3) and 508 churches have no authority over the federal government, but rather they agree to the government rules and regulations that come with the status they voluntarily apply for. The IRS has authority over churches who choose to ask for 501(c)(3) or claim 508 status as to those rules. The IRS can call a church in for violation of those rules, subject to agency hearing and appeal to federal court.

For documented history, see, The History of the First Amendment; see also, Course on History of Religious Freedom (History of the First Amendment).

For more on incorporation see, Is it illegal for a church in America not to incorporate? Does a church have to be a 501c3?; What does church, inc. mean?; Who Is the head of an incorporated church?; Does God Care if our Church is Incorporated? What is an established church?;  What is a First Amendment Church? For more on 501(c)(3) and 508, see What is 501c3?; What is 508?; Should a Church Be a 508 Church?; For answers to other relevant questions, see, Short Answers to Important Questions.

God ordained civil government as well as the institution of the church and church government. He gave civil government jurisdiction over temporal, worldly matters. He gave church government over eternal, spiritual matters. The two are so distinct that they are mutually exclusive. See, The Biblical Doctrine of Government, The Biblical Doctrine of the Church, and The Biblical Doctrine of Separation of Church and State; for shorter, more concise studies, go to Bible Doctrine of Government, Bible Doctrine of the Church, Bible Doctrine Concerning the Relationship of Church and State.

  1. “When the income tax arrived, Congress mandated that churches become tax exempt simply because they are churches. Qualifying charitable trusts are treated as tax-exempt just as a nonprofit corporation under income tax laws. So a church organized as a trust is automatically tax exempt under Section 508 and described in Section 501(c)(3). Organizing as a charitable trust does not avoid classification as a Section 501(c)(3) organization.”

Correct legal analysis:

A church is not tax-exempt just because it is a church. A church can, if she chooses to do so, apply for 501(c)(3) or claim 508(c)(1)(A) status. A church which does not apply for 501(c)(3) or claim 508(c)(1)(A) status is non-taxable under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The acceptance of the federal governments offer for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status is accepted by filling out and filing IRS Form 1023 and by thereafter (after tax exempt status is granted by the Internal Revenue Service) giving out Internal Revenue Service Acknowledgements for gifts to the religious organization. The federal government’s offer of 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status is accepted by giving out Internal Revenue Acknowledgements to donors, and by complying with the rules and regulations that come with 501(c(3).

The income tax “arrived” in 1913. Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) “arrived” (became law) in 1954. Before 1954, there was no tax exempt status for churches and therefore no rules that go with such status. The federal government offered tax exempt status for churches; and in return, churches who accepted the offer, for such status, agreed to go by the rules and regulations that come with the status.

Unlike the unincorporated non-tax exempt church who retains all her First Amendment protections, an incorporated and/or 501(c)(3) or 508 church (or church organized legally in some other way) has given up much or her First Amendment protections. The former is nontaxable, the latter is tax exempt.

The church under Christ, who rejects any kind of legal organization, retains all her First Amendment protections including her nontaxable status. There is a great difference between tax exempt status and nontaxable status. Only legal entities are tax exempt. First Amendment churches (churches under the authority of the First Amendment only) are nontaxable. The Internal Revenue Code applies to legal entities. The First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions are the only laws which apply to a church who has chosen not to become a legal entity. Without a law taxing any church, or even a particular legal entity, no tax can be exacted by civil government.

The religion clause of the First amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” All taxation is created and controlled by a law made by civil government. Should a church remain under the First Amendment only, she has not submitted to any man made law. The First Amendment guarantees that government cannot force a church to submit to any man made law. Internal Revenue Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508 are man-made laws.

Churches who choose to become legal entities such as non-profit corporations, charitable trusts, business trusts, unincorporated associations, and/or 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(1) religious organizations render unto Caesar the things that are God’s.

The Internal Revenue Code invites churches to apply for 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) status. See, e.g.:

501(c)(3) status comes with four rules which those who voluntarily apply for, and are granted the status, agree to abide by:

  • Internal Revenue Code Publication 1828, 2019, page 2. (This portion of Pub. 1828 simply repeats the rules that are stated in IRC § 501(c)(3)) “Churches and religious organizations, like many other charitable organizations, qualify for exemption from federal income tax under IRC Section 501(c)(3) and are generally eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. To qualify for tax-exempt status, the organization must meet the following requirements (covered in greater detail throughout this publication): the organization must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific or other charitable purposes; net earnings may not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder; no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation; the organization may not intervene in political campaigns; and the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.”

Churches that claim Internal Revenue Code § 508(c) status are subject to the rules and regulations that come with 501(c)(3) status. The correct position which is held by the Internal Revenue Service is that a church has submitted herself to IRC § 501(c)(3) regulation and ignored her First Amendment status by relying on 508 (a law passed by Congress) instead of the First Amendment. The IRS makes this position clear:

  • Page 2 of IRS Publication 1828states that “churches that meet the requirements of § 501(c)(3) [508 churches] are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS” [Bold emphasis added].
  • The IRS repeats this on page 24 of IRS Publication 557, “Tax –Exempt Status for Your Organization.” Under Organizations Not Required To File Form 1023 churches are listed. The following sentence is included: “These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3).” [Bold, red emphasis added.]
  • See, Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status for thorough explanation.

No law mandates that a church apply for 501(c)(3) status or claim 508 status. Such status, as shown above, is a choice a church freely chooses to make, not a requirement. A church may choose to accept the government offer for tax exempt status or remain non-taxable under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Congress did not mandate that churches become tax exempt, under either Section 501(c)(3) or 508, for any reason, including “simply because they are churches”: the Internal Revenue Service understands this and states in IRS Publication 1828, page 2:

  • “Although there is no requirement to do so, many churches seek recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS because this recognition assures church leaders, members and contributors that the church is recognized as exempt and qualifies for related tax benefits. For example, contributors to a church that has been recognized as tax exempt would know that their contributions generally are tax-deductible.”

501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status not only come with five government imposed rules, such status also invokes a myriad of regulations. See, e.g., Publication 557 (01/2019), Tax-Exempt Status for Your OrganizationApplication for Recognition of ExemptionExempt Organizations Treasury RegulationsCharities and Nonprofits A-Z Site Index (F-J)Exempt Organization Revenue RulingsPub. 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations (PDF)Common Tax Law Restrictions on Activities of Exempt OrganizationsExempt Organizations – Ruling and Determinations LettersrExempt Organizations – Private Letter Rulings and Determination LettersExempt Organizations AnnouncementsAnnual Filing Requirements for Supporting OrganizationsExempt Organizations NoticesPublic Disclosure and Availability of Exempt Organizations Returns: Copies of Exempt Organizations Tax DocumentsExempt Organization Revenue ProceduresExempt Organizations UpdateExempt Organizations – Employment TaxesThe Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments – Section IITermination of Exempt Organization(“… Internal Revenue Code Section 6043(b) and Treasury Regulations Section 1.6043-3 establish rules for when a tax-exempt organization must notify the IRS that it has undergone a liquidation, dissolution, termination, or substantial contraction. Generally, most organizations must notify the IRS when they terminate. Among other things, notice to the IRS of a termination will close the organization’s account in IRS records. …);

  1. “If the goal is to operate outside of Section 501(c)(3) requirements, nothing prevents a church from organizing as a for-profit entity. Christian lawyers have assisted pastors in creating such churches. They claim that this is the only other option for a church.”

Correct legal analysis:

This statement should cause great distress to the knowledgeable believer who loves the Lord. See, A Call to Anguish: Churches Reject God’s Authority (November 21, 2017)(The real meaning of church 501(c)(3) application and status emphasized in analysis of new article: “A New Religion Forms That Will Worship A ‘Godhead’ Based on AI”).

The statement is utterly ridiculous. It defies reason that one who is depended upon for learned counsel, a “Christian” lawyer, would claim that a church can organize as a for-profit entity as the only alternative to seeking 501(c)(3) status. Anyone who would recommend that a church, who names the name of Christ, should organize in such a manner is completely devoid of any understanding of Bible teaching on the New Testament Church.

Becoming a for-profit entity is not the only other option. A church can organize according to New Testament Church doctrine while, at the same time, honoring the Bible principle of separation of church and state and the highest law of the land, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as corresponding state constitutional provisions.

Of course, a church can organize as a for-profit entity. However:

  • Such churches are not New Testament Churches. They are not churches under Christ. They are churches only in the sense that they are assemblies of people coming together for some purpose or purposes. Christ stated that He would build His churches (ekklesias, assemblies)(Mt. 16.18). He knew that there were already “churches,” assemblies of people, “ekklesias.” He knew that some counterfeit assemblies would give lip service to His name and to His Word. Therefore, He said He would build His church. Assemblies, not built by our Lord, are not His.

The Epistles of Paul lay out the doctrine of the church, to include organization, purpose, headship, and all other matters concerning churches under Christ. Churches built by Christ are under the authority of Christ alone (See the New Testament, Ephesians 1.22; Colossians 1:18, etc.).

Fake churches displease our Lord. They are, at best, in God’s permissive will as opposed to His perfect will. They grieve our Lord when they honor Him with their lips, but their heart is far from Him (Ephesians 5:25-27; The Love Relationship between Christ and His Churches as Depicted in Song of Solomon; Christ and His Churches: A Love Story). ). A church organized as a for-profit entity is not in God’s perfect or permissive will. They “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power [authority] thereof: from such turn away” (2 Timothy 3:5). “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.” They abandon truth (1 Timothy 3:15). “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel” (Colossians 1:5). “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

See, The Question that Changed My Life by David Ryser (This article states, in part: “Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise.’

“Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old–barely out of diapers–and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, ‘An enterprise. That’s a business.’ After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha’s raised hand, ‘Yes, Martha.’ She asked such a simple question, ‘A business? But isn’t it supposed to be a body?’ I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, ‘Yes.’ She continued, ‘But when a body becomes a business, isn’t that a prostitute?’ …”).

  1. “Organizing as a trust creates more problems than it solves. For example, trusts are governed by a state statute, just as nonprofit corporations are governed by state statute. In both cases, they are subordinate to the state statutes. In most states, charitable trusts can only amend the trust instrument with state AG and court permission. If charitable immunity exists in a state, the question exists whether it applies to charitable trusts. The fiduciary duty that a trustee owes is higher and more stringent than the fiduciary duty owned by a corporate director. In other words, a charitable trust is not the ideal entity.”

Correct legal analysis:

When a church establishes a common law trust, she has not organized as a trust. A common law trust is not created, governed by, or subordinate to state statute. See “1.” above.

All 50 states have adopted the Uniform Trust Code. The UTC governs charitable trusts and business trusts, among other types of trusts. However, the UTC recognizes the common law trust which is not a creation of state law, but which is recognized by state law. See, for explanation, How a Church Can Organize to Remain a New Testament Church (Holding Property In Trust For God Is A Scriptural Principle Recognized by American Law).

The organizational documents, which many churches in America have adopted, establishes a trust relationship with property and spell out many matters in much detail. The documents make clear that the relationship being created is that of a common law trust, not a charitable or business trust; that charitable and business trusts are legal entities and that a church who organizes as any kind of legal entity has violated Bible principle by choosing to become a legal entity, etc. See, Documents which Establish a Church under Christ. For more essays on the common law trust relationship see, The Bible Trust Relationship: Essays and Other Resources.

  1. “‘Corporation sole’ is an entity recognized in 7 states. It is commonly used by the Mormon and Catholic faiths for their Office of Bishop. The remaining 43 states treat the Office of Bishop as a charitable trust. ‘Corporate sole’ is frequently listed among the top 5 fraudulent tax schemes. Currently, about 20 Catholic Dioceses have converted to nonprofit corporations in light of sexual misconduct judgments. The Catholics have exposed the weakness of organizing as charitable trusts.”

Correct legal analysis:

I am familiar with the corporation sole scheme and have exposed it in the online booklet Critique of “Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole” website. Some of the links to online webpages and webposts in that booklet may no longer be good, but the facts have not changed.

  1. “I do not think a church subordinates itself to the state by forming a nonprofit Corporation. I do not think Section 501(c)(3) is unbiblical.”

Correct legal analysis:

God is not interested in what a lawyer thinks. He is interested in what His Word says. This lawyer’s thinking is human thinking with no knowledge, understanding, and wisdom of the Word of God, law, and history. It is the product of postmodernism. Postmodernism starts with an answer and seeks confirmation of that answer rather than truth. Postmodern truth is created by rhetoric which no one has a right to challenge since all “truths” are to be tolerated; all truths, that is, except the intolerable, that which says there is only one truth. Of course, postmodernism is not new. It was instituted in the Garden of Eden by Satan where Satan first deceived man. Satan’s techniques have not changed.

“Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me.  For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:1-3).

The reference to Eve, in the above passage, is not accidental, for Eve was a type of the church. As God wanted Eve to remain pure, so He wants His churches to remain chaste virgins. Eve was deceived by lies from Satan—lies which were directly contrary to God’s Word. She was deceived about a simple truth. At the time, she needed no salvation. She was destined for a life in paradise on earth and for eternity. She gave up that earthly paradise and polluted herself because she followed the deception. Just as her deviation from God’s Word had far reaching consequences for her, for Adam, and for every person who has ever lived, the deception of God’s churches has and will lead to dire consequences not only for those churches, but also for millions of people who hear God’s truth, but are like “stony ground,” where the Word of God will not take root and grow.

The tempter would always have us claim God’s promises without regarding His precepts, “which is the practice the tempter would have drawn our Saviour into.” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England …, Volume 2, p. 254 ). The first Adam failed when Satan approached and deceived Eve by misquoting the Word of God. The second Adam, our Lord Jesus Christ, showed us how to face the deceptions of the devil. Satan approached Him in the wilderness where Christ had gone “to be tempted of the devil” (See Matthew 4.1-11; Mark 1.12, 13; Luke 4.1-13). After Christ had fasted forty days and nights, Satan came to him with a threefold temptation. (Ibid.). First, Satan said to Christ, “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4.3). This was a physical temptation. The Bible calls this type of temptation the “lust of the flesh:”

  • “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. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.” (I John 2.15-17; see also, J. Vernon McGee, Matthew, Volume I (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, revised printing 1980), p. 49).

Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy 8.3: “It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4.4).

Then, Satan tested the Lord by taking him into the holy city, setting him on the pinnacle of the temple and inaccurately quoting Psalm 91.11 and 12: “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and in their hands they shall bear thee up, lest at any time thou dash thy foot against a stone.” (Matthew 4.5, 6; see also, J. Vernon McGee, Matthew, Volume I, (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), p. 49). This was the “spiritual temptation.” For Eve it was that she saw the fruit was “to be desired to make one wise.” For the Christian, it is the “pride of life.” (McGee, Matthew, Volume 1, p. 49). Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6.16: “It is written again, Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God.” (Matthew 4.7).

Finally, Satan tested the Lord by taking Him “up into an exceeding high mountain, and [showing] him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, [and saying] unto him, All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.” (Matthew 4.8, 9). “This, you see, was the psychological temptation. Man lusts for power. Eve was subjected to the same temptation: ‘ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.’ (Genesis 3.5). Many of us succumb to this test.” (McGee, Matthew, Volume 1, p. 50). Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6.13 and 10.20: “… Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” (Matthew 4.10).

Thus, Jesus demonstrated to Christians how to confront the devil: quote the Word of God accurately. This author, contrary to the route taken by most “Christian” lawyers, will attempt to point out the scriptural, not the legal, principles governing the issues and doctrines discussed. He will discuss laws and/or caselaw insofar as they are applicable to and/or comply with or deviate from those principles. The Bible, not the laws, statutes, regulations, executive orders, and cases handed down by the civil government, is the supreme authority which sets the standards which a church is to follow.


The 501(c)(3) Song


See the links to information on church incorporation and 501(c)(3) above. See also, e.g.:

Links to informative articles concerning the common law trust:

How does my church get out of the Southern Baptist Convention?

February 6, 2020

Question Presented

On Wednesday, February 5, 2020, 11:35:38 AM CST, __________________________.com> wrote:

Hi Mr. Finney,

Do you know if my church needs to do anything other than writing a letter to the Southern Baptist to get out of their organization?


NOTE. After a couple more back and forth e-mails (in which the inquirer also said he did not know if his church was 501c3, I sent the following reply:

My Reply

Jerald Finney jerald.finney@sbcglobal.net To:____________________________ Feb 6 at 4:36 PM

Dear ___________________________,

First, would you like to be put on the ministry mailing list? If so, please reply to this e-mail.

Before we talk, please answer the following questions:

  • Does your church wish to organize according to the principles of New Testament church doctrine?
  • Do you want the help of this ministry in doing so?
  • If you want the help of this ministry in doing so, please carefully read the following and the webpages referred to thereon: Need Help?

There are no charges for the services of this Churches under Christ Ministry. See, Policies, Procedures, and Guidelines.

After carefully considering the above questions and if you wish the help of this ministry, we can go on to the issue of withdrawing from the SBC as well as  the church 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and other related matters. To address those matters, I will need to see your church organizational papers and also any documents related to your SBC membership. Can you please do that research and send me any such documents? Also, you will need to determine if your church is incorporated and/or 501(c)(3)? Does the church give IRS acknowledgements for gifts (tithes, offerings, etc.)?

Before having some basic facts, I cannot do more than speculate – a waste or your time and my time.

God bless.

Brother Jerald Finney

Cross dressing Teachers in “Christian” Schools in Virginia? Questions Answered Regarding the Article “Liberty Counsel: New VA LGBTQ Bill Would Mean Baptist Schools Can’t Fire Cross-Dressing Teachers”

Original Email with Questions

On Friday, January 31, 2020, 08:24:30 AM CST, ________________________________________  wrote:

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/us/2020/january/va-lgbtq-bill-would-mean-baptist-schools-can-still-hire-baptists-but-cross-dressing-teachers-cant-be-fired

Good day brother Finney, and may our Heavenly Father continue dispensing His grace and blessings upon you & the work of the BLC!

I sent the above news link, because this stuff taking place right now in Virginia. So I was wondering if this could potentially represent the “test case” circumstances for “churches” and/or “religious organizations,” about which you’d mentioned awhile ago re: a case of this nature eventually moving up the appellate ladder, to SCOTUS?

Though I do correctly realize [I hope], thanks to your instruction, that 501©(3) “religious schools” will have no choice but to comply [or else?], due to the Bob Jones University standard, i.e., “5. the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy,” stated in “God Betrayed” [chapter 4], Federal Control of Churches through 501©(3 Tax Exemption.

Your profoundly esteemed insight into this would be of inestimable value brother Finney – if you can ever find time to respond? As always, thanks so very much for all you’re doing for our “Great God and Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,” and His soon-coming Messianic Kingdom!

Gratefully,
_______________________

My Reply

On Fri, Jan 31, 2020 at 12:17 PM, Jerald Finney <jerald.finney@sbcglobal.net> wrote:

Dear Brother ___________________,

Thanks for sending the link.

It could be a test case should a Church School refuse to hire a homosexual. I would have to do a lot of research to develop all arguments I could come up with if representing such a School. As you know, I would not help most such schools or churches since most or all such churches and schools are a business more than a church. Most are incorporated, 501(c)(3) or 5089c)(1)(A) organizations.

As government created organizations, churches and “church schools” have agreed that their authority for many matters are the state government from whom they sought and received non-profit corporation status and the federal government from whom they sought and received tax exempt status. They name the name of God but deny the authority thereof. Most churches with church schools admit children of both lost and saved parents, many or most admit students whether their parents are church members or not, few enforce any Bible standards for the parents, etc. In short, the churches are not really close to the New Testament model for the local church. My experience is that the church school is necessary to the survival of the church. 

So these churches have already abandoned the Bible doctrine of separation by joining hands with the the state or the world in most of what they do. Yet, now they want to force separation in this one matter. They are hypocrites.

As you know, we have foreseen what was coming. I put this note in the first article I posted on the website in 2009,  The Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme (September 2009)

  • “Note. The sodomites understand what 501(c)(3) for churches means, yet pastors and other Christians continue to ignore the issue because they, like lepers to whom the leprosy has spread to the head, have ‘their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciciousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness’ (Ephesians 4.18-19).  Here is a link to a sodomite article on the issue: ‘Equality is what we’re all about in Maine” (110518: Checked link; link is no longer active).” 

Some other articles which look at the issue of hiring sodomites, lesbians, etc.:

The lawyers will make all the legal arguments they can come up with. It will be interesting to see how this turns out.

God bless,
 Brother Jerald

His follow-up Email:

On Friday, January 31, 2020, 12:14:13 PM CST, ______________________________________ wrote:

Thank you Mr. Finney,

But I do have one very serious “burden” on my heart in this particular situation: 

May our sovereign Heavenly Father, somehow choreograph the necessary circumstances whereby YOU – a former “distinguished litigator with the ADF” – could acquire their UNdivided attention ASAP, in order to “lead” all these so-called “Christian” schools & churches in Virginia and elsewhere [ADF included] into genuine wholesale repentance, of this egregious SIN of 501(c)(3) spiritual harlotry, greed, idolatry etc. (i.e., Jeremiah 5:30-31)

Please forgive me, if this doesn’t resonate within you either; as my prayer is simply due to the “sense” I’ve had lately, of 1 Peter 4:17-18 inexorably approaching what’s been “post-Christian” God Bless America, for quite some time now. (e.g., Isaiah 5:20; Hosea 8:7)

God bless ya brother!
__________________________

My Reply to his follow-up Email

Jerald Finney jerald.finney@sbcglobal.net To:______________________ Jan 31 at 12:48 PM

Dear Brother ______________________________,

If God cannot get their attention, no one can. My website publishes all the information needed to get the attention of and inform churches and believers in America as to the truth. The churches and believers in Virginia who compromise the Lord’s church do not want the truth. The ADF and other “Christian” firms and lawyers reject the truth about these matters. They will give no ear to the truth about these matters.

God is in control. These things can vex a child of God. But let not your mind be troubled. God is in control. He always has a remnant who seek to love, please, and glorify Him.

Each of us can do what He has called us to do as we observe consequences according to His will.

God bless,
 Brother Finney 

Can a Pro Life Ministry get state benefits without obtaining 501c3 status as a requirement for receiving the benefits?

Dear Mr Finney,
I do volunteer work at the ____________ Pregnancy Resource Center in _________________. ____________________________ Church has started this center a couple of years ago and they are now looking into separating from under the church which is a 501c3 and become independent and more on there own. They want to form a board to oversee this organization and to receive state tax revenue and tax credits with Arizona. To do that we are told to become a 501C3. My question to you is do we have to do that to get the tax benefits that the state of Arizona has to offer? I do not want to become a 501C3. So I’m searching other avenues to see how we can go about this and get the best benefits we can. I truly believe we need to give it to God and let Him provide for all our needs. I think we have lost our dependence on God and look to the government to much for support.
I did want to do my research and look at all of our options before hand.
Thank you for your expertise and support.
Sincerely,
______________________
My Reply
Dear Ms. ______________________________________,
Thanks for your inquiry. Because I love the Lord and love you, I must answer your inquiry honestly.
This ministry helps churches organize under Christ alone according to New Testament principles. An incorporated 501c3 or 508c1A church such as ______________________ is not a church under Christ alone and therefore violates New Testament church doctrine. God ordained his churches to do His spiritual work. He ordained no other organization. He makes clear His Word that His churches are under Him and Him alone, under His authority and His authority alone. They are to organize and operate in all matters according to New Testament principles. An incorporated 501c3 church is under the authority of both the state and federal government for many purposes.
All ministry, in the Bible sense, is to be out of a local, autonomous, New Testament church under Christ: For example, the book of Ephesians presents the local church under Christ as a spiritual body. I suggest a reading of Ephesians 4. I present here a few verses out of that chapter:
Ephesians 4:11-16:  “11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” [Red bold emphasis added]
See the following for a study of the Book of Ephesians and other New Testament books regarding the doctrine of the church: Bible Studies: The Doctrine of the Church.
I explain all the Bible principles, historical facts, and legal considerations in my online essays, articles, and books.

New Testament guidelines for churches do not apply either to other types of organizations or to churches who have willfully or ignorantly become legal entities (corporations, charitable trusts, business trusts, unincorporated associations, 501c3 or 508c1A tax exempt organizations, etc.). Of course, people and organizations can do temporal good outside the parameters of a church. However, this ministry is not called, nor does it have the time and resources, to work outside its calling. In the past I have devoted a lot of free help and time to Christian sidewalk counselors who have been falsely accused of crimes as a result of their efforts on behalf of the unborn and legal research on behalf of that cause. See Murdering Unborn Babiesand resources linked to on that.

See also: Murdering Unborn Babies; Abortion Counselor Tried for Crime: Court Briefs and Decision; Articles, Sermons, Etc. on Murdering Unborn Babies; Jury Nullification

All my services for the cause of the unborn (and the cause of individual fathers and mothers, the fight for the primary institution ordained by God) were a gift to my Lord. I was encumbered with no rules to impede my efforts.
A good question for you is this: “Why are you concerned with a worldly organization staying outside 501c3?” Obviously, God’s provisions are not sufficient for what you wish to do, so you wish to obtain state help without complying with state rules for obtaining that help. You do not wish to abide by the rule of the state that you get 501c3 status in order to get the benefits. You want the benefit without agreeing to the state requirement for 501c3 status. You want a one-way contract whereby they give you something but you do not give them what they require. The state made an offer of contract. You can accept or you can make a counter offer. A contract requires concessions from both parties to the proposed contract. If they give you the benefits for nothing, it is not a contract, it is a gift from the state.
If you can negotiate for such a gift, then go for it. However, it is unlikely that they will agree to give you something for nothing, that they will agree to cancel the 501c3 status requirement for you.
I am curious. Do you desire the organization to do things forbidden 501c3 organizations (e.g., to take part in political activities, to have no restrictions on lobby, to hire straight people exclusively, etc.), and to avoid all the red tape that comes with that status? Is that the reason you oppose the 501c3 status requirement?
I hope this may be of some help to you.
God bless you as you seek to glorify Him according to His methods. Remember, the method matters to God.
Jerald
512-785-8445

The Chickens are Coming Home to Roost: Comments on Youtube Interview “Losing Tax Exemption Will Destroy the Church”/The impending consequences of church corporate tax exempt status: civil government denial of federal tax exemption, property tax exemption and other benefits: student loss of church owned properties, denial of student loans, the end of charitable hospital services, etc.

Jerald Finney
December 17, 2019

The chickens are indeed coming home to roost in America not only for  the apostate Babylonian Protestant and Catholic churches, but also for those so-called Bible believing, Bible preaching churches who have willingly or ignorantly ignored  and/or perverted New Testament doctrine, and especially the doctrine of separation of church and state. Of course, Catholicism, in the name of Christianity, initiated of union of church and state in the early fourth century. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas were particularly important in developing and promoting the doctrine of union of church and state and the Protestant churches followed suit and honored, among other false doctrines, the church/state doctrine of Augustine. Catholic and Protestant established churches accordingly imprisoned, tortured, and murdered fifty million or more so called “heretics” who refused to bow down to the Catholic and Protestant church state establishments. They lost control and cannot enforce that abominable doctrine in America and elsewhere for the time being.

In America, union of church and state is voluntary. Churches choose to incorporate, to become charitable or business trusts, to obtain 501(c)(3) or 508 tax exemption, to become unincorporated associations, or to combine with civil government in some other way.

This article will first give, in red, a synopsis of a 2015 interview with a Catholic who summarized what is in store for “churches” who have submitted to civil government.

Then, I well quote individual portions of the synopsis in red followed by my comments, usually linking to essays, books, articles and so forth that comment on the portions of the interview being quoted. My position is that of a Bible (KJB) believing historic Baptist, not that of a heretical Baptist who has accepted and applied the doctrine of union of church and state by subjecting churches to the state through corporate, unincorporated association, charitable or business trust, 501(c)(3) or 508 tax exempt status, or through any other type of legal status.

Should you wish to discuss this matter further informtion contact this Churches Under Christ Ministry. This ministry helps churches who wish to honor the Lord and remain under Christ only outside the Babylonian system. We can answer any and all questions regarding the issues raised by the Youtube interview linked to below. Some of those questions are addressed in resources linked to in this article. God bless you as you seek to follow Him and love him be keeping His commandments. Get our contact information by clicking here. 

The Endnote  briefly addresses his statements concerning the promise that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Catholic Church.[i]

Synopsis of 2015 interview “Tax Exemption Will Destroy the Church”
The interview may be seen online at at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqC1JloCw78&feature=youtu.be

He stated that for the Catholic Church this moves into the trillions (of dollars).

He then addresses concerns for the attacks of lesbians and sodomites who are attempting to force “churches” to honor their perverted beliefs and practices. Lesbians sued a Methodist church for refusing to let them use a church pavilion because it was against their religious convictions. The state ruled in favor of the lesbians and they lost part of their real estate exemption even though the church said they would stop marrying people. The state said, no you have to marry people. In California, they have introduced legislation to block youth organizations that don’t allow people in who claim that they have a gay sexual orientation and they are going to revoke tax exemption for those organizations. This was originally aimed at the Boys Scouts. Now that the Boys Scouts has caved in, it would now apply to Christian ministries that don’t want to hire gays or have openly gay students in those organizations. The tax exempt status is already being threatened. This is not just speculative. The man being interviewed said he started talking about this 10 years ago and people said he was exaggerating it and blowing it out of proportion, making political arguments about something that will never happen. Well indeed, it is happening. The solicitor general said during oral arguments in the Obergfell case (decided just a little over a month after this interview), Justice Alito when asked whether or not Christian organizations, Catholic universities for example, that don’t recognize same sex marital benefits are going to have their tax exempt status put in question and the Solicitor General said that will be an issue. If these universities lose their tax exempt status, the students are not going to be able to afford the tuition to go there because the universities are not going to be able to keep the tuition rates and they will probably lose their federal funding as well and students may not be able to get student loans to go there, and they are even challenging the accreditation of certain universities like Gordon College in Massachusetts which is a Christian University which told students that they cannot engage in pre-marital sex. A “gay” student sued saying you cannot tell gay students they cannot have sex. The threatened pulling their accreditation which means they won ‘t be able to issue degrees that are recognized as such.

So this threat which particularly when it comes to the tax exempt status, and a lot of the smaller churches are on shoestring budgets, a lot of the evangelical protestant churches. The Catholic Church will survive, we know we have the promise the gates of hell will not prevail against it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to continue to operate the way it always has.

I had lunch just the other day with the person who has charge of all the real estate for the archdiocese of Chicago which has thousands of very valuable properties The Catholic church has immense properties. [He] stated that the Catholic Church cannot continue to own and operate those properties if it has to pay property tax and that is just part of the taxes that come into play. If you pull non-profit status, that will be another huge problem that depend on those donations to survive. People who give depend on the tax deduction for donations.  It will be absolutely devastating if that occurs, and it will change the very nature of how these organizations operate if they can operate at all. And if they pull the services provided just by Catholic Charities which provides 25% of the hospital beds in the United States and which provide services to the poorest and  most needy who cannot otherwise get medical care; and the people fighting the Catholic Church really don’t care whether they are providing those services to the  most needy. For them it is all about ideology, not about the church going into the world exercising their faith, as the Catholic Church believes faith without works is dead. All they care about is pushing the agenda forward. There are going to be serious headlong battles on that. People need to speak up. When people speak up and become united, the politicians will step up and listen. We need to make a fuss and make sure the right people are elected so that they appoint the right judges. We can no longer stand on the sideline. We need to engage society. More importantly, we need to call upon the graces of our blessed Lord and blessed mother to help us in these battles because they are spiritual battles fought here on earth.

My comments on individual portions of the above interview

Note. Click the links cited below to go directly to the resource online.

1. He stated that for the Catholic Church this moves into the trillions (of dollars). To say the least. Catholicism has amassed tremendous wealth as directed and guided by Lucifer not Christ.

2. He first addresses concerns for the attacks of lesbians and sodomites who are attempting to force “churches” to honor their perverted beliefs and practices. Lesbians sued a Methodist church for refusing to let them use a church pavilion because it was against their religious convictions. The state ruled in favor of the lesbians and they lost part of their real estate exemption even though the church said they would stop marrying people. The state said, no you have to marry people. In California, they have introduced legislation to block youth organizations that don’t allow people in who claim that they have a gay sexual orientation and they are going to revoke tax exemption for those organizations. This was originally aimed at the Boys Scouts. Now that the Boys Scouts has caved in, it would now apply to Christian ministries that don’t want to hire gays or have openly gay students in those organizations.

The tax exempt status is already being threatened. This is not just speculative. The man being interviewed said he started talking about this 10 years ago and people said he was exaggerating it and blowing it out of proportion, making political arguments about something that will never happen. Well indeed, it is happening. The solicitor general said during oral arguments in the Obergfell case (decided just a little over a month after this interview), Justice Alito when asked whether or not Christian organizations, Catholic universities for example, that don’t recognize same sex marital benefits are going to have their tax exempt status put in question and the Solicitor General said that will be an issue. If these universities lose their tax exempt status, the students are not going to be able to afford the tuition to go there because the universities are not going to be able to keep the tuition rates and they will probably lose their federal funding as well and students may not be able to get student loans to go there, and they are even challenging the accreditation of certain universities like Gordon College in Massachusetts which is a Christian University which told students that they cannot engage in pre-marital sex. A “gay” student sued saying you cannot tell gay students they cannot have sex. The threatened pulling their accreditation which means they won ‘t be able to issue degrees that are recognized as such.

So this threat which particularly when it comes to the tax exempt status, and a lot of the smaller churches are on shoestring budgets, a lot of the evangelical protestant churches. The Catholic Church will survive, we know we have the promise the gates of hell will not prevail against it. But that doesn’t mean it’s going to continue to operate the way it always has.

The United States Supreme Court added a fifth rule to the IRC 501(c)(3) status in Bob Jones University, 461 U.S. 574, 578, 579, 580, 581, 582-583, 586-588, 588, 591 fn. 10, 595- 596, 602 fn 28, 603, 604, fn. 29 at 604 (1983). Read the whole story of that case as well as a thorough analysis of “Federal Government Control of Churches through 501(c)(3) and 508 tax exemption” and “The Incorporation 501(c)(3) Control Scheme” on pages 33-55 of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities (Click the link to go to the online PDF).You may find it helpful to browse the table of contents of that book which deals with church legal status such as incorporation, unincorporated association status, charitable trust status, 501(c)(3) and 508 status, false reasons given for church legal status, and more.

I have looked at various aspects of the tax exempt issue in the following resources:

As to church legal status through incorporation aggregate, the following resources will be helpful:

  1. THE HYPOCRISY OF PASTORS WHO ASK THEIR HIGHEST AUTHORITY TO OVERTURN LGBT NONDISCRIMINATION ORDINANCE(101218)
  2. First Amendment Protection of New Testament Churches/Federal Laws Protecting State Churches (Religious Organizations)(022610
  3. Is Separation Of Church And State Found In The Constitution? (020714)
  4. Corporation: A human being without a soul (072914)
  5. Critique of Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole Website(Booklet-2015)
  6. Je Suis Charlie Hebdo, by Ronald Rotunda, law professor. I received the link to this article from Texas Criminal Defense Attorney Network on 2/17/15. Very important article on speech and religion. Baptists, of all people, should stand for the right of anyone to criticize speech offensive to anyone, especially Muslims and other false religions.
  7. Will Churches in America Have a Choice about Sodomite Marriage: A short critique of the Article “Christian schools will have no choice about gay marriage: Column” as it relates to churches(052315)
  8. he Hierarchy of Law as it relates to sodomy and sodomite marriage(060115)
  9. The Republican Response to Obergefell – Wrong!!!!!!(070715)(Obergefell is the U.S.S.Ct. case legitimizing same sex marriage).
  10. The Proper Response by believers and churches to Obergefell, the United States Supreme Court same sex marriage decision(063015)
  11. Kicking someone out of church for speech, the state church versus the New Testament church, and Nicolaitism(011716)
  12. Legal Explanation of Incorporation of Churches (121012)
  13. Exposing or Silently Co-existing with False Teaching Causes Suffering and Persecution from Within and Without a Church (050217)
  14. An Informed Christian Response to the Article, “IRS Again Pressured To Hammer U.S. Churches” (102516)
  15. What is a Church under Christ (a New Testament Church), and What Upholds Her Integrity? (110217)
  16. The History and Meaning of “Establishment of Religion” in America(121817)
  17. ANSWER TO A BIBLE COLLEGE VICE-PRESIDENT’S ARTICLE ON CHURCH INCORPORATION: “TO INCORPORATE OR NOT TO INCORPORATE?
  18. The Bible Answer to the Question, “Is an Incorporated 501(c)(3) or 508 Church a Church of Christ?”
  19. Who Is the head of an incorporated church?(112817)
  20. What does church, inc. mean?(122217)
  21. Does God Care if our Church is Incorporated?(120117)
  22. Is it illegal for a church in America not to incorporate? Does a church have to be a 501c3?(112817)
  23. What is a legal entity?(120817)
  24. What is a Spiritual entity?(120817)
  25. What is 508?(120817)
  26. What is 501c3?(120817)
  27. What is a First Amendment Church?(120117)
  28. What is an established church?(120417)
  29. What is the History and Meaning of “Establishment of Religion” in America?(121817)
  30. What is the history of the First Amendment?(121817)
  31. Church Members are approaching their pastors about church corporate 501c3 status, some are leaving churches who refuse to repent of that status, and some are seeking to communicate with their pastors about the matter!(090619)

For an analysis of the corporation sole, see: Critique of “Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole” Website (The links to the Church Freedom and Corporation Sole Website may no longer be valid, but the principles in the booklet are accurate.)

3. I had lunch just the other day with the person who has charge of all the real estate for the archdiocese of Chicago which has thousands of very valuable properties The Catholic church has immense properties. [He] stated that the Catholic Church cannot continue to own and operate those properties if it has to pay property tax and that is just part of the taxes that come into play. If you pull non-profit status, that will be another huge problem that depend on those donations to survive. People who give depend on the tax deduction for donations.  It will be absolutely devastating if that occurs, and it will change the very nature of how these organizations operate if they can operate at all. And if they pull the services provided just by Catholic Charities which provides 25% of the hospital beds in the United States and which provide services to the poorest and  most needy who cannot otherwise get medical care; and the people fighting the Catholic Church really don’t care whether they are providing those services to the  most needy. For them it is all about ideology, not about the church going into the world exercising their faith, as the Catholic Church believes faith without works is dead. All they care about is pushing the agenda forward. There are going to be serious headlong battles on that. People need to speak up. When people speak up and become united, the politicians will step up and listen. We need to make a fuss and make sure the right people are elected so that they appoint the right judges. We can no longer stand on the sideline. We need to engage society. More importantly, we need to call upon the graces of our blessed Lord and blessed mother to help us in these battles because they are spiritual battles fought here on earth.

The interview raises other matters, such as the spiritual warfare the “church” is to fight. Sadly, the Catholic Church is fighting on behalf of Satan and born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ should be fighting the spiritual wickedness in high places which includes Catholicism.  “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15).”

One could expect this reasoning from a Protestant, a Catholic, an evangelical, an heretical “Baptist” or other uninformed “Christian.” He is seeking a church/state political solution. Of course, I would agree with him on voting for the best politicians. I also would agree that born again believers who have the requisite knowledge, understanding and wisdom who are called by God to do so should work to get the best elected officials possible, even run for office.

Unfortunately, even the best politician who can be elected cannot save America. A study of the Bible doctrines government, church, separation of church and state will make this clear. A nation reaches the point of no return, the point where the God’s only remedy is judgment. The book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principle and the American Application examines the Bible, history, and law concerning these matters. The diligent student may wish to examine that book which is free online in both online and PDF form and can also be ordered. See Order Information, Free PDF, and Free Online Versions of Books by Jerald Finney.

Salvation5The only answer is individual salvation, man by man, woman by woman; then baptism, membership and discipleship in a Bible believing church. Then, going into all the world and preaching the Gospel. As individuals are born again, disciple, and doing all for the glory of God, families, churches, and the nation will be renewed. See Salvation and After.

And, by the way, according to the Holy King James Bible, alongside the apostate Babylonian religious system headed by the Religious Harlot centered in Rome, until the Lord appears and takes His children home, there will always be a remnant of God’s faithful Bible believing, Bible preaching, Bible practicing churches.


Endnote

[i] The Catholic Church does not have the promise of Christ that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it.” The Catholic Church follows Satan (whom they call Lucifer; see Satan), the God of this world. Catholicism stands against all preeminent fundamentals of the true Christian faith as expressed in the Word of God. The leaders of Catholicism are financially, morally, and spiritually wicked. The Catholic Church is the great religious whore of Revelation 17. Of course, these conclusions cannot be explained in this article which is concerning with the union of church and state in the American landscape. However, the Word of God proves these conclusions.

The Church May, and God Will, Hold the Trustee to Account

Jerald Finney
October 7, 2019

What if the trustee of the “Bible” trust, called by some a “common law” trust, misuses the property in the trust estate for his own benefit and not for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ? Should that happen, 1 Corinthians 5-6 lays out the way the church is to judge the matter.

More importantly, the trustee of God’s property will be rewarded or judged by God depending upon how he administers the estate. The day of reckoning will come. See the chapters copied and pasted below.

The tithes, offerings, and gifts of a member of a corporate and/or 501(c)(3) or 508 church go into an account with belongs to the corporation or church. Those free will offerings of a member of a church which establishes a trust relationship with money and property belonging to the Lord Jesus Christ and administered by a trustee for His benefit goes into an account belonging to Jesus Christ. In the latter, the giving church member has no claim to ownership of that which he has given to the trust estate. He can give or not as he desires, but once he gives to the Lord, he no longer has any claim to the gift. The gift goes into a trust estate which belongs to the Lord only. The trustee has s duty under God to use the trust estate for the benefit of the owner, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Another important consideration is that a church and a pastor who understand and apply Bible church doctrine in the organization of a church are far less likely to behave wrongly in their dealings with the things of God. The pastors and believers in corporate, 501(c)(3) or 508 churches are much more likely to abuse their positions in the church, to steal, to forge, to embezzle from the organization for which they are responsible. A diligent online study confirms this.

As to the first consideration above, see The Judgment Seat of Christ, [Left click to go to the complete PDR. Chapters 4 and 8 are copied and pasted below.] by D.M. Paton, an old time Baptist preacher. Dr. Greg Dixon sent me the PDF to this book.

CHAPTER 4: THE JUDGMENT SEAT

We now arrive at the burning heart of this entire revelation as it concerns the Church—THE JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST. “Wherefore we labour,”—the word means to love and seek for honour (Lange) in what Bengel calls the sole legitimate ambition in the world— “that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of Him. For”—as the fountain of motive in all holy ambition—“we must“—as a necessity inherent in Diving justice; for the vindication of God’s holiness, and for the satisfaction of our own highest and holiest instincts—“all”—all apostles, all prophets, all martyrs—“appear”—to our own consciences, to all the world, and above all to the Judge; a complete manifestation of all that has transpired within us, or in the external life (Lange)—“before the Judgment Seat of Christ; that every one may receive”—the technical word for receiving wages (Dean Alford)—“the things done in his body”—therefore thoughts and words as well as deeds, since the brain and the tongue are thus also involved—“according to that [plural] he hath done”—works exactly regulating reward: not according to the things that Christ did in His body; nor according to things done out of the body after death—“whether it [the award] be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:9-10). In the words of Lange—Paul’s tireless aim to please Christ “can only be fulfilled by his being found approved at that tribunal where he and his fellow believers are shortly to appear; for every action of God’s children during their bodily life must there be judged according to the law of strict righteousness, and each believer must be rewarded according to his good or evil conduct.”

For the sweep of the decree as quoted from Isaiah is absolutely universal— “. . . every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then,” –since it is universal and the Church is, therefore, not exempt— “every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:11-12). Nor could it be otherwise. In view of the chaos of conflicting creed and conduct—the bitter controversies, the personal quarrels, the excommunications and anathemas—all denial of a judgment seat is inherently incredible and impossible: there must be a judgment seat; and there is. Molinos, the Quietist, when condemned as a heretic and led away to his prison cell— “We shall meet again,” said the old man to his judges, ‘in the judgment day; and then it will appear on which side, on yours or mine, is truth.” Furthermore, it rests upon the oath of God. “The LORD of hosts hath sworn, saying, Surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it stand:” (Isaiah 14:24). The decree establishing it as irrevocable as the life of God— “That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.” (Isaiah 45:23). So then, says the Apostle, “But why dost thou judge thy brother? Or why dost thou set at naught thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” (Romans 14:10), let us forbear to judge, for we shall be judged, and, therefore, the bedrock of all our action is to be the approval of our Divine Judge. “We labour” (A.V.)— “we strive” (Alford)— “we are eager” (Stanley)— “we make it our aim” (R.V.)— “we are ambitious (R. V., margin) to be well-pleasing unto Him. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10).

The tribunal [The portable tribunal carried about with him by a Roman magistrate.], before which disciples appear, is peculiar. (1) It is a Bema, not a Thronos; a judgment seat for the investigation of disciples, not a throne for the arraignment of rebels: for the Judge (2 Timothy 4:8) is “Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants.” (Matthew 18:23). It is the first of our Lord’s three judgments (Romans 14:12; Matthew 25:31; Revelation 20:12) on His return; “For the time is come that judgment must beat the house of God” (1 Peter 4:17).

  • Churches are judged now (Revelation 2:5). The Church is never judged corporately—as the Body or Bride—either here or hereafter; but disciples, apart from their collective standing, in their individual responsibility as servants, must render account. So the Church, as an entity, is never named in the Apocalypse, except once (Revelation 22:17), where the reference is to the present Age; nor do the children of God appear as aught but ‘servants” throughout that book of judgment, except once (Revelation 21:7), when the Millennial Age has passed into the Eternal. The fact that the judgment of the wicked is by itself, separated by a thousand years (Revelation 20:17), reveals that in 2 Corinthians 5:10, “it is genuine Christians of whom Paul is speaking; all whose shortcomings and failures will one day be exposed, and who therefore make it their aim to avoid such defects” (International Critical Commentary). Individual judgment is not possible for believers as such, for in justification no believer differs from any other; but individual judgment as servants yields a variety of adjudication as infinite as the service and the sanctification.

(2) Thus those examined are Christians only. “Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” (1 Corinthians 1:2). It is a final investigation of the whole Church of God. No Book of Life is produced, for it is no judgment of the lost: “Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.” (Psalm 1:5).

(3) Nor is it a judgment for life. “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). “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.” (Romans 8:1). The believer was crucified with Christ, and on Calvary exhausted the penalties of Hell: on that ground he can be judged no more.

(4) The process is individual: “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Romans 14:12). “We”—it is Christian; “must”—it is inevitable; “all”—it is universal; “made manifest”—it is public; “judgment seat”—it is judicial; “stand”—it is in resurrection; “each”—it is individual; “give account”—it is responsibility; “to God”—it is Divine.

The procedure is revealed as exclusively judicial; “that every one may receive the things done in his body” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Not, that each may receive something from God, but “that every one may receive the things [he himself has] done”: it is not a general granting of glory, irrespective of service; but an exercise of the Divine Law— “as he hath done, so shall it be done to him.” (Leviticus 24:19). “Be not deceived”—is a word to disciples— “God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7). Paul puts it with exquisite clearness, and twofold emphasis. “Whatsoever good thing”—for a judge approves— “any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.” (Ephesians 6:8). On the other hand— “Ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong”—for a judge censures— “shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” (Colossians 3:24b-25).

Our works and conduct are put in as the evidence: “the things done in his body” (2 Corinthians 5:10). We must all “appear in our true light” (Alford): as the fossil imprint of a bird’s claw, made ages earlier by a momentary alighting when the stone was soft, now records that act in solid rock, so our actions are the unerring imprint of our characters; the things done reveal what the body was. Like a palimpsest, when the heat of fire (1 Corinthians 3:13) passes over it, so our life silently steals forth in lines every one of which we ourselves wrote: so that what our eyes looked on, what our ears listened to; what our hearts loved, what our minds believed, what our lips said, what our hands wrought, where our feet walked—these are the unimpeachable evidences of the Judgment Seat. Secrets (1 Corinthians 4:5), motives (Matthew 6:1), soul-attitudes (Luke 6:36-38), and just Church decisions (Matthew 18:18), also sway the adjudication.

  • Even the lovely modifications of our Lord’s attitude foretold in such passages as Matthew 5:7— “blessed are the merciful; for they shall obtain mercy”—and Luke 6:37— “condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned”—are still fundamentally judicial—that is, the recoil of a disciple’s conduct upon himself. But no lovelier revelation could be conceived of how we may deal with our forgotten “For in MANY things we offend ALL.” (James 3:2): but “if ye forgive men their trespasses, YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER WILL ALSO FORGIVE YOU.” (Matthew 6:14). “For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38).

The evidence wholly decides the award: “whether it [the award] be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10). The Greek points to the award: “that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it”—i.e., what he receives— “be good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Reward (as distinct from salvation, which is through faith, against deserts) is strictly defined by works. So somewhere there exists a draft by the hand of God of what our life might have been, and still can be: some have lived wonderfully near God’s thought for them: let us find and follow that Divine original.

So Paul says: “But with me”—as an example and model to all Christians— “it is a very small thing”—it is a matter of the least importance— “that I should be judged of you”—the Church of Christ. (1 Corinthians 4:3). When “all they which are in Asia be turned away” from Paul (2 Timothy 1:15), there must have been personal attacks, solemn denunciations, ecclesiastical censures, even excommunication of the Apostle: in wide areas of the Church his name had become a bye-word: even Paul. When his priestly executioners brought Savonarola to the stake, they cried— “We excommunicate you from the Church militant here upon earth!” “But not from the Church triumphant in heaven!” answered the lonely hero. Men may not judge me, the Apostle says; but then neither do I judge myself; it is not because I am infallible that I rate human judgment so lightly, but because neither they nor I are competent to judge. “Yea, I judge not mine own self” (1 Corinthians 4:3)—I cannot pass even on myself, the final judgment— “For I know NOTHING by myself;”—I am conscious of no sin— “yet am I not hereby [for all that] justified”—found blameless, irreproachable, a perfect steward. (1 Corinthians 4:4). So Paul now administers the great heart-tonic: he takes our wrist, like a master-surgeon, and with his hypodermic syringe inserts beneath the skin perhaps as powerful a heart-strychnine as I, for one, have ever known. “HE THAT JUDGETH ME IS THE LORD.” (1 Corinthians 4:4). A believer’s friends may overpraise him, and his critics over blame; the world will totally misunderstand him in any case; his own conscience may flatter: the LORD only can appraise us exactly, and judge to a nicety. “Therefore judge nothing”—pass no final sentence— “before the time”—our judgment must come; but its time, its season, is not yet: “until the Lord come”—to judge. (1 Corinthians 4:5). If even my own conscience, knowing my motives and inner life, must be set aside as a judge, of how much less value is the praise or blame of men, whose judgment is purely external; and if an enlightened conscience ruled by Scripture does not condemn, the sharp criticisms of men need not unduly depress. Early in the Great War a young man sat at a table in a London restaurant. Two young ladies, seated at another table, watched him for a few minutes, whispering together; and then, approaching him, offered him a little box. He opened it, and in it lay –a white feather. “How strange,” he remarked, “that I should receive two such gifts in one day: this morning I received the Victoria Cross at Buckingham Palace.” If we are clear in the forum of conscience, we may have good hope that we shall be clear at the bar of God. “Beloved, if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.” (1 John 3:21). “Let them say what they will,” said a good man now gone to his rest; “they cannot hurt me; I live too near the Great White Throne for that.

CHAPTER 8: CHRISTIAN RESPONSIBILITY

It is in the nature of a trust that a day must come for a report of the trust to be put in; and so, after a prolonged period during which His servants trade with the talents he had entrusted to them, Jesus says that “the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them” (Matthew 25:19). The parable covers the entire period from the Nobleman’s departure to his return—that is, from our Lord’s Ascension to the Second Advent; and so embraces all who have conducted His business on earth for nearly two thousand years: it covers the period, and the only period, in which the Church of Christ exists, and so is a comprehensive history of the work and judgment of the Church. The goods entrusted are small, but the returns possible on the outlay are enormous. To the very highest servant, who turns one pound into ten, our Lord says, “Well, thou good servant because thou hast been faithful in a very little” (Luke 19:17); obscure, nameless, often landless, sometimes homeless, even friendless, without rank or power, nevertheless we hold in our hands a trust which, rightly used, can change into incalculable wealth and power in the day of Messiah’s Kingdom.

Now our Lord casts the main emphasis on the third servant—seven verses are devoted to the servant who was a failure, and only three each to the successful servants: therefore, on this servant’s identity depends Christ’s main teaching in the parable; and unless we understand that he may be ourselves, ours will be a concealed peril, like a man-trap hidden under forest leaves. For every truth, appropriated, falls on the soul like an electric shock; whereas it is obvious that the believer who denies the application of the passage to himself, while he may be committing every offence of which the third servant can be guilty, so encases himself in a coat of steel that God’s sword falls on him blunted and harmless. It is of vital import to know the spiritual standing of the third servant.

Now this servant is proved a child of God by the following facts.

  1. Equally with the other servants he is entrusted with our Lord’s goods on His ascension; but Christ has never entrusted and never does entrust, His work on earth to the unsaved: therefore this is a saved soul equally with the rest. Jesus calls them all ‘His own servants’ (Luke 19:13); literally, “slaves,” bought with their Master’s money, and owned by Him. About to take a journey, the Nobleman is obliged to hand over this property of his, which he is unable to manage personally as before, to other faithful hands during the time of his absence. He therefore calls, not strange labourers, but his own servants, belonging to him as his servants; and as their master, since he may expect that they will regard his interest as their own, entrusts to them and their hands the property he leaves behind” (Goebel). The servants differ greatly in capacity—in the extremes, as five to one; but they differ not at all in the possession of a common trust.
  2. The three servants are judged together, at one spot and at one time; but the wicked dead are not judged until the Great White Throne (Revelation 20:5, 12), a thousand years after the judgment of the redeemed. So also the slothful servant is judged last of the three, as last risen and last rapt; for he is “that servant, which knew his lord’s will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will” (Luke 12:47). As judged together, all three servants are the redeemed, judged in the one and only judgment in which the Church, and the Church alone, appears (2 Corinthians 5:10); and as this judgment is in the Parousia, the only access to which is by rapture, all the unsaved are of necessity physically excluded. None can reach the Judgment Seat except the saved. At a meeting in Toronto a Christian lady came up to the speaker and said— “You alarm me! I thought I was not coming into any kind of judgment. How then am I to know that I am saved?” “Madam,” he said, “the answer is very simple. The moment you stand before the Judgment Seat you will know you are saved, for none but the saved will ever stand there.” The lost from among the dead are not judged until the great White Throne appears, a thousand years later.
  3. All three are judged, like the Seven Churches, solely on the ground of their works: their faith in, and love for, the absent King are implied and assumed: their standing is never challenged. If the third servant were an unsaved soul, his works could in no way, and on no ground, be accepted: between the two Advents, it is the redeemed alone who are judged according to their works; for only those who have received from Christ can work for Every servant of God has a personal service for Christ in the world, a sacred trust to fulfil; it is that mission, that trust, which constitutes him a ‘servant’—the title by which the Apostles most loved to describe themselves (Romans 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; James1:1; Jude 1): the salvation a believer receives is the sole ground on which he can trade at all, and it is the Church alone which is the market where God’s trade is forever going on. “It is evident that the design is not to describe a man entirely fallen from faith, an apostate; but one who, although he has not dissolved his connexion as a servant, or squandered his talent, yet has not used it to his Lord’s advantage, one who has not done his duty” (Olshausen).
  4. Overwhelming is the final proof. In the twin parable of the Pounds, the unsaved are placed in careful contrast with the saved, as Citizens and as Servants, the only two classes in the world, sharply sundering mankind: the Servants our Lord entrusts with His all on earth, the Citizens send the message after the ascended Christ— “We will not have this Man to reign over us;” a message which, as Archbishop Trench says, will have its full and final fulfilment in the great apostasy of the last days. All three Servants have accepted Jesus as Lord, and have entered vitally into the service of God; “His own Servants, e., who have become His in faith, in contradistinction to the Citizens who would not” (Steir), and who are slain without mercy before His face (Luke 19:27). “Whilst the one Servant represents an inactive member of the body of Christ, the Church, who failed to perform his duty, these Citizens are open rebels, and hence their Lord orders them to be killed: it is evident that this penal proceeding is essentially distinguished from the reproof administered to the one Servant” (Olshausen).

Now therefore we see the danger to us all which our Lord flashes out like a red light upon the line—a danger which, remarkably enough, is greatest to the lowliest disciple. What is the peril? Undervaluing what God has given us. Christ gives to each servant what He sees he can wisely use; as much as he can handle and profit by; no servant can say, Lord, Thou gavest me nothing: no servant is expected by Christ to produce results greater than his abilities or his opportunities; the poorest, the most unlettered, the most obscure have the ‘very little’ which yet can coin enormous future wealth. “A talent is entrusted also to the idle servant ‘according to his own ability’: he is therefore just as able, and for this reason just as bound, to work spontaneously with his gifts, as all other servants with theirs” (Goebel). But he so undervalues his opportunity as to bury it in the earth—in earthliness; his carnality is his shame because he is a child of God, and as such betrays his trust: “the circumstance rendering him guilty is, that he to whom the money belonged was no stranger to him, but his master to whom he was bound as a servant” (Goebel). For it is not the possession of the talents that determines our reward, but solely our use of them: it is the second five and the second two, not the first five and the first two, on which reward alone is given. So Jesus describes the third servant as the exact opposite of the first two: instead of “good” and “faithful,” He says he is “wicked” and “slothful”: not “good” in the general sense, but a good servant: and so not bad (or wicked) in a general sense but a bad servant: the goodness of the one consisted in his faithfulness, the badness of the other in his sloth. “This distinctive name comprehends all his guilt, Thou slothful servant” (Steir); unprofitable (Matthew 25:30), but not unregenerate, or apostate; he did not misemploy, nor embezzle, nor squander, but simply hid his money. So what exactly does our Lord charge him with? Unbelief, unregeneration, rebellion, apostasy, adultery, theft, murder? Nay: it is simply a servant of God who has made nothing of his life; all he has done wrong is merely to withhold his powers from serving God; he hoarded, when he ought to have expended; he had no sacred sense of responsibility. “The parable is not for gross sinners: the warning is for those who, being equipped of God for a sphere of activity in His kingdom, hide their talent” (Trench). He says, As I cannot be so holy as God requires, I give up the attempt to satisfy such strictness: I object profoundly to the doctrine of reward according to works, and deny all responsibility in a servant of Christ beyond his responsibility to maintain the gift of grace with which he was entrusted at his conversion. But his answer (as his Lord says) implies that he knew the truth. The Judge answers—Your very consciousness of the severity of the principle ought to have made you more careful, not less, to meet its requirements. “Thereby must the evil servant bear testimony with his own mouth to the innermost truth, and the most perfect right, according to which the Lord requires fruit from what He sows or gives—that God demands fruits and works” (Steir). For the believer to have at his judgment only what he had at his conversion will be his condemnation. As his life had been negative, so is his punishment: he is cast into the darkness outside the brilliantly lit festal hall:

  • Since the Parousia is a place of thick darkness (Psalm 18:9), indwelt by the Shekinah Glory (Matthew 16:27), to be cast forth from the inner ring of light on the threshold of the Kingdom is to be expelled into the external dark of the Pavilion of Cloud (Psalm 18:11).

“Nothing is said here of any further punishment of the servant; enough that he has no part in the kingdom of the Lord” (Goebel). Over lost opportunities, wasted graces, slighted privileges, a sold birthright, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

  • “If the servant is not a believer, but a mere professor, then we have in the parable nothing to represent the Christian who fails in faithfulness” (C. G. Trumbull).

Both the faithful servants are remarkable examples of “boldness in the day of judgment” (1 John 4:17): both come joyfully forward, for they have facts in their hands—the talents doubled; and both are invited at once into the joy of their Lord—our Lord’s joy in His Kingdom, for which He endured the cross, despising the shame, “the authority God will confer on Him on His second coming from heaven in kingly power and glory to establish the Messianic Kingdom” (Goebel).

  • It must be the Millennial Kingdom, for our Lord’s everlasting Kingdom as the Son of God—as distinct from the kingdom the Nobleman goes away to obtain (Luke 19:12)—is inherently His, without beginning or end, never conferred: “But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is FOR EVER AND EVER” (Hebrews 1:8).

So also would the third servant had he been found faithful. “He has no share in the kingdom of his lord, and therefore he who is like him will have no share in the Kingdom of Christ” (Goebel). Both faithful servants had exercised all their faculties and powers in the interests of their Master; the long delay in His return had not made them slothful or negligent, but, on the contrary, had afforded them longer time for greater gains; and what they had gained in the Church, they reap in the Kingdom. The “well done” is conferred for no reason but one—because they have done well. “The period is not given them for idle waiting. It is of the most critical importance for themselves, because it is appointed them as a test-time, on the use of which their own participation in the Kingdom of Christ and their position in it will depend” (Goebel). For the way to advance our own interests is to advance our Lord’s: each gained cent-per-cent for their Lord, and for each pound (Luke 19:17) the reward is a city: the more devoted the life, the more blazing the glory. No servant had more than one pound: No servant was without one pound: every servant had an equal opportunity of making ten pounds: yet ONLY ONE (so far as we know) did so. “It is an experiment of the future King, in the course of which His servants first prove their fidelity in a little sum of money, and then for their reward take part in managing His Kingdom” (Goebel). For while the ten cities and the five cities are figurative, because every phrase in a parable is ipso facto figurative, nevertheless our Lord reveals that the “many things” over which He puts the faithful servant will be no less than royalty. “And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give POWER OVER THE NATIONS: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron” (Revelation 2:26-27). Then follows the judgment on the wicked among Israel and the Gentiles. “When the King has thus distributed praise and blame, rewards and penalties, to those who stand in the more immediate relations of servants to Him, to those of His own household, He proceeds to execute vengeance on His enemies, on all who had openly cast off allegiance to Him, and denied that they belonged to His House at all” (Trench).

So “the Coming One remains the Lord of all these servants, of the unfaithful as well as the faithful; and in the case of the latter will show Himself as Lord in the reckoning” (Steir). For as profound the punishment of sloth, so magnificent is the reward of fidelity; it cuts both ways: in exact proportion as we accept the promised enormous premium on fidelity, so we are compelled to acknowledge the gravity of the consequences of unfaithfulness. “In the times between the departure of their Lord and His second coming His disciples are to work with what He committed to them on His departure for Him and His cause with faithful diligence, because the [The Judgment Seat] most glorious reward awaits such fidelity at the hour of Christ’s return, while the heaviest punishment threatens the selfish indolence that would decline active employment of what it has received” (Goebel).

Thus we confront our crisis. Officers are required for the administration of a kingdom: so God has deliberately interposed a prolonged period between the two advents, that our Lord might be enabled to so test His servants, in His absence, as to discover which are fitted for positions of responsibility and trust at His return. The Nobleman, before He departed, laid plans for the selection of officers to aid Him in the administration of the Kingdom; He devised a plan for bringing to light who those officers are on His return; this plan is in operation at the present moment, purposely so contrived as to reveal individual capacity for office, and personal fitness for trust; and—most impressive of all—the Long Journey is now nearly over, and at any moment the investigation may begin. “Make haste about cultivating a Christlike character. The harvest is great; the toil is heavy; the sun is drawing to the west; the reckoning is at hand. There is no time to lose; set about it as you have never done before, and say, ‘This one thing I do’” (A. Maclaren).