Intro. to 2 John/Love and Truth

What are the 2 marks of a Christian? Christians are to love brothers and sisters in Christ. Are we to also love the lost? How about false teachers (apostates who deny the deity of Christ)? Are we to love them? Which is to prevail, love or truth? Which comes first? In what bounds and context can love be expressed?

These are preeminent matters. This study, by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, looks at those issues and much more.

To hear a 14 minute excerpt from the study click Intro to 2 John.

To go to the entire online study, go to Thru the Bible Radio, Intro. to 2 John; and for links to all of Dr. McGee’s 5 year program of Bible Study, click here.

Lesson 6: The church Bible Trust relationship is not something new. Churches under Christ in every thing (under Christ alone) have, by definition, always honored it.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 1, 2022

Go to the following webpage for links to additional lessons:
Lessons on the Bible (Common Law) Trust

The purpose of this lesson and all ministry lessons is to glorify God. When one seeks Bible truth and presents what he believes to reflect that truth, the only motive that pleases God is love for the Lord and His truth. If you disagree with anything in this lesson, open minded debate is encouraged. Please do not become angry. Rather, engage this ministry in a Bible based search for truth (See, Ephesians 4:11-16), with the goal of glorifying God and finding the truth. Reasoning together should include the Bible principles and analysis of the common law or Bible trust as applied to the Bible principles. Open debate and honest study, with the Bible as the foundation, glorifies God, especially when considering the institution God loved and gave himself for. Respond in love as this and all lessons are inspired by love for God and His truth. I will publicly repent of any error which is revealed to me by love-centered discourse. God bless.
Ephesians 4:11-16: “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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:  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; 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.”

This short lesson, and the cited resources, explain:

  • That the Church Bible Trust Relationship recommended by this ministry is not new; the Lord Jesus originated it, describes it, and prescribes it in His Word.
  • New Testament churches, from the beginning of the church until this day, have always practiced the Bible trust relationship with property.
  • New Testament Churches, by honoring Christ “in every thing” have been vilified, abased, and persecuted, by other “churches,” and church-state establishments, to include those in America who combine with the state through incorporation (sole or aggregate), charitable trust status, Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status, etc.

When a church organizes according to New Testament Church Doctrine, that church, as a spiritual organism under the authority of Christ in every thing, applies the Biblical concept of trust. See, Trust is a Bible Concept for explanation of the Bible Trust, its origins, and application by a New Testament Church. A church who wishes to remain under Christ in every thing, has no other option; there is only one way for a church to organize according to God’s Word. The organization can be explained in terms used by this ministry, in terms of the concept of the Bible (common law) trust. God’s Word is clear: a church who practices the concept pleases and glorifies God, and a church who does not do so arrogates the prerogatives of (blasphemes) God.

Churches in the New Testament, the first church—the Church at Jerusalem and all other churches in the New Testament—established and practiced a Bible trust relationship with property.  All property was owned by God, not the church. The churches remained spiritual entities only.

No church owned property; only a worldly temporal legal entity can own property. See, Short Answers to Some Important Questions. Churches never met on property they owned. Members gave to God, not to the church. They gave of God’s own, not of their own (See, Exodus 19:5; Leviticus 25:23; 1 Chronicles 29:10-13; Psalm 24:1; Psalm 50:10; Psalm 89:11; Haggai 2:8; Trust is a Bible Concept explains this in some detail). When they gave to God, their gifts were held and managed by a person or persons, according to the will of our Lord as given in His Word (See, e.g., Acts 4:32-5:11 as to the church at Jerusalem and the sin and death of Ananias and Sapphira). The church at Jerusalem remained holy—totally set apart for God and under God; as a result, the church had great spiritual power and multitudes of women and men were saved and added to the Lord (Acts 4:12-5:16).

Since New Testament times, there has always existed a remnant of churches who remained spiritual entities under Christ in all things. They were true to Bible distinctives concerning many matters, including the matter of separation of church and state. To be separate from the state, a church cannot own property or act as a legal entity in any other manner. Churches refused to contract with the state and the state religion.

Historically, Christians in such churches, as warned by Jesus and the apostles, have been persecuted. Christians were persecuted from the beginning of the church. After union of church and state in the fourth century, the original established “church” as well as her offspring, the Protestant establishments, working with the state, tried to stamp out “heretics” and eliminate all other religions, including authentic New Testament churches, and their members. See, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application, pp. 127-132 for a brief history of those persecutions; see also, Persecution: A Consequence of Covenant Theology.

This persecution continued in the American colonies where a spiritual warfare between the dissenters, mainly Baptists, were persecuted by colonial established church-state unions. The result of that conflict was the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. America, with the adoption of the First Amendment became the second government in world history, of any lasting consequence, to grant religious freedom and soul liberty. Ibid., “History of Religious Freedom in America,” pp. 189-289.

Scores of churches in America have come to understand that Christ desires to be the only head or authority over churches who name His name; and, consequently, have established the Bible trust relationship with property. This Churches under Christ ministry has helped many churches to do so. Starting in the 1980’s, the Biblical Law Center, under the leadership of Attorney Al Cunningham, began to help churches come out from under civil government and establish Bible trust relationships with property.

A church can establish the relationship without a writing. However, should the trustee of the property owned by the Lord Jesus Christ wish to open a bank account to hold the funds in the trust estate, the trustee must show a written Declaration of Trust and related documents to the bank. Should the trustee wish to purchase real estate for a meetinghouse, the property owned by the Lord Jesus Christ, it is wise to have a Declaration of Trust which provides for the appointment of a trustee, and transfer of the powers of the trustee to a successor trustee when the need arises. Successor trustees will have the authority to hold and manage the property. Merely holding title in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the title signed by “deacons” or some others, can lead to problems down the line. No matter the position given on the title, these deacons or others are acting as trustees. What happens should one or more of the trustees pass away? How will the property be transferred twenty-five or fifty years after purchase, the trustees are gone and the property needs to be sold or transferred?

Many of the trustees of trusts helped by this ministry have opened trust bank accounts or purchased real estate in the name of the trust. In every instance, they have showed the bank  or the seller of the real estate, title companies and lawyers, tax assessors (for property tax exemption purposes) the trust documents for their inspection. Those documents shine the light of Bible truth on many matters, thereby educated those in the world who had no idea of what a true New Testament church is. See, Lesson 4: The wisdom of a written Declaration of Trust. 

Courts in America have recognized the common law trust relationship with property, acknowledging that the relationship is not a legal entity but a defined relationship with property. Courts have held that property tax exemption cannot be withheld from property held in trust by churches and other religious organizations. See EN[i] for excerpts from and links to such cases. Here are some excerpts from the Endnote:

Indiana property tax exemption law specifically recognizes the trust relationship. Indiana Code Title 6. Taxation § 6-1.1-10-21 states:

Sec. 21 .  (a) The following tangible property is exempt from property taxation if it is owned by, or held in trust for the use of, a church or religious society:

(1) A building that is used for religious worship.

(2) The pews and furniture contained within a building that is used for religious worship.

(3) The tract of land upon which a building that is used for religious worship is situated.

Etc.

See, The Indiana Board of Tax Review Determines that Property Held in Trust for the Lord Jesus Christ Must Be Granted Property Tax Exemption for an essay chronicling a case testing the  church use of the Bible trust and a legal examination and decision by the Indiana Board of Tax Review. The Endnote also covers this in more detail. Property tax exemption on property used by churches, unlike federal tax exempt status, comes with no strings attached. It is just a courtesy which every state grants churches and other religious organizations.

WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 157 Wis.2d 539 (1990), 461 N.W.2d 143, Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs December 8, 1989. Decided August 2, 1990states (see Endnote for more): 

  • “Church” and “Congregation.” A church consists of those who are communicants, have made a public profession of religion and are united by a religious bond of common spiritual welfare. It is the spiritual body, not the legal one.
  • In Franke v. Mann,106 Wis. 118, 131, 81 N.W. 1014, 1018-19 (1900), the court further said that “[w]hat has been said is in harmony with the law regarding trusts for religious uses, whether the trustees be officers of a religious corporation or of an unincorporated ecclesiastical body. . . .” Id.at 131-32, 81 N.W. at 1019 (emphasis added).
  • In Holm v. Holm,81 Wis. 374, 382, 51 N.W. 579, 581 (1892), the facts included that the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Roche-a-Cree was a voluntary association until February 7, 1889. The court noted that “[p]rior to that date the title to the churches in which the members of the association worshiped was vested in trustees named in . . . deeds, and their successors in office. . . . The trusts imposed by such deeds appear to have been valid upon the principles stated by this court in adness v. Braunborg. . . .” Id.
  • In Franke v. Mann,106 Wis. 118, 131, 81 N.W. 1014, 1018-19 (1900), the court further said that “[w]hat has been said is in harmony with the law regarding trusts for religious uses, whether the trustees be officers of a religious corporation or of an unincorporated ecclesiastical body. . . .” Id. at 131-32, 81 N.W. at 1019 (emphasis added).
  • . We conclude that the trust constituted an “entity” which could claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats., for the benefit of the Basic Bible Church. We further conclude that the legislative history of the pertinent statutes does not disclose a legislative intent to require that a church or religious association be incorporated before it may claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4).

Note: In a Biblically correct trust relationship with property, the property is held in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ to be used according to His will as given in the Word of God. The church does not hold the property.

God’s desires that churches should be holy, set apart for the Lord alone, totally separate from any worldly entanglement(s). See, for full Bible explanation, God Betrayed, pp. 1-188. The established church, the church who chooses to unite with civil government by contracting with the state, submits herself, to one degree or another, to an authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ. She works over, under, or with the state. Establishment contracts in America are unilaterally written into state law, and can be changed unilaterally, by the state or federal government without input from the church. The state makes an offer for churches to accept. The offer is written in a state or federal law.. The church can ignore the offer or accept it. When accepted, the completed contract—offer, consideration on the part of both parties (the state gets stated authority over the accepting church for many purposes and the church gets the “advantages” that come with being an artificial person under the Fourteenth Amendment; a person who can sue, be sued, enter into contracts, own property, pay salaries to hireling pastors, etc.), and acceptance. The contract gives the state authority over the church, but gives the church no authority over the state. The church is an established church.

An established church is unholy. She profaned herself by entering into an unholy union. Ibid., 125-188. She rejected God in order to be like the other churches. She became, in many ways, like other established churches, a business; and, with time, she becomes more and more business oriented, more and more worldly, and less and less heavenly. She has more and more earthly power, supposedly, but less and less heavenly power. A slide toward apostasy began when she chose to unite with the state by becoming a legal entity (a corporation (sole or aggregate), a charitable trust, of an Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt religious organization, etc. See, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? for explanation of legal entities and examination of church incorporation, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt religious churches).

American believers, churches, Bible colleges, and seminaries who support state church establishment have ignored or never studied, and certainly have never applied, Bible doctrine which explains the Bible principles regarding the relationship of church and state. To them, the substance of this essay appears to be something new and never thought of before. They, as to these matters, are like the Jewish religious leaders in the New Testament who proclaimed to the Lord, and to the early Christians, that they were the authorities on Scripture. Their authority was tradition and they ignored Christ’s admonitions to “search the Scriptures,” for they thought they had done so. God could not convince those heretics of their error. Likewise, God (in His Word) cannot convince those who refuse to study Scripture to learn the truth about church organization as to the relationship of Christ and His churches. Instead, they attack those who proclaim the truth in the same ways as the Jewish religious leaders attacked Jesus and the apostles. The nature of the attacks never change.

Established churches are like Israel, the only God-ordained theocratic nation, who rejected God’s sole authority in order to be like “all the nations, … in order that [their king might judge them, go out before them and fight their battles].” (1 Samuel 8). They have chosen to give “Caesar” authority that belongs to God. God allows them, as He allowed Israel, to do this. As Israel lost the favor of God, so have most American churches who betrayed Him by choosing another head or heads. As Israel started down the road to apostasy, so have American churches except for a small remnant. Many American churches are at the end of that road. Many others are fast approaching it. See, The Biblical Doctrine of the Church, sections on apostasy. In the process, they cause the world to blaspheme God.


EN[i] A. Another Victory for a Church under Christ (092419) A local property tax board in Minnesota denied the property tax exemption for real estate used as a meeting house for a church which had established a trust relationship with property. The property was used 100% for church purposes. The only recourse, after trying to reason with the local assessor and county attorney, was for the trustee to file petition in court. The trustee prevailed, after filing of Motion/brief and oral argument, and without trial. The property tax exemption was granted. The redacted Motion/brief is linked to for one to examine.

  1. The Indiana Board of Tax Review Determines that Property Held in Trust for the Lord Jesus Christ Must Be Granted Property Tax Exemption (012319). This article involves a property tax exemption for a Trinity Baptist Springs Church in Trinity Baptist Springs, Indiana organized under a Declaration of Trust. The Pastor, with the help of the Biblical Law Center, represented himself. The article links to the video of the property tax hearing held by the local property tax board who decided against the exemption. The case was appealed to the Indiana Board of Tax Review who reversed and order that the tax exemption be granted.

Indiana property tax exemption law specifically recognizes the trust relationship. Indiana Code Title 6. Taxation § 6-1.1-10-21 states:

Sec. 21 .  (a) The following tangible property is exempt from property taxation if it is owned by, or held in trust for the use of, a church or religious society:

(1) A building that is used for religious worship.

(2) The pews and furniture contained within a building that is used for religious worship.

(3) The tract of land upon which a building that is used for religious worship is situated.

(b) The following tangible property is exempt from property taxation if it is owned by, or held in trust for the use of, a church or religious society:

(1) A building that is used as a parsonage.

(2) The tract of land, not exceeding fifteen (15) acres, upon which a building that is used as a parsonage is situated.

(c) To obtain an exemption for parsonages, a church or religious society must provide the county assessor with an affidavit at the time the church or religious society applies for the exemptions.  The affidavit must state that:

(1) all parsonages are being used to house one (1) of the church’s or religious society’s rabbis, priests, preachers, ministers, or pastors;  and

(2) none of the parsonages are being used to make a profit.

The affidavit shall be signed under oath by the church’s or religious society’s head rabbi, priest, preacher, minister, or pastor.

(d) Property referred to in this section shall be assessed to the extent required under IC 6-1.1-11-9

  1. KOPSOMBUT-MYINT BUDDHIST CENTER, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, 728 N.W. 2d 327 (1986) Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Middle Section, at Nashville. Permission to Appeal Denied, April 6, 1987. IMPORTANT POINT: Property held in trust for a Buddhist Temple qualifies for a property tax exemption, if the property is used for religious purposes and the owner, any stockholder, officer, member or employee of such institution is not lawfully entitled to receive and pecuniary profit from the operations of that property in competition with like property owned by others which is not exempt. Property held in trust and which otherwise qualifies for the exemption is to be exempted from property tax.  Of note, for emphasis, it was obvious that corporate, 501(c)(3) status was not a prerequisite for religious property tax exemption. Also, this case deals with a “trust,” not a “business trust” “charitable trust” or some other type of trust that is a legal entity.” As to the trust relationship, the court stated:
  • “A valid trust need not be in writing. It can be created orally unless the language of the written conveyance excludes the existence of a trust. Sanderson v. Milligan,585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Linder v. Little,490 S.W.2d 717, 723 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1972); and Adrian v. Brown, 29 Tenn. App. 236, 243, 196 S.W.2d 118, 121 (1946). However, when a party seeks to establish an oral trust, it must do so by greater than a preponderance of the evidence. Sanderson v. Milligan, 585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Hunt v. Hunt, 169 Tenn. 1, 9, 80 S.W.2d 666, 669 (1935); and Browder v. Hite, 602 S.W.2d 489, 493 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980).
  • “The existence of a trust requires proof of three elements: (1) a trustee who holds trust property and who is subject to the equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another, (2) a beneficiary to whom the trustee owes the equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit, and (3) identifiable trust property. See G.G. Bogert & G.T. Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees 1, at 6 (rev. 2d ed. 1984) and Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 2 comment h (1957). We find that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center has proved the existence of each of these elements by clear and convincing evidence.” [p. 333].
  1. WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 166 Wis.2d 442 (1992), 480 N.W.2d 16, Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs October 4, 1991.Decided February 17, 1992.The Supreme Court of Wisconsin reviewed the evidence and concluded that “The evidence indicates that Basic Bible was established to evade taxation. Basic Bible failed to meet its burden of proving that it is a “church” or “religious association” under [Wisconsin law]. The court held that Basic Bible was not property tax exempt.” The fact that the church held “in trust” the property for which a property tax exemption was sought was not a factor in the decision.The Court concluded that incorporation and 501(c)(3) status is not a prerequisite for church property tax exemption; and, again, made clear that the fact that the church held the property “in trust” did not disqualify the church from property tax exemption. [My note. Many, many cases are on the record involving denials of “church,” or “religious organization” property tax exemption for incorporated 501(c)(3) tax scams. See, for some examples, III below. This is the only case I have found in which a “church” or “religious organization or society” which held property and/or money in trust was held to be such a scam. Also, by reading this entire case with knowledge, one versed in these matters readily sees that Basic Bible did not understand the law nor the Bible. One could write a lengthy analysis proving that. Also very interesting is the analysis of the pro se representation in this case.]

The Wisconsin Supreme Court stated, in its opinion from which the above was taken that:

  • The court of appeals had no obligation to look beyond the issues raised by Bible Baptist, but had the discretion to do so. The “church” was organized as a trust. The principle issue which it in its discretion addressed was the circuit court’s conclusion that for a ‘church’ to claim a tax exemption, it must be incorporated under the laws of Wisconsin or another state. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin agreed with the conclusion of the appeals court that the church need not be incorporated to claim a tax exemption.The Court stated: “We need not reiterate the excellent discussion and analysis underpinning that conclusion that appears in the court of appeals opinion. 157 Wis. 2d at 539-49” [the citation for this case].

The opinion from the court of appeals referred to by the Wisconsin Supreme Court was WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 157 Wis.2d 539 (1990), 461 N.W.2d 143, Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs December 8, 1989. Decided August 2, 1990Here are some very important points made on pp. 539-49 of that decision:

We hold … that the church was not required to show that it was incorporated as a religious society or corporation under ch. 187, Stats., or otherwise, to establish that its property is exempt from taxation under sec. 70.11(4).

The court examined the legislative history of the pertinent statutes to determine if a church or religious organization must be incorporated for its property to be tax exempt [under state law]. The court started with examination of the first exemption from taxation of the property of churches and religious organizations—in sec. 24, ch. 47, Revised Statutes of 1849. Chapter 47 prescribed the procedure by which persons belonging to a church congregation or religious society, “not already incorporated,” could incorporate. … The exemption was not limited to religious societies incorporated under ch. 47.

The court then looked at Chapter 130, Laws of 1868 which provided for the assessment of property for taxation and for exemptions therefrom. Section 2, 3d exempted “[p]ersonal property owned by any religious, scientific, literary or benevolent association, used exclusively for the purposes of such association, and the real property necessary for the location and convenience of the buildings of such association . . . not exceeding ten acres. . . .” Chapter 130 did not define “association.” The court then went to Wisconsin Statutes of 1898. Section 1038, subd. 3 was renumbered sec. 70.11(4), Stats., by sec. 16, ch. 69, Laws of 1921. Throughout its history, the exemption from taxation of property of churches and religious associations has been accorded in substantially the same language. No “linkage” has existed between the exemption statutes and those affecting the organization of churches and religious associations or societies.

Chapter 411, Laws of 1876, provided for the incorporation of religious societies. Apparently this act replaced ch. 47 of the revised statutes of 1849. Chapter 411 is silent as to the taxation or exemption of the property of religious societies incorporated thereunder.

The procedures for the incorporation of religious societies were included in ch. 91, Revised Statutes of 1878. Nash’s Wisconsin Annotations (1914), sec. 1990, ch. 91 at 753, states:

The revisers of 1878 in their note said: “Chapter 411, 1876, is taken to have been intended as a revision of the law for the incorporation of religious societies. The privilege of organizing a corporation is extended to all classes and denominations, it not being supposed the law means to be intolerant of any religious belief or to be partial in its offer of privileges.”

The same annotation at page 755 states:

“Church” and “Congregation.” A church consists of those who are communicants, have made a public profession of religion and are united by a religious bond of common spiritual welfare. It is the spiritual body, not the legal one. But a religious society or congregation, under the statute, is a voluntary association of persons, generally but not necessarily in connection with a church proper, united for the purpose of having a common place of worship and to provide a proper teacher to instruct them in doctrines and duties, etc. [Citations omitted.]

Decisions interpreting ch. 91, Revised Statutes of 1878, make plain that failure of a church or religious organization to incorporate thereunder did not affect the power of the church or religious organization to hold title to property. “Under the repeated decisions of this court, we must hold that the mere fact that [a] church or religious society had not yet been incorporated at the time of the delivery of [a] deed in no way frustrated the trust thereby created, if such trust was otherwise valid.” Fadness v. Braunborg, 73 Wis. 257, 278-79, 41 N.W. 84, 90 (1889) (emphasis in original).

In Holm v. Holm, 81 Wis. 374, 382, 51 N.W. 579, 581 (1892), the facts included that the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Roche-a-Cree was a voluntary association until February 7, 1889. The court noted that “[p]rior to that date the title to the churches in which the members of the association worshiped was vested in trustees named in . . . deeds, and their successors in office. . . . The trusts imposed by such deeds appear to have been valid upon the principles stated by this court in adness v. Braunborg. . . .” Id.

In Franke v. Mann, 106 Wis. 118, 131, 81 N.W. 1014, 1018-19 (1900), the court further said that “[w]hat has been said is in harmony with the law regarding trusts for religious uses, whether the trustees be officers of a religious corporation or of an unincorporated ecclesiastical body. . . .” Id. at 131-32, 81 N.W. at 1019 (emphasis added).

It is plain from these decisions that the court did not consider that the legislature, by offering to ecclesiastical bodies the advantages of incorporation, intended to impose corporate structure upon such bodies. The property of unincorporated ecclesiastical bodies was commonly held in trust for the benefit of the members.

The Basic Bible Church established that title to the real estate subject to foreclosure was held in the name of the trustees for the benefit of the church. We conclude that the trust constituted an “entity” which could claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats., for the benefit of the Basic Bible Church. We further conclude that the legislative history of the pertinent statutes does not disclose a legislative intent to require that a church or religious association be incorporated before it may claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4).

Lesson 5: Which term, “STEWARD” OR “TRUSTEE,” is more appropriate in declaring a church bible trust relationship?

Copyright © by Jerald Finney
December 15, 2021

Go to the following webpage for links to additional lessons:
Lessons on the Bible (Common Law) Trust.

Over the years, several have suggested that “steward” is more appropriate. “Why not use the term ‘steward’ instead of ‘trustee’?” For example, a gentleman at an Unregistered Baptist Fellowship Conference said to me something others have commented on over the years, “We use the term steward because Biblical law is over man’s law.”  This article will look at Bible teaching to address this and related matters:  the meanings of the words “steward,” “trust,” “trustee,” “beneficiary,” “trust estate;” the eternal and temporal applications of the relationship; just versus unjust stewardship according to God; and the consequences of just and unjust application of the relationship. This lesson will explain (1) why the term “trustee,” a derivative of the word “trust,” is, in only one context which will be differentiated below near the end of this lesson, the equivalent of the term “steward,” and, therefore, (2) why the use of “trustee” is preferable.

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

One use of term “trust” references a relationship with property. “Trust,” in the context of the common law trust relationship with property, means:

“Property committed to a person’s care for use or management, and for which an account must be rendered. Every man’s talents and advantages are a trust committed to him by his Maker, and for the use or employment of which he is accountable.”

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

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

The beneficiary – that is, the true, equitable, and beneficial owner – of the property held in a Bible trust is the Lord Jesus Christ, and all of the properties of the trust estate are held in trust, by the trustee, solely for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of all property including all property held in the Trust. The trustor, in establishing the church Bible trust relationship with property is not naming or making the Lord Jesus Christ the Beneficiary or the Trust Estate; Christ is the Beneficiary–the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of the earth and all that is in it (Exodus 19:5, Leviticus 25:23, 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:10, Psalm 89:11, Haggai 2:8).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The eternal application alone is seen in 1 Corinthians 4.1, 2: “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.  Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.”; and Titus 1.7: “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre.”.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. “But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts” (1 Thes. 2.4).
  2. “According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust” (1 Ti. 1:11).
  3. “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Ti. 6:20).
  4. “If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who [what trustor] will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own” (Lk. 16:11-12)?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

American Jurisprudence 2d, Trusts § 2 makes clear that a “trust” is not a legal entity, but merely a fiduciary relationship with property. For one thing, this means that the one cannot sue the trust, since it is not recognized as a legal entity. This is not true of a “business trust,” a “charitable trust” or some other legal extensions of the “trust” relationship. See, FORWARD: A CHURCH WHO ESTABLISHES A BIBLE TRUST RELATIONSHIP WITH PROPERTY IS NOT ORGANIZING AS A TRUST.

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

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

Lesson 4: The Wisdom of a Written Declaration of Trust

Copyright © by Jerald Finney
December 14, 2021

Go to the following webpage for links to additional lessons:
Lessons on the Bible (Common Law) Trust.

Wisdom dictates that the best course of action for a church organized according to New Testament Church Doctrine is to properly write and execute a declaration, with supporting document(s), of the principles behind and terms of their Bible Trust agreement. One good name for this type of writing is “Declaration of Trust (‘DOT’).” A “declaration” is a publication or manifestation. Such a declaration will keep a church out of trouble as long as the terms of the trust are  honored and maintained. An oral church Bible trust relationship with property will most likely, sooner or later, get a church into trouble. This lesson will cover the reasons why wisdom recommends the use of a written declaration and supporting documents.

Should a church repent of an unbiblical church organization—such as incorporation, unincorporated association, Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(a) status—biblically correct and comprehensive documents set the stage for implementation of the new, Christ-ordered direction and organization of the church. For churches already organized and operating according to New Testament Church Doctrine (for example, the church owns or leases no property whatsoever, holds no bank account or money, holds no insurance, etc.), written declaration agreed to by church members educates and eliminates ignorance concerning New Testament Church Doctrine. Proper documents perpetually benefit, educate, and set an example for present and future members of a church, other churches, the general public, and the world. Comprehensive and correct documents obey, glorify, and please God by, among other matters:

  • Stating the New Testament doctrines and principles relied on for church organization under Christ and Him alone;
  • Stating New Testament doctrine concerning church, state, and the God-ordained relationship between church and state;
  • Stating the legal basis upon which a church relies for church organization under the authority of Christ and Him alone;
  • Stating and define the elements of the irrevocable common law trust; and
  • Defining the nature of the irrevocable common law trust, a relationship with property only, a non-legal entity.

A DOT which declares a Bible Trust relationship totally conforms to Scriptural principles and guidelines. See Lesson 3: Trust is a Bible Concept. It, with supporting documents, makes clear to all that the church, as trustor or settlor, remains a spiritual entity and closes the door to all legitimate arguments that the church is a legal, as opposed to a spiritual, entity.

If the trust relationship is understood, honored, declared, and correctly applied and managed, a correct DOT and supporting documents settle arguments about the intent and terms of the trust, the principles and facts relied upon, and the intended ownership and management of the trust estate. No disgruntled church member can rewrite or control the terms of the trust agreement (without support of the other members). No such member can argue that any type of contract, charitable trust, or other legal arrangement was intended or implemented.

Remember, only a legal entity can be sued or charged with a crime. A court has no jurisdiction over a church which is not a legal entity, a church under Christ alone, a First Amendment church. See Lesson 1: The basics of the Bible Trust and how a Church which has established a Bible trust can become a legal entity thereby nullifying status of the church as a spiritual body under Christ and Christ alone. Should a misguided member attempt to sue the church, a designated church member, probably the pastor, should make a special appearance in court contesting jurisdiction. The representative should point out that the church is a First Amendment church as opposed to a Fourteenth Amendment church which is a legal entity such as a church which is a legal entity such as an incorporated (sole or aggregate) church, an Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt church, a charitable trust church, or an unincorporated association church. He should point out that the church has no constitution, by-laws, employees, salaries, bank accounts, etc.; that the church owns or leases no property. The church itself judges all matters within the church. See, 1 Corinthians 5 and 6.

The door is closed for church member to control Lord’s property and/or to control the spiritual direction of the church. the Declaration makes clear (1) that the trust property and monies belong to God, not to the church and are to be administered by the trustee solely for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the owner of the trust estate, according to His will as given in the Word of God, not the benefit of the trustee, and (2) the duties and powers of the trustee. Of course, Ephesians 4:1-16 explains the correct manner of dealing with differences Endnote [i].

No government law, court, agent, or officer can argue the type of trust created or the intent of the creator(s) of the trust agreement. The state cannot order the church to shut down or place other rules on the church. Of course, God allows free will to every civil government; He allows a state to exert tyrannical authority over individuals, but the state cannot exert any authority over a church under Christ alone.  Nor can a state control or take authority over the trust because the trust is not a legal entity. The trust is a relationship with property. A tyrannical state can exert unlawful control over property.

The written Declaration, if in conformity to Bible principles, serves as the light and authority as to intent and terms. Should anyone dispute the terms of the trust relationship, the Declaration serves as the standard. The declaration and supporting documents make clear that all trust property belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ and is to be used solely for His benefit according to His will given in the Word of God. The DOT makes clear that the trustee may not utilize, sell, or encumber any trust property for his own benefit.

A properly worded and executed declaration and supporting document(s) are solid proof that neither the trust agreement thereby declared nor the trustor church are legal entities subject to the authority of man. The documents make clear that (1) the church is organized according to Bible doctrine, a spiritual entity under God alone, not  creature of the state—a business, a business trust, charitable trust, non-profit corporation, unincorporated association, Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt religious organization and that (2) the church is  not a two-headed monster, at best partially under the state and partially under God, or partially or totally under the state.

Keep in mind that a church can assume the status of a legal entity by hiring employees, paying salaries, holding a church bank account, purchasing property or insurance, leasing property, submitting to court jurisdiction, or acting legally in any other way. A church under Christ is organized and operates within the parameters of New Testament church doctrine.

The church under Christ alone can do all that a church under man, a church which is a legal entity, can do and more. Unlike the compromised church under God and man (the church which is a legal entity), she can glorify and please God in her organization and operation. She can have the use of a meetinghouse, vehicles, pews, seats, computers, etc. owned by the Lord not by the church.

In all matters, she can honor both God and man. For example, church members can resolve that a certain weekly, bi-weekly, monthly gift from the trust estate (which is owned by the Lord) will go to support the pastor and his family since this corresponds to the will of the Lord as given in His Word. The pastor can report this on his income tax return, but not on Schedule C, or not as wages, tips or salaries. He should report the gifts received as “other” on Schedule 1.

The trust arrangement honors both God and man. God’s light shines through and God is glorified by biblically correct documents which declare the Bible Trust relationship. A church declaration of trust, whether oral or written, as long as not compromised through improper church action, sets in place the Biblical principle of separation of church and state. America’s highest man made law, the First Amendment religion clause, is a statement of the Biblical principle of separation of church and state. See, for explanation, Is Separation of Church and State found in the Constitution?

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Endnote [i] Ephesians 4:1-16: “I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 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: 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; 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.”

Mysticism (Foundational to the coming one-world religion)

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October 10, 2021
The Berean Call; 541-382-6210; customerservice@thebereancall.org
Hello Jerald,

Undermining sound doctrine is Satan’s primary goal in his attempt to shipwreck the faith and fruitfulness of believers. The strategy involves corrupting the Word of God by adding to it or subtracting from it. Thus the Scriptures are distorted through the input of fallen, finite man and the contributions of seducing spirits and doctrines of demons (1Tm 4:1). Such modifications demolish the objective truth of Scripture. The Bible no longer stands as God’s Word when “adjustments” are made by other sources. This is taking place today in unprecedented fashion, especially through the introduction (or re-introduction) of mysticism.

The antithesis of the objective Word of God, mysticism is defined by The Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “the belief that direct knowledge of God, spiritual truth, or ultimate reality can be attained through subjective experience such as intuition or insight,” and adds that it is “vague speculation, a belief without sound basis.” Google gives this definition: “belief characterized by self-delusion or dreamy confusion of thought, especially when based on the assumption of occult qualities or mysterious agencies.” A mystical worldview, which is intensifying in both the world and its religions, will be foundational to the coming one-world religion.
Among many reasons, the primary one is that mysticism has a universal appeal that will attract and unify all the religions of the world. Why? Because it avoids doctrine (rules, regulations, commandments, obligations, requirements, etc.). The doctrines of the Bible are given by God and are to be obeyed; not obeying them is rebellion, which is the state of the world as well as the state of many within the church. The religions of the world also have doctrines, albeit false ones, against which their followers often rebel. Doctrines divide because people don’t particularly like rules that demand obedience. The stricter the rules, the less attractive the religion. That’s a potential problem for the religion of the Antichrist because its goal is to attract other belief systems and draw all people into its spiritual web.
The Berean Call; 541-382-6210; customerservice@thebereancall.org

 

Questions and Responses about Mysticism

Church Spiritual Fornication Does Not Matter?

Jerald Finney
October 25, 2021
All citations are to the King James Bible

4I recently posted a link to a webpage which explains the Bible principles of government, church, God’s prescribed relationship between civil government and church, and the American application of those principles. I added to the post the picture at right, “501-c-3 Church/This Means Your Church Places Government Over God!” One comment to the post stated, “Nothing to worry about…the world is fixin to end any moment…(Duh…)” The comment could mean various things, but I will assume that the author agreed with me and that the statement was a satire for harlot churches to consider.

A ”Christian” lawyer who once was a force for the truth about the relationship of church and state until the 1980’s turned coat when some of the big-boy pastors met with him. They told him that they were looked to and followed by thousands of incorporated 501(c)(3) churches, that they were not going to change, and that they would make sure that he, and the law firm he represented, would be taken care of by them, all the churches and Bible colleges and seminaries that were part of their religious associations. After he defected to serve the god of this world, he eventually began to teach that all churches should incorporate and get 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) status. Needless to say, untold numbers of uneducated churches, Bible colleges, Bible seminaries, Bible institutes and believers follow him and his pernicious ways. This attorney said to numerous pastors of unregistered (non-incorporated, non-501(c)(3), etc.) churches that they might as well join them since the government was going to eventually get them all anyway. Needless to say, that lawyer is well fixed materially for the time being although poorly prepared for eternity.

Due to the efforts of pastors, “Christian” attorneys, and their cohorts, most churches, even so-called “Bible-believing” churches in America, are spiritual harlots. They are married to the state through incorporation and the federal government through Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status. They have chosen to enter into an unholy relationship with the state of incorporation and the federal government (actually the Internal Revenue Service).

A church is espoused to the Lord Jesus Christ. God is jealous over the local church “with godly jealousy” for, as He inspired Paul to write, “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:2). But Paul feared, “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 11:3).

Paul knew that Christ, the Bridegroom, wanted to be head over his churches, the bride, in all things (Matthew 18:16, Ephesians 1:22-23, Colossians 1:18). Christ purchased the church with his own blood (Acts 20:28). He “loved the church and gave himself for it That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy [set apart for God] and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-26).

In spite of these clear Bible admonitions, most American so-called Bible-believing churches marry a state, through incorporation, and the federal government (the Internal Revenue Service) through tax exempt status. They are spiritual whores. “Nothing to worry about…the world is fixin to end any moment…(Duh…).” They may as well choose to commit spiritual fornication since the government is going to get all the churches anyway. I wonder how our Lord, the Bridegroom feels about that. Wonder if they will feel shame after this life on earth is ended and they stand before Him in judgment (1 Corinthians 3:12-17, 2 Corinthians 5:8-11, Philippians 2:9-10, Revelation 20:11-15).

Lesson 2: The Elements of a Church Bible Trust

 Jerald Finney
Churches Under Christ Ministry
September 30, 2021

Go to the following webpage for links to additional lessons:
Lessons on the Bible (Common Law) Trust.

Trust

Specific terms are not necessary for a church Bible Trust relationship, a fiduciary relationship with property, to exist. However, as with any relationship, terms facilitate communication. Since a Bible Trust relationship is one in which church reaches an agreement with a person to hold and manage property for the benefit of the owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ, convenient terms for the elements of the relationship are trustor, trustee, beneficiary, and trust estate. This lesson will use those terms in explaining the church Bible trust relationship.

Re.4.11According to God’s Word in the Old Testament, God entrusted man with His earth and all that is in it. God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is in the earth, including man and woman. He gave man the duty to hold and manage His earthly creations. A trustor or settlor is the one who establishes a trust agreement. God was trustor of all things. He appointed man as trustee. The earth and the things that are in it compose the earthly trust estate of the trust established by God, the beneficiary (true, equitable, and beneficial owner).

God entrusts man with the earth and all material things in it. He entrusts His children with spiritual matters. God’s churches, churches under Christ and Christ alone, are spiritual organisms totally under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, not worldly organizations partially under the authority of Christ and partially under the authority of civil government. Any church who submits herself to man’s laws of incorporation, charitable trust, tax exemption, etc. is not a church under Christ and Christ alone and is not organized and managed solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ according to New Testament church doctrine.

According to New Testament principle and example, a church under Christ alone is a purely spiritual organization (See, e.g., the Book of Ephesians) made up of spiritual beings (See 1 Corinthians 2:14-16). God’s Word defines New Testament churches as spiritual organisms, not worldly organizations (See, e.g., Ephesians 4 and 1 Corinthians 12). Their concern is not to be for this world and worldly possessions. Their purpose is eternal and spiritual, not temporal and earthly. Thus, no church in the New Testament owned or held property, real or personal. Members of New Testament churches gave offerings to God to be used for purposes consistent with His will as revealed in His Word, but they did not give to the church they were part of; doing that would have been giving to themselves. A New Testament church under Christ alone, a heavenly organism, has no employees, pays no salaries, holds no real or personal property, has no insurance, and acts legally in no other way.

How can a church remain true to Christ in the matter of property? By holding or owning none. Property is both real (real estate) and personal. Personal property includes money and bank accounts. A church under Christ alone must meet on real estate, but she cannot own the real estate. She can meet in a person’s home, in his building, or under his tree. Or, a church can meet on public property, under a bridge, in a park, etc. Or, a church (trustor) can reach an agreement with a person (trustee) whereby the church gives to God (to the trust estate owned by God) and meets on property owned by the Lord Jesus Christ (the beneficiary). The trust estate, which can hold real estate used for church purposes only, money, and/or a bank checking account held and managed by a person or persons (trustee(s)) solely for the benefit and will of the owner.

Members of a New Testament church give to God a portion of His property which he has entrusted to them, not to the church, since they are the church. When they give to God, their gift is put in God’s trust estate and is irrevocable (See, Acts 5:1-11).

The trustor church declares the trust relationship and appoints a trustee. The trustee agrees to become the legal (earthly, temporal) owner of the trust estate. He agrees to hold and manage the trust estate solely for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the owner of the trust estate. He receives no compensation for serving as Trustee.

The pastor should be trustee named in a church Bible trust agreement. A pastor, deacon or elder man in the church can serve as trustee. The pastor should be as qualified or more qualified as any man in the church to hold and manage God’s earthly property. See EN[i].

A trust document should include language which prohibits the trustee from using any property, or proceeds from the conveyance of any property in the trust estate, for the benefit of himself or anyone else. Language such as:

  • “In no event will the ownership of any or all real or personal property or money in the Trust Estate ever be transferred to any member or members of Bible Baptist Church or to any other person, except as provided in this document for …, or for other purposes consistent with Bible guidelines.”

The beneficiary is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of everything in the trust estate. All property in the trust estate is to be held and managed by the legal (earthly) owner of the trust estate solely according to the will of the true, equitable and beneficial owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ. The trustee has a fiduciary duty to use the estate for purposes consistent with the will of God as laid out in God’s Word.

A church Declaration of Trust should include language such as:

  • “The Beneficiary of this Trust is the Lord Jesus Christ, and all of the properties of the Trust Estate are held in Trust, by the Trustee, solely for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ who is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of all property including all property held in Trust. This Declaration of Trust is not naming or making the Lord Jesus Christ the Beneficiary or the Trust Estate; He is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of the earth and all that is in it (Exodus 19:5, Leviticus 25:23, 1 Chronicles 29:11-12, Psalm 24:1, Psalm 50:10, Psalm 89:11, Haggai 2:8). This document is merely declaring that truth.”

Some Concluding Comments to This Lesson

A church can remain a spiritual entity only by utilizing the Bible concept of trust, by declaring and practicing an irrevocable common law or Bible trust, whether declared in writing or not. The church is trustor since the church (the members) return portions of that which God has entrusted to them to the Lord, to God. What is given to God constitutes the trust estate. The  appointed temporal legal owner of the trust estate is the trustee. The Lord Jesus Christ is the beneficiary, the true, beneficial, and equitable owner of the property held in the trust estate. Gifts, tithes, and offerings are to God (to the trust estate which is owned by God), not to the church.

This type of trust arrangement is Scriptural. The church is declaring and practicing a relationship with property, not organizing as a trust. The church does not apply to the state, according to state law, for trust status, as with a charitable or business trust. No papers are filed with the state. The trust relationship is private. The church remains totally under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and His word as long as she does not act legally. The trustee does not hold the property in the trust estate for the church. The trustee holds and manages the property in the trust estate solely for the owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ, according to His will. The trustee is the legal (temporary earthly) owner of the property and the Lord Jesus Christ is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner.

As to property on which a church meets, the state will declare someone to be legal owner of that property if no one holds legal title and if it is brought to the attention of the state. The law, and the Lord, requires someone to hold temporary earthly title to real property.

A New Testament church is a spiritual entity only. Therefore, a New Testament church cannot hold title to property. Should a church hold title to property through a trustee or trustees, that church is no longer a spiritual entity only because she has entwined herself with the legal system. A title is a legal declaration of ownership.

Only a legal entity can act legally, sue, be sued, enter into contracts, be charged with a crime, or act legally in some other way. To assume ownership of property is to act legally. Every American citizen in his right mind is a legal entity. Likewise, corporations (aggregate of sole, profit or non-profit), charitable trusts, business trusts, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) and § 508 organizations are legal entities. A church who owns property through one of these legal devises is asserting ownership. A church who does not hold property, to include money, but puts property into a trust estate of a properly structured irrevocable common law or Bible trust is not acting legally. The trustee of such a trust holds legal or earthly title to the money are property, if any, in the trust estate. He is to administer the money and property, if any, for the benefit of the true owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, a church who holds property through a trustee for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ is a legal or earthly entity.

Holding property in the recommended manner has additional benefits. Not only does holding property in this manner comport with biblical principles, it also lessens the chances that the property, and especially the buildings, will become idols. “Their idols are … the work of men’s hands.  … They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” (Ps. 115.4-8). Likewise, monetary riches and other worldly possessions can become idolatrous.  Finally, holding property in this way assures that a church has chosen not to be structured like a business or a government created organization; that church can operate according to the principles in the New Testament.

As God, our Lord owned everything. As a man, our Lord God owned no worldly property. No New Testament church owned any property. What about the church you are a member of?


Endnote

EN[i] Timothy was a preacher with a special position of trust. Timothy was a trustee of a spiritual heritage: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:” (1 Ti. 6.20). Likewise, elders, which includes pastors, must meet specific requirements which not every man in a church can meet. (See, for example, Tit. 1.5-9). An elder must hold fast the Word of God, “that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers” (Tit. 1.9-16, 2.2; see also, Ac. 11.30, 14.23, (ordained elders in every church), 15.2, 4, 6, 22-23, 16.4, 20.17, 21.18; 1 Ti. 5.1 (“rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father”), 1 Ti. 5.17-19; Ja. 5.14-15; He. 13.7, 17; 1 Pe. 5.1 (Peter the Apostle was an elder, here writing to “the elders who are among you”; 1 Pe. 5.5 (younger to submit to the elder, and all to submit to one another); 2 Jn. 1 and 3 Jn. 1 (John the Apostle was also an elder);

Biblically, a pastor must meet stringent God-given requirements:

  • “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop [pastor], he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Ti. 3.1-7).
  • “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;” (Tit. 1.7).

These requirements are strict because a pastor, and every member of a church, is entrusted by God to “take care of the church of God.” (1 Ti. 3.5).

“The elders [pastors included] which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.” (1 Pe. 5.1-5).

The Bible proclaims: “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” (He. 13.7). “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.” ( He. 13.17). “Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints….” (He. 13.24). “Them” is plural, and includes the pastor and other elders of a church.

The elders, including the pastor, are to oversee a church: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.” (Ac. 20.28). Paul was speaking to the elders of the church at Ephesus (Ac. 20.17-18).

A pastor is responsible to act as a ruler, trustee, steward, and overseer of a church. As such, he should be as qualified as any other church member to be the trustee of God’s trust estate.

What Does Romans 13 Teach Regarding Man’s Obligation to Civil Government? A Bible Study

DSCN1228The following is a reproduction of Chapter 4 of Render Unto God the Things that Are His/A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses.

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Chapter 4
Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers? Romans 13

      Romans 13, portions of which are quoted below, is often taken out of context to support the argument that men and churches are to totally submit to the civil government in all things except (perhaps) the preaching of salvation.

“1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. 2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: 4 For he is a minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is a minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. 5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. 6 For this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. 7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.”[1]

      Americans are witnessing the proliferation of civil government use of pastors, Christians in general, and churches to address problems, disasters, and emergencies. Romans 13 is used more than any other verse to justify such cooperation. In addition, other verses are, to a lesser degree, utilized out of context to support submission to civil government in every conceivable way.[2]

      It is wrong to believe that individuals and churches should submit to the authority of the civil government in all earthly and spiritual matters for at least two reasons. First, to believe that Romans 13, I Peter 2.13, and I Timothy 2.1-6 teach blind obedience by individuals and by churches to civil government would make those verses inconsistent with the rest of biblical teaching concerning God’s total authority over the individual believer’s spiritual life, God’s total authority over the church, and God’s total authority over the state. For example, Scripture tells us that the authors of Romans 13 and I Peter 2.13 consistently violated these verses as wrongly interpreted by civil government and many “Christians.” Second, Romans 13 would be inconsistent within itself. The Word of God is never inconsistent.

      Romans 13.1 first makes clear that every soul is to be subject to the higher powers. Thus, even human leaders, since they also have souls, are subject to a higher power. According to the Bible, God is the power higher than all other governments. As shown in Part One, Section I, of God Betrayed, God ordains all governments, is above all governments, and lays out the jurisdiction of all governments. Man is to be subject to civil government concerning those earthly matters over which God has given civil government jurisdiction. According to Romans 13.3-4, civil government was ordained by God to be a minister of God to execute judgment over evil doers and to reward those who do good. Man is to be under God only, regardless of what the rules of civil government declare, concerning those spiritual matters for which God has retained jurisdiction for Himself.

      Romans 13, consistent with Old and New Testament principles, proclaims the God-ordained purpose of civil government, and that God—the highest power—ordained and is over civil government. According to Romans 13.7, Christians are to render to civil government tribute, custom, fear, and honor—where due under the God-given jurisdiction of civil government.

      Romans 13.3-4 and I Peter 2.13-14 lay out, consistent with the rest of Scripture, the God-given jurisdiction of civil government over man. In those verses, God grants civil governments jurisdiction over certain earthly, not spiritual, matters, and instructs man to do good and to refrain from doing evil. Many Christians point to those Scriptures and incorrectly declare: “That settles it. The Bible orders blind obedience to civil government in all matters, period;” or they proclaim that those verses require Christians to obey civil government in all things with the possible exception of the preaching of salvation.

      Even with the establishment of the church, as recorded in the New Testament, God found it necessary to continue the institution of civil government. The original God-given purpose and jurisdiction of Gentile civil government was to continue. In Romans 13.3 He proclaims that “rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil” since if citizens “do that which is good,” rulers will praise them. The word from which “evil” in Romans 13.4 is translated means “generally opposed to civil goodness or virtue, in a commonwealth, and not to spiritual good, or religion, in the church.”[3] Romans 13.4 proclaims that this is because a ruler is a “minister of God to thee for good,” just as he is “a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.”

      Many civil governments go beyond their God-given jurisdiction. Was Rome a minister of God for good when she executed untold numbers of Christians before the marriage of church and state in the fourth century? What about those governments during the Middle Ages that worked in conjunction with the Roman Catholic “church” to persecute and kill millions of Christians labeled as heretics for refusing to bow down to a false theology? Was Hitler a minister of God for good when he forbade, on penalty of imprisonment and/or death, authentic biblical teaching which condemned his actions against the Jews and true Christians? How about Lenin and Stalin who were not only responsible for the murder of tens of millions of Christians, but who also required the teaching of atheism and established atheism as the official faith of the Soviet Union? How about the governments of Red China, Korea, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and many others at the present time? Are such civil governments legitimately operating under God and His principles? Is the Christian who lives under such civil governments expected by God to follow all their rules?

      How does God feel about Christians who obey God and thereby disobey civil governments which go beyond their jurisdiction? Were those Christians who conspired against Hitler wrong? Were Corrie Ten Boom and others wrong to save Jews from extermination? Were Moses’ parents wrong to save their son against the order of Pharaoh?[4] Was the writer of the New Testament book of Hebrews wrong to praise them for hiding Moses, not being “afraid of the king’s commandment?”[5] How about the Egyptian midwives when they “feared God, and did not as the king of Egypt commanded them but saved the male children alive?”[6] Was God wrong in dealing well with those midwives for saving the male babies and lying to Pharaoh?[7]  Was Moses wrong when he “refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; [c]hoosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; [e]steeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.”[8]

      Was God wrong when He told Moses to defy Pharaoh?[9] Was Moses wrong to exercise his faith, obey God, and defy Pharaoh?[10] Was Rahab the harlot wrong to lie to the authorities about the whereabouts of the Jewish spies in her land in order to save their lives?[11] Was Joshua wrong for allowing her to live as a reward for defying her governing authorities?[12] Was God wrong to include Rahab in the hall of faith, along with such people as Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Sara, Isaac and Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, and other heroes of the faith?[13] What about Ehud who killed King Eglon;[14] Joshua who attacked the governing authorities by God’s command;[15] Jael, who nailed her governing authority to the ground with a tent stake;[16] Samson who revolted against the governing authorities;[17] David who ran from Saul;[18] Mordecai who refused to bow down and worship Haman;[19] Elijah who ignored the order of a wicked King even when fifty soldiers showed up, then stood against King Ahab, Jezebel, and their false prophets;[20] Daniel and Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego;[21] the apostles including Peter who said, “We ought to obey God rather than men;”[22] Paul who disobeyed many of his ruling authorities; all those down through the ages since Jesus’ resurrection and return to glory who have suffered persecution and death for the cause of Christ, including all the apostles, eleven of whom were ultimately martyred for the faith; Christians down through the last 2000 years from Christ to this very day who were imprisoned, tortured, and killed because they would not submit to the governing authorities in spiritual matters, many times religious organizations such as the Lutheran or Catholic churches, or renounce Christ, or quit rebaptizing, or quit street preaching, or succumb to false doctrines and/or worship the governing authorities; and those contemporary Christians in the underground churches of China, Cuba, Korea, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam,, Laos, Malay, the Sudan, Morocco, Libya, Somalia, Algeria, Malaysia, Afghanistan, Colombia, the former Soviet Union, and many other nations?[23]

      Did the blessed Savior and God, the Lord Jesus Christ, sin when He chose to continue to do His miracles, to preach to the people, to condemn the religious leaders of His day and their errors, to proclaim that He was the Messiah even though He was upsetting the religious rulers of His day who ultimately used the governing authorities to crucify Him?

      The Bible, history, and reality show that some rulers, according to Romans 13, exceed their God-ordained power. America does not honor God and His principles. America is a pluralistic nation. All religions are regarded equally, except for Christianity which is now attacked from all quarters. America allows abortion, the murder of unborn babies,[24] to go unpunished. Abortion is the ultimate attack on God[25] and the legitimacy of God’s supreme rule. Abortion is an attack on the first institution ordained by God in that it tells men, and especially women, that they can discard God’s rules concerning sex before marriage[26] and engage in sex outside the marriage vows[27] with impunity. Abortion attacks individuals by tempting them to ignore God’s rules regarding fornication and adultery. Women who have their babies killed risk great emotional, and spiritual damage. Likewise, men who allow their babies to be murdered suffer, at the very least, spiritual and emotional harm. Abortion is the ultimate attack on the God-ordained institution of marriage, the basic building block of society.

      America has also redefined marriage and the family contrary to biblical definitions and principles. In fact, what authority has the state to define marriage other than it is defined by God? Who—the state or God—ordained marriage? America has redefined marriage as a contract between two equal people. God said marriage is a covenant between a man, a woman, and God.[28]  America has redefined the family to be a group of people living together all of whom should have an equal voice, even children. Are fathers and mothers wrong to structure and operate their families according to biblical principles, denying their children an equal voice? Perhaps they are if the state married them since they willingly submitted their marriage and family to the authority of the state. If married by the authority of the state, perhaps they are also wrong to operate their family according to biblical principles because they willingly submitted their family to state authority. Are couples wrong to choose to marry under the authority of a God-ordained minister who refuses to pronounce them man and wife by the authority given him by a God-hating government which operates under Satan’s principles?[29]

      America has enticed churches, as will be developed, to operate by the authority given them by the state. Are pastors wrong to continue to operate solely under the Headship of God? By the way, a church can still preach, teach, and operate solely by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ in this nation. Yet, most pastors choose the government cheese and ease over the principles and promises in the Word of God. Why? The Christian who walks in the flesh does not cherish at least one of the promises of God for the Christian—persecution. “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”[30] Most American “Christians” reject suffering instead of accepting it as instructed (“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;”[31]), as mild as it would be compared to the suffering of Paul, Peter, and the other apostles and Christians down through the last two thousand years. Those “Christians” do not know what they are missing: “That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death[.]”[32]  And how almost non-existent is the persecution to be suffered by the church and the Christian who refuses to put himself or herself under the American civil government in spiritual matters. What would the American Christian today—who bows down to civil government despite the very mild inconveniences that would result from doing things God’s way—do should he face the persecutions endured by the early Christians; persecutions by, for example, the Apostle Paul and others who lived in a society in which Paul, before his conversion, had “imprisoned and beat in every synagogue them that believed on [the Lord],”[33] and persecution by others after Paul’s conversion. Paul noted, shortly before his martyrdom, that he had endured many persecutions,[34] but that “out of them all the Lord delivered [him].”[35] Let it be emphasized that despite the fact that America is no longer a nation under God, Christians are required by Scripture to obey, for the Lord’s sake, every legitimate biblically consistent American law dealing with wrongdoing against one’s fellow man.

      Although the early colonial dissenters such as the Baptists were persecuted by the established churches in the colonies, they were nonetheless free. On the other hand, today’s Americans, including Christians in churches which place themselves under civil government, are in bondage. The eighteenth century words of Isaac Backus apply to Americans today:

  • “Now how often have we been told that he is not a freeman but a slave whose person and goods are not at his own but another’s disposal? And to have foreigners come and riot at our expense and in the fruit of our labors, has often represented as to be worse than death…. But how is our world filled with such madness concerning spiritual tyrants! How far have pride and infidelity, covetousness and luxury, yea, deceit and cruelty, those foreigners which came from Hell, carried their influence, and spread their baneful mischiefs in our world! Yet who is willing to own that he has been deceived and enslaved by them? … All acknowledge that these enemies are among us, and many complain aloud of the mischiefs that they do, yet even those who lift up their heads so high as to laugh at the atonement of Jesus and the powerful influences of the Spirit and slight public and private devotion are at the same time very unwilling to own that they harbor pride, infidelity, or any other of those dreadful tyrants. And nothing but the divine law … brought home with convincing light and power, can make them truly sensible of the soul-slavery that they are in. And ’tis only the power of the Gospel that can set them free from sin so as to become the servants of righteousness, can deliver them from these enemies so as to serve God in holiness all their days.
  • “… Therefore the divine argument to prove that those who promise liberty while they despise government are servants of corruption is this: For of whom a MAN is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage, 2 Pet. ii. 18, 19. He is so far from being free to act the man that he is a bond-slave to the worst of tyrants. And not a little of this tyranny is carried on by such an abuse of language as to call it liberty for men to yield themselves up to be so foolish, disobedient and deceived as to serve divers lusts and pleasures, Tit. iii. 3.” [36]

      The biblical truth is that God gives Gentile civil government control only over certain earthly sins involving man’s relationship to man as is attested to by Romans 13 and I Peter 2.13 in their immediate context and in the context of Scripture as a whole. As at His original establishment of civil government at the flood, God never mentions one act which involves man’s relationship to God in any Scripture involving the authority of civil government. Even in Israel after God allowed the people to have a king, as they requested, the civil ruler was not to intrude into the affairs of the priest.[37] In Romans 12.9-20 and 13.8-14, the verses immediately surrounding Romans 13.1-7, the Word of God, speaking to Christians, elaborates upon the Christian responsibility to his neighbor and to civil government. Nothing is said about the Christian’s responsibility to God (Notwithstanding, treating one’s neighbor as God desires is a responsibility to God.).  For example, Romans 12.9-20, the verses immediately preceding Romans 13, state:

  • Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;  Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.  Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”

Romans 13.8-14 says:

  • “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put you on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

Notice in those verses that, in regard to obeying the ordinances of men, Paul only dealt with the law of love toward one’s neighbor; that is, with man’s relationship to man, and not man’s relationship to God. God did not give Gentile civil government responsibility for exercising authority over spiritual matters, over the first four commandments dealing with man’s relationship to God.

      Civil government has no authority over matters dealing with man’s relationship to God since such matters are spiritual. Spiritual matters, according to God, the Supreme Ruler of the highest government, include both our duties, as individual believers and as members of a church, to God and to man. Christians are to love both God and their neighbor.

      Religious and secular rulers, being led by the god of this world to satisfy their own lusts, have always been concerned with their authority. Not knowing God, they are their own gods. We see that over and over again in the Old and New Testaments. Jesus faced that problem.

  • “Then the Jews took up stones again to stone [Jesus]. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, ye are gods.[38] If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.”[39]

      The apostles always obeyed God in regard to spiritual matters, even when, in so doing, they violated ordinances of man. Disregarding threats, imprisonments, and beatings, the apostles continued both to do for their fellow man and to preach, both in the name of Jesus, repeatedly violating Romans 13, and I Peter 2.13 as interpreted by most contemporary “ Christians.” Peter wrote:

  • “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme; Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.”[40]

Notice that Peter pointed out the purpose of civil government and therefore the ordinances of man—to punish evildoers, and to praise those who do well. According to him, Christians were to obey every “ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake,” and civil government was to deal only with earthly matters.

      Punishment by civil leaders did not cause Peter and John to violate the biblical principle of separation of church and state which was at odds with the worldly principle of separation of church and state. The people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon Peter and John, laid hands on them, and held them,[41] after they performed the first apostolic miracle, healing the lame man. The “rulers, and elders, and scribes” brought them in and asked them, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?”[42]

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, … [B]y the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”[43]

      Their response:

  • “[T]hey conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”[44]

      These rulers would have had no complaint had Peter and John and the other apostles done what they did under the authority of the rulers. Obviously, Peter and John had not yet been taught that Romans 13 and I Peter 2.13 required them to obey the earthly authorities over them in all matters, including spiritual matters. Of course, the apostles, under the authority of the rulers, would not have been able to heal and do other miracles, nor to preach in the power of the Holy Ghost. They still understood that the Highest Power, God himself, told them to do what they were doing and gave them the power to do it, that no earthly power was given the authority to direct them concerning spiritual matters, and that even had an earthly power given the authority to do those matters under earthly authority, they could not have done the miracles or preached the true gospel with power. Many “Christians” today believe that they and the church can simultaneously achieve God’s spiritual goals while operating under the authority of the god of this world. “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”[45]

      After their release, the response of Peter and John and their Christian friends was quite different from what can be expected of “Christians” today, who now have America’s interpretation of Romans 13 and I Peter 2.13 at their disposal. Peter and John then went “to their own company” and prayed:

  • “Lord, thou art God, which hath made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word. By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.”[46]

These men knew their Bible.  Within their prayer they quoted from Isaiah 51.12, 13 and Psalm 2.1-3. They did not take Scripture out of context so that they could forego confronting the rulers. They just asked God to give them boldness to remain under His authority while speaking the Word of the Lord and doing signs and wonders in the name of Jesus. They were concerned with not only preaching the Word but also with “doing” for their fellow man under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. They knew that they could not do any good for their fellow man without the power of God and that they could not have the power of God should they operate under the authority of the state or anyone else.

      The apostles continued to violate today’s perverted interpretation of Romans 13 and I Peter 2.13, accompanied by God’s own angel; and they were so presumptuous as to do so in public places, which is improper according to many of today’s state indoctrinated “Christians” who advise Christians not to preach on the street, or do door-to-door evangelism or any public ministry because they “feel” that to do so is offensive to others and wrong and the proper place for these activities is within the four walls of the church. The apostles continued to do signs and wonders among the people,[47] “healing many sick folks and them which were vexed with unclean spirits.”[48] Because of this, the high priest and all they that were with him, “laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.”[49] The angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, released them, and told them to “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”[50] Here God’s own angel was instructing the apostles to violate America’s false version of Romans 13 and I Peter 2.13. The apostles did what the angel told them to do: “[T]hey entered into the temple early in the morning and taught….”[51]

      Notice, as a side note, that they were not going into their own meeting-place, but were going into the temple—all through Acts they are depicted as not going into the four walls of their own meeting place, but are preaching and helping their fellow man in synagogues, in public places, and going door to door. Maybe the Lord in His wisdom did not mention that a church should own property for a reason—if a church has to operate in the world, outside the four walls of a building, that church, if its members love the Lord, will probably do what God commissioned her to do: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.”[52] Luke recorded the words of Jesus:

  • “Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day: And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things. And behold, I send the promises of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”[53]

Obviously, God’s intent for the church was to get His message to the whole world, not for the church to seclude itself within four walls. Notice that Christians were to begin at Jerusalem, then to go to all the world, to all nations. Because of persecution in Jerusalem for speaking and acting in public in the name of Jesus, the governing authorities forced them to leave Jerusalem and go to the world. God’s will was accomplished through persecution.

      The apostles continued to operate under God regarding spiritual matters. They were again apprehended and brought before the counsel who said to them, “Did we not straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.”[54]

“Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.”[55] [Bold emphasis mine].

“When they heard that they took council to slay them.”[56] Gamaliel talked them out of killing the apostles.[57] Instead, they beat the apostles and “commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.”[58] The apostles “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ,”[59] and continued to do for their neighbor: Peter healed Aeneas of palsy of which he had been in bed eight years and raised Tabitha from the dead in Jesus’ name.[60] Later, the angel of the Lord violated the popular Americanized version of Romans 13 and I Peter 2.13 by breaking Peter out of prison.[61]

      Paul was determined to obey God, not man and not civil government, in regard to spiritual matters. Paul wrote on this matter in Romans and many other books in the New Testament. For example, he instructed the Christian:

  • “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 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[.]”[62]

      Paul simply did not obey the civil government laws which contradicted God’s laws relating to spiritual matters, nor did he teach submission to civil government in spiritual matters. He and Silas were beaten and thrown into prison after casting out a demon from a damsel.[63] The masters of the damsel, because they lost the gains of her divination, brought them to the magistrates, charging that they “teach customs, which are not lawful for [them] to receive, neither to observe, being Romans.”[64] Paul was frequently imprisoned as a result of ministering for Christ.[65] He was concerned with obeying God and with “casting down every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God.”

      Paul, inspired by God, understood that the true Christian was in a warfare initiated by Satan who would do everything in his power to usurp the God-given duties of Christians and churches to love God and to love one’s neighbor. His understanding is reflected in instructions he gave:

  • “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints[.]”[66]

Notice that the armor he mentioned was totally spiritual—loins girt with truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God.

      As to the prayer mentioned in the above verses, Paul instructed Christians to pray in the Spirit that all men, including kings and others in authority, would be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. Christ died for all, including rulers, but he gave everyone a choice of whether to submit to Him.

  • “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;  For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”[67]

He instructed Christians to include rulers in their supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks so that Christians could lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. In other words, a ruler who is saved and comes to the knowledge of the truth will provide an atmosphere, under God his Supreme Ruler, in which Christians can live quiet and peaceable lives. By implication, and as shown consistently throughout history, lost rulers and others in authority likely will not provide such an atmosphere. This is discussed more in Chapter 6, infra.

      Paul knew that Satan would continue to come against the church through earthly powers, through civil government.  He also knew that God wanted His children to fight this warfare using only spiritual, not earthly, means. His goal was the glory of God, not the happiness of man.


Endnotes

[1] Ro. 13.1-7.

[2] To fully understand the issue of separation of church and state, see God Betrayed, Part One.

[3] Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloody Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), p. 133.

[4] Ex. 2.3.

[5] He. 11.23.

[6] Ex. 1.17.

[7] Ex. 1.20.

[8] He. 11.24-26.

[9] Ex. 3.2-12; 3.15-22; 4.21-23.

[10] Ex. 5.12; He. 11.27.

[11] Jos. 2.

[12] Jos. 6.22-25.

[13] See He. 11 and 11.31.

[14] Jud. 3.15-26.

[15] See the book of Jos.

[16] Jud. 4.17-22.

[17] Jud. 13.24-16.30.

[18] See I S. 18.8 through chapter 31.

[19] Est. 3.5.

[20] I K. 18.17-41; II K. 1.9-16.

[21] See the book of Daniel.

[22] Ac. 5.29.

[23] An excellent source to keep abreast of the ongoing persecutions of Christians throughout the world is “The Voice of the Martyrs,” 1-800-747-0085; e-mail: thevoice@vom-usa.org; web site: www.persection.com; children’s web site: www.kidsofcourage.com; address: The Voice of the Martyrs, P.O. Box 443, Bartlesville, OK 74005-0443.

[24] Jb. 31.15: “Did not he that made me in the womb make him? and did not one fashion us in the womb?” Is. 44.24: “Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; …” Is. 49.1: “… the LORD hath called me from the womb; from the bowels of my mother hath he made mention of my name.”  Je. 1.5: “Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.”

[25] Ge. 1.27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.”

[26] See, e.g., Ro. 1.29; I Co. 5.1; 6.9-10 (“… Be not deceived: neither fornicators … shall inherit the kingdom of God.”), 13; 18 (“Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body.”); 7.2; 10.8; II Co. 12.21; Ga. 5.19; Ep. 5.3; Col. 3.5-6; I Th. 4.3.

[27] In Mt. 19.4-6 Jesus confirms the Genesis narrative of creation ([Jesus said to the Pharisees who were attempting him,] “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”). See Ge. 1.27 and 2.23-24 (God created male and female in his own image).  See also, for example, Mt. 5.31-32, 32; Mk. 10.1-12; Lu. 16.18; and I Co. 7.10-15 which deal with dishonoring the marriage relationship.

[28] See, e.g., Mt. 5.31-2; 19.3-9; Mk. 10.1-12; Lu. 16.18.

[29] See God Betrayed, Section VI for more insights into this civil government attack on the marriage of man and woman and the family as well as the marriage of Christ and His church.

[30] II Ti. 3.12.

[31] Ph. 1.29.

[32] Ph. 3.10.

[33] Ac. 22.19.

[34] II Co. 11.23-27: [speaking of the persecutions he endured for serving the Supreme Ruler] “… in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.  Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one.  Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; In journeying often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness….”

[35] II Ti. 3.12.

[36] Isaac Backus, “An Appeal to the Public for Religious Liberty,” Boston 1773, an essay found in Isaac Backus on Church, State, and Calvinism, Pamphlets, 1754-1789, Edited by William G. McLoughlin (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1968), pp. 311-312.

[37] See, e.g., I S. 13.8-14.

[38] The Lord here quotes Ps. 82.6a: “I have said, Ye are gods[.]”

[39] Jn. 10.31-38.

[40] I Pe. 2.13-14.

[41] Ac. 4.1, 3.

[42] Ac. 4.5, 7.

[43] Ac. 4.8, 10-12.

[44] Ac. 4.15-20.

[45] II Ti. 3.5.

[46] Ac. 4.24-31.

[47] Ac. 5.12.

[48] Ac. 5.16.

[49] Ac. 5.17-18.

[50] Ac. 5.19-20.

[51] Ac. 5.21, 25.

[52] Mk. 16.15.

[53] Lu. 24.46-49.

[54] Ac. 5.28.

[55] Ac. 5.29-32.

[56] Ac. 5.33.

[57] Ac. 5.34-38.

[58] Ac. 5.40.

[59] Ac. 5.41-42.

[60] Ac. 9.32-41.

[61] Ac. 12.5-11.

[62] II Co. 10.5.

[63] Ac. 16.1-24.

[64] Ac. 16.19-21.

[65] II Co. 11.23.

[66] Ep. 6.10-18.

[67] I Ti. 2.1-5.

Preliminary Emphasized Lesson: So not Forget that A Church Who Establishes a Bible Trust Relationship with Property Is Not Organizing as a Trust

Go to the following webpage for links to all lessons:
Lessons on the Bible (Common Law) Trust

Copyright © by Jerald Finney
August 18, 2021

A Bible (common law) Trust is not a legal entity; it is not a legal organization; it is recognized by man’s law, but it is not created by man’s law; man’s courts cannot assume jurisdiction over a church Bible Trust or a church who maintains her non-legal status. When a church applies and practices the concept of the Bible Trust, she is not organizing as a trust and she is not becoming a legal entity under man’s law. When a church is organized and operates according to New Testament church doctrine, she is applying the Bible concept of trust. See, TRUST IS A BIBLE CONCEPT. As explained in the lessons which follow, a Bible Trust is nothing more than a relationship with property. See BASICS OF THE BIBLE TRUST RELATIONSHIP AND HOW A CHURCH CAN NULLIFY THE TRUST RELATIONSHIP. A church can practice this concept of trust with the Bible as their sole authority and guide; no other documents are necessary. She will not have agreed to abide with state incorporation law, charitable trust law, Federal Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or Section 508(c)(1)(A) law or any other law of man. She can do everything God’s way. However, should that church wish God’s money to be held in a bank account or should she want the title to God’s real estate for a meetinghouse to effectively be held in His name, she will need to execute proper trust documents. Many churches in America have done and are doing just that.

A church who organizes under man’s law, under a law of civil government, is an established church (a “state church”). Such a church is under the authority of the civil government under whose law she organized, to one degree or another. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions guarantee religious freedom and soul liberty. In America, a church can choose to remain under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and him alone, without persecution; or she can choose to become a state church.

Like non-profit corporations, some types of trusts are legal organizations which are created by state law. For example, charitable and business trusts are formed by contracting with state government. A church can contract with the state under state law to become a charitable or business trust. When the state grants the application, the church becomes a charitable or business trust, a legal entity, subject to the authority of state government for many purposes.

Many churches who have established a Bible Trust will say, “Our church is organized as a trust.” Not so. These lessons make clear that a church who executes a Bible Trust is not organizing as a trust; rather, she is establishing a relationship with property consistent with New Testament Church Doctrine. By so doing, she can operate according to all New Testament Church Doctrine, something which a state organized church cannot do even should she dishonor her contract with the state and disregard all the rules and regulations she agreed to. A church who does not honor her worldly agreements is dishonoring God; she is dishonest. Churches who choose to organize under civil government authority include those who have chosen to become non-profit corporations, charitable trusts, business trusts, unincorporated associations, and/or religious organizations subject to the rules and regulations that come with federal tax exemption law (Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or Section 501(c)(1)(A)).

A church who does not draft and execute Bible Trust documents, and who is organized and managed according to New Testament Church Doctrine has established a Bible Trust relationship with property. However, drafting Bible Trust documents is wise. Without documentation, money held in trust for the owner of that money, the Lord Jesus Christ, cannot be placed in a bank checking account. Other advantages of executing documents include:

  • Well-drafted documents leave no room for argument among church members or anyone else about essential Bible Doctrines and other relevant matters (which most pastors and other church members, “Christian” lawyers, Bible Colleges, seminaries, etc. have never studied, taught, and applied).
  • Well-drafted documents educate present and future church members as to: New Testament Doctrine and American law concerning religious freedom and soul liberty; the Bible Doctrines of church, government, and God’s desired relationship between church and state; the nature of the Bible trust, the elements of the Bible Trust; appointment of successor trustees, powers of the trustee, limitations on the powers of the trustee (For example, the proceeds from sale or conveyance of any trust property cannot inure to his or anyone else’s benefit. All property held in trust must be held, managed, and conveyed solely according to the will of the Lord Jesus Christ as expressed in his Holy Word.); and other important matters.
  • As to the world, bankers and their lawyers will be educated in all these matters because the trustee presents the documents to the bank when opening a trust (not a church) bank account. Likewise, county assessors, county attorneys, and other local (and possibly city, county, state officials) will be educated should the trustee apply for a property tax exemption (which comes with no strings attached) on trust real estate used for “religious” purposes only.
  • Well drafted documents make it possible for real estate for a meetinghouse to be owned or leased in the name of the trust, not in the name of the church. All property held in the trust estate is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ. See TRUST IS A BIBLE CONCEPT. A church who holds or leases property in the name of the church is acting legally and is a legal entity and is under the authority of the state for many purposes. See, BASICS OF THE BIBLE TRUST RELATIONSHIP AND HOW A CHURCH CAN NULLIFY THE TRUST RELATIONSHIP
  • Should a church who establishes a Bible Trust remain true to Bible Church Doctrine openly shine the light of truth as to her organization, members of the community, other churches, and members of other churches will have an example of how churches can do things God’s way. Some may then act on what they have learned. Blessings follow when churches do things God’s way; curses (as we are witnessing by observing the state of individuals, families, churches, and the nation).

Many churches, a small remnant, are doing things God’s way as to church organization. Some of those, as they should, let their light shine. They let everyone know that they are honoring their Bridegroom, their Head, their Espoused in church organization and operation. Sadly, some keep what they have done as undercover as possible since they do not wish to offend anyone. Is this following in the footsteps of Jesus? After all, Christ purchased the churches with his own blood; he loved the church and gave himself for it  (Acts 20:28; Ephesians 5:25).

Lesson 3: Trust is a Bible Concept, not an organization

Copyright © by Jerald Finney
July 30, 2021

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Lk. 16:10-13

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” 1 Co. 4.1-2

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” 1 Th. 2:4
According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” 1 Ti. 1:11

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:” 1 Ti. 6:20

EN[i] explains how one can do his own research the concept of the common law trust and the assertions in this lesson and links to and quotes from cases which explain the concept.

Go to the following webpage for links to additional lessons as they are added: Lessons on the Bible (Common Law) Trust

Introduction

This lesson will explain that:

  1. Although man recognizes the concept of trust, secular scholars have not found its origin.
  2. God originated the Bible (common law) Trust.
  3. There is only one way which a church may organize in compliance with Bible principle. The churches in the New Testament all recognized and applied the doctrine of the Bible Trust.

 1. Although man recognizes the concept of trust, secular scholars have not found its origin.

Efforts of scholars to trace the origin have been futile. Whether these origins are Roman, Canonical or Germanic [or of some other origin] remains an unresolved question. …” Trusts, trust-like concepts and ius commune, 8 Eur. Rev. Private L. 453 (2000), C. H. Van Rhee: See,  En[ii],  (This article can be viewed and/or downloaded at: https://www.academia.edu/5937188/Trusts_Trust_like_Concepts_and_Ius_Commune. It can also be downloaded and viewed at https://www.academia.edu/3568421/On_the_Origin_of_the_Uses_and_Trusts?email_work_card=view-paper.)

The Roman Catholic “Church,” with all its heresies understood this matter, although with some distortion, a long time ago:

  • “Trust-like devices were popular in the Church [speaking of the Roman Catholic ‘church’], since they allowed this institution to accumulate the necessary means to discharge its tasks. At the same time, these devices preempted the criticism that the Church was not practising [sic] its own teachings on the spiritual dangers of wealth. The wealth accumulated by the Church was not regarded as property owned by the Church itself. According to S. Herman, it was said to belong to God the Father as sovereign Lord, the Pope and his clerical lieutenants acting as His stewards. In trust terminology: God acted as ‘settlor’, while the Pope and his clerical lieutenants acted as trustees. Christ, the meek, the poor and the congregation were usually designated as ‘beneficiaries’. God, as the settlor, also figured as the ultimate beneficiary of creation. In this way, the wealth of the Church could be justified, since the Church simply acted as a depositary of goods created for all. Church officials were charged with managing the goods entrusted to them as ‘trustees’ and with using them for the good of the community. ” See Trusts, Trust-Like Concepts and Ius Commune…;Op Cit.

Of course this Catholic misunderstanding allowed the Institution of the Roman Catholic “Church” to prosper and store up tremendous wealth while the clergy live a luxurious life (the “beneficiaries” in practice although not in name) since the trust estate was not used for the benefit of God according to his will, the true owner of everything. Nonetheless, even though misapplying the concept, Catholicism recognized it.

 2. God originated the Bible (common law) Trust.

Had scholars considered all the evidence, they would have discovered that the concept of trust was originated by God in the manner in which He ordered things. The concept started in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden, and is evident throughout the Word of God. “Trust” (also explicitly stated), “trust estate,” “trustor,” (or “grantor” or “settlor”), “trustee,” “beneficiary,” and “fiduciary” are all found in the Bible. The concept is just part of the way things work, the way God arranged things, as He explains in His Word.

The principle of trust originated with God. God embedded this precept in His word and it is seen from Genesis to Revelation and in all dispensations. God has administered his rule over the world in various dispensations or economies as He progressively works out His purpose of world history. Primarily, dispensations are stewardships. All in a particular dispensational economy are stewards (trustees), although one man usually stands out when the church is being examined. For example, Paul was used by God more than any other to reveal His grace and to record the doctrine of the church as dictated by God. Nonetheless, all the apostles and every other believer are also stewards of God’s grace. All have a responsibility to respond to that grace. God will judge those who fail to do so. (Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism (Chicago: Moody Press, 1995), pp. 56-57; for an more detailed analysis of dispensations and dispensationalism, see the short article The Essence of Dispensationalism).

Some meanings of trust, as given in the 1828 Webster’s Dictionary, are:

  1. Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person. He that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe. Proverbs 29:25.
  2. Something committed to a person’s care for use or management, and for which an account must be rendered. Every man’s talents and advantages are a trust committed to him by his Maker, and for the use or employment of which he is accountable.

This article will deal with definition 2 above. From that definition, one can see that the God ordained a trust arrangement with mankind.

God owns everything—not only the land, but also everyone and everything. That ownership is implicit in the fact that He created it all. (Ge. 1). He clearly stated His ownership of all in His Word:

  • God said, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:” (Ex. 19.5).
  • God said, “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.” (Le. 25.23).
  • “Thine, O LORD, is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all. Both riches and honour come of thee, and thou reignest over all; and in thine hand is power and might; and in thine hand it is to make great, and to give strength unto all” (1 Chronicles 29:11-12).
  • “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein.” (Ps. 24.1).
  • God said, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills.” (Ps. 50.10).
  • “The heavens are thine [God’s], the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them.” (Ps. 89.11).
  • “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts.” (Hag. 2.8).

Re.4.11God, the true owner of all things, entrusted man, under God, with the earth and all that was in it. God entrusted man with His property. Man was put in trust to administer God’s earthly property according to God’s plan. Man did not own the earth, but, of course, man benefited from use of the property entrusted him. Man was to use the property God entrusted him with for the glory of God, for God’s pleasure (Revelation 4.11). God entrusted a New Testament church to the members of the church. Church members are trustees of the church they are members of.

Man is a fiduciary under God. Fiduciary, as a noun, means “One who holds a thing in trust; a trustee.” Man, as trustee, had a fiduciary duty to hold and administer God’s property for the benefit of God. Church members have a fiduciary duty to organize and operate the church they belong to according to God’s guidelines as stated in the New Testament. Fiduciary as an adjective means, “Not to be doubted; as fiduciary obedience” or “Held in trust.” Man benefits from use of God’s property and church members benefit from belonging to a church under God only.

God, the trustor, ordered man, the trustee, in the Garden of Eden, “Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Ge. 2:16-17). Eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil was a violation of man’s fiduciary duty to administer God’s property according to the will of the true, beneficial, and equitable owner of the property.

When God entrusted Adam and Eve with the earth and all that is in it, he gave them responsibilities:

Ge.1.26-28“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.  And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.  And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.  And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.” (Ge. 1.28-31).

Man violated his duty and God held him accountable. Satan lied to the woman and tempted her to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

“And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.  And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” (Ge. 3:6-7).

God then judged man, woman, and Satan. Things changed. No longer was all that God had made good.

 “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” (Ge. 3:22-24)

Man remained in trust of all that God gave him. Mankind continued as trustee of God’s earthly property. Man had legal title to God’s earthly propery. The perpetual principle that nations—Gentile nations and Israel—and individuals were left in trust of land and all things for the benefit of God runs throughout the Bible and continues.

As recorded in the NT, God ordained his church, an institution made up of local autonomous spiritual bodies.

 3. There is only one way which a church may organize in compliance with Bible principle.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man’s, who shall give you that which is your own? No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:10-13

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.” 1 Corinthians 4.1-2

But as we were allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel, even so we speak; not as pleasing men, but God, which trieth our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4

According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust.” 1 Timothy 1:11

O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:” 1 Timothy 6:20

The churches in the New Testament followed the doctrine given them by God through the apostle Paul. They were “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief conner stone” and were built “together for an habitation of God through the spirit” (Ephesians 20, 22). They were spiritual, not earthly, entities. God made them to “sit together in heavenly [not earthly] places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6). They held no property, owed no debt, entered into no earthly contracts, acted legally in no way. When they gave collectively, someone was entrusted with managing their gifts for the glory of God (See Acts 4:34-37).

They were under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and him alone, entirely separate from all civil governments. Civil government had no authority whatsoever over them. Of course, civil government unlawfully took authority over individual believers, as they had done with our Lord.

God’s doctrine for his churches has not changed. Man’s doctrine has changed. Thus, most churches in America choose to submit to the authority of civil government for many purposes. They choose to become legal entities such as non-profit corporations, unincorporated associations, and Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or Section 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt worldly organizations.

A church can remain a spiritual entity only by utilizing the Bible concept of trust, by establishing an irrevocable common law or Bible Trust, whether declared in writing or not. Churches in any nation can do things God’s way. In many countries they will be persecuted for so doing. Churches in America can, without persecution, choose to operate as did the original churches and a remnant of churches since. They can do so without any documentation other than the Holy King James Bible. However, should they wish their gifts and offerings to God to be held in a bank account, they will need to execute documents which establish a Bible (common law) Trust; then they can open a trust account whose owner is the Lord Jesus Christ. Should they wish some of their offerings to God to be used lease a meeting facility or to buy such a facility, they will need documentation so that the lessee will be in the trust, signed by the trustee, or the owner named on the title will be the trust, not the church.

The church which establishes and honors a Bible Trust leases or owns no property, entangles herself with no civil government, and remains a spiritual entity. Regarding money and property, the church is trustor (establishes the trust relationship). The  trustee is the appointed temporal and legal owner of the trust estate, and the Lord Jesus Christ is the true, beneficial, and equitable owner of the property held in the trust estate. Gifts, tithes, and offerings are to God (to the trust estate which is owned by God), not to the church. The church is the giver, God is the recipient and owner.

The trust is not an entity or organization, but merely a relationship with property. The church remains totally under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ and His word as long as she does not act legally (See, Lesson 1). The trustee does not hold the property for the church. The trustee holds and manages the property for the benefit of, and according to the will of, the true owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ. The trustee is the legal owner of the property and the Lord Jesus Christ is the true, equitable, and beneficial owner. The trustee has a fiduciary duty under God to use the property, not for his own or the trustor church’s benefit, but for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

When a church assembles together, God owns the land upon which they meet. Although the trustee has the temporal and legal title to the land, God is the true, beneficial, and equitable owner. An equitable owner is “[o]ne who is recognized in equity as owner of the property, because real and beneficial use and title belong to him, even though bare legal title is invested in another.” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (6th Ed. 1990), 539). “In a trust relationship, as distinguished from a ‘contract,’ there is always a divided ownership of property, to which the trustee usually has legal title and cestui [que trust] an equitable title.” (90 C.J.S. Trusts § 1, fn. 13 (2007). C.J.S., like AM. JUR 2D, is a highly respected, used, and cited legal encyclopedia).

Someone must hold legal title to real property. A New Testament Church is to be a spiritual entity only (See, e.g., Ephesians 2:19-22). Therefore, a church under Christ alone cannot hold title (an earthly legal declaration of temporal ownership) to property. Nor can a church under Christ alone hold “church property through a trustee or trustees. If title to property is in the name of church, or if the church holds property through a trustee of a trust, the church has acted legally and is a temporal earthly entity and not a spiritual entity only because she has entwined herself with man’s earthly legal system. Some trusts state that church property will be held by a trustee for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ. That is a type of common law trust arrangement, but it compromises the spiritual only status of the church and combines the holy with the unholy, the church and the state.

Corporations (aggregate of sole, profit or non-profit), charitable trusts, business trusts, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) and § 508 organizations are legal entities. A church who owns property through one of these legal devises is asserting ownership, as she is if she owns property in the name of the church.

A  church who does not hold property but puts property into a trust estate of a properly structured irrevocable common law or Bible Trust is not acting legally. By definition, that trust is not a legal entity. The trustee of such a trust holds legal or earthly title to the property in the trust estate. He, like every citizen in his right mind, is a legal entity. Of course, if he is born again, he is also a spiritual entity (1 Corinthians 2:14-16). Thus, any property a church meets on is temporarily held by a legal entity, whether a person, a corporation, a charitable trust, or some other kind of legal entity. However, only with a properly structured Bible Trust is the property declared to be owned by the Lord Jesus Christ. Keep in mind that God owns everything, even if the property is in the name of an earthly entity who does not acknowledge God’s ownership.

The Bible instructs the saved man to obey man as to certain temporal earthly matters and God as to eternal spiritual  matters (See Romans 13 and Render Unto God the Things That Are His/A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses). A church under Christ alone is eternal and spiritual and subject to the jurisdiction of God only. God’s desires total separation of civil government and the church: separation of church and state, separation of the temporal and earthly from the eternal and spiritual (See, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principals and the American Application).

Physical property is temporal and earthly and must have a legal owner. The legal owner is entrusted with God’s property, and God, the trustor, desires that the legal owner use the property solely for the benefit of the trustor. This is true regardless of whether the legal owner knows this or not. He is to administer the property, if any, for the benefit of the true owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ. Every person has a fiduciary duty to use that with which God has entrusted to him according to the will of God.

When a church establishes the Bible Trust:

  1. She obeys God’s will;
  2. She lessens the chances that the property, and especially the buildings, will become idols. “Their idols are … the work of men’s hands.  … They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them.” (Psalm 115.4-8);
  3. She has not prostituted herself by combining the holy with the unholy;
  4. She has chosen not to be structured like a business or a government created organization;
  5. She can operate according to the principles in the New Testament;
  6. Members of His churches give to Him, not to their church. If church members (a church is made of her members ) give to a church, that church gives to herself. The money given by members of an incorporated church go into the church, inc. bank account. The corporation is owned by the members. When members of a church who give to the church, they are technically giving to themselves since they are the church. Of course, many believers in churches not organized according to the principles of the New Testament, while giving to the churches they are members of, not to God, believe in their heart they are giving to God. I believe God will honor their giving, even though not according to knowledge, understanding and wisdom. However, when one grows to understand the truth about giving to God, he has a responsibility to begin to do things God’s way.
  7. The minds of the members have not been corrupted from he simplicity that is in Christ (See, 2 Corinthians 11:1-3).

Conclusion

The American legal system did not legislate or originate the concept of trust, but merely recognizes the concept.

God instituted the concept of trust in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. It is a biblical concept which, when properly implemented, keeps a church under God (the Scriptures) only. If a church is a New Testament Church under Christ alone, that church has established a trust agreement with the Lord; her gifts are to a the Lord and are to be held and managed by a trustee solely for the benefit of the Lord.

A church in America can, without persecution, honor God by establishing a Bible Trust relationship with property. Doing so assures that the church remains a spiritual, not legal, entity. Such a trust is not a legal entity; it is not an organization of any kind. It is merely a relationship with property.

The church, the trustor or settlor, establishes the trust relationship. The trustee holds property (if any), which includes money, in a trust estate for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the true, equitable, and beneficial owner of all things. As trustee, he is the temporal and legal owner of the Lord’s properties and monies held in the trust estate. If he violates his fiduciary duties as God’s trustee, the church should judge the matter, and God will certainly hold him accountable. “For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10.30-31).

Endnotes

EN[i] One can start his legal research to verify this matter in many places. He can do a word search on a legal website such as Westlaw or Lexis. Since access to these websites is expensive, for the most part only lawyers and paralegals who regularly practice or research law will find it practical to use them. One can also go to the law library and go to case digests, treatises, case reporters, legal encyclopedias and other sources.

I learned the basics of the common law trust in a wills and estate course at the University of Texas School of Law. After beginning my more detailed studies after law school, I started with a legal encyclopedia, American Jurisprudence 2nd, Volume 76, Trusts. In explaining the concept of trust, this author used that resource, with some information from Corpus Juris Secundum, another legal encyclopedia, to give an overall explanation of the concept in its use by churches to remain spiritual entities only, as opposed to incorporated 502(c)(3) legal organizations. See, Chapter 7 of PDF of 2nd Edition of Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities?

Excerpts from some cases which define and apply the trust relationship:

You may go directly to the cases by clicking the case name.

KOPSOMBUT-MYINT BUDDHIST CENTER, v. STATE BOARD OF EQUALIZATION, 728 S.W. 2d 327 (1986) Court of Appeals of Tennessee, Middle Section, at Nashville. Permission to Appeal Denied, April 6, 1987. IMPORTANT POINT: The court itself declared that the property at issue was held in trust even though there was no writing directly proclaiming a trust. The court did this in order to uphold a property tax exemption. Property held in trust for a Buddhist Temple qualifies for a property tax exemption, if the property is used for religious purposes and the owner, any stockholder, officer, member or employee of such institution is not lawfully entitled to receive and pecuniary profit from the operations of that property in competition with like property owned by others which is not exempt. Property held in trust and which otherwise qualifies for the exemption is to be exempted from property tax.  Of note, for emphasis, it was obvious that corporate, 501(c)(3) status was not a prerequisite for religious property tax exemption. Also, this case deals with a “trust,” not a “business trust” “charitable trust” or some other type of trust that is a legal entity.” The opinion states:

  • “A valid trust need not be in writing. It can be created orally unless the language of the written conveyance excludes the existence of a trust. Sanderson v. Milligan,585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Linder v. Little, 490 S.W.2d 717, 723 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1972); and Adrian v. Brown, 29 Tenn. App. 236, 243, 196 S.W.2d 118, 121 (1946). However, when a party seeks to establish an oral trust, it must do so by greater than a preponderance of the evidence. Sanderson v. Milligan, 585 S.W.2d 573, 574 (Tenn. 1979); Hunt v. Hunt, 169 Tenn. 1, 9, 80 S.W.2d 666, 669 (1935); and Browder v. Hite, 602 S.W.2d 489, 493 (Tenn. Ct. App. 1980).
  • “The existence of a trust requires proof of three elements: (1) a trustee who holds trust property and who is subject to the equitable duties to deal with it for the benefit of another, (2) a beneficiary to whom the trustee owes the equitable duties to deal with the trust property for his benefit, and (3) identifiable trust property. See G.G. Bogert & G.T. Bogert, The Law of Trusts and Trustees § 1, at 6 (rev. 2d ed. 1984) and Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 2 comment h (1957). We find that the Kopsombut-Myint Buddhist Center has proved the existence of each of these elements by clear and convincing evidence.” [p. 333].

WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 166 Wis.2d 442 (1992), 480 N.W.2d 16, Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs October 4, 1991.Decided February 17, 1992The Supreme Court of Wisconsin reviewed the evidence and concluded that “The evidence indicates that Basic Bible was established to evade taxation. Basic Bible failed to meet its burden of proving that it is a “church” or “religious association” under [Wisconsin law]. The court held that Basic Bible was not property tax exempt.” The fact that the church held “in trust” the property for which a property tax exemption was sought was not a factor in the decision. The Court concluded that incorporation and 501(c)(3) status is not a prerequisite for church property tax exemption; and, again, made clear that the fact that the church held the property “in trust” did not disqualify the church from property tax exemption.

Note. Many, many cases are on the record involving denials of “church,” or “religious organization” property tax exemption for incorporated 501(c)(3) tax scams. See, for some examples, III. Organizations which created religious scams in order to obtain Property Tax Exemption on the webpage, Law on Church Organization (Trusts, Property tax, etc.). WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF is the only case I have found in which a “church” or “religious organization or society” which held property and/or money in trust was held to be such a scam. Also, by reading this entire case with knowledge, one versed in these matters readily sees that Basic Bible did not understand the law nor the Bible. One could write a lengthy analysis proving that. Also very interesting is the analysis of the pro se representation in this case.]. This case reminds one of the unjust steward, an outright crook, in Luke 16. “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” Luke 16.13.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court stated, in WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF:

  • “We need not reiterate the excellent discussion and analysis underpinning that conclusion that appears in the court of appeals opinion. 157 Wis. 2d at 539-49” [the citation for this case].

The opinion from the court of appeals referred to by the Wisconsin Supreme Court was WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 157 Wis.2d 539 (1990), 461 N.W.2d 143, Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs December 8, 1989. Decided August 2, 1990Here are some very important points made on pp. 539-49 of that decision:

The court examined the legislative history of the pertinent statutes to determine if a church or religious organization must be incorporated for its property to be tax exempt [under state law].

  • The court started with examination of the first exemption from taxation of the property of churches and religious organizations—in sec. 24, ch. 47, Revised Statutes of 1849. “Chapter 47 prescribed the procedure by which persons belonging to a church congregation or religious society, “not already incorporated,” could incorporate. … The exemption was not limited to religious societies incorporated under ch. 47.
  • “Chapter 130, Laws of 1868, provided for the assessment of property for taxation and for exemptions therefrom. Section 2, 3d exempted “[p]ersonal property owned by any religious, scientific, literary or benevolent association, used exclusively for the purposes of such association, and the real property necessary for the location and convenience of the buildings of such association . . . not exceeding ten acres. . . .” Chapter 130 did not define “association.”
  • “Section 2 of ch. 130, Laws of 1868, was incorporated, without substantial change, in Section 1038, Wisconsin Statutes of 1898. Section 1038, subd. 3 was renumbered sec. 70.11(4), Stats., by sec. 16, ch. 69, Laws of 1921. Throughout its history, the exemption from taxation of property of churches and religious associations has been accorded in substantially the same language. No “linkage” has existed between the exemption statutes and those affecting the organization of churches and religious associations or societies.
  • “Chapter 411, Laws of 1876, provided for the incorporation of religious societies. Apparently this act replaced ch. 47 of the revised statutes of 1849. Chapter 411 is silent as to the taxation or exemption of the property of religious societies incorporated thereunder.
  • “The procedures for the incorporation of religious societies were included in ch. 91, Revised Statutes of 1878. Nash’s Wisconsin Annotations (1914), sec. 1990, ch. 91 at 753, states: ‘The revisers of 1878 in their note said: ‘Chapter 411, 1876, is taken to have been intended as a revision of the law for the incorporation of religious societies.’ The privilege of organizing a corporation is extended to all classes and denominations, it not being supposed the law means to be intolerant of any religious belief or to be partial in its offer of privileges.’
  • “The same annotation at page 755 states: ‘Church’ and ‘Congregation.’ A church consists of those who are communicants, have made a public profession of religion and are united by a religious bond of common spiritual welfare. It is the spiritual body, not the legal one. But a religious society or congregation, under the statute, is a voluntary association of persons, generally but not necessarily in connection with a church proper, united for the purpose of having a common place of worship and to provide a proper teacher to instruct them in doctrines and duties, etc. [Citations omitted.]
  • “Decisions interpreting ch. 91, Revised Statutes of 1878, make plain that failure of a church or religious organization to incorporate thereunder did not affect the power of the church or religious organization to hold title to property. “Under the repeated decisions of this court, we must hold that the mere fact that [a] church or religious society had not yet been incorporated at the time of the delivery of [a] deed in no way frustrated the trust thereby created, if such trust was otherwise valid.” Fadness v. Braunborg, 73 Wis. 257, 278-79, 41 N.W. 84, 90 (1889) (emphasis in original).
  • “In Holm v. Holm, 81 Wis. 374, 382, 51 N.W. 579, 581 (1892), the facts included that the Norwegian Evangelical Lutheran Church of Roche-a-Cree was a voluntary association until February 7, 1889. The court noted that “[p]rior to that date the title to the churches in which the members of the association worshiped was vested in trustees named in . . . deeds, and their successors in office. . . . The trusts imposed by such deeds appear to have been valid upon the principles stated by this court in Fadness v. Braunborg. . . .” Id.
  • “In Franke v. Mann, 106 Wis. 118, 131, 81 N.W. 1014, 1018-19 (1900), the court further said that ‘[w]hat has been said is in harmony with the law regarding trusts for religious uses, whether the trustees be officers of a religious corporation or of an unincorporated ecclesiastical body. . . .’ Id. at 131-32, 81 N.W. at 1019 (emphasis added).
  • “It is plain from these decisions that the court did not consider that the legislature, by offering to ecclesiastical bodies the advantages of incorporation, intended to impose corporate structure upon such bodies. The property of unincorporated ecclesiastical bodies was commonly held in trust for the benefit of the members.
  • “The Basic Bible Church established that title to the real estate subject to foreclosure was held in the name of the trustees for the benefit of the church. We conclude that the trust constituted an “entity” which could claim tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats., for the benefit of the Basic Bible Church.”

En[ii] Trusts, Trust-Like Concepts and Ius Commune, 8 Eur. Rev. Private L. 453 (2000), C. H. van Rhee:  This article concludes:

Trust and Ius Commune: an Assessment
On the basis of the above, several conclusions may be drawn. Firstly, it may be concluded that it is very likely that the origins of the trust cannot completely be traced. Whether these origins are Roman, Canonical or Germanic remains an unresolved question. A link between Romanocanonical usus -Roman usus in a Canonical guise- and the trust seems the most promising of all possible links. However, much research needs to be conducted of ecclesiastical records both on the continent and in England. Examining these records should be the primary aim of legal historians interested in the origins of the trust.

“Secondly, the nineteenth-century shift from Roman law to indigenous law as the alleged origins of the trust did not change the position of the trust as a concept which may be placed in the ius commune tradition. Both the Germanic and Romano-canonical origins of the trust are of interest to scholars studying the question of whether trusts are part of a shared European tradition. As we know, ius commune comprised elements from both the Germanic and the Romano-canonical legal traditions.

“And thirdly, it may be concluded that it is very unlikely that there has been an exact
continental equivalent to the English ‘use’ or trust. The conclusion may be drawn that trust law cannot be viewed as an amalgam of concepts from the Corpus Iuris. This conclusion has also been drawn by Kenneth Reid (see his paper), who alleges that the modern trust is a relatively new concept, which cannot be explained solely by a contract/real right model. Nevertheless, we must continue to ask the question whether the uncovered similarities amount to more than parallels reflecting similar social conditions. My answer to this question is that it is very likely that English trust law was influenced by ideas on the Continent. This is not too bold a statement paying regard to the influence of the ecclesiastical courts in England as well as to the fact that English civilians frequently used Roman and Canon law texts when describing trusts.”

An interesting except from the article:

“Trust-like devices were popular in the Church [speaking of the Roman Catholic ‘church’], since they allowed this institution to accumulate the necessary means to discharge its tasks. At the same time, these devices preempted the criticism that the Church was not practising [sic] its own teachings on the spiritual dangers of wealth. The wealth accumulated by the Church was not regarded as property owned by the Church itself. According to S. Herman, it was said to belong to God the Father as sovereign Lord, the Pope and his clerical lieutenants acting as His stewards. In trust terminology: God acted as ‘settlor’, while the Pope and his clerical lieutenants acted as trustees. Christ, the meek, the poor and the congregation were usually designated as ‘beneficiaries’. God, as the settlor, also figured as the ultimate beneficiary of creation. In this way, the wealth of the Church could be justified, since the Church simply acted as a depositary of goods created for all. Church officials were charged with managing the goods entrusted to them as ‘trustees’ and with using them for the good of the community. “

Jerald Finney, a Christian Lawyer, having received this ministry in the Lord, explains how a church in America can remain under the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only. "As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen" (1 Peter 4:10-11; See also, Ephesians 4::1-16 and 1 Corinthians 12:1-25). "Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it" (Colossians 4:17). "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1.22; See also, e.g. Colossians 1:18).