Tag Archives: church incorporation

Spurious rationale for incorporating: to hold property


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012
Revised April 22, 2014


Note. This is a modified version of Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application;  Chapter 7 of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?


Contents:

I. Introduction
II. How a church can remain a spiritual entity under the authority of God (Scripture) only, not under the legal system in any way
III. Distinctions between a church corporation holding property and a pastor/trustee holding property for the benefit of the Lord
A. First distinction
B. Second distinction
C. Third distinction
D. Fourth distinction
E. Fifth distinction
F. Sixth distinction
G. Seventh distinction
IV. Other benefits of pastor/trustee holding property for the benefit of the Lord
V. The use of biblical terms within the legal system
VI. Conclusion: For the Glory of God

Note: You may go to the colored titles in this article by left clicking the links. Click “Reasons given for church incorporation,” “Non-theological reasons given for church incorporation,” or “Theological reasons given for church incorporation” to go to links to all of articles on spurious reasons given for incorporating churches. Those links are also in the left column of this blog.

I. Introduction

8Today, the most common reasons given by churches for incorporating and seeking 501(c)(3) status are (1) to obey every ordinance of man (2) limited liability; (3) to allow a church to hold property; (4) convenience—it is easier to get a tax deduction for tithes and offerings given to an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization than for tithes and offerings given to a New Testament church; (5) one’s convictions; and (6) winning souls is  more important than loving God; if a church is incorporated, don’t cause problems. Just continue winning souls because winning soul is more important than anything else, including loving God. .

This article will deal with the third false reason, to hold property. Other articles cover the other five reasons:  

  1. Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses When a pastor is asked why his church is incorporated, he will often quickly answer: “Because of Romans 13 [Romans 13:1-2 “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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Or “We are to obey every ordinance of man.” He may also rely on some other verses. All these verses are examined in this online booklet which is also in online PDF form on this website. Not only that, no law requires a church to get incorporated or apply for 501(c)(3) status or claim 508 status. Instead, the highest law in America protects the right of churches to choose to remain free from corporate and 501(c)(3) or 508 status. See, e.g., First Amendment Protection of New Testament Churches/Federal Laws Protecting State Churches (Religious Organizations) 
  2. Limited liability (corporate status actually increases the liability of church members) (Section VI, Chapter  of God Betrayed; Chapter 6 of Separation of Church and State).
  3. Spurious rationale for incorporating: to hold property (Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed; Chapter 7 of Separation of Church and State).
  4. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: tax exemption and tax deductions for contributions OR Tax reasons given for church corporate 501(c)(3) status: a biblical and legal analysis (Section VI, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed; Chapter 8 of Separation of Church and State)(This article covers reasons 3 and 4 above).
  5. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: one’s convictions (Not included in God Betrayed or Separation of Church and State)
  6. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: winning souls is more important than loving God/The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls

Many incorrectly argue that a church should incorporate to protect personal assets from liability (1) for the debts of the corporation, (2) for the torts and criminal acts of the corporation, and (3) for breach of contract by the corporation. Each of these arguments will be considered in light of biblical principle. A careful consideration of the facts will reveal that not only do churches violate principles in the Word  of God and grieve ou

To properly understand the relationship between church and state, one must understand the ultimate relationship between the spiritual and the earthly, between a church and the property upon which that church assembles. I have thoroughly explained the spiritual-earthly distinction in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is available free in online form (this article is a modified version of Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed and also Chapter 7 of Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?), in PDF form, and on the “Audio Teaching: Separation of Church and State” page of this website and on the “Radio Broadcast” page of“Church and State Law.”Ordering information for those who wish a hard copy may be found on the “Order Information for Books by Jerald Finney Page.

Mt.16.18_1Christ foretold, but did not explain the church (Mt. 16.18). The revelation of this mystery was committed to Paul. In his writings we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Ep. 4.11, p. 1253). Other New Testament writers only touch on church matters. The New Testament makes clear that the church is a spiritual body which cannot own property. However, since a church is a spiritual organism and body made up of saved human beings, she must occupy earthly space. A group of human beings, although saved and spiritual, cannot meet in outer space. Thus, a spiritual body must meet together in an earthly space, upon earthly property. God has given no other alternative. “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching” (He. 10.25).

There is no teaching in the New Testament that condones a church becoming an earthly or legal entity. In fact, a church which becomes a legal or earthly entity violates biblical principles. Only a legal or entity can own property. A spiritual entity cannot own property. Thus, no church in the New Testament owned or held property since thoses churches were spiritual entities only. Churches in the New Testament assembled on property which the churches did not own.

idols3The love of property, not property in and of itself, has contributed mightily to the decline in the number of New Testament churches in America and the advance of heresy and apostasy. Churches have jumped to unbiblical conclusions as to how to possess property upon which to meet. Two considerations are important. First, as shown in Section II ofGod Betrayed and in corresponding audio teachings, from nowhere in the Bible can one infer that a building or property is a church. Nowhere in the New Testament is there any indication that a church owned property. This is because a church, under God, is a spiritual body. By owning property, a church violates biblical principle, becomes a legal entity, entangles herself with earthly matters, and ceases to be a New Testament church. A spiritual body cannot own property.

Nowhere does the Bible mention that the first churches owned property or that the Lord told churches to own property. In fact, the Great Commission says, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mt. 28.19). Christ did not bring people into the temple or synagogue. Evangelism occurs outside the meeting place. Christians meet together for the preaching of the Word of God, for worshipping the Lord, for baptisms and for the Lord’s Supper. There they are uplifted and prepared to go into the World to evangelize. The church who is doing what God desires is in the world where she is a light to those who are lost, not under a bushel where her light is hidden. New churches must go out into the world where they can be a light, so they meet in storefronts or other rented spaces. Maybe some churches grow because they go into the world.

Jesus told church members that they would “be witnesses unto [Him] both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Ac. 1.8). He said nothing about them getting big buildings or property. None of the conversions in the New Testament occurred in a church building, nor were the lost or new converts ever invited to a church building. Rather, “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Ac. 2.47). “[T]here was a great persecution of the church who was at Jerusalem; and they were all scattered abroad throughout the regions of Judaea, and Samaria, except the apostles…. Therefore they that were scattered abroad went every where preaching the word” (Ac. 8.1, 4). Everywhere Christians went, they preached the Word publicly. Never was any concern for property, real or personal, expressed. This is because a church is spiritual, not earthly. Most “churches” today are consumed with their property. They will do anything to get property in the name of the church, and they will do anything to keep it. Church owned buildings are idols to them.

ChurchSecond, the Bible and reality reveal that a church, a spiritual entity, since the spiritual part of the Christian is still housed in an earthly body, must occupy an earthly space and, therefore, property when meeting. Originally churches many times met in a church member’s house. Thus, a church must be concerned with at least one temporal, earthly, secular matter—it has to decide upon what property it will meet and how it will gain the right to possess and assemble on that property. A church must make some type provision for property in order to be able to assemble together and exist.

All property is connected with civil government through a title. Someone must hold legal title to the property upon which a church meets. Since the church must possess property to exist, she should endeavor to possess property in a manner consistent with biblical principle. Again, a church cannot own property, since she is a spiritual entity.

Churches who ignore biblical principles can always rationalize incorporation and 501(c)(3) status. However, incorporation is not an option for a church who wishes to please our Lord and remain a New Testament church. In the colonies and early republic, as pointed out inGod Betrayed and other audio and written teachings by this authorBaptist churches ignored Scripture and sought incorporation for several reasons. For a time, one reason for betraying and displeasing God and incorporating in Massachusetts was to comply with the decision in the Cutter v. Frost case in 1785, and thus be sure that religious taxes paid by Baptists would be returned to their ministers by parish or town treasurers. That reason disappeared with the passage of the “Religious Liberty Act” of 1811, which reversed the Cutter Case by interpreting Article Three as applying to all churches, incorporated and unincorporated. For some Baptists a more compelling reason was to enable a congregation to make binding contracts between its members and its pastor, thereby guaranteeing regular payment of a decent salary. Those Baptists obviously cared little for the teaching of Scripture concerning contract and the manner in which a church was to provide for her pastor. In addition, incorporation gave all persons in the congregation the right to vote on building or repairing a meetinghouse as well as paying the minister’s salary and other matters both spiritual and earthly. Some Baptists argued that incorporation was necessary to hold property or endowment funds in the name of the church. The obsession with property, among other things, has caused churches to jump to unbiblical conclusions and join hands with the state.

II. How a church can remain a spiritual entity under the authority of God (Scripture) only, not under the legal system in any way

If the laws of men allow a church to utilize property openly, the church should do so only in a way that complies with biblical principle. Two biblically acceptable options for a church are the leasing of property by the pastor/trustee under a Declaration of Trust, or, if possible, using someone’s property at no cost. These options would be especially attractive should the pastor/trustee lease from someone who loves God and His church and makes a lease available at a nominal cost or at no cost. Some American churches are utilizing one of these methods.

DeclarationAnother means some churches are pleasing the Lord in the manner in which they meet on property is as follows. A pastor/trustee can hold property for Lord Jesus Christ as beneficiary. A church can execute a Declaration of Trust which proclaims to the world that the church is placing property under the care of a pastor/trustee who will hold the legal, earthly title to the property for the benefit of the true and equitable owner of the property, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Declaration of Trust and necessary associated documents are in line with both biblical principle and American law.

“Declaration” means: “Publication, manifestation; as the declaration of the greatness of Mordecai. Esth. X.; A public annunciation; proclamation; as the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776”( MERRIAM WEBSTER’S AMERICAN DICTIONARY OR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1828) definition of “DECLARATION). Declaration of Trust is defined as follows:

AmJur“The act by which the person who holds the legal title to property or an estate acknowledges and declares that he holds the same in trust to the use of another person or for certain specified purposes. The name is also used to designate the deed or other writing embodying such a declaration” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 408 (6th ed. 1990) under definition of “Declaration.” This definition is consistent with the definitions in more authoritative legal references such as AMERICAN JURURISPRUDENCE 2D and CORPUS JURIS SECUNDUM).

This type of Declaration of Trust does not create a charitable trust or other trust which is a legal entity—this type of trust is only a means of holding property. This is important because the IRS recognizes that charitable trusts are creatures of the state, legally organized under state law, along with unincorporated associations, nonprofit corporations, and corporations sole (IRS Publication 1828 (2007), p. 2).

CJS“It has been said that trusts are generally divided into two main classes: private trusts and charitable trusts. A ‘charitable trust’ is one in which the beneficiary is a governmental entity or in which the purpose of the trust is to implement public welfare or convenience. The primary differences between a charitable trust and other private trusts are that a charitable trust may be perpetual, the denominated recipients of the trust income may be indefinite, and the intended beneficiary is the community itself. It has also been said that the fundamental distinction between private trusts and charitable trusts is that in a private trust, property is devoted to the use of specified persons who are designated as the beneficiaries of the trust, while a charitable trust has as a beneficiary a definite class and indefinite beneficiaries within a definite class, and has a purpose which is beneficial to the community” (76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts § 4 (2007)).

This manner of holding property, that is by a pastor/trustee for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, is according to biblical principle and is entirely distinct from the man invented anti-scriptural practice of holding property through incorporation. This manner of holding property does not affect the organization of the church at all and does not place the church under the state in any way.

Click here to download the first page of an actual church Declaration of Trust

III. Distinctions between a church corporation holding property and a pastor/trustee holding property for the benefit of the Lord

A. First distinction

1Incorporation can be distinguished from the holding of property by a pastor/trustee for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ in many ways which emphasize that incorporation is unbiblical and the concept of holding property in trust is found throughout Scripture.

First, under church incorporation, the church becomes a legal entity and holds property. I have done a much more detailed analysis of incorporation with cited authority in Section VI of God Betrayed  as well as in other articles and audio teachings on this “Separation of Church and State” blog. I will not go into as much detail on the nature of incorporation in this article. Should you desire more legal citations for the assertions about incorporation, go to Section VI, especially Chapters 1-3, of God Betrayed and/or—to a lesser extent—the corresponding audio teachings which are available on this “Separation of Church and State Law” blog. Under the trust method, the pastor/trustee, not the church, holds the property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ—a church holds no property when this method is used. This is totally in line with biblical principles as well as American law as is shown below.

B. Second distinction

Second, unlike a corporation which comes into existence with the consent or grant of the state, holding property in trust in this manner does not create a legal entity. The right to act as a corporation is a special privilege conferred by the sovereign power of the state or nation. On the other hand, God left property in trust to mankind to maintain it for His benefit. God Himself initiated the concept of holding property in trust. For a pastor/trustee to hold property in trust for the Lord Jesus Christ is biblical.

courtThe basic purpose of incorporation—to create a distinct legal entity, with legal rights, obligations, powers, and privileges different from those of the natural individuals who created it, own it, or whom it employs—is at odds with the purpose of a church who is to glorify God by submitting herself to her Husband in all things. When a pastor/trustee holds property for the true beneficiary of all property, the Lord Jesus Christ (“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him[.]” (Col. 1.16) by executing a proper Declaration of Trust and other necessary documents, a church is not placed under the state because no legal entity is thereby created. When a pastor/trustee holds property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, God is glorified in that the property is held by the pastor, not the church, in trust for the Lord Jesus, the equitable owner.

Secular law interprets “trust” in a manner consistent with biblical principle:

“A trust is not a legal entity. A trust is not an entity distinct from its trustees and capable of legal action on its own behalf, but merely a fiduciary relationship with respect to property. A trust is not a legal ‘person’ which can own property or enter into contracts, rather, a trust is a relationship having certain characteristics” (76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts § 3 (2007).

This concept of trust is not overruled by Black’s Law Dictionary which defines “Entity” as follows:

Blacks“A real being; existence. An organization or being that possesses separate existence for tax purposes. Examples would be corporations, partnerships, estates, and trusts…. ‘Entity’ includes corporation and foreign corporation, not-for-profit corporation, business trust, estate, partnership, trust….” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 532 (6th ed. 1990). Black’s Law Dictionary defines numerous kinds of trusts. For example, a business trust is organized for the business purpose of making money.

However, that definition definitely does not apply to the type trust relationship created by a Declaration of Trust by which a pastor/trustee holds property for the beneficiary, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Legal existence” means “An entity, other than a natural person, who has sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions through agents as in the case of corporations” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 893-894 (6th ed. 1990)). The trust contemplated by the author of this book, and as recognized by the law generally, only contemplates holding property by a pastor/trustee for the true beneficiary. No legal entity is thereby created. Black’s Law Dictionary is not the authoritative law. Sometimes it is wrong, or sometimes, as in regards to trust, it is partially wrong, or when taken in context of all it has to say on a subject, has combined some truth with error as to legal conclusions. Here, Black’s is internally inconsistent and clearly overruled by more authoritative legal sources which are cited in this article.

There is a caveat which, if biblical guidelines are followed, is inconsequential to a trust relationship in which a pastor/trustee holds property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Modern civil law is beginning to treat a trust somewhat like a legal entity, but only so far as the relationship between the trustee(s) and the beneficiary or beneficiaries is concerned. An outside party still cannot sue a trust. No one can sue a church which is not a legal entity.

“Observation: The Restatement states that increasingly modern common-law and statutory concepts and terminology tacitly recognize the trust as a legal ‘entity,’ consisting of the trust estate and the associated fiduciary relation between the trustee and the beneficiaries. This is increasingly and appropriately reflected both in language (referring, for example, to the duties or liability of a trustee to ‘the trust’) and in doctrine, especially in distinguishing between the trustee personally or as an individual and the trustee in a fiduciary or representative capacity” (Ibid.).

This caveat should be of little or no consequence to church operation because the church does not own the property and cannot sue or be sued. The pastor, as pastor/trustee, has obligated himself under God to lay down his life for the sheep within the church he pastors, something a licentious pastor may not wish to do and something which a licentious, worldly Christian member of a church may not want him to do.

Even should a pastor or other member of a New Testament violate biblical law which is not criminal, the Bible teaches: “Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints? Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge between his brethren? But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and defraud, and that your brethren” (I Co. 6.1-8).

No matter the status of a church—New Testament church or corporate 501(c)(3)—state courts may possibly attempt to assume illegal jurisdiction initiated by a disgruntled member against a pastor or others in the church as regards temporal matters (just as almost all state courts will assume jurisdiction in a divorce petition initiated by a husband or wife married solely under God without state authority and without a state marriage license). This applies no matter how property utilized by a church is held. However, a court will find it impossible to achieve jurisdiction over a New Testament churc which is a spiritual entity. Appropriate courts may assume jurisdiction over a pastor/trustee who abuses a fiduciary duty.

C. Third distinction

Third, the state is sovereign over a corporation which is an invention of man and a legal entity. A trust relationship whereby a pastor/trustee holds property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ under a Declaration of Trust, implements a principle God laid down in the Garden of Eden and which is seen throughout the Bible, and, as civil law agrees, does not create a legal entity over which the civil government has control. No principle in the Bible supports incorporation; rather, biblical principle is contrary to church incorporation and probably to any type incorporation.

D. Fourth distinction

Fourth, under a corporation, man does not hold property in trust for God. The corporation, a creature of the state, owns property. Under a properly drafted Declaration of Trust in conjunction with other properly worded documents, legal title to property is vested in a pastor/trustee for the benefit of the Lord Jesus. The church owns nothing, and cannot own anything as long as she remains a spiritual entity.

Ps.24.1Who owns all things? The sovereign God owns it all—not only the land, but also everyone and everything. That ownership is implicit in the fact that He created it all. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Ge. 1.1). Then God created light and divided the light from darkness. Then He created the firmament and divided the waters which were under the firmament from those which were above the firmament. Then He created grass, herb yielding seed, and fruit trees yielding seed. Then He made the sun and moon, then living creatures whom he told to be fruitful and multiply. Then He created male and female in His image (Ge. 1).

He clearly stated His ownership of all in His Word:

  • God said, “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine” (Ex. 19.5).
  • God said, “The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me” (Le. 25.23).
  • “But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort? for all things come of thee [God], and of thine own have we given thee” (I Chr. 29.14).
    “The earth is the LORD’S, and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein” (Ps. 24.1).
  • God said, “For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills” (Ps. 50.10).
  • “The heavens are thine [God’s], the earth also is thine: as for the world and the fulness thereof, thou hast founded them” (Ps. 89.11).
  • “The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the LORD of hosts” (Hag. 2.8).

Thus, God owns all people and all things. When a church assembles together, God owns the land upon which they meet. The land is temporarily loaned to man for God’s benefit, but God owns it. Although man has the temporal legal title to the land, God has equitable title. God is the equitable owner. An equitable owner is “[o]ne who is recognized in equity as owner of the property, because real and beneficial use and title belong to him, even though bare legal title is invested in another” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 539 (6th ed. 1990)). “In a trust relationship, as distinguished from a ‘contract,’ there is always a divided ownership of property, to which the trustee usually has legal title and cestui [que trust] an equitable title” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 539 (6th ed. 1990)).

Mankind holds all property in trust for God. “Trust,” as a noun, has been defined as follows:

“1. Confidence; a reliance or resting of the mind on the integrity, veracity, justice, friendship or other sound principle of another person. He that putteth his trust in the Lord shall be saved. Prov. xxix.
“2. He or that which is the ground of confidence. O Lord God, thou art my trust from my youth. Ps. lxxi.
“3. Charge received in confidence. Reward them well, if they observe their trust.  Denham.
“4. That which is committed to one’s care. Never violate a sacred trust.
“5. Confident opinion of any event. His trust was with th’ Eternal to be deem’d Equal in strength.  Milton.
“6. Credit given without examination; as, to take opinions on trust.
“7. Credit on promise of payment, actual or implied; as, to take or purchase goods on trust.
“8. Something committed to a person’s care for use or management, and for which an account must be rendered.  Every man’s talents and advantages are a trustcommitted to him by his Maker, and for the use or employment of which he is accountable. [Bold emphasis mine.]
“9. Confidence; special reliance on supposed honesty.
“10. State of him to whom something is entrusted. I serve him truly, that will put me intrust. Shak.
“11. Care; management. 1 Tim. vi.
“12. In law, an estate, devised or granted in confidence that the devisee or grantee shall convey it, or dispose of the profits, at the will of another; an estate held for the use of another. Blackstone” (MERRIAM WEBSTER’S AMERICAN DICTIONARY OR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1828), definition of “TRUST”).

A more modern dictionary defines “trust” as a noun as follows, in relevant part:

“… 3. a : a property interest held by one person for the benefit of another. … 5. a (2) : something committed or entrusted to one to be used or cared for in the interest of another….—in trust: the care or possession of a trustee” (WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY, 1269 (10th ed. 1995)).

76 American Jurisprudence 2d Trusts § 1 (2007) defines trust as follows:

  • “The fundamental nature of a trust is the division of title, with the trustee being the holder of legal title and the beneficiary that of equitable title. By definition, the creation of a trust must involve a conveyance of property.
  • “A ‘trust’ exists where the legal title to property is held by one or more persons, under an equitable obligation to convey, apply, or deal with such property for the benefit of other persons. A trust has been defined as a fiduciary relationship with respect to property, subjecting the person by whom the title to the property is held to equitable duties to deal with the property for the benefit of another person, which arises as a result of a manifestation of an intention to create it. The Restatement definition is similar, providing that a trust, when not qualified by the word ‘resulting’ or ‘constructive,’ is a fiduciary relationship with respect to property, arising from a manifestation of intention to create that relationship and subjecting the person who holds title to the property to duties to deal with it for the benefit of charity or for one or more persons, at least one of whom is not the sole trustee.
  • “Caution: A trust consists not only of property, but also of the trust instrument, the trust’s beneficiaries and trustees, and the trust administrator [if any]” (WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY, 1269 (10th ed. 1995)).

AdamAndEvenBeforeFAllThe principle of “trust” runs throughout the Bible. God entrusted mankind with all property, real and personal. He owned all things—even the body, soul and spirit of man—but left all things, including the land, to man to be used for Him. God trusted man with all His earthly creation and left it to him in trust, as trustee or steward. “Trustee” means, in relevant part:

1 a : one to whom something is entrusted…. 2 a : a natural or legal person to whom property is legally committed to be administered for the benefit of a beneficiary (as a person or a charitable organization)…” (WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 1269 (10th ed. 1995), definition of “trustee.”).

Adam and Eve were trustees of the earth and all that was in it. In what some call the Edenic Covenant, God gave responsibilities to mankind.

“The man and woman in Eden were responsible: (1) To replenish the earth with a new order—man; (2) to subdue the earth to human uses; (3) to have dominion over the animal creation; (4) to eat herbs and fruits; (5) to till and keep the garden; (6) to abstain from eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil; (7) the penalty—death” (Ge. 1.28-31. This was pointed out on page 13 of God Betrayed).

Although entrusted with all things, God gave mankind free will as to whether to carry out their responsibilities as trustees. The principle that nations—Gentile nations and Israel—and individuals were left in trust of land and all things for the benefit of God runs throughout the Old Testament. This principle of trust continues to this day.

The Lord spoke of this concept of trust in at least two parables as recorded in the books of Matthew and Luke (Mt. 25.14-30; Lu. 19.12-27).  He spoke of an earthly master leaving certain amounts of his goods or money with his servants, according to their abilities. Actually, the more important parallel spiritual meaning was to the Lord and His servants. The master had an absolute right to his own goods, but he distributed to his servants to be used for the benefit of the master, the servants to be awarded according to their profitable use of the property entrusted to them. Some used the money productively and upon the master’s return presented him with a profit. The property belonged to the master, and the servants were to use it for the master’s benefit, not for their own benefit. Of course, they would be rewarded if they used the property wisely for the benefit of the master. One servant in each example returned only the original amount left in trust with them. The master instructed that the goods which he had left with the unprofitable servants be taken from them, and they were left with nothing. The profitable servants were rewarded by the master. In the story found in Matthew, the Master said, “[C]ast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 25.30). Men, as servants of the Master are likewise left in trust of all things for His benefit and will be rewarded or punished according to their use of His goods.

1Tim.6.20Timothy was a pastor, and a pastor has a special position of trust unlike other members of the body. Timothy was a trustee of a spiritual heritage: “O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called” (1 Ti. 6.20)[Emphasis mine]. The Bible proclaims that pastors rule over the body. “Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation” (He. 13.7). “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you” (He. 13.17). “Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints…” (He. 13.24).

Biblically, a pastor must meet much more stringent God-given requirements than other members of the body:

  • “This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop [pastor [En1], he desireth a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;  One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.  Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil” (I Ti. 3.1-7).
  • “For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre” (Tit. 1.7).
  • These requirements are strict because the bishop is entrusted by God to “take care of the church of God” (I Ti. 3.5). He is a “steward of God.”
  • The pastor is an overseer of the church: “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood” (Ac. 20.28). “Overseers” here refers to pastors. [En2]
  • “The elders [pastors [En3] which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’sheritage, but being ensamples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (I Pe. 5.1-5).

The pastor then is obviously responsible to act as ruler, trustee, steward, overseer of the church. Therefore, the Declaration of Trust must, to be biblical, name the pastor as trustee acting in trust for the beneficiary, the Lord Jesus Christ.

This does not mean that all men are not trustees. God has appointed every human being who has ever lived as trustee over himself, all that God has given him, his spiritual heritage, and his spiritual destiny. The earth was still God’s, but man was told to care for and possess His earth. Mankind was “trustee” of the earth. The pastor is trustee of the church.

stewardshipA declaration of the relationship between property held by a person for the benefit of Christ better serves its purpose if the terms “trust” and “trustee” as opposed to “stewardship” and “steward” be used.  “Steward” means in relevant part:

“1. A man employed in great families to manage the domestic concerns, superintend the other servants, collect the rents or income, keep the accounts, &c. See Gen. xv. 2—xliii….
“5. In Scripture and theology, a minister of Christ, whose duty is to dispense the provisions of the gospel,  to preach  its doctrines and administer its ordinances. It is required instewards, that a man be found faithful. 1 Cor. iv” (MERRIAM WEBSTER’S AMERICAN DICTIONARY OR THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1828), definition of “STEWARD”).

The first meaning of “steward” is reflected in several passages of the Bible: Ge. 15.2, 43.19, 44.1, 44.4; I K. 16.9; Mt. 20.8; Lu. 8.3, 12.42, 16.1-8 (parable of the unjust steward). The last meaning is reflected in I Co. 4.1, 2 and Tit. 1.7. “Stewardship” simply means “The office of a steward” (Ibid., definition of “STEWARDSHIP”). The terms “stewardship” and “trust,” are distinct. The term “trust” better describes the desired relationship between the Lord and the person who holds all he has for His benefit. Likewise, the meaning of the terms “steward” and “trustee,” are distinct. “Trustee” better describes the position of a person who is to hold property or anything else for the benefit of the Lord. Compare the definitions of “trust” and “stewardship” and “trustee” and “steward.”

Luke 16.1-8 is the parable of the unjust steward. Following that parable, Jesus said,

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

E. Fifth distinction

contractFifth, incorporation creates several contracts. The primary contract created by incorporation of a church is a contract between church and state which places an incorporated “church” under the contract clause of Article I Section 10 of the United States Constitution as already shown. The articles of incorporation constitute a contract between the corporation and the state, between the corporation and its members (owners), and between the members (owners) themselves. Furthermore, the corporate church must also have bylaws which creates contracts between the members (owners) of the corporation, and between the corporation and its members (owners). All these contracts come under Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution. A Declaration of Trust, as described in this chapter, creates no agreement or contract at all with or between anyone. Under such a Declaration, a trustee merely holds legal title to property for the benefit of the beneficiary, the Lord Jesus Christ. “Contract,” is an enlightenment principle. According to enlightenment thinking, man—who is basically good according to this manner of thinking—through his reason can solve all problems. “Trust” is a biblical principle. According to the Bible, God is the Sovereign and only the application of His principles will bring positive consequences.

The members of the church, under the contracts of an incorporated “church,” not only control the church property, they also control the spiritual direction of the church. Corporate trustees become the de facto rulers and overseers of the church. Members are beginning to realize and understand and exercise the power given them in the contracts entered into between themselves and the sovereign state, between themselves and the corporation, and between themselves. Dr. Greg Dixon explains:

contract2“Fundamental Baptists have operated through a strong pastor/leader who has been able to control his board, but as David Gibbs, Jr. told me [Dr. Dixon] 20 years ago, ‘We have a new breed of trustees now who are educated and understand their fiduciary responsibility.’ Even after the Baptists gained liberty through the First Amendment, they held property by the Protestant method through lay trustees. In reality they had a church board contrary to biblical and Baptist polity which lasts till this day. These trustees are now firing preachers for cause. One old preacher in Ohio testified at a fellowship meeting and said that the trustees fired him on Saturday night and changed the locks, and he couldn’t even get in on Sunday a.m. Another preacher in Colorado said that they fired him on Sunday p.m. and told him not to come back on Sunday night.  They have power to call the police.  They can violate the constitution and by laws, how can the preacher sue?

“Catholic clergy understand the effect of lay control of a ‘church.’ The Catholic laymen came to America without priests to begin with and started ‘churches’ including buying ‘church’ property and holding the property through the Protestant system with lay trustees. When the priests came they tried to take the property over through the corporation sole method as in Europe where the Bishop of the Diocese holds the property in his own name.  The lay trustees didn’t want to give up their power, but finally did; and the Catholic polity of corporation sole prevails to this day.” [En4]

F. Sixth distinction

A corporation goes to the law books and court, not to the Bible and God when problems arise.
A corporation goes to the law books and court, not to the Bible and God when problems arise.

Sixth, a corporation is established under a charter from the civil government and conclusively established by filing articles of incorporation with a state agency, the contents of which are commonly specified by a state’s corporation statutes. Statutory requirements as to the form and content of the articles or certificate must be substantially followed. No such requirements exist for the drafting or filing of a Declaration or Trust. A Declaration of Trust can be drafted in any logical manner which contains the elements of the trust and need not be filed to establish the trust relationship. A Declaration of Trust in no way either subjugates a church to the state or creates any contract of any kind between anyone.

G. Seventh distinction

Two headed monsterSeventh, whereas incorporation of a church creates a monstrosity, a pastor/trustee holding property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ implements biblical principle. An incorporated church gets part of its powers from God and part from the civil government. It is under two heads. It operates partly under Satan and partly under God. A church who sees fit to become incorporated under state law is obligated to conduct its business activities in compliance therewith, including governmental regulation of its employment relationships, so long as the employment does not depend on doctrinal matters.

A church who meets on property held by a pastor/trustee for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ and does not connect herself to the state in any other way is totally under God. No “business” practices or requirements in the operation of the church are initiated. By utilizing property held in trust by a pastor/trustee for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, no entanglement of church and state results, no elections, board of directors, no officers, no employees, no business meetings, etc. are required since the civil government has absolutely no control over the secular or spiritual affairs of that church.

IV. Other benefits of holding property by a pastor/trustee

idols
An idol
An idol
An idol

Holding property in the recommended manner has additional benefits. Not only does holding property in this manner comport with biblical principles, holding the property in this manner lessens the chances that the property, and especially the buildings, will become idols. “Their idols are … the work of men’s hands.  … They that make them are like unto them; so is every one that trusteth in them” (Ps. 115.4-8). Finally, holding property in this way does not require that the church be structured as a business. A church who loves the Lord and desires to please the Lord will leave no stone unturned in her quest to structure herself as a New Testament church.

V. The use of biblical terms within the legal system

Thus, God instituted the concept of trust in the beginning, in the Garden of Eden. It is a biblical concept which is utilized in America today. Just because the law uses the concept and uses some of the same terms, does not mean that Christians can no longer use the concept and the term(s). For example, if adoption of biblical terms by the state means that thereafter use of those terms are prohibited by Christians, then Christians can no longer use the term “justification.” A Christian who objects to the use of the terms “trust,” “trustee,” and “beneficiary” should never again use the term “justification” since that is a term utilized by the state.

Simply put, justification means “a reason to be found not guilty even though you are guilty.” Biblically, all men are guilty before God. The only reason for a finding of “not guilty” before God will be salvation through the blood of Christ. Temporally, the criminal law provides justifications which allow guilty men to be found “not guilty.” The Texas Penal Code provides: “It is a defense to the prosecution that the conduct in question is justified under this chapter” (Texas Penal Code § 9.02 (2007)). Self-defense is a justification for murder. Texas criminal law further provides for self-defense: “… [A] person is justified in using force against another when and to the degree he reasonably believes the force is immediately necessary to protect himself against the other’s use or attempted use of unlawful force” (Ibid., § 9.31 (2007)). “Justification” in Texas law is a reason for your crime that provides a defense. If the issue of a defense is raised by the evidence, “a reasonable doubt on the issue requires that the defendant be acquitted” (Ibid., § 2.03(d) (2007)).

The Supreme Court of Texas recently addressed the use of certain secular terms by Tyndale Theological Seminary and Bible Institute, a ministry of HEB Ministries, Inc., a church in Fort Worth, Texas.[En5] In that case,

  • “a law in the State of Texas required a private post-secondary school to meet prescribed standards before it may call itself a “seminary” or use words like “degree”, “associate”, “bachelor”, “master”, and “doctor” — or their equivalents — to recognize attainment in religious education and training. Violation of the law was a Class A misdemeanor and was also punishable by a civil penalty of $1,000 per day. The issue was whether this requirement impermissibly intrudes upon religious freedom protected by the United States and Texas Constitutions.
  • “HEB ministries was fined $173,000 for violating the law. The Texas Supreme Court ruled in favor of HEB ministries.
  • “HEB contended that “the State cannot deny the use of such higher education terminology to religious schools that do not meet its standards.”

The court stated, among other important pronouncements, that

“[T]he government cannot set standards for religious education or training.” … “Neutrality is what is required. The State must confine itself to secular objectives, and neither advance nor impede religious activity.” … [S]etting standards for a religious education is a religious exercise for which the State lacks not only authority but competence.” … “By restricting the terminology a religious institution can use, the State signals its approval or disapproval of the institution’s operation and curriculum as vividly as if it hung the state seal on the institution’s front door.”[En6]

VI. Conclusion: For the Glory of God

2More and more churches in America are organizing according to biblical principles. Some have have operated as New Testament churches for many years. Others are learning that they have been misled by unknowing pastors, other “Christians” ignorant of the biblical doctrine of the church, and unscrupulous lawyers and “Christian” legal associations who make a good income by promoting incorporation and 501(c)(3) status for churches. More each day are coming to understand that that those devices are wicked and displease our Lord.

The pastor/trustee who holds property for the benefit of the Lord, since he holds that property in sacred trust for the Lord, is not to utilize the property as a profit-making venture in any way. The purpose of holding the property is to glorify God by allowing the church to assemble together to worship and glorify God,  since the worship of an incorporated church is not totally pure and since a church commits a great wickedness by incorporating. An incorporated church can, at best, be within the permissive—not the perfect—will of God. This does not mean that the pastor/trustee cannot sell the property at an appreciated price. All proceeds from a sale of such property, no matter the sales price, should be used for the glory of God. Since the pastor must meet the highest of biblical standards, he is least likely, of all church members, to deal carelessly or in a sinful manner in carrying out his responsibilities to God. Should a saved pastor betray his fiduciary duties to his Lord, (1) he faces far greater consequences from his Highest Authority than from any lower authority; and (2) the New Testament church, having placed their hope in eternal, not temporal matters, has not been affected at all, since that church is a spiritual, as opposed to legal, entity.

 Endnotes:

1. “Having completed the treatise of doctrine and of the manner of handling of it, as well also of public prayer, he now in the third place comes to the persons themselves, speaking first of pastors….” Geneva Bible Commentary available on SWORDSEARCHER software. Go to http://www.swordsearcher.com for information on SWORDSEARCHER software.
“As [the term ‘bishop’] is never used in the Scriptures with reference to prelates, itshould be used with reference to the pastors, or other officers of the church; and to be a pastor or overseer of the flock of Christ, should be regarded as being a scriptural bishop.”Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible available on SWORDSEARCHER software.

2.Overseers. In Acts 20:17, they are called elders; here, overseers, which is, in the original, the same as the word rendered sometimes bishops.” Abbott New Testament Commentary available on SWORDSEARCHER software. “Made you overseers – Εθετο επισκοπους , Appointed you bishops; for so we translate the original word in most places where it occurs: but overseers, or inspectors, is much more proper, from επι , over, and σκεπτομαι , I look. The persons who examine into the spiritual state of the flock of God, and take care to lead them in and out, and to find them pasture, are termed episcopoi, or superintendents. The office of a bishop is from God; a true pastor only can fulfill this office: it is an office of most awful responsibility; few there are who can fill it; and, of those who occupy this high and awful place, perhaps we may say there are fewer still who discharge the duties of it. There are, however, through the good providence of God, Christian bishops, who, while they are honored by the calling, do credit to the sacred function. And the annals of our Church can boast of at least as many of this class of men, who have served their God and their generation, as of any other order, in the proportion which this order bears to others in the Church of Christ. That bishop and presbyter, or elder, were at this time of the same order, and that the word was indifferently used of both, see Acts 20.17 (note).” Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bibleavailable on SWORDSEARCHER software.

3. “In this place the term πρεσβυτεροι, elders or presbyters is the name of an office. They were as pastors or shepherds of the flock of God, the Christian people among whom they lived.” Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible available on SWORDSEARCHER software. “That Peter means the officers, not the aged persons, is shown by I Pe. 5.2.” The People’s New Testament Commentary available on SWORDSEARCHER software.

4. Dr. Greg Dixon is pastor emeritus of Indianapolis Baptist Temple. The information concerning the Catholic “church” is from John Cogley, Catholic America (Garden City, NY: Image Books, A Division of Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1960), pp. 200-203.

5. HEB Ministries, Inc. v. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, 235 S.W.3d 627 (Tex. 2007).

6. Ibid.

Spurious Rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: tax exemption and tax deduction for contributions OR Tax Reasons Given for Church Corporate/501(c)(3) Status: A Biblical and Legal Analysis


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012


Note. This is a modified version of Section VI, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application;  Chapter 8 of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?


Contents:

Preface
I. Introduction
II. Tax reasons for which churches seek 501(c)(3) tax exemption
III. The deductibility of gifts to New Testament churches
IV. Another reason some churches seek 501(c)(3) status: the convenience offered state 501(c)(3) church members
V. Conclusion
Note

Preface

This is a teaching and helps ministry motivated by love: love for our Lord first, and love for others second. I can find no more important subject than the love relationship between Christ and His children and Christ and His churches. Since I am convinced that this is a God-called ministry, I conduct this ministry at my own expense. I do not wish to dishonor my Lord by seeking worldly gain or riches through this ministry or by teaching heresy. Since I am not paid, nor do I seek to be paid for my work in this ministry, I will be convinced only by solid biblical reasoning. In other words, no one can buy me since my Lord, and my Lord only, has paid it all. My highest allegiance is to Him.

If you can disprove what I am teaching, you have an obligation—to God first, and to your brother in Christ second—to correct me. I will not accept conclusory statements backed up by nothing. I will only accept Holy Spirit guided insights based upon biblical principles and the application of legal and historical facts to those principles. If you prove me wrong, I have an obligation to repent, ask your forgiveness, and correct my teachings. If what I am saying is true, you have an obligation to God to conform your actions to God’s principles, including, if need be, repenting and reorganizing your church according to the principles of God.

I. Introduction

Today, the most common reasons given by churches for incorporating and seeking 501(c)(3) status are (1) to obey every ordinance of man (2) limited liability; (3) to allow a church to hold property; (4) tax reasons and convenience—it is easier to get a tax deduction for tithes and offerings given to an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization than for tithes and offerings given to a New Testament church; (5) one’s convictions; and (6) winning souls is  more important than loving God; if a church is incorporated, don’t cause problems. Just continue winning souls because winning souls is more important than anything else, including loving God.

This article will deal with the fourth false reason, tax reasons. Other articles cover the other five reasons:  

  1. Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses When a pastor is asked why his church is incorporated, he will often quickly answer: “Because of Romans 13 [Romans 13:1-2 “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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Or “We are to obey every ordinance of man.” He may also rely on some other verses. All these verses are examined in this online booklet which is also in online PDF form on this website. Not only that, no law requires a church to get incorporated or apply for 501(c)(3) status or claim 508 status. Instead, the highest law in America protects the right of churches to choose to remain free from corporate and 501(c)(3) or 508 status. See, e.g., First Amendment Protection of New Testament Churches/Federal Laws Protecting State Churches (Religious Organizations) 
  2. Limited liability (corporate status actually increases the liability of church members) (Section VI, Chapter  of God Betrayed; Chapter 6 of Separation of Church and State).
  3. Spurious rationale for incorporating: to hold property (Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed; Chapter 7 of Separation of Church and State)
  4. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: tax exemption and tax deductions for contributions OR Tax reasons given for church corporate 501(c)(3) status: a biblical and legal analysis (Section VI, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed; Chapter 8 of Separation of Church and State).
  5. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: one’s convictions (Not included in God Betrayed or Separation of Church and State)
  6. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: winning souls is more important than loving God/The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls

This article will deal with the third and fourth reasons listed above: civil government recognition of tax exempt status assures church leaders, members, and contributors that the church is recognized as exempt and qualifies for related tax benefits (For example, contributors to a church that has been recognized as tax exempt would know that their contributions generally are tax-deductible); and convenience. “Church Incorporation Increases Liability of Church Members” looks at the first reason, limited liability. “Analysis of another reason given for church corporate status” addresses the second reason, to hold property.” In addition, audio teaching on these issues are available on this website (see the categories at left); and Jerald Finney has written on these issues in (See God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and/or Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? and other books by Jerald Finney for a thorough analysis of these matters. Click the following link to preview God Betrayed: Link to preview of God Betrayed.  These books and many other resources are available on the “Books” page of  the “Church and State Law” website.)

The author judges, as instructed by Scripture, all spiritual matters which he examines by the Word of God (1 Co. 2). After all, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Ti. 3.16-17; see also, e.g. 2 Pe. 1.19-21). The Bible is therefore written by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit guides the born again believer who meditates upon God’s Word in conjunction with reality, historical fact, and law concerning a given subject into truth concerning the matter which he is examining (See, e.g., Jn. 16.13; 1 Jn. 4.6; 2 Ti. 2.15-26). Only when a believer, a family, a church, and a nation do this will they escape the “snare of the devil who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Ti. 2.15-26). Sadly, many individuals (including pastors), families, and churches who profess to be Bible believers have been deceived as to biblical principle, historical fact, and law concerning the preeminent issue of separation of church and state. Many churches who proclaim that they preach the Word of God have been mislead about historical fact, law, and biblical principle concerning this issue.

God chose every Christian to be a soldier (2 Ti. 2.4). He wants us to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Ti. 2.3). God told us, “No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Ti. 4). We are further told to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh (Ga. 5). Our weapons are to be spiritual only (Ep. 6.10-18). Only when we fight with the spiritual armor as specified by God may we “be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ep. 6.11). This is because “we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wichedness in highplaces” (Ep. 6.12).

And yet most Christians, including pastors, and churches walk in the flesh in at least one way. They combine the church with the state by incorporating and getting Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) § 501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”) status for earthly or fleshly reasons.

The author has fully examined the biblical principles as well as the application of those principles to the law of church incorporation and 501(c)(3) status in audio teachings, books, and articles. To fully understand these matters requires study, something which most “Christians” are unwilling to do. Some are willfully ignorant in that they just do not want to face truth. Others may be lazy, and some just don’t have the time. Pastors, evangelists, and missionaries have no good excuse. They are looked up to by other Christians for biblical guidance and leadership. They hold a high position of trust under our Lord.

II. Tax reasons for which churches seek 501(c)(3) tax exemption

As the author has shown in his articles, audio teachings, and books, according to IRC § 508, churches are an exception to the 501(c)(3) filing requirement (See, e.g., “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself;” “An Abridged History of the First Amendment,” etc.). Churches which do not file for exempt status under 501(c)(3) are non-taxable. Other types of religious organizations are not so: “Unlike churches, religious organizations that wish to be tax exempt generally must apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status unless their gross receipts do not normally exceed $5,000 annually” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 3): this link may be slow to download. Internal Revenue Service publications are not the law, just a comment on the law.).

New Testament churches under God are non-taxable. 501(c)(3) religious organizations under civil government are tax exempt. IRC § 508 (the codification of Public Law 91-172 ratified in 1969) provides in relevant part:

Ҥ 508. Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations.
“(a) New organizations must notify secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status.
“(c) Exceptions. [Emphasis mine.]
“(1) Mandatory exceptions. Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to—
“(A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches.” (26 U.S.C. § 508 (2007)) [Emphasis mine.]
Note. A church applies for 501(c)(3) recognition by filling out and filing IRS Form 1023.

§ 508(a),(c) says churches are excepted from obtaining § 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. In other words, churches are non-taxable; and, therefore, churches are an exception to the civil government requirement that certain organizations file for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Thus, even the federal government recognizes that a New Testament church is non-taxable.

If a church does not apply for exempt status, and if it is organized as a New Testament church, according to both God’s law (the hightest law) as laid out in the Bible and the First Amendment which agrees with the biblical principle of separation of church and state, the church is non-taxable. A church is better advised to claim First Amendment protection as opposed to  § 508(a),(c) status. If so, a church should not give acknowledgements for tithes and offerings. In a New Testament church, tithes and offerings are given by church members to God, not to the church. In effect, the church does the giving and the recipient is God. This does not mean the church member may not claim deductions for his tithes and offerings. contact attorney Jerald Finney for more on this matter.

If a church successfully applies for exempt status (and maybe if the church claims exempt status under § 508(a),(c)), the government is granted some jurisdiction over the church since the civil government now declares and grants an exemption.

Why then do churches seek 501(c)(3) tax exemption? The IRS gives the answer which pastors and Christians already know: “Although there is no requirement to do so, many churches seek recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS because such recognition assures church leaders, members, and contributors that the church is recognized as exempt and qualifies for related tax benefits. For example, contributors to a church that has been recognized as tax exempt would know that their contributions generally are tax-deductible” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 3).

Many Christians who do not love the Lord and who have not studied this matter are fearful and want the assurance of civil government that their tithes and offerings will be tax-deductible. They do not realize that the First Amendment already gives them the assurance that their tithes and offerings will be tax-deductible (one day they may have to fight this issue out in court, but, as of now, the author knows of no non-501(c)(3) church member who has not been allowed the deduction after showing the IRS that the deduction claimed is for tithes and offerings to a church). What is one’s motive for giving: the glory of God or a tax deduction from the civil government?

As will be shown below, many church members also want the convenience given the state church (a church which is a legal entity such as a corporation, corporation sole, charitable trust, unincorporated association, and maybe also a 501(c)(3) religious organization) by the IRS in making their tax deductions for tithes and offerings . Many give tithes and/or offerings because they get a deduction. Some use earthly or fleshly reasoning, displease our Lord, and excuse themselves by saying that they can give more if they get the deduction, as if God could not and would not make up the difference. God does not want our money, He wants our love. If we love Him and our neighbor, all that we have will be His, and our only regret will be that we do not give more, regardless of earthly rules (See “The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls” for a biblical study of the love relationship between Christ and His churches).

III. The deductibility of gifts to New Testament churches 

Will the IRS disallow a tax deduction for gifts to a New Testament church (a church which is not a legal entity such as an incorporation, unincorporated association, charitable trust, or corporation sole and which does not have 501(c)(3) status)? The IRS Code provides:

“§ 170.  Charitable, etc., contributions and gifts….
“(a) Allowance of deduction.
“(1) General rule. There shall be allowed as a deduction any charitable contribution (as defined in subsection (c)) payment of which is made within the taxable year. A charitable contribution shall be allowable as a deduction only if verified under regulations prescribed by the Secretary. [Emphasis mine.] …
“(c) Charitable contribution defined. For purposes of this section, the term ‘charitable contribution’ means a contribution or gift to or for the use of— …
“(2) A corporation, trust, or community chest, fund, or foundation–
“(A) created or organized in the United States or in any possession thereof, or under the law of the United States, any State, the District of Columbia, or any possession of the United States;
“(B) organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition (but only if no part of its activities involve the provision of athletic facilities or equipment), or for the prevention of cruelty to children or animals;’
“(C) no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual; and
“(D) which is not disqualified for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) [26 USCS § 501(c)(3)] by reason of attempting to influence legislation, and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office” (26 U.S.C. § 170).

The author has found only one case, Morey v. Riddell, 205 F. Supp. 918 (S.D. Cal. 1962), which addresses the issue of deductions for members of a New Testament church. That case held that § 170 applies to what appears from the record to have been, at least for the most part, a New Testament church. The government argued that contributions did not qualify as deductions. The Court held for the church on all points. The government’s arguments and the court’s holdings in Morey follow:

   “(1) The government argued that the church was not in fact an ‘organized association as contemplated by the statute (no distinctive identifying name, no written charter, constitution, bylaws, or operational guide other than the Holy Bible; it had no permanent headquarters, it did not maintain comprehensive records, and its funds were not held in a bank account designated as a church account.)
Held. The members of the church regard themselves simply as members of the body of Christ (as following the teachings of Christ in the NT). They have no denominational name, no written organizational guide supplementary to the NT because they believe to do so would be to add an arbitrary gloss to biblical precepts, thus obscuring the word of God. Yet, in adherence to this philosophy, they have bound themselves together in an organized association. Many of them have worshipped together for years in furtherance of the purposes of the church.  They hold regular public meetings in homes and rented quarters for Bible study, worship and evangelism. They assemble together in ‘camp meetings’. As an association, they sponsor radio broadcasts and print and distribute Bible literature.  They recognize specific individuals as ministers and as church officers, from whom they accept guidance.  Through the years their ministers have regularly performed marriage ceremonies accepted as valid by civil authorities.  Thus, while the church lacks some of the common indicia of organization, it plainly is an organized association of persons dedicated to religious purposes.
(2) The government argued that the church was not organized in the U.S. as required by statute.
Held. The basis for this contention is certain testimony that the church had its beginnings in Jerusalem in 33 A.D. It is perfectly obvious that what was meant by this testimony was that the Christian Church in the all-inclusive sense began in Jerusalem in 33 A.D. There is no doubt that the association constituting the church for whose use the contributions were made was organized in the United States.
(3) the government argued that the church does not qualify as a beneficiary for deductible contributions because no showing has been made that in the event of its dissolution its assets would by operation of law be distributed solely for religious purposes.
Held. This suggestion is prompted by [certain sections of the Income Tax Regulations and the C.F.R. that establish] that upon dissolution its assets must be distributable solely for an exempt purpose, either by terms of its articles of by operation of law. This regulation has no governing force in respect to the determination of the deductibility of plaintiffs’ contributions for two reasons. It had not yet been promulgated at the time the contributions were made and tax returns filed…. The regulation … is obviously intended as a safeguard against the possibility that funds accumulated by an organization by reason of its tax-exempt status might, in the event of its dissolution, be used for purposes other that those to which it was dedicated…. [See case for important part of the analysis.] It is evident that the contributions made by plaintiffs have long since been spent in furtherance of the religious purposes of the church, and that there is no possibility of their application to other uses.
(4) The government argued that the contributions were made by checks payable to the order of four of the church’s ministers.
Held. The government cites several cases in which bequests inured to the benefit of the order. These cases are factually distinguishable because in each case the Court found that the testator intended to make the bequest to the named individual. In the present case, it is clear from the evidence that plaintiffs did not intend to make contributions to ministers, individually, but placed the funds in their hands, as agents, for the use of the church.
 “(5) The government argued that the plaintiff’s contributions were not deductible because they inured to the benefit of individuals (the church’s ministers).
Held. The individuals benefited were the church’s recognized ministers, who employed a portion of the contributions given for the use of the church to pay their living expenses.  Such use of the contributions does not constitute a departure from the statutory requirement that no part of the net profits of the organization shall inure to the benefit of any individual, for the sums expended to meet the living expenses of the ministers were no part of the net profits of the church. They were monies expended to meet legitimate expenses of the church in implementing its religious purposes. These expenses were of the same character as the salaries paid by any religious or charitable organization to its staff. The evidence was clear that the ministers devoted the major portion of their time to work of the church and that the amount of church funds used to pay their modest living expenses was small in comparison to the extent of their services.”

The IRS agrees that contributions to a non-incorporated, non-501(c)(3) church are deductible: “You can deduct contributions only if you make them to a qualified organization. To become a qualified organization, most organizations, other than churches and governments, as described below, must apply to the IRS…. You can ask any organization whether it is a qualified organization, and most will be able to tell you. Or you can check IRS Publication 78 which lists most qualified organizations. You may find Publication 78 in your local library’s reference section. Or you can find it on the internet athttp://www.irs.gov. You can also call the IRS to find out if an organization is qualified. Call  1-877-829-5500…” (IRS Publication 526 (2009)). [Bold emphasis mine.]

IRS Publication 778 also reflects the provisions of IRC § 508IRS Publication 778 states: “Publication 78 is based on information received in applications seeking recognition of exemption under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3). Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, conventions or associations of churches, and public charities whose annual gross receipts are normally not more than $5,000 may be treated as tax-exempt without filing an application. Also, many churches are included in group exemptions (see below)  Thus, they may not be listed in Publication 78.”

 IRS Publication 526 and IRS Publication 778 comply with the law, IRC § 508, which is quoted in relevant part above.

IV. Another reason some churches seek 501(c)(3) status:
the convenience offered state 501(c)(3) church members

However, the above does not tell the whole story. Another reason some churches seek 501(c)(3) status is that IRS regulations make it more difficult for members to receive tax deductions for tithes and offerings to a New Testament church than to an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization. Those regulations are unconstitutional in that they prefer members of corporate-501(c)(3) churches over First Amendment churches (churches who choose to retain their First Amendment and New Testament status). In other words, those regulations encourage carnal and uninformed believers to join churches organized under secular, as opposed to biblical, law.

“A donor cannot claim a tax deduction for any single contribution of $250 or more unless the donor obtains a contemporaneous, written acknowledgment of the contribution from the recipient church or religious organization. A church or religious organization that does not acknowledge a contribution incurs no penalty; but without a written acknowledgment, the donor cannot claim a tax deduction” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 24).

To receive a deduction, one must have records to prove his contributions. For cash contributions (includes cash, check, electronic funds transfer, debit card, credit card, or payroll deduction) less than $250, he must keep one of the following:

“1. A cancelled check, or a legible and readable account statement that shows:
“a. If payment was by check—the check number, amount, date posted, and to whom paid,
“b. if payment was by electronic funds transfer—the amount, date posted, and to whom paid, or
“c. if payment was charged to a credit card—the amount, transaction date, and to whom paid.
“2. A receipt (or a letter or other written communication) from the charitable organization showing the name of the organization, the date of the contribution, and the amount of the contribution.
“3. The payroll deduction records described next. … (IRS Publication 526 (2009)). See pp. 18-19 for rules for payroll deductions, contributions of $250.00 or more, and for noncash contributions.).

For contributions of more than $250, one must keep one of the following:

“You can claim a deduction for a contribution of $250 or more only if you have an acknowledgement of your contribution from the qualified organization or certain payroll deduction records.
“If you claim more than one contribution of $250 or more, you must have either a separate acknowledgement for each or one acknowledgement that shows your total contributions and the date of each contribution and shows your total contributions.” (Ibid.).

“Acknowledgement. The acknowledgement must meet these tests:

“1. It must be written.
“2. It must include:
“a. The amount of cash you contributed.
“b. Whether the qualified organization gave you any goods or services as a result of your contribution (other than certain taken items and membership benefits), and
“c. A description and good faith estimate of the value of any goods or services described in (b) other than intangible religious benefits, and
“d. A statement that the only benefit you received was an intangible religious benefit, if that was the case. The acknowledgment does not need to describe or estimate the value of an intangible religious benefit. An intangible religious benefit is a benefit that generally is not sold in commercial transactions outside a donative (gift) context. An example is admission to a religious ceremony.
“3. You must get it on or before the earlier of:
“a. The date you file your return for the year you make the contribution, or
“b. The due date, including extensions, for filing the return.”

 “If the acknowledgment does not show the date of the contribution, you must also have a bank record or receipt, as described earlier, that does show the date of the contribution. If the acknowledgment does show the date of the contribution and meets the other tests just described, you do not need any other records” (Ibid.).

“Payroll deductions. If you make a contribution by payroll deduction, you do not need an acknowledgement from the qualified organization. But if your employer deducted $250 or more from a single paycheck, you must keep:

“1. A pay stub, Form W-2, or other document furnished by your employer that date and amount of the contribution, and
“2. A pledge card or other document prepared by or for the qualified organization that shows the name of the organization.

“If your employer withheld $250 or more from a single paycheck, see Contributions of $250 or More, next.” (Ibid.).

Also, according to the IRS, a church may assist the IRS and issue written statements for gifts of $250 or more given the church, which will be honored by the IRS if such receipts contain the following information:

“the name of the church or religious organization; date of contribution; amount of any cash contribution, and description (but not the value) of non-cash contributions; statement that no goods or services were provided by the church religious organization in return for the contribution; statement that goods or services that a church or religious organization provided in return for the contribution consisted entirely of intangible religious benefits, or description and good faith estimate of the value of goods or services other than intangible religious benefits that the church or religious organization provided in return for the contribution.
“The church or religious organization may either provide separate acknowledgments for each single contribution of $250 or more or one acknowledgment to substantiate several single contributions of $250 or more. Separate contributions are not aggregated for purposes of measuring the $250 threshold” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 24).

A pastor/trustee of a New Testament church holds property for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ (See “Analysis of another reason given for church corporate status: to hold property”). Thus, the pastor of a New Testament church, not the church herself, may keep records if he so desires. However, since all monies given are used for legitimate purposes, there are no profits. As to membership records, only those who have been born again are members of a church and only God knows who has been saved and adds to the church. The Bible contains no example of our Lord or the church keeping financial records. Judas stole from the money bag he carried” (See John 12.6). No apostle made an issue of it. Christ knew about it, but did not rebuke him in any way or turn Judas in to the civil authority. No instructions for a church to keep financial records can be found in the New Testament.

IRS regulations require that: “All tax-exempt organizations, including churches and religious organizations (regardless of whether tax-exempt status has been officially recognized by the IRS), are required to maintain books of accounting and other records necessary to justify their claim for exemption in the event of an audit” (IRS Publication 1828 (2009), p. 21).

A New Testament church is not an earthly entity or organization. Therefore, she has no earthly matter to keep records of. Keeping records would require a church to behave somewhat like a business and keep records of tithes and offerings, thereby destroying her status as a spiritual entity. Again, the pastor/trustee of a New Testament church may keep such records if he so desires. A pastor/trustee is not the church. He is just holding property and/or funds in trust for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ, an awesome responsibility under the Lord.

In addition, “charitable contribution” under IRC § 170 quoted supra, means “a contribution or gift to or for the use of … a corporation, trust, or community chest, fund, or foundation … organized and operated exclusively for religious [or] charitable … purposes … which is not disqualified for tax exemption under section 501(c)(3) [26 USCS § 501(c)(3)] by reason of attempting to influence legislation, and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.” A New Testament church is not any of the organizations named in IRC § 170 and cannot accept limitations on her spiritual responsibilities. Remember, a New Testament church retains all her protections under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, as well as under the state constitution and statutes of the state wherein she meets.

The author believes that a New Testament church cannot have employees. First, he believes that to do so is unbiblical. Secondly, to do so subjects the church to Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA) taxes which consist of Social Security and Medicare taxes. (Ibid., p. 18).

“Whether a church or religious organization must withhold and pay employment tax depends upon whether the church’s workers are employees. Determination of worker status is important. Several facts determine whether a worker is an employee. For an in-depth explanation and examples of the common law employer-employee relationship, see “IRS Publication 15-A, Employer’s Supplemental Tax Guide.  Those IRS definitions do not apply to members of a New Testament church involved in ministry because those members do not receive wages. The IRS states:

“Wages paid to employees of churches or religious organizations are subject to FICA taxes unless one of the following exceptions applies: (1) wages are paid for services performed by a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church in the exercise of his or her ministry, or by a member of a religious order in the exercise of duties required by such order, (2) the church or religious organization pays the employee wages of less than $108.28 in a calendar year, or (3) a church that is opposed to the payment of social security and Medicare taxes for religious reasons [files Form 8274]…. If such an election is made, affected employees must pay Self-Employment Contributions Act (SECA) tax… (IRS Publication 1828 (2009) p. 18).”

Other IRS rules apply to taxes on compensation of ministers. A New Testament church cannot pay wages or any type of compensation to her pastor or anyone else. According to the Bible, members of such a church can give gifts to take care of a pastor, but those gifts are not wages and are not required by contract or any other earthly rule.

Unlike exempt organizations or businesses, civil law provides that a church is not required to withhold income tax from the compensation that it pays to its duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed ministers for performing services in the exercise of their ministry” (Ibid., p. 18-19). In fact, a New Testament church cannot “compensate” anyone since she is a spiritual entity, and therefore can hold no property of any kind, nor can she hold money. Members as individuals can give tithes and offerings to be used for biblically approved uses. Such gifts are can be held by a pastor/trustee who holds property and money for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ and disperses money given for biblically acceptable ministries and uses.

Furthermore, anyone can give a gift or gifts to anyone else. According to the Internal Revenue Code § 102, gifts up to a certain amount are not income and therefore, not taxable. In 1998, gifts of up to $10,000 were not taxable, and that limit has increased each year since according to the formula laid out in Internal Revenue Code § 2503.

V. Conclusion

The Bible lays out the guidelines for churches. No matter what civil law says, a church and her members should adhere to those guidelines, even if inconvenienced, penalized, and/or persecuted. American law is more favorable to true New Testament churches than are the laws of almost all other nations, but the law has become somewhat convoluted, especially regarding deductions for the tithes and offerings of New Testament church members. The conveniences which the federal government offers churches through the 501(c)(3) exemption-definition-control scheme actually violates the First Amendment (See “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme” for more information on 501((3)). The First Amendment to the United States Constitution declares that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”

The complications, inconveniences, and penalties caused members of New Testament churches have come about because the great majority of churches and pastors have not honored the Lord in their understanding of and application of the biblical doctrine of the church. They have not determined, as did the Apostle Paul, to present their church as a chaste virgin to Christ (See II Co. 11.2). In other words, most churches do not love the Lord as He loves His churches (See,  “The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls“). Most incorporate (or become unincorporated associations or corporations sole) and get 501(c)(3) status. As to this matter at least, they walk in the flesh, not in the Spirit. As the author chronicles in Section VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and in other articles and audio teachings, after the adoption of the First Amendment, many “Bible believing” churches who had fought long and hard for religious liberty ignored the sound biblical advice of men like Isaac Backus and began to run to the state to incorporate. In the twentieth century churches sought 501(c)(3) status when it became available. They violated biblical principles, displeased the Lord, and gave up much of their First Amendment rights and protection.

“Nearly 30 years ago, an eminent minister insisted before Congress that: [T]he first amendment … should not permit the state to tell the church when it is being ‘religious’ and when it is not. The church must be permitted to define its own goals in society in terms of the imperatives of its religious faith. Is the Christian church somehow not being religious when it works on behalf of healing the sick, or for the rights of minorities, or as peacemaker on the international scene? No, the church itself must define the perimeters of its outreach on public policy questions” (Richard W. Garnett, A Quiet Faith? Taxes, Politics, and the Privatization of Religion. 42 B.C. L. Rev. 771, 772, 2001, citing Legislative Activity By Certain Types of Exempt Organizations: Hearings Before the House Ways and Means Committee, 92d Cong., 2d Sess. 99, 305 (1972) quoted in Edward McGlynn Gaffney, Jr., On Not Rendering to Caesar: The Unconstitutionality of Tax Regulation of Activities of Religious Organizations Relating to Politics, 40 DePaul L. Rev. 1, 20 (1990)).

A New Testament church is protected by God forever, and temporally by the First Amendment. On the other hand, a state incorporated church enters into a contract with the state, the sovereign of the corporation. By so doing, the incorporated church assumes a second personality—that of an artificial person, a legal entity, capable of suing and being sued (See “Separation of Church and State: Christians Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil” for more information on the meaning of church incorporation.). Incorporation provides for civil governmental regulation in many areas, and it does not protect the church from all governmental interference with matters outside the contract. When a church seeks and acquires 501(c)(3) status, she thereby has agreed to certain restrictions and that she will abide by public policy (See “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme” for more information on 501(c)(3) tax exemption.). She also submits herself to anti-biblical teaching from civil government through the IRS. Most egregious of all, she, like Israel who asked for a king, has committed a great wickedness against God by putting herself, at least partially, under another head. We are witnessing the undesirable consequences which follow church incorporation and 501(c)(3).

Most churches walk in the flesh and not the spirit as to the issue of separation of church and state and are guilty of one or more of the following, among other things: using far more resources to build magnificent edifices than to reach the lost; catering to individual’s flesh instead of preaching against sin, proclaming the true Gospel of salvation, and teaching the deeper principles and doctrines of Scripture; and organizing and running “businesses” instead of New Testament churches to one degree or another. The results are: churches, believers, and church families lack the power of God; many individuals, families, churches, and the nation follow Satan and his principles; and, most importantly, far fewer souls in America, as a percentage, are being saved than would be the case would churches only get serious about the love relationship between Christ and His churches.

Note

All legal conclusions in this article are those of the author, a Christian and a licensed attorney. Please do not attempt to act in the legal system if you are not a lawyer, even if you are a born-again Christian. Many questions and finer points of the law and the interpretation of the law cannot be properly understood by a simple facial reading of a civil law. For a born-again Christian to understand American law, litigation, and the legal system as well as spiritual matters within the legal system requires years of study and practice of law as well as years of study of biblical principles, including study of the biblical doctrines of government, church, and separation of church and state. One who has not paid the price and done his homework in these matters cannot gain a correct understanding of the issues by reading a few articles over the internet—including articles in this “Separation of Church and State” blog—or elsewhere; by studying cases and law himself; by consulting with lawyers, pastors, or Christians of state churches; by consulting with lawyers, pastors, or Christians who embrace a false theology; and/or by consulting with pastors or Christians who have no actual training in a bona fide law school and who have not practiced law.  Those with the proper credentials and who specialize can see and understand things that others cannot. The Lord wishes a church to be a spiritual body and each member of that body to practice the gift with which God has entrusted him. Many “Christians,” including many “Christian” lawyers who are making a lot of money by recommending legal status (non-profit corporation, 501(c)(3) tax exemption, etc), sometimes motivating the unknowledgeable through fear tactics, and helping churches to get legal entity status are not qualified under God and/or under man to advise on church-state issues. Every church and every believer is responsible to God in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, even in matters which require a deep understanding of biblical principles and man’s laws relating thereto.

The author is totally aware that many “Bible believing” pastors and Christians will not seek truth regarding these preeminent legal and spiritual facts and doctrines. He is at peace though, because he has done what the Lord has called him to do—declare the truths about these matters. That is all he can do. After all, the religious crowd did not have ears to hear and rejected the truths which were declared to them by God Himself, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: One’s convictions


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012


From Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities. Not in God Betrayed.


Preface

Today, the most common reasons given by churches for incorporating and seeking 501(c)(3) status are (1) to obey every ordinance of man (2) limited liability; (3) to allow a church to hold property; (4) convenience—it is easier to get a tax deduction for tithes and offerings given to an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization than for tithes and offerings given to a New Testament church; (5) one’s convictions; and (6) winning souls is  more important than loving God; if a church is incorporated, don’t cause problems. Just continue winning souls because winning souls is more important than anything else, including loving God.

This article will deal with the fifth false reason, one’s convictions. Other articles cover the other five reasons:  

  1. Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses When a pastor is asked why his church is incorporated, he will often quickly answer: “Because of Romans 13 [Romans 13:1-2 “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. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Or “We are to obey every ordinance of man.” He may also rely on some other verses. All these verses are examined in this online booklet which is also in online PDF form on this website. Not only that, no law requires a church to get incorporated or apply for 501(c)(3) status or claim 508 status. Instead, the highest law in America protects the right of churches to choose to remain free from corporate and 501(c)(3) or 508 status. See, e.g., First Amendment Protection of New Testament Churches/Federal Laws Protecting State Churches (Religious Organizations) 
  2. Limited liability (corporate status actually increases the liability of church members) (Section VI, Chapter  of God Betrayed; Chapter 6 of Separation of Church and State).
  3. Spurious rationale for incorporating: to hold property (Section VI, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed; Chapter 7 of Separation of Church and State).
  4. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: tax exemption and tax deductions for contributions OR Tax reasons given for church corporate 501(c)(3) status: a biblical and legal analysis (Section VI, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed; Chapter 8 of Separation of Church and State).
  5. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: one’s convictions (Not included in God Betrayed or Separation of Church and State).
  6. Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: winning souls is more important than loving God/The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls.

Article:
Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: One’s convictions

Pastors, Christians, and churches give various “theological” reasons to excuse the incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exemption of churches. The theologies of Catholic and Protestant churches have traditionally supported church-state union and therefore incorporation and 501(c)(3), although such churches have some problems with American incorporation and 501(c)(3) which give civil government considerable control over churches rather than giving the established church control over civil government (select articles from the categories at left for information on the control given civil government through incorporation  and 501(c)(3)). In most cases, their objection to corporate 501(c)(3) status and the control such a position gives civil government over their churches does not prevent them from submitting and obtaining that status. The author explains the Catholic and Protestant theologies that support church establishment in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (all books by Jerald Finney are also available free in both PDF and online form on this website; for information on ordering the paperback copies of the books see the “Books” page of the “Church and State Law“ website, or the “Order information page for books by Jerald Finney” page of this website); in the article “An Abridged History of the First Amendment“; in his radio broadcasts which are archived on the “Radio Broadcast” page of the ”Church and State Law” website; and in the audio teachings which are linked to on the “Blog” page of “Church and State Law” website. (Click the following link to preview God Betrayed: Link to preview of God Betrayed.))

Bible believing churches are not as sophisticated in their rationale for incorporating and getting 501(c)(3). Their rationale is anemic since biblical principle, without the perversions of Catholic and Protestant theologies,  supports separation of church and state (not separation of God and state). One reason given by “Bible believing” churches, especially Baptist,  is that the issue of whether to incorporate and/or get 501(c)(3) status is an important issue, but it is not the most important issue; therefore, they reason, if a church finds it impractical to discard or reject the corporate and/or 501(c)(3) status, then just go ahead with that status and do the best you can because the most important thing for believers and churches is winning souls. That reason is false, as the author explains in various resources: for example, (1) the booklet, The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (all books by Jerald Finney are also available free in both PDF and online form on this website; for information on ordering the paperback copies of the books see the “Books” page of the “Church and State Law“ website, or the “Order information page for books by Jerald Finney” page of this website); (2) the article, The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls; and (3) audio teachings on The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls, available on the “Radio Broadcast” page of “Church and State Law”.

Another reason given by some pastors and Christians of “Bible believing” churches for their decision to incorporate is that it is up to each individual church to decide the issue based upon “their convictions.” The author hears this excuse from pastors all the time. In this article, he addresses this rationale using an article written by Dr. Charles Brown as a springboard.

The question to be answered is: “Can one decide either to incorporate a church (or to continue as an incorporated church) or not to incorporate a church and still please God?” The proper place to begin is by defining “conviction” and “principle.” Relevant definitions of “conviction” are: (1) “a strong persuasion or belief;” (2) “the state of being convinced” (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed., 1995)). Principle may be defined as: “a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption” (Ibid.). Of course, if a conviction is based upon biblical principles, that conviction is valid in the eyes of God. Cannot true followers of Christ agree that if one acts upon a conviction which is contrary to or not based upon principles in the Word of God, “sin lieth at the door?”

Dr. Charles Brown wrote an article, “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate,” which was published in the April, 2008 issue of The Landmark Anchor. In that article, Dr. Brown explains why his conviction is that a church should incorporate. However, he also states in the article, “If  a church has theological objections to becoming incorporated, then, by all means, do not incorporate.” In other words, according to that statement of Dr. Brown, since the Bible does not offer any comprehensive principles or doctrine controlling church corporate status one can safely choose either corporate or non-corporate status without violating biblical precept.

However, while making that statement, Dr. Brown also makes his case for church incorporation. Interestingly, he does not state any biblical principles concerning the organization, purpose, fate, or nature of churches to back up what he says. Rather, he bases his understanding upon “research and consultation with a law firm.”

He refers to the law in his article:

(1)    He correctly states that a “corporation is a legal status that enables a group joined together for a stated reason … to act as if it is a person. That ‘legal person’ may own property, conduct business, and otherwise carry out its purpose.” A New Testament and First Amendment church (hereinafter referred to as a “First Amendment church”) may not own property, or conduct business (as the word is used in America). A First Amendment church cannot also be a “business.” However, a First Amendment church may utilize property in American in a manner consistent with biblical principles; and, unlike the state incorporated church, she may carry out her purpose within the letter of civil law while still pleasing her Lord. The incorporated church has a “form of godliness, but denies the power thereof.”

Note. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is the implementation of the biblical principle of separation of church and state (not separation of God and State). This is fully explained in the book God Betrayed which, as explained above, is available on this website in both PDF and online form and can be ordered in paperback form.

(2)    Dr. Brown then asserts that “Usually a church incorporates to limit its liability.” His statement is true as to a false reason given for incorporation of a church.  It is not true that a state incorporated “church” and its members has more protection from liability than a First Amendment church and her members. Again, I explain this in Section VI, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed, in audio teachings available on the “Blog” and “Radio Broadcast” pages of “Church and State Law,” and in the article “Church Incorporation Increases Liability of Church Members.”

(3)    Dr. Brown states, “An unincorporated church is owned by individuals. Each share in the liability of the property and all things done in the name of that church. In a church split, the assets of the church may be claimed by either side and lawsuits could erupt, because each member owns the church.” (This is a direct accurate quote from his article.).

His assertions are totally wrong as to a First Amendment church, but correct as to the incorporated church. A First Amendment church, a spiritual entity only, is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ only. A First Amendment church owns no property, although there are many legal means in America for such a church to utilize property without owning property. Perhaps Dr. Brown should reread the Bible, and especially I Corinthians Chapter 6 in regard to lawsuits by church members. All the legal problems occurring within churches are in incorporated churches – to understand this, just make use of Google.

In fact, the incorporated church creates several contracts when it incorporates – contracts between the state and the corporation, between the corporation and the members, between the members themselves, and between the members and the state. The controlling party to all these contracts is the state, and the state will decide disputes based upon secular, not Biblical, law. Try appealing to the Bible when you get into such a dispute. The sovereign of the corporation will quickly explain your error and hold you in contempt if you do not  abandon your appeal to God’s principles.

(4) He also asserts: “The United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Churches fit in those categories. Anything the state might choose to do (prosecute, regulate, etc.) to a church, they may do regardless if the church is incorporated or not.”

The author explains in detail why this is a totally ridiculous and false statement in various resources. A man who make such a statement is speaking outside his field of expertise.

(5) Dr. Brown proclaims: “[A] church is not state licensed because it is incorporated. A license is a recognition from a responsible authority to conduct an activity that would be illegal to conduct without that license. No church needs to be licensed to be a church. An unincorporated church may legally do the same activities that one that is incorporated.”

That statement by Dr. Brown is a jumbled mess. First, who is a “responsible authority?” Perhaps he is referring to a civil government. What if the civil government which requires a license is not a responsible authority? A First Amendment church which is not a legal entity such as a corporation cannot get a license. A corporate church, since she is a legal entity, can get a license. The author explains that in his resources.

Second, individual believers can choose to get such a license and thereby displease our Lord. One notable Christian who chose not to get a license was John Bunyan. One can read a portion of his trial transcript in the article, “An Abridged History of the First Amendment.” If you read the article, you will find out the reasons a Christian should not get a license for preaching, holding church meetings, and for certain other spiritual activities.

Third, although licensure and incorporation are not the same, they both violate the  biblical doctrine of the church.

Fourth, an incorporated church cannot do everything that a First Amendment church, which is not a legal entity in any way, can do.

Furthermore, the corporate church is organized according the law of her sovereign state (the law makes clear that the sovereign of the corporation, including the non-profit religious organization – the correct name for an incorporated “church” – is the state of incorporation). One can find out exactly what non-profit incorporation is in my books, articles, and audio teachings available from “Church and State Law” and “Separation of Church and State Law” blog.

Finally, the nature of a corporate church is entirely different from that of a First Amendment church in many respects. The corporate church has given up much of her Constitutional protections. She falls under the Fourteenth Amendment as opposed to the First Amendment as to many matters. She has also grieved our Lord since she has placed herself at least partially under another head.

(6) He goes on to say that “Incorporated churches are not ‘state run churches.’ Incorporated churches do not have to report to the state what they preach, how much money is spent, how they run their affairs, or who tithes. They do have to give the state an application typically containing: name and address of the church, purpose of the organization, manner of election of ‘officers,’ the  name and  address of the initial registered agent (usually the Pastor), and three names and addresses of the incorporators (usually trustees or deacons). The church ought to have a constitution and bylaws but they are for the internal working of the church and the state will not review them, nor want them.”

Dr. Brown does give a few isolated facts about incorporation, but he does not examine the law involved in any depth. He does not mention the biblical principles for a church and compare those principles to the facts and law concerning incorporation. He, for example, fails to mention that the “sovereign of the corporation is the state,” that the corporation is a creature of the state, that the corporation must follow the rules that are given her by her sovereign, that the corporation must be structured according to the organizational rules laid down by the sovereign state, etc. The author explains exactly the law of the non-profit corporation in books, articles, and audio teachings.

Again, the author has compared biblical principle with the law and facts about incorporation in various resources including his books (available for purchase on the “Books” page of “Church and State Law”; in articles audio teachings available on the “Radio Broadcast” and “Blog” pages of “Church and State Law;” and in articles and audio teachings on this “Separation of Church and State Law” blog.).

(7) Finally, Dr. Brown mentions the court case, Hale v. Hinkle, a Supreme Court decision. His analysis is flawed. See the article linked to in the next paragraph for my comments on this.

In “To Incorporate of Not to Incorporate: Attorney Jerald Finney Answers Dr. Charles Brown, Executive VP of Landmark Baptist College,” (as a reminder, you can left click the preceding link to go directly to that article; however, the website was hijacked and all the issues of the magazine from which the article was taken, “The Trumpet,” have as of this date – September 4, 2013, to have been restored) an article published in the July-September issue of The Trumpet, the author rebuts to Dr. Brown’s article. That article, which was originally entitled “Responses to Arguments that Biblical Principles Do Not Clearly Warn Against Incorporation of Churches” addresses Dr. Brown’s article in more detail than does this brief article.

All Jerald Finney’s resources comprehensively deal with the issue of separation of church and state. Involved in the issue is the issue of whether incorporation and 501(c)(3), or becoming a legal entity in any way) violates principles in the Word of God and therefore grieves our Lord and ultimately results in bad consequences. When one applies the law and facts to biblical principles,  he sees that it is very clear that incorporation and 501(c)(3), etc. of churches are “iniquities” and grieve our Lord.

The church who is serious about her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ may be ignorant about the biblical doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state. Sooner or later, she will suffer consequences as will the individuals and families in that church. However, the willfully ignorant church or the church which continues in presumptuous sin, her individual members, and the families within her church family are in greater danger (see, e.g., 2 Peter 1 and Hosea 4).

Endnote

Responses to Arguments that Biblical Principles Do Not Clearly Warn Against Incorporation of Churches
By Jerald Finney
Lead Counsel for the Biblical Law Center

Dr. Charles Brown recently wrote an article entitled “To Incorporate or Not to Incorporate” which was published in the April, 2008 edition of The Landmark Anchor. In that article, he brought out important issues which, from a biblical perspective, are preeminent for a New Testament church. This article briefly answers some of the common assertions of various Christians which are reflected in Dr. Brown’s article.

I recently completed a book called God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. In that 453 page book I thoroughly addressed all the issues Dr. Brown raises and more. I want to encourage every Bible believer to get this book and study it. In the above mentioned article, Dr. Brown does not get into United States Code § 501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”) tax-exempt status for a church. Since almost all churches which incorporate also get 501(c)(3) status, such status should be considered in conjunction with the issue of incorporation of churches; but since Dr. Brown did not include the issue in his article, I will not address the issue herein. God Betrayed examines the issue of 501(c)(3) tax-exemption of churches.

It is impossible to do this subject justice in a short article, but I will attempt to shed some light on the issues he raised as succinctly as possible.

Dr. Brown stated: “A church does not have to be incorporated to be a real church.” My reply to that statement follows:

  • What is a real church? The New Testament gives the answer to that question. The revelation of the mystery of the church, which was foretold, but not explained by Christ in Matthew 16.18, was committed to Paul. In his writings alone we find the doctrine, position, walk, and destiny of the church. God Betrayed delves into the biblical doctrines concerning the church.
  • New Testament churches never submitted themselves to the state in any way. In fact, the apostles were careful not to render to Caesar the things that were God’s. They were jealous of God’s churches. Paul said to the church, “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 (II Cor. 11.2-3).”
  • Is a corrupted church a real church? What if the leaders of a church reject knowledge and succumb to Satan’s seductions? In other words, what if those leaders are willfully ignorant (see Hosea 4)? Individuals have a responsibility after being saved—they are to add to their faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge temperance, to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness charity (II Pe. 1.4-7). They are to engage in spiritual warfare using spiritual weapons which constitute the whole “armour of God” (Ep. 6.10-18). Included in that “armour” is having one’s loins girt about with truth (Ep. 6.14).
  • A New Testament church is a spiritual entity only. Doing anything in America which subjects a church to the civil government in any way renders that church a “legal entity.” A “legal entity” is “an entity, other than a natural person, who has sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions through agents as in the case of corporations (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (6th Ed., 1990), definition of ‘Legal Entity’).”
  • God desires that Christ be the only head over His churches (Ep. 1.22, 23; 2.22; 5.23-24; Col. 1.15-18).
  • The church is analogized to a husband and bridegroom of the church (Jn. 3.28, 29; Ro. 7.4; II Co. 11.1-4; Ep. 5.23-33; Re. 19.6-8).

Dr. Brown stated: “The United States [C]onstitution guarantees its citizens freedom of religion and freedom of speech. Churches fit in those categories.” My response:

  • The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, and the right to “petition the Government for a redress of grievances.” In the religion clause, churches are guaranteed freedom from government control. The words and history of the Amendment make this clear. Section VI of God Betrayed gives an unrevised account of the history of the First Amendment.
  • The words of the religion clause state, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment or religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Thus, the First Amendment allows a church to remain under God only without persecution, or to repent if they incorporated, gained 501(c)(3) status, or made ithemselves a legal entity in any way. The Biblical Law Center has already helped many churches to return to New Testament church status and is there to help other churches who wish to please God and return to New Testament church status. The freedom guaranteed a church by the First Amendment can be enjoyed within the parameters of the laws of the states and of the United States. The United States Supreme Court still recognizes that the state cannot interfere with a New Testament Church. Of course, there may be rogue governmental agencies and courts that may ignore these protections; but if a New Testament church makes sure to close all doors to being classified as a legal entity, there is no avenue for suit or attack against that church.

Dr. Brown stated: “Anything the state might choose to do (prosecute, regulate, etc.) to a church, they may do regardless if the church is incorporated or not.”

  • This statement not only contradicts what Dr. Brown said in his previous two sentences, it also is simply not true. A New Testament church cannot be prosecuted. It is not a legal entity. An individual within a New Testament church may be prosecuted for crimes or sued for torts allegedly committed, whether as principal or party. However, a New Testament church is not a legal entity as is an incorporated 501(c)(3) church; and, therefore, she cannot sue, be sued, or be charged with a crime. Only a member or members who allegedly committed a crime or tort can be charged with a crime or sued under the laws of a civil government.
  • The First Amendment guarantees that a New Testament church cannot be prosecuted, regulated, etc.

Dr. Brown’s statements concerning incorporation which follow his last mentioned statement are jumbled and very misleading. He is correct to say that incorporation “is a legal status that enables a group joined together for a stated reason (business, church, club, etc.) to act as if it was a person. That ‘legal person’ may own property, conduct business, and otherwise carry out its purpose.” As I stated above, a corporation is a legal entity. However, Dr. Brown’s description is incomplete. As pointed out in much more detail and with legal citations given in God Betrayed, civil law makes clear that:

  • “A corporation is an artificial being, invisible, intangible and existing only in the contemplation of law. As a mere creature of law, it possesses only those properties which the charter of its creation confers upon it. A corporation is not a natural person but rather an artificial person, that is, a legal fiction or a creature of statute (18 AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 1 (2007)).”
  • The sovereign of the corporation is the state that creates it. “No corporation can exist without the consent or grant of the sovereign, since the corporation is a creature of the state and derives its powers by legislative grant…. Because the granting of the privilege to be a corporation and to do business in that form rests entirely in the state’s discretion, a state is justified in imposing such conditions on that privilege as it deems necessary, so long as those conditions are not imposed in a discriminatory manner (18A AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 156 (2007)).”
  • A corporation is defined as “An artificial person or legal entity created by or under the authority of the laws of the state.” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 340 (6th Ed. 1990), under definition of “Corporation,” citing Dartmouth College v. Woodward, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 518 (1819)).”
  • Early in our national history, the United States Supreme Court solidified already existing precedent—in a case involving a religious institution of higher learning and which influenced many churches to incorporate—concerning the attributes of incorporation which are applied to churches (Dartmouth College). In that same case, the Supreme Court defined the differences between public and private corporations. Public corporations are not voluntary associations and there is no contractual relation between the government and the individuals who compose the corporation as there is with the private corporation (such as railroad companies, banks, insurance companies, charities, churches, religious organizations, etc.); a corporation which does not possess governmental powers or functions is a private corporation (Ibid.).

Dr. Brown states that “[a]n unincorporated church is owned by individuals.”

If an unincorporated church is not a legal entity (incorporating and getting 501(c)(3) status are not the only ways to become legal entities), it is a New Testament church and the church is owned by the Lord Jesus Christ who said, “And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mt. 16.18)(Emphasis mine).” A New Testament church remains a spiritual entity only and owns no property. God Betrayed explains how an American church can assemble on property without owning it, etc.

Dr. Brown asserts that churches usually incorporate to limit liability.

However, in addition to limited liability, other reasons for incorporating are given by members of “churches:” incorporating protects their personal assets (1) from liability for the debts of the corporation, (2) from the torts and criminal acts of the corporation, and (3) from liability on contracts entered into by the corporation. Although such arguments are partially correct, they are misleading. These arguments are spurious for several reasons which are more thoroughly discussed in God Betrayed. The corporate veil can be pierced. Limited liability is not absolute as is explained in God Betrayed. Also, biblical principle is against a church going into debt; and if she does go into debt, not only does the Word of God teach that God expects her to honor her debts; but also that church has become a legal entity because she can be sued if she defaults on her debts and she can sue if the other party to the debt defaults on her agreements surrounding the indebtedness. As to torts and criminal acts, only visible members of a New Testament church can commit such acts. A New Testament church cannot commit a tort or a crime. Thus, only people (members), not a New Testament church (a spiritual entity only and not a legal entity), can be charged with a tort or crime to which they have allegedly either been principal or party. As to contracts, a New Testament church (a spiritual entity) has no need to and cannot enter into contracts. One can get around these principles only by means of human reasoning which are contrary to God’s principles.

Dr. Brown asks the question, “Is becoming an incorporated church the same as being a state licensed church?”

This question is a diversionary tactic. Of course the two are not the same; but, according to biblical principles, to license a church is a wicked act, and to incorporate a church is a wicked act. I have already pointed out many of the reasons why incorporation is wrong. God Betrayed gives other reasons and is much more detailed.

Dr. Brown then asks, “What about theological objections to incorporation?”He recommends not incorporating if one has theological objections.

  • The Word of God does not leave such an important issue up for grabs, and God expects His children to seek out and apply the principles He has laid down. God Betrayed is theological. Unlike most lawyers, including many or most of those who call themselves Christian, the foundation for all that I believe, as stated in God Betrayed, is biblical. My authority is not Supreme Court cases or civil laws. In God Betrayed, I first go to the Bible and explain the biblical principles of government, church, and separation of church and state. Then I examine history, Supreme Court decisions, and civil law (specifically incorporation, 501(c)(3), and other related laws as regards churches) in light of biblical principle. My main message is to New Testament churches, churches who want to be New Testament churches in obedience to biblical principle due to love for God, and to any other churches or Christians who want to know truth concerning these vital issues.
  • The real question should be, “What does the Bible teach about incorporation?” God Betrayed explains the biblical principles concerning incorporation (and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status) for churches and the consequences for violating those principles. God teaches that a church which incorporates has committed a wicked act. That church may continue to operate within God’s permissive will, but as with the nation Israel, the only true theocracy which has ever existed,  when she rejected God as ruler (and God permitted Israel to reject Him), once a church dishonors her relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, that church is on a slippery slope down. The end result will be spiritual apostasy, moral awfulness, and political tyranny. As the Bible teaches, the only remedy for apostasy is judgment.

Dr. Brown states that the Christian Law Association (“CLA”) has some excellent printed material that explains these issues simply and thoroughly.

I disagree. Although simplistic, CLA explanations on the issue of incorporation (and 501(c)(3) status) of churches are wrong according to biblical principles. As a Christian, I contributed to the CLA for a few years and respected much of what they did, as I still do concerning some of their work. Then I was called by God to become a lawyer. A few years ago, I began an intense study of the Bible, history, and the law concerning the issue of separation of church and state. I discovered that CLA founds what it believes on man’s statutory and case law, interprets the Bible according to man’s statutory and case law, revises history, and disseminates myths about the issue of separation of church and state (which involves the issues of incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status for churches). In fact, David Gibbs of the CLA once taught biblical principles concerning these issues but was persuaded by powerful pastors who had decided that they were going to seek incorporation and 501(c)(3) status that he should go with them on the issue. According to some sources, these pastors told him that if he did so they would establish his legal practice. It is irrefutable that after Attorney Gibbs switched his position, his earthly power and influence were multiplied many times over and the CLA began to thrive materially as an earthly entity with the financial support of thousands of churches and believers. Perhaps he felt that he should go with them to help and protect them, just as Jeremiah went with some of the Jews to Egypt against God’s warning. However, Jeremiah still spoke total truth as given him by God.

Dr. Brown then states that “Incorporated churches are not ‘state run churches.’”

  • In fact, incorporated churches, as fully explained in God Betrayed, are two-headed monsters. “Thus, whenever there is an incorporated church, there are two entities—the one, the church as such, not owing its ecclesiastical or spiritual existence to the civil law, and the other, the legal corporation—each separate, although closely allied. The former is voluntary and is not a corporation or a quasi corporation. On the other hand, a corporation which is formed for the acquisition and taking care of the property of the church, must be regarded as a legal personality, and is in no sense ecclesiastical in its functions (66 AM. JUR. 2D Religious Societies § 5 (2007)).”
  • An incorporated church gets part of her powers from God and part from the civil government. She is under two heads. Part of the church, as a legal entity, can sue and be sued as to both earthly and some spiritual matters. Part of the church must have elected officers who conduct business meetings, meet statutory requirements, etc.
  • This bifurcation of a church has other consequences. As has been shown, the state is sovereign of the incorporated part of a church. “Sovereign” means: possessed of supreme power or unlimited in extent: ABSOLUTE (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY (6th Ed., 1990), definition of “sovereign”). Incorporation of churches creates contracts between the state and the corporation, the state and the members of the corporation, between the members themselves, and between the members and the corporation. Contract (agreement between two or more parties) is not biblical. The Bible teaches that the proper way to agree with another or others is through biblical covenant (covenant between two or more people and God).  The contracts created by incorporation entangle the incorporated church with earthly satanic concerns, solutions, and procedures. Furthermore, the statutory requirements as to the form and content of the articles or certificates of incorporation must be substantially followed. As sovereign, the state has ultimate authority in interpreting the articles of incorporation as well as the various contracts involved in incorporation should disputes be taken to court. By incorporating, a church gives up much of its First Amendment protection. It must, for example, keep records and make those records available to the state, on demand. Only a church which is not satisfied with the freedom and provisions afforded the church by God (which are, by the way, implemented by the First Amendment) seeks incorporation.
  • An incorporated church must deal with all the government red tape that comes with incorporation. The incorporated church must now elect officers, hold business meetings, notify members of those meetings pursuant to statutory requirements, keep records, etc. All these secular activities take tremendous time, energy, and resources which could be used in pursuing the God-given purposes of a church. The incorporated church which does not comply with statutory requirements is being dishonest and could face further problems from her sovereign state.

Notice that Jesus said that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [my church].” What about the church that is partly under God and partly under Satan? That church has fallen for Satan’s seduction:

“SEDUCTION, n. … 2. Appropriately, the act or crime of persuading a female, by flattery or deception, to surrender her chastity. A woman who is above flattery, is least liable to seduction; but the best safeguard is principle, the love and purity of holiness, the fear of God and reverence for his commandments. (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828))”

A corporation cannot be the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ. The incorporated part of an incorporated church is not the bride of Christ, the wife of Christ, but rather an extramarital illicit relationship existing alongside the marriage. An incorporated church, having compromised her love for her Husband, will continue to make incremental compromises, and ultimately (perhaps in 1, 5, 10, 50, 100, or 200 years or more) will fall into heresy and apostasy. And from the beginning of that initial compromise, the Lord, even though longsuffering in His love and mercy, is grieving because of His wife’s compromise; and the compromising church gives up at least a portion of the power of God.

With the above information it should already be completely obvious to any born again believer who loves the Lord and who has been saved any length of time at all that a church should never incorporate. Scripture contains no principle consistent with church incorporation or incorporation in general. In fact, everything about incorporation is anti-biblical. If one who loves the Lord and comes into this understanding is in a church that is already incorporated, he will do all he can to shed the 501(c)(3) and/or corporate status of that church.

Dr. Brown then refers to Hale v. Hinkle.

He is partially right about his observations concerning that case. Although God Betrayed very briefly mentions Hale v. Hinkle, 201 U.S. 43 (1906), the case could be eliminated from the book without compromising any assertions in the book. Dr. Brown is correct when he states that the case did not deal with a church. He says that “this ruling had nothing to do with a church and does not mean that a church is a state run entity.” This statement is only partially true in that a church was not involved in the case. However, Hale v. Hinkle presents general incorporation law, and the principles in the case are applied to the issue of church incorporation. For example, an incorporated church does give up some of its constitutional protections such as its First Amendment Rights while retaining only due process and equal protection rights just as the corporate officer in Hale v. Hinkle gave up Constitutional rights, as Dr. Brown mentions in his article.

Dr. Brown closes his article by saying he has “no particular advice to offer for a church to get or refuse to get incorporated.”

In effect, Dr. Brown is stating that God does not care what a church does concerning incorporation since, as he puts it, “It is an issue to decide for themselves.” In other words, according to Dr. Brown, the Bible can be read to both support and condemn incorporation. However, when one opens the Word of God, one opens the mind and heart of God concerning this issue as well as many others.

Loving God is preeminent for a believer and for a church. One does not love God by just asserting that he loves God. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments (John 14.15).” The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mt. 22.37; Mk. 12.30; Lk. 10.27).

Love is action. This love which Christ has for His church and which he desires His church to show Him is seen in the Song of Solomon which is primarily an expression of pure marital love, and secondarily of Christ and His heavenly bride, the church. Song of Solomon  8.7 says, “Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would be utterly contemned.”  “Contemned” means “despised, scorned, slighted, neglected, or rejected with disdain (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “CONTEMNED.”).” God despises, scorns, slights, neglects, or rejects with disdain all that a church does, whatever professions of love she makes, if those acts and/or professions are without love. A church that does not honor Christ as a wife is to honor her husband, her bridegroom, by remaining chaste, does not display love for the Lord. Thus, loving ones neighbor by witnessing to him, sending missionaries to him, leading him to the Lord,  or helping him materially or any other way in obedience to the second commandment—“Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself”—is vanity in God’s eyes if one ignores the greatest commandment. Souls will still be saved because of the grace of God, but not as many, especially in the long run, as would be saved had the churches displayed love for their bridegroom, husband, and head.

This fact is also articulated in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus is jealous over His churches.  If we do not love the Lord Jesus, He despises all the “Christian” work we do and the money we put in the offering plate:

“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing (I Co. 13.1-3).”

“In a theological sense, [‘charity’] “includes supreme love to God and a universal good will to men. 1 Cor. xiii. Col. iii. 1 Tim. I (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “CHARITY.”).”  Love is an act of the will. A church refutes its proclamations of love for the Lord when it wholly or partially takes the church from under the headship of her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Love “[r]ejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth (I Co. 13.6).” Iniquity means “Injustice, unrighteousness, … [w]ant of rectitude [rightness in principle or practice], … a sin or crime; wickedness (Ibid., definitions of “INIQUITY” and “RECTITUDE.”)….” Bible truth makes clear that the love of Christ for His church is immense, that He wants to be the only Head and companion of the church which is likened to His wife and bride, and that for a church to even partially put herself under or associate with another entity is a great wickedness and repudiates all professions of love for the Lord. As shown in Section VI of God Betrayed, the church that secures a 501(c)(3) tax-exemption and/or incorporates puts herself partially under another head, commits a wicked sinful act in violation of biblical principle, rejoices in iniquity, and refutes its professions of love for the Lord.

The Lord Jesus gave a warning to the church at Ephesus:

 “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. Nevertheless, I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent (Re. 2.2-5).”

As Dr. J. Vernon McGee teaches us, this warning was for every church that has lost her love for the Lord Jesus:

“It was a warning of danger of getting away from a personal and loving relationship with Jesus Christ. The real test of any believer, especially those who are attempting to serve Him, is not your little method or mode or system, or your dedication, or any of the things that are so often emphasized today. The one question is: Do you love Him? Do you love the Lord Jesus? When you love Him, you will be in a right relationship with Him, but when you begin to depart from the person of Christ, it will finally lead to lukewarmness. The apostate church was guilty of lukewarmness. It may not seem to be too bad, but it is the worst condition that anyone can be in. A great preacher in upper New York state said: ‘Twenty lukewarm Christians hurt the cause of Christ more than one blatant atheist.’ A lukewarm church is a disgrace to Christ (J. Vernon McGee, Revelation, Volume I (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1982), pp. 121-122).”

As the Lord Jesus Christ is jealous over His churches, so should pastors and church members be jealous, with a godly jealousy, over the church they belong to, just as Paul was:

“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.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him (II Co. 11.2-4; Lk. 18.8; II Ti. 3.1-8).

The church that really loves her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, will seek to maintain her purity, to be subject to her Husband in all things whether that church is persecuted or not. All the professions of love, all the good deeds, the hymns sung, and the messages preached by a church which does not totally submit herself in all things to her Husband, are contemned by the Lord. A church that takes a 501(c)(3) tax exemption, an incorporation, a license, or any type permit from the state, or puts herself under the state in any way, becomes an earthly legal entity subject to the jurisdiction of an earthly power, the civil government. Such a “church” is in fact a two headed monster. In spite of her emotions and professions of love for the Lord, according to her acts she shows, based upon God’s definition of love in the Bible, that she does not love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Book Review: The Substance of an Argument against the Indiscriminate Incorporation of Churches

by Dr. William S. Plumer
Link to online edition of book: The Substance of an Argument against the Indiscriminate Incorporation of Churches.
A hard copy can be ordered from Sprinkle Publications.

“Dr. [William S.] Plumer’s abilities were quite broad—from simple to complex. Not only would he tutor in elementary matters he would also take on complex issues. There was a petition introduced to the legislature of Virginia in 1846 requesting the passage of a law authorizing the incorporation of each congregation or religious society in the state. Plumer appeared before a legislative committee to speak against the petition…. He won the issue hands down, and the reader will be able to participate in this as he reads [The Substance of an Argument against the Indiscriminate Incorporation of Churches]” (pp. 9-10; citations are from the book).

“Seeing the danger of this proposal and the necessity of stopping it, Dr. …  Plumer appeared before the committee of the legislature in Richmond and spoke at length against the issue. He was opposed by two of the most eminent lawyers of Richmond.  Before the issue was settled and the two opponents were found to be ill equipped to deal with the Lord’s servant on the holy mission. He presented arguments from church history, legislated laws and legal opinions from eminent historians, judges and lawyers. The Lord’s servant reached into the centuries and retrieved arguments dispelling his opponents’ position. His breadth of coverage, genial spirit and good humor won over those who listened. Rev. Dr. William S. Plumer won and the issue was rendered nil…. Accusations that he was laboring under an hallucination or that an atheist even sided with him were turned upon those who opposed.”…  “In conclusion he quoted Bishop Meade, ‘Perseverance in a cause so just must eventually, by the blessing of heaven, be crowned with success.’ The lone preacher under God’s hand won the day” (pp. 3-4).

Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December, 2010


Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church”

Click here to listen to Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on the “Definition, organization, and purposes of a church”


Note. This written teaching revises what Jerald Finney originally wrote and taught in his audio teaching on the “Definition, organization, and purposes of a church.”


Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church8

The church, as such, is never mentioned in the Old Testament. The Old Testament includes, among other things:

  1. a history of man from the beginning in the Garden of Eden, the fall, the success of man when ruled by conscience, the ordination of human government, the establishment of nations and the rules for Gentile nations and the nation of Israel, the success of man under civil government and the fate of civil government and nations;
  2. God’s past, present, and future dealings with nations, especially Israel and Gentile nations as they relate to Israel, God’s chosen people until the Jewish nation/religion rejected Christ as recorded in the New Testament Gospels;
  3. various covenants established by God;
  4. God’s plan of salvation through grace;
  5. prophecies that go all the way to the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom.

As recorded in the New Testament, born-again believers are the people now chosen by God for His purposes and glory and have been since the nation Israel rejected Him. In the Old Testament, God’s light shined through an earthly organization, the nation Israel, including the trail that led to the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. In the New Testament, God’s light shines through a spiritual organism, the institution of the church which is comprised of local, autonomous, spiritual bodies. No organism which resembled the New Testament church was described in the Old Testament. Old Testament believers were told at times to assemble to worship God (See, e.g., De. 4.10), but nowhere were they described as the church is described in the New Testament. The Holy Spirit did not indwell all believers in Old Testament times. Since the conversion of Cornelius as recorded in Acts 10, He now indwells every believer at the moment of salvation.

Christ ordained the nations and civil government, and He ordained the church. “And I [Jesus Christ] say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Mt. 16.18). Christ, through the epistles of Paul, develops the doctrine of the church. Through those epistles we know that the institution of the church is made up of local, autonomous, spiritual organisms, who are heavenly in calling, promise, and destiny. Through those epistles we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches and the right conduct of such bodies.

SeparationOfChurchAndStateThe author set out to understand what the Bible teaches about the issue of separation of church and state in America. When investigating the biblical principles of church, state, separation of church and state and the American application of those principles, one meets the issue of Covenant versus Dispensational Theology head on; one must examine the biblical doctrines of government and church.

To understand the issues of government, church, and separation of church and state, one necessarily has to study both Covenant Theology and Dispensational Theology. Bible exposition, history, and law mandate this examination. Dispensational Theology literally interprets Scripture (with an understanding of figures of speech and context) whereas Covenant Theology incorrectly allegorizes or spiritualizes much of Scripture. When one believes what the Bible says, he cannot accept the interpretations of various issues made by those religions that have imposed fallacious interpretations upon the Word of God. These matters will be examined in more detail in the teachings which follow.

3The author disagrees with Covenant Theologians in their interpretation of Scripture. The author does not accept the unbiblical definition of “church” given by Covenant Theologians: “The community of all true believers for all time” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan; Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), pp. 859-863 (differences between dispensationalism and Covenant Theology), p. 853 (the Covenant Theology definition of “Church”). See also the lessons which follow in this Section and in Section III.).

The terms “dispensationalism” and “dispensational theology” identify a particular way by which one divides the word of truth. This simplifies discussion just as does the use of the word “trinity.” However, to determine whether any biblical teaching is correct, one must study the Bible. One can, for example, explain the fate of Israel, Gentile nations, and the church without being called a “dispensationalist;” but he is in fact a dispensationalist by definition if he literally interprets Scripture which, without reasonable argument, tells of various dispensations in God’s dealings with mankind. Unfortunately, there are some “dispensationalists” who partially or totally falsely divide biblical teaching. A believer must be careful to “study to shew [himself] approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Instead, for many reasons, some of which are discussed in Part One (Sections I, II, and III) of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is reproduced in edited form on this website), the author believes that the correct dispensational view of Scripture will, among other matters, make clear that:

  1. Hyper-dispensationalists divide the Word of God into too many small slices, thereby incorrectly expositing Scripture as to many issues and points. One example is offered here. Contrary to the teachings of some “dispensationalists,” all true believers in Christ after the fall, whether before or after His death and resurrection, are saved by repentance toward God and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

    However, the New Testament church is never mentioned in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, as in the New, God dealt with individuals on the basis of their faith or absence of faith in the coming Messiah. In Old Testament times, believers looked forward to the resurrection; but God had not yet instituted any organism which in any way resembled the church ordained by Christ as recorded in the New Testament. After the resurrection, believers look backward to the resurrection. See, e.g., the Messianic Psalms; research the entire Old Testament on the subject starting with Genesis; Genesis 3-4; Psalm 51; John 5:43-47; Acts 10:40;  Romans 4, 9:30-33; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4; Galatians 3:10-18; 2 Timothy 3:15 (at the time Timothy was written, there was no New Testament, only Old Testament Scriptures; Hebrews 4:1-2; James 2:23-24.

    In the Old Testament God also deals with nations, and much of the Old Testament tells of God’s past, present, and future dealings with nations, especially the nation Israel and Gentile nations as they relate to Israel. However, no organism which resembled the New Testament church was described in the Old Testament. Old Testament believers were told at times to assemble to worship God (See, e.g., De. 4.10), but nowhere were they described as the church is described in the New Testament. Therefore, one must not use Old Testament Scripture to teach, for example, on the position and role of the New Testament church pastor.
  2. 9Yes, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13.8); He has always loved mankind, His creation, so much that He has done everything possible to show man that the only way to Him, after the fall, was by grace through faith. Every person since the fall has is a lost sinner unless he repents toward God and places his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Everyone, to the point of salvation, is a sinner whose righteousness is as filthy rags. After salvation, a man still commits sin, but he does not practice sin without consequences as before. “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Co. 5.17; see, for more on this, Repentance, the new creature, the new life, and changed behavior).

    Because of the nature and history of man and because God loves man and wishes every person to choose to come to Him, as the Bible explains, He has worked with mankind in various ways since the creation in order to test man and show him that man cannot earn his eternal life; that salvation is a free gift. Every man fails God’s tests and rejects God’s ways or rules which would only benefit man, thus demonstrating that one is saved by grace through faith. The main purpose of God’s tests are to bring men to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Every man fails; God succeeds for the remnant who put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. God worked with Adam and Eve before the fall in a special way: they were not saved by faith in Jesus Christ since they had not yet failed God in any way. However, after failing the one test God presented to them, God-instead of killing them instantly as they justly deserved—graciously spared mankind before his inevitable physical death and gave them a way to Him—faith in the coming seed. Thereafter, every time man has failed God’s tests. God—instead of destroying all human beings (except for the faithful remnant)—has lovingly demonstrated His great love for mankind in spite of man’s rejection of and rebellion against God and His Word.
  3. 2Every teaching on the Word of God—whether it be termed Dispensational Theology, Covenant Theology, or something else—should be carefully examined against Scripture as to its truth. For example, C. I. Scofield was a dispensationalist and his Commentaries on the Bible are very helpful in a serious study of the Word of God. However, he was wrong about many things in his footnotes, margin notes, and headnotes. Every believer is responsible to God to seek out the truth of the Bible. All resources one relies on in his study of God’s Word are to be tested by a careful study of the Word of God. Quotes from Scofield in these teachings indicates agreement unless otherwise indicated.

This author agrees, for the most part, with the writings of those dispensationalists which he has read. Fortunately, the Lord did not lead the author to the teachings of the fundamentally errouneous dispensationalists in his studies for the writings of his books and other writings. Yes, some so-called dispensationalists are wrong, according the Bible, in some of their teachings.  Pastor Mike Hoggard points out critical flaws of the false dispensationalists on Facebook at: “Dispensationalism, True Or False?” Does this mean that the correct dispensational approach to understanding Scripture is wrong? Absolutely, not. Sadly, some good men of God point at erroneous dispensationist teachers or teachings and use that error to totally discount dispensationalism. More on the author’s understanding of dispensatonism is to be found in the article, “Dispensational Theology Versus Covenant Theology.”

dispensations-7_02Simply put, the term dispensation as it relates to Dispensational Theology could be defined as a particular way of God’s administering His rule over the world as He progressively works out His purpose of world history. See “Dispensational versus Covenant Theology” for a more thorough definition and understanding of Dispensational Theology. Seven such dispensations are distinguished in Scripture:

  1. Innocency (Genesis 1.28).
  2. Conscience (Genesis 3.23).
  3. Human government (Genesis 8.20).
  4. Promise (Genesis 12.1).
  5. Law (Exodus 19.8).
  6. Grace (John 1.17).
  7. Kingdom (Ephesians 1.10).

1The author does not agree with Covenant Theologians in their allegorical teaching that the church has replaced Israel. Covenant Theologians believe that the church has replaced Israel, that God is finished with Israel and the Jews, and that God’s promises to and covenants with the nation Israel and selected rules for organization for the Jewish religion should be applied to the church (See Grudem, pp. 859-863). Covenant Theologians reach this false conclusion by allegorizing certain Scriptures. The author addresses this in Section I (reproduced with modifications and editions on this website. Click here to go to the webpage with links to Section I articles.) and Section III of God Betrayed (reproduced with modifications and editions on this website)Click here to go to the webpage with links to Section III articles.). Section IV of God Betrayed shows the anti-biblical consequences of the brand of Covenant Theology practiced in Europe and brought to America by established Protestant churches. (Click here to go to the webpage  with links to Section IV articles.).

UnionOfChurchAndState2The application to modern nations, and the attempt to make the application in America, of certain principles—including the principle of union of religion (or church) and state— regarding the Jewish religion and the relationship of religion to state in Old Testament Israel has had devastating consequences in the United States. Those theologians who would combine religion and state as in the pagan nations of antiquity, as with Israel in the theocracy, as with the established Catholic and Protestant churches who used the arm of the state to kill millions whom they designated as heretics, as with the religion of Islam, etc. have not mastered God’s lessons recorded in His Word and in the historical writings of man. Sadly, America is now overrun with false Catholic and Protestant religions who hate the biblical principle of separation of church and state (not separation of God and state) as enacted in the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

To properly explain the issue of the relationship, if any, between church and state (separation of church and state), one must correctly understand what the Bible teaches about the government (covered in Section I of these studies) and church (this section, Section II). Section III will culminate this study as it examines the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Dispensational Theology correctly explains the biblical doctrine of separation of church and state. As is explained in Section III, Chapter or Lesson 4, the principles for church and state are so distinct that the two are mutually exclusive.

A New Testament church is made up of visible people who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ,are indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and who assemble as members of a local spiritual body. On the other hand, since one cannot see the spiritual condition of people’s hearts, in one sense a church is invisible. “We can see those who outwardly attend the church, and we can see outward evidences of inward spiritual change, but we cannot actually see into people’s hearts and view their spiritual state. Only God can do that…. [An] invisible church is the church as God sees it” (Grudem, p. 855; Alan Cairns, Dictionary of Theological Terms (Greenville, S.C.: Ambassador Emerald International, 2002), p. 90)[Bracketed material indicates modifications]. Therefore, one can be in a visible church, yet unregenerate, lost, and destined for hell; such a person is not really a part of the true church to which he belongs. He is a tare; he will not be at the marriage of the Lamb (see Re. 19.7-10), and he will not be a part of the “general assembly and church of the firstborn” (see He. 12.22-24). According to the Word of God, the future of the visible Church, except for a remnant, is apostasy.

Church members are not to be “fruit inspectors.” A church is authorized to remove a professed believer from fellowship only, and that for gross immorality in order to “deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (See 1 Co. 5).

Click the above image to go to some heretical Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.
Click the above image to go to some heretical Roman Catholic teaching on the issue.

Obviously, the Bible rejects the Roman Catholic position that the Roman Catholic “church” is the only true church or even a church as described in the New Testament. The Roman Catholic “church” was responsible for the persecution of untold millions of believers when that “church” had earthly authority. Catholicism justified the persecution by a false theology. Study of God’s Word, without brainwashing, a practice which the vast majority of Roman Catholic churches have traditionally condemned, reveals the fallacies of Roman Catholic theology. The author believes that, is spite of the apostate theology or the Catholic church, many Catholics today are probably saved, but ignorant. Otherwise, they would leave the harlot religious organization and join a Bible believing New Testament church. The Bible also rejects Protestant church theology which has also been responsible for the persecution and murder of those deemed to be heretics. Note. See http://joanandtherese.net/page/16/?title for a Catholic perspective of church and state.

9In the New Testament, the church is spoken of in two senses. In one sense, the Bible speaks of the institution of the Church, just as it speaks of the institution of marriage. As to the institution of the church, Jesus Christ promised, in speaking to Peter, “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church” (Mt. 16.18). “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Ep. 5.25; of course, Ephesians was written to the church at Ephesus, the teachings to be applied by all local churches, Scofield’s misguided headnote notwithstanding. The Bible does not agree with Scofield’s doctrine of what he terms the “true” church. True believers who know and follow the Lord will be part of the marriage of the Lamb (See Re. 19.7-10), at which point there will be only MarriageSupperOfTheLambone church or assembly of the saints. “But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,  And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel” (He. 12:22-24). However, until the marriage of the lamb, the church, as spoken of in the Bible, is an heavenly institution made up of local spiritual bodies or organisms.

In a second sense, the church is a local body of believers. In this sense, a church has a visible aspect—it is a church as church members see it. Only local autonomous assemblies of actual believers give place for the application of spiritual gifts as a body, worship of the Lord, perfection of the saints, work of the ministry, and edification of the church. All biblical references to a church here on the earth refer to an autonomous local body of Jewish and/or Gentile believers and not to a universal or catholic church. Nowhere in the New Testament is a church here on the earth ever referred to as anything other than a local spiritual body and nowhere does Scripture teach that a church is to have any type authority above it other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Some examples of references to churches as they existed in the New Testament follow:

  1. “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied” (Ac. 9.31).
  2. Paul said, “Likewise greet the church that is in their house” (Ro. 16.5).  Notice that the church refers to the local body of baptized believers. The house was just the place where they met; it was not a church.
  3. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Paul … Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s” (1 Co. 1.1-2).
  4. “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place…” (1 Co. 14.23).
  5. “The churches [Not “the church”] of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (1 Co; 16.19).
  6. “Paul … unto Philemon … and to the church in thy house” (Phil; 1-2).
  7. “… [T]hat thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti; 3.15).  The Bible defines “house of God”: “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house; as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken of after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (He. 3.4-6).
  8. 7 churches of Re.In Revelation, in speaking to “the things that are” at that time, the Lord stands in the midst of the seven candlesticks (churches)(Re. 1.12-13) and speaks to each church individually. He speaks to and has a message for “the church of Ephesus” (Re. 2.1), “the church in Smyrna” (Re. 2.8), “the church in Pergamos” (Re. 2.12), “the church in Thyatira” (Re. 2.18), “the church in Sardis” (Re. 3.1), “the church in Philadelphia” (Re. 3.7), and “the church of the Laodiceans” (Re. 3.14).

Baptists have always recognized the biblical teaching as to this aspect of a church—that is, that a church on earth is only a local spiritual body of believers whose Head is Jesus Christ. As Isaac Backus wisely noted:

ChristIsTheHead “[A] power in councils above particular churches has no foundation in Scripture, and is an endless source of confusion among Christians…. In all earthly governments, the laws are executed in the name of the supreme authority of it, which can see but a little of what is done in its name. But the Son of God is present in every church, as well as through the world, by his universal knowledge and power; and if any of his churches leave their first love, and will not repent, he removes the candlestick out of his place. Rev. ii. 1-5” (Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volumes 1 and 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), pp. 339-340).

J. M. Carroll said this:

“[N]either Christ nor His apostles, ever gave to His followers, what is known today as a denominational name, such as ‘Catholic,’ ‘Lutheran,’ ‘Presbyterian,’ Episcopal,’ and so forth—unless the name given by Christ to John was intended for such, ‘The Baptist,’ ‘John the Baptist.’ (Matt.11:11 and 10 or 12 other times.) Christ called the individual follower ‘disciple.’ Two or more were called ‘disciples.’ The organization of disciples, whether at Jerusalem or Antioch or elsewhere, was called Church. If more than one of these separate organizations were referred to, they were called Churches. The word church in the singular was never used when referring to more than one of these organizations. Nor even when referring to them all.” (J. M. Carroll, The Trail of Blood, (Distributed by Ashland Avenue Baptist Church, 163 N. Ashland Avenue, Lexington KY 40502, 606-266-4341), p. 9.

J. M. Carroll was a leader among Baptists who studied history and the Bible in an attempt to “find the church which was the oldest and most like churches described in the New Testament.” In the course of his studies, he gathered “one of the greatest libraries on church history. This library was given at his death to the Southwestern Baptist Seminary, Ft. Worth, Texas.” Carroll, Introduction at pp. 1-2.).

For our understanding her nature, Scripture describes a church in many ways. A church is a family. “Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren; The elder women as mothers; the younger as sisters, with all purity” (1 Ti. 5.1-2). “And [I] will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty” (2 Co. 6.18). “And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. 12.49-50).

A church is called the body of Christ, and therefore a living organism, not a congregation. The Holy Spirit forms the church:

“(2)(g) When Peter opened the door of the kingdom to the Gentiles (Acts 10), the Holy Spirit, without delay, or other condition than faith, was given to those who believed (Acts 10.44; 11.15-18). This is the permanent fact for the entire church-age. Every believer is born of the Spirit (John 3.3, 6; 1 John 5.1), indwelt by the Spirit, whose presence makes the believer’s body a temple (1 Cor. 6.19; Rom. 8.9-15; 1 John 2.27; Gal. 4.6), and baptized by the Spirit (1 Cor. 12.12, 13; 1 John 2.20, 27), thus sealing him for God (Eph. 1.13; 4.30)…. (5) The Holy Spirit forms [a] church (Mt. 16.18; Heb. 12.23, note) by baptizing all believers [] (1 Cor. 12.12, 13)[and the member is then added to a local New Testament church when he is baptized in water], imparts gifts for service to every member of that body (1 Cor. 12.7-11, 27, 30), guides the members in their service (Lk. 2.27; 4.1; Acts 16.6, 7), and is Himself the power of that service (Acts 1.8; 2.4; 1 Cor. 2.4).“(6) The Spirit abides in the company of believers who constitute a local church, making of them, corporately, a temple (1 Cor. 3.16, 17).” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 pp. 1149-1150 to Acts 2.4). ]Bracketed changes and additions made by the author to clarify or correct Scofield’s note.]

Although the word “congregation” is used several hundred times in the Old Testament, it appears only once in the New Testament, in Acts 13.43, referring to a meeting of the Jews in the synagogue at Antioch where Paul had preached to them on the Sabbath day. A “congregation” is “an assembly of persons, or a gathering; especially, an assembly of persons met for worship and religious instruction” (See AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “CONGREGATION” and MERRIAM WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 243 (10th ed. 1995), definition of “congregation.”). According to one Rabbi Hisda, the Hebrew word sbr meaning “assembly” or “congregation” is a contraction of three words: s from saddiqim (meaning “righteous”) plus b from benonim (“middle of the road persons”) and r from reshan (“wicked ones”) (Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Derdmans Publishing Co., 1976), fn W, p. 216.) On the other hand, a New Testament church is described as a spiritual body wherein each member has a specific purpose. For the church body to function correctly, all the members must perform their functions. The difference between the church, a spiritual body, and a congregation is significant: a church body is a spiritual organism whereas a congregation is an earthly gathering of people.

God, through the Apostle Paul, gives two metaphors of the body:

  1. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 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 Co. 12.12-27). “Ye” in the last verse, is plural, and is addressed to the Church at Corinth.
  2. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:4-16).

In other passages, Christ is depicted as the head of the church and the earthly members as the body. Remember that these passages are from Epistles written to local church bodies for their instruction.

  1. “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” (Ep. 1.22-23).
  2. “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” (Ep. 4.15-16).
  3. “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2.19).

The Bible compares a church to a pearl of great price which “a merchant man sold all that he had, and bought it (Mt. 13.45-46):

PearlOfGreatPrice“Of [a] true Church a pearl is a perfect symbol: (1) a pearl is one, a perfect symbol of unity (1 Cor. 10.17; 12.12, 13; Eph. 4.4-6). (2) A pearl is formed by accretion, and that not mechanically, but vitally, through a living one, as Christ adds to [a] Church (Acts 2.41, 47; 5.14; 11.24; Eph. 2.21; Col 2.19. (3) Christ, having given Himself for the pearl, is now preparing it for the presentation to Himself (Eph. 5.25-27).  The kingdom is not the Church, but the true children of the kingdom during the fulfillment of these mysteries, baptized by one Spirit into one body (1 Cor. 12. 12, 13), compose … the pearl.” 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to Matthew 13.45, p. 1017.).

A church is also compared to:

  1. the Father’s love gift to Jesus Christ (Jn. 17.2, 6, 9, 11, 12, 24);
  2. the bride and wife of Christ, who is the Head of the church as the husband is the head of the wife;
  3. a virgin espoused to one husband (2 Co. 11.1-2);
  4. “the household of God” and “an holy temple in the Lord” (Ep. 2.19-21; see also 1 Co. 3.16);
  5. branches on a vine (Jn. 15.5);
  6. an olive tree (Ro. 11.17-24);
  7. a field of crops (1 Co. 3.6-9);
  8. God’s husbandry and God’s building” (1 Co. 3.9);
  9. a harvest (Mt. 13.1-30; Jn. 4.35);
  10. lively stones, built up a spiritual house,
  11. an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (1 Pe. 2.5);
  12. Christ’s house (He. 3.6) built by Christ Himself (He. 3.3); and
  13. ‘the pillar and ground of the truth’ (1 Ti. 3.15). God gave each metaphor for a reason.

Wayne Grudem explains:

“Each of the metaphors used for the church can help us to appreciate more of the richness of privilege that God has given us by incorporating us into [a local] church. The fact that [a] church is like a family should increase our love and fellowship with one another. The thought that the church is like the bride of Christ should stimulate us to strive for greater purity and holiness, and also greater love for Christ and submission to him. The image of [churches] as branches in a vine should cause us to rest in him more fully. The idea of an agricultural crop should encourage us to continue growing in the Christian life and obtaining for ourselves and others the proper spiritual nutrients to grow. The picture of [a] church as God’s new temple should increase our awareness of God’s very presence dwelling in our midst as we meet. The concept of [a] church as a priesthood should help us to see more clearly the delight God has in the sacrifices of praise and good deeds that we offer to him (See Heb. 13.15-16). The metaphor of [a] church as the body of Christ should increase our interdependence on one another and our appreciation of the diversity of gifts within the body. Many other applications could be drawn from these and other metaphors for the church listed in Scripture.” (Grudem, p. 859)[Brackets contain changes made by the author to reflect true Scriptural teaching].

How can one recognize a true church? J. M. Carroll, in describing the overall organization of the church, listed eleven “Marks of a New Testament Church:

  1. “Its Head and Founder—CHRIST. He is the lawgiver; the Church is only the executive. (Matt. 16:18; Col. 1:18.)
  2. “Its only rule of faith and practice—THE BIBLE. (II Tim. 3:15-17.)
  3. “Its name—‘CHURCH,’ ‘CHURCHES.’ (Matt. 16:18; Rev. 22:16.)
  4. “Its polity—CONGREGATIONAL—all members equal. (Matt. 20:24-28; Matt. 23:5- 12.)
  5. “Its members—only saved people. (Eph 2:21-22; I Peter 2:5.)
  6. “Its ordinances—BELIEVER’S BAPTISM, FOLLOWED BY THE LORD’S SUPPER. (Matt. 28:19-20.)
  7. “Its officers—PASTORS AND DEACONS. (I Tim. 3:1-16.)
  8. “Its work—getting folks saved, baptizing them (with a baptism that meets all the requirements of God’s Word), teaching them (‘to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you’). (Matt. 28:16-20.)
  9. “Its financial plan—‘Even so (TITHES and OFFERINGS) hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.’ (I Cor. 9.14.)
  10. “Its weapons of warfare—spiritual, not carnal. (II Cor. 10:4; Eph. 6:10-20.)
  11. “Its independence—separation of Church and State. (Matt. 22:21.)”

(Carroll, pp. 4-5).

Certainly, a preacher on the street corner with a crowd around him as he preaches is not a church. Nor is a group of people meeting in a house and preaching the Word. However, if that house group chooses a properly ordained and baptized pastor, organizes and operates according to biblical principles, initiates a proper baptism for new believers, and begins to partake of the Lord’s Supper, an ordered New Testament church comes into existence. The Lord desires that those who are saved be baptized into a properly ordered New Testament church.

Where only false doctrines are preached, no church can exist. For example, the Catholic Church, some Baptist churches, many Protestant churches, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Islam, and the Jehovah’s Witnesses are not churches. “When the preaching of a church conceals the gospel message of salvation by faith alone from its members, so that the gospel message is not clearly proclaimed, and has not been proclaimed for some time, the group meeting there is not a church” (Grudem, p. 865). A church can exist only where the Bible is believed to be the inerrant Word of God, where the Bible is the sole basis for faith and practice, and where that Bible is preached.

5A church has responsibilities. Strong, knowledgeable believers who are walking in the spirit will practice all their God-given responsibilities and apply their spiritual gifts. Included in those responsibilities, but not developed in this chapter or section, is the responsibility to “present [the church] as a chaste virgin to Christ” (See 2 Co. 11.1-4).

Worship is preeminent for the believer and for a church. “Worship” means “[t]o adore; to pay divine honor to; to reverence with supreme respect and veneration” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “WORSHIP.”).  “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Col. 3.16).  “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ” (Ep. 1.12). “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ep. 5.19-20).

The principles of worship set out in Exodus 30, the great worship chapter, still apply. Exodus 30.38 condemns “making worship a mere pleasure to the natural man, whether sensuous, as in … music …, or eloquence, merely to give delight to the natural mind” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to Exodus 30.38, p. 112).  Christians are to worship God in spirit and in truth (See Jn. 4.23-24). The Word of God contains principles regarding appropriate music, dress, conduct, and attitude for worship. The Lord commanded, “Ye shall offer no strange incense [on the altar of incense], nor burnt sacrifice, nor meat offering; neither shall ye pour drink offering thereon” (Ex. 30.9). No ‘strange’ incense was to be offered (that is simulated or purely formal worship forbidden) and no “strange” fire was permitted (referring “to the excitation of ‘religious’ feelings by merely sensuous means, and to the substitution for devotion to Christ of any other devotion, as to religious causes, or sects” (See 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Exodus 30.9, p. 111; I Corinthians 1:11-13; Colossians 2.8,16-19).).

The local body assembles to worship God, for the perfection of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edification of the members of the body, not to preach to the lost. Believers go outside the assembly and seek the salvation of the lost. This does not mean that lost people may not attend the assembly, but the purpose of assembly is not to win the lost. God gifted members of a church “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” (Ep. 4.12-13).  A church is to preach the whole counsel of God, “warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus” (Col. 1.28).

A church has the responsibility to evangelize. “And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16.15).  “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Mt. 28.19).

Along with the obligation to evangelize goes helping and doing good to fellow believers as well as to unbelievers:

  1. “But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great, and ye shall be the children of the Highest: for he is kind unto the unthankful and to the evil. Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful’” (Lu. 6.35-36).
  2. “But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him” (1 Jn. 3.17)?
  3. “Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea” (Ac. 11.29).
  4. “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men” (Ro. 12.17). “See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men” (1 Th. 5.15).
  5. “Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (2 Co. 8.4).
  6. “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 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” (Ja. 2.14-17).

a5A church is united together and to Christ by the baptism with the Holy Spirit (1 Co. 12.12-34). As such, it is a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ep. 2.21, 22); is “one flesh” with Christ (Ep. 5.30, 31); and espoused to Him as a chaste virgin to one husband (2 Co. 11.2-4). Other metaphors, as pointed out above, have also been used to describe a church. Local churches assemble in His name for the breaking of bread, worship, praise, prayer, testimony, the ministry of the word, discipline, and the furtherance of the Gospel (He. 10.25; Ac. 20.7; 1 Co. 14.26; 1 Co. 5.4, 5; Ph. 4.14-18; 1 Th. 1.8; Ac. 13.1-). Every such local church has Christ in the midst, is a temple of God, indwelt by the Holy Spirit (1 Co. 3.16, 17), and is “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti. 3.15). Only the assembly where the true doctrine is preached is a church: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.8). A church is the body of Christ of which He is the Head. Christ desires that a church remain solely under Him: “And [God] hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Ep. 1.22-23). “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church” (Ep. 5.23).

Church Incorporation, 501c3, Heresy, and Apostasy


Jerald Finney
Copyright © November, 2010
Click the following for links to articles on:
Christian Issues, Heresy, And Apostasy
When Did the Church Become a Business?” a by Jason Bellard


Contents: 

I. Preface
II. Introduction
III. Church apostasy in America has followed the pattern of apostasy in Israel
IV. Church incorporation in the American colonies and after ratification of the Constitution
V. The relationship of God and state (Gentile nations)
VI. Government control over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations
VII. Free under God or in bondage under Satan?
VIII. Apostasy at the end of the church age
IX. Conclusion
Endnotes [Endnote 1 has information on books by Jerald Finney]


 Note. Go directly to blue underlined articles, books, etc. by left clicking.


I. Preface

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2.6-8).

In the next series to be printed on this blog, the author will explain biblical doctrine of the church, a doctrine that must be correctly understood in order to understand that Christ is not pleased when a church subjects herself to the civil government in any manner, including incorporation and 501(c)(3). In that series the author will go into some detail concerning the doctrine of the church. For now, the following is offered as a brief comment concerning the biblical doctrine concerning churches:

“A church is a local visible assembly of persons who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Only in the sense that since one cannot see the spiritual condition of people’s hearts is the church invisible. We can see the local assembly and those who outwardly attend a church, and we can see outward evidences of inward spiritual change, but we cannot actually see people’s hearts and view their spiritual state. Therefore, one can be in the visible church, yet unregenerate, lost, and destined for hell. As shown in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (See En1 for link to preview of this book and ordering information), all references in the New Testament to a church here on earth refer to an autonomous local body of Jewish and/or Gentile believers and not to a universal or catholic church (Ibid. at pp. 72-73). Paul wrote to local bodies here on earth (e.g., to the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, the churches of Galatia, etc.). Jesus walked in the midst of seven golden candlesticks (churches or assemblies: Re. 1.13; 2.1), not in the midst of a candlestick, and instructed John to write distinct messages to each of those seven churches or assemblies, each message to address the condition of and a warning to and/or approval of the particular church to whom the message was sent (Re. 1.1-3.22). His message to those churches and other messages to the churches in the New Testament are to local church bodies or assemblies. His messages to churches in Revelation as well as in other New Testament passages are to be studied and applied by each believer and each local New Testament church until the Rapture occurs. Every church should aim to please the Lord completely as did the church at Smryna and the church at Philadelphia.”

The present series addresses biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy of New Testament churches and the application of that teaching to churches in America. Heresy and apostasy of churches received thorough coverage in the New Testament. As understood by Jude, the principle of apostasy was also addressed thoroughly in the Old Testament, but in the context of God’s Old Testament people, the Jews, and their nation and religion. The New Testament predicted the apostasy of the professing church, treated the apostasy as having already set in, and described the cause and course. These biblical teachings are there for the instruction and admonition of individual believers, families, the nation, and the churches. By studying and applying biblical principle in faith, a church will please the Lord. Dire consequences result for individuals, families, the nation, and for every church which fails to do so.

In the first article of this series on heresy and apostasy,  “On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, ‘The Treasure is in a Field,’” the author pointed to what is viewed by many as a great American church. Dr. Hyles missed a preeminent principle in the Word of God as to the organization of God’s churches in his sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field.” Dr. Hyles either did not understand biblical principle concerning the two types of marriage—the marriage of Christ and His churches the marriage of man and woman—or he disregarded those principles. As a result of his error, the chickens may already be coming home to roost at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (referred to hereinafter as “First Baptist”). As the author has long pointed out, when a church and pastor compromise basic biblical principle regarding separation of church and state, that church has dishonored her love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and has headed down the road to heresy and apostasy. When compromise is made, even by a great man of God like Jack Hyles, the church he pastors has dishonored God, taken a step toward apostasy, and will sooner or later be led by one who will further compromise biblical truth.

In the next article in this series, “Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy,” the author pointed to some heretical teachings at First Baptist which Dr. Hyles would never have tolerated, and – in Part II of that article – summarized biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy in God’s churches.

As a result of the first two articles mentioned above, pastors and Christians sent e-mail letters expressing their support or opposition to the articles mentioned above. Some of those letters and my responses may be read in the third article in this series, “Letters from pastors regarding Hyles/Schaap and other articles.”

In the third article in this series “Recent accelerated apostasy in the United States,” the author examined the accelerating pace of apostasy in today’s American churches. Churches are now concerned with growth and appealing to the self and to the flesh rather than with biblical principle and spiritual growth. As a result of these spiritually dead churches and their efforts, a smaller and smaller percentage of people are being saved.

This article, the fourth in this series, traces the beginning and development of heresy and apostasy in American churches beginning in the early history of the United States of America.

The thinking that sacrifices truth for unity and superficial peace is not biblical. Christians are instructed to examine doctrinal differences in light of Scripture. Christians have a duty to expose and condemn unbiblical teaching and behavior. Paul rebuked people by name (Phil. 4.2-3; 1 Ti. 1.20; 2 Ti. 2.17). John condemned Diotrophes, a church leader who rejected the apostolic letters and authority (3 Jn.).

Believers are to speak the truth in love. This series of articles on heresy and apostasy does just that. The ultimate goal is to glorify and please our Lord by presenting truth in the hopes that some Christians and churches will wake up, reject heresy and apostasy, place themselves solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and again proclaim the Gospel with power in order that more souls will be saved. Does not the Lamb of God deserve the reward of His suffering? Should a Christian not bear his cross for the glory of the One who gave His all for him?

Spiritual treasure is being lost and abandoned and no one seems to know why. This series of articles explain why.


II. Introduction

Many factors have contributed to the attacks on God’s Word and the apostasy churches—for example, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, and Darwinism. Enlightenment thought or humanism was brought into churches as religious modernism. Humanistic principles infiltrated most churches, including fundamental Bible believing churches, which moved from acting and preaching with the goal of glorifying God to acting and preaching with the goal being the happiness of man.

Religious apostasy was followed by moral awfulness which resulted in political anarchy. First, God and His principles were attacked and religious apostasy grew. Then followed moral depravity and then the denial by civil government of God’s authority and any established order under God. As to the first stage in the downfall of America, the states of the new nation invited the churches to an ungodly relationship with civil government through incorporation. Then, in the twentieth century the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, through the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”), extended another invitation to churches to become more entangled and controlled by government. Most churches eagerly accepted that invitation. In the midst of these unions with civil government, religious modernism and revisions of the Word of God were infiltrating churches and Christian educational institutions to one degree or another.

Jesus Christ is the head of His churches in all things. However, Christ will permit a church to betray Him and take herself from under His authority in one thing, some things, or all things. Placing a church under some person or power in only one thing greatly displeases the Lord because doing so violates biblical precept. God’s Word did not say, “and gave him to be the head over all things to the church except one thing” or “all things except secular or earthly matters,” or “all things except property.” God’s Word says, “all things.” Isaac Backus, the great Baptist leader in the colony of Massachusetts wrote: “If Christ Jesus have left such power with the civil rulers of the world, [kingdoms and counties, or] for the establishing, governing, and reforming his church, what is become of his care and love, wisdom and faithfulness, since in all ages since he left the earth, for the general [beyond all exception] he hath left her destitute of such qualified princes and governors, and in the course of his providence furnished her with such, whom he knew would be [and all men find] as fit as wolves to protect and feed his sheep and people!” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume I, (Eugene Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), fn. 1, p. 158, quoting Roger Williams, Bloody Tenent.

When a New Testament church does anything contrary to Scripture which gives even partial claim of sovereignty over that church to the state, that church has committed a wicked act which subjects her to another head, thereby greatly displeasing the Lord. That church has betrayed the Lord.

Doing one thing that subjects a church to the state creates a legal entity. “Legal entity” means: “Legal existence. An entity, other than a natural person, who has sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions through agents as in the case of corporations” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 893-894 (6th ed. 1990), definition of “legal entity.”).

Corporations are legal entities. On the other hand, a pastor/trustee may hold legal title to real and/or corporal personal property (which includes movable and tangible things such as furniture, merchandise etc. BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 1217, definition of “Property.”) for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ through a Declaration of Trust without having created a legal entity. Such a trust relationship cannot sue or be sued. “Any kind of property, whether real or personal, freehold or leasehold, and any interest therein, whether legal or equitable, may be impressed with a trust. While the question of what property is made subject to a trust is determined by the terms of the trust, as a general proposition a property interest must be transferable to be the subject of an express trust.” 76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts § 247 (2007).).

Furthermore, although there is no precedent in Scripture for a New Testament church, a strictly spiritual entity, to own property, a New Testament church obviously must occupy real property to exist. “Real property” means: “Land, and generally whatever is erected or growing upon or affixed to land” (Ibid., p. 1219, definition of “Real property.”). Hereinafter, the author will use the term “property” in referring to “real property.” In America, a New Testament church may occupy property in a manner consistent with biblical principle in at least three ways. As is shown in “Analysis of another reason given for church corporate status: to hold property” (an article on this blog) and in  Chapter 7 God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (See En1 for link to preview of this book and ordering information), a church may use property held by a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, a church may use and occupy property if the owner gives the church permission to do so. Or third, a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, may lease property to be used by a church for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A church who holds real and/or personal property through a corporation has partially placed herself under the control of someone other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a church is not under Christ in “all things,” and operates with two heads. A church who further seeks tax exemption under IRC § 501(c)(3) (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) (2007)) (hereinafter referred to as “501(c)(3)”) has agreed to further limitations and controls by a secular head.


III. Church apostasy in America has followed the pattern of Apostasy in Israel

True born again Christians in America have been blessed beyond measure. The First Amendment provided for religious liberty. Christians in America had the opportunity to keep God’s church pure and undefiled and to perform the great commission (“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16.15)) without persecution from state or federal governments. What did they do? First, many churches ignored the sound biblical advice of men like Isaac Backus and entered into contracts with the state; that is, they incorporated. Then, when given the opportunity starting in the twentieth century, churches further submitted themselves to another head when they sought 501(c)(3) tax exemption.

To Baptists, passing from persecution to religious liberty without persecution was like God delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and entering the Promised Land. God said to the Israelites in Egypt, “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3.8a). God did deliver them into that Promised Land. God gave them many instructions and warnings prior to their entry into that land:

“And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.  Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers[.]” (De. 6.10-18).

“When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (De. 7.1-6).

The children of Israel did not do as the Lord had commanded them:

“And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Caananites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out (De. 7.1-6).” “They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them” (Ps. 106.34-41).

As shown in Section IV of God Betrayed, in the article “An Abridged History of the First Amendment,” and in the audio teachings by Jerald Finney – “History of the First Amendment,” and “Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teachings on the ‘History of the First Amendment” – Americans owe their religious liberty primarily to the Baptists. But many of those same Baptists who had been persecuted for so long in the fight for religious liberty proved again that man never changes—they never saw or they ignored the fact that incorporation entangled churches with the state contrary to biblical principle. Baptists—like the Israelites who, after God brought them into the Promised Land—did not complete the job God had given them. With religious freedom and material prosperity, many Baptists stopped searching the Bible for God’s truth in all matters and betrayed Christ by using their newly acquired freedom to partially subjugate themselves to an earthly power—the state. They practiced pragmatism and introduced a little leaven into many of their churches. They decided that they would proceed according to that which “worked.” God became a means, not an end. Their goal, at least partially, in the beginning became the happiness of man and not the glory of God. They had more important work to do than worrying about contending further for the sovereignty of God over His wife, the church. To remain totally under God and thereby glorify Him would be inconvenient. To incorporate would provide certain earthly benefits and give protection under the contract clause of the United States Constitution.

The results of Israel not obeying God took hundreds of years to play out. At first, the theocracy of Israel was directly under God who ruled through judges.  “[The period of the theocracy of Israel under the judges was] a time of deep declension of the people as they turned from God, the unseen Leader, and descended to the low level of ‘In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes’ (compare Judges 1.1 with 20.18). This should have been an era of glowing progress, but it was a dark day of repeated failure.

“The ‘hoop’ of Israel’s history [began] with the nation serving God. Then they took certain steps downward. They did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim (see Judges 2.11). They forsook the Lord and they served Baal and Ashtaroth. The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of their enemies. Israel entered a time of servitude. Soon Israel cried out to God in their sad plight and distress. They turned to God and repented. God heard their prayers and raised up judges through whom they were delivered. Then again the nation served God. Soon the same old story repeated itself” (J. Vernon McGee, Joshua and Judges (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), pp. 112-113.).

Judges 17 through 21 chronicles events in Israel which represented the state of society at that time. In Judges 17 and 18 God presents the low spiritual state in Israel due to apostasy. In Judges 19 God gives an example of the moral awfulness to which Israel had descended. In Judges 20 and 21 God records the political anarchy of Israel, the final step down by a nation.

After that, the Israelites rejected the headship of God and demanded a king like the other nations. God allowed their request. Even though the nation Israel rejected God’s perfect will, Israel, before the nation split, and Judah, after the division, were blessed by God when ruled by good kings. Israel after the division never had a good king.

As long as the population at least honored the Word of God in most respects, the consequences were not dire. Why? The Bible teaches that God permits deviation from his perfect or directive will:

“It is important to distinguish between the directive and the permissive will of God…. God will take up His people and, so far as possible, bless them, even when they are out of His best. In Israel’s choice of a king (1 Sam. 8:7-9); in the turning back from Kadesh (De. 1:19-22); in the sending of the spies; in the case of Balaam—illustrations of this principle are seen. It is needless to say that God’s permissive will never extend to things morally wrong. The highest blessing is ever found in obedience to His directive will.” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Genesis 46.3, p. 65)

Will a believer and/or a church say to God, “Thy will be done;” or will a believer and/or a church set its goal as the happiness of man and not the glory of God? God allows men to choose. He will say to a particular person and/or church who deviates from His will, “Go ahead and do it your way.” What kind of person are you? What kind of church do you belong to?

The experience of the Israelites in rejecting God and demanding a king is very similar to a church rejecting God as her only Head and seeking incorporation and 501(c)(3) status. When Samuel was judge over Israel, the Israelites demanded a king to rule over them so that they might also, as they put it, “be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (1 S. 8.19).

“[T]he 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. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them” (1 S. 8.7-9).

Samuel, at God’s direction, told the people the bad consequences of rejecting the theocracy and choosing to be ruled by a king (1 S. 8.10-17). “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” (1 S. 8.19-20) Samuel later reminded them that the Lord had always, through His appointed judges, delivered them from their oppressors when  they repented of their evil (See 1 S. 12.6-11) and of their reason for seeking a king: “And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king” (1 S. 12.12).

Although Israel’s demanding a king was called a “great wickedness” (I S. 12.12) which they perceived after Samuel foretold and God sent “thunder and rain” (1 S. 12.17-18) on the day of the wheat harvest, the people did not repent of that evil. The people acknowledged their wickedness and asked Samuel to pray to God “that [they] die not” (1 S. 12.19), but they did not repent. Knowing that asking for a king was a great evil, they said to Samuel, “Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask for a king” (1 S. 12.19).  They were only concerned about their own temporal selves, their own happiness, and not the glory of God. Would not God have been greatly pleased and glorified had they repented, rejected their king, and asked God to rule over them as before? Samuel replied to them:

“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. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.  But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king” (1 S. 12.20-25).

The contrast between God as King and a man as king became readily apparent. Samuel said, “Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you” (1 S. 12.13).  Saul, as king, quickly revealed the contrast. David—who was called a man after God’s own heart—and Solomon to a degree, were good kings of Israel before the division; and a few good kings (but mostly bad kings) ruled Judah, and all the kings of Israel after the division were bad. Furthermore, all the administrations under the kings, as the people had been warned (See 1 S. 8.11-18), consumed resources and the services of citizens that could have been enjoyed by the people and directed toward the glory of God. Israel separated from Judah because Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, in answer to their request to “make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter and we will serve thee” (1 K. 12.4), replied to them, “And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (1 K. 12.1). With time, the people and the kings continued to sink further into evil, the nation divided, and ultimately, after hundreds of years, the nations of Israel and Judah, as God had warned them, were taken into captivity.

Many churches in America have reached the point that Israel eventually reached after rejecting God. After Judah was taken into captivity, some were not taken into captivity, but were permitted to stay in Israel. Jeremiah warned them:

“And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.  So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them” (Je. 42.15-17).

Against the warnings of God’s prophet, Jeremiah, they decided to go to Egypt (See Je. 42-44). They declared (falsely as to the blessings for worshipping the queen of heaven):

As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.  But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?” (Je. 44.16-19)

Jeremiah pointed out God’s judgment of Israel for their idolatry which left Israel a land of “desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant” (Je. 44.22).

Like that remnant, some churches in America who know the truth refuse to repent of their evil. Their goal remains the happiness of man, not the glory of God. Many others simply do not know how to proceed to disentangle themselves.

The spiritual apostasy of churches in America has resulted in moral awfulness (which is obvious to any American Christian) and political anarchy. America is experiencing political anarchy because God has been discarded by the federal government. The philosophy of history exemplified by Israel in the Old Testament has played out in America. America is being judged and will be judged more severely, and the fault lies at the door of believers and churches.

As shown in Section I of God Betrayed, Christ, the prophets, and other men of God have warned America and every nation of the consequences of failure to submit to Him and His principles. Deviation from God’s directive will always bring bad consequences, sooner or later. To dishonor God on the highest level is soon followed by dishonor in many other ways, and God’s patience and mercy extend only so far. The overall trend after disobedience to God in Israel and in America’s churches and America today was and is always downward, away from God. This principle applies to a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization in America. With a good pastor (in matters other than the headship issue), as with Judah when she had a good king, an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization may still be blessed by God, but not as she would be had she honored her marriage to the Lord Jesus Christ. Even with a good pastor, such an congregation is a religious organization and does not enjoy the full power of God, since, by her own choice, part of her power and blessings come from the state. Most likely such an organization will begin to compromise the Word of God and the principles of God. It must, because it either does not understand the biblical doctrine of the church or it understands and refuses through fear and/or other motive to comply with God’s Word. Sooner or later that organization will have a pastor who is not good. As more people are attracted by liberal religious organizations, the number of Bible believing individuals and churches diminishes. The remnant grows smaller by the day. This is demonstrated by the growth of liberal religious organizations, the congregations of the Faith Movement, the “Church” Growth Movement, and the Emerging “Church” Movement as shown in Section II of God Betrayed and in the earlier articles on apostasy on this blog referred to in the “Preface” above. Many of the organizations in those movements are either incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations with God-fearing pastors (who did not understand the importance of keeping the marriage to the Lord pure and undefiled) or religious organizations started by pastors such as Rick Warren.  This state of affairs has been reached in a relatively short time. America, as of 2007, has, since the Constitution, existed only two hundred eighteen years, not nearly as long as Israel had been in the land before the dispersion.


IV. Church incorporation in the American colonies
and after ratification of the Constitution

Originally, before and after the ratification of the United States Constitution, the only church involvement with the state was through incorporation. Any incorporation of churches at any time was and is wicked, and modern incorporation significantly subjects churches to the state. The incorporation in the colonies differed in respects to modern incorporation in that, at least in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, the state church more or less ran the state whereas under modern incorporation, the state has power over incorporated churches, but incorporated churches have no power over the state. Churches rationalized that to incorporate was the pragmatic thing to do. By incorporating, they received protection from the state. They could contract—for example, they could contract with their pastors for his salary. Churches could hold property and receive bequests. As pointed out in Section II, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed, their goal was the happiness of man, not the glory of God. God became a means to an end, not the end. Churches reasoned, without examining Scripture, that doing certain things “worked” and therefore that doing those things was good or even of God.

In the twentieth century incorporated churches further freely submitted to civil government in both earthly and spiritual matters. The federal government took advantage of religious organizations in order to control, educate, and define them. 26 United States Code (“U.S.C.”)(IRC) § 501(c)(3), an unconstitutional law passed in the early twentieth century which violates the First Amendment religion clause when applied to churches, has lured churches into entanglement with the federal government. As did the Israelites, God’s people in America turned from serving Him fully and entered into unholy alliances with the state and federal governments. Although churches may claim that incorporation only subjects a church to civil government in earthly matters, it is obvious that corporate 501(c)(3) churches submit to the civil government in some spiritual matters. Not only that, churches and church members become entangled in satanic rules and procedures that, if honored (and they should be honored by such a church since a God’s people should always strive to keep their agreements, even anti-biblical contracts they willingly enter into), consume tremendous physical and material resources. Modern American incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations are many times at odds with their new sovereign over what they may say and do.

By incorporating, a church creates numerous contracts—a contract between the church and the state, a contract between the members or stockholders of a corporation, and between the corporation and its members or its stockholders—which substantially affect the church and the members. Contract, as opposed to biblical covenant, is a satanic/ humanistic/enlightenment principle. A contract is “a binding agreement between two or more persons or parties; esp., one legally enforceable” (WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 251 (10th ed. 1995), definition of “contract.”). God is not included in a civil contract, whereas biblical covenant always includes God and His principles.

Just as marriage of man and woman is a biblical covenant which includes God, the marriage of Christ and His church is designed by God to be a biblical covenant. The Bible compares not only Christ and His church, as shown in Section III, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed, but also Jehovah and Israel to husband and wife. “For thy maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy one of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Is. 54.5).  Experience and the Word of God teach man how a husband feels when his wife is unfaithful. The Old Testament teaches that God the Father felt the same way when Israel committed spiritual whoredom. Ezekiel 16 speaks of the harlotry of Jerusalem. God said to Jerusalem: “But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband! They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom” (Eze. 16.32-33).  “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD” (Je. 3.20).  God pleaded with Israel and his people to return unto Him.”… [T]hou has played the harlot, with many lovers; yet return again to me saith the Lord… (Je. 3.1).” “Turn, O Backsliding children saith the LORD; for I am married unto you… (Je. 3.14).”  God’s grief over Jerusalem was displayed by Jesus when He lamented the rebellion of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Lu. 13.34).

God gave some object lessons as to the way He felt about Israel’s spiritual fornication. Ezekiel was made a sign to Israel: God told him not to mourn the death of his wife (Eze. 24.15-27).  Likewise, God used Hosea to communicate His feelings. Hosea was told to marry a woman who, after they had children, left him and became a harlot:

“For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband: for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal” (Ho. 2.5-8).

Like He will restore Israel, God told Hosea to restore his wife.

The Lord Jesus, as Husband of His church, likewise grieves at the unfaithfulness of His church. Christ and His wife, the church, are one flesh. He loves the church as Himself:

“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. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church[.]” (Ep. 5.25-29)

Obviously, God, through Scripture and practical experience, has conveyed to born again believers all they need to know in order to understand Christ’s extreme love for His churches and the grief He suffers when His wife places herself, even partially, under another head.

Most churches in America, in choosing to place themselves under the state through incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, made the same choice that the Israelites made—they chose to place themselves under someone besides God so that their new “king” may judge them, go out before them, fight their battles. They entered into an illicit relationship with the state. Good pastors who now understand church-state issues have been called to some of those churches. They are presented with a dilemma.

As could have been predicted from “rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” the civil government is doing the opposite of what the churches wished (except for temporal benefits which increase the temporary “happiness of man”); and most incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations and members do not realize what is happening. The civil government has educated many or most “Christians” in anti-biblical principles and used the churches to further its satanic purposes. In effect, many churches have become mere arms of the state. Civil government officials, who have absolutely no understanding of Romans 13 point out to miseducated or willfully ignorant church pastors and members—many of whom eagerly follow the directions of their illegitimate master—that under Romans 13 it is the duty of the church to serve the state at the whim of the state. In effect, churches have “rendered unto Caesar the things that are God’s.” Many such religious organizations use tithes and offerings, government money, money obtained from begging on street corner, and/or money from advertisements on television, radio, and elsewhere to carry on their ministries, giving donors tax-deduction acknowledgements available because of 501(c)(3) status. In other words, these incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations depend upon the power, authority, reasoning, and techniques of civil government to achieve their goals. Can you imagine our Lord, when Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world, En 2 if the Lord would bow down and worship him—that is, if the Lord would operate under satanic principles—accepting Satan’s offer (See Mt. 4.8-9; Lu. 4.5-7)? Instead, the Lord gave us the correct example by quoting Scripture: “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Mt. 4.10; Lu. 4.8). Can you imagine the Apostle Paul, any other apostle, or persecuted Christians down through the ages when asked “by what authority do you these things,” responding, “by the authority of the state.”

“Churches” which operate even partially by authority of the state get some of their power from the state, not from God. If the power is not of God, it is of Satan. At least a portion of their power is earthly and temporary, not heavenly and eternal. They cannot say as did Peter to the man lame from birth, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (See Ac. 3.6). In fact, many churches have turned to another gospel, the social gospel, as their sole or primary offer to mankind. They give mankind temporary “help” but either leave out eternal spiritual matters or depend upon their methods, instead of those methods prescribed by God’s Word, to lead men to earthly “salvation.” They “[h]av[e] a form of godliness, but deny[] the power thereof” (See 2 Ti. 3.5). Paul told Christians to turn away from such (Ibid.).

Without God’s power spearheaded by New Testament churches, there will be no great revivals like those which occurred around the time of the adoption of the Constitution and for years thereafter. Without renewed and more active attention and awakening to the things of God, individuals, families, churches, and the nation will continue down the road to destruction.


V. The relationship of God and state (Gentile nations)

Related to this issue of separation of church and state is the issue of the relationship of God and state. How would a nation under God operate? First, the goal of such a nation—the glory of God—would be clearly and emphatically stated in its constitution. According to its stated purpose, a nation under God would totally implement the principle of biblical covenant which includes two or more people or a nation and God in any agreement unleavened in any way by enlightenment principles such as the principle of contract or any other unbiblical principle. A nation under God would assure that all men have freedom of conscience as proscribed by the Word of God, but that the nation would proceed under the principles of the Word of God, the principles of Christianity, when addressing issues within its God-given jurisdiction in the criminal or civil law. Biblical principle would be used to determine the jurisdiction of civil government and civil government would operate only within the jurisdiction given it by God in His Word. A nation under God would recognize the sovereignty of God and would open up all civil government activities in Jesus name and only in Jesus name. A nation under God, although inherently recognizing the legitimacy of New Testament churches by recognizing the one true God and His principles, would not grant any type material benefits to false religions or to any churches. Such a nation would legitimately proclaim to its citizens and to all nations in the world that it is “one nation under God” whose goal was “the glory of God.”

After God called Israel to be a theocracy directly under Him, the Gentile nations continued under the dispensations of conscience and human government.

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Ro. 2.14-15).

God still desired Gentile nations to choose to be under Him, but sadly both the theorcracy of Israel as well as Gentile nations have governed for self and not God. The Word of God makes clear that Gentile nations, like Israel, are without excuse.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Ro. 1.18-20).

Romans 1.21-23 gives the seven stages of Gentile world apostasy, and Romans 1.24-32 gives the results of Gentile world apostasy.

Since America is not a nation under God, America has subverted the biblical concept of the relationship of church and state, God and state, and God and the church. Churches, even most “fundamental Bible believing churches,” have been willing, or willingly ignorant accomplices in this subversion. As will be shown, the states through incorporation and the federal government through the IRC and the courts have moved into the spiritual arena and invited churches to become established state religious organizations which are to a great degree controlled by the state. Most churches have eagerly accepted the invitations.


VI. Government control over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations

Civil government has no authority over a New Testament church, but it does have authority over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations. Although the IRS recognizes that there is a distinction between churches and other types of religious organizations, a Moslem mosque, a Hindu temple, any type religious organization that meets the test laid down by the Internal Revenue Service is treated exactly as or better than an incorporated 501(c)(3) “church” is treated. In the IRC, a 501(c)(3) church is included with a group of “religious organizations.” At the same time, the IRS and civil government have become involved with the exercise of religion, so that there is no “free exercise thereof” for the 501(c)(3) religious organization as intended by those who ratified the First Amendment. Some organizations which are not churches are classified as churches.

Through offering incorporation and later the 501(c)(3) tax exemption to churches, almost all of the states and the federal government opened the door, and most churches promptly entered and became incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations. Incorporation of churches was offered by states and did not violate the First Amendment because originally, as explained in Sections IV and V of God Betrayed, the First Amendment applied only to the federal government. However, the federal government was given some authority over the contracts created by incorporation because of the contract clause of Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution. Churches sought incorporation partly to gain federal government protection of the contract with the state.  The 501(c)(3) tax exemption tied the church to the federal government. Through those devices, state and federal governments have successfully tempted most churches to entangle themselves with civil government, thereby removing themselves partially or totally from under the Headship of Christ and placing themselves under the jurisdiction of the state of incorporation and the federal government.

Even though the civil government made an offer, churches did not have to accept it. Most did. Since the ratification of the First Amendment, the federal government has never forced a church to incorporate or get 501(c)(3) status. The Supreme Court still understands that the state cannot legally interfere with a church who does not willingly submit itself to the state. Inevitably, the population of America became more and more corrupted; and a time came when most Americans and most civil leaders were lost and without any understanding whatsoever of biblical principles and the nature of God. Furthermore, many or most church members were either lost or were spiritual babies who sought convenience rather than the truths of the Word of God concerning the issue of separation of church and state. As a result, churches have run to the civil government seeking incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and put themselves under bondage to civil government.

In effect, as is shown in “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme”, the audio teaching “Union of Church and State in America: Incorporation and 501(c)(3) Tax Exemption,”, in the radio broadcasts “God Betrayed: Union of Church and State,”and in Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed, the incorporation-501(c)(3) tax exemption is nothing more than an exemption-education-control scheme. The state knows that it cannot control and educate a New Testament church. Civil government cannot tell a New Testament church what to believe, say, or do. The state has no control over such a church. A New Testament church will submit to only one Husband—the Lord Jesus Christ. She gets her spiritual orders from God’s Word, not the civil government. A New Testament church believes and acts upon God’s Words. On the other hand, an incorporated, 501(c)(3) religious organization, in addition to being involved in a wicked act against her Husband, is subject to the teaching and control of civil government.


VII. Free under God or in bondage under Satan?

Saved individuals and churches choose either to be free under God or to be in bondage under Satan. God wants His children and churches to be free.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8.31-32, 36).

Anyone who is not saved is in bondage to sin and the devil. “A Christian is free from the guilt of sin, condemnation (Jn. 3.18, 5.24), the power of darkness (Col. 1.13), the sting of death (1 Co. 15.54-57), the law of sin and death (Ro. 8.1), the power of indwelling sin (Ro. 6), the curse of the law (Ga. 3.13), and pride (Ro. 3.27).”

After salvation, one still has to make choices. A church who incorporates and gets 501(c)(3) status chooses to place herself partially under the civil government and loses part of her freedom.

This does not mean that members of a church are free to commit crimes. As to infractions against another or society, the Bible provides that the state is there “to punish evildoers.” Christians are told not to do evil.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters” (1 Pe. 4.14-15).How many times do Christians and churches allow fear to control, paralyze, and enslave them? God desires to deliver those “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (See He. 2.15). “For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.  Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (1 Co. 7.22-23).

Although the lost man should fear God, the Christian is not to be subject to fear, even the fear of death for practicing his faith. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10.28). “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Ti. 1.7).

If death is no cause for fear to the Christian, why should anything else frighten, control, paralyze, and/or enslave him against the will of God?

Since the founding of the nation, Christians in America have suffered little persecution. When persecution for the Lord’s sake comes, the true Christian should rejoice as did persecuted apostles and Christians down through the ages: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mt. 5.11-12) .

Jesus said to the church in Smyrna, the suffering persecuted church, and only one of two churches against which the Lord had nothing bad to say: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Re. 2.10).

Unfortunately, most church members are more American than they are Christian; submission to biblical principles only is impractical and too contrary to the American way of life. The laws passed by the civil government provide that the church who submits to state authority will be able to attract and keep members who are more concerned about their material than their spiritual well-being; who are more concerned with temporary happiness and the absence of fear than with the glory of God. Many church members, including many pastors, either due to biblical ignorance and/or motivated by fear and greed, have misinterpreted or ignored fundamental Bible principles in order to become an arm of the state. Many times good pastors led the move to combine the churches they pastored with the state because they blindly followed their Bible college or seminary education. Also, many good pastors have inherited state-entangled churches and cannot decide what to do about it.


VIII. Apostasy at the end of the church age

The Lord says to the church of the Laodiceans, at the end of the church age and at the final stage of the apostasy:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Re. 3.15-19)

Many pastors believe that the saved will go to heaven but be without rewards should they not follow after Christ after salvation. Pastor Joey Faust states the following concerning the church at Laodicea:

“To fall from, one has to be in something first. I believe Laodicea is a church made up of TRUE (thus real) Christians, who nevertheless have fallen away from truth and fellowship with Jesus in their materialism, pride, etc. This church and its pastor (and all true churches in the last days who are Laodicean) will lose the right to reign and fellowship with Jesus when He appears—thus the Lord’s command to be zealous and repent!” (See J.D. Faust, The Rod: Will God Spare It? (Hanesville, N.C.: Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc. 2002))

Whether one agrees with Pastor Faust or not concerning this issue, the Bible shows that at the end of the church age, the Lord will be outside the Laodicean church (Re. 3.20). Nonetheless, He will still be there for the individual, just as He, while on earth as the second Adam, still appealed to the individual after the nation Israel rejected His rule over the nation: “If any man will hear my voice, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Ibid.).

The final result of the apostasy will be the great ecclesiastical harlot spoken of in Revelation 17 and 18. In Revelation 17 is mystery Babylon, the apostate church (J. Vernon McGee, Revelation, Volume 1 (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), p. 89).

“… The church of Thyatira, described in Revelation 2.18-29, which permitted Jezebel to teach, will become the apostate church of the great tribulation. It will attain the goal of the present-day apostates of all the great systems of the world: Romanism, Protestantism, pagan religions, cults and isms. Even in our so-called independent Bible churches there will be those who are not believers, and during the tribulation they will join this great organization that may call itself a church but is not. The Bible calls it a harlot….  This is ecumenical ecclesiasticism of the one-world church….”  (Ibid., pp. 89-91)

Believers will not go through God’s wrath; they will be raptured out before the God pours out his wrath…. The rest of the church members will be left here on this earth. As Dr. George Gill used to say, some churches will meet the Sunday after the rapture and will not miss a member…. They are part of a pseudo-religious system,

True believers will be glorified (Mt. 13.36-43; Ro. 8.18-23). The Lord will rapture the dead in Christ and those who are born again: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4.16-17).

Ecclesiastical Babylon (apostate Christendom, the harlot whom many biblical scholars logically conclude will be headed up under the Papacy and which will at that time condone every iniquity of the rich and will be corrupted to the core by commercialism, wealth, and luxury) will be destroyed by political Babylon, that is by the nations; and political Babylon, the nations, will be crushed by Christ when they come against Israel at the end of the tribulation (See Re. 17.15-18). All this will happen because men choose to succumb to Satan’s principles in order to satisfy their lusts.


IX. Conclusion

The Supreme Ruler ordained churches. He gave churches—as He has given individual, family and civil governments—His Word wherein they can learn God’s guidelines which He wishes His body, His churches, as well as all other governments to follow. Satan has successfully misled most churches and other governments, and most have followed his principles. He has used false teachers from the beginning. As a result, apostasy crept into churches shortly after its inception. That apostasy has accelerated in America as the rapture and the tribulation approaches.

Many or most people in American churches today are materially rich, but spiritually poor and blind. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Re. 3.17). As He was not deceived, but His bride was, “… Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Ti. 2.14, Ro. 5.14, Ge. 3.1-6).  As the first Adam had to give up a perfect existence in order to be with his wife, so the last Adam, Christ (1 Co. 15.22, 45), stepped down from heaven to save his bride.

“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. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3.16-19).

“[Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph. 2.6-8).

“While the first Adam “blew it,” the last Adam would make everything right! (Romans 5:12-21) Charles Wesley set this doctrine to music with the words, ‘Second Adam from above, reinstate us with thy love.’ … “The all-important verse that connects this typology to the present Laodicean apostasy is Ecclesiastes 1:9a: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done….’ Thus, the history of mankind will undoubtedly end the same way it began—with a bride being deceived!” (William P. Grady, How Satan Turned America Against God (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 2005), p. vii.)

Regardless of this inevitable apostasy and the events that are to follow, things are looking good for you and me—that is, if you are a Christian! A Christian, as opposed to one who is merely saved, is a saved person who also dies to self and seeks to follow God’s principles. As verified by reality and by biblical teachings, many saved people are not Christians.


Endnotes

En 1 All books, except An Abridged History of the First Amendment, by Jerald Finney are available free in both PDF and online form. One may go to Order information for books by Jerald Finney should he desire to order any of the books which are in print.

En2 The 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Matthew 4.8, p. 998: “The Greek word kosmos means ‘order,’ ‘arrangement,’ and so, with the Greeks, ‘beauty’; for order and arrangement in the sense of system are at the bottom of the Greek conception of beauty.

      “When used in the N.T. of humanity, the ‘world’ of men, it is organized humanity–humanity in families, tribes, nations–which is meant. The word for chaotic, unorganized humanity–the mere mass of man is thalassa, the ‘sea’ of men (e.g. Rev. 13:1). For ‘world’ (kosmos) in the bad ethical sense, ‘world system’ John 7.7, refs.

Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy


Jerald Finney
Copyright © August, 2010
Updated in 2012, 2013


To hear companion sermon, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt” click following link
and scroll down to the sermon link: “Sermons


See also,  On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, “The Treasure Is in the Field”

This article is an example of the results of church heresy and apostasy. Subjection of a church to the civil government through church incorporation (aggregate or sole), charitable or business trust status, IRC Code Section 501(c)(3) or Section 508 status, etc. is one step along that road to heresy and apostasy, and may even be the first step. First Baptist of Hammond is a very large corporate, 501(c)(3) religious organization, not a New Testament or Historic Baptist Church, contrary to the claims of the leaders of that religious organization.  To understand these issues in more detail see The Biblical Doctrine of the Church or the much more succinct teachings at Lessons on Bible Doctrines (including Bible doctrine of the church).


LETTERS FROM PASTORS REGARDING HYLES/SCHAAP … ARTICLES


Jack Hyles Cult Exposed
(Facts one cannot deny about Hyles and his followers are presented and verified in videos, many made by First Baptist of Hammond itself.)
The Truth About Jack Hyles Part 1
The Truth About Jack Hyles Part 2
The Truth About Jack Hyles Part 3
The Truth About Jack Hyles Part 4

(These videos give a lot of undeniable facts that are caught by the camera. One is the story of one of Hyles’ daughters who tells it all. Her story and the culmination of the heresy and apostasy by Hyles is given to the world and do tremendous damage to the cause of Christ and true historic New Testament churches. The more an independent Baptist pastor follows the pattern of Hyles, the more he and the church(es) he pastors will eventually damage the cause of Christ. Hyles’ system was, in fact, Satanic. People like Hyles do great harm to the cause of Christ as did Hyles. The chief error is their failure to preach and teach true saving faith. Another great error in their teaching is to divide the church into clergy and laity, as do Protestant churches and as does the Catholic church-this may be one cause of the sexual abuse and appetites of many fundamental Baptist pastors and Catholic clergy. Another chief error is to run a church like a business, according to business methods developed by the god of this world.)

Fundamental Baptist churches who follow Hyles/Schaap principles and methods do great damage to the family through their preaching on husband/wife/family. As the above presentations prove, Hyles’ family was a disaster as is the case with many Fundamental Baptist families who ignore Bible principles. The following two sermons exemplify, in tone and substance, how a pastor should preach to the husband/wife/family in order to glorify God and edify husband/wife/family. Notice that babies are crying in the service. That is the application of Bible principles. Families are to be in church together, not separated so that children are instructed and cared for by others. The parents are responsible for their children in all matters. Youth ministries, Sunday school classes, etc. cannot be justified by accurate Bible study or interpretation:

Husband’s Ministry To His Wife
Wife’s Ministry To Her Husband

WivesMinistryToHusband


Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy

Contents:

I. Introduction
II. 2012 and 2013 updates

III. Heresy and apostasy
IV. Conclusion

Endnote (Information on books by Jerald Finney)

Note. Left-click blue underlined links to go directly to sites.


All the biblical principles for the relationship between Christ and his churches and between church and state are meticulously covered on this website and in the books by this author. Churches who violate those principles are building upon the same foundation as did First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana, even if they have not fallen to the degree of that church. One who is a member of a Scripturally compromised church should not criticize Schaap too harshly. The author personally knows of situations in churches similar to that of First Baptist and Jack Schaap as well as variations thereof. The tentacles of First Baptist and its heresies and resulting sins have been spread to untold numbers of “Fundamental” Baptist churches (as well as other types of churches) all over this nation” (Quote from article below).

After I had written the above quote someone emailed me the link to the following article: Let Us Prey: Big Trouble At First Baptist Church. (Notice that this article is 7 pages long, with links at bottom of pages to go to next page.)

  “For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” (2 Sa. 12:12-14). King David repented, neither Schaap nor First Baptist of Hammond have done so.

  “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,  In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;  By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Co. 6:3-10)(Bold emphasis mine).

Sermon by Jack Schaap: Polishing the Shaft

Click the following link to go to an excellent article dealing with the unbiblical responses of big-name pastors to giving their unqualified blessing to the church and the ministry of the new pastor, John Wilkerson:

Ignoring the Sin of First Baptist of Hammond

‘My Pastor Is On The Ashley Madison List’ (082715)(What about your pastor? My pastor is not on that list. Jack Schaap and many of the other “Hyles” preachers were found out even though they may not have been on that list; by extrapolation, one (especially a believer who loves God and has been exposed to Hyles type ministries) can conclude that many have not. This article is also reproduced below.)

To understand more about the unchecked heresies of Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, the progression of those heresies and the inevitable consequences click here to read the entire article, “Open Letter to First Baptist Church – Hammond Indiana” by Linda Murphrey, daughter of Jack Hyles.


I. Introduction 

Being called by the Lord to deal with this matter brings no joy to the author. Seeing First Baptist of Hammond and many other churches continue down the road of heresy despite the lessons to be learned from Hyles, Schaap, and First Baptist of Hammond brings grief, not joy, to the author and to the Lord. Pastor Hyles honored the Lord in some of what he preached and practiced, but flaws were obvious and First Baptist did not deal with them. The main flaw, among many, of Hyles was his incorrect plan of salvation. Pastor Schaap took Hyles’ incorrect practices to new depths and introduced new heresies which any serious student of the Word of God can quickly discern. Yet First Baptist did nothing until the corporate board of directors, in order to protect the corporation and in conformity to the corporate bylaws, dismissed him. Seeing the untold numbers of believers who ignorantly continue to follow the leaders of those churches brings sorrow to the author as well as to the Lord. Understanding that far fewer persons are being saved and that many of those who are live immoral lives as the result of the heresies and practices of so-called Bible believing churches in America is vexing, to say the least.

Publishing these matters is done in love. What has been going on at the First Baptist Church of Hammond is illustrative of the natural progression of unchecked heresy. The heresy there, among other things, promoted even inappropriate sexual behavior (See Section II below). The church as well as all those who looked the other way and continued to idolize both Pastor Hyles and Pastor Schaap without checking their inappropriate behaviors are to blame. The church members sat and listened to dangerous heresy and took no action to take the prescribed biblical action. The church, to this point, is proceeding in their misguided direction.

The foundation for this article, which will summarize biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy in Part III below, was laid in the article On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field” (The author suggests that the reader study that article and avail himself of the resources linked thereon. If you have already read it, it was revised on August 20, 2010.). In that article, the author pointed out that Dr. Hyles missed a preeminent principle in the Word of God as to the organization of God’s churches in his sermon, The Treasure is in a Field. As a result of his error, the chickens may already be coming home to roost at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (referred to hereinafter as “First Baptist”). Spiritual treasure is being lost and abandoned and no one seems to know why.

Although the author will link to a few controversial resources below, he will spend little time and space getting into all the controversies over Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, and First Baptist church. The purpose of this “Separation of Church and State” site is to teach biblical principles concerning the issue of and sub-issues around separation of church and state, historically an important Baptist distinctive. Unless our Christians and churches fall in love with the Savior, the Head, Bridegroom, and Husband of His churches; spiritually educate themselves in the Word of God; repent; and reorganize their churches according to biblical principles, the decline in the number of true born again believers and Bible believing churches in America will continue.

After Dr. Jack Hyles died in 2001, Jack Schaap was voted in as pastor of First Baptist. From a short study, it is for sure that Schaap in now leading in the promotion of at least one dangerous heresy and possibly others. The first is his teaching on the King James Version. Another which this article will consider may be his teaching on the prosperity gospel.

One can view what he says about the KJV by clicking the following links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jMP1S7xvdg; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LYGzQkaNBiY&feature=related; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–Nq-vhjPGc&NR=1; Please inform the author if you believe that these are not the teaching of Jack Schaap. If he did not teach what is on the video, the author will certainly recant.

Thanks be to God that the author has had pastors who have understood the importance of and come down on the right side of the KJV issue. They have brought in preachers and scholars who have spent tens of thousands of hours studying these matters (as opposed to the 1000 to 1500 hours Schaap has allegedly spent studying the issue, and obviously not studying all points of view on the matter.). His pastors have also taught on the issue themselves. He has several books that explain why the KJV is the only inerrant, infallible, verbally inspired English translation of God’s Word. No Holy Spirit led, knowledgeable, born-again believer can deny this; every such person easily sees the lies in the above videos and is able to counter them with sound facts and reasoning. All English versions of the Bible, other than the KJV, are nothing more than perverted interpretations. Yet Bible colleges and churches all over the nation are lying about this matter. Those who discount the KJV should be glad that most Christians neither read well nor can they think and analyze. Otherwise, believers would not be so easily deceived. Yes, fewer and fewer in America are being saved, and one big reason for this is that Christians are more and more going to interpretations and not to the one true translation. This nation was built by Christians who relied upon the mighty spiritual sword—the KJV. With the pejoritive statements about and abandonment of the KJV has come the demise of Christianity in America. As goes the KJV so goes Christianity in the U.S.A.

Some important points for the reader to consider: There was never one substantive change in the original KJV, only changes in spelling and punctuation as spelling and grammar developed and changed in the English language. Would not a studied person know this and point this out when referring to those “errors” or “mistakes” which were “corrected?” Also, in case the reader does not know it, there are no originals, only copies of copies of copies…. The originals are long gone and no one will ever see them. So all that is available for anyone, in any language, are copies of copies of copies, etc.… Yet, God will preserve His Word for those of every language who earnestly seek Him (Read Psalms 12.6-7, Isaiah 59.21, Matthew 24.35, Proverbs 30.5-6, Isaiah 31.1-2, Matthew 12.36-37, John 12.47-48 (How can one be judged by a non-existent Word of God and only by originals which do not exist?), Revelation 22.18-19, John 12.47-48. Be sure to read these verses in the KJV because the interpretations pervert many of them. It would be good to compare.). Jesus believed, verified, and read from the Scriptures (even though the originals had long-since decomposed and all he had was a translation from copies of copies of copies (See, e.g., John 5.45-47, John 5.9-11, Mark 2.2, Matthew 24.35, Mark 8.28, John 10.31-36, etc.). Our Lord constantly referred to the historical Scriptures (translation of copies of copies of copies), and not once did he ever cast doubt on the authority of the Bible.). The same analysis applies to the apostles. The true teachers on this matter go on and on and completely destroy every lie of the modernist, such as all the arguments put forth to belittle the KJV.

A tremendous book on the KJV conflict is The Word: God Will Keep It/The 400 Year History of the King James Bible Only Movement. See Review of The Word: God Will Keep It/The 400 Year History of the King James Bible Only Movement for more information on that book plus a radio interview of the author of the book.

To listen to a radio interview of scholar John Hinton concerning the KJV conflict click: May 18, 2013 radio interview of John Hinton.

Schaap may twist Scripture in his preaching on the “prosperity dotrine: http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/exposes/schaap/fbcprosd.htm; but see, http://www.jojomoffitt.com/DrSchaap3.shtml. The author has not done an in depth invvestigation of this matter.

Another video which raises concerns is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjVZGUWRJgA. In this video Schaap praises preachers who are pointed out in the video as being heretical, at the least. The author offers no explanation or critique of the video, but it concerns him. The alleged religious practices of the pastors praised by Schaap, if the information given on them is accurate, clearly violate the biblical principles of holiness and separation; principles which, as the author understands it, Dr. Hyles upheld (Note. Of course, everything presented in the videos about those preachers does not violate biblical principles). Again, let Jerald Finney know if this video has been created, altered, or if the allegations are inaccurate. The author includes this video because, on several occasions when he has been out of town, he has visited a church that purports to be a “Bible believing” church (once a Baptist church which renamed herself and started indulging in many modernistic practices) and that reflects some of the practices of the churches pastored by men praised in the video.

Heresies are rampant in many churches which were once fundamental and Bible believing. As pointed out in the article On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, ‘The Treasure is in a Field:

“untold numbers of fundamental Baptist churches are betraying our Lord; abandoning the fundamental doctrines and teachings of the Word of God as well as the Word of God itself; turning to corrupted interpretations of the Bible instead of the tried and true translation; resorting to psychology and other humanistic and business devices in order to increase attendance; feeding milk instead of meat to envying, striving, divided church bodies who are not able to bear the deeper things of God; teaching and/or practicing heresy; and some are falling into apostasy. Every year, droves of fundamental Baptist preachers are abandoning or betraying the faith and scores or hundreds of fundamental, Bible-believing Baptist churches are ceasing to exist. In other words, spiritual treasure is being abandoned and lost and, sadly, very few understand why.”

Based upon his own study and observations as well as conversations with a considerable number of pastors and other Christians, many of whom are far more knowledgeable about these matters than the is he, the author believes that Jack Schaap, First Baptist, and all the other “fundamental Bible-believing” Baptist churches in America who operate as state churches (incorporated, 501(c)(3) religious organizations) prove the author’s theses as stated in On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field” (left click to go directly to article). Many or most of those churches are no longer led by a good pastor, the churches themselves have been corrupted, heresy is rampant, and some are in the apostasy stage. The author suggests that one who truly loves the Lord should studiously reread that last article with prayer and under the power of the Holy Spirit: study the author’s theses and arguments in that article and in his other works which cover the totality of the issues involved and begin to examine them in the light of the Word of God.

Unless believers and church bodies first of all become knowledgeable and wise in their understanding of spiritual matters, American churches and believers will suffer the fate of European churches and believers—that is, only a minute remnant (even a much smaller remnant than now exists in America) will remain. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2.7, 17, 29; 3.6, 13, 22).

Had First Baptist and other “Bible believing” churches in America honored their love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and done things God’s way as to the organization of operation of churches, Christ would have continued to build his churches upon solid foundations; churches would have thrived spiritually; the lost would have seen the power of God instead of the monstrous corporations, businesses, and social clubs that make a mockery of the Word of God; untold people would have continued to be saved; and America would have been a light for Christ in this world.

The remainder of this article is a summation of biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy, an important topic in the study of the doctrines of the church and separation of church and state. The material is taken from Section II, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application: Link to preview of God Betrayed. God Betrayed may be ordered from Amazon and other sources by left clicking the following link: Books.[See Endnote] (Note the study guide for God Betrayed in the last article). The article which follows this one within a few weeks will chronicle the recent accelerated apostasy in the United States, and will shed light on how American churches have reached their present state. One can also go to the Apostasy page of the Church and State Law”\ website for links to articles on the alarming heresies and apostasies of churches in general.


II. 2012, 2013 Update

Click the following link to go to an excellent article dealing with the unbiblical responses of big-name pastors to giving their unqualified blessing to the church and the ministry of the new pastor, John Wilkerson:

Ignoring the Sin of First Baptist of Hammond

Very good biblically based and biblically appropriate teachings on the First Baptist of Hammond situation are at the following cites: Schaap and the sins of First Baptist; Jack Schaap and First Baptist Church Road to Reconciliation; Avoiding Schaap’s Fall. These teachings are obviously given by pastors with a spirit directed by not only the love of God, but also by the love of their fellow man, including Jack Schaap, the members of First Baptist of Hammond, and the untold numbers of believers and churches who have followed Schaap and First Baptist down the road of heresy and immorality.

The Lord inspired the author to write and publish two articles on Dr. Jack Hiles (On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, ‘The Treasure is in a Field,” August 7, 2010), Dr. Jack Schaap (this article, August 21, 2010), and First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana in 2010. Those articles were meant to serve as a warning against continued heresy at First Baptist and other churches and to proclaim biblical teaching church heresy an apostasy (See part IV below, which was Part III in the original article). After he published those articles, he received numerous letters from pastor, and he published those letters with his responses (Letters from Pastors Regarding Hyles/Schaap and Other Articles, September 2010). Those articles dealt with the marriage of Christ and His church, and the marriage of a man and woman. Those articles alerted readers to certain heresies of Hyles, Schaap, and First Baptist of Hammond and warned Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, and any others of the ultimate consequences of unchecked and unrepented of heresies within a church body. Since First Baptist, Hyles, and Schaap published their heresies, not only to their church but also to the world in many ways including the internet, sales of books, CDs, DVDs, seminars attended by pastors and believers from all over the nation, this author, as a part of that world to which their heresies were offered, published biblical principles and teachings which exposed some of the main heresies practiced and preached by Hyles and Schaap.

Schaap published an alarming book of heresies, not mentioned in this author’s 2010 articles on heresies coming from that church, back in 2010. Click the following link for information on that heresy: Marriage: The Divine Intimacy by Jack Schaap. In that book, Schaap revealed the extent of his heresies regarding marriage and matters inherently involved with marriage.

The following is from Pastor Jack Schaap’s Perverted Mind was Already Manifested in Sermons and Books:

“Jack Schaap authored, Marriage: The Divine Intimacy. On page 50, his perverted mind is plainly manifested. He sees ‘the marriage bed’ almost everywhere he looks in the Bible.

“On July 8th, he preached a sermon titled, ‘What Mom And Dad Don’t Know Will Hurt Him.’ Many things he preached cannot even be quoted here. One example will suffice:

“‘You know, the most common question I ask our teenagers: are you safe in how you act? Mom and dad, you understand the language?…when your children reach that age, and they start going through that 13, 14, 15 year stage, send them to me, I’ll talk to them. Please don’t look at me like I’m stupid, why are you talking this way?’

“In other words, he obviously thought that the most important subject to discuss with teenagers is how to be ‘safe’ in their lewdness. Many pastors around the country are jumping on the new ‘openness’ band-wagon, as they try to attract attention by shocking the world and their congregations with their frank (profane) language concerning the marriage bed, etc.

“Many ‘Christians’ are using the examples of this pastor to attack what they call ‘fundamentalism.’ Yet, look at what is happening in the Catholic church, in charismatic churches, and in mega-churches with a non-fundamental agenda! It is not what is often called “fundamentalism” that is the problem. It is the lack of fundamentalism in so-called fundamental churches! Hollywood has invaded these churches, and it can be seen in the language used by the preachers. Evil communication corrupts good manners!”

Videos exposing Pastor Jack Schaaps heretical worldly views include:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMk2F-KLYkQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rC-SfQ100uE&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jMP1S7xvdg&feature=related

First Baptist of Hammond, despite the warnings of this author and others, has proudly and arrogantly continued down the road of heresy. Much damage was being done to individuals, families, churches, and the nation because of those heresies. A climactic, but not final, event resulting from the proud anti-biblical march forward of First Baptist of Hammond is now international news.

The Bible is clear. One heresy leads to another to another. Biblical teaching on church heresy and apostasy is clear. It is also clear on the importance the believer’s and church’s God-given goal of glorifying Him in both belief and method. From all appearances, First Baptist has not learned their lesson. Even in addressing the sin of Schaap, the methods and rationale used by First Baptist dishonor our Lord. One man they immediately called in to preach will make sure that they continue down the same heretical, unrepentant road. In addition to insights to be gleaned from the writings and audio teachings of this author, an article authored by Dr. Bob Gray, in Sincere Questions, published August 4, 2012, offers important questions and insights on the situation at First Baptist of Hammond.

All the biblical principles for the relationship between Christ and his churches and between church and state are meticulously covered on this website and in the books by this author. Churches who violate those principles are building upon the same foundation as did First Baptist of Hammond, Indiana, even if they have not fallen to the degree of that church. One who is a member of a Scripturally compromised church should not criticize Schaap too harshly. The author personally knows of situations in churches similar to that of First Baptist and Jack Schaap as well as variations thereof. The tentacles of First Baptist and its heresies and resulting sins have been spread to untold numbers of “Fundamental” Baptist churches (as well as other types of churches) all over this nation.

After I had written the quote in the above paragraph, someone emailed me the link to the following article: Let Us Prey: Big Trouble At First Baptist Church (Notice that this article is 7 pages long, with links at bottom of pages to go to next page.):

For thou didst it secretly: but I will do this thing before all Israel, and before the sun. And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD. And Nathan said unto David, The LORD also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die. Howbeit, because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die” (2 Sa. 12:12-14). King David repented, neither Schaap nor First Baptist of Hammond have done so.  “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,  In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;  By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Co. 6:3-10).

Click this link to see the Government’s Sentencing memorandum in the Jack Schaap case.

Click this link to see an appraisal of the Jack Schaap/First Baptist of Hammond situation by a man who loved First Baptist, Graduated from the college there, knew Jack Schaap, etc.  (Also reproduced in En 2 below).

To understand more about the unchecked heresies of Jack Hyles, Jack Schaap, the progression of those heresies and the inevitable consequences click here to read the entire article, “Open Letter to First Baptist Church – Hammond Indiana” by Linda Murphrey, daughter of Jack Hyles.


III. Heresy and apostasy

Prior to the return of the Lord, the local, visible churches will go into apostasy. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Th. 2.3-4).

“Apostasy, ‘falling away,’ is the act of professed Christians who deliberately reject revealed truth (1) as to the deity of Jesus Christ, and (2) redemption through His atoning and redeeming sacrifice (1 Jn. 4.1-3 [‘Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.’]; Phil. 3.18 [‘For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:”]; 2 Pet. 2.1 [“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.’]). Apostasy differs therefore from error concerning truth, which may be the result of ignorance (Ac. 19.1-6 [‘And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.’]), or heresy, which may be due to the snare of Satan (2 Ti. 2.25, 26 [‘In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.’]), both of which may consist with true faith. The apostate is perfectly described in 2 Ti. 4.3, 4 [‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables.’]. Apostates depart from the faith, but not from the outward profession of Christianity (2 Ti. 3.5 [‘Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away.’]). Apostate teachers are described in 2 Ti. 4.3 [“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.]; 2 Pe. 2.1-19 [quoted here in part: ‘But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: … But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; …  Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; ….These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.’]; Jude 4, 8, 11-13, 16 [‘For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities…. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.’].  Apostasy in the church, as in Israel (Is. 1.5, 6; 5.5-7), is irremediable, and awaits judgment (2 Th. 2.10-12 [‘And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness’]; 2 Pe. 2.17, 21 [‘These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever…. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.’]; Jude 11-15; Re. 3.14-16)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to II Timothy 3.1, p. 1280). [Bold emphasis mine].

Inevitably, there is no remedy for apostasy but judgment (Is. 1.2-7, 24, 25; He. 6.4-8; 10.26-31). For example, Noah preached for 120 years, won no converts, and the judgment predicted by his great-grandfather fell (Jude 14, 15, Genesis 7.11.).

“Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth” (Luke 18.8b)?  The reference is not to personal faith, but to belief in the whole body of revealed truth. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”( 1 Ti. 4.1).

In the New Testament, the apostasy was treated as having already set in. In fact, the Asian churches had not disbanded, nor ceased to call themselves Christian; but they had turned away from the doctrines of grace distinctively revealed through the Apostle Paul. Thus, even in the beginning of the church, the apostle Paul and Jude were concerned with the tendency to depart from the faith due to the influence of false teachers:

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you; and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.6-8).

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

Many of our churches today, even many of our independent Bible believing churches, have perverted the gospel of Christ and turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness (“Looseness; irregular indulgence of animal desires; wantonness; lustfulness; Tendency to excite lust, and promote irregular indulgences.” AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “LASCIVIOUSNESS.”) even though perhaps they have not verbally denied our Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gentile world apostasy comes in seven stages:

“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” (Ro. 1.21-23).

As a result of this worldwide Gentile apostasy, mankind sinks to the depths of depravity:

“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. 1.24-32).

The apostasy is usually introduced by ungodly men who will “wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Ti. 3.13). Our Lord warned against false teachers:

     “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mt. 7.15).
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mt. 7.21-23).
“And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Mt. 24.4-5).
“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Mt. 24.11).
“For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mk. 13.22).
“Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5.19).
“But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15.9).

The Lord is obviously warning that many of His children will be deceived by the many false prophets which shall arise. With heresy and apostasy, the God-given doctrines and goal for churches and for Christians are left in the dust. The goal or purpose of most churches and “Christians” is the happiness of man and not the glory of God. They ask “What can God do for me,” not “What can I do for God?” Their purpose for giving, for doing, and for going to church is to get something back from God. Many believers today, many in independent Bible believing churches, are being deceived about many biblical doctrines, including the doctrine of separation of church and state. As a result, they are, among other things, incorporating, operating as unincorporated associations, and becoming 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations. Section VI of God Betrayed discusses incorporation and tax exempt status of churches in some detail, and explains ways that a church can hold property and also please God.

As a result, God is not glorified at all. Everything in the ultimate modern American church is for self—the headship, the “Bibles,” the doctrines taught, the preaching, the music, the dress, the goal, everything.

Peter, Paul, and Jude traced the origin of apostasy to false teachers, explained their methods of operation, and warned the church to beware of the apostasy:

“Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing he flock: Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Ac. 20.28-31).
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.8-9).
“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you” (Ga. 3.1)?
“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Co. 11.19).
“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Co. 11.4).
“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision; Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Tit. 1.10-11).
“Now the spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Ti. 4.1-2).
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Ti. 4.3-5).
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not….  Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage” (2 Pe. 2.1-3, 15-19. All of 2 Pe. 2 deals with false teachers.).
“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 Jn. 9-11).
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pe. 3.3-4).
“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4. Jude predicts the apostasy of the professing church and describes the cause and course of the apostasy. As in II Timothy and II Peter, the apostasy is treated as having already set in.).

Only a little leaven (false teaching) can completely change and pervert the truth of the Gospel: “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Ga. 5.7-9).

False teachers deny redemption truth: “[False teachers] shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pe. 2.1). Others deny the truth concerning Christ’s person as Son of God, God himself: “BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them” (1 Jn. 4.1-5; see also, 1 Jn. 2.18-28).

In Jude all phases of apostasy are seen. Jude mentions those who “ran after the error of Balaam for reward.” Many pastors and other Christians today, like Balaam, revert to human reasoning and, among other unbiblical practices, put God’s church under the state for reward—that is, for money, for popularity, or power. They may not have gone completely into apostasy, but heresy is the first step toward apostasy.

Both Peter and Paul foresee the apostasy in which the history of the professing church will end. Paul finds that apostasy in its last stage when the so-called laity have become infected:

“1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, 7 Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (2 Ti 3:1-7) “3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (2 Ti. 4:3-4).

Peter traces the origin of the apostasy to false teachers (2 Pe 2.1-3,15-19, quoted above). In Peter the false teachers deny redemption truth (2 Pe 2.1); In First John one finds a deeper depth–denial of the truth concerning Christ’s person (1 Jo. 4.1-5).

In this time of heresy and apostasy in modern America, as Jack Schaap points out in the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yjVZGUWRJgA, which is also linked above, the population is going up while fewer and fewer are being saved. What do you do? Too bad most modernistic teachers, so fully indoctrinated by secularlism, turn  to the god of this world and his techniques—business and sales techniques, psychological techniques, anything but the Word of God, to answer that question. 2 John tells the believer what to do when “many deceivers are entered into the world” (v. 7). John says we are to go forward with “the truth” (the Scriptures). “The Bible, as the alone authority for doctrine and life, is the believer’s resource in a time of declension and apostasy” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, Headnote to 2 Jn.). Paul instructed Timothy, a preacher whom Paul called his “dearly beloved son” (2 Ti. 1.2) and his “own son in the faith” (1 Ti. 1.2), what to do in a time of apostasy: “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Ti. 4.1-2).

The believer’s resources in a day of general declension and apostasy are faith (2 Ti. 1.5), the spirit (2 Ti. 1.6-7), the Word of God (2 Ti. 1.13; 3.1-17; 4.3-4), the grace of Christ (2 Ti. 2.1), separation from vessels unto dishonor (2 Ti. 2.4, 20-21), the Lord’s sure reward (2 Ti. 4.7-8), and the Lord’s faithfulness and power (2 Ti. 2.13, 19).

The tone of the New Testament writers when dealing with heresy and apostasy is never one of dejection or pessimism. God & His promises are still the resource of the believer. Although Paul as recorded in II Timothy and Peter as recorded in II Peter are aware that martyrdom is near (See 2 Ti. 4.6-8, 2 Pe. 1.14, and Jn. 21.18-19), both are apparently sustained and joyful:

“For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Ti. 4.7-8).

The whole book of II Timothy reflects Paul’s joyful attitude as II Peter shows Peter to be likewise joyful and sustained.

II Timothy, II Peter, Jude, and II & III John deal the personal walk and testimony of a true servant of Christ in a day of apostasy and declension. For example, Paul instructs the “good soldier” in the face of apostasy:

“[B]e strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier….  Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: …  It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: If we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself….  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: …  Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Ti. 2.1-4, 8, 11-13, 15-17a, 22-25).


IV. Conclusion

The Lord enlisted believers to be soldiers in His army (2 Ti. 2). We are to fight this spiritual warfare on all fronts using spiritual, not carnal, weapons (2 Co. 10.3-5; Ep. 6.10-18). Our God-given goal is to please our Lord and glorify Him. The main thrust in this warfare is the salvation of souls. This warfare requires not only that a preacher preach truth inside a building on Sunday morning and maybe also on Sunday and Wednesday evenings. This warfare must go on in the streets; from door to door; in prisons; in the city halls and capital buildings of our state and nation; in our courtrooms; in our Bible institutes, colleges, and seminaries; in internet articles and videos; in every nook and cranny. The evils occurring everywhere, including and most importantly in our churches, must be confronted if we are to be the good soldiers that God called us to be. What higher places of spiritual wickedness than in many churches where heresy has crept in or apostasy has overcome can be found? In order to fight this warfare, every believer must seek to disentangle himself from the affairs of this world and “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ,” “that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” (2 Ti. 2.3-4).

Let us joyfully march forward with knowledge, understanding, wisdom gained through Holy Spirit led study of the God’s Word, the KJV in English, as we face the inevitable persecutions that follow those who sell out to the service of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us disentangle ourselves from the affairs of this life (for example, church incorporation and 501(c)(3), psychology, business and sales techniques, etc.) that we may please our Lord. “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God” (He. 12.1-2).


Endnotes

En1 Order page and free online versions and online PDFs of books by Jerald Finney

En2 

A Hyles-Anderson Graduate Speaks Out on Jack SchaapPosted: 19 Mar 2013 06:12 PM PDT

cheshirecatschaap

FBI – Schaap looked like a Cheshire Cat kissing the Teenager

ARTICLE WRITTEN FROM FBI AND PROSECUTION EVIDENCE – LINK BELOW

This past year has seen the complete destruction of all that we hold dear in Hammond, Indiana.  The crimes and sins of Jack Schaap which he has never confessed as sin have soured people around the world including me.  I even created a YouTube video defending First Baptist Church and Hyles-Anderson College.  I especially defended Dr. Jack Hyles and even made a video from his sermon FRESH OIL recorded in the 1980′s.  I was there when Jack Schaap was still a student and then began to teach in the college.  I was there when he proposed to Cindy Hyles who was in some of my classes.  In order to fully understand how shocked some of us are as graduates and alumni of Hyles-Anderson one needs to have been there and known the rules of the college.

One rule was that if a guy or girl had entered any room or classroom of the church or school, a member of the opposite sex was to stay out until there were at least one other guy or girl present so that there would always be an uneven number in the room at the same time.  This was also a rule on the busses and even the night bus did not allow the young women to be on the evening routes because of the late arrival time of those returning from dropping off the night riders.

Another fact was that we were taught in Church Ed class and in Dr. Hyles’ special sessions for young preachers that when counseling a woman, there should never be a one-on-one session.  It would always be preferred to have a woman counsel with women and a man counsel with men.  If for any reason a pastor needed to speak to a woman or young girl, it was to be with a woman present or with a secretary sitting outside a door that was open so that there could be no mistake about what was going on during the counseling session.

What about the story that Dr. Hyles told about two teens that came to his office and they were coming to confess about how that they had “fallen into sin?”  He asked them what they did.  They said that they “held hands,” and he then told them that they still had hope and that God would forgive them. He privately jumped with glee after they left because he had kept them so far away from the edge that they had only “stumbled” into “holding hands” instead of something far worse.  You see, the rules at the college, the grade school, junior high, and high school were totally against even holding hands, much less kissing.  That was the surest way to keep one pure until marriage and it was always a great joy to see a couple kissing for the first time the day they were married.  One of my friends in college, Brad Lake, did not kiss his wife (they met at Hyles-Anderson) until his wedding day.  We all had to grin as they could not stop kissing even during the reception.  That was quite common at First Baptist most of the time with couples who kept themselves until marriage.

Another thing that comes to mind is the philosophy that Dr. Hyles preached in a sermon entitled HOW NOT TO DIE was the principle taught in James.  “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”  (James 1:13-15)  Let me explain:

The principle about staying away from death is to stay away from sin.  So then we ask ourselves, how does one stay away from sin.   The scripture explains that the thing that brings sin is lust.  Well then, if it is lust that causes sinand it is sin that brings death, then it seems only logical that in order to avoid death, avoid sin and lust.  That seems fairly simple.  If you don’t want to die, avoid sin and if you don’t want to sin then avoid lust.  But what does James teach us?  It says that a man is drawn away to lust when he is enticed.  This means that if there is no enticement, then there would be no lust.  It means that without lust, there would be no sin and thus no death.  But here is where we get to the whole root of the principle taught by Dr. Hyles and by Hyles-Anderson and First Baptist Church.  There are two statements that the Bible makes that completely obliterates JACK SCHAAP and his excuses which, by the way, seem to be backed by over 100 people who wrote the court in his defense.  First, the Bible says, “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”  We have seen in Jack Schaap’s book on DIVINE INTIMACY that he makes God the one who tempts with evil.  DO YOU HEAR WHAT I AM SAYING?  If Jack Schaap’s “god” was at the root of his temptations THEN HIS GOD WAS SATAN.  The second point I would like to make is that the Bible also says “drawn away.”

When Dr. Hyles taught this in First Baptist he told the story about how he learned this lesson.  It seems that he was with some friends on the way home from school.  They always went the same way home and never turned down a different path but went straight to their houses.  One day a friend asked the others to go just one block over to walk home that day.  Wouldn’t you know that because they went a different way (drawn away) they saw an orange tree on the other side of the fence of a home owner.  It enticed them.  Someone said that there were some oranges leaning over the fence and they could lift up one of them to reach the orange.  They all thought about the good taste of the orange (lust).  So, someone challenged the others and Jack Hyles was elected to be the one lifted up at the edge of the fence.  He and his friends decided to steal an orange from a yard when it did not belong to them (sin).  Then the most horrible thing happened, because it was so hard to reach and it was farther away than he thought, he fell over the fence into the other yard.  Someone must have called the police because before he could escape with his stolen fruit, they showed up (death).  What is the moral of the story?  If he had not gotten diverted from the normal way home he would never been enticed, which means he would never have lusted, and it would not have lead to sin anddeath.

Now here is my problem as we read what is reported CHICAGOMAG.COM.  I am going to take the points that have caused a worldly court system and a public prosecutor to condemn the actions of someone who certainly should have known exactly what is written above.  This is quoted from the online site:

1) Schaap kissing the victim during counseling. “When I asked you if it was wrong, you said, ‘No,’” the girl said in a statement. “You told me that I was sent to you from God; I was his gift to you.”

2) Schaap’s claim that Christ wanted the two to be together. The two spoke on the phone or texted each other more than 600 times, according to prosecutors. In one transcript, a text from Schaap reads: “Yesterday was ‘off-the-charts!’ :) ))”. Another read, in part, “[this] is exactly what Christ desires for us. He wants us to marry + become eternal lovers!”

3) Schaap’s cover stories for his numerous rendezvous with the teen. One, for his trips to an Illinois forest preserve, was that he needed to “spend time with God walking and praying.” To explain his taking the girl alone to his Michigan cabin, he told his assistant that he needed to spend extended periods of time alone with the girl to “save” her—both literally and spirtually. Investigators later recovered photos taken inside the cabin showing a grinning Schaap “on a couch in an intimate pose” with the girl and also “french-kissing [her] while touching her in a sexual manner.”

4) Schaap having sex with the teen in his office. During a church youth conference.

5) Schaap dishonoring the teen’s father and mother. “I will never forget how [he] looked me in the eyes…and told me how great my daughter was doing,” the father wrote in a victim’s impact statement. “It is sickening to me that a man who claims to be a messenger of God, with a daughter of his own, would take advantage of a young girl in such an evil and immoral manner.”

Let me take them one at a time and show why there is a very deep problem in the thinking and the fact that ANYONE would defend him for ANY REASON.

1) Schaap kissing the victim during counseling.   I need to cry out WAIT A MINUTE! WHAT ABOUT HOW TEENS WERE TAUGHT THAT EVEN HOLDING HANDS WAS WRONG?  So it is wrong for a teen to hold hands but the pastor can not only hold hands but kiss during counseling?  The FBI said Schaap was grinning like a Cheshire Cat!  Do you mean that he was counseling a woman (teen) in his office alone?  Do you mean that no secretary was sitting right outside the door?  Do you mean that when the school asked him to counsel a troubled teen he did not ask his wife who is the author of many books to take the case so he could be above reproach?  And, may I ask you, why would one of the directors of the school ask the pastor to do something that was clearly against all that they were taught and against every principle of decency and morals in the whole church, Christian schools, and college?  Why did not someone say, “…that is not how we do things here…” but instead they had blinders on their eyes and no one was bold enough to speak up based upon their own rules or on the principles of the Bible that Dr. Hyles had taught and everyone knew.  Lastly, I might ask, what did God think about this.  The scripture is plain when it says  “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.”  Any man of God who is walking in the presence of God every day WOULD NEVER AGREE TO SUCH AN IMMORAL ENTICEMENT.  Dr. Lee Roberson was known by many as a man who would not even pick up his own daughter if she were walking down the road with her car broken down because he did not want anyone to get the wrong impression that the MAN OF GOD had just picked up a WOMAN in his car alone.  I mean, we are not just talking about a girl being in the office but he was kissing her during counseling.  Has anyone ever read that Jack Schaap made a statement saying, “I HAVE SINNED?”  No, because he is so filled with his own selfish ways that he cares not about the intrinsic value of his wife, his church, his schools, his college, his call to the ministry, his salvation (if he is saved) or the intrinsic value of his WALK WITH GOD.  Wasn’t he afraid that God would write ICKABOD on his ministry?  Oh, I almost forgot, he got drawn away.  He was drawn away from everything the institution he pastored believed and taught on a daily basis.  Bob Jones Sr. said that EVERY TRAGEDY IN HUMAN CHARACTER IS BROUGHT ABOUT BY A PROCESS OF WICKED THINKING.  One only needs to look back over the ministry of Jack Schaap and at the book he wrote about DIVINE INTIMACY which is straight out of the PIT OF HELL and was dictated to him by SATAN himself just like an angel spoke to Muhammad when he wrote the Quran.

2) Schaap’s claim that Christ wanted the two to be together.   The article says that Schaap and the girl spoke on the phone or texted one another 600 times.  I have one question:  WHERE WAS HIS WIFE CINDY?  It is obvious that in his mind he was drawn away from his own wife.  Do you mean that she never noticed?  Did he have no conscience about telling the girl he loved her and that he had never felt like this about anyone else in his whole life? Does it mean he never really loved his own wife?  Does that sound like a man that loves God?  Does that sound like a man that loves his church?  Does that sound like a man who loves souls and the ministries around the world?  Does that sound like a man that loves the bus ministry?  Does that sound like a man that loves teens?  Does that sound like a man that walks with God?  Does that sound like a man that reads the Bible?  Is he actually saying that GOD TEMPTED HIM?  How can someone with that mindset even be saved?  It sounds like he was drawn away from his wife, drawn away from his Bible, drawn away from his prayer life, drawn away from his walk with God,drawn away from his position, drawn away from his reputation, drawn away from his teaching in his home, church, and college, drawn away from sound counsel, drawn away from the rules that attended the church and all the schools of that institution, drawn away from good wisdom as Solomon wrote about in Proverbs talking about the fool that got caught by the whore, drawn away from the promise he made to the parents of the girl, drawn away from caring about the fact that this girl was to be someone else’s wife one day, drawn away from the desire to be a good Christian testimony, drawn away from being moral which means loving God and others more than self-gratification, drawn away from even the most base thoughts of conscience even among the unsaved like the FBI and prosecutors who have levied this sentence against him, drawn away from the mind of Christ, drawn awayfrom the writings of Paul who said he feared that after he had preached to others he would be a castaway.  THERE IS NO WAY IN ALL THE THINKING OF THE WORLD OR IN HEAVEN THAT GOD WANTED THEM TO BE TOGETHER.

3) Schaap’s cover stories for his numerous rendezvous with the teen.   I don’t know how I can get through this one without splitting a blood vessel.  JACK SCHAAP LIED IN SAYING HE WAS GOING OFF TO WALK WITH GOD AND PRAY!  This is almost blasphemy of the Holy Spirit!  The truth is that he was being drawn away to spending time with an UNDERAGED TEEN at the complete disregard of any relationship he had with his wife or with God.  When Dr. Hyles had difficulties in his ministry he went out into the woods to GET FRESH OIL not to cavort with an underage teen so he could engage in fornication and commit statutory rape.  Charles Finneywent out into the woods one day and after being there all day he was saved and filled with the Holy Spirit in such a powerful way that he preached some of the greatest revivals this country has ever known.  Oh by the way, Jack Schaap told his assistant he wanted to “save her.”  Well, he SAVED HER all right.  Now the family has been asked to leave the church.  WHY? THEY ARE THE VICTIMS!  He saved her all right.  He saved her from morality, from being in the church she had grown up in, from being in a Christian school (she goes to public school now), from decency, from self esteem, from being able to meet a good Christian young man, from thinking that God loves her, from thinking that she could ever have a name that is not associated with tragedy and immorality, from the love and affection that all her school teachers gave her and her Sunday School teachers taught her,  from any good memories that most teens have at that age, from any desire to serve God or become a minister’s wife or missionary, from any desire to raise her children in a Christian environment, from a desire to pray and walk with God, from a desire to make the Bible the foundation of her life, from a life not entangled with all the vices of the world because with no Christian support group, WHAT HOPE DOES SHE HAVE unless she decides to make God her greatest friend and live in HIS PRESENCE?  Don’t tell me that this liar, Jack Schaap, even had one hint of a bad conscience while he was doing all of this because of his PROSTRATE PAIN.  Maybe we need to get back to the Old Testament where God never gave any excuse for adultery or fornication and in a situation like this the man would be stoned to death.  WHERE IS THE PUBLIC STATEMENT FROM FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH DISTANCING THEMSELVE FROM THESE EGREGIOUS STATEMENTS?  We are waiting for their News Release defining how they believe and showing that they are in total disagreement with these disarming statements.

4) Schaap having sex with the teen in his office. During a church youth conference.   Let me see now!  Was it not during a conference that had as its goal getting teens to live a pure life?  Was it not when they had a theme about the cross of Christ?  Was it not during a time when they were being taught that they should DIE WITH CHRIST so they will not fulfill the lust of the flesh?  Was it not during a time when teens were going forward surrendering themselves to live chaste and keep themselves pure until marriage?  Was it not during a time when they were all making a vow that they would not even hold hands but that their first kiss would be with the one that they marry on their wedding day?  Were the teens all praying in groups for the lost in their home towns?  Were they bonding together in their vows to walk with God and be an example when they got back home?  Were they promising to burn their rock-n-roll records and separate themselves from that crowd because of their immoral ways?  My book FOUNDATIONS OF MORALITY has this to say:

Obedience cannot be partial.  A moral being cannot partly obey and partly disobey all at the same time.

When one speaks of consecration or obedience to moral law, they mean that to be real it must be entire and universal.  There is a simplicity of moral action, namely, it is all or nothing.  We mean wholly conformed or wholly not conformed to moral law.  As we explore this further we will look at two distinct areas:

  1. Can the will make opposite choices at the same      time?  Can it choose the highest good of being as an ultimate end and      at the same time choose the opposite?  Can it make any choices that      are inconsistent with the ultimate choice of highest good?

Can the will make opposite choices at the same time?  Can a person choose something inconsistent with the ultimate end in view?  Let’s make some observations:

  1. When one talks of the ultimate end they are talking      about what must be the supreme preference of the mind.   Sin is      a supreme desire for self-gratification while holiness is a supreme desire      for the good of being.  Can these two opposite ultimate preferences      co-exist in the mind at the same time?  No, it is impossible to make      opposite choices at the same time, to choose conflicting ends.
  2. We have previously shown that all intelligent choice is      for the purpose of some ultimate end or means.  The choice is equal      to the intention.  A choice means that something has been intended or      chosen.  The thing chosen is also chosen for its own sake as an end     in and of itself or for the sake of something else that is related to this      end or means.  If this not so the choice is not intelligent, yet we      are talking about the intelligent choice of a moral agent.
  3. Our conclusion from these truths is that no choice can      ever be made that is inconsistent with the current choice of an ultimate      end.  The mind could never choose two opposite ultimate ends at the      same time.  It is either one or the other.  This means that one      can never choose one ultimate end and then while in the course of acting      with that end in view, make another choice of the opposite or use the      means to secure the opposite.  When we speak of choice being means or      ends and that a person can make one ultimate choice at a time, then it      follows that while in the course of one ultimate end the mind cannot      choose anything inconsistent with that choice.  The reason is that      the mind, while in pursuit of a certain end, is using whatever means it      can to accomplish that end.  That would mean that before the mind can      will the means to secure another ultimate end, it would have to change its      choice to another ultimate end itself.   From these statements it      would follow that if the soul of man chooses the highest well-being of God      and of the universe as the ultimate end, it cannot at the same time that      this choice is in operation choose any other means to another end.       That means that while choosing the highest well-being of God and the      universe, the mind could never choose self-gratification or any other end      at the same time.  It couldn’t be inconsistent with the end that it      has chosen.  The only way a change can be made is to change the      ultimate end and when that is done, new means may be used to secure that      new ultimate end.  That means that only when a new ultimate end has      been chosen, only then can new means to that end be used or chosen and not      before.  From this it should be plainly seen that obedience to the      moral law cannot be partial or less than complete for the same reason that      the mind can not go in two opposite directions at the same time.       This is what makes the Bible so true when it says, “Ye cannot serve God      and mammon….”  One could never will the good of being as the ultimate      end and then at the same time want self-gratification as the ultimate      end.  You cannot be selfish and loving at the same time.  Until      self-gratification is the ultimate end, the means to arrive at      self-gratification will never be used.  No one can choose the highest      good of being and self-gratification at the same time as opposite ultimate      ends.

This calls into deep doubt everything about this man, his call, education, service, marriage, teachings, walk with God and more.  NO MAN THAT WALKS WITH GOD COULD EVER DO SUCH HARM TO HIS LORD JESUS CHRIST.  In my mind, 10 years is not enough in prison, he needs to spend life behind bars.  Has he ever repented?  No!  The officers of the church said that they wished he would but he has not.

5) Schaap dishonoring the teen’s father and mother.  I can say that I don’t know how this man restrains himself.  What would you do if you sent your daughter to the pastor for help and found out that he was having sex with her?  The worst thing is that he actually told the father “how great his daughter is doing.”  What did he mean?  Did he mean how great she was at kissing?  How about writing love notes?  Or, maybe she was great at building his ego and satisfying his lust for self-gratification.  Was she doing great in sending 600 texts and phone calls?  How about doing great in keeping the news private so no one could find out (until a member of the church saw the picture of them French kissing on the pastor’s cell phone?)  How about keeping the trip to Illinois to the beautiful farm that Cindy and Jack had bought for $628,700 (this was a discount by the previous owner who had it on the market at $800,000 to $900,000 but gave them a deal because he was a pastor and school chancellor.)  Maybe she did good not mentioning that Jack and her went to his cabin in Michigan on the “girls night out” and the staff member that drove her there with her own daughter almost made an amber alert when he took the girl to Schaap and they did not show up at their motel for 36 hours.  Perhaps we could fault the parents when she was writing the pastor for not knowing that the text messages were not about improving her life but about having sex and how great it was the last time because it was “off the charts” (Schaap’s own quote to her).  I have to admit that I would have a real problem.  I don’t know if I could be restrained from going to Schaap and beating the living breath out of him and putting him in the hospital with every bone in his body broken so no one could recognize who he was after what Schaap had done to my daughter.

So here is what I am saying to anyone that reads this.  We need to flood First Baptist Church and the new Pastor Wilkerson.  We need to see if they have the morals and the intestinal fortitude to distance themselves from this PERVERT once and for all.  Just calling a new pastor is not enough.  Just reporting this to the authorities is not enough.  I think that there needs to be some serious questions asked about what the position of the church is toward this kind of activity that is strictly taught against by all their institutions and by their former pastor Dr. Jack Hyles.  I have watched their services and it appears that the people are getting back to the old schedule.  I have some questions:

  1. Is the church going to welcome this family back as the victims and not the perpetrators of Schaap’s crimes rather than  tell them that they better not come back for their own safety?
  2. Is the new pastor going to clearly issue a  press release showing how his doctrine and principles are thousands of  miles away from all that Schaap believed, preached and taught?
  3. Is the church going to also issue a clear statement that from now on there will not be any man staff member counseling a young  woman or teen and make it stick so that the world will know they have  cleaned house? 
  4. Is this institution, church, schools, and  college, going to examine all staff members and find out who has been a party to such activities (like the lady staff member who drove the girl across the state lines and should have called the police but didn’t) and make sure that they are removed from their positions?
  5. Is Jack Schaap going to be removed from the membership by church discipline for sins and crimes not becoming a Christian, much less as a pastor?

When we see these things coming out in public as a news release, then we will begin to think that the healing can commence and we can again trust the place that has meant so much to thousands of people around the world.

Alum of Hyles-Anderson College – David Williams


‘My Pastor Is on the Ashley Madison List.’

Too many Christians have been caught using Ashley Madison, many of them pastors and church leaders. What now? |

This week, I’ve already written a couple of posts on the Ashley Madison hack and information leak because pastors, Christian leaders, and families are facing devastating revelation and the after-effects of public sin.

Based on my conversations with leaders from several denominations in the U.S. and Canada, I estimate that at least 400 church leaders (pastors, elders, staff, deacons, etc.) will be resigning Sunday. This is a significant moment of embarrassment for the church—and it should be. To be honest, the number of pastors and church leaders on Ashley Madison is much lower than the number of those looking to have an affair. Yet, there is still much that we must consider in the midst of the embarrassment.

Also, to be clear, in situations like these, we must confirm all things. Not everyone on the list signed themselves up. Among those who did, the sin and circumstances will be different. Many likely signed themselves up and didn’t actually go through with adultery. Regardless, though, trust has been shattered and hearts have been broken. But before we assume a name on a list means adultery has taken place, we must confirm all things and seek the full truth.

On Tuesday I wrote “Life Is Eternal. Don’t Have an Affair,” reflecting on the issue. Yesterday, I wrote, “I’m on the Ashley Madison List. Now What?” to help people caught on the list deal with the consequences.

Today, I want to focus specifically on pastors and staff members.

What happens to the sheep when the shepherd is disqualified from pastoral ministry?

Pastors have been caught on the Ashley Madison list, and it’s devastating to hear the stories. Yet, rarely do people consider a larger group affected by a pastor’s failure, a group larger than even the pastor’s own family, who is facing the primary brunt of the agonizing pain.

For a moment, I want to address what many churches will be addressing this weekend.

What happens to the sheep when the shepherd is disqualified from pastoral ministry?

This is not the only issue, and perhaps not the first to be addressed—spouses have been betrayed, children’s hearts crushed, and more. As I wrote yesterday, some are considering suicide and more at the discovery of their sin.

Churches Matter

Yet, this really isn’t something we can ignore—churches matter here as well.

When the shepherd has violated a sacred trust, it harms the whole flock. This is not the time to act as if everything is fine, rush together a pastor search team, while ignoring the hurt and bleeding flock.

First aid takes a while, and the wounds of the flock must be considered before the shepherd is hurriedly replaced.

Even when members of a church don’t idolize their pastor, there is a great deal of implicit trust in the relationship. The members believe the one teaching them week after week is the same in the park as in the pulpit, the same in private as in public. When a revelation like the Ashley Madison hack occurs, the breach of trust is severe, and often lasting far beyond his moment.

If Your Pastor or a Staff Member Is Resigning

If you are a member of a church whose pastor is outed, what should you do for your own spiritual health and that of your church? Here are a few thoughts.

Focus on God who does not fail. This is the time to remember no one is without blame. Remember—not to alleviate your pastor’s guilt—but to refuse to focus on it. God remains on His throne; He, not your pastor, will never fail. The Apostle Peter failed three times in the same night, but Jesus did not fail. Keep your eyes on Him.

Support those who struggle more than others. Some in your church will struggle more than others with an admission like this. Some will be tempted to “quit church” altogether because “the pastor was a hypocrite.” For some, this is a weight they are spiritually unable to bear alone. Put Galatians 6:2 into practice: come alongside them, bear their burden, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

When the shepherd has violated a sacred trust, it harms the whole flock.

Care for your pastor/staff family. Yes, your church has been betrayed, but not in the same way the spouse has. I sent this to my church staff earlier this week:

If any of you guys have used the service, I need you to let me know now. You will be loved and brought through a process of repentance, counseling, and care. Your wives will be ministered to and loved. But, you need to come clean now. The names are coming out.

Honestly, I am much more inclined to care for those betrayed than the betrayer, but we must care for all.

Love your pastor publicly and privately, with grace and truth. Be consistent in your love for your pastor, who has self-destructed before you and whose world has just crashed. No doubt it is a self-inflicted wound, but even those need care. Speak honestly, but lovingly. I know you are angry—I’m angry—and that’s appropriate, but be angry with grace and with truth.

Love your pastor for the ministry you previously received, and love your pastor and church leaders through the ministry they need now. Remember the grace you have been given in Christ, and do not forget your broken pastor has been afforded that same grace. The same holds true if it’s a pastor, elder, deacon, or other church leader.

If Your Pastor Is on the List

If it comes to it, and no one else, to your knowledge, has done so, confront your pastor or report the information to church leadership.

Thankfully, despite millions of names released in the database breach, it will be a small number who are pastors. The majority are continuing faithfully, obediently in the ministries where God has placed them. The few will be found out sooner or later. Even when they are, it will not be the end of the Kingdom. God reigns and His authority is not threatened when His children fail. Nor is He in danger of overthrow when some are exposed as goats rather than sheep.

God reigns and His authority is not threatened when His children fail.
Recognize That with the Office Comes the Responsibility

I know this is hard, but quiet resignations and hushed conversations are not the answer. Pastoral repentance is different—the Bible says it is.

I know of pastors right now who are negotiating a quiet resignation after an Ashley Madison related affair—but you don’t get to do that if you have taken on the office of pastor.

As I wrote earlier, full and public repentance matters. And, in regard to pastors, the same Bible you preached includes a clear teaching for this moment. First Timothy 5:19 should be a warning to us all: “Publicly rebuke those who sin, so that the rest will also be afraid.”

As I wrote in a post on the need for full, public repentance:

Yes, repentance should be evident when any believer is caught in sin, but something more is required when a pastor is involved, and this matters just as much as the cautions against accusations.

With this higher standard in mind, I want to offer three principles of repentance for pastors and Christian leaders.

1. Repentance must be public.

Yes, pastors have a higher standard to receive criticism, but when that standard is met, a new standard kicks in– as far as the sin is known the repentance should be known.

Pastors have a responsibility to what has been entrusted to them. If you are a small church pastor, your church should know. If you have been entrusted with a global ministry, however, your repentance should be known on a global scale.

Yes, that’s hard. But you cannot use the higher standard of receiving criticism to your advantage when it is beneficial, but ignore the higher standard of repentance when things are difficult.

The details don’t need to be known, but the sin does. Adultery, lying, theft should be named, not hinted. When you became a pastor, you forfeited the right for your sin not to be known when the accusations prove to be true. It does not have to be prurient, but it must be clear.

2. Repentance must be thorough.

…As Lanny Davis wrote about political scandals, Tell it all, tell it early, tell it yourself.” Or, to quote a paraphrase of Proverbs 28:13, “What we cover, God uncovers and what we uncover, God covers.

There is great freedom in confessing it all, early, and moving on toward restoration. The alternative is to be trapped in a cycle of waiting until more evidence comes forward and then trying to spin it to salvage our reputation.

Repentance is freeing.

3. Repentance should lead to restoration.

…When it comes to pastoral repentance, fear leads to forever hiding where faith leads to confession and restoration.

I’m not saying that every pastor can be restored to every role—that’s a discussion for another day. But, a pastor who commits adultery, for example, needs to be under a discipline process with the church that lasts a considerable length of time (at least two years in my opinion).

God’s Grace

For reasons I cannot share (as it is not my story to share), I have much more concern for the victims, but if we care about the church (and the fallen pastor), we need to have a church conversation.

God’s grace is sufficient for the shepherd who falls, and the flock left vulnerable.

God’s grace is sufficient for the shepherd who falls, and the flock left vulnerable. We have a Great Shepherd, a Chief Shepherd, who is for us what earthly shepherds can never be: perfect, absolutely trustworthy, and never failing. It is He who leads us beside still waters in and into green pastures. Let us place our faith in Him, and we will find rest for our weary souls.

Pray for your pastors and church leaders today, even if they weren’t found to be in sin. Pray for them to resist temptation and cling to the cross when presented with sin.

Chris Martin and Marty Duren contributed to this post.

 

On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field”


Jerald Finney
Copyright © August, 2010


See also, Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy. This article follows up with some of the consequences of  Jack Hyles’ heretical preaching and actions. The lessons from this should be taken to heart by every church and church member.


Contents:

I. Introduction
II. The Problem
III. The Reason for the Problem
IV. Conclusion
Note (First Baptist of Hammond’s statement of doctrine of the church)

Book information (Information on books by Jerald Finney)

Note. (Some excerpts from church doctrine of First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana)


I. Introduction

3As any good fundamental Baptist knows, Jack Hyles was a great leader. Under his leadership from 1959-2001, the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (which will be referred to as “First Baptist,” hereinafter), a fundamentalist Independent Baptist church in Hammond, Indiana which was founded in 1887, became one of the megachurches in the United States and during the 1970s had the highest Sunday school attendance of any church in the world. (Left-click: Wikipedia, “First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana”; “The History of the First Baptist Church of Hammond” for an brief audio presention).” First Baptist  also operates Hyles-Anderson College,, and two K-12 schools, called City Baptist Schools (for children of the bus route of the church) and Hammond Baptist Schools (for children of the members of the church). Jack Schaap, Hyles’ son-in-law, succeeded as pastor after Hyles’ death in 2001 (Wikipedia).

9Dr. Hyles was a great teacher and preacher. His teachings and ministry were set forth as examples to fundamental Baptists everywhere. He preached, he taught, he wrote books and articles that influenced untold numbers of people. He was loved by many, hated by some: being loved as well as hated and criticized comes with being a pastor, especially a pastor of his influence, leadership ability, and views (most of which the author would agree with, having served under some powerful Baptist preachers since his salvation in 1982).

Left click the above to go to the transcript of “The Treasure Is in the Field”

The purpose of this article is not to criticize Dr. Hyles or any of his teachings other than the sermon referred to below. Rather, the purpose is to teach to those saved readers who have an ear to hear what the spirit is saying unto the churches the doctrine of the church and how that doctrine has been and continues to be violated by First Baptist and thousands upon thousands of other “Bible-believing” Baptist churches, not to speak of churches of other denominations, in America. Articles which will follow will show how Dr. Hyles, the great man of God that he was, violated a biblical principle regarding the church and how that error has now come home to roost, negatively affecting untold multitudes of people at First Baptist and worldwide.

Hyles’ preached the sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field” (Left-click to go directly to transcript of the sermon.). His text for the sermon was Matthew 13.36-44. Mr. Hyles stated, after giving his text and in the introduction to that sermon:

11I want you to listen to me very carefully. I’m going to tell you the main cause for divorce in our country. I’m going to tell you the main cause for church splits and church troubles in your country. I’m going to tell you the main cause for broken friendships in our country, in our church, in our land, and in your family. I’m going to tell you why sometimes even families have strained relationships. I want you to listen to me. I have no desire to preach a great sermon. I have a tremendous desire to help you. I know as I speak on the subject, ‘The Treasure is in a Field,’ that the treasure is in a field. I want to read for you my text verse. ‘Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a treasure hid in a field:’ notice the word hid. You’ve got to find it. You’ve got to look for it, and then it’s in a field. You’ve got to go to a field and look for the treasure. “…in a field: the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.’ Now please, let me have your attention. I promise you, I can help your marriage. I can help your relationship with your friends, I speak this morning a very important message entitled, ‘The Treasure is in a Field.’” [Emphasis mine.]

12Dr. Hyles then asserted that First Baptist church, spouses (both husbands and wives), friends, leaders, parents, and teachers are treasures; but all these treasures come with fields (sins, flaws, irritants). Finally, he concluded by preaching on the One who has no field, the Lord Jesus Christ.

First Baptist, according to Dr. Hyles’ sermon, was a “treasure.” He said that First Baptist was “the greatest soul winning church since Jerusalem,” and “the greatest soul winning church in the history of this world.” He pointed out that Hyles-Anderson College and its leaders—including President Wendell Evans; Vice President Jack Schaap, Executive Vice President Darrel Moore, and others—were treasures. He points out that all these treasures, including himself, have fields which are filled with sins, but that one should never leave a treasure because of sins.


II. The Problem

4Dr. Hyles, as does any knowledgeable fundamental Bible-believing Christian, knew that divorce and church trouble were rampant when he preached his sermon “The Treasure is in a Field.” Things have only gotten worse and continue to get worse at an ever accelerated rate. The divorce rate of couples in American churches has skyrocketed and is now at 50% or more. At the same time, untold numbers of fundamental Baptist churches are betraying our Lord; abandoning the fundamental doctrines and teachings of the Word of God as well as the Word of God itself; turning to corrupted interpretations of the Bible instead of the tried and true translation; resorting to psychology and other humanistic and business devices in order to increase attendance; feeding milk instead of meat to envying, striving, divided church bodies who are not able to bear the deeper things of God; teaching and/or practicing heresy; and some are falling into apostasy. Every year, droves of fundamental Baptist preachers are abandoning or betraying the faith and scores or hundreds of fundamental, Bible-believing Baptist churches are ceasing to exist. In other words, spiritual treasure is being abandoned and lost and, sadly, very few understand why.

Again, and for emphasis, Dr. Hyles stated in his introduction:

“I’m going to tell you the main cause for divorce in our country. I’m going to tell you the main cause for church splits and church troubles in your country.”

The Word of God, as applied to reality in America, gives the true reason for the downfall of both types of marriages in America—the marriage of man and woman and the marriage of Christ and His church (See the Note at the end of this article which gives excerpts from the doctrinal statement of First Baptist concerning certain aspects of the biblical doctrine of the church and which makes clear that the marriage of Christ and His church is like unto God-ordained marriage of man and woman. Whether First Baptist actually applies this and other biblical principles is not considered in this article, nor is the state of marriage and family at First Baptist.). Dr. Hyles points to a symptom and to a solution to easing that symptom, but he does not point to the underlying reason for and solution to the destruction of these marriage relationships.


III. The Reason for the Problem

The reason for the problem is simple: spouses who seek divorces and most churches have an earthly love, not a “heavenly” or spiritual love, for their spouse and for God. Solomon loved a thousand women, but obviously his love for those women was not the love described as “charity” (supreme love for God and for one’s fellow man) in I Corinthians 13 (see also 1 John 2.15-17:

3“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”)

Thus, one can love, in an earthly manner, but that love is far from God’s type of love, charity. Earthly love is egocentric and results in problems and betrayal. Godly love is God centered and brings loyalty and fidelity.

When a wife or a church takes the first step away from her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, by putting herself even partially under another lover, she has started down the road to the destruction of the marriage relationship. A church takes that first step to dishonor her Husband by entangling herself with the contracts which are created by incorporation. Usually, when she does this, she also subjugates herself further to the federal government through Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. She has, as did Israel when she demanded a king, taken herself from under the total headship of God and committed a wicked act (See I Samuel 8 and 12.). She has now placed herself under the permissive, as opposed to the perfect, will of God. As long as she has a good pastor who obeys God, honors His Word, and adheres to His principles in other matters, God will still bless her. However, the church is now a “religious organization” as well as a “spiritual organism;” and, when viewed by the spiritual eye, adverse effects immediately begin to contaminate the newly incorporated  church.  All state churches have agreed to a multitude of rules formulated unilaterally by their new sovereign which determine the procedures, operation, and functioning of the church body. Incorporation is much more than a way to hold property. In most cases, sooner or later a state church will no longer have a good pastor, and the church body will have become so contaminated that no good pastor would want to be associated with that church anyway.

2A couple takes the first step in the contamination of the marriage when they treat their  marriage as a contract. Biblical covenant marriage is a three-way relationship, a covenant to which God is the controlling party. God’s rules and principles are all that apply to such a marriage, at least as entered into and agreed to by the parties to the covenant. State marriages are contracts and the controlling party to the contract of marriage is the state—a couple who marries under state license and contract voluntarily submit to contract or agreement and state control. If one does not believe this, the author would herein make only two of  many points which verify this: (1)  a civil court will not allow biblical principles into the divorce suit; and (2) in Texas, and I believe in most or all states, no reason is needed for a divorce (“no-fault divorce”). My conclusion is not affected by the fact that states will take control of any marriage, whether sanctioned by the state or not. A couple who understand and apply God-ordained covenant marriage are far less likely to see divorce through the state or by any other means, since they probably love the Lord and are taking into consideration biblical principles before marrying, and they are more likely to apply biblical principles concerning marriage and family after they marry. A spouse who marries under biblical covenant as opposed to earthly or state contract is also more likely to be aware of God’s rules and  feelings concerning the marrriage relationship and therefore less likely to rebel against God by seeking a divorce.

Full explanation of this thesis is beyond the scope of this article. Thorough development requires an application of the biblical principles of government, church, separation of church and state as applied to an accurate understanding of history and civil law. The author respectfully contends that Dr. Hyles came short in the understanding, knowledge, and wisdom as to this matter, as do most fundamental Baptists. As to marriage of man and woman, the author has actually heard from a secular counselor (who also gave much more good advice than Dr. Hyles gave) the same advice which Dr. Hyles gave in his sermon.

Of course, there is always a remnant, and the author knows many Baptists who are very knowledgeable and wise as to spiritual matters. Since this is such an important topic, please consider the remainder of this article. Obviously, most preachers do not have the solution to the problem, so why not consider a rationale based upon the application of biblical principle to facts and civil law?

Having the knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to understand the reason for the problem of divorce and problems of churches and the solution thereto requires intense Holy Spirit led study of the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state, marriage of man and woman, and marriage of the Lord and His church as well as the application of those principles to historical and legal facts. This is where most fundamental Baptists have fallen short.

The spiritual state of churches in America varies widely. Some churches teach the biblical doctrine of salvation; some do not. Some churches seek to please God by getting out the message of salvation and seeking the salvation of the lost; some do not. Some who actually evangelize and see people saved and added to the church continue to “preach the word, and to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine, even though the time has come when many will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears and turn away their ears from the truth and are turned into fables” (see. II Ti. 4.2-4); most do not. Some churches are good on the low end of the spiritual education—that is on the kindergarten, maybe grade school level. Few teach on the spiritual middle school level, and fewer on the spiritual high school level. Even more tragic, very few Bible Institutes, Colleges, Seminaries and other Christian institutions of higher learning correctly teach the doctrines of marriage of man and woman, church, state, and separation of church and state. To understand the problem and solution, a believer must understand those doctrines along with a factual application of those doctrines to history and law. To comprehend the problem and solution, a Christian must understand and apply the relevant biblical principles to the history and secular interpretation of “separation of church and state” and the laws concerning incorporation and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3)).

Obviously, a thorough study of these matters is beyond the scope of this article, but please left click the following link to see an online outline of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application: free online version; free online PDFLink to preview of God Betrayed. God Betrayed may be ordered from Amazon and other sources by left clicking the following link: Order information for books by Jerald Finney.

PictureOfBookForPostcardsEtcGod Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application was written at the graduate or post-graduate school level for mature educated Christians who desire to understand the issue of church incorporation and 501(c)(3) status for churches and the state marriage contract for man and wife. The main empahses of the book are reflected in the outline of the book, that is, the Table of Contents. By going to the Table on Contents, one can left-click a chapter, the Bibliography, the Index, or the Index of Scripture verses and go directly to the clicked site. For example, if one left clicks Section VI, Chapter 2 “Incorporation of churches,” in the Table of Contents of the preview of God Betrayed, he will learn about  the law of incorporation in America. Section VI, Chapter 7, “Spurious Rationale for incorporating: to hold property” biblically compares a legal and God-honoring manner for a church to hold property with God-dishonoring church incorporation.

The index is more specific. If one goes to the Index in the preview of God Betrayed above, he can click on a particular page he wants to look at. For example, go to Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) in the “Index” (this is on page 442 of the book which will be noted at the top). Notice the entry, “386 (IRS requirements for recognition of tax exemption)” and left click to go directly to page 386 to read the requirements. Note that this is a preview and some pages are omitted. God Betrayed only touches upon the state marriage contract of man and woman and principles concerning family. God Betrayed may be ordered from Amazon and other sources by left clicking the following link: Order information for books by Jerald Finney.

In addition to God Betrayed, other resources include:

(1) Books which deal with the underlying problem and solution for marriage of man and woman and marriage of Christ and His churches which can be obtained on the Order information for books by Jerald Finney.
(2) A radio show aired at 9:00 a.m. ET, 8:00 a.m. CT, 7:00 a.m. MT, and 6:00 a.m. PT each Sunday morning and which can be heard by going to the “Audio Series” page.
(3) Articles and audio teachings on “Separation of Church and State Law” blog (opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com). You can subscribe to this blog and receive notification as new articles are posted.


IV. Conclusion

The author humbly submits that in the fundamental Baptist church world in America in general , the blind lead the blind in many matters. Most do not consider and apply verses such as II Timothy 2.2-4, 15-26, Ephesians 6.10-18, II Corinthians 10.3-5, II Peter 1.3-10, etc. Instead, Christians follow fables cunningly devised by pastors; Bible school professors; lawyers who have not done a serious examination of the biblical principles, law, and facts; and other teachers. The Lord through Peter wrote:

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” (II Peter 1.19-21).


Note

First Baptist, as of August 6, 2010, correctly states the doctrine of the church on her website (see Church, Church-2, Church-3). Here are some excerpts:

(1) “The Church must be viewed from two perspectives. The church is not a physical body but a spiritual body. There is the local church, which is a physical expression of the Body of Christ where a group of Christians meet in a physical location. It may be a house, a particular building designated for meeting, a cave or whatever. The people are the church, not the physical structure” (Church).
(2) “The word ‘church’ does not mean the building in which the congregation meets; neither is it as the Catholics say, the Papal system. Others contend that it is a company, or a club, just an organization. The Church is not an organization, but an organism” (Church-2).
(3) “The Body is an organism composed of many members. All members do not have the same function. The Church is not a physical body, but a spiritual body. Believers in Christ are made members of that spiritual body by the Spirit’s baptism” (Ibid.).
(4) “[The Church] Is the Body of Which Christ Is the Head” (Ibid.).
(5) “Remember that the Body is an organism and must be considered as such” (Ibid.).
(6) Under the heading “It Is a Building,” is explained that a church is a spiritual building, not an earthly building. “’Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ’ (I Peter 2:5). We believers are living stones of this new building of God. When the temple of old was erected, there was no sound of hammer, chisel, or saw. All materials were formed beforehand. So are we, for we were selected before the foundation of the earth was laid. The inside stones of the temple could not be seen, for they were covered with cedarwood and gold. Only the gold could be seen. We, the living stones of the Building of God, are not to be seen. Christ only is to be seen” (Ibid.).
(7) Under the heading “It Is a Bride,” is explained that the church is purchased by Christ, is espoused to Christ, and is married to Christ (Ibid.).
(8) Under the heading “It’s Organization,” the doctrinal statement correctly points out the biblically correct organization of a church (Ibid.).
(9) Under the heading “Its Purpose,” the doctrinal statement correctly says, “The purpose of the Church is to glorify God in the building up of the Body of Christ in the holy faith; and to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth, winning, baptizing, teaching.” (Ibid.)
(10) “Christ is the Head of the church. Colossians 1:18-19; Ephesians 1:22-23. No man may claim this position. Where Christ is acknowledged as Head, the church will look to Him and to Him alone for dictation and guidance” (Church-3).
(11) “The authority of the Holy Spirit should be recognized. Whether in worship or in service, ministry or discipline, there should be liberty for the Holy Spirit to direct. His guidance and authority ought not to be limited by man-made ceremonies or human organization. II Corinthians 3:17; Ephesians 4:3. To summarize, then, a young believer should fellowship with those who acknowledge the Bible as their only guide, who are sound as to the Person and work of Christ, and who seek to carry out the teachings of the New Testament with regard to the church and its functions” (Ibid.).

Book Information

Order Information and free Online versions and online PDFs for books by Jerald Finney

Preaching on Sodomy in a Hate Crime Atmosphere

Jerald Finney
Copyright © June 16, 2010

Re.2.17

They Want To Use ‘Hate Speech Laws’ To Destroy Freedom Of Speech In America
July 3, 2015, Article by Michael Sneider
The Sodomite Agenda, Religious Organizations, And Government Tyranny
Webpage

 Equality Act Creates LGBT Rights Everywhere! (102315)(Revealed: LGBT Nuclear Bomb Against Churches – Will apply to state churches, such as incorporated 501c3 churches and corporation sole 508 churches, only. The article  below explains how this applies to state churches, but not to New Testament churches.)

Virginia Passes Legislation Forcing Churches to Allow “Transgender” Males into Women’s Bathrooms (04720)

The principles in the article below can be applied to the issue of what a church should do if required by civil law to officiate over the impossible – the marriage of people of the same sex.

Jerald Finney
Copyright © June, 2010

Contents:

I. Introduction (includes the question to be answered)
II. The two types of churches in America
III. The answer to the question for a state church
IV. The answer to the question for a New Testament church
V. Conclusion

Ro.6.23I. Introduction

Another storm is brewing over the spiritual foundations of America. That storm may with full force strike our religious edifices at any time. The reaction of preachers to this threatened destruction of the recognition – at least as to some vital matters – of religious liberty, freedom of speech, press, association, and the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances – by the federal and state governments in America is very revealing as to the spiritual condition of America’s “Bible-believing” churches and pastors.

One should understand that Christ, not civil government, has set the believer free, no matter what the civil government does. A civil government can choose to recognize the freedom God has given all who repent of sin and trust Jesus Christ as their savior from their sin, but civil government cannot take away that liberty, even should the civil government take the temporal physical life of believers for following Christ (See “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself” for more information on true life and true liberty).

This article answers this question:

What should a church and a preacher do (1) now, (2) when the storm hits and the civil law either forbids him to preach on something included within the counsel of God, or (3) when the civil law is unclear as to the application of a law as against preaching on a biblically covered topic?

1According to the Bible, the answer to the question depends upon whether the church involved is a state church or a New Testament church. The pastor of a state church should honor his sovereign state as to certain matters to which the church has agreed when incorporating and getting Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) (“501c3”) status. The pastor of a New Testament church is under God only and must honor his only Sovereign, the Lord Jesus Christ and His rules laid down in His Holy Word.

New Testament believers including pastors should be ideal citizens (in God’s eyes) of the earthly state they reside in. They should honor those laws which have to do with the treatment of their fellow man as reflected in God’s Word (See, e.g. Matthew 5:38-48; Luke 6:27-36; Romans 12:9-21, 13:8-14; 1 Peter 2:12-20, 4:12-19; 2 Peter 1:3-10); but when the state exceeds its God-given jurisdiction and delves into matters concerning man’s relationship and duties toward God and toward his fellow man as directed by God, they should “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29 and the whole book of Acts). No one is exempt from being punished under the criminal laws of their earthly government, whether those laws fall within the God-given jurisdiction of the state or not. (See the article “American Abuse of Romans 13:1-2 and Related Verses” for an in depth study of verses taken out of context to support subjection to the state beyond that desired by God).

1Churches in America are free to operate as either state churches or New Testament churches. A state church has legal status. A state church is a legal entity. A state church chose to be a state incorporated and usually 501c3 or 508 church and therefore agreed to the accompanying rules and procedures. (See Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status which proves that 508 “tax exempt” churches are subject to the same rules as a 501c3 church.) Those rules and procedures are not hidden, but are clearly stated in the law of the state of incorporation and the Internal Revenue Code. As the old adage goes, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse.”

Click the above image to go to PDF of the book
Click the above image to go to PDF of the book

A church organized according to the principles of the New Testament is not a legal entity and has no legal status. A New Testament church is a spiritual entity only and is under the Lord Jesus Christ only. (See Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities?).

This article will first describe the two types of churches in America. Then, the article will answer the question presented above for the state church. Finally, the article will answer the question as to the New Testament church.

II. The two types of churches in America

8State churches and New Testament churches are distinct. The state church is a legal entity. A legal entity is an entity which can sue or be sued and act legally. Examples of legal entities are corporations, corporations sole, unincorporated associations, business trusts, charitable trusts and certain other trusts. The ordinary Bible trust is not a legal entity, nor does it render a church which places tithes, offerings and gifts in the Bible trust estate a legal entity. Thus, when a church incorporates (sole or aggregate), she becomes a legal entity. An incorporated church is a private, as opposed to a public, corporation (to gain a complete understanding of church incorporation, Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3), and related issues, go to  Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches – Spiritual or Legal Entities?. For proof that church corporation sole status is nothing more than non-profit corporation status see Critique of ‘Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole’ WebsiteFor an example of one trust scheme which renders a church a legal entity, see Ecclesiastical Law Center Exposed.

As a private corporation, an incorporated church is subject to the law of incorporation since the state, through its laws, provides the manner and means and legalities of incorporation. The corporate part of a church is an “artificial being, invisible, intangible, and existing only in contemplation of law.” The law is clear that the sovereign of the incorporated church is the state creator of the corporation and the law makes clear that an incorporated church is a creature of the state. The law is clear as to the definition, requirements, organization and procedures for the corporation, including the corporate church.

Through incorporation, state law creates several contracts: contracts between the corporation and the state, between the corporation and the members, between the members themselves, and between the members and the state of incorporation. Problems can be taken to the sovereign state for resolution. Resolution of those problems by the state, which is the controlling party to the contracts created by incorporation, will exclude God and His principles entirely. Should a state church dispute this observation, let that church try to take a Bible or biblical principles into the courtroom when a matter involving that church goes to a court of law. Of course, the courts have said that they will not interfere with ecclesiastical matters; but the state ultimately determines what is ecclesiastical and what is not.

The state church has lost much of her First Amendment protection by incorporating. Unlike the New Testament church which is subject solely to the First Amendment and retains all her First Amendment protections from encroachment by the state, the state church now falls under the “Fourteenth Amendment” due process and equal protection provisions and is also subject to attack by individual church members, people outside the church, as well as the state itself.

Almost all corporate churches are also 501c3 churches. As such, those churches agree to five rules, four of which have been legislatively added since the statute was enacted and one of which, “the public policy” rule, was added by the Internal Revenue Service and upheld by the United States Supreme Court in Bob Jones University, 461 U.S. 574 (1983)(See God Betrayed for a full analysis of this case and its possible application to churches). A pastor and church should be aware that those rules were enacted unilaterally by the civil government without any input from churches. Therefore, other rules may, in the future, be added by the civil government through the legislative process and by the Internal Revenue Service.

Pastors of state churches are fearful that their sovereign state will come against them for violating the rules of 501(c)(3). For example, most state preachers will not preach that a particular candidate for public office is evil or good, as the case may be; and many pastors fear that they will violate “fundamental public policy” should they preach on certain biblical subjects such as sodomy (See, e.g., the article, “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme” for a more thorough analysis of the rules, etc. to which a church submits when she gets 501c3 status). Whether the state comes against a 501(c)(3) church or not, the church is in violation of God’s directive for churches – that churches have no authority over them other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

A New Testament church is a spiritual entity only. She is not a legal entity in any way. She has not compromised her First Amendment protections in any way. More importantly, she is under God only. Her allegiance is to God only. Of course, such an allegiance means that she will be an asset to individuals, families, and the state (regardless of whether the state realizes this or not and regardless of whether the state persecutes her or not). She has entered into no agreement with the state and the state has no jurisdiction over her. Christ is her creator, builder, and head (Matthew 16:28; Acts 4:7-11). She, unlike a state church, is in a position to love God supremely (see the article, “The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls”). She owns no property (see the article, “Analysis of another reason for church corporate status: to hold property,” in order to understand how a church in American can, under both civil law and biblical precept, meet on property without owning it; see also, the other articles under the topic at left, “Reasons given for incorporating a church”).

III. The answer to the question for a state church

If the church is a state church and if the law is clear, the preacher and church should obey the law. If the law is unclear, the pastor can preach on the subject and wait to see if he and/or his church is charged with violating the law or if the state will act to remove the church tax exempt status. Many times, the pastor chooses to refrain from preaching on a subject or issue which he fears may violate man’s law even though the subject or issue is clearly included in the “whole counsel of God.” Should a state church pastor choose to preach on the matter, the state may come against him; and the state, through a state agency—usually the Internal Revenue Service—or state court will decide the issue. If an agency rules against a church in such a case, the church can appeal to the appropriate court. Whatever the decision of the highest court which hears the issue, the church and pastor are bound by both the state and the Lord to follow the ruling of that court. The Lord makes clear in His Word that it is a great wickedness or iniquity for a church to submit to any authority other than Himself; but should a church do so, that church has an obligation under God to honor the ruling of the state since, as has been stated, the church voluntarily acquired the status and the baggage that accompanied it. The state church is in a catch-22 situation.

IV. The answer to the question for a New Testament church

A cCorporation sole church is not under God only.
A cCorporation sole church is not under God only.

On the other hand, if the church is not a state church (that is, if the church has no legal status), then the pastor and church should obey the will of the Lord, as revealed in His Word. Since the church has no legal status, the state cannot proceed against the church. No contract or agreement with the state exists. The church is under God only. The pastor of such a church can preach on the “whole counsel of God,” thereby pleasing the Lord.

Remember, the pastor of a state church displeases God by becoming a state church; and he also grieves the Lord by violating the rules of the earthly sovereign of the state church he pastors. This is not true for a New Testament church because that church still pleases the Lord in this matter of separation of church and state; that church will be under God only and the pastor will preach whatever the Holy Spirit and the Word of God lead him to preach. Should the state become tyrannical and try to assert unauthorized jurisdiction over him and/or the members of church he pastors, his response will be like the Spirit filled response of believers to the authorities who had imprisoned them for healing and speaking in the name of Jesus as recorded in Acts 4:24-30:

And … they 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.”

No matter what the state does to a pastor or members of a New Testament church, the state cannot destroy such a church (See the article, “An Abridged History of the First Amendment” for more understanding about this matter).

V. Conclusion

Is.33.22True believers and churches have, since the inception of the church, “obeyed God rather than man.” The apostles and Christians of the New Testament did, the Christians and martyrs before the marriage of church and state in the early fourth century did; true believers including millions of martyrs after the marriage of church and state did; true believers to this day in countries such as China, Korea, Iran, Iraq, Afganistan, etc. are continuing this tradition; but sadly, most “Christians” in America do not.

1Ti.3.1-5It seems a paradox that in America—where the law provides for freedom of religion and where churches may choose to operate under God without any persecution whatsoever—churches and Christians voluntarily place themselves under a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ whereas true believers down through the ages, and to this very day, who were and are persecuted by the state, by the state in conjunction with the established church or religion, or by the established church or religion have chosen to remain under God only in spite of persecution.

Those heroes of the faith showed and continue to show the power of God to the world around them, and as a result, the world was and is influenced and changed by their spiritual actions which are motivated by their love for the Lord and not by worldly ambition, force, greed, selfishness, and sinful pleasure:

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31).

Reliable sources such as The Voice of the Martyrs report that the underground church in China has as many as 100,000,000 members. Chinese citizens—as did the Roman soldiers who threw down their weapons, converted on the spot and walked into the coliseum to be torn asunder by wild beasts, along with the Christians whose power they witnessed—show forth the power of God. Likewise do those North Korean refugees in China who are saved and return to Korea to witness to their friends and loved ones in North Korea in the face of almost certain death.

2Ti.2.3What about churches in America? As a percentage, good churches are a small fraction of the total number of churches in America. Therefore, the author is very thankful to be a member of a good Bible believing and preaching church. However, American churches have become, for the most part, impotent, heretical and apostate and are powerless in the spiritual warfare which Christians are called to fight. Modern American Christians, in the main, have no spiritual knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. They are not “enduring hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ” (2 Timothy 2:3). They are not fighting the spiritual warfare “against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness in this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Epesians 6:12). They are “[entangling] themselves with the affairs of this world” and, as a result, God, who has chosen him to be a soldier, is not pleased (1 Timothy 2:4). “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 2:11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13).

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The Sodomite Agenda, Religious Organizations and Government Tyranny

I Pledge Allegiance to God and His Kingdom, Not to America

The Proper Response by believers and churches to Obergefell, the United States Supreme Court same sex marriage decision (063010)

The Republican Response to Obergefell – Wrong!!!!!! (070715)

Will Churches in America Have a Choice about Sodomite Marriage: A short critique of the Article “Christian schools will have no choice about gay marriage: Column” as it relates to churches (052315)

The Hierarchy of Law as it relates to sodomy and sodomite marriage (060115)

Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s Teaching on “The Biblical Principles Doctrine of the Church”

This purpose of this page is to record the radio broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teachings on the biblical principles of the church. One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to Preview of God Betrayed) is a comprehensive study of the issue of separation of church and state and may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) or directly from Amazon by going to the following links: (1) Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction to the biblical doctrine of the church (June 13, 2010, 38th Broadcast, 1st 15 min. segment): 

Definition,  organization, and purposes of a church (June 13, 2010, 38th Broadcast, 2nd 15 minute segment): 

Definition,  organization, and purposes of a church (June 13, 2010, 38th Broadcast, 3rd 15 minute segment): 

Heresy and apostasy – 1 (June 20, 2010, 39th Broadcast, 1st 15 minute segment): 

Heresy and apostasy – 2 (June 20, 2010, 39th Broadcast, 2nd 15 minute segment):

Recent accelerated apostasy in the United States (June 20, 2010, 39th Broadcast, 3rd 15 minute segment):

“Apostasy at the end of the church age,” “The church will reign with the Lord,” and “Conclusion of the biblical principles concerning the church.” 

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