Ephesians 5:25-27: “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
2 Corinthians 11:1-3: “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
Ephesians 1:22-23: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
Colossians 1:18: “And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
No church in the New Testament and no church for a long time thereafter owned property. Churches were built according to the doctrine of the church as explained by our Lord as he laid the foundation before his death, burial, and resurrection; and, after His resurrection, by the epistles of the Apostle Paul as inspired by the Holy Spirit. “Christian” attorneys (e.g., David Gibbs) and others will tell you flat out that today’s churches simply cannot do things God’s way. They explain, without Bible reasoning, that they cannot operate like that. Being “practical” trumps New Testament church doctrine and example. They state that churches must become worldly organizations with fleshly, temporal goals to one extent or another. According to them, churches must own, or seek to own, property on which to build meetinghouses. Of course, the more “successful” churches will also build gyms, restaurants, buildings for Bible institutes and colleges, and auditoriums for rock concerts, plays, bookstores, etc. To do so they believe that they must violate Bible principles and sacrifice the status of the local church as an entity under the authority of Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone. They become spiritual harlots and dishonor their Bridegroom.
A church who does not act legally is not a legal entity; she is a church under the authority of Christ and Christ alone. A church who acts legally is a legal entity. Legal entities are under the authority of civil government for many purposes. One way a church can act legally is to own property. A church may buy property in the name of the church, and become a legal entity, without incorporating. A legal entity, as opposed to a New Testament church, is an entity which can sue, be sued, contract, go into debt, buy and sell, be charged with crime, or act legally in other ways. Churches can also become legal entities by voluntarily submitting themselves to man’s law through incorporation, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or Section 508(c)(1)(A) status, charitable trust law, or unincorporated association law.
One reason churches give for incorporation is “to own property,” even though the church may buy property in the name of the church without incorporating. Either method of owning property is wrong, because either results in the church becoming, if it is not already, a legal entity. Church incorporation is the least desirable method of the two because it brings a lot of red tape which entwines the church in the many provisions of the law of incorporation. For example, see the California Corporations Code or the California Attorney General’s Guide for Charities. A religious corporation in California is classified as a charity.
Owners of real property, whether an individual or an unincorporated or incorporated church, usually get liability insurance on that property. Liability insurance covers the liability of, to the extent of the limits of the insurance policy, the legal owner, others who may have been assigned or volunteered to make sure the property is safe, and perhaps those members of the organization who knew of, but ignored, the dangerous condition. Liability insurance is an admission that the legal owner of the property is a legal entity in that it gives protection against being sued.
Almost all churches become owners (and possessors) of property; and, as legal owners of the property, they can be sued should someone be injured on that property. The little old lady who slips on the ice on the entrance can sue.
Our Lord, when meeting with His apostles and disciples as he laid the foundation of the church, met on property with them. As recorded in the New Testament, many times their meetings were outdoors. Christ owned and owns all things. However, He, for the time being, entrusts legal (earthly, temporal) ownership to the earthly owners. A church, an assembly of believers, must meet on property. The churches in the New Testament, and churches for a long time thereafter, never met in buildings they owned.
So how can a church honor both God and man in the matter of property ownership? The original churches met on property owned by the Lord Jesus Christ, the owner of all things, but legally owned by someone, not by the church. The church was not the legal owner or owner in any sense of the property they met on. Every piece of property they met on was legally owned by a person or persons who, whether they realized it or not, was entrusted by the real, true owner of the property – the Lord Jesus Christ – to hold and manage the property for His benefit..
Churches in America can still obey God and His principles on the matter of assembling together. They can meet on property owned by others as long as they have the permission of the owner. They can meet on property owned or leased by a person: a church member or someone else. They can meet on public property. For example, a church in Austin Texas meets under a bridge. Or, they can meet on property held by a person in trust for the benefit of the true owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Many churches in America are now choosing to establish an irrevocable trust relationship with property whereby a trustee holds and administers the property in the trust estate for the benefit of the true owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ. This “common law” or “Bible” trust is a fiduciary relationship with real and/or personal property (personal property includes intangible property such as money and bank accounts) recognized but not created by man’s law. This relationship is established by an agreement between a trustor and trustee, is private, creates no contract with the state (the state is not a party), and is not subject to control by civil government and its courts. Trust documents, if any, are never required to be filed in man’s legal system through any of its courts or agencies. This type of trust is not a legal entity. The trust relationship can be established orally or in writing; a properly drafted writing is much better than an oral trust, especially if the trust estate is to hold real estate, vehicles, or other property which requires a written title. If not in writing, and if the facts show the intent to establish a relationship with property to be held by a trustee for the benefit of the true owner of the property then a trust relationship has been established. Also, should the trustee desire to open a trust bank account, written documents will probably be required by the bank.
It is not necessary to use the terms “trust (or steward, etc.),” “trustor (or grantor, steward, donor, etc.),” “trustee (or steward, etc.),” “trust estate,” or “beneficiary” for a trust relationship to come into existence if the essentials of the relationship are there.
The trustor creates the relationship and names a trustee who agrees to administer a trust estate funded by the trustor (and others, if any, who wish to contribute to the trust estate) solely for the benefit of another, the true owner of the trust estate, the beneficiary. The trustor merely establishes the trust relationship. Again, the trustee administers the trust estate solely for the benefit of the owner of the trust estate. Once assets are placed in the trust estate, those assets permanently belong to the beneficiary, not to the trustor (in an irrevocable trust).
What about the little old lady who slips on the ice at the door of the meeting house? A church which is a legal entity (incorporated, 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A), unincorporated association, charitable trust, etc.) can be sued. Any member of that church who can be held to have violated a duty to maintain safety on the property can be sued. This could go to the officers of the corporation, the janitor, the one who volunteered to remove the ice, etc. Thus, the corporation gets liability insurance. More importantly, should a church member desire to displease our Lord and apply to man’s law, state law, for corporate or other legal status, so that their liability is limited such that they will not be required to help that little old lady injured on the ice? Another consideration is that the members of the church own the corporation and ultimately pay the debts and liabilities of the corporation: they pay for the insurance and any obligation not covered by the insurance.
What about the church under Christ and Christ alone? Believers should take care of that little old lady who slips on the ice which a responsible party intentionally, recklessly, or negligently failed to remove or salt down; especially when the property is used for a meetinghouse open for attendance to the church members and others. If the church meets in someone’s house, the homeowner should, and probably does, have homeowner’s insurance. Should the church establish a common law trust and acquire property for a meetinghouse, the trustee, as legal owner of the property, should obtain liability insurance, in the name of the trust, him being the legal owner of the trust estate.
Property owners, especially believers, should be responsible for the safety of the property they legally own. This is common sense. This is Christian. This is Bible. The new Testament Church, not being a legal entity, cannot be sued, but those legally responsible can be sued. Nonetheless, those injured on the Lord’s property due to the failure of the legal owner of the property to make sure that the property is safe, are to be taken care of.
In conclusion, many believers in America, seeing the problems with church legal status, are leaving their legally established churches and forming house churches. Others, when the need for a larger facility arises or should a bank account be desired to secure God’s money, are establishing trust relationships with property as described above. Sadly, even though the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions guarantee that churches may choose to do things God’s way without persecution, the overwhelming majority of churches betray our Lord and become legal entities. One of their many excuses is that it is not practical to do things God’s way in the matter of property ownership. Not so. It is always practical, from God’s viewpoint, for believers and churches to honor their love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.
For analysis of other false reasons for betraying our Lord see:
(In loving memory of my dear brother who passed away unexpectedly October 1, 2020)
John 11:14: “Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” One day, the news that a loved one is dead will come to us all. Will we have any hope?
In John 11, we read that Jesus went to Bethany that Mary and Martha might have hope because he loved them. John 11:5: “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus;” as he loves us all: John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“Light has come into the world” (John 3:19). He brought light into the darkness. He was physically on earth and could not be everywhere at the same time. In John 13, Jesus tells His disciples of his betrayal. In John 14, he lets them know that He is going away to prepare a place for them. In John 15:16, He tells them that He will not leave them alone, but that He will send a Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to abide with them forever. Now, He is with every believer even here on earth; the light is with every believer. But here, in John 11, He brings the light, Himself, to Mary and Martha to give them hope.
John 11:8-10: “His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.”
1 John 1:5: “[Jesus who is] God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not” (John 1:4-5). Jesus was “… the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world” (John 1:9).
John 11:11-14 “These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.”
John 11:15 “And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him.”
After receiving the news that Lazarus was sick, that was no news to the Lord, Jesus tarried two days waiting for Lazurus to die (v 6). This was all for the glory of God (vs 4, 40).
If you want to know how Jesus feels about the death of our loved ones, look at verse 33: “Jesus wept.” Death is a frightful thing, actually. We can be sure of one thing, though. Jesus enters into sympathy with us. His sympathy is for the living, not for the dead.
Mary knew that Lazarus would rise again at the resurrection (v 24). She grieved because Lazarus had died and was no longer on this earth. John 11:31-33: “The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”
When one dies, This is how Jesus feels at his or her funeral:
“When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled” (v33).
“Jesus wept” (v 35). When one’s loved one dies, Jesus weeps. He joins you in shedding tears, but not for the loved one that is in Christ, not for the one who is going to be with Christ, but for those who remain.
Of course, the Jews missed it (verse 36).
We know that Jesus sympathy was with the living, that Lazarus would rise again, and that Martha knew that Lazarus would rise again at the resurrection. We read in verses 23-26:
“Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.”
Here, Jesus is speaking of the eternal. Praise the Lord for those family and friends who, like Mary, are believers. John 11:27: “She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”
Finally, let me say that you cannot cover up death by embalming and prettying up the dead body. It is the body that dies, not the soul. The soul of the person in Christ will be with the Lord. The greatest benefit is eternal life. This life is nothing compared to eternity. The big question in any religion and in this life is, “Can Christ raise the dead?” This life is a great mystery and this life is meaningless if there is no resurrection of the dead.
Modernism wants the practical, not the doctrinal. Modernism does not realize that the most practical thing of all is eternal, not temporal life. The modernist promises so much here, but nothing eternal.
If one is flying high today, one day he is going to land. He better learn how to land.
This account of Lazarus is written, as is the book of John, that we may believe:
John 20:30-31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
It’s a sign of the times on the way to the one world government/religion forecast in the Bible. Many in America and in the world, having discounted God and His Word, are wanting to reimagine the way the government solves problems such as “police brutality,” pandemics such as Covid19, etc. The establishment uses real crises, and concocts others, in order to create chaos and destroy the existing order thereby opening the door to “reimagine,” to “build back better,” to bring about the “great reset,” or – as the Bible explains – to bring in the final one world political, religious establishment.
Nothing is sacred in their warfare. Lying, cheating, stealing, and killing are all fine and dandy. They have no problem in destroying economies, attacking churches, assaulting children and adults of both sexes, looting and burning down businesses, and killing people, including old people (as did Governor Como when he put old people with Covid19 into rest homes so as to infect and kill thousands), and constantly serving a steady stream of lies to the unlearned. They operate on the national political level (the Clintons, Obama, Biden, Harris, et al.); in the establishment (Democrat) media (ABC, CNN, NBC, CBS, MSNBC, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, et al.); on the international level (the United Nations and political leaders throughout the world); in practically all government controlled public schools, universities, and colleges; and on the streets of America (Antifa, Black Lives Matter).
Witness the reaction of the typical person when he or she listens to Imagine: Queen + Paul Rodgers – Imagine (Live in Hyde Park). When God and His Word is forgotten, the song seems so reasonable to the emotions; that is, unless one gives it serious consideration, assuming that one is capable of doing so.
“Liberal,” “Marxist” politicians and others have been and are, more and more openly, using the word “reimagine” on a regular basis these days, especially when supporting the Marxist looters and criminals who are running wild in some of the liberal strongholds of America:
“In these horrifying and divisive times, all of us — progressives and right-wingers, Karens and corona doves — need a cause around which we can unite. The question is what, though. On Wednesday, Bill de Blasio provided the answer: ‘I don’t mean to make light of this,’ the mayor of New York City said in reference to the worst rioting America has seen in my lifetime, ‘but I’m reminded of the song ‘Imagine‘ by John Lennon [Bold red emphasis mine]. We played it at my inaugura
tion. I think everyone who hears that song in its fullness thinks about a world where people got along differently.'” Quote from Matthew Walther, “‘Imagine’ is a bad, bad song,” June 4, 2020; this is an excellent article from a non-Biblical perspective showing that some people, although not familiar with the word of God, still use their common sense and listen to their God given conscience (See Romans 2:14-15).
Kamala Harris told “The View” in June of this year that “a big part of this conversation really is about reimagining how we do public safety in America, which I support,” according to the Western Journal. Quote from News American Patriot, Kamala Harris Caught Contradicting Her Own Platform In Public. [Bold red emphasis mine].
Let us go beyond our common sense and conscience and directly to the Word of God for the definitive analysis of this matter. Man, created in innocence and placed in the Garden of Eden, failed his first test under God when he ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. God judged the serpent, the woman, and the man (Genesis 3:14-19). God then drove out man, who now knew good and evil, from the Garden (Genesis 3:22-24).
“Expelled from Eden and placed under a new covenant, man was responsible to do all known good, to abstain from all known evil, and to approach God through sacrifice. Abel, a type of spiritual man, approached God through the approved offering, the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof (Genesis 4:4). His sacrifice, in which atoning blood was shed (Hebrews 9:22), was therefore at once his confession of sin and the expression of his faith in the interposition of a substitute, ultimately the seed of the woman, the Lord Jesus Christ (Hebrews 11:4).”
“But God had no respect for the offering brought by Cain, the fruit of the ground” (Genesis 4:3). “The religion of Cain, as a type of the mere man of the earth, was destitute of any adequate sense of sin, or need of atonement. Seven things are said of him:
He worships self-will;
is angry with God;
refuses to bring a sin offering;
murders his brother;
lies to God;
becomes a vagabond;
is, nevertheless, the object of the divine solicitude.”
His offering being rejected by God, Cain rose up and slew his brother Abel (Genesis 4: 8). He was punished directly by God:
“And Cain said unto the LORD, My punishment is greater than I can bear. Behold, thou hast driven me out this day from the face of the earth; and from thy face shall I be hid; and I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond in the earth; and it shall come to pass, that every one that findeth me shall slay me. And the LORD said unto him, Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the LORD set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him” (Genesis 4:13-15).
The LORD was making clear that He was giving man no authority over man. He forbade man from punishing evil doers. God himself judged Cain and made clear that only He was to take vengeance.
Within a relatively short period of time man, being controlled only by his conscience, his knowledge of good and evil, utterly failed. “And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5). [Bold red emphasis added]. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it” (Jeremiah 17:9)? “The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence. And God looked upon the earth, and, behold, it was corrupt; for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:11-12).
The only remedy was judgment. Man’s conscience was not sufficient to control his evil imagination. Only Noah, and his family, “found grace in the eyes of the LORD.” The judgment of the flood followed for all others.
Under Conscience, as in Innocency in the Garden of Eden, man utterly failed, and the judgment of the Flood marks the beginning of a new way of God’s dealing with man. God subjects man to a new test. Its distinctive feature is the institution, for the first time, of human government–the government of man by man. The highest function of government is the judicial taking of life. All other governmental powers are implied in that. Under the new dispensation of human government, man is responsible to govern the world for God. That responsibility rested upon the whole race, Jew and Gentile, until the failure of Israel under the Covenant God make with Israel before she went into the promised land under Joshua. See Deuteronomy 28.-30.1-10. The failure of Israel under that Covenant brought the judgment of the Captivities, when ‘the times of the Gentiles’ (See Luke 21:24; Revelation) 16:14) began, and the government of the world passed exclusively into Gentile hands. (Daniel 2:36-45; Luke 21:24; Acts 15:14-17). That both Israel and the Gentiles have governed for self, not God, is sadly apparent.”
The judgment of the confusion of tongues ended the racial testing; that of the captivities the Jewish; while the Gentile testing will end in the smiting of the Image (Da 2.) and the judgment of the nations Mt 25:31-46.
The whole earth, after the flood, was of one language and speech. In direct rebellion against God:
“[I]t came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:2-4). This was the first attempt to establish a one-world government in direct defiance of God. Mankind, in general, has never forsaken this goal, as is very apparent in these times.
“And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:5-9). [Bold red emphasis added].
The imaginationof man’s heart is evil from his youth (Genesis 8:21). This is a universal truth. With such a heart, imagination is leading mankind to the final judgments prophesied in God’s Word. There is a heaven and a hell. There is a God who is in control, who tests mankind, and who judges mankind when he fails. Mankind, except for God’s remnant, led by his evil imagination will again fail God, even in this time of God’s grace; and God will ultimately, by force, subdue the nations by force and reign for a thousand years on earth. Until then, there will be killing, religion, wars and rumors of wars, greed and hunger. Thus it will be. The answer for the individual is explained, not by the song “Imagine,” not by reimagining, but in God’s Word. See God’s Plan of Salvation.
For more study on this, do a word search for “imagination” and “imagine” in the King James Bible. Better yet, study the King James Bible from beginning to end.
Note. When an individual, a family, a nation, or a church rejects God and begins to reimagine, he always does so according to Satanic principles. For more on this, see: Lessons on Satan from the Word of God.
Some relevant Bible verses and an insight from Patrick Henry
Psalms 9:17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
Psalms 11:3 If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
Proverbs 14:34: “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.”
Proverbs 20:26: “A wise king scattereth the wicked, and bringeth the wheel over them.”
Proverbs 29:2: “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice: but when the wicked beareth rule, the people mourn.”
Paul said in his sermon on Mars’ hill: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; … And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring” (Ac. 17.24, 26-31).
“Where are your checks in this government? Your strongholds will be in the hands of your enemies. It is on the supposition that your American governors shall be honest, that all the good qualities of this government are founded; but its defective and imperfect construction puts it in their power to perpetrate the worst of mischiefs, should they be bad men. And sir, would not all the world, from the eastern to the western hemispheres, blame our distracted folly in resting our rights upon the contingency of our rulers being good or bad? Show me that age and country where the rights and liberties of the people were placed on the sole chance of their rulers being good men, without a consequent loss of liberty.” (John Eidsmoe, Christianity and the Constitution: The Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House, 1987), p. 309, quoting Patrick Henry, Virginia Ratifying Debates; quoted by Tyler, Patrick Henry, p. 328.).
Proof of the thesis of this essay, a small sampling
The rise in murders in the US, explained (120220)(See how God and His principles are left out of the equation? A Bible examination in search of the explanation is multi-faceted. God is left by the individual, the family, the church (except for a very small remnant), and, definitely, by the nation. Without God, His method of regeneration-repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ), and a knowledge, understanding, and wisdom by studying and applying God’s Word, the decline seen in America was inevitable as is the continued decline and then, the final judgment of God.)
NOTE. For more details see, McGee, Galatians. This study is taken from that book with some modifications.
IF YOU ARE SAVED, HAVE STUDIED THE WORD OF GOD, AND DISAGREE WITH ME, LET’S STUDY IT OUT TOGETHER. SEE CONTACT INFO ON THE WEBCITE. A ONE WAY TEACHING WITHOUT EQUAL TIME FOR OPPOSING VIEWS CAN BE HERETICAL.
Written by Paul (Galatians 1:1) about A.D. 57, to all the churches in Galatia.
Galatians is a stern, severe, and solemn message (Galatians 1:6-9; 3:1-5). It does not correct conduct as the Corinthian letters do, but it is corrective. The Galatian believers were in grave peril because the foundations of their faith were being attacked—everything was threatened.
The epistle, therefore, contains no word of commendation, praise, or thanksgiving. There is no request for prayer, and there is no mention of standing in Christ. No one with him is mentioned by name. If you compare this epistle with the other Pauline epistles, you will see that it is different.
In this epistle, the heart of Paul is laid bare, and there is deep emotion and strong feeling. This is his fighting epistle. He has on his war paint. He has no toleration for legalism. Someone has said that the epistle to the Romans comes from the head of Paul while the epistle to the Galatians comes from the heart of Paul. A theologian has said, “Galatians takes up controversially what Romans puts systematically.”
The epistle is a declaration of emancipation from legalism of any type. It is interesting to note that legalists do not spend much time with Galatians. It is a rebuke to them. It has been called the Magna Carta of the early church. It is the manifesto of Christian liberty, the impregnable citadel, and a veritable Gibraltar against any attack on the heart of the gospel.
Galatians is the strongest declaration and defense of the doctrine of justification by faith in or out of Scripture. It is God’s polemic on behalf of the most vital truth of the Christian faith against any attack. Not only is the sinner saved by grace through faith plus nothing, but the saved sinner lives by grace. Grace is a way to life and a way of life. These two go together.
I. Introduction, 1:1-10
Salutation—Cool Greeting, 1:1-5
Subject Stated—Warm Declamation, 1:6-10
II. Personal—Authority of the Apostle and Glory of the Gospel, 1:11-2:14
Experience of Paul in Arabia
Experience of Paul with the Apostles in Jerusalem, 2:1-10
Experience of Paul in Antioch with Peter, 2:11-14
III. Doctrinal—Justification by Faith, 2:15-4:31
Faith vs. Works, Liberty vs. Bondage
Justification by Faith—Doctrine Stated, 2:15-21
Justification by Faith—Experience of Galatians, 3:1-5
Justification by Faith—Illustration of Abraham, 3:6-4:18
Justification by Faith—Allegory of Hagar and Sarai, 2:19-31
IV. Practical—Sanctification by the Spirit, 5:1-6:10
Spirit vs. Flesh, Liberty vs. Bondage
Saved by Faith and Living by Law Perpetrates Falling from Grace, 5:1-15
Saved by Faith and Walking in the Spirit Produces Fruit of the Spirit, 5:16-26
Saved by Faith and Fruit of the Spirit Presents Christian Character, 6:1-10
V. Autographed Conclusion, 6:11-18
1. Paul’s Own Handwriting, 6:11
2. Paul’s Own Testimony, 6:12-18
(a) Cross of Christ vs. Circumcision, 6:12-15
(b) Christ’s Handwriting on Paul’s Body, 6:16-18
(The New Circumcision of the New Creation)
Galatians is God’s polemic against legalism of every and any description. The Mosaic law is not discredited, despised, nor disregarded. Its majesty, perfection, demands, fullness, and purpose are maintained. Yet these very qualities make it utterly impossible for man to come this route to God. Another way is opened for man to be justified before God, a way which entirely bypasses the Mosaic law. The new route is by faith. Justification by faith is the theme, with the emphasis on faith.
Three epistles in the New Testament quote Habakkuk 2:4, “The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17 emphasizes the just. Hebrews 10:38 emphasizes shall live. Galatians 3:11 emphasizes by faith.
In Galatians, Paul is defending the gospel from those who would add law to justification by faith. Faith plus law was the thrust of Judaism. Faith plus nothing was the answer of Paul.
The Judaizers questioned Paul’s authority as an apostle and his teaching that simple faith was adequate for salvation. Paul defends his apostleship and demonstrates the sufficiency of the gospel of grace to save.
Salutation—Cool Greeting, 1:1-5
In verse 1, Paul states he is an apostle. Paul states that his is not “of men.” He also declares that his apostleship is not “by man.”
Paul was an apostle by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead. Jesus laid His hand upon Paul, called him, and set him apart for the office (Acts 9:15, 16).
Men had nothing to do with Paul’s apostleship. This differs from the pastor who is ordained by men.
Paul’s greeting in verse 2 is cool, brief, formal, and terse. No one is personally mentioned. He is writing to “churches of Galatia,” not to a universal church. Of course, the principles apply to every church, to every local assembly.
Two main views of “the church” are proposed. The first says that one meaning of church includes the entire body of believers, of all different groups, who have trusted Christ as Saviour. The other meaning of church refers to local assemblies. There were local churches, or local assemblies, in many parts of Galatia. This first view takes the position that Ephesians looks at the corporate believers—the invisible church. But the invisible body is to make itself visible today in a corporate body.
The other view of the church is that there is no universal body of believers today, known as the church. Rather, the church is an institution which today is made up of local assemblies of believers. When one is saved, he becomes a member of the family of God, not a member of a universal church. Then, such as are saved should become part of a local assembly of believers, a local church. That is the view which, for many reasons, I believe is correct. I have heard arguments for both sides, and I find many holes in the former view. We can all agree that believers should be identified with a local body of believers.
Verse 3 is Paul’s formal greeting that he uses in most of his epistles.
Verse 4: Jesus Christ “gave himself for our sins.” He could give no more. “That he might deliver us from this present evil world.” There is a present value of the gospel which proves its power and genuineness. The gospel can deliver you. It can deliver one from alcohol, drugs, and sex sins. Christ alone can deliver in cases like that. This proves the genuineness of the gospel. Christ died for us and rose from the dead “that he might deliver us from this present evil world.” You and I cannot add to that. We have nothing to add.
This is “according to the will of God and our Father.” He can deliver us, not according to law; but according to the will of God. The will of God is that after He has saved us, we are not to live in sin. He can deliver us. He wants to deliver us. He will deliver us, and He will do it according to the will of God.
When one turns to God, and puts His faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, God makes of him a new creature. That new creature is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and no longer desires to wallow in sin. He will sin, but he will now grieve over his sin. He will never be content with his sin again.
Verse 5: “To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” Paul praises God, as we should also.
Subject Stated—Warm Declamation, 1:6-10
v6 There are two aspects of the gospel, and it can be used in two senses: (1) the facts of the gospel, and (2) the interpretation of the gospel. The facts of the gospel are the death, burial, and bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul said to the Corinthians, “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received [Paul didn’t originate the gospel; he received it], how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (1 Co. 15:3, 4). These are the historical facts of the gospel which cannot be changed. You have never preached the gospel unless you have stated these facts.
The second aspect of the gospel is the interpretation of the facts. They are to be received by faith plus nothing. The subject of Paul’s letter to the Galatian believers concerns the interpretation of the facts of the gospel. The Judaizers who had followed Paul into Galatian country challenged the interpretation of the gospel (heresy), not the facts of the gospel. Five hundred witnesses had followed Paul into Galatian country. They were very sly and subtle, and said something like, “Brother Paul is accurate as far as he goes (in that he preached the gospel to you and you accepted it), but he doesn’t go far enough. Did he tell you that you should keep the Mosaic law? He didn’t. Well, he should have told you that. Yes, you are to trust Christ, but you must also follow the Mosaic law or you won’t be saved.”
This is one of the oldest heresies known, and it is still with us today. It is adding something to the gospel of grace; it is doing something rather than simply believing something. Every cult and ism has something for you to do in order to be saved.
Christ told the apostles to preach the gospel of salvation by grace. They were not to do anything to gain their salvation, but they were to trust what Christ had done for them. The gospel shuts out all works. Had man been able to believe in the coming Messiah and keep the Mosaic law for salvation, there would have been no reason for Christ to come and die for their sins.
v7 To attempt to change the gospel has the effect of making it the very opposite of what it really is.
v8 Paul says that even if an angel dared to declare any other message than the gospel, he would be dismissed with a strong invective. There are many today who are trying to give us another “gospel.” They may look like angels to you—after all Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light, and his ministers are transformed and the ministers of righteousness (2 Co. 11:14, 15).
v9 Paul says if any man preach any other gospel, let him be damned. The gospel shuts out all works. Romans 4:5:“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” The only class that God saves is the ungodly. The Lord Jesus said he did not come to save the righteous to repentance; He came to call sinners. The reason He said that is because there is and was none righteous, no not one. Even the righteousness of man is as filthy rags in God’s sight. Law condemns man and makes him speechless before grace can save us.
Romans 3:19 “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.” The real difficulty is not that people should be “good enough” to be saved, but that they are not “bad enough” to be saved. Humanity always refuses to recognize its lost condition before God.
The Judaizers did not deny the facts of the gospel. They denied that this was adequate. They insisted that you have to keep the law plus trusting Christ. Paul says let the one who mingles law and grace be damned! Why? Because they pervert the gospel. They do not deny the facts of the gospel. They pervert the gospel.
v10 The preaching of the gospel is not pleasing to lost man. No man can please both man and God. Preaching the gospel today may get you into trouble because the sinner hates it. The gospel of grace puts us in the dust and makes us beggars before God.
By nature man responds to legalism. He thinks he does not need a Saviour. All he needs is a helper. I have heard sermons on the radio where the preacher, many times highly regarded by the “Christians” who listen to him, talk about Jesus coming into the world, about His death and resurrection. But they failed to mention that the listeners were sinners and needed a Saviour. He neglected to inform them that Jesus died for them and that, to be saved, they had to trust Him, to put their faith in him. These preachers often talk about commitment. They invite folks to commit their lives to Christ. Christ does not want your old life, nor does He want mine. We have nothing to commit to him. He wants to do something through us today.
God is not even asking you to live the Christian life. You cannot live it. God is asking that He might live the Christian life through you. The epistle to the Galatians teaches this. But first, we must come to Christ as hopeless lost sinners and be saved. Churches are filled with people who have never come to Christ and received His as Saviour. You have nothing to commit to him. He is the one who died, and he is on the giving end. “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 6:23).
Man’s conscience, his knowledge of good and evil, witnesses to the law, and legal conviction will lead to works. Man tries to compensate for the fact that he is not doing enough. He tries to balance his good works against his sins and have enough on the plus side to be saved.
The Holy Spirit witnesses to grace today. This is gospel conviction that leads to faith. The law denies the fall of man—this was the position of Cain. Grace acknowledges the fall of man, as Abel did when he brought his offering to God.
II. Personal—Authority of the Apostle and Glory of the Gospel, 1:11-2:14
1. Experience of Paul in Arabia, 1:11-24
v11 Paul is again stating that he is a God-appointed apostle. He did not get the gospel he preached from man. The Judaizers questioned Paul’s message and Paul’s apostleship.
v12 Paul did not receive his apostleship by going to school, by being ordained, or by hands being laid on his head. His apostleship came by direct revelation of Jesus Christ. The gospel is a revelation, just as is the book of Revelation. The gospel was unveiled to the Apostle Paul.
v13 Paul says you have heard of my manner of life in the Jewish religion in which he was brought up. He was saved not in Judaism, not by Judaism, but from Judaism.
vv15-17 Paul did not combine Judaism with Greek Philosophy to come up with Christianity, as some modernists assert. He received the gospel by direct revelation of Jesus Christ.
v18 This is the same record given in Acts 9:26-29:
“And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem. And he spake boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus, and disputed against the Grecians: but they went about to slay him.”
God trained Moses in the desert. He put Abraham in a rather unique place to train him, and Elijah had that same type of experience. It has been God’s method to put his man out on the desert to train him. David was outdoors in the caves of the earth while he was running away from King Saul. God sent Paul into the desert for less than three years. Then he went to Jerusalem, saw Peter, and stayed with him fifteen days.
v19 Paul had no contact with the apostles except Peter and James, the Lord’s brother; and he received nothing from them.
v20 Paul says he does not lie. The modernist, mentioned above, said Paul got the gospel by making a homogenized stew out of Greek philosophy and the Mosaic system. One of the two is lying.
vs21-24 In these verses, Paul outlines his first years after his conversion. I don’t think they were the happiest years of his life. Apparently he tell us something about the failure in his personal life in Romans 7. There were three years in the life of the Apostle Paul”
Paul was a proud Pharisee. He had a marvelous mind and was an expert in the Mosaic Law. As many of his biographers have said, the world would have heard of Paul even if he had not been an apostle and even if he had not been converted. Dr. McGee does not think there as any question about that. He was an outstanding man. But he was a proud young Pharisee who thought he knew it all. He hated Christ. He hated the church and attempted to eliminate it. He was ruthless in his persecution of the churches.
The second period began on the Damascus Road when he was knocked down into the dust. This brilliant Pharisee found out he did not know Jesus Christ, whom to know is life. He thought Jesus was dead. And he asked, “Who art thou, Lord?” Jesus replied, “I am Jesus whom you persecute. When you persecute my church, you persecute me.” When Paul became acquainted with his Lord, he immediately asked, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” After Paul met Christ, he spent some time in Arabia. During those first years he attempted to minister and found that what he wanted to do he could not do. Finally he cried out, “O wretched man that I am? who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24). It was not an unsaved man who said that; it was Paul the Apostle in the first stages of his conversion.
Then came that glorious period when he walked in the Spirit. That was the time he could live for God. See Romans 7:24 – Romans 8). That is the place where many of us need to be today. There are so many unhappy Christians. They are saved, Dr. McGee thinks, but as Dwight L. Moody put it in his quaint way, “Some people have just enough religion to make them miserable.”
Since Paul received the gospel apart from the other apostles—who were with the Lord three years and saw the resurrected Christ—is Paul preaching the same gospel? If he is not, something is radically wrong. In the next chapter, we will see that Peter and the other apostles in Jerusalem approved Paul’s gospel as being the same as theirs.
2. Experience of Paul with the Apostles in Jerusalem.
v1 Paul took Titus with him to Jerusalem. Titus was a young preacher and a Gentile. This, Dr. McGee believes, is the 1st great council at Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15. The question to be settled: Whether men are saved by the grace of God or whether they should come under the Mosaic law. Titus was Paul’s exhibit # 1. Titus had not been circumcised. Would he be forced to be circumcised? The Judaizers in the church in Jerusalem, an all-Jewish church, held that all believers in Christ should be under the Mosaic law. Paul and Barnabas came there to get the official word regarding law and grace.
v2 Paul realized that if they were preaching a different gospel from what the other apostles were preaching, something was radically wrong, that he would be wrong, and would have run in vain.
vs3, 4 Titus was not compelled to be circumcised by the church at Jerusalem. Some who were not believers had come where Paul had been preaching to spy out the liberty they had in Christ. To compel circumcision for salvation would be to put one right back under the bondage of the Mosaic law rather than enjoying the freedom by the Spirit of God and the freedom in Christ.
v5 Paul rejected the teaching of the false brethren. Titus was saved by faith apart from the law.:
v6 Paul says we sat down and communicated the gospel there at Jerusalem. Paul found out that these apostles did not have anything to add to what he has been preaching. He was preaching the grace of God. They find they are in full agreement. They are all preaching the same gospel.
v7 There are not two gospels in the sense of Peter’s gospel and Paul’s gospel. These men were in complete disagreement. The gospel of the circumcision and the gospel of the uncircumcision refer to the groups the gospel was going to. Paul was called to go to the Gentiles, Peter to his own Jewish brethren who were the circumcised.
v8 When Peter and Paul preached the gospel, quite a few were saved. Both were preaching the same gospel.
v9 The apostles accepted Paul’s apostleship.
v10 The apostles remind Paul to remember the poor. Paul came back later with an offering for the poor saints at Jerusalem. They had been persecuted and were in a sad condition. This was a social service. James 2:15-17: “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”
3. Experience of Paul in Antioch with Peter, 2:11-14
In this personal section of Paul’s life we have seen his experience in Arabia with the Lord Jesus Christ, and his experience with the apostles in Jerusalem. Now we see his experience with Simon Peter in Antioch. The church in Antioch was largely Gentile, although it was a mixture of Jew and Gentile. The early churches had a love for a feast held in connection with the Lord’s supper. Paul has a lot to say about this in 1 Corinthians. The early believers came together for a love feast, before they celebrated the Lord’s supper. The Gentiles had been accustomed to eating meat that had first been offered to idols, and they also ate pork and other animals designated as unclean in the law of Moses.
To keep from offending the Jewish Christians, two tables were established. One, the kosher table; the other the Gentile table. Paul ate at the Gentile table. He taught that whether you eat mean or you don’t eat meant makes no difference—meat will not commend you to God.
When Peter came to visit Paul in Antioch, he had never eaten anything unclean. Remember what he told the Lord on the roof in Joppa before he went to the home of Cornelius (Acts 10). Peter had been a believer for some time when he came to Antioch.
vs11, 12 Peter ate at the Gentile table; but when some elders from Jerusalem arrived, he ate at the kosher table.
vs 13, 14 For fear of the brethren from Jerusalem, Peter went back to the kosher table. By his actions, he is saying the Gentile table is wrong. The brethren from Jerusalem were austere legalists, and under grace that was their privilege. Dr. McGee has no objection to those who feel that you should not eat certain meats. But they are also to give me the liberty of eating what I choose to eat. Simon Peter turned from the liberty he had in Christ back to Judaism.
The nature of Paul’s rebuke shows, first of all, the inconsistency of lawkeeping. If it was right for Simon Peter to live as the Gentile believers lived, why should he desire the Gentiles to live as the Jews? That is what he was saying when he left the Gentile table for the kosher table. If Gentile living under grace apart from the law was good enough for Peter, was it bad for the Gentiles themselves? If Simon Peter was free to live outside the law, was it not lawful for the Gentiles to do the same?
III. Doctrinal—Justification by Faith, 2:15-4:31 Faith vs. Works, Liberty vs. Bondage
1. Justification by Faith—Doctrine Stated, 1:15-21
v15 Jews in that day looked upon Gentiles as sinners. Gentile and sinner were synonymous terms. Therefore, Paul’s rebuke shows the folly of lawkeeping.
v16 This is a clear-cut and simple statement of justification by faith. The legalist has trouble with this verse. To say that you have to add anything to faith in Christ absolutely mutilates the gospel. If a Jew had to leave the law behind, to forsake it, Paul’s question is, “Why should the Gentile be brought under the law?” That was the great argument at the council in Jerusalem in Acts 15: “Should the Gentile be brought under the law?” The answer was that the Gentile was not under the law for salvation—nor for his daily living, as he was called to a much higher plane.
The Jews had already proved that justification under the law was impossible. They had the law for almost 1500 years and had not been able to keep the law at all. Why force the Gentile under that which had not saved even one Israelite?
“Knowing that a man.” You can know this. All men are on one level before the cross. That level is “sinner.”
“Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law.” Paul embraces the whole legal system that is found in every religion. Only Christianity is different. Every other religion instructs us to do something. Christianity tells us that we are justified by faith; faith in an accomplished act and fact for you. Every other religion says do. Christianity says done. The great transaction is done, and we are asked to believe it.
1 Corinthians 12:3: “Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.” The question is, “How can we call Jesus accursed?” If someone says to me, “When you came to Christ and accepted him as your Saviour, you didn’t get all that was coming to you. The Holy Spirit can give you something that you didn’t get in Christ, and you ought to seek that today.” My friend, to do that depreciates the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross when he came to this earth to die for you and work out a salvation so perfect that when he went back to heaven he sat down at the right hand of God (Hebrews 1:3). He sat down because there was nothing else to be done. When you say he did not do it all for me, you are saying that Jesus is accursed. And you can’t say that by the Holy Spirit of God. That is, you are not giving me the word of the Holy Spirit. Jesus said, ” “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:13-14). When you came to Christ, he gave you everything you will need in this life. Christ is the one who administers all the gifts. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives them, but he is working under the supervision of the second person of the Godhead. We have everything in him. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is the Amen—and when you say amen, you are through. Christ did it all.
This verse is so clear that it is impossible to misunderstand it. It is not faith plus something. It is faith plus nothing.
The verse continues: “even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ.” By “we,” Paul includes himself, meaning we Israelites. Jews have to leave the law, come to Christ and trust him in order to be justified by the faith of Christ rather than by the works of law.
The conclusion of the verse is very clear and means what it says: “for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.” I was a hell doomed sinner. I trusted Him as my Saviour, and I received a perfect salvation from him.
v17Justification, a legal term, means “a reason to be found not guilty.” When a person dies, he will stand before Jesus Christ, who will judge him either “guilty” or not guilty. All men as sinners are guilty. Without a reason to be found not guilty, they will spend eternity in the lake of fire. The only reason one can give to be found not guilty, even though he is guilty, is that he has turned to God (repented) and put his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world.
Ezekiel 33:13 “When I shall say to the righteous, that he shall surely live; if he trust to his own righteousness, and commit iniquity, all his righteousnesses shall not be remembered; but for his iniquity that he hath committed, he shall die for it.”
Romans 10:3: “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God.”
Philippians 3:9;” And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:”
The sense of this verse seems to be this: Since the Jew had to forsake the law in order to be justified by Christ and therefore take his place as a sinner, is Christ the One who makes him a sinner? Paul’s answer is, “Of course not.” The Jew, like the Gentile, was a sinner by nature. He could not be justified by the law, as he demonstrated. The same thought was given by Peter in his address before the great council at Jerusalem: “Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they” (Ac. 15:10-11). You see, Peter and Paul were in agreement on the doctrine of justification by faith.
v18 Paul is saying, “If I go back under law, I make myself a transgressor.” But he is free from the law. How did he become free from the law?
v19 Paul is saying, “When Christ died, He died for me. He died in my stead because the law had condemned me.” The law was a ministration of condemnation; a ministration of death (2 Co. 3:7). It condemns me. Even under the legal system, God had to destroy the nation Israel. But He gave the sacrificial system—five sacrifices—all of them pointing to Christ. God, by his marvelous grace, was able to save. Therefore, the mercy seat was a throne of grace where a nation could find forgiveness of sins. We stand guilty before the law which condemns and accuses man. If one is dead to the law, he is no longer responsible to the law which has already killed me. Therefore, the law could not do for me what Christ did. He took my place, died for me, and gave me life. The law arrested, condemned, sentenced, and slew us. If you come by the law route, you will get death. Only Christ can give life.
v20 Believers are not to seek to be crucified with Christ. We have already been crucified with Him. The principle of living is not by the law, which has slain us because it found us guilty. We are to live by the faith in the Son of God. The death of Christ on the cross was penal (paid the penalty for our sins), and substitutionary. He was the sacrifice for sin, but also the substitute for all who believer.
Paul declares that under the law he was tried, found guilty, condemned, and in the person of his Substitute was slain. The believer, we are told, had been put in Christ.
The believer cannot live the crucified life. There are many ways one can end his life, commit suicide; but you cannot do so by crucifying yourself. Paul said, “I am crucified with Christ.” This happened when Christ died. Christ died a substitutionary death. He died for Paul, your you, and for me.
In Romans 6, we are told that we have been buried with Christ in baptism, by identification. We have been raised with Him in newness of life, and now we are joined to the living Christ. We do not know Him any more after the flesh. Christ is at God’s right hand. He is the glorified Christ.
The law executed us; it could not give us life. Christ gave us life. How do I live. “Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.” He died for me down here that I might live with Him up yonder, and that He might live in me down here.
“And the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God.” This is a life of faith–saved by faith, live by faith, walk by faith. This is what it means to walk in the Spirit.
Christ loved me, but He could not love me into heaven. He had to give Himself for me. “The gift of God is eternal life. in Christ Jesus.” You can only receive a gift by faith. That applies to any gift. You have to believe the giver is sincere. You have to reach out in faith and take it before it belongs to you.
You can trod underfoot the precious blood of Christ by ignoring Him, turning away from Him, or turning against Him as Paul did. But it was for that crowd that Jesus prayed, “Father forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
v21 The thought is that if there had been any other way to save sinners, then God would have used that method. The only way was to send His Son to die.
2. Justification by Faith—Experience of Galatians, 3:1-5
Paul now goes back to the experience of the Galatians. How were they saved, by law or faith in Christ?
C3, v1 “O foolish Galatians” what has gotten into you. It was Christ’s death on the cross which made possible your salvation.
v2 Experience must be tested by truth. Many today reason from experience to truth. The Word of God goes from truth to experience. Dr. McGee thinks that Paul means by “the hearing of faith” the whole process—the ear, the organ of hearing and the receiving the message, and the message itself.
This section raises several questions. He tells the Galatians to look back on what had happened to them and asks six questions which have to do with their experience.
Question #1: “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Nowhere, even in the OT, did anyone ever receive the Holy Spirit by the works of the law. He is received by the hearing of faith. The Holy Spirit is the evidence of conversion. Romans 8:9: “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” Ephesians 1:13 :”In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.”
v3: Second question: Galatians 3:3: “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” The question is, “Now that you are indwelt by the Spirit of God, are you going to turn your back on the law (which was given to control the flesh) and think you are going to live on a high plane?”
v4 They are reminded that they paid a price for receiving the gospel. Was it all going to be in vain, without a purpose?
v5 The third question: Galatians 3:5″ “He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” Paul reminds them that he came to their country, preached the Word of God to them, and performed miracles among them. He did it by the hearing of faith, not by the works of the law. When he preached the Lord Jesus Christ as the One who died for them, was raised again, and in whom the placed their trust, they were regenerated.
The important thing is that Paul came to them as an apostle preaching Jesus Christ, not as a Pharisee preaching the law. Justification by faith was the experience of the Galatians. The gospel is true irrespective of the experience of the Galatians or anyone else. The gospel is objective; it deals with what Jesus Christ did for us. Experience will corroborate the gospel, as Paul is demonstrating in this section. The gospel is sufficient—experience confirms this.
3. Justification by Faith—Illustration of Abraham, 3:6-4:18
C3 v6 “Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.” This is a quote from Genesis 15:6, which is also quoted in Romans 4:3. Abraham is a great example of justification by faith. Paul uses him as an example in both Romans and Galatians. The law was not given until 400 years after Abraham. Abraham was justified before God gave him the commandment of circumcision. Circumcision was the badge and evidence of Abraham’s faith, just as baptism is the badge and evidence of a believer’s faith today. Neither can save. They make no contribution to salvation, but are simply outward evidences of an inward work.
In Genesis 15, after Abraham rescued his nephew Lot from the kings of the East and returned the booty from the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, God appeared to him to assure him he had done right. Abraham reminded the Lord that He had promised him a son. God tells him Abraham that he cannot count the stars and that he will not be able to count his offspring. Genesis 15:6 “And he [Abraham} believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” Abraham believed God, and at that moment God declared him righteous. Not because of his works. His works were imperfect. Paul will develop this a little later on. Although he did not have perfection at that time, afterwards he did because his faith was counted for righteousness.
Abraham, in effect, asked God to put it in writing (Ge. 15:8). We read in Ge. 15:9-21 of the covenant God then made with Abraham. In those days, they cut a sacrifice into two parts and put half on one side and half on the other side, then they joined hands and walked between the two halves. That sealed the covenant. We are told that God put Abraham into a deep sleep. Why? Because Abraham is not going to walk with God between the two halves. Abraham is not to promise anything. God is doing the promising. God is making the covenant. Abraham’s part is only to believe God. If the covenant depended on Abraham’s faithfulness, he might miss one night, and the promise would be no good. The covenant depended on God’s faithfulness alone.
2000 years ago Christ came to the cross to pay for your sins and mine. God is asking you to do nothing to be saved. He is asking you to trust His Son who died for you. He makes the covenant. The old covenant he made with Abraham. Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness. God is still asking us to believe Him. Put your trust in Christ and you will be saved.
v7 “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.” When a person trusts in Christ as Saviour, he is saved the same way Abraham was saved.
v8 The blessing was to Abraham’s faith, not his works. God preached the Gospel to Abraham. Abraham obeyed the voice of God. He demonstrated by his action that he had faith in God. He believed God, and he believed in the Lord, and He counted it to him for righteousness.
There is no contradiction between what Paul said about Abraham and what James said. James 2:20-21: “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?” James then says, “Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect” (James 2:22). Saving faith is a dynamic, vital faith that leads to works. James is not talking about the works of the law. He is talking about the works of faith. Faith produces works.
God sees our hearts. He knows when one is saved. He lives in the one who is saved. This is a dynamic, living faith which will produce works. James 2 reveals that James used the history of Abraham to show that faith without works is dead—it is the last of Abraham’s history because this is the last time God appeared to Him. It is not that portion of Scripture to which Paul refers in Galatians where he says that Abraham was justified by faith. Paul says that faith alone is sufficient and proves his point from Abraham’s history as recorded in the 15th chapter of Genesis. James says that faith without works is dead and proves it by referring to Abraham’s history as found in the 22nd chapter of Genesis. If Abraham had said to God in Genesis 22, “Wait a minute, I really do not believe what you say. I have been putting on an act all of these years,” then it would have been obvious that Abraham’s faith was a pseudo-faith. But God knew back in Genesis 15 that Abraham had a genuine faith. A faith that is dead is no faith at all.
The works that James speaks of are not works of the law at all. The law had not been given. James 2:23: “And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.” James, at the beginning of this verse, is going back to the reference that Paul gives at first concerning the beginning of Abraham’s life of faith. Then Paul says that the gospel was preached to Abraham at the end of his life when God made this promise to him.
There is no contradiction when you examine passages like the ones written by Paul and James. They are saying the same thing. One is looking at faith at the beginning. The other is looking at faith at the end. One is looking at the root of faith. The other is looking at the fruit of faith. The root of faith is “faith alone saves you,” but that saving faith will produce works.
Paul is speaking of that which justifies man before God, faith alone wholly apart from works (Ro. 4); James, the proof before men, that he who professes justifying faith really has it. Paul speaks of what God sees—faith; James of what men see—works as visible evidence of faith. Paul’s illustration in Romans 4 is from Genesis 15:6; James’ from Genesis 22:1-19. James’ key phrase is “you see) (Ja. 2:24) for man cannot see faith except as manifested through works. Ps. 26: a life should back up faith.
v9 God saves the sinner today on the same basis that He saved Abraham. God asked Abraham to believe that He would do certain things for him in the future (including providing “himself” a sacrifice). Now, God has done certain things for us in giving His Son, Jesus Chrrist, to die for us. Faith saves man today, Abraham’s faith saved him.
v10 The important word here is “continueth.” The verse says, “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” If I kept all the laws of Texas all the years of my life here (which are many) I would not be rewarded for it. But if I went out then and robbed a store, I would be arrested and prosecuted. The law does not reward you. It does not give you life. The law penalizes you.
v11 Even the Old Testament taught that man was saved by faith. If you find that someone was saved by keeping the law, let me know. I have never read of anyone who was saved by keeping the Mosaic law. This verse says it is evident that “the just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk 2:4 says that “the just shall live by faith.”
v12 Faith and law are contrary principles for salvation and also for living. They are diametrically opposed. If you are going to live by the law, then you cannot be saved by faith. If you want to be saved by faith and by law, you can try it, but God has not made an arrangement for this. If you try it, it will not work. “The law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.”
v13 “Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law”—the Mosaic law condemned us. I am not rewarded for keeping the civil laws of Texas, but if I break one, I am condemned. Christ redeemed us from the penalty of the Mosaic law by “being made a curse for us.”
“For it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree.” See, De. 21:22-23). Christ became a curse when He hanged on the cross.
v14 Israel had the law for fifteen hundred years, and failed to live by it. At the Council of Jerusalem, in Acts 15, Peter said in effect, “We and our fathers were not able to keep the law. Why do we want to put the Gentiles under it? If we could not keep it, they won’t be able to keep it either.” Christ took our place that we might receive what the law could never do. The Spirit is the peculiar gift in this age of grace.
v15 A contract between men is a contract that can be enforced.
v16 God made Abraham a blessing to the world through his seed, Jesus Christ, a descendant of Abraham. The word “seed” refers specifically to Jesus Christ. “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice” (Genesis 22:18). “Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad” (John 8:56).
v17 The law came 420 years after God’s covenant with Abraham, and it did not change anything as far as the promises made to Abraham were concerned. God never goes back on His promises. He promised to give Abraham a son and a people that will be as numberless as the sand on the seashore; He promised to give him a certain land. God fulfilled that promise and brought from Abraham the nation Israel, and several other nations. God also promised to make Abraham a blessing to all people. The only blessing in this world today is in Christ. Jesus Christ is the supreme gift given to every person who will receive Him.
v18 The promise concerning Christ was made before the Mosaic law was given, and that promise holds as good as though there had been no law given. The promise was made irrespective of the law.
The Lord, through Paul, is trying to help people understand the purpose of the law. He shows the law in all its majesty, in its fulness, and in its perfection. But he shows that this very perfection the law reveals is the reason it creates a hurdle which no one can get over in order to be accepted of God.
Now the Lord, through Paul talks about the purpose of the law.
v19 The law was added because or for the sake of transgressions. “Till the seed should come” means that the law was temporary—from the interval between the time of Moses until the time of Christ. “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).
The law was given to reveal, not remove sin. It was not given to keep man from sin because sin had already come. It was to show man himself as being a natural, ugly, crude sinner before God. Any honest man who looks at the law will see himself guilty. It was not given as a standard by which man becomes holy. No one can become holy by the law because one cannot keep the law in his own strength. Man is already a sinner, he does not become a sinner. A man commits sin because he is a sinner. A man steals because he is a thief. He lies because he is a liar. Someone asks, “How are you feeling today?” I say, “Fine,” when in fact I am feeling terrible. Someone says “It is a beautiful day,” when it is an ugly stormy day, and I say, “Yes it is.” Two lies right there. The law was given to show that you and I are sinners and that we need a mediator, one to stand between us and God, to help us out.
v20 If God could have given a law by which sinners could be saved, He would have done so.
v22 The Scripture has “concluded all under sin;” therefore all died. What is needed is life. All the law can do is bring death. All are equally dead and equally in need. It is not the degree of sin, but the fact of sin that brings death.
Consider three men working on the 24th floor of a skyscraper. One says I can step off and does. As he passes the 10th floor someone shouts, “How is it going.” He replies, “So far, so good.” But he has not arrived yet. There is death at the bottom. One slips and falls as he walks a beam. the 3rd is thrown off by some gangsters whom he has offended. All three broke the law of gravitation and death was inevitable. It is the fact, not the degree.
The law of gravitation which took them down cannot give them life. The Mosaic law cannot give you life any more than a natural law can give you life after you have broken it and died. Death follows wherever sin comes. The law of sin knows nothing of extenuating circumstances. It knows nothing about mercy. It has no elasticity. It is inflexible, inexorable and immutable. Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. …””But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:17). “… will by no means clear the guilty. … (Exodus 34:7). Therefore, all have sinned and by the law we are all dead. The law slew us. It is a “ministration of death.”
“The scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe” is a tremendous statement.”
v23 “Before faith came” means, of course, faith in Jesus Christ who died for us. Until the Lord Jesus Christ came, the law had in it mercy because it had a mercy seat. Itt had an altar where sacrifices for sin could be brought and forgiveness could be obtained. Mercy could be found there. All the sacrifices for sin pointed to Christ.
3:24 Paul is making it very clear here that the Mosaic law could not save. Romans 4:5: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” God refuses to accept the works of man for salvation. Isaiah 64:6: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” The law was not given to save sinners. It was given to let them know that they are sinners. The law does not remove sin, the law reveals sin. It will not keep you from sin because sin has already come.
The bathroom mirror does not remove dirt. It reveals it. Multitudes of people today are rubbing against the mirror of he law thinking they are going to remove their sin. The Word of God is a mirror which us who we are: sinners that have come short of the glory of God. Thank God that there is a basin below the mirror. It is the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ that cleanses.
Now God, through Paul tells us what He means by “the law is our schoolmaster.”
v25 The law takes you by the hand and leads you to the cross of Christ. You are lost and you need a Savior. The purpose of the law is to bring people to Christ—not to give them an expanded chest so they can walk around claiming that they are keeping the law.
v26 God, through Paul, is going to show in the remainder of this chapter, and in the first part of chapter 4, some of he benefits that come to us by trusting Christt that we could never receive under law. The law could never give a believer the nature of a son of God. Christ can do that. Only faith in Christ can make us sons of God.
You are made a true son of God by faith in Christ, and that is all it takes. An individual Israelite under the law was never a son, only a servant. God called the nation, “Israel my son;” but the individual in that corporate nation was never called a son. He was called a servant of Jehovah. See, e.g., Joshua 1:2, 1 K. 11:38.
Even if one could keep the law (he can’t) your righteousness would still be inferior to the righteousness of God. Sonship requires His righteousness. Jn. 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:” Jesus said to Nicodemus, who followed the law meticulously, “Ye must be born again” (John 3:7).
The damnable heresy, the universal Fatherhood of God and he universal brotherhood of man,” has caused America to give away billions throughout the world; and because of it, we are hated throughout the world. All people are children of God, they say, and we must act like sons of God. So we sit down at council tables and engage in diplomatic squabbles with some of the biggest rascals the world has ever seen. We talk about acting like the sons of God. Jesus never said anything like that. He said, for example, to a group of religious rulers: “Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it” (John 8:44). The devil has a lot of people in the world today. The only way you can become a son of God is through faith in Jesus Christ.
v27 The baptism of the Holy Spirit places you in the family of God.
v28 In Christ are no racial lines; In Christ there is neither bond nor free. In Christ is neither male or female. Christ does what women’s lib can never do. He can make us one in Christ.
v29 If one is in Christ, he belongs to Abraham’s seed, and we are heirs according to promise.
Galatians 4:1-18 (Justification by Faith—Illustration of Abraham continued) Chapter 4 continues the section of justification by faith. Faith in Christ gives us something we could never get by the works of the law—he position of sons of God. It brings us to the place of full-grown sons. When we start out in the Christian life, we are babes, and we are to grow to maturation. However, God gives us the position of a full grown son to furnish us with a capacity hat we would not otherwise have.
4:1: Here, “child” in context means a little child without full power of speech.
4:2: What is “the time appointed of the father?” I is the time when the father recognizes that his son is capable of making decisions of his own, and he brings him into the position of a full-grown son. It is the father who determines the age of maturity. It is not an arbitrary law. In Paul’s day, the father decided when the age of maturity was reached. Then they held a ceremony, known as the toga virilis, which gave him the position of a full-grown son in the family.
4:3: Paul is saying it was the childhood of the nation Israel when they were under rules and regulations.
4:4: At a predetermined time, God the Father sent forth God the Son, born of a woman, born under the law.
4:5: The purpose was twofold: (1) To redeem those under the law. (2) That they might receive he adoption of sons.
1 Corinthians 2:9-10 “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” This means that the truth of the Word of God can only be interpreted by the Spirit of God, and until He interprets it, man cannot understand it. Isaiah 64:4: “For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him.” If you want to know Christ, only the Spirit of God can reveal Him o you. The Spirit of God can teach the new believer and the old believer.
Now we come to the third thing that faith in Christ does for us that the law could never do for us—the experience of the sons of God.
4:6: Romans 8:16 says it this way: “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
If you are a child of God, you will want to be led by the Spirit of God. Romans 8:11-14 “But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” The flesh may get a victory in your life, but it will never make you happy. You will never be satisfied with it. Romans 8:15-16 “For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”
The translators of the King James Bible did not translate “Abba” because it was such an intimate word.
4:7 The Spirit therefore, gives us an experience of being a son of God whereby we can call God our Father. Some believe that the only way you can have an experience is either by reaching a high degree of sanctification—you have to become holy or you have to seek the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Not so. If you are a new believer or a weak believer, you can have an experience as a son of God without reaching those levels, because sonship comes to you through faith in Jesus Christ. When folk have reached a high level of spirituality, they tend to think they are superior to the rest of us. My friend, we are always God’s foolish little children. We are always filled with stubbornness and sin and fears and weaknesses. We are never wonderful. He is wonderful.
God makes Himself real to us in times of trouble, times of distress. The Lord stood by Paul and He will stand by you. When Paul was in prison, he could say, 2 Timothy 4:16-17a “At my first answer no man stood with me, but all men forsook me: I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge. Notwithstanding the Lord stood with me, and strengthened me….”
4:8 The Galatians had been idolaters. In 1 Co. 12:2, Paul called idols “nothings.” They were nothing and could say nothing. He is telling the Galatians hat idols are to real and cannot make themselves real to those who worship them.
4:9 They had come to Christ through faith. Most are Gentile believers. Now they are turning to the Mosaic law, which is like going back into the idolatry they came out of.
4:10 They are observing days (Sabbath days). Colossians 2:16: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days.”
“Months” probably refers ot the observance of the “new moon” practiced by the people of Israel during the time of the kings. The prophets warned them against it.
“Times” should be translated seasons, meaning feasts. God had given Israel seven feasts, but they all had pointed to the Lord Jesus Christ.
“Years” would refer to the sabbatic years. The observance of all these things would put these Gentile believers completely back under het Mosaic law.
Legalists claim they are keeping the Mosaic law, yet they only keep the sabbath day. James 2:10: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”
4:11 Paul is saying, in a nice way, that he thinks he has wasted his time among them. Since they have been saved by grace, their returning to the law is the same as returning to their former idolatry.
Now we come to a personal section (verses 12-18). Paul injects a polite word into this epistle.
4:12 Paul writes: “We are all believers, all in the family of God. In view of this we ought to be very polite to one another.
4:13 Now Paul makes an appeal to them on the basis of his thorn in the flesh.
4:14 His thorn in the flesh is his temptation (his rial).
4:15 Paul writes that they just ignored his eye trouble and received him wonderfully when he preached the gospel to them.
4:16 Most churchgoers nowadays do not want the preacher to tell the truth. They want him to smooth their feathers and make them feel good. The “churches” today do a lot of back-rubbing rather than declare the truth.
4:17-18 Paul writes that it is good to seek that which is the very best, but these Judaizers are after you in order to scalp you. This same crowd of Judaizers had gone to Corinth. See 2 Co. 12:12-15. I am amazed at the fine presentations the cults and apostates make. I have watched them on television programs that are done to perfection. Everything is beautiful to look at and the presenters are attractive people. One told the Christmas story. No one could have told it better. But his interpretation revealed that he did not believe the virgin birth.
4. Justification by faith–Allegory of Hagar and Sarai, 4:19-31
This study is complete to here. The following outline will be filled as the study progresses.
IV. Practical—Sanctification by the Spirit, 5:1-6:10
Spirit vs. Flesh, Liberty vs. Bondage
Saved by Faith and Living by Law Perpetrates Falling from Grace, 5:1-15
Saved by Faith and Walking in the Spirit Produces Fruit of the Spirit, 5:16-26
Saved by Faith and Fruit of the Spirit Presents Christian Character, 6:1-10
V. Autographed Conclusion, 6:11-18
1. Paul’s Own Handwriting, 6:11
2. Paul’s Own Testimony, 6:12-18
(a) Cross of Christ vs. Circumcision, 6:12-15
(b) Christ’s Handwriting on Paul’s Body, 6:16-18
(The New Circumcision of the New Creation)
Note. After writing this article, Brother David Houston informed me that GCC lost on appeal. See, BREAKING: LA County wins Appeal: County can ban church services. I have looked at Court filings in the case and find that McArthur and Grace Community Church omit facts (such as the facts about Religious Corporation Law in California, the second head of the two headed monster called Grace Community Church). The Church/McArthur filings also reveal heresies of Grace Community Church. I have decided that I do not have the time to do a complete analysis which would have to be extensive to do it justice.
This article is a follow-up on A Warning From God’s Word to Pastor John MacArthur and Grace Community Church which explains that Grace Community Church violated the Bible principle that a church should be solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ. How? By becoming a legal entity, a “fictitious person” under the authority of civil government via the Fourteenth Amendment, by incorporating and obtaining Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. She rejected her Biblical, spiritual, eternal, First Amendment status in favor of secular, earthly, temporal, compromised status. Churches such as GCC have a form of godliness but deny the authority of God. This article will, very briefly, comment on subsequent developments in the GCC situation and how they dishonor the Lord Jesus Christ. A final note below this article explains the biblical road that MacArthur and GCC should have followed.
GCC filed suit in civil court, and claimed victory in that suit. In CA Pastor Hires Prominent Lawyers To Fight Newsom’s ‘Unconstitutional’ Order To Shut Down Church, July 7, 2020. GCC went to her chosen authority seeking permission to hold services. The article exposes God dishonoring arguments that the lawyers made to the church’s chosen authority, the court. The believer who cannot correctly, on the basis of Bible principle, analyze the problems with those arguments, needs to delve into deep study of the Bible. Believers and churches are commanded to fight a spiritual warfare and how to do so:
“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” (Ephesians 6:10-18.)
Instead, MacArthur and GCC totally ignore their Supreme Commander’s orders. Neither MacArthur nor his attorneys, at least in the statements in the article, mention one Bible verse or principle to back up their position. Their arguments are secular. They fight in the devil’s courtroom using secular arguments. Their arguments and statements are not biblical.
It remains to be seen whether the state will appeal, and, if they do, the outcome. From the perspective of the word of God, GCC loses, no matter the final court decision.
As reported in the articles, MacArthur incorrectly stated, for example:
“This is not the first time we as Christ’s church have stood for Truth.” “We will continue to stand firm for the Truth today like we have every prior day in our 63-year history and in the over 2000-year history of the biblical, New Testament Church. [GCC is not a Church under Christ, it is not “Christ’s church.” It is a church which is substantially, for many matters, under the authority of the state of California, through its chosen corporate status, and the federal government, through it’s chosen 501(c)(3) status. They choose which “truths,” if any, they will stand for.]
We stand firm to continue fulfilling our biblical mandate from Christ to proclaim the Gospel and assemble together, and I earnestly hope that our stance will encourage other pastors, churches, and the general public across America and the world to also stand firm for biblical Truth. [They have not stood firm on that mandate. They are asking the state to give them permission to meet. Below, this article will briefly explain how they could have stood firm the Bible way, God’s way. Their stance grieves those pastors and churches who know God and His word. Their stance does not stand firm for biblical Truth; instead, their stand denies Bible truth. MacArthur and GCC cause the general public to blaspheme the name of Jesus because lost people know a fake when they see it.]
Church is essential. [Not churches like GCC. GCC betrayed the Lord many years ago. She is not a biblical New Testament Church. Yes, they decided, after initially folding on the issue of assembling, to fight their authority in their authority’s court. They were obliged to do so because they had freely chosen their authority. No matter the decision of their authority, they lose, in the eyes of God. That is, unless they repent toward God, get rid of their legal status, and proceed according to God’s Word.]
In Historic Win: John MacArthur in Lawsuit over Church Restrictions, we read that “A judge ruled late Friday afternoon that Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, can continue hosting indoor worship services and does not have to adhere to any attendance caps or bans on singing.” “MacArthur said in a response to the court’s ruling, “I am very grateful the court has allowed us to meet inside and we are happy for a few weeks to comply and respect what the judge has asked of us because he is allowing us to meet. This vindicates our desire to stay open and serve our people. This also gives us an opportunity to show that we are not trying to be rebellious or unreasonable, but that we will stand firm to protect our church against unreasonable, unconstitutional restrictions.” It remains to be seen whether the state will appeal, and, if they do, the outcome. By the way, who is he referring to when he says, “We” and “our people?” A church is an assembly of believers, all working together exercising their God given gifts. A church under Christ is a spiritual body made up of born again spiritual believers:
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“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 I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind” (Ephesians 4:11-17).
“For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Corinthians 12:14-27; 1 Corinthians was written to the local church at Corinth and the principles apply to all local churches. The “ye” (a plural in the King James English) spoken to is the church at Corinth.).
How sad is the whole affair from a Bible Christian perspective. Compromising churches and pastors cause the world to blaspheme the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the rapid decline of the percentage of those being saved in America. Again, lost people know a fake when they see it. GCC and most churches in America are modeled after and run like businesses, to one degree or another. They, like businesses are legal, not spiritual entities, organized according to legal, not Bible, principles. They are entertainment centers who find out what people want and give it to them. Most fight a worldly political warfare, not a heavenly spiritual one. They seek to turn America to God when they themselves have turned from God and his principles. Their hope is in America, not in God. They fail to understand preeminent Bible principles such as the principles of government, church, the relationship of church and state and the application of those principles.
The Biblical Methodology
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions protect those churches who choose to remain under Christ and Christ alone. No law mandates that a church in America become a legal entity. Were there such a law, the Bible commands churches not to obey that law. See, for example, Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses. Churches in China, North Korea, and many other nations of the world have been forced to go underground in order to honor the Lord. Churches in America can choose to remain under Christ alone, without persecution. This ministry helps churches who choose to organize according to Bible principle. See, Churches under Christ Ministry Website. The website covers the many matters – Bible principles, legal precedents, explanation of incorporation and 501(c)(3) status and other legal status, history and meaning of the First Amendment, etc.
Once a church is so organized, that church will not be a legal entity. She will be under Christ only. By suing, submitting to an attempted suit against the church, or doing anything in the legal system, she chooses to forfeit her status as a church under Christ alone. Should someone attempt to name her in the suit, she must, through a person, inform the court that she is not a legal entity (contest jurisdiction). At that point, facts must be presented by the adversary to establish that she is a legal entity and there are no such facts: the church owns no property ( a church can, for example, meet in someone’s property, in property owned by a trust arrangement whereby all trust property belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ), the church has no employees or salaries (the church members can, according to the Bible, provide for the pastor and his family, if able, through gifts for which the pastor can pay income taxes without compromising the integrity of the church), the church has no bank account (God’s money can be placed in a bank account owned by the Lord Jesus Christ).
The only option, for the state who wishes to come against a Church under Christ, is to come against the individuals of the church. This is how church-state establishments, atheistic states such as the Soviet Union, Red China, Korea, and many Moslem nations have always handled the matter. Roman Catholic establishments brutally tortured and murdered fifty million plus so-called heretics who would not bow down to their ungodly organizations. In the present crisis, a Church under Christ alone could obey God. They could meet, worship God, sing praises to His name, and do all they are called to do regardless of civil law. A tyrannical state could cite, arrest, and charge individual church members. The state might choose go against only one person, probably the pastor. If released, he could again obey God; or another could step up, be cited, charged, and arrested. Etc. Each could claim their Bible and First Amendment positions. Each could confront the adversary. Each could wrestle against principalities, powers, the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Each could, like Bible believing martyrs since the beginning of the church, give their all for their Lord and fight God’s warfare God’s way. Each could display to the world the power of God. Had authentic churches, from the founding of this nation and on, like the colonial dissenters whose stand resulted in the First Amendment to the United States Constituion (see, The History of the First Amendment), done so, America would not be the moral, political, and spiritual cesspool that she has become.
I have not done an analysis of the screenshot below. Each reader who is interested should do their own analysis determine if it is accurate.
Good day brother Finney! I couldn’t wait to send this hot-off-the-press, “potential” 501(c)(3)-related issue your way! Interestingly, just this past week, SCOTUS sided with Nevada over similar legal questions. Would this fall under the 501(c)(3) prohibition against “violating fundamental public policy” concerns?Moreover, now that John MacArthur et al. has formally [i.e. legally] thrown Grace Community Church’s proverbial hat into the ring of civil and/or legal disobedience – will something like this ultimately boil-down to a 501(c)(3) decision – due to everything you’ve been teaching us about this issue?I hope you’ll be able to take a little bit of time to evaluate this, and maybe write, or speak about it somewhat openly??It’s a shame you can’t sit down and have a face-to-face conversation with the corporate exec. Pastor, John MacArthur, and his corporate legal eagles. And may God bless you immensely brother…have a very blessed week! Thank you for ALL you do, for the perhaps soon coming outward manifestation of the Kingdom of God on planet earth! Brother David HustonTallahassee, FL.
Besides that email, another pastor asked me about the same matter while we were talking over the telephone. We briefly discussed the issue. That pastor forwarded the following email to me (I have removed identifiers):
———- Forwarded message ———
From: ___________________ Date: Mon, Jul 27, 2020 at 9:55 AM Subject: RE: Question To: ___________
Yes, since you are a student / friend of _____ and are much aware of theology and the 501 c 3 crisis, I would be interested in your opinion of Grace Church (a 501 c 3) and John McArthur’s change of position from compliance to resistance. See: https://www.gracechurch.org/news/posts/1988
[My note on the post at https://www.gracechurch.org/news/posts/1988: The post demonstrates that MacArthur does not understand God’s desired relationship between church and state as expressed in the Bible. He does not understand Romans 13 and all Bible teachings on church, state, and God’s desired relationship between church and state as stated in God’s Word (the King James Bible). The short article below cannot delve into all matters raised by MacArthur’s waffling positions and unlearned teachings. For an examination of the Bible postion on these matters, see, for example, God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. For a correct understanding of Romans 13 and related verses, see Render Unto God the Things That Are His. Other relevant and helpful books, in free online form, PDR, and with ordering information for those in print can be accessed at Books by Jerald Finney. The following website has articles, essays, books, and other resources covering relevant issues, law, history and facts for those interested in these the institution Christ loved and gave Himself for, the church: Churches under Christ.]
John … teaches that the church should be subject to all powers (Romans 13:1) and agreed to shut down his church for two months. Suddenly, John reversed his position (probably because the church was sinking like a lead balloon financially) and opened up Grace Church in defiance of Governor Gruesome. …
This is a good case study on the church, [church incorporation and] 501 c 3 status, and confrontation with the State. …
Yes, I would like your thoughts on this. Thank you. Pastor ______________
Please read the following article, the target of the post below, to understand the context. If the quotes are inaccurate or out of contest, please let me know. Again, the link to the article is:
One uneducated in these matters may look at the quotes attributed to MacArthur in the article and believe he eloquently articulates the issues very well. However, a believer who has studied these matters immediately sees that his statements are Biblically and legally flawed. The issue is one of authority. The Bible is clear that God gave civil government no authority over churches who honor their relationship with Him and that He desires that Christ be the only head (authority) over His churches. EN [i]. MacArthur’s reference to Grace Community Church’s “faithfulness to Christ” is misplaced. They are not “faithful to Christ” since they chose to deny the authority of Christ in all church matters. The authority of the state offered additional benefits, temporal benefits, beyond those supplied by God, so they reasoned. Churches like this are mightily damaging the cause of Christ in America.
Neither God in His Word nor the United States, because of the First amendment to the Constitution, has granted California, or any other state in the United States, authority over how a church under Christ and Christ alone meets. Grace Community Church (“GCC”) is not such a church because she has freely chosen to place herself under the authority of the state of California (through her non-profit corporation status) and the federal government (through her federal “tax exempt” status). Pastor MacArthur can argue whatever he wishes to argue; but, as he knows, the authority of GCC in the matter involved, the state through its courts, will decide – if the state proceeds with this matter – whether this is an ecclesiastical matter which government officials have a right to interfere “in a way that undermines or disregards the God-given authority of pastors and elders.”
No matter what the court decides, the church displeases our Lord by putting herself under an authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ. She, like most American churches, is a spiritual harlot. These churches are doing great harm to the cause of Christ. They have chosen to combine the holy with the unholy and are therefore corrupted. Once a church takes one step that dishonors our Lord Jesus Christ, other steps inevitably follow. The slide toward heresy and apostasy has begun. First incorporation, then gradual compromise of one Bible precept after another. Many solid Bible believing churches planted during the colonial and early national period who chose to incorporate have now fallen away from the faith. Pastor MacArthur and GCC may be right about some things, but they are dead wrong about the relationship they should have with the state of California and the federal government.
GCC has rendered unto Caesar the things that are God’s. God’s Word teaches separation of church and state (not separation of God and state). God ordained civil government. He also ordained the local church. He gave each a distinct jurisdiction. The jurisdiction of a church is eternal, heavenly, and spiritual. The jurisdiction of a civil government is temporal, earthly, and fleshly. God’s Word reveals that civil government and churches under Christ should both be under God; but neither is to be under, over, or combined with the other.
Christ, not Caesar, is the only authority over a church who chooses to remain under Christ and Christ alone. The First Amendment enacted the Bible principle of separation of church and state; it did not separate God and state. Because of the First Amendment, churches have an option: remain under Christ alone without legal persecution, or place yourself under the law and authority of man. The United States Supreme Court separated God and state. To understand the First Amendment and how the Supreme Court separated God and state, see EN [ii].
The First Amendment, and corresponding state constitutional provisions, protect churches who do not submit themselves to civil government. The First Amendment grants religious freedom to churches who choose to remain First Amendment or New Testament churches with Christ as their only head. Churches who choose to become legal entities, established churches such as non-profit corporate 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt organizations lose much of their First Amendment protection. They are treated as “artificial persons” under The Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. If GCC had not, of her own free will, chosen to be a legal entity, the state could take no action against the church. The state would not be an authority over the church.
This does not mean that the state could not take action against a member of or members of the church, since every citizen in his or her right mind is a legal entity. A legal entity is an entity that can be charged with a crime, sue, be sued, enter into contracts, own property, or act legally in some other way. Civil governments and church state establishments have taken jurisdiction over, and brutally murdered and tortured, untold millions of believers who would not bow down to Caesar or to the state church. Caesar can kill the body, but not the soul. A civil government, like a church, can choose to be tyrannical and act against the the principles that God proclaims for its guidance, for the time being. The United States become tyrannical and can, but has not to this point, disregard or pervert the meaning of First Amendment religious and soul liberty. Regardless of what the United States or any state therein does, believers and churches “should obey God rather than man” with regard to eternal spiritual matters within the sole jurisdiction of the Lord.
He further states according to the article:
“As government policy moves further away from biblical principles, and as legal and political pressures against the church intensify, we must recognize that the Lord may be using these pressures as means of purging to reveal the true church,” he wrote.
“Succumbing to governmental overreach may cause churches to remain closed indefinitely. How can the true church of Jesus Christ distinguish herself in such a hostile climate? There is only one way: bold allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
He expects the government, composed of heathens, to stay within biblical principles when GCC has strayed so far from New Testament Church Doctrine as declared in the epistles of Paul? He says that the Lord may be using these pressures as a means of purging to reveal “the true church.” True churches are churches who honor their head, the Lord Jesus Christ, in all matters. GCC certainly is not, according to the epistles of Paul, true to the Lord. GCC is not a “true church.”
A true church can distinguish herself in such a hostile climate just as she could have when the climate were not hostile: by doing things God’s way, by remaining a non-legal entity (a non-established church), and by following all God’s guidelines for local church as to nature, purpose, and form of organization. A local church under Christ, unlike GCC, is an organism, the body of Christ; instinct with His life, and heavenly (not earthly) in calling, promise and destiny; and again, such a church is under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ alone.
Christians and churches, since the beginning of the church age, have been and are being persecuted for their refusal to bow down to civil governments and to church state establishments. Because of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions, Christians in America have soul liberty and churches can choose to do things God’s way without persecution. EN [iii] GCC has chosen to prostitute herself.
Now, I will briefly address Brother Huston’s question regarding the 501(c)(3) “shall not violate fundamental public policy” rule. Perhaps the state might argue that the church has violated that. As far as I know, that rule has not yet been applied to 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) churches; but that does not mean that it will not happen. I expect that it will sooner (or maybe later) be applied to established churches such as GCC in the area of same sex “marriage.” See, EN [iv]. Pastors and “Christian” lawyers have long anticipated that this may occur. They have taken steps such as inserting their Bible beliefs concerning such matters in their corporate Constitutions and by-laws. However, a state court, the authority in the matter – if controlled by anti-Christian, anti-God judges – will find that fundamental public policy outweighs the church’s unilaterally made policies. Not only that, but many churches have already, and more do so by the day, fold on the matter of sexual perversion and same-sex marriage. Satan surely takes great delight in pointing this out to God. Of course, God, who prophesied the apostasy of the churches, already knows the way the churches, except for a remnant, are going. EN [v].
God ordained a theocracy, the nation Israel, to be directly under His authority alone. Israel wanted to be like all the other nations and demanded a king. I Samuel 8. Samuel was “displeased and prayed unto the Lord.” “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7). God, through Samuel, then warned them about the actions of an earthly king.
“Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles. And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he rehearsed them in the ears of the LORD. And the LORD said to Samuel, Hearken unto their voice, and make them a king. And Samuel said unto the men of Israel, Go ye every man unto his city.” 1 Samuel 8:19-22.
God wants his people in this age of grace, those who are saved, and His churches to remain under Him alone. But He honors the free will of man. He gave Israel what they requested. Israel, at least, acknowledged that they had committed a great evil, but Israel did not repent. 1 Samuel 12:19. God, through Samuel, told them:
“And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people.” 1 Samuel 12:20-22.
However, Israel had taken the first step away from their lover. The slide into apostasy had begun. The Old Testament history chronicles the downward slide of Israel into apostasy and judgment. Just as the Lord, through His prophets, told Israel in advance all that was to come, He has told Christians and churches of the future history of the world, of nations, and of the churches, to include the apostasy that is now apparent to one studied in the Word of God. The apostasy of the churches parallels the apostasy of the nation Israel. Once a church takes that first step to dishonor her espoused, other steps inevitably follow, unless the church repents. God’s message to GCC, as made clear from a study of His Word, is “Turn to me and repent of this great wickedness which you have done.”
Millions blaspheme the name of the Lord as they view worldly organizations like GCC, churches with a form of godliness, who call on the name of God but deny the power thereof. Lost people know a business disguised as a church when they see it. The percentage of churchgoers, much less born again believers, in the United States is diminishing at an alarming rate because of fake churches and false teachers who have betrayed God.
Note. See EN [vi] for links to short essays which explain related matters such as “What is a corporation,” “What is 501(c)(3),” etc.
1 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
2 Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.
3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.
6 For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.
7 Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.
8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
EN [i] Has links to more studies on Romans 13 and related verses.
God the Supreme Power (Authority or Government; See EN [ii] for definitions of “power,” “authority,” and “government.”) ordained (established with particular functions and jurisdictions) lower powers (13:1). He ordained four powers to operate below Him. Romans 13 speaks to civil government, which he ordained at the flood. The Old Testament explains why God ordained civil government; and the two types of civil governments, Gentile civil government and also the theocracy of Israel. In Romans 13, God gives the jurisdiction of Gentile civil government and instructs believers as to their responsibilities to that government. The God-given jurisdiction of civil government is over certain evils of man against another or others. God gave civil government no authority over man’s relationship with God. Man is under man or civil government only as regards certain temporal, fleshly, earthly matters.
God ordained the powers that be, and there is no power but of God (13:1). God, the Supreme Power, ordained the lower powers. The lower powers (authorities) which God ordained are:
individual government (Genesis 1-3);
family government (Genesis 3 and other passages throughout the Bible);
civil government (Genesis 9:5-6);
church government (Mt. 16:8, 18:15-17, Paul’s epistles).
God, the Highest Power established an hierarchy of law. God is the highest power. He is at the top of the hierarchy. Every lower power is subject to him. He is over the individual, the family, the civil government, and the local church. Each lower power ordained by God is subject to the earthly powers above it (13:1-2). God is the judge of every lower power. Certainly, a lower earthly power has no authority to overrule the God-given authority of any higher earthly power above it, unless that power becomes tyrannical and acts outside its God-given jurisdiction. The individual is subject to God in spiritual matters and to civil government as to certain worldly sins against the life, liberty, and property of his fellow man. Each lower power is given free will and can decide whether to obey the Supreme Power and any higher earthy power acting within its God-given jurisdiction.
A civil government, a lower power or authority, can choose either to honor the Supreme Power and operate within its God-given jurisdiction or to become tyrannical. A civil government, as with all lower powers, is free to operate outside of its God-given jurisdiction. A civil government can honor or dishonor God and will be blessed or cursed accordingly. They that resist the ordinances (See EN [iii] for definition of “ordinance”) of God shall receive to themselves damnation (13:2).
Romans 13 deals with Gentile civil government, which was ordained by God at the flood. Sometime after the flood and after the ordination of Gentile civil government, God called out a civil government, a nation, unto Himself, the nation of Israel. At that point, all other nations, all Gentile nations, continued under the dispensation of human or civil government. EN [iv].
Romans 13 states the jurisdiction of Gentile civil government. God ordained Gentile civil government to be God’s minister to reward those who do good, and to execute wrath upon those who do evil (13:4). Rulers are “not a terror to good works, but to the evil;” and are to praise those who do good (13:3). Thus, God gave civil government jurisdiction over the last Six of the Ten Commandments, which deal with man’s relationship to man (Romans. 13:8-10). He did not give civil government jurisdiction over men’s relationship with God, which is the subject of the first Four Commandments. When a civil government exceeds its jurisdictional boundaries and intrudes into religion and conscience, it has exceeded its God-given jurisdiction.
The New Testament, not to mention the Old Testament, records the activities of many who did not bow down to civil government when civil government acted outside its God-given jurisdiction: Jesus Christ, Stephen as recorded in Acts 7, those Christians who were sought and persecuted by Paul and the Jewish religious crowd before he became an apostle, all the apostles. According to history, Christians from the beginning of the dispensation of grace to this very day have been and are being persecuted for not bowing down to earthly civil governments or earthly establishments, unions of religion and state.
The Apostle Peter, who wrote “… obey every ordinance of man …” (1 Peter 2:13; see the immediate context of that statement in your Bible) understood God’s hierarchy of law. He and John were arrested after healing the lame man and preaching in the name of Jesus. The authorities ordered them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus, threatened them, and let them go. Then, they immediately:
“… lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus” (Acts 24-31).
Notice their prayer. They understood God’s hierarchy of law. They quote from Psalms 2, which is particularly instructive on the matter of the authority of God and of Gentile civil government. They knew that all the work they did for God was to be done in the name of Jesus, under the authority of God. They understood that the earthly power has assumed unlawful jurisdiction over the things of God. After their prayer, they continued to do what God commanded them to do, contrary to their orders for their earthly authority who has stepped outside their jurisdictional authority.
Most American “Christians” walk in darkness. They carelessly cite Romans 13 when asked about their submission to the authority of civil government in all things. Some will qualify their submission with, “If the government ever tells me that I cannot preach salvation, they will have crossed the line.” They eliminate all the commandments and precepts to Christians in the New Testament but one. They fight on one front only, while Satan has been very active on all fronts. When the day of reckoning comes, many or most of those sort will obey civil government when told they cannot preach salvation. As the Lord, the apostles, and martyred and persecuted Christians since the beginning of the New Testament churches have understood, believers and churches are to be soldiers for the Lord Jesus Christ, and to engage in the spiritual warfare He has commanded us to fight (2 Timothy 2:1-7; Ephesians 6:10-18). “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (13:12).
Command; the right of governing, or actual government; dominion; rule, sway; authority…. The powers of government are legislative, executive, judicial, and ministerial…. Power is no blessing in itself, but when it is employed to protect the innocent. Under this sense may be comprehended civil, political, ecclesiastical, and military power. 13. One invested with authority; a ruler; a civil magistrate. Romans 13:1.
“Legal power, or a right to command or to act; as the authority of a prince over subjects, and of parents over children. Power; rule; sway.” or “Government; the persons or the body exercising power or command; as the local authorities of the states.” (1828 WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY, definition of “authority.”)
Status as a legal entity of any kind is a product of man-made law (civil government law) and gives the civil government authority over the church in many matters. Civil government, man’s law, creates and is sovereign, for many purposes, over a corporation sole or aggregate, an Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) federal tax exempt organization, a charitable trust, etc.
noun Direction; regulation. These precepts will serve for the government of our conduct.
Control; restraint. Men are apt to neglect the government of their temper and passions.
The exercise of authority; direction and restraint exercised over the actions of men in communities, societies or states; the administration of public affairs, according to established constitution, laws and usages, or by arbitrary edicts. Prussia rose to importance under the government of Frederick II.
The exercise of authority by a parent or householder. Children are often ruined by a neglect of government in parents. Let family government be like that of our heavenly Father, mild, gentle and affectionate.
The system of polity in a state; that form of fundamental rules and principles by which a nation or state is governed, or by which individual members of a body politic are to regulate their social actions; a constitution, either written or unwritten, by which the rights and duties of citizens and public officers are prescribed and defined; as a monarchial government or a republican government
An empire, kingdom or state; any territory over which the right of sovereignty is extended.
Management of the limbs or body. [Not in use.]
EN [iii] Ordinance means, in this context: “A rule established by authority; a permanent rule of action. An ordinance may be a law or statute of sovereign power. In this sense it is often used in the Scriptures. Exodus 15:25. Numbers 10:8. Ezra 3:10.”
Believe it or not, another false reason by some unlearned believers for church establishment (corporate, 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt status, charitable trust status, or any church status created, defined, and controlled by man’s law) is: “The Bible does not say that a church should not incorporate, get tax exempt status, or organize under man’s law.” Another pastor stated the same argument in a different way: “We are Bible believers. If the Bible says not to do something, we do not do it.” The problem with the argument is that New Testament Principles for a Church under Christ teach the Holy Spirit led believer who studies the matter that a church should not submit herself to any authority other than the Lord Jesus Christ (See, e.g., Matthew 16:18; Ep. 1:22-23; Col. 1:18, etc.).
“Legal power, or a right to command or to act; as [the authority of God over all the lower powers or authorities which God ordained – individual government, family government, civil government, and church government, (see Romans 13 in context with the Old and New Testaments)], the authority of a prince [civil government] over subjects, and of parents over children. [Power of a civil government over a church is illegitimate, according to the Word of God]. Power; rule; sway. Legal power, or a right to command or to act; as the authority of a prince over subjects, … of parents over children, [or the authority of a civil government over a church]. Power; rule; sway. Government; the persons or the body exercising power or command; as the local authorities of the states.” (1828 WEBSTER’S DICTIONARY, definition of “authority.”). For a thorough Bible explanation of the authorities that God ordained, see Part One of: God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application.
Status as a legal entity of any kind is a product of man-made law (civil government law) and gives the civil government authority over a church in many matters. Civil government, man’s law, creates and is sovereign, for many purposes, over a church corporation, a church Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A) federal tax exempt organization, a church charitable trust, etc.
A corporation sole is a legal entity, just as is a non-profit corporation; and just like a church which chooses the corporation aggregate status, the corporation sole has chose to place another authority other then the Lord Jesus Christ over the church as to many matters. The only difference is that the corporation sole has only one officer. For an examination of the church corporation sole scheme which is peddled to churches, see Critique of the “Church Freedom and Corporation Sole” Website.
To understand Internal Code § 501(c)(3) or § 508(c)(1)(A), see What is 501c3?, What is 508? and the resources cited in those short essays.
The following verses are instructive concerning God’s feelings toward the chastity and faithfulness of His churches:
Ephesians 5:23-27: “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
2 Corinthians 11:1-3: “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
2 Timothy 3:5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power [authority] thereof: from such turn away.”
Clearly, a church, like a wife, who submits herself to an authority other than her God ordained authority grieves our Lord. Consider the feelings of a husband at home one day when his wife comes in the door with her arms around another man with a big smile on her face. The wife says,
“Dear, I want you to meet Joe. I met him a couple of months ago. Since that time, we have spent a lot of time together, eating out, talking. I have found Joe to be a very wise man. His thoughts and ways differ from yours and are, in many respects, better than yours. You could learn a lot from him. He is willing, with your approval, to work with you and me to make our lives better. If you choose to work with Joe, he will also help us financially. Will you welcome Joe as an authority in our marriage?”
See the following resources for an help in understanding God’s desired church/state relationship:
God ordained marriage in the Garden of Eden, prior to the fall (Jesus, in Mt. 19:3-6 EN [i], quotes and explains Ge. 2:23-24 EN[ii]). Like all things, God created marriage for His pleasure (Re. 4:11 EN[iii]). God desires that marriage be holy, set apart to the service and worship of God. Marriage is a covenant, established by God, between a man, a woman, and God. God is to be the controlling party.
Marriage is also a picture of the relationship of Christ and His church (See, for full explanation, Christ, the Head/Husband/Bridegroom of His churches, and Christ-Church-Husband-Wife, Bridegroom-bride). God, in His Word, lays out all matters concerning the marriage relationship. Of course, the man or the woman, according to their God-given free will, can rebel and dishonor the covenant. Anytime that happens, bad consequences come to the man, the woman, and any children born to the marriage.
God ordained civil government, man ruling over man under God, at the flood (Ge. 9:5-6 EN[iv]; See also, for a Bible study on the four God-ordained governments, The Biblical Doctrine of Government). He ordained civil government to provide direct control over those who commit crimes against others. Civil government is to be the minister of God for good, and as a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. (Ro. 13:3-5, 9 EN[v]).
God never gave civil government jurisdiction over marriage, yet, in the “common law” which traces its roots to Protestantism and Catholicism, marriage was treated as a civil contract. America adopted the common law treatment of marriage. EN[vi]. Early on, even the first dictionary published in America gave one definition of “CONTRACT” as “The act by which a man and woman are betrothed, each to the other” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828)). Compare that with the covenant marriage of a man and woman under God. Contract is a humanistic or enlightenment principle which has been used to attack and destroy, among other things, the God ordained institutions of marriage, family, church, and state:
“The idea of government remaining neutral over values coincided with the use of contract law as a means of restructuring society. Contract law accords the individuals to any bargain the right to assert their own goals, values, and priorities. The law enforces the bargain, not the values contained in it. Yet implicitly, contract law enforces individualism over communitarianism by its refusal to impose a communitarian ethic upon contracting parties” (Mark Douglas McGarvie, One Nation Under Law: America’s Early National Struggles to Separate Church and State (DeKalb, Illinois: Northern Illinois University Press, 2005), p. 86).
The contract clause of Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution has been used by civil government to control and destroy the two basic institutions ordained by God—the family and the church—and the two types of marriages—the marriage of a man and a woman and the marriage of Christ and His church. The contract clause applies Satanic principles in dealing with those marriages. How? To answer succinctly, contract law leaves God and His principles out of the equation.
Under contract law, two or more equal persons, alone and without God and His principles, supposedly, but not actually, form a contract of marriage as opposed to a biblical covenant in which God is an active party. Under contract law, a marriage is an agreement between two equal people with equal voices. Violation of the contract allows one or both parties to petition the sovereign state, the controlling party of the contract, for a divorce. Originally in America, civil law and courts reflected, to a great degree, Bible principles for marriage and divorce. That was changed. Today, no violation of terms is needed—the state has provided for “no-fault” divorce. Thus, a spouse can petition the state for a divorce for no reason at all.
Under contract law, the family is treated as a democracy in which all members of a family, including the children, are to be equal, with equal rights and equal voices. Innumerable numbers of good parents get caught up in state programs which teach “child abuse prevention.” These programs mix some truth with a lot of error. The overall effect is Satanic. For example, “[in] 1987 in Texas, DHS [Department of Human Services] investigated 63,204 reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. Investigators confirmed physical abuse of 14,177 children” (“Child Abuse Prevention Program” Manual, p. 6, used by the Austin Stress Clinic, Austin, Texas, in the mid-1990s).
The author handled two cases, in the mid-1990s, in which two Christian mothers were not only forced to take part in state indoctrination programs, but also were charged with criminal injury to a child, a third degree felony, for spanking their children with a switch on the behind. Both cases were successfully resolved, by the grace of God, without the children being permanently taken, but both parents suffered extreme stress at the prospect of going to prison and possibly losing their children. One case went to criminal trial. God gave the victory. The jury found the accused “not guilty,” but the injustice of her having to go through such an ordeal was tragic. In neither of those cases did any abuse occur when judged from a biblical perspective. Yet those mothers were forced by civil law, “family law,” to go through Satanic counseling. Of the approximately 50,000 investigations that resulted in no confirmation of physical abuse in 1987 in Texas, one may safely assume that almost all or all of those parents had to take counseling ordered by the state.
Those forced to take such counseling are taught, among other things:
“In order to deal more effectively with the stresses in your life, you will need to have a plan for replacing physical discipline with more positive behaviors…. It hurts to get hit. When someone hits you, you learn that it is OK to hurt other people…. Children who are physically disciplined are more aggressive than other children. Violent criminals in prison have a much higher incidence of physical abuse and cruel punishment as children by their parents than the population in general…. When children see violence, they believe that violence is a way to resolve differences/problems…. CAPP staff believes that any form of violence and especially physical discipline have no place in raising children. They must be eliminated from your life. This may mean a drastic change in the way you think and how you discipline your kids…. Hitting children and causing them pain teaches children to be afraid of parents rather than to respect them…. Spanking may stop misbehavior for a while, but in time it loses its effect as a way to control behavior. Spanking may relieve a parent’s anger, but most parents feel guilty afterward. Some children learn to use that guilt to get all sorts of privileges after a spanking. As you can see, there are many reasons to stop abuse and physical discipline” (Ibid., pp. 3, 6, 8).
“Times have definitely changed since we were growing up as children. Most of us accepted our parents’ rules and orders without question. We just did what they told us to do. If we didn’t, we could probably expect a spanking. Why are things different now? Why do our kids challenge us with ‘NO’ and ‘WHY’ so effectively? And why can’t our response simply be ‘because I said so’ or a spanking?
“We may need to look at how society has changed since we’ve grown up to get some answers to our questions.
“When most of us were growing up, society had an order to how it operated. The president ruled the country, men were the heads of the households, whites and people of color were segregated, and fathers were disciplinarians. People did not question the ‘order’ of things. If they did, they were told to stay in line…. “While we called it a democratic society, in many ways the majority of people (people of color, women, and children) were ruled by a minority (mostly white men). This is not really a democracy.
“[Movements mentioned that changed things.] Children also benefited from these movements. For centuries, children had been considered the property of their parents. They were supposed to respect their elders and follow their orders without question. Parents’ wishes were enforced through physical force. Children were often hurt both physically and emotionally by this….
“With the empowerment of other groups came questions about the rights of children. Laws about physical discipline and abuse were made. Children were no longer considered just ‘property’ but members of a democratic family with certain rights.
“How does a democratic family work? First and foremost, both parents and children are considered equal. They are considered equal in terms of individual worth and dignity. Both child and parent are entitled to receive love and respect. Thus, each must treat the other with love and respect.
“Secondly, in a democratic family, each person has a responsibility to make decisions for him/herself (within appropriate limits) and then to be accountable for the decisions that they make….
“Having a democratic family means taking more time to make decisions, encouraging opinions and listening to them, showing appreciation for good things people do, showing respect for personal territory, and showing interest and support for things that are important in people’s lives. It also means sharing power. But the end result is good: people feeling better about themselves and being able to ask for what they want appropriately.”
(“Child Abuse Prevention Program” Manual, p. 8-9, used by the Austin Stress Clinic, Austin, Texas, in the mid-1990s. The author still has a copy of this manual in his files.).
Any true Christian who is knowledgeable in Bible principles can readily discern the Satanic principles in the above excerpts. Some truth is injected in a lot of false conclusory statements. Issues having nothing to do with discipline of children and the operation of a family are misconstrued, exaggerated, and inappropriately applied. Behind all this is a total lack of understanding of the nature of man and the applicability of the principles of the Sovereign, which, when properly understood and applied, bring positive consequences. Unfortunately, the human instruments who teach these concepts have been duped by a being whose goal is being realized in America. That goal is the removal of God and His Word from society, destruction of God’s crowning creation, man, both temporally and eternally, and destruction of all of God’s institutions: marriage, family, church, and civil government.
Although God has given civil government no jurisdiction over marriage, civil government has assumed jurisdiction, with the willing participation of many pastors. When a man and a woman enter a state ordained marriage, or when the members of a church incorporate the church, they enter into a contract under and with the state and come under the jurisdiction of the civil government.
A civil contract of marriage allegedly gives the state jurisdiction over the marriage; but effectively, God is involved in any marriage, whether man recognizes it or not. Any marriage involves a covenant which includes a man, a woman, and God. All marriages are spiritual unions under God—the problem comes when one forgets or fails to understand and apply this.
God’s rules always apply, whether civil government and/or man recognize them or not. Lies, false definitions, and Satanic principles do not change truth. “O praise the LORD, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the LORD endureth for ever. Praise ye the LORD” (Ps. 117.1-2). God joins a man and woman no matter what civil government declares. Neither man nor civil law can destroy that spiritual union, although civil law and the man and/or woman can ignore or be ignorant of that aspect of marriage and physically divide the union. That is, a wife and/or husband can separate and secure a divorce from civil government, but God recognizes no such divorce as destroying the spiritual union which He created.
“But I [Jesus] say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery” (Mt. 5.32; see also, Mt. 19.9). “And he [Jesus] saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her” (Mk. 10.11). “And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery” (Mk. 10.12). “Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery” (Lu. 16.18).
In a civil government marriage ceremony, a pastor or other state recognized official proclaims the bride and groom to be husband and wife by the authority given him by the state and maybe also by the authority of God. How could it be that God gave him authority to conduct a marriage under the authority of the state or the state and God when the principles of each are diametrically opposed? God did not tell man (civil government), “you have authority to institute marriage less than, coequal, or above my authority to join man and woman in marriage.” God told man (civil government) not to put asunder “what God [not civil government or civil government and God] hath joined together.”
In any event, state officials, which sadly includes many pastors, have ignored God’s principles and erroneously declared man and woman to be husband and wife by the authority of the state and God. If the contract of marriage is performed by a pastor who acts by the authority of both the state and God, even should the form of the ceremony and vows be somewhat in line with biblical principle, a marriage based upon a blend of Godly and satanic principles has been initiated. The pastor of that ceremony hands the authority over that marriage to the state and places the marriage and subsequent family under the Satanic principles of the state. Many were married in this manner, including this author, before they learned these truths.
”Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them” (Ro. 1.21-32).
Of course, even though civil government now defines marriage in such a way as to allow the union of two men or two women or any other combination except one man and one woman, such unions are not marriage. God defined marriage in His Word, and that definition cannot be nullified by human law.
In conclusion, the contract clause has been used to attack marriage of a man and a woman and the marriage of Christ and His churches (See, Church Corporate/501(c)(3) Status: Union of Church and State). Like man and woman as husband and wife, Christ and a church, as Husband and wife, are one flesh: “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bone” (Ep. 5.29-30). Any time man deviates from God’s principles, the slide down toward the moral cesspool has begun. As to both types of marriage, all, except for God’s remnant, practice and teach Satan’s principles ((See, Satan orchestrates the world system).
Note. Family law regarding marriage and divorce vary widely from state to state. Some states, like Texas, still honor “common law” marriage; that is, no marriage license from the state is required. Other states do not honor such marriages and many inflict criminal penalties on a pastor or anyone who performs a marriage without a state license. In fact, a Bible honoring marriage has no officiant . However, in those states which do not recognize common law marriage, employer provided insurance will not cover the wife unless the couple lived in and claimed common law marriage in another state before moving to the non-common law marriage state.
EN [i] Matthew 19:3-9 “The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.”
EN [ii] Genesis 2:23-24: “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
EN [iii] Revelation 4:11 “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.”
EN [iv] Genesis 9:5-6 “And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man. Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man.”
EN [v] Romans 13:3-5, 9 “For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. … For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
EN [vi] WEBSTER’S 1828 DICTIONARY DEFINITION OF MARRIAGE: “The act of uniting a man and woman for life; wedlock; the legal union of a man and woman for life. marriage is a contract both civil and religious, by which the parties engage to live together in mutual affection and fidelity, till death shall separate them. marriage was instituted by God himself for the purpose of preventing the promiscuous intercourse of the sexes, for promoting domestic felicity, and for securing the maintenance and education of children.” Catholicism and Protestantism support union of church and state. The ideal for both was church and state working together, the state to be an arm of the state church. The “church” handled the religious part, and the state the legal part.
Although God has appointed believers to be faithful stewards (trustees) of the mysteries of God, few believers and churches have any knowledge of those mysteries, and fewer take their assigned task seriously. This is especially true of the subject of this article, the mystery the church. EN[i].Most believers, not to mention the vast numbers of lost “church members (‘the churched’, as labeled by apostate mega church leaders such as Joel Olsteen, Rick Warren, John MacArthur (as proven by the widely published fight he is now engaging in with his overriding authority, the state of incorporation of Grace Community church, et al.),” are offended should a believer even mention something that challenges the traditional, business, earthly, and/or temporal practices of a particular church or churches. Fundamental Baptist Churches of several ilks, those with which I am most familiar, are, for the most part, controlled by their traditions concerning church organization. Few ever preach on Bible church doctrine, fewer get it right when they do preach on it, and, in general, many of those who do preach on it, only touch on it. They give many off hand responses when one asks for discussion about church organizational issues such as legal organization under man’s law (laws establishing churches as non-profit corporations, charitable trusts, unincorporated associations, Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) or 508(c)(1)(A) tax exempt religious organizations, etc.). This article briefly looks at:
A. The Mystery of the Church, Hidden from Past Ages but now Revealed B. God’s Epistles, Written by Paul, Reveal the Mystery of the Church C. God–given Stewardship of the Mystery of the Church Ignored, Except by God’s Remnant
A. The Mystery of the Church, Hidden from Past Ages but now Revealed
That God entrusted Paul, and from Paul to believers and to the local church, with revelations concerning the dispensation of grace and the mystery of the church;
That the church is a mystery which God made known to Paul, that “the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel” … “which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
That Paul was made a minister … that he “should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ;”
The purpose: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
That the local church may know “the manifold wisdom of God, According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.”
The mystery of the church is revealed by God through the apostle Paul, and members of Churches under Christ are to know it, “And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery.”
Ephesians 3:13-21 then states Paul’s prayer for inner fullness and knowledge; in context, concerning the matters He had written of in the previous 12 verses. My experience has been that churches, believers, and especially pastors, except for a remnant, have never studied and, therefore, have no knowledge of the “mystery of the church;” they summarily reject any attempts to bring to their attention New Testament principles concerning the revealed mystery of the church and the application of those principles to their local assemblies.
B. God’s Epistles, Written by Paul, Reveal the Mystery of the Church
“All Scripture, up to the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion, looks forward to the cross, and has primarily in view Israel, and the blessing of the earth through the Messianic Kingdom. But ‘hid in God’ (Ephesians 3:9)was an unrevealed fact—the interval of time between the crucifixion and the resurrection of Christ and His return in glory; and an unrevealed purpose—the out calling of the institution of church. In Matthew 16, the Lord announced” the foundation and building of that church and the unrevealed purpose, “but wholly without explanation as to how, when, or of what materials, that church should be built, or what should be its position, relationships, privileges, or duties.”
The epistles of Paul develop the doctrine of the church, an institution made up, at this time, of local assemblies under Christ. In his seven letters to Gentile churches (in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colossee, and Thessalovica), the church, the “mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” (Ephesians 3:9), is fully revealed, and fully instructed as to her unique place in the counsels and purposes of God. God, through Paul makes known that a “church is not an organization but an organism, the body of Christ; instinct in calling, promise, and destiny.” “Through him alone we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches, and the right conduct of such gatherings. Through him alone we know that ‘we shall not all sleep, that the dead in Christ shall rise first,’ and that the living saints shall be ‘changed’ and caught up to meet the Lord in the air.” See, EN[iii] for link to studies of Paul’s Epistles (not yet completed).
Christ gives each member of the local spiritual organism or body, the local church, gift(s) to be used in the local assembly:
“for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Til we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto 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.” (Ephesians 4:7-16; EN[iv] quotes Ephesians 4:7-16).
The overwhelming purpose of every believer and church is the salvation of souls with the simultaneous indwelling of the Holy Spirit, followed by water baptism, church membership, and discipleship in order to prepare them to go outside the assembly, lead people to salvation, disciple them, and send them out to lead others to salvation, baptism, local church membership, and discipleship. So it is with this ministry. Without being faithful stewards of the mysteries of God, to include the mystery of the church, one’s efforts are out of Bible order, less effective, and slide down the slippery slope to further heresy and, ultimately, apostasy, as fewer and fewer, as a percentage, are saved. This is clearly demonstrated by the apostasy of the churches in America, except for a remnant.
A disciple follows Christ and His principles. How can one follow Christ and His principles without first knowing Him, and then knowing His principles? How can one know His principles without knowing His Word through Holy Spirit led study of the Word of Christ? Is a believer following Christ if he knows Christ’s teachings and commandments, to include the mystery of the assembly (church) and related commandments, but does not apply them?
Are believers and churches performing their God-given duty as stewards of the mysteries of God, specifically the mystery of the church?
C. God–given Stewardship of the Mystery of the Church Ignored, Except by God’s Remnant
Any believer with his spiritual eyes open can see that churches and church members, except for a remnant, have by-passed and ignored their duties as stewards. This is especially true of the mystery of the church. See, The Biblical Doctrine of the Church for studies of the apostasy of the churches in America. This ministry constantly encounters real life examples of this failure. Here are some examples:
A brilliant young man in South Carolina had a tumultuous upbringing. He turned to drugs and vile living and even contemplated suicide. In college, he met a young lady who was a Christian and fell in love with her. She became his friend, but told him that she could be no more than a friend because he was not saved. She led him to the Lord. They married and joined a Charismatic church. He was a serious student of the Word of God. His studies led him to the website of this ministry. There he studied church organizational matters, including the 501(c)(3) issue. He asked his pastor if he would discuss that matter with him. His pastor said, “Don’t be listening to that Jerald Finney guy.” He persisted and the pastor arranged a meeting. At the meeting, the whole group, including the pastor, gave his concerns no consideration, etc. The young man moved his wife and child 1000 miles to attend a church which was not incorporated or 501(c)(3).
Sometime around 2008, my pastor asked me to teach a class at the church institute due to the teacher being out of town. The institute included young people from other fundamental Baptist churches as well children of members of the church. Two of the students, seventeen year old twin boys made clear by their expressions that they were hostile to my teachings and beliefs. Their father was a pastor (I believe) whom I had met when he visited the church. From my brief encounters with him, I knew he did not like me for some reason. I asked the class, “What is more important, loving God or winning souls?” Then I called on one of the aforementioned students to respond. He said, in a very authoritative tone, “Loving God is important, but if you are called to pastor an incorporated church you should ignore that matter and win souls. There is no need to make waves.” He had been well trained by his heretical father. Thankfully, a couple of the girls in the class responded with godly knowledge, understanding, and wisdom and explained that loving God is most important and what that meant in practice. I had known before that some fundamentalists I knew of stated, according to the teachings of Jack Hyles and his followers, that “Soul winning takes care of everything for a church” (a paraphrase). Soon thereafter, I wrote “The Most Important Things: Loving God or Winning Souls?”
A wonderful couple wanted to approach their pastor about the church 501(c)(3) issue. We talked at length. They loved their church, where they had been members for 11 years, but they loved the Lord more. They had already been alerted to the 501(c)(3) issue by Mark Taylor and others. I sent them links to resources that explained church incorporation and 501(c)(3). I also gave them a thumbnail explanation of how a church can remain under Christ alone, according to New Testament principle, by establishing a common law trust relationship with property, both real and personal (personal property includes money), so as to remain under Christ alone, with the protection of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions. They studied the issue for some time and arranged a meeting with their pastor. Of course, he tried to show them where they were wrong. They persisted and asked him if he would talk with me. When we talked over the phone, his tone was not cooperative as to seeking truth and his rationale was illogical and unstudied. I explained the problems with church incorporation and 501(c)(3) status and also the basics of the common law trust as applied by many churches. Obviously, he was going to follow his traditions and the doctrines of the “commandments of men.” I told him I would be glad to debate any relevant issue with anyone he chose. Instead, he got a written “opinion” from a lawyer who gave him the answers he wanted. I published my analysis of that lawyer’s very disappointingly unlearned opinion at: More lies of “Christian” law firms and lawyers concerning church organization and the common law trust as a means of establishing a church under Christ alone outside civil government law. The couple, of their own desire, left the church and are seeking to do things God’s way as to their local assembly under Christ.
A much younger member of a church said to me, in a very condescending manner, when I just mentioned a matter of church doctrine in a friendly discussion among several of us, and in which he had lectured on some other Bible matters, “We know that!” He was saying, shut up about that. I love him dearly, but he and I were obviously not on the same page on the matter of the importance of the mystery of the church. I know that he had little or no understanding on the matter and does not wish to hear more.
Churches and believers are commanded to shine the light of God’s Word, no matter the results, to “make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery” of the church (Ephesians 3:9). Have you and your church come to the light?Is your light and the light of your church shining? Some hate the light and do not come to it; some come to it. “[E]very one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:20-21). “Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen” (Ephesians 3:21).
EN[ii] Ephesians 3:1-12: “1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, 2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: 3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; 6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: 7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 ]And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him. 13 Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory. 14 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; 17 That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; 19 And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. 20 Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21 Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”
EN[iv] Ephesians 4:7-16: “7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
"Churches under Christ" is a ministry of Charity Baptist Tabernacle of Amarillo, Texas, Benjamin Hickam Pastor. Jerald Finney, a Christian Lawyer and member of Charity Baptist Tabernacle explains how a church in America can remain under the Lord Jesus Christ and Him only. "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church" (Ephesians 1.22).