Concerning Stand-alone Ministry outside the Authority of a Local Church and the Obligations of a Church Who Takes a Ministry under Her Umbrella With Comments from a Bible Believing/Preaching Pastor Included

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April 19, 2022

I received the following email today, April 19, 2022.

Hello Brother Finney,

My husband and I are pastors at a 501c3 church. We felt the Lord leading us to start a ministry that He had spoken to us like 30 years ago. We purchased the name “____________ Ministries”. We have an e-mail, a domain name, and recently, we received an EIN number. Then I felt like I needed to go into prayer for directions because I was strongly feeling like “DO NOT BE 501(3)c”. I then ran across an article about 508 (C) 1 (A). And while studying a praying, I felt like that wasn’t the route either. I ran across your site accidently, or rather what I would call, a divine Godly appointment. Anyways, I really don’t know what to do next. I am not registered as anything at the moment (Ex: business, unincorporated or corporation, etc…) I felt like I needed to just email you to see if you could guide me. We feel the Lord leading us to start home meetings under “______________ Ministries” but I want to make sure we do this correctly. I have people that want to send tithes and offerings to _______________ Ministries but we have not set up any financial stuff yet due to wanting God’s direction instead of man’s direction. Could you please advise me as to what we need to do correctly, so that we don’t run into issues with the government or law. I appreciate your time. Please understand that our Ministry is not connected to the Church we are currently pastoring at. We strongly feel that the day may come that the government closes church doors and we are trying to get ahead of this by choosing a different direction that won’t hinder us from preaching the truth of the Gospel so that we may all Glorify God like we are supposed to.

Waiting patiently,
___________


I replied as follows:

Dear ____________________,

Thanks for contacting me about this matter. It is obvious that you wish to please our Lord in your work for him. This reply is motivated by love, love for our Savior. It must be succinct and to the point. The ministry has many resources on the website which more completely explain what I say in this short reply.

This ministry helps “churches” who wish to organize according to New Testament church doctrine. That necessarily requires such churches to reject establishment under any civil government law, including non-profit corporation law, unincorporated association law, charitable trust law, federal tax-exempt law (501c3 or 508c1A), etc. Church-state establishment is, simply stated, church organization by, and under the authority of, civil government as provided by a civil government law. An established church is a two-headed monster who has chosen to commit spiritual fornication.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions provide that a church can, without persecution, choose to be under Christ alone or under civil government for many purposes. For example, a church man choose to dishonor God by submitting herself to civil government law as opposed to remaining a church under the authority of Christ alone. No church anywhere, anytime, should unify with any civil government whether persecuted of not.

God, in his word, the King James Bible, makes clear that the local church is the only institution he ordained in this age of grace to do His work on earth. All ministry should be under the authority of the local church. That is his perfect will.

I understand that many times God calls someone to do a ministry, a work for him, which no church will recognize or that there is no God honoring church available in a locality. In that case, the one called to that ministry must, through no fault of his own, operate outside the authority of the local church. That is his permissive will.

In your case, the Bible answer must be that your church get right with God and take the ministry under her authority. You propose to create an alter-ego, a collateral ministry alongside your local assembly. This is unacceptable under both God’s law and man’s law for reasons which I do not have time to explain in this brief reply.

A church, in recognizing a ministry, should do more than give that ministry lip service in order to keep the member called to the ministry happy. The church should understand the ministry and agree that the ministry is doing a legitimate work for the Lord. All mature members of the church should have, at the very least, an understanding of the Bible principles supporting the ministry, and they should agree that ministry application of those principles are Biblically correct.

God bless you as you go forward according to his will. I hope this has been of help to you as you seek to glorify God.

For His Glory,
Jerald Finney

Comments concerning the above from:

Pastor Neal Arthur
Home/Church: 814-72-1067
Cell 814-730-2223
Victory Baptist Church
Box 310
Clarendon, Warren County, PA 16313
status74@westpa.net
Wed, Apr 20 at 8:25 AM

Good morning brother,

I don’t know what was more frightening, the two-headed snake or the e-mail you received. She obviously doesn’t know the Scriptures about women preaching to men either. (Or doesn’t care)

An incident similar to this about Biblical ignorance came up, from someone “who should know better, but must be backslidden” is the response I got. It’s quite amazing that I find that the word “backslidden” is applied to every “Christian” who goes off the deep end.

And then as I was looking at II Thessalonians 2:3 just a couple days ago while I was thinking on all of the excuses we make for professing Christians who “fall” into sin it dawned on me, the Scripture says “…except there come a falling away first”,  the Scripture doesn’t say “except there come a BACKSLIDDING first.”

I know there is a big difference between backsliding and falling away into apostasy. The apostate was never saved. I know that we as believers want to give every “professing” Christian the benefit of the doubt, and I for one have experienced the “snakebite” more than once when I fell for “If we err, let’s err on the side of grace” instead of “No, let’s err on the side of caution” and confront this matter head on. I have found that the word “grace” is used as a weapon by modernists and liberals and applied to us fundamentalists when we want to go by the Holy Scriptures and not our feelings. Anyway, just some thoughts brother. Have a great day and God bless you.

Brother Arthur

Living Springs Baptist Church, Idaho

It has been a joy to work with Pastor David R. Hethorn as he has diligently studied and applied New Testament church doctrine before and after declaring the Living Springs Baptist Church Trust. He, as trustee of the trust, has meticulously held and managed the Lord’s property held in the Trust Estate. He has made sure not to do anything that would compromise the New Testament status of the church or the status of the Bible trust as a non-legal entity, a relationship with property only. His path as trustee has not always been convenient, but it has always been successful and correct.

He told me to feel free to announce that you may contact him. He truly enjoys talking about matters of concern to our Lord.

Pastor David R. Hethorn
Couer D Alane, County Kootania, Idaho
509-496-1381
pastor@livingspringsbc.org

The trust has established a website: livingspringsbc.org.

Click the image above to go to the website, livingspringsbc.org.

Click her to go to the Parent Page, Church Common Law Trusts: Real Life Examples with Contact Information.

Are Churches Automatically Tax Exempt?

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April 8, 2022

Regardless of what one has been told or believes, an honest examination of the evidence proves that churches are not automatically tax exempt. See the essay below, and other resources linked to below, for proof of this conclusion. However, “Churches that meet the requirements of § 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt [under § 508(c)(1)(A)] and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS.” This quote is from IRS publications and is the correct position. If a church does not meet the requirements of 501(c)(3) that church is not “tax exempt.”

Furthermore, according to principles in the Word of God, church tax exempt status is spiritual fornication since she has submitted herself to man’s law, become a temporal legal – as opposed to spiritual eternal only – entity,  and chosen to submit to an authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ as to many church matters. A church can choose to remain under Christ only as a eternal spiritual organism as opposed to a temporal earthy organizaion. In America, the First Amendment and corresponding state constitutional provisions protect this choice from persecution. This essay, and the other essays and articles on this website explain these matters more comprehensively.

See also:

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April 8, 2022

Many Christians and churches take the position that churches who do not file Form 1023 in order to obtain federal tax exempt status are “automatically exempt.” They believe that Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) grants automatic tax exempt status to churches. Is this position correct? For emphasis, this brief essay will go directly to that one question which I have already answered in more extensive and comprehensive writings such as Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status, and  The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status.

A church, because of the First Amendment, can choose either to be automatically non-taxable without any civil government control; or it can choose to be 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt organizations if … (explained below). No if can come with automatic status. Automatically means: “(with reference to a device or process) by itself with no human control.” According to that definition, churches definitely are not “automatically tax exempt.”  Both 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status come with IRS rules and regulations. See, The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status.  Please let me explain.

508(a),(c)(1)(A) states:

“(a) New organizations must notify Secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status

“(c) Exceptions
“(1) Mandatory exceptions Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to
“(A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches….”

508(c)(1)(A) does not state that churches are “automatically exempt.” Clearly, 508(c)(1)(A) states that churches are mandatory exceptions to the requirement for for filing for Internal Revenue Code § (501)(c)(3) tax exempt status. “Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches” (not other types of other organizations)  may claim tax exempt status without filing for it. To claim tax exempt status under 508(c)(1)(A) instead of submitting IRS Form 1023 for tax exempt status under 501(c)(3), a church must make clear to the public and to its members that the church is tax exempt (that givers may deduct their gifts on their income tax returns); and, like a 501(c)(3) church, give IRS Acknowledgements to givers.

Rules and regulations come with both 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1(A) tax exempt status.  One cannot separate the status from attributes, rules, and regulations that go with it. The attributes, rules, and regulations of the status define the status. According to 508(c)(1)(A), a church may claim the status without filing for it. Contrary to unlearned “Christian” propaganda, churches who do so are to comply with the IRS rules and regulations that come with the status. The requirements of 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) status are given in The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status.

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

By placing a church under a civil government law, either 501(c)(3) or IRC § 508(c)(1)(A), a church rejects her First Amendment non-taxable status and accepts the federal government offer for tax exempt status.  Offer and acceptance are necessary fot the agreement, the contract, to be completed. The First Amendment makes clear that a church may choose to retain religious freedom without persecution. IRS  §§ 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) give churches an alternative: giver up First Amendment status as a non-legal entity in favor of Fourteenth Amendment status as a legal entity.

Most churches who obtain either 501(c)(3)  or 508(c)(1)(A) status have already given up much of their their First Amendment protection and status by submitting themselves to state non-profit incorporation law, unincorporated association law, charitable trust law, etc. Churches who are corporations,  Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt, or legal entities of any kind have forsaken higher law by submitting to authorities other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

With 508(c)(1)(A) the government declared in law that they trusted churches and “Christians,” of all people, to understand their actions and to honor their agreements. The government made it more convenient for churches, and for no other type of organization, to obtain tax exempt status. They falsely believed that Christians and churches were bound by a higher law and could be trusted to diligently honor their word.

As mentioned above, one requirement for 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status is that the church give donors IRS Acknowledgements for tithes, offerings, and gifts. Should the IRS audit a donor who claimed a deduction for gifts to a church, the IRS will want the IRS Acknowledgment; and proof that the giver of the Acknowledgement was a church. If the church has 501(c)(3) status, the proof is on the IRS list of tax exempt churches. If the church has 508(c)(1)(A) status, the IRS may require the person claiming the exemption to prove that the gift was to a “church” even though they should have a copy of the IRS Acknowledgement for the gift.

The real reason churches file for or claim  tax exempt status is to motivate people to give, and to give more. Some Christians will not give to a church who is not on the Internal Revenue Service list. See, for an interesting study on this matter, “Churches, Politics, and the Charitable Deduction” (Ellen P. Aprill, Churches, Politics, and the Charitable Contribution Deduction, 42 B.C.L. Rev. 843 (2001).

To reject the offer of the federal government for “tax exempt” status, all a church must do is to reject all offers of state and/or federal government for combination with civil government (incorporation, charitable trust status, unincorporated association status, tax exempt status under 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A), or union with the state in any other way); refuse to give IRS Acknowledgements for tithes, offerings, and gifts; and make it known that the church is a First Amendment church solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Some Christians argue that they don’t care what the government requires in order for granting them the “benefits” of tax-exempt status. They know that their authority, the IRS, probably will not catch them since they do not have the resources to monitor churches and pastors. These Christians and churches take God out of the equation. The Lord knows all and does not honor such behavior by believers and churches. He expects his children to honor their word and their agreements which they voluntarily enter into. They are dishonoring God and man, and ignorance will not excuse their misdeeds:

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:  Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall” (2 Peter 1:1-10).

The Rules and Regulations that Come with Church IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) Tax-Exempt Status

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution. Fact: Internal Revenue Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) are laws made by Congress respecting an establishment of religion and preventing the free exercise thereof, and  prohibit  freedom of speech and press.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © March 17, 2022

Contents:

  1. How a church becomes tax exempt (under man-made federal law) as opposed to non-taxable (Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (“First Amendment”).
  2. An overview of the fundamental changes which result when a church is granted 501(c)(3) or claims 508(c)(1)(A) status
  3. List of rules and regulations which come with tax exempt status.

1. How a church becomes tax exempt (under man-made federal law) as opposed to non-taxable (Under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution).

A First Amendment church—a church who has not applied for and been granted tax exempt status and who has not acted as a legal entity in any way so as to forfeit her status as a church under Christ alone—is non-taxable. The only way a civil government can tax is by law or edict. The First Amendment religion clause forbids  federal law taxing churches (religion) in America. The establishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment, consistent with the Bible doctrine of separation of church and state, protect those churches who decide to obey God and refuse federal tax-exempt status. The First Amendment religion clause is consistent with the Bible doctrine of separation of church and state. Although 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) are laws passed by Congress with violate the religion clause, they do not force churches to become tax exempt; rather, the give churches a choice of whether to be tax exempt as opposed to non-taxable.

Contrary to “Christian” propaganda, 508(c)(1)(A) does not state that a church is automatically tax exempt. Rather, 508(c)(1)(A) states that “churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches” are mandatory exceptions to the requirement for filing for tax exempt status under 501(c)(3). To mandate automatic church tax exempt status would violate the First Amendment which states, in part, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Both 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) are laws passed by Congress which establish a religion and prevent the free exercise thereof. Because of the First Amendment, churches cannot be forced to become tax exempt.

508(c)(1)(A) churches who meet the requirements of 501(c)(3) may claim 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status. See, Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status for explanation and links to relevant IRS Regulations. A church can claim 508(c)(1)(A) status by open declaration which includes providing IRS Acknowledgements to donors for tithes, offerings, and gifts (according to IRS Regulations). The real purpose of tax-exempt status is to attract those who give for easy tax deduction claims and not because of their love for the Lord.

If the IRS audits a donor to a 501(c)(3) tax exempt “church,” the church will be on the IRS list and the acknowledgement from the church will verify his giving. If a church claims 508(c(1)(A) tax exempt status, the IRS may likely require the donor to prove that the donee was a church since the church is not on the IRS list. Internal Revenue Code Section 170 and IRS Regulations deal with the matter of tax exempt deductions for gifts to non-501(c(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) churches. A donor concerned about this matter may see, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities, Chapter 8, pp. 85-96, “Spurious Rationale for Corporate-501(c)(3) or 508 Status: Tax Exemption and Tax Deduction for Contributions.” Note, the law may have changed since publication of that book. Refer to IRS Code Section 170 for updates and changes in the law.

To become tax exempt (a “501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A)” church), as opposed to non-taxable (a church solely under the protection of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution) a church may apply for Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by completing IRS Form 1023 (See En[i] for more information of Form 1023) or claim “508(c)(1)(A)” tax exempt status. A church may claim 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status by declaring that tithes, offerings, and gifts are tax exempt and providing IRS acknowledgements to the donors. When the church claims 508(c)(1)(A) status, she is subject to the rules and regulations that come with 501(c)(3); she is now tax exempt as opposed to non-taxable and therefore loses much of her first Amendment protections. See, Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status.

Any non-tax-exempt church should inform all givers, in advance, that it is not tax exempt and that it does not give IRS acknowledgements for tithes, offerings and gifts.

 2. An overview of the fundamental changes which result when a church is granted 501(c)(3) or claims 508(c)(1)(A) status

A church who is not a legal entity of any kind has the total protection of the First Amendment: She can do things God’s way without control or persecution by any civil government, city to national.

A non-legal entity is not controlled by civil government. Of course, a tyrannical government can declare that any entity, whether legal or not, is under their control. Korea, for example, persecutes and kills any one caught speaking the name of Jesus in a positive way, possessing a Bible or Gospel tract, holding a church meeting, etc.

Legal entities are under the authority of of civil government for many purposes. As “persons” under Fourteenth Amendment for many purposes, churches have given up much of their First Amendment status. Corporations (aggregate of sole), unincorporated associations, charitable trusts, business trusts, individuals, and federal tax-exempt organizations are among the list of legal entities.

Whether or not a civil government can enforce an edict against a believer or a church who is not a legal entity depends upon the individual or church. A Christian (one who believes in, loves and follows Christ, His commandments and Word as opposed to one who merely “believes in” Christ) will obey God rather than man when obeying man’s law requires one to disobey God. American believers and churches do not have to face control and punishment by civil government for loving and honoring God and His Word, as of yet.

A church who chooses to become a legal entity places herself under the authority, wholly or partially, other than the Lord Jesus Christ. She no longer has all (or maybe, any) of her First Amendment protections. She is no longer a totally First Amendment Church. She is now, as a legal person, a Fourteenth Amendment Church. See, Corporation: A Human Being with No Soul; see also, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? for further explanation of much of what is said in this section.

A church, as a legal entity, can sue, be sued, enter into contracts, pay salaries, be charged with a crime (if she or any or her agents commit crime), hold property and insurance in the name of the church, etc. In other words, she has transformed herself into a worldly enterprise, a business. She is organized like and operates as a business, to one degree or another. She is subject to the laws and accompanying regulations of her creator(s), the state and/or federal government.

As a legal person, a church acts to one degree or another—usually to a greater degree—like a temporal, worldly, fleshly entity ruled by tradition of men and the rudiments of the world as opposed to a spiritual entity ruled by God’s Word. She has a new sovereign or sovereigns; she employs business techniques of organization, operation, and doctrines. Many have become apostate. Their goal is to find out what people want and give it to them rather that finding out what God, in His Word, wants and giving it to Him. They may honor the Lord with their tongues, but their heart is far from Him as they keep the commandments of men rather than those of God.

A church who has chosen legal entity status is subject to civil government. She has agreed that the controlling party, in the case of disputes, is the civil government; and she has agreed to follow all rules and regulations contained in the law they agreed to. A church which chooses to become a legal entity such as a corporation has agreed that the controlling party for many purposes is the court of the state of incorporation. Churches who choose to become tax exempt agree that they will follow accompanying rules and regulations.

Many incorporated churches follow none of, or only some of, the rules and procedures in the non-profit corporation law they agreed to when getting the status. Many churches openly violate some or all of the rules and regulations coming with 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(a) status because they know that the IRS does not have the resources to enforce them; by so doing, they dishonor both God (by dishonoring their legal agreement with the federal government) and man (by entering into a legal agreement which dishonors God). Believers who dishonor their agreements, their word, are not “Christians;” and by their actions, they cause men to blaspheme God.

For more information on church 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) status, see:

  1. Federal government control of churches through 501(c)(3) tax exemption(Section VI, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed; Chapter 4 of Separation of Church and State);
  2. The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme(Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed; Chapter 5 of Separation of Church and State); and
  3. Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) Tax Exempt Status.

 3. List  of rules and regulations which come with tax exempt status.

Under the terms of 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) and IRS interpretation thereof, a church agrees to the rules and regulations that come with the status. The church agrees to abide by the following rules:

“1. must be organized and operated exclusively for religious, educational, scientific, or other charitable purposes,
“2. net earnings must not inure to the benefit of any private individual or shareholder,
“3. no substantial part of its activity may be attempting to influence legislation,
“4. the organization may not intervene in political activity,
“5. the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy.”

See, IRS Publication 1828. This and all IRS publications may be accessed at irs.gov. Just mentioning a candidate may violate proscription #4. Detailed guidelines with consequences of violation of proscription #4 given in Pub. 1828. As to proscription #5, public policy is determined by the courts. What is fundamental public policy regarding same-sex marriage? This policy has not been enforced against tax exempt churches, but that may be coming. The real issue is, does church tax exempt or legal status of any kind please God. See also, , Internal Revenue Code  508(c)(1)(A).

Rules and regulations for 501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) churches are made by the legislative and executive branch, by the IRS, and by the courts. Rules one through four above are stated in 501(c)(3). Rule four was added by legislation sponsored by Lyndon Johnson. The last requirement—“may not violate fundamental public policy” was first implemented by the IRS and then upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Bob Jones University v. United States, 461 U.S. 574 (1983). See, PDF of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? pages 35-37.

501(c)(3) and 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status not only come with five government imposed rules, such status also invokes a myriad of regulations. See and read, e.g.,

The interested believer and church who love the Lord may go directly to those regulations by clicking the links above, if this is essay is opened online. Check them out for yourselves and ask yourself, “Does this status glorify and please God?”



En[i] Instructions for Form 1023. On page 2 of the December 2017 Instructions is stated: “Completed Form 1023 required for section 501(c)(3) exemption. Form 1023 is filed by organizations to apply for recognition of exemption from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3). Upon approval, we will issue a determination letter that provides written assurance about the organization’s tax-exempt status, and its qualification to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions. Every organization qualifying for exemption under section 501(c)(3) will also be classified as either a “public charity” or a “private foundation.”

A Bible believer may get much greater understanding of the anti-Christ agreement he is entering into by seeking and obtaining 501(c)(3) status by reading Form 1023 and the instructions as well as by reading Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) which places the church in the same position as 501(c)(3) status. See, . For more information from the IRS on Form 1023, see About Form 1023.

See, Basics of the Bible Trust Relationship and How a Church Can Nullify the Trust Relationship

For an understanding of how a church can organize and operated God’s prescribed way, as a spiritual entity under Christ only, see The CUCM Bible Trust.

Can Psychology Deal With the New Nature of the Believer?

1 John 3:4-24 deals with the two natures of the believer in action. 1 John 3:9 says, “Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.” Commit means, in this context, “to do some act, or make some declaration, which may bind the person in honor, good faith, or consistency, to pursue a certain course of conduct, or to adhere to the tenor of that declaration.” The passage does not say, “doth not sin.” It says, “doth not commit sin.” The new nature cannot sin, but the old nature can. Dr. J. Vernon McGee thoroughly explains this matter in his studies on 1 John.

Can psychology deal with the old nature? What about all the books written and sermons preached to deal with the old nature? The following short audio of teaching by Dr. J. Vernon McGee, in this short 3 minute 13 second audio, addresses these questions and more:

Dr. McGee on psychology and controlling the new nature.

Click here to go to the complete program (1 John 3:17-4:1) from which the above was taken.

Click here to go to links to all Dr. McGee’s Thru the Bible studies.

The Love of God Perfected

February 12, 2022

In 1 John, 2:1-4:21, the theme is “God is love” or “walking in love.”

1 John 2:3-5 says: “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.”

In the above verses, what is the meaning of “his commandments?” “What is the meaning of “his word?” How is the love of God perfected?

The Holy Spirit, through Paul, commanded, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ephesians 5:25). He did not also say, “wives love your husbands,” or “Churches love Christ.” Why? This brief Bible lesson by Dr. J. Vernon McGee gives an answer. Click here to go to the study on audio.

For Dr. McGee’s complete audio study of 1 John 2:3-8, click here.

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.”

Churches under Christ Ministry is under the authority of Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo, Texas. Jerald Finney, a Christian Lawyer and member of Charity Baptist Tabernacle, 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).