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What is a Church under Christ (a New Testament church), and What Upholds Her Integrity?


Jerald Finney
Copyright © November 6, 2017


Endnote 1 gives James Madison’s objections to a bill that would have incorporated a church in federal jurisdiction which he included with his veto and links to the whole story concerning that matter.

Endnote 2 quotes some court cases, with online links directly to those cases, on church incorporation and other matters. One case explains that, with an incorporated church, as opposed to a church which is not a legal entity, there are two entities, the one spiritual and the other legal. Another court in WATSON v. JONES, 80 U.S. 679 (____), 13 Wall. 679. Supreme Court of the United Statesconcludes that it has no jurisdiction over the matter. The important thing to notice is that the authority is the court. Since the church contracted with the state by incorporating, the members (individual or groups of members) can go to their authority not only for resolution of disputes but also for decision as to whether the authority has jurisdiction. A member can sue a member, members, the church or the state; members can sue a member, members, the church, or the state; the church can sue a member or members, etc. The contract makes clear that the controlling party is the state.

Endnote 3 briefly explains the meaning of “the church” as used in the Bible and in this article.


What is a Church, and What Upholds Her Integrity?

Christ’s church or assembly was a mystery that was not revealed in the Old Testament; it was “kept secret since the world began, But is now made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith” (Ro. 16.25-26; see also, Ep. 2.9, 3.9). Jesus announced it and the Epistles of the Apostle Paul explained it. That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Ro. 9.24-33, 10.19-21). The mystery “hid in God” was the divine purpose to make of Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing—the institution of the church to be manifested in local New Testament churches until the marriage of the lamb (Heb. 12.22-24; Re. 19.7-10)—Christ’s body.  In the church, and in the church only, the distinction between Jew and Gentile disappears, and there is one “new man,” the church where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circucmcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and  in all.” (Ep. 2.14, 15; Col. 3.10, 11). The revelation of this mystery which was foretold but not explained by Christ (Mt. 16.18) was committed to the Apostle Paul. God “made known unto us [believers together with Christ in a local church body] the mystery of his will, according to his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath proposed in himself” (Ep. 1.9, 2.5-6).

Our Lord announced the purpose of His churches, His assemblies, but wholly without explanation as to how, when, or of what materials, those churches should be built, or what should be their position, relationships, privileges or duties. The Epistles of Paul develop the doctrine of the church. In those epistles, the New Testament church, the “mystery which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God” (Ep. 3.9), is fully revealed, and fully instructed as to her unique place in the counsels and purposes of God. Through Paul alone we know that a church is not an organization, but an organism, the body of Christ, instinct with His life, and heavenly in calling, promise, and destiny. Through him alone we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches, and the right conduct of such gatherings. This article will not address all those facets of a church, but will concentrate on the nature of a local church body.

The Apostle Paul was a man well educated in earthly and temporal matters before his salvation. As an apostle, Paul rejected his worldly wisdom gained in “higher education.” Before his conversion, he studied in Tarsus under Gamaliel (Ac. 22.3). He was a Pharisee of Pharisees.

  • “Tarsus was actually the center of Greek learning to that day. The finest Greek university in Paul’s day was in Tarsus, not in Athens or Corinth which had passed their zenith. Tarsus was a thriving Greek city and an educational center…. Undoubtedly Paul had been brought up in that university in Tarsus and had a Greek background, but he had also been in Jerusalem where he had studied under Gamaliel. He had worked on his doctorate in Jerusalem under the outstanding scholar of that day, Gamaliel.” (J. Vernon McGee, Acts, Volume II (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1984), p. 258)

Despite his worldly education, which he obtained before his conversion, Paul declared:

  • “And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Co. 2.1-16) [Bold emphasis mine].

Thus Paul first made clear that, as a spiritual man called as an Apostle, he discarded his worldly education gained as a lost carnal man. After he got saved he relied only upon his knowledge of God; and he made clear that only the born-again believer, led by the Spirit, was qualified to handle spiritual matters. Paul also asserted that rulers, “the princes of this world,” do not possess spiritual wisdom, indicating that most leaders are not Christians (undoubtedly, almost all leaders, and almost all leaders of civil government when he wrote the above words, are not and were not Christians) and are blind to spiritual matters.

Persecuted Christians down through the ages have understood this and therefore have refused, even under penalty of torture, imprisonment, and/or death to submit the church and spiritual matters to the ungodly. This was especially apparent under the Roman Empire at the time of Christ and after. See The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus.

  • “Scripture and all history tell us, that those Caesars were not only arrogant, without God, without Christ, &c.; but professed worshippers, or maintainers, of the Roman gods or devils; as also notorious for all sorts of wickedness; and lastly, cruel and bloody lions and tigers toward the Christians for many hundred years.
  • “Hence I [Roger Williams] argue from the wisdom, love, and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus in his house, it was impossible that he should appoint such ignorant, such idolatrous, such wicked, and such cruel persons to be his chief officers and deputy lieutenants under himself to keep the worship of God, to guard his church, his wife. No wise and loving father was ever known to put his child, no not his beasts, dogs, or swine, but unto fitting keepers.
  • “Men judge it matter of high complaint, that the records of parliament, the king’s children, the Tower of London, the great seal, should be committed to unworthy keepers! And can it be, without high blasphemy, conceived that the Lord Jesus should commit his sheep, his children, yea, his spouse, his thousand shields and bucklers in the tower of his church, and lastly, his great and glorious broad seals of baptism and his supper, to be preserved pure in their administrations—I say, that the Lord Jesus, who is wisdom and faithfulness itself, should deliver these to such keepers? …
  • “[W]hen the Lord appointed the government of Israel after the rejection of Saul, to establish a covenant of succession in the type unto Christ, let it be minded what pattern and precedent it pleased the Lord to set for the after kings of Israel and Judah, in David, the man after his own heart.
  • “But now the Lord Jesus being come himself, and having fulfilled the former types, and dissolved the national state of the church, and established a more spiritual way of worship all the world over, and appointed a spiritual government and governors, it is well known what the Roman Caesars were, under whom both Christ Jesus himself, and his servants after him, lived and suffered; so that if the Lord Jesus had appointed any such deputies—as we find not a title to that purpose, nor have a shadow of true reason so to think—he must, I say, in the very first institution, have pitched upon such persons for these custodies utriusque tabulae, keepers of both tables, as no man wise, or faithful or loving, would have chosen in any of the former instances, or cases of a more inferior nature…”(Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), pp. 204-205).
  • “Christ never delivered His sheep or children to these wolves, his wife and spouse to such adulterers, his precious jewels to such great thieves and robbers of the world, as the Roman emperors were. Paul never appealed to Caesar as judge appointed by Christ Jesus to give definitive sentence in any spiritual or church controversy; but against the civil violence and murder which the Jews intended against him, Paul justly appealed. For otherwise, if in a spiritual cause he should have appealed, he should have overthrown his own apostleship and power given him by Christ Jesus in spiritual things, above the highest kings or emperors of the world beside”(Id., p. 209).
  • “A civil magistrate may be a good subject, a good magistrate, in respect of civil or moral goodness, which thousands want; and where it is, it is commendable and beautiful, though godliness, which is infinitely more beautiful, be wanting, and which is only proper to the Christian state, the commonweal of Israel, the true church the holy nation, Ephes. ii.; 1 Pet. ii” (Id., p. 212).

God, through the Apostle Paul, described what a church under Christ is to be: a local autonomous body of believers; and, as such, a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ep. 2.21, 22); “one flesh” with Christ (Ep. 5.30, 31); and espoused to Him as a chaste virgin to one Husband (2 Co. 11.2-4). A church, under God, owes no allegiance to any tribunal in the universe, except to that of the Lord Jesus Christ unless she willingly and wrongly places herself under the jurisdiction of another (Mt. 16.13-18), and is the body of Christ of which He is the Head (Ep. 1.22, 23).

A church under Christ is made up of born again believers in Christ. A person who was first born of the flesh (a temporal birth) must, in order to be saved, be born again (a spiritual birth) (Jn. 3.3-8). God “quickens” (brings to life; animates) those who are born again; those who before “were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ep. 2.1). For this new creature “old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Co. 5.17).

The new creature in Christ is a spiritual being who is instructed by God to walk in the Spirit. “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3.3). “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3.5). John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” (Mk. 1.8.  See also, Mt. 3.11 and Lk. 3.16). “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3.6). Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (1 Co. 5.17). The Word of God instructs the believer as to his walk:

  • “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.1-6).
  • “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Ga. 5.16-25; see also, Ep. 5.1-17, Jn. 6.63, Ro. 8.1-13).

Thus, the lost man, the man who has not been born again, is a fleshly man, who walks in the flesh without the indwelling Spirit of God. He is subject only to the law. The believer, a member of a church, a part of the body, is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth who is told to be led of the Spirit. He is told that if he is led of the Spirit, he is not subject to the law.

  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ep. 1.3).
  • “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.4-5).
  • “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things” (Jn. 3.12)?
  • “WHEREFORE, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (Heb. 3.1).
  • “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pe. 2.11).

The word “heavenly” signifies that which is heavenly in contradistinction to that which is “earthly.” The ‘heavenlies’ [or ‘heavenly places’] may be defined as the sphere of the believer’s spiritual experience as identified with Christ in:

  1. nature (2 Pet. 1.4“Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.”);
  2. life (Col. 3.4: “When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”; 1 Jn. 5.12“He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.”);
  3. relationships (Jn. 20.17“Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.” Heb. 2.11“For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren.”);
  4. service (Jn. 17.18“As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”; Mt. 28.20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.);
  5. suffering (Phil. 1.29“For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;”; 3.10“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;”; Col. 1.24“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church.”);
  6. inheritance (Rom. 8.16, 17“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”);
  7. and future glory in the kingdom (Rom. 8.18-21“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.”; 1 Pet. 2.9“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.”; Rev. 1.6“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.”; 5.10 “And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.”).

The believer is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (Heb. 3.1: “Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus.” 1 Pet. 2.11: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.”)

Corporately, believers are to come together as a local spiritual body, a church of Christ. A church under Christ is a local autonomous body of believers; and, 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). A church, under God, owes no allegiance to any tribunal in the universe, except to that of the Lord Jesus Christ unless she willingly and wrongly places herself under the jurisdiction of another (Mt. 16.13-18), and is the body of Christ of which He is the Head (Ep. 1.22, 23). God gave no one other than Christ the authority to rule over His churches. Churches are not to concern themselves  with temporal matters.

Again, a church of Christ is made up of believers. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Ac. 2.47). A New Testament church, made up of spiritual beings, is a spiritual or heavenly body whose ultimate purpose is to glorify God. “The word ‘spiritual,’ found 23 times in the Bible, always means heavenly minded, godly, holy, never self-centered” (Questions and Answers, The Berean Call, January 2007, Volume XXII, No. 1, p. 5, available at www.thebereancall.org.). “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Co. 10.31). A church, as a spiritual body, is told to be subject to Christ, the Head of the body, in all things (Ep. 1.22-23).

God gives the newly borne spiritual creature a new home. His old home was a temporal earthly home; his new home is an eternal heavenly home. God raises up believers together (the church body), and makes them to sit together “in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.6). Such a body is “quickened with Christ” (Ep. 2.5).

The believer and a church are quickened with Christ. Where is Christ? God set Christ “at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also that which is to come.” (Ep. 1.20-21).

Again, believers in a New Testament church are quickened together and built on the chief corner stone, Jesus Christ, who now sits in heaven (Phill. 2.9, Mt.16.19):

  • “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 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. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (1 Pe.2.4-8)

To repeat, the chief corner stone of a New Testament church is Jesus Christ and He now sits in heaven. Churches and believers are to sit with him (Ep. 2.5). A church body is to sit together with Christ in heavenly places, not heavenly and earthly places (Ep. 2.5-6). How can one have a body that is not joined? The body is joined to the head. The head is in heaven. Believers are to sit with Christ and obey Him as they walk on this earth. Yes, believers are the body, on earth, but they are to be connected and subject to their Head which is in heaven.

“Ephesians is the church epistle. Many expositors consider this the highest peak of spiritual truth, the very apex and acme of Bible revelation. Some have even suggested that Ephesians is so profound that none but the very elect (in other words, the chosen few) can understand it. Ephesians reveals the institution of the church as God’s masterpiece, a mystery not revealed in the Old Testament (Ep. 2.10). It is more wonderful than any temple made with hands, constructed of living stones, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.” Dr. J. Vernon McGee, Ephesians.

Ephesians 1-3 is about the heavenly calling of a church and is doctrinal; 4-6 is about the earthly conduct of a church and is  practical. A church is a body, the body of Christ (Ep. 1). A church is a temple (Ep. 2). A church is a mystery (Ep. 3). A church is to walk as He would walk; a believer and a church is a new man and is to walk as a new man (Ep. 4). A church, as the betrothed of the Lord Jesus, is to walk as God’s dear child (Ep. 5). The believer is to walk spiritually in his/her domestic life, his work, and on the field of spiritual battle (Ep. 6). and to wrestle against the wiles of the devil (Ep. 6.10-17, the warfare of the Spirit-filled believer).

The relationship and walk of the spiritual body, the local church, is beautifully described in Ephesians 4:

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; 3 Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. 8 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. 9 (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.) 11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 14 That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; 15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: 16 From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

Spiritual matters include all things involving a church, including the use of property for the assembly of the saints. God grieves when a church corrupts the body of Christ by putting herself under civil government in order to own anything. A church who chooses to become an earthly entity by incorporating (aggregate or sole) or getting 501(c)(3) or 508 status has betrayed her first love, corrupted the body, profaned the holy, joined with a harlot, and committed spiritual fornication. President James Madison understood this. See Endnote 1 for his letter vetoing a bill which would have incorporated a church in Washington D.C. which was subject to federal law and the First Amendment. See also, Legal Explanation of Incorporation of Churches. Church corporate status puts a church partially under the authority of the state under which the church incorporated. Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or 502 status puts a church partially under the authority of the federal government. See Federal government control of churches through IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508 tax exemption and The incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme.

A purely spiritual body can hold no temporal or material possessions. If a church owns property, she is an earthly temporal organization working in conjunction with an eternal spiritual organism. She has one Head in heaven, Christ, and another on the earth, civil government. She has agreed to go to her head on earth to resolve many matters. See Endnote 2 for quotes from some courts which state that an incorporated church, as opposed to a church which is not a legal entity, with an incorporated church, as opposed to a church which is not a legal entity, there are two entities, the one spiritual and the other legal.

A church can utilize property without owning it. How? Like the New Testament believers did. They can meet in a house or building owned by someone, not owned by the church (See The Only Way a Church Can Organize to Remain a New Testament Church for explanation of how a church can meet in a permanent meetinghouse without owning it and in accord with Bible principles). No church in the New Testament owned anything temporal or material. To have done so would have violated New Testament church doctrine.

Now that the basics of what a New Testament church is have been explained, one needs to know what the Bible says about how a church maintains her integrity.

Jesus’ first and greatest commandment is: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets” (Mt. 22.37-40. See also, Mk. 12.28-34 and Lk. 10.25-28; these commandments were also in the Old Testament. (De. 6.5, 30.6 and Le. 19.18)). For a church, a spiritual organism or entity, all gifts and actions must be governed by love. If not, the church “is become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal,” is “nothing,” and her actions “profiteth” that church “nothing” (1 Co. 13.1-3). A church cannot buy love; a church nullifies all that it does if it has not love for the Lord Jesus Christ (Song of Solomon 8.7; see The Love Relationship between Christ and His Churches as Depicted in Song of Solomon to gain an understanding of the love between Christ and His churches). If a church leaves her first love to commune with another power, and earthly power such as a civil government, that church may as well forget doing things God’s way and do things man’s way.

Love is shown by action—that is, it is an act of the will and not lust or just an emotion or a verbal profession (See 1 Co. 13). Jesus said,

  • “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (Jn. 14.21).
  • “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15.10, 14).

Only God’s people can exhibit God’s love.  If one loves God and his neighbor as commanded by God, he will automatically keep the New Testament Commandments (which repeat all the Old Testament Commandments except those dealing with the ceremonial law of Israel which included the commandment to keep the Sabbath). The New Testament also adds many more commandments for the believer.

Most rulers are lost. A church, when she incorporates as gets 501(c)(3) or 508 status or becomes a legal entity in any way entangles herself with worldly concerns which consume an inordinate amount of her time and energy by creating new offices and duties which must be performed by her members, and makes the civil government an authority over some, if not most, of her affairs.  She must now work alongside and subject herself to those who are lost. The saved and the lost, those who are to love and those who cannot love, truth and error, earthly and heavenly, temporal and eternal, spiritual life and spiritual death, love and fear, God’s law and man’s law become intertwined.

  • “They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world…. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1 Jn. 4.5-14, 18-21) [Emphasis mine.]

A church who does not love the Lord may as well ignore God’s doctrine of the church. Such a church may as well do things man’s way and depend upon temporal, man-made means for help. She may as well incorporate, get Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) or 508 status and/or use worldly devises and schemes to attain her goals.  “For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love” (Ga. 5:6).

The author is doing a book by book study of the doctrine of the church. Click the following to go to that study: Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church.

Endnote

En 1: On February 21, 1811 President James Madison vetoed a bill entitled “An Act incorporating the Protestant Episcopal Church in the town of Alexander, in the District of Columbia” the District of Columbia being under federal jurisdiction. He returned the bill with the following objections:

  • Because the bill exceeds the rightful authority to which governments are limited by the essential distinction between civil and religious functions, and violates in particular the article of the Constitution of the United States which declares ‘Congress shall make no law respecting a religious establishment.
  • “The bill enacts into and establishes by law sundry rules and proceedings relative purely to the organization and policy of the church incorporated, and comprehending even the election and removal of the minister of the same, so that no change could be made therein by the particular society or by the general church of which it is a member, and whose authority it recognizes.
  • “This particular church, therefore, would so far be a religious establishment by law, a legal force and sanction being given to certain articles in its constitution and administration. Nor can it be considered that the articles thus established are to be taken as the descriptive criteria only of the corporate identity of the society, inasmuch as this identity must depend on other characteristics, as the regulations established are in general unessential and alterable according to the principles and canons by which churches of the denomination govern themselves, and as the injunctions and prohibitions contained in the regulations would be enforced by the penal consequences applicable to the violation of them according to the local law…”

(Norman Cousins, In God We Trust (Kingsport, Tennessee: Kingsport Press, Inc., 1958), p. 317; also quoted in a book Edited by Lenni Brenner, Jefferson and Madison on Separation of Church and State (Fort Lee, New Jersey: Barricade Books, 2004), p. 198; read the rest of the story online at: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_estab.htm).

En 2: Of course, a lot of cases could be cited to show how contracting with the state through incorporation (aggregate or sole), getting 501(c)(3) or 508 status, or becoming a legal entity of any kind places another head, other than the Lord Jesus Christ over a church. This is just a very small sampling. Click case names in blue to go directly to cases online.1Co.6.1-6

WILLIAMS et al. v. JONES et al. 61 So.2d 101, 101-103 (1952) 6 Div. 313. Supreme Court of Alabama. October 23, 1952:

“Wherever 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 legal corporation, each separate though closely allied. The spiritual entity of a church made up of members belonging to it, existing without any special law to that effect, is a different and distinct body in the contemplation of the law from the same body when incorporated under statutes for [103] the purpose—the two having different functions to perform, the one religious and the other civil. Under our statutes for the incorporation of churches, it is to be noted that the members of the church become incorporated, and not simply the trustees required to be elected preparatory to proceeding in the court of probate to obtain incorporation. Each member is an incorporator, recognized as a legal civil body, distinct from the church as a spiritual body, theretofore and thereafter continuously existing. §§ 124, 125, Title 10, Code 1940; Hundley v. Collins, supra; Dismukes v. State, 176 Ala. 616, 58 So. 195Blount v. Sixteenth St. Baptist Church, supra.”

WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 166 Wis.2d 442 (1992), 480 N.W.2d 16, Supreme Court of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs October 4, 1991.Decided February 17, 1992.

“The court of appeals concluded that the circuit court erred as a matter of law and, accordingly, reversed. We agree that the circuit court was indeed in error in holding that incorporation was a requirement for the religious exemption. The opinion of the court of appeals convincingly demonstrates that “the church was not required to show that it was incorporated as a religious society or corporation under ch. 187, Stats., or otherwise, to establish that its property was exempt from [454] taxation.” We need not reiterate the excellent discussion and analysis underpinning that conclusion that appears in the court of appeals opinion. 157 Wis. 2d at 539-49.” “The controlling issue on this review is whether Basic Bible is a ‘church’ or ‘religious association’ entitled to property tax exemption under sec. 70.11(4), Stats” [456].

The excellent discussion and analysis referred to above was rendered in WAUSHARA COUNTY v. Sherri L. GRAF, 157 Wis.2d 539 (1990), 461 N.W.2d 143, Court of Appeals of Wisconsin. Submitted on briefs December 8, 1989. Decided August 2, 1990. The following is from that case: The following is from the analysis:

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

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

[548] The same annotation at page 755 states:

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

“Thus, the legislature distinguished a church, as the spiritual body, from a religious society, incorporated under the statute, as the legal body of a voluntary association of persons united for religious purposes.”

Taylor v. Paradise Missionary Baptist Church. No. 1160034. Supreme Court of Alabama. July 28, 2017:

[Case involved in incorporated 501(c)(3) church] Further, “[a]s is the case with all churches, the courts will not assume jurisdiction, in fact [have] none, to resolve disputes regarding their spiritual or ecclesiastical affairs. However, there is jurisdiction to resolve questions of civil or property rights.” Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church v. Nixon, 340 So. 2d 746, 748 (Ala. 1976) (citing Williams, supra). As it pertains to the removal of a minister from the church’s pulpit, this Court has stated:

“The civil courts will not take jurisdiction of a controversy arising out of the removal of a minister if the right to the position is merely spiritual or ecclesiastical. But if he has a civil or property right in his position, the civil courts will protect that right. But if there is such right in the minister, which will give the courts jurisdiction, it is well settled that his removal by the appropriate church tribunal is conclusive upon the courts, if there is no violation of contractual right.

“Odoms v. Woodall, 246 Ala. 427, 429, 20 So. 2d 849, 851 (1945). See also Putman v. Vath, 340 So. 2d 26 (Ala. 1976)

“As noted above, ‘it is well settled that [a pastor’s] removal by the appropriate church tribunal is conclusive upon the courts, if there is no violation of contractual right.” Odoms, 246 Ala. at 429, 20 So. 2d at 851. The question then arises as to the jurisdiction of the court to go behind the decision of that tribunal to inquire into its jurisdiction and regularity of its proceedings. . . .’ Id. Although the trial court concluded in its order that it lacked subject-matter jurisdiction to remove Taylor as the pastor of PMBC, it went on to conclude that it had subject-matter jurisdiction to determine whether the removal of Taylor was valid under church law. [The court then cited and discussed several cases which supported this conclusion.]

“The foregoing authorities demonstrate this Court’s willingness to recognize subject-matter jurisdiction in a trial court to determine whether church procedure or law has been followed when a church decides an ecclesiastical matter such as the removal of a pastor from the pulpit or the expulsion of members from the congregation. However, authorities to the contrary also exist. [The court then cited and discussed several cases which contradicted this conclusion.]

“As discussed above, the removal of Taylor as the pastor of PMBC was purely an ecclesiastical matter not involving a property right and the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to consider it. The determination of whether his removal was valid and in accordance with PMBC’s bylaws necessarily required the trial court to delve into matters relating to PMBC’s internal organization and its ecclesiastical or spiritual rule, custom, or law. Based on the decisions in Hundley, supra, Putman, supra, Milivojevich, supra, and Lott, supra, the trial court lacked the jurisdiction to make that inquiry. Accordingly, to the extent that the trial court determined that the removal of Taylor as the pastor of PMBC was valid and, to that end, ordered that his removal be effective immediately, the trial court lacked the subject-matter jurisdiction to make such a determination because the matter was purely ecclesiastical in nature.”

Author’s comments on this case: The church, by becoming a legal entity, a 501(c)(3) corporation, contracted with the state and gave the court jurisdiction over many matters. She went to her authority on a matter some of her members felt was not and others felt was “ecclesiastical,” Her authority had to first decide whether the matter was “ecclesiastical.” In this case here authority decided not. However, with different facts, as shown by some cases which the court analyzed, the court had found the issue to be “ecclesiastical.” All this required tremendous time and energy, time and energy which could have been used doing God’s work in God’s way. A New Testament church is subject to no other tribunal in the world, other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

WATSON v. JONES, 80 U.S. 679 (____), 13 Wall. 679. Supreme Court of the United States:

Note. The court in this case concludes that it has no jurisdiction over the matter. The important thing to notice is that the authority is the court. Since the church contracted with the state by incorporating, the members (individual or groups of members) can go to their authority not only for resolution of disputes but also for decision as to whether the authority has jurisdiction. A member can sue a member, members, the church or the state; members can sue a member, members, the church, or the state; the church can sue a member or members, etc. The contract makes clear that the controlling party is the state.

“This case belongs to a class, happily rare in our courts, in which one of the parties to a controversy, essentially ecclesiastical, resorts to the judicial tribunals of the State for the maintenance of rights which the church has refused to acknowledge, or found itself unable to protect. Much as such dissensions among the members of a religious society should [714] be regretted, a regret which is increased when passing from the control of the judicial and legislative bodies of the entire organization to which the society belongs, an appeal is made to the secular authority; the courts when so called on must perform their functions as in other cases.

“Religious organizations [an incorporated church, in this case] come before us in the same attitude as other voluntary associations for benevolent or charitable purposes, and their rights of property, or of contract, are equally under the protection of the law, and the actions of their members subject to its restraints. Conscious as we may be of the excited feeling engendered by this controversy, and of the extent to which it has agitated the intelligent and pious body of Christians in whose bosom it originated, we enter upon its consideration with the satisfaction of knowing that the principles on which we are to decide so much of it as is proper for our decision, are those applicable alike to all of its class, and that our duty is the simple one of applying those principles to the facts before us.

“[T]he sole inquiry to which we are restricted in our opinion is, whether Avery, McNaughtan, and Leach are also ruling elders, and therefore members of the session of the church…. This is a case of a division or schism in the church. It is a question as to which of two bodies shall be recognized as the Third or Walnut Street Presbyterian Church. There is a controversy as to the authority of Watson and Galt to act as ruling elders [717]….

“The questions which have come before the civil courts concerning the rights to property held by ecclesiastical bodies, may, so far as we have been able to examine them, be profitably classified under three general heads, which of course do not include cases governed by considerations applicable to a church established and supported by law as the religion of the state. [722]

“1. The first of these is when the property which is the subject of controversy has been, by the deed or will of the donor, or other instrument by which the property is held, by the express terms of the instrument devoted to the teaching, support, or spread of some specific form of religious doctrine or belief. [722]

“2. The second is when the property is held by a religious congregation which, by the nature of its organization, is strictly independent of other ecclesiastical associations, and so far as church government is concerned, owes no fealty or obligation to any higher authority. [722]

“3. The third is where the religious congregation or ecclesiastical body holding the property is but a subordinate member of some general church organization in which there are superior ecclesiastical tribunal with a general and ultimate power of control more or less complete, in some supreme [723] judicatory over the whole membership of that general organization. [722-723] …

[The court then explains the rules for deciding the issue in each of the above organizational types and states that the case involved the third type.]

“In this class of cases we think the rule of action which should govern the civil courts, founded in a broad and sound view of the relations of church and state under our system of laws, and supported by a preponderating weight of judicial authority is, that, whenever the questions of discipline, or of faith, or ecclesiastical rule, custom, or law have been decided by the highest of these church judicatories to which the matter has been carried, the legal tribunals must accept such decisions as final, and as binding on them, in their application to the case before them.

“We concede at the outset that the doctrine of the English courts is otherwise. …

“But we need pursue this subject no further. Whatever may have been the case before the Kentucky court, the appellants in the case presented to us have separated themselves wholly from the church organization to which they belonged when this controversy commenced. They now deny its authority, denounce its action, and refuse to abide by its judgments. They have first erected themselves into a new organization, and have since joined themselves to another totally different, if not hostile, to the one to which they belonged when the difficulty first began. Under any of the decisions which we have examined, the appellants, in their present position, have no right to the property, or to the use of it, which is the subject of this suit. [734]

“The novelty of the questions presented to this court for the first time, their intrinsic importance and far-reaching influence, and the knowledge that the schism in which the case originated has divided the Presbyterian churches throughout Kentucky and Missouri, have seemed to us to justify the careful and laborious examination and discussion which we [735] have made of the principles which should govern the case. For the same reasons we have held it under advisement for a year; not uninfluenced by the hope, that since the civil commotion, which evidently lay at the foundation of the trouble, has passed away, that charity, which is so large an element in the faith of both parties, and which, by one of the apostles of that religion, is said to be the greatest of all the Christian virtues, would have brought about a reconciliation. But we have been disappointed. It is not for us to determine or apportion the moral responsibility which attaches to the parties for this result. We can only pronounce the judgment of the law as applicable to the case presented to us, and that requires us to affirm the decree of the Circuit Court as it stands. [734-735]

En 3: “The church” refers to the institution of the church made up of local visible spiritual assemblies just as marriage refers to the the institution of marriage made up of all unions of one man and one woman. “The church” is a synechdoche, a singular noun that stands in the place of a plurality.

 

Federal government control of churches through IRS Code Sections 501(c)(3) and 508 tax exemption


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012
Revised April 26, 2014


Note. This is a modified version of Section VI, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application; Chapter 4 of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities


Click here for audio recording of this teaching.

A 501c3 church agrees to abide by the rules that come with the status. See article below for full explanation of those rules. A 501c3 church also has many regulations which it is required to honor. See Publication 4221: Compliance Guide for Tax Exempt Organizations (“Federal tax law provides tax benefits to nonprofit organizations recognized as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(a) of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code). The Code requires that tax-exempt organizations comply with federal tax law to maintain tax-exempt status and avoid penalties….”).

Click here to go to: ANSWER TO QUESTION REGARDING A LAWYERS FALSE STATEMENTS CONCERNING CHURCH CORPORATE 501(C)(3) STATUS

Requirements_501c3

Uncle Sam Wants God's Churches
Uncle Sam Wants God’s Churches

In the twentieth century, the federal government added more cheese to the trap—26 U.S.C. or Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) § 501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)” or “501c3”) tax exemption. The Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) exerts a certain amount of control over an incorporated 501(c)(3) “church.” Scripture makes clear that God wants no one else—especially the unregenerate—controlling, defining, and restricting His bride from totally following His precepts. IRC terms set limits on and control the activities of the corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization. Definition of terms used in the IRC by IRS personnel who do not have the expertise to define biblical terms further results in the operation of a corporate 501(c)(3) organization in ways inconsistent with biblical principles.

501(c)(3) invites churches to seek a tax exemption from civil government, even though the First Amendment already has erected a “high and impregnable wall” of separation between church and state which forbids civil government from making any law, including any taxing law, respecting a New Testament church. A New Testament church, which is a non-legal entity, is also a First Amendment church. 501(a),(c)(3),(h) reads in relevant part:

Ҥ 501. Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.:

“(a) Exemption from taxation. An organization described in subsection (c) … shall be exempt from taxation under this subtitle [26 USCS §§ 1 et seq.] unless such exemption is denied under section 502 or 503 [26 USCS § 502 or 503]….

“(c)(3) Corporations, and any community chest, fund, or foundation, organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, testing for public safety, 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, no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual, no substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation (except as otherwise provided in subsection (h)), 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….

“(h) Expenditures by public charities to influence legislation. (1) General rule. In the case of an organization to which this subsection applies, exemption from taxation under subsection (a) shall be denied because a substantial part of the activities of such organization consists of carrying on propaganda, or otherwise attempting, to influence legislation…” (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) (2007) in relevant part).

1Notice, in the above law, that churches are not mentioned in 501(c)(3). It does mention, among other things, “[c]orporations … organized and operated exclusively for religious … purposes.” Even the federal government thereby recognizes that the basic character of a church who seeks and obtains 501(c)(3) status has changed and that church has become a “religious organization.” That happens when a church incorporates under state law. When a church incorporates, it becomes a corporation organized exclusively for religious purposes.

The state controls, defines, and instructs a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization to a large degree. Control and definition go hand in hand. The federal government, not God, defines “religious purposes” as to an incorporated church. What if an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization considers an activity to be God-ordained and spiritual, but the civil government disagrees? The civil government with authority over that issue controls.

Under the IRS interpretation of 501(c)(3), to qualify for tax exempt status under 501(c)(3) religious organizations must meet the following requirements, i.e. abide by the following rules:

LBJ led the charge for Rule No. 4 in IRS Code Section 501(c)(3)
LBJ led the charge for Rule No. 4 in IRS Code Section 501(c)(3)

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

Rule No. 4
Rule No. 4

“5. the organization’s purposes and activities may not be illegal or violate fundamental public policy” (IRS Publication 1828 (2007), pp. 3, 5. This and all IRS publications referred to may be accessed at irs.gov. IRS details on proscription #3 are on pp. 5-6 of IRS Pub. 1828. Just mentioning a candidate may violate proscription #4. Detailed guidelines with consequences of violation of proscription #4 are on pp. 7-11 of Pub. 1828. As to proscription #5, public policy is determined by the courts.).

Notice that the last requirement—“may not violate fundamental public policy”—is not from law; that is, it is not listed as a requirement in § 501(c)(3). This requirement was made law by the Supreme Court of the United States in Bob Jones University, 461 U.S. 574, 578, 579, 580, 581, 582-583, 586-588, 588, 591 fn. 10, 595-596, 602 fn 28, 603, 604, fn. 29 at 604 (1983):

  • “On January 12, 1970, a three-judge District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction prohibiting the IRS from according tax-exempt status to private schools in Mississippi that discriminated as to admissions on the basis of race…. Thereafter, in July 1970, the IRS concluded that it could ‘no longer legally justify allowing tax-exempt status [under § 501(c)(3)] to private schools which practice racial discrimination.’ IRS News Release, July 7, 1970, reprinted in App. in No. 81-3, p. A235. At the same time, the IRS announced that it could not ‘treat gifts to such schools as charitable deductions for income tax purposes [under § 170].’ Ibid. By letter dated November 30, 1970, the IRS formally notified private schools, including those involved in this litigation, of this change in policy, ‘applicable to all private schools in the United States at all levels of education.’ …
  • The IRS implemented Rule No. 5, and the highest authority for the 501c3 religious organization upheld the IRS rule.
    The IRS implemented Rule No. 5, and the highest authority for the 501c3 religious organization upheld the IRS rule.

    “The court permanently enjoined the Commissioner of Internal Revenue from approving tax-exempt status for any school in Mississippi that did not publicly maintain a policy of nondiscrimination….

  • “Bob Jones University [was] a nonprofit corporation located in Greenville, S. C. Its purpose is ‘to conduct an institution of learning …, giving special emphasis to the Christian religion and the ethics revealed in the Holy Scriptures.’ Certificate of Incorporation, Bob Jones University, Inc. [Bob Jones University had a policy that] Students who date outside of their own race will be expelled…. After failing to obtain an assurance of tax exemption through administrative means, the University instituted an action in 1971 seeking to enjoin the IRS from revoking the school’s tax-exempt status.
  • “The United States District Court for the District of South Carolina held that revocation of the University’s tax-exempt status exceeded the delegated powers of the IRS, was improper under the IRS rulings and procedures, and violated the University’s rights under the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment…. The District Court found, on the basis of a full evidentiary record, that the challenged practices of petitioner Bob Jones University were based on a genuine belief that the Bible forbids interracial dating and marriage.
  • “The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in a divided opinion, reversed…. The Court of Appeals concluded that § 501(c)(3) must be read against the background of charitable trust law. To be eligible for an exemption under that section, an institution must be ‘charitable’ in the common-law sense, and therefore must not be contrary to public policy. In the court’s  view, Bob Jones University did not meet this requirement, since its ‘racial policies violated the clearly defined public policy, rooted in our Constitution, condemning racial discrimination and, more specifically, the government policy against subsidizing racial discrimination in education, public or private.’ … The court held that the IRS acted within its statutory authority in revoking the University’s tax-exempt status. Finally, the Court of Appeals rejected petitioner’s arguments that the revocation of the tax exemption violated the Free Exercise and Establishment Clauses of the First Amendment.
  • “[Included in the case was Goldsboro Christian Schools, a nonprofit corporation located in Goldsboro, N. C., a private Christian school which prohibited interracial dating based upon sincerely held religious beliefs.]
  • “[The Supreme Court reasoned in adding the ‘public policy’ requirement to the [IRC]:]
  • ‘The general words used in the clause …, taken by themselves, and literally construed, without regard to the object in view, would seem to sanction the claim of the plaintiff. But this mode of expounding a statute has never been adopted by any enlightened tribunal — because it is evident that in many cases it would defeat the object which the Legislature intended to accomplish. And it is well settled that, in interpreting a statute, the court will not look merely to a particular clause in which general words may be used, but will take in connection with it the whole statute… and the objects and policy of the law….’ … (emphasis added by the Court).
  • ‘Section 501(c)(3) therefore must be analyzed and construed within the framework of the Internal Revenue Code and against the background of the congressional purposes. Such an examination reveals unmistakable evidence that, underlying all relevant parts of the Code, is the intent that entitlement to tax exemption depends on meeting certain common-law standards of charity — namely, that an institution seeking tax-exempt status must serve a public purpose and not be contrary to established public policy.
  • ‘This ‘charitable’ concept appears explicitly in § 170 of the Code. That section contains a list of organizations virtually identical to that contained in § 501(c)(3). It is apparent that Congress intended that list to have the same meaning in both sections. In § 170, Congress used the list of organizations in defining the term ‘charitable contributions.’ On its face, therefore, § 170 reveals that Congress’ intention was to provide tax benefits to organizations serving charitable purposes. The form of § 170 simply makes plain what common sense and history tell us: in enacting both § 170 and § 501(c)(3), Congress sought to provide tax benefits to charitable organizations, to encourage the development of private institutions that serve a useful public purpose or supplement or take the place of public institutions of the same kind.
  • ‘The predecessor of § 170 originally was enacted in 1917, as part of the War Revenue Act of 1917, ch. 63, § 1201(2), 40 Stat. 330, whereas the predecessor of § 501(c)(3) dates back to the income tax law of 1894, Act of Aug. 27, 1894, ch. 349, 28 Stat. 509, infra. There are minor differences between the lists of organizations in the two sections, see generally Liles & Blum, Development of the Federal Tax Treatment of Charities, 39 Law & Contemp. Prob. 6, 24-25 (No. 4, 1975) (hereinafter Liles & Blum). Nevertheless, the two sections are closely related; both seek to achieve the same basic goal of encouraging the development of certain organizations through the grant of tax benefits. The language of the two sections is in most respects identical, and the Commissioner and the courts consistently have applied many of the same standards in interpreting those sections. See 5 J. Mertens, Law of Federal Income Taxation § 31.12 (1980); 6 id., §§ 34.01-34.13 (1975); B. Bittker & L. Stone, Federal Income Taxation 220-222 (5th ed. 1980). To the extent that § 170 ‘aids in ascertaining the meaning’ of § 501(c)(3), therefore, it is ‘entitled to great weigh.’ … [the Court analyses ‘charitable trusts’]….
  • “Act of Aug. 27, 1894, ch. 349, § 32, 28 Stat. 556-557. The income tax system contained in the 1894 Act was declared unconstitutional, Pollock v. Farmers’ Loan & Trust Co., 158 U.S. 601 (1895), for reasons unrelated to the charitable exemption provision. The terms of that exemption were in substance included in the corporate income tax contained in the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act of 1909, ch. 6, § 38, 36 Stat. 112. A similar exemption has been included in every income tax Act since the adoption of the Sixteenth Amendment, beginning with the Revenue Act of 1913, ch. 16, § II(G), 38 Stat. 172. See generally Reiling, Federal Taxation: What Is a Charitable Organization?, 44 A. B. A. J. 525 (1958); Liles & Blum….
  • ‘The exemption from taxation of money or property devoted to charitable and other purposes is based upon the theory that the Government is compensated for the loss of revenue by its relief from financial burdens which would otherwise have to be met by appropriations from other public funds, and by the benefits resulting from the promotion of the general welfare.” H. R. Rep. No. 1860, 75th Cong., 3d Sess., 19 (1938).
  • ‘A corollary to the public benefit principle is the requirement, long recognized in the law of trusts, that the purpose of a charitable trust may not be illegal or violate established public policy. In 1861, this Court stated that a public charitable use must be ‘consistent with local laws and public policy,’ Perin v. Carey, 24 How., at 501. Modern commentators and courts have echoed that view. See, e. g., Restatement (Second) of Trusts § 377, Comment c (1959); 4 Scott § 377, and cases cited therein; Bogert § 378, at 191-192….
  • ‘[The Court then explained why racial discrimination now violates clearly defined public policy.]
  • “[The Court concluded:]
  • ‘Racially discriminatory educational institutions cannot be viewed as conferring a public benefit within the ‘charitable’ concept discussed earlier, or within the congressional intent underlying § 170 and § 501(c)(3)…. ‘This Court has long held the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to be an absolute prohibition against governmental regulation of religious beliefs, Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205, 219 (1972); Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 402 (1963); Cantwell v. Connecticut, 310 U.S. 296, 303 (1940). As interpreted by this Court, moreover, the Free Exercise Clause provides substantial protection for lawful conduct grounded in religious belief, see Wisconsin v. Yoder, supra, at 220; Thomas v. Review Board of Indiana Employment Security Div., 450 U.S. 707 (1981); Sherbert v. Verner, supra, at 402-403. However, ‘[not] all burdens on religion are unconstitutional…. The state may justify a limitation on religious liberty by showing that it is essential to accomplish an overriding governmental interest.’
  • ‘On occasion this Court has found certain governmental interests so compelling as to allow even regulations prohibiting religiously based conduct. The governmental interest at stake here is compelling.
  • “[The Court noted:] We deal here only with religious schools — not with churches or other purely religious institutions; here, the governmental interest is in denying public support to racial discrimination in education.
  • [The Court also stated:] “The IRS policy at issue here is founded on a ‘neutral, secular basis,’ Gillette v. United States, 401 U.S. 437, 452 (1971), and does not violate the Establishment Clause.”

Bob Jones Univ4Although Bob Jones University was limited to religious schools in that a church was not being attacked in that specific case, the same rationale that supported the Court’s conclusions can also be applied to 501(c)(3) religious organizations, although more hurdles will have to be jumped. It is common knowledge that the IRS regularly attacks such organizations for infractions of requirements of IRS regulation. The outcome of such a case against a church hinges upon the liberal-conservative makeup to the Court. Liberal dominated courts have no problem clearing whatever logical, legal, and/or spiritual hurdles they encounter.

God wants members of His body, the church, to decide what is spiritual and what is not. If His body messes up, He will take care of it. The IRS requirements require instruction, definition, and control. The IRS determines, subject to costly and time consuming court challenge, whether a restriction has been breached by a 501(c)(3) religious organization. These restrictions subject a religious organization to suit in the courts for violating a federal government law.

Especially notice the last IRS requirement. Fundamental public policy is above biblical principle if the two conflict. Certain public policies can, do, and will conflict with biblical principles. It is the responsibility of the church, not the state, to determine biblical principle as to the doctrines of the church. A nineteenth century Supreme Court wisely observed:

public-policy“The question, what is the public policy of a state, and what is contrary to it, if inquired into beyond these limits, will be found to be one of great vagueness and uncertainty, and to involve discussions which scarcely come within the range of judicial duty and functions, and upon which men may and will complexionally differ; above all, when that topic is connected with religious polity, in a country composed of such a variety of religious sects as our country, it is impossible not to feel that it would be attended with almost insuperable difficulties, and involve differences of opinion almost endless in their variety. We disclaim any right to enter upon such examinations, beyond what the state constitutions, and laws, and decisions necessarily bring before us” (Vidal v. Gerard’s Executors, 43 U.S. 127, 198; 11 L. Ed. 205; 1844 U.S. LEXIS 323; 2 HOW 127 (1844)).

Internal Revenue Code § 508
Internal Revenue Code § 508

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

“§ 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. § 508 churches are an exception to the civil government requirement that certain organizations file for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

The beginning of a multi-page document to be filled out by a church who cares not that they dishonors the Lord.
The beginning of a multi-page document to be filled out by a church who cares not that they dishonors the Lord.
A law of man which enacts some biblical principles.
A law of man which enacts some biblical principles.

However, a church should rely on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, not on § 508 status for three reasons. First, the First Amendment is a statement of the biblical principle of separation of church and state. This principle is fully explained in Sections I-III and the history of how the blood of millions of Martyrs led to the adoption of the First Amendment is explained in Section IV of  God Betrayed (PDF OF God Betrayed online version of God Betrayed, Order Information for God Betrayed and other books by Jerald Finney). When a church relies on the First Amendment, they are relying on a biblical principle. Should the biblical principle be abused or ignored by the civil government, so be it—a church should then rely only on the biblical principle.

Second, to rely on § 508 contradicts the First Amendment. The First Amendment religion clause states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Obviously, § 508 is a law made by Congress which regards an establishment of religion. § 508 does not state that the First Amendment forbids Congress from making any law in violation of the First Amendment and, therefore, a church is non-taxable. § 508 states that Congress is declaring an exemption for churches. Hence, an adversary in a court proceeding can argue that a church has submitted herself to Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) regulation and ignored her First Amendment status by relying on a law instead of the First Amendment. The Internal Revenue Service Publication 1828 states, that “churches which meet the requirements of § 501(c)(3) are automatically tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS.” However, the New Testament (First Amendment) church will not be in court anyway for several reasons: the church is not a legal entity; is not a business; has no income; has no employees or staff; claims no § 508 status; and, no matter what the particular civil government does, honors the biblical principle of separation of church and state which is reflected in the First Amendment in America.

IRS Publication 1828, page 3
IRS Publication 1828, page 3

Church_BusinessThird, a New Testament church (a church organized according to the principles of the New Testament), among other things, receives no income, has no employees or staff, and runs no businesses (daycare, “Christian” schools, cafes, etc.). Church members give their tithes and offerings to God, not to a religious organization, for use in ways consistent with New Testament teaching. All monies given to God are disbursed in accordance to the guidelines of the New Testament, and no money is left over. Even a business which makes no profit pays no taxes. A church which does have net income should be taxed since she is operating as a business and not as a New Testament church.

If a church does not apply for § 501(c)(3) tax exempt status or claim § 508 tax exempt status, and if it is organized as a New Testament church, according to the First Amendment which agrees with the biblical principle of separation of church and state, the non-taxable status of that church must be honored. No matter what the civil government claims, that church cannot be taxed anyway because they have no income.

If a church successfully applies for § 501(c)(3) or claims § 508 exempt status, the government is granted some jurisdiction over the church since the civil government now declares and grants an exemption.

oru_tax_exempt_letter_sample“EXEMPT, a. Free from any service, charge, burden, tax, duty, evil or requisition, to which others are subject; not subject; not liable to; as, to be exempt from military duty, or from a poll tax; to be exempt from pain or fear. Peers in G. Britain are exempt from serving on inquests.

“2. Free by privilege; as exempt from the jurisdiction of a lord or of a court. “3. Free; clear; not included. “4. Cut off from. [Not used.]                                                                                   Shak.” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828)).

“exempt 2: free or released from some liability or requirement to which others are subject” (WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 406 (10th ed. 1995)).

“PRIV’ALEGE, n.

“1.A particular and peculiar benefit or advantage enjoyed by a person, company or society, beyond the common advantages of other citizens. A privilege may be a particular right granted by law or held by custom, or it may be an exemption from some burden to which others are subject.“2. Any peculiar benefit or advantage, right or immunity, not common to others of the human race. Thus we speak of national privileges, and civil and religious privileges secured to us by our constitutions of government…. “3. Advantage, favor, benefit” (Ibid.).

8In spite of the fact that biblically sound churches are non-taxable, many, if not most, churches line up to incorporate and to become 501(c)(3) religious organizations. Why do churches apply? The IRS knows the answer:

“IRS concurrence that a religious organization is indeed a church is the best protection for a donor that his or her contribution to the church is tax-deductible and will not be challenged in an audit.  This knowledge makes a church’s fundraising efforts much easier” (Peter Kershaw, Hushmoney (Branson, Missouri: Heal Our Land Ministries), p. 30, citing Michael Chitwood, Protect Your Contributions (referring to statement of IRS on p. 3 of IRS Publication 1828)).

God had reasons for denying jurisdiction to the state over spiritual matters and restricting state authority to earthly matters. One reason has to do with qualification for determining the meanings of words. The interpretation of laws and regulations requires the defining of words. Employees of civil government are not qualified to determine the meanings of spiritual terms; but, by dealing with spiritual matters, such people are called upon to determine the meanings of spiritual terms. They must determine the meaning of “religion,” “religious,” “church,” and many other words. Since these employees are operating outside their realm of expertise, the outcome of their decisions on these matters will conflict with the biblical meanings of those words. In defining words, therefore, civil government officials intrude upon the jurisdiction of the church—the church is subjected to the state.

For example, what does the word “religion” mean? The word “religion” is used only five times, in the Bible, and only once in a good sense:

“Which knew me from the beginning, if they would testify, that after the most straitest sect of our religion I lived a Pharisee” (Ac. 26.5).  [Bold emphasis mine]. “For ye have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers” (Ga. 1.13, 14).  [Bold emphasis mine]. “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (Ja. 1.26-27).  [Bold emphasis mine].

definitionThus, from a biblical perspective, religion in the good sense may be defined as:

“2. Religion, as distinct from theology, is godliness or real piety in practice, consisting in the performance of all known duties to God and our fellow men, in obedience to divine command, or from love to God and his law. James i. “3. Religion, as distinct from virtue, or morality, consists in the performance of the duties we owe directly to God, from a principle of obedience to his will. Hence we often speak of religion and virtue, as different branches of one system, or the duties of the first and second tables of the law. “Let us with caution indulge the supposition, that morality can be maintained without religion. Washington” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “RELIGION”).

Since the Bible also teaches that there is only one true God, there can only be one religion in the good and true sense. This means that all other religions are bad and false. All other “gods” are actually no gods at all:

  • “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him” (1 Co. 8.4-6).
  • “What say I then? that the idol is any thing, or that which is offered in sacrifice to idols is any thing? But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils. Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils” (1 Co. 10.19-21).
The world does not understand God and the one true religion.
The world does not understand God and the one true religion.

Since there is only one true God, there is only one religion with power from God. Before one can know that one true God, one must know Jesus Christ, God the Son: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him” (Jn. 14.6-7).

The Bible, as pointed out above, recognized the Jewish religion. Members of the Jewish religion (and any other religion) who do not recognize the Lord Jesus Christ as sovereign God are false religions and have no piety or power from God. “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Mt. 28.18).  Unconverted Jews deny that Jesus Christ is God the Son. The Jewish religion, like all other religions except true biblical religion, is therefore a false religion. The IRS and the federal government to a great extent, however, have concluded that all religions are equal and have created a pluralistic code and a pluralistic nation.

Civil government officials are required by § 501(c)(3) to define “church.” By providing that churches can become legal entities by incorporating and obtaining 501(c)(3) status, the civil government assured that the IRS and the courts would have to define “church” because, first, a lot of churches would seek to incorporate and get government declared tax exempt status, thereby voluntarily taking themselves out from under First Amendment or New Testament status; and second, many religious organizations would claim to be churches so as to obtain the benefits offered by civil government. As one court noted,

“We hasten to emphasize that by its use of the term ‘church,’ Congress must have intended a more narrow classification than that embodied by a term such as ‘religious organization.’ Despite the lack of guidance from Congress, and in the absence of a more explicit regulatory definition of the term ‘church,’ we will continue our efforts to give a distinct meaning to this statutory classification” (Foundation of Human Understanding v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 88 T.C. 1341, 1361; 1987 U.S. Tax Ct. LEXIS 75; 88 T.C. No. 75 (1987)).

IRS Publication 1828
IRS Publication 1828

In attempting to define “church,” the IRS has “given certain characteristics [14 criteria] which are generally attributed to churches” (IRS Publication 1828 (2007), p. 23).  The court has recognized that 14-part test in determining whether a religious organization was a church. The 14 criteria are:

“(1) a distinct legal existence; “(2) a recognized creed and form of worship; “(3) a definite and distinct ecclesiastical government; “(4) a formal code of doctrine and discipline; “(5) a distinct religious history; “(6) a membership not associated with any other church or denomination; “(7) an organization of ordained ministers; “(8) ordained ministers selected after completing prescribed studies; “(9) a literature of its own; “(10) established places of worship; “(11) regular congregations; “(12) regular religious services; “(13) Sunday schools for religious instruction of the young; “(14) schools for the preparation of its ministers.” (American Guidance Foundation, Inc. v. United States, 490 F. Supp. 304 (D.D.C. 1980)).

“In addition to the 14 criteria enumerated above, the IRS will consider ‘[a]ny other facts and circumstances which may bear upon the organization’s claim for church status.’ Internal Revenue Manual 7(10)69, Exempt Organizations Examination Guidelines Handbook 321.3(3) (Apr. 5, 1982)” (88 T.C. at 1358).

The most glaring inaccuracy in the IRS criteria used to decide whether something is a church is the omission of God’s principles from the characteristics. When the natural man defines a church, he leaves God out; or, should he include God, he must have an incorrect conception and definition of God, since he does not know God. That is the most apparent problem with the IRS conception of a church. The natural man, as exemplified by the IRS characteristics of a church, overlooks the fact that Jesus is the one who builds and is the chief cornerstone of the church. If Jesus, and Jesus alone, is not the builder, there can be no church. Paul wrote, speaking to the church:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together growth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ep. 2.19-22).

The results of the attempts of the courts and IRS to define “church” are twofold: First, some of those “religious organizations” which are not “churches,” but have sought to be recognized by the civil government as “churches,” have been declared to be “churches” by the civil government; and second, New Testament churches which have sought and obtained incorporation and/or “tax exemption” have become legal entities and lost their status as New Testament churches solely under God.

The state and federal provisions and actions derived and resulting from those provisions which allow incorporation and declaration of tax exempt status of churches and religious organizations demonstrate:

(1)  the wisdom embodied in the First Amendment which recognized that the civil government is not qualified to “make [any] law regarding an establishment of religion, or [to prevent] the free exercise thereof.”

(2)  the undesirable consequences of deviation from the biblical principles that the church is a spiritual entity, the only spiritual institution ordained by God; the state is an earthly entity ordained by God to operate only within its God-given earthly jurisdiction; and that neither the church nor state should be over the other, but God should be over both.

(3)  that the federal government (and the states since the incorporation of the First Amendment by the Fourteenth Amendment) violates the First Amendment when civil government provides for incorporation and tax-exempt status for churches or any other religious organization.

(4)  most importantly, that most churches have abdicated their responsibility to honor their husband, the Lord Jesus Christ.

15Just one illustration of what can happen when the civil government determines if an organization is a church, when IRS officials determine what constitutes a church within the meaning of IRC § 170(b)(1)(A)(i), follows. The threshold question in determining whether an organization is a church described in § 170(b)(1)(A)(i) is whether the organization qualifies as a religious organization described in § 501(c)(3). Using the 14-part IRS test to determine whether a religious organization was a church, IRS officials held that an organization with the following purpose as stated in its articles of incorporation and bylaws was a church: “[T]o establish an ecumenical church to help people learn to pay attention, wake up, and discover what both Christ and Buddha referred to as one’s true self” (Internal Revenue Service Private Letter Ruling 8833001, 1988 PRL LEXIS 1594). The ruling stated:

“The organization was established to develop an ecumenical form of religious practice, place greater significance on the modes of religious expression that would unify western and eastern modes of religious practice, place greater significance on the mystical or interior experience of religious truth than that of most western church denominations, and be more spiritually satisfying to members than other existing church organizations” (Ibid.).

In other words, the IRS determined that an organization whose purpose was directly contrary to the principles for a church laid down by the Lord in His Word was a church.

The lost and most believers have no clue as to the true meaning of “New Testament (First Amendment) church,” and America is not a nation under God. The civil governments in the United States, following Satan’s principles, have constructed a code that undermines incorporated 501(c)(3) and 508 religious organizations. Yet most American “Christians” are fearful and more concerned with pleasing civil government than they are in pleasing the Lord, more concerned with allowing their members to claim a tax deduction than with pleasing their Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ. The Savior grieves.

Distinct Differences between Church and State Render Them Mutually Exclusive

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April 2, 2012
Revised July 24, 2014


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Distinct Differences between Church and State Render Them Mutually Exclusive

Combining church and state has had dire consequences, as history shows (See (1) Section 4 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is available free in both PDF and online form or may be ordered in softback and Kindle by going toOrder information for books by Jerald Finney”; (2) the section on the history of the First Amendment; and/or (3) An Abridged History of the First Amendment.). Catholic and Protestant theology historically justified (and continue to justify) the union of church and state by examining Scripture not literally, but allegorically or spiritually, when and where convenient to support a desired conclusion. Thus, those religious organizations interpret Scripture in such a way as to apply the principles for Israel and Judaism to Gentile nations and the established church of that nation.

JamesMadisonOnC&SMany of America’s founding fathers, most especially James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, understood that church and state should be separate. From a worldly common sense point of view they arrived at their understanding by studying the consequences of such unions both historically and also contemporaneously. Isaac Backus and some other Baptists understood both the problems created by combining church and state and the true reasons for those problems. Backus wrote: “Christians must be careful not to apply God’s principles for the Jewish religion and the nation Israel to church and state. The principles for the two are so distinct that they are mutually exclusive. The government of the Church of Christ is as distinct from all worldly governments, as heaven is from earth” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 561)! Indeed, union of church and state is contrary to biblical principles; and, therefore, the consequences of church-state union have always been dire and will be so until the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom.

Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1779 and enacted in 1786.
Virginia Bill for Religious Liberty drafted by Thomas Jefferson in 1779 and enacted in 1786.

God gave both church and state certain powers. God gave the state earthly and temporal power within jurisdictional boundaries which He set out.

“EARTH’LY, a. Pertaining to the earth, or to this world.
Our earthly house of this tabernacle. 2 Cor. v.
“2. Not heavenly; vile; mean,
This earthly load
Of death called life.          Milton.
“3. Belonging to our present state; as earthly objects; earthly residence.
“4. Belonging to the earth or world; carnal; vile; as opposed to spiritual or heavenly.
Whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. Phil. iii.
“5. Corporeal; not mental.             Spenser”(AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828)).

The power given a church was meant to provide a spiritual and eternal good.

“SPIRITUAL,
“1. Consisting of spirit; not material; incorporeal; as a spiritual substance or being. The   soul of man is spiritual.
“2. Mental; intellectual; as spiritual armor.
“3. Not gross; refined from external things; not sensual; relative to mind only; as a spiritual and refined religion.
“4. Not lay or temporal; relating to sacred things; ecclesiastical; as the spiritual functions of the clergy; the lords spiritual and temporal; a spiritual corporation.
“5. Pertaining to spirit or to the affections; pure; holy.
God’s law is spiritual; it is a transcript of the divine nature, and extends its authority to the acts of the soul of man.
“6. Pertaining to the renewed nature of man; as spiritual life.
“7. Not fleshly; not material; as spiritual sacrifices. 1 Peter ii.
“8. Pertaining to divine things; as spiritual songs…. Ephesians v. (Ibid.)”

Ep.4.22-24Spiritual beliefs determine earthly actions. Much of God’s spiritual word deals with actions of individuals, families, churches, and nations here upon the earth. Civil governments are not given jurisdiction over many areas of life which are governed by the Word of God. A civil government which ignores God and His Word is setting itself up for judgment.

God ordained a church under God, not a business under civil government, an entity that is to work hand in hand with or perhaps over the state to bring in the kingdom of God, or an entity that is to work under state rules. Admittedly, the ultimate God-given purpose of both a church and a civil government is to glorify God, each acting under God, but neither acting with or under the other. However, the underlying purposes of a church and the state are significantly different: the underlying purpose of a church is heavenly or spiritual; the underlying purpose of a civil government is earthly.

2The purpose of the Gentile civil government is fleshly or earthly. See the section “The biblical doctrine of government for more on the jurisdiction and purposes of the various God-ordained governments including civil government. Gentile civil government, according to God, was ordained by God to deal with those temporal earthly matters assigned it by God. God gave man certain authority over man. He gave man the responsibility to rule over man under His rules. Gentile civil government has authority to punish those who commit certain crimes against their fellow man and to reward those who do good. The purpose of the Gentile civil government is to control evil men thereby maintaining some degree of peace in this present world. A civil government, as defined by God, is made up of men under God ruling over man in earthly matters.

Ep.5.23-27A church is a local autonomous body of believers; and, 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). A church, under God, owes no allegiance to any tribunal in the universe, except to that of the Lord Jesus Christ unless she willingly and wrongly places herself under the jurisdiction of another (Mt. 16.13-18), and is the body of Christ of which He is the Head (Ep. 1.22, 23). See the section “The biblical doctrine of the church” for a thorough examination of the doctrine of the church.

Neither a church nor the state was given authority from God to rule over or with the other. Christians are told to obey civil government as regards certain earthly matters. But Christians and churches are not to be under the civil government with regard to spiritual matters, which include many activities and actions as shown in the Bible. God gave churches free will, and churches can therefore choose to disobey God and voluntarily put themselves under the authority of civil government.

2Civil government does not meet the qualifications needed to rule over a church and those matters assigned the church by God. Civil government does not have the authority given it from God to oversee or rule a church. Since civil government is usually led by the unregenerate, it does not have the nature or wisdom to handle spiritual matters; and, therefore, when a church combines with the state, both are corrupted. Christians do have such nature and wisdom, as proclaimed by Paul: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath proposed in himself” (Ep. 1.9).

Paul was a very well-educated man. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees. Before his conversion, he studied in Tarsus under Gamaliel (Ac. 22.3).

“Tarsus was actually the center of Greek learning to that day. The finest Greek university in Paul’s day was in Tarsus, not in Athens or Corinth which had passed their zenith. Tarsus was a thriving Greek city and an educational center. Undoubtedly Paul had been brought up in that university in Tarsus and had a Greek background, but he had also been in Jerusalem where he had studied under Gamaliel. He had worked on his doctorate in Jerusalem under the outstanding scholar of that day, Gamaliel” (J. Vernon McGee, Acts, Volume II (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1984), p. 258).

Despite his worldly education, which he obtained before his conversion, Paul declared:

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Co. 2.1-16). [Bold emphasis mine].

Paul persecuted Christians before his conversion and was present at the martyrdom of Stephen,
Paul persecuted Christians before his conversion and was present at the martyrdom of Stephen,

Thus Paul first made clear that, as a spiritual man, he discarded his worldly education gained as a lost carnal man. After he got saved he relied only upon his knowledge of God; and he made clear that only the born-again believer, led by the Spirit, was qualified to handle spiritual matters. Paul also asserted that rulers, “the princes of this world,” do not possess spiritual wisdom, indicating that most leaders are not Christians (undoubtedly, almost all leaders, and almost all leaders of civil government when he wrote the above words, are not and were not Christians) and are blind to spiritual matters.

  • “InScripture theology, wisdom is true religion; godliness; piety; the knowledge and fear of God, and sincere and uniform obedience to his commands. This is the wisdom which isfrom above. Ps. xc. Job xxviii”….
  • The wisdom of this world, mere human erudition; or the carnal policy of men, their craft and artifices in promoting their temporal interests; called alsofleshly wisdom. 1 Cor. ii., 2 Cor. i” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “WISDOM.”).

Persecuted Christians down through the ages have understood this and therefore have refused, even under penalty of torture, imprisonment, and/or death to submit the church and spiritual matters to the ungodly, usually the civil government, and/or the state-church. This was apparent under the Roman Empire at the time of Christ and after. Roger Williams correctly observed, as have other students of unrevised history:

  • RomePersecution“Scripture and all history tell us, that those Caesars were not only arrogant, without God, without Christ, &c.; but professed worshippers, or maintainers, of the Roman gods or devils; as also notorious for all sorts of wickedness; and lastly, cruel and bloody lions and tigers toward the Christians for many hundred years.
  • “Hence I argue from the wisdom, love, and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus in his house, it was impossible that he should appoint such ignorant, such idolatrous, such wicked, and such cruel persons to be his chief officers and deputy lieutenants under himself to keep the worship of God, to guard his church, his wife. No wise and loving father was ever known to put his child, no not his beasts, dogs, or swine, but unto fitting keepers.
  • “Men judge it matter of high complaint, that the records of parliament, the king’s children, the Tower of London, the great seal, should be committed to unworthy keepers! And can it be, without high blasphemy, conceived that the Lord Jesus should commit his sheep, his children, yea, his spouse, his thousand shields and bucklers in the tower of his church, and lastly, his great and glorious broad seals of baptism and his supper, to be preserved pure in their administrations—I say, that the Lord Jesus, who is wisdom and faithfulness itself, should deliver these to such keepers? …
  • “[W]hen the Lord appointed the government of Israel after the rejection of Saul, to establish a covenant of succession in the type unto Christ, let it be minded what pattern and precedent it pleased the Lord to set for the after kings of Israel and Judah, in David, the man after his own heart.
  • “But now the Lord Jesus being come himself, and having fulfilled the former types, and dissolved the national state of the church, and established a more spiritual way of worship all the world over, and appointed a spiritual government and governors, it is well known what the Roman Caesars were, under whom both Christ Jesus himself, and his servants after him, lived and suffered; so that if the Lord Jesus had appointed any such deputies—as we find not a title to that purpose, nor have a shadow of true reason so to think—he must, I say, in the very first institution, have pitched upon such persons for thesecustodies utriusque tabulae, keepers of both tables, as no man wise, or faithful or loving, would have chosen in any of the former instances, or cases of a more inferior nature…” (Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), pp. 204-205).
  • “Christ never delivered His sheep or children to these wolves, his wife and spouse to such adulterers, his precious jewels to such great thieves and robbers of the world, as the Roman emperors were. Paul never appealed to Caesar as judge appointed by Christ Jesus to give definitive sentence in any spiritual or church controversy; but against the civil violence and murder which the Jews intended against him, Paul justly appealed. For otherwise, if in a spiritual cause he should have appealed, he should have overthrown his own apostleship and power given him by Christ Jesus in spiritual things, above the highest kings or emperors of the world beside…” (Ibid., p. 209).
  • “A civil magistrate may be a good subject, a good magistrate, in respect of civil or moral goodness, which thousands want; and where it is, it is commendable and beautiful, though godliness, which is infinitely more beautiful, be wanting, and which is only proper to the Christian state, the commonweal of Israel, the true church the holy nation, Ephes. ii.; 1 Pet. ii” (Ibid., p. 212).

How can it be that a Christian can be godly, while a non-Christian as a hopeless lost sinner can only have some degree of virtue? Once a person is born again, he becomes a new creature, a spiritual being who is instructed by God to walk in the Spirit:

  • “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3.3).
  • “Except a man be born of water (SeeEN1) and of the Spirit (John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” Mk. 1.8.  See also, Mt. 3.11 and Lu. 3.16), he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3.5).
  • “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3.6).
  • “Therefore if any manbe in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (1 Co. 5.17).

Ga.5.16-17The Word of God instructs the believer as to his walk:

  • “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.1-6).
  • Ga.5.19-21Ga.5.22-23“Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which arethese; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Ga. 5.16-25; see also, Ep. 5.1-17, Jn. 6.63, Ro. 8.1-13).

Thus, the lost man, the man who has not been born again, is a fleshly man, who walks in the flesh without the indwelling Spirit of God. He is subject only to the law. The believer, a member of a church, a part of the body, is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth who is told to be led of the Spirit. He is told that if he is led of the Spirit, he is not subject to the law.

  • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ep. 1.3).
  • “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.4-5).
  • “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell youof heavenly things” (Jn. 3.12)?
  • “WHEREFORE, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (He. 3.1).
  • “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pe. 2.11).

The word “heavenly” signifies that which is heavenly in contradistinction to that which is “earthly”:

“‘The heavenlies’ [or ‘heavenly places’] may be defined as the sphere of the believer’s spiritual experience as identified with Christ in nature (2 Pet. 1.4 [‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’]); life (Col. 3.4 [‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’]; 1 John 5.12 [‘He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.’]); relationships (John 20.17 [‘Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’]; Heb. 2.11 [‘For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,’])service (John 17.18 [‘As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.’]; Mt. 28.20 [‘Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’]); suffering (Phil. 1.29 [‘For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;’]; 3.10 [‘That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;’]; Col. 1.24 [‘Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:’]); inheritance (Rom. 8.16, 17 [‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.’]); and future glory in the kingdom (Rom. 8.18-21 [‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.’]; 1 Pet. 2.9 [‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:’]; Rev. 1.6 [‘And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.’]; 5.10 [‘And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.’]). The believer is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (Heb. 3.1 [‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;’]; 1 Pet. 2.11 [‘Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;’])” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Ep. 1.3, p. 1249).

3The church is made up of believers. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Ac. 2.47).  The church, made up of spiritual beings, is a spiritual or heavenly body whose ultimate purpose is to glorify God. “The word ‘spiritual,’ found 23 times in the Bible, always means heavenly minded, godly, holy, never self-centered” (Questions and Answers, The Berean Call, January 2007, Volume XXII, No. 1, p. 5, available at www.thebereancall.org.).  “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Co. 10.31). As was pointed out in “The biblical doctrine of the church”  and further explained in “God Betrayed/Church Corporate-501c3 Status: Union Of Church and State”, a church, as the spiritual body of Christ, is told to be subject to Christ, the Head of the body, in all things.

Spiritual matters include all things involving a church, such as the use of (not ownership of by the church) property for the assembly of the saints. These matters are all related to the primary purpose of loving and glorifying God and the Lord Jesus Christ who is likened to the Head, the Husband, and the Bridegroom of the church, and loving our neighbor as well. Jesus stated, concerning the commandments concerning man’s relationship with God, in response to “[A] lawyer, [who] asked a question, tempting [Jesus], and saying Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets” (Mt. 22.37-40. See also, Mk. 12.28-34 and Lu. 10.25-28).

Love is shown by action—that is, it is an act of the will and not lust or just an emotion or a verbal profession. Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (Jn. 14.21). “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15.10, 14).

1Co.13.2Only God’s people can exhibit God’s love. Again, the first and great commandment of God is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind;” and the second, like unto it, is “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mt. 22.37-40. See also, Mk. 12.28-34 and Lu. 10.25-28). This is repeated to emphasize God’s greatest commandments. These commandments were also in the Old Testament (See De. 6.5, 30.6 and Lek 19.18). If one loves God and his neighbor as commanded by God, he will automatically keep the Old Testament Commandments.  Thus, rulers, when they forbid a church and/or individual believers to perform their God given functions to love God and to love their neighbors and usurp that role for themselves, have not only assumed an illegitimate role not given them by God, but also have assumed a role they are unqualified to assume because of both a lack of spiritual wisdom and a lack of the most important ingredient—love given the believer by the Spirit of God.

“They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world…. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 Jn. 4.5-14, 18-21). [Emphasis mine.]

JohnRobinson3John Robinson, one of those called Separatist (one who withdrew from the established Church of England), defined the difference between civil and ecclesiastical government leaders in 1610:

  1. “Civil officers [are, and] are called in the word of God, princes, heads, captains, judges, magistrates, nobles, lords, kings, them in authority, principalities and powers, yea, in their respect, gods; and according to their names so are their offices.  But on the contrary, ecclesiastical officers are not capable of these, or the like titles, which can neither be given without flattery to them, nor received by them without arrogancy. Neither is their office an office of lordship, sovereignty or authority, but of labor and service, and so they, the laborers and servants of the church, as of God. 2. Cor. iv.5; 1 Tim. iii.1. [This same principle applies to government entities such as incorporated churches which, by secular or earthly law, must have officers with certain non-biblical titles. See Section VI.]
  2. “Magistrates may publish and execute their own laws in their own names. Ezra i.1 &c; Esther viii.8; Matt. xx.25. But ministers are only interpreters of the laws of God, and must look for no further respect at the hands of any to the things they speak, that as they manifest the same to the commandments of the Lord. 1 Cor. xvi. 37. [Officers of incorporated churches are subject to and must apply the laws of their sovereign, the state. See Section VI.]
  3. “Civil administrators, and their forms of government, may be and ofttimes are altered, for the avoiding of inconveniences, according to the circumstances of time, place and persons.  Exod. xviii.13 &c.But the church is a kingdom which cannot be shaken, Heb. xii.28, wherein may be no innovation in office, or form of administration, from that which Christ hath left, for any inconveniency whatsoever.
  4. “Civil magistrates have authority by their offices to judge offenders, upon whom also they may execute bodily vengeance, using their people as their servants and ministers for the same purpose; but in the church the officers are the ministers of the people, whose service the people is to use for the administering of the judgments of the church, and of God first, against the obstinate, which is the utmost execution the church can perform…. But here it will be demanded of me, if the elders be not set over the church for her guidance and government? Yes, certainly, as the physician is set over the body, for his skill and faithfulness, to minister unto it, to whom the patient, yea though his lord and [or] master, is to submit; the lawyer over his cause, to attend unto it; the steward over his family, even his wife and children, to make provision for them: yea, the watchman over the whole city, for the safe keeping thereof. Such, and none other, is the elder’s or bishop’s government” (John Robinson,A Justification of Separation from the Church of England (1610), quoted in Isaac Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 19-20). [Bold emphasis mine.]

Mr. Robinson’s distinctions between civil and church government are relevant in America today.

A church is to sit together in heavenly places. God wants His churches to be run according to His spiritual principles. Sadly, most churches are not run according to God’s principles. A “church” run as a corporation, unincorporated association, corporate sole, or charitable trust with an Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) 501(c)(3) tax exemption is, to a greater or lesser degree, earthly. It is designed and operated, at the very least partially, under the earthly rules of man which are contrary to the spiritual rules of God.

The contrast between how God treats earthly and heavenly concerns is shown in many ways. This article will examine a few: first, the contrasts between the manner of redemption of the nation of Israel and the manner of redemption of the individual; second, the contrasts between the new law of Christ in the renewed heart and the external law of Moses; third, the contrasts between the weapons and means of nations to attain their ends and the weapons and means of a believer and a church to attain their ends; fourth, the contrasts between the different punishments ordered by God for the church and for the state; fifth, the contrasts between Old and New Testament prayer; sixth, the contrasts between the hope of nations as seen in the Old Testament and the hope of the church as seen in the New Testament; seventh, the contrasts between the promises to the nation Israel for obedience and the promises to the Christian for obedience; eighth, the contrasts between the position and fate of the nation Israel and the position and fate of the church; and ninth, the contrasts between the different houses of God for Israel and the church—the Old Testament tabernacle was earthly, the New Testament church is spiritual. A discussion of each of these contrasts follows.

2First, the manner of redemption of the nation Israel and that of the individual are different. The book of Exodus teaches that:

“redemption is essential to any relationship with a holy God; and that even a redeemed people cannot have fellowship with Him unless constantly cleansed from defilement.

“In Exodus, God, hitherto connected with the Israelitish people only through His covenant with Abraham, brings them to Himself nationally through redemption, puts them under the Mosaic Covenant. In the Commandments God taught Israel His just demands. Experience under the Commandments convicted Israel of sin: and the provision of priesthood and sacrifice (filled with precious types of Christ) gave a guilty people a way of forgiveness, cleansing, restoration to fellowship and worship” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, headnote to Ex., p. 71).

In Galatians, Paul demonstrates: “that justification is through the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15.18), and that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after the confirmation of that covenant, and the true purpose of which was condemnation, not justification, cannot disannul a salvation which rests upon the earlier covenant.” Paul [also vindicates] the office of the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier.”

TenCommandmentsSecond, the new law of Christ and the external law of Moses are significantly different:

The new ‘law of Christ’ is the divine love, as wrought into the renewed heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5.5 [‘And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.’]; Heb. 10.16 [‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.[.]]’); and out flowing in the energy of the Spirit, unforced and spontaneous, toward the objects of the divine love (2 Cor. 5.14-20 [‘For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new….’]; 1 Thes. 2.7-8 [‘But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children; So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.’]).  It is, therefore, the law of liberty (Jas. 1.25 [‘But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.’]; 2.12 [‘So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty..’]); in contrast with the external law of Moses.  Moses’ law demands love (Lev. 19.18 [‘Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.’]; Deut. 6.5 [‘And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.’]; Lk. 10.27 [‘And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.’]); Christ’s law is love (Rom. 5.5 [‘And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”]; 1 John 4.7, 19, 20 [‘Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?’]), and so takes the place of the external law by fulfilling it (Rom. 13.10 [’Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.’]; Gal. 5.14 [’For all the law is  fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’].  It is the ‘law written in the heart’ under the New Covenant (Heb. 8.8, note)” (Ibid., n. 1 to 2 Jn. 5, p. 1326). [Bold emphasis mine.]

The old law kills, the new law saves. “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life…. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty” (2 Co. 3.6, 17). When God told Moses to get down from the mountain, he brought the law down, and three thousand were killed (Ex. 32.28).  When Jesus rejoined his disciples after the resurrection, He told them to “wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Ac. 1.4-5). They waited, the Holy Spirit came down, and three thousand were saved (Ac. 1.6-2.41).

6_Ep.6_Third, the weapons of a church and Christians, who are fighting a spiritual warfare against a spiritual enemy, are spiritual, not carnal, and their goal is spiritual:

  • “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.)” (2 Co. 10.3-4).
  • “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of he devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ep. 6.10-18).
  • “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (He. 4.12).

The weapons of Israel as a nation were carnal, although the real secret to success in their earthly battles was obedience to and faith in God. Their goal as a nation was earthly—possession of and prosperity in the land promised them by God (See, e.g., De.). When they entered the land they had to take it by force. For example, they “utterly destroyed all that was in [Jericho], both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword” (Jo. 6.21). The children of Israel, under Joshua, continued to do battle and “took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war” (Jo. 11.23). However, they did not expel all the inhabitants as instructed, nor did they possess all the land God had given them (See, e.g., Jo. 13.13). Joshua, before his death, instructed the children of Israel to expel those remaining of the nations in the land, with penalty of banishment from the land should they fail to keep his instructions (Jo. 23.4-16).  They did not drive out all the inhabitants of the land as instructed nor did they take all the land the Lord had given them to possess (Ju. 1).

Roger WilliamsWeapons used for spiritual warfare are not suitable for earthly warfare and vice versa. Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, the first government in history to have religious liberty (See Section IV, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed) pointed out:

  • “[T]o take a stronghold, men bring cannon, culverins, saker, bullets, powder, muskets, swords, pikes, &c., and these to this end are weapons effectual and proportionable.
  • “On the other side, to batter down idolatry, false worship, heresy, schism, blindness, hardness, out of the soul and spirit, it is vain, improper, and unsuitable to bring those weapons which are used by persecutors, stocks, whips, prisons, swords, gibbets, stakes, &c., (where these seem to prevail with some cities or kingdoms, a stronger force sets up again, what a weaker pulled down); but against these spiritual strongholds in the souls of men, spiritual artillery and weapons are proper, which are mighty through God to subdue and bring under the very thought to obedience, or else to bind fast the soul with chains of darkness, and lock it up in the prison of unbelief and hardness to eternity” (Williams, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, pp. 119-120).

Roger Williams maintained that the civil power has five proper political means to attain its end:

  • “First, the erecting and establishing what form of civil government may seem in wisdom most meet, according the general rules of the word, and state of the people….  The magistrate has power to publish and apply such civil laws in a state, as either are expressed in the word of God in Moses’s judicials—to wit, so far as they are of general and moral equity, and so binding all nations in all ages—to be deducted by way of general consequence and proportion from the word of God.
  • “For in a free state no magistrate hath power over the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of a free people, but by their free consents. And because free men are not free lords of their own estates, but are only stewards unto God, therefore they may not give their free consents to any magistrate to dispose of their bodies, goods, lands, liberties, at large as themselves please, but as God, the sovereign Lord of all, alone. And because the word is a perfect rule, as well of righteousness as of holiness, it will be therefore necessary that neither the people give consent, nor that the magistrate take power to dispose of the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of the people, but according to the laws and rules of the word of God….
  • “Secondly, the making, publishing, and establishing of wholesome civil laws, not only such as concern civil justice, but also the free passage of true religion: for outward civil peace ariseth and is maintained from them both, from the latter as well as from the former.
  • “Civil peace cannot stand entire where religion is corrupted, 2 Chron. xv. 3, 5, 6; Judges viii. And yet such laws, though conversant about religion may still be counted civil laws; as on the contrary, an oath doth still remain religious, though conversant about civil matters.
  • “Thirdly, election and appointment of civil officers to see execution of those laws.
  • “Fourthly, civil punishments and rewards of transgressors and observers of these laws.
  • “Fifthly, taking up arms against the enemies of civil peace” (Ibid., pp. 212-213. See pp. 219-223 concerning the power of the magistrate in making laws.).

On the other hand, according to Mr. Williams,

  • “the means whereby a church may and should attain her ends, are only ecclesiastical, which are chiefly five. First, setting up that form of church government only of which Christ hath given them a pattern in his word.
  • “Secondly, acknowledging and admitting of no lawgiver in the church but Christ, and the publishing of his laws.
  • “Thirdly, electing and ordaining of such officers only as Christ hath appointed in his word.
  • “Fourthly, to receive into their fellowship them that are approved, and inflicting spiritual censures against them that offend.
  • “Fifthly, prayer and patience in suffering any evil from them that be without, who disturb their peace.
  • “So that magistrates, as magistrates, have no power of setting up the form of church government, electing church officers, punishing with church censures; but to see the church doth her duty herein. And on the other side, the churches, as churches, have no power, though as members of the commonweal they may have power, of erecting or altering forms of civil government, electing of civil officers, inflicting civil punishments—no, not on persons excommunicated—as by deposing magistrates from their civil authority, or withdrawing the hearts of the people against them, to their laws, no more than to discharge wives, or children, or servants, from due obedience to their husbands, parents, or masters: or by taking up arms against their magistrates, though they persecute them for conscience; for though members of churches, who are public officers, also of the civil state, may suppress by force the violence of usurpers, as Jehoiada did Athaliah, yet this they do not as members of the church, but as officers of the civil state” (Ibid., pp. 213-214).

2Fourth,the Bible lays out different punishments to be administered by church and state. As to the church, there is no example in Scripture of the church physically punishing anyone for any type infraction or of the church turning either one guilty of sin (not classified by the state as penal) or one guilty of spiritual wrongdoing over to the state for punishment:

“But as the civil magistrate hath his charge of the bodies and goods of the subject: so have the spiritual officers, governors, and overseers of Christ’s city or kingdom, the charge of their souls, and soul safety. Hence that charge of Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. v. 20, Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may learn to fear. This is, in the church of Christ, a spiritual means for the healing of a soul that hath sinned, or taken infection, and for the preventing of the infecting of others, that others may learn to fear, &c” (Ibid., p. 99).

Paul instructed the church at Corinth to deliver a church member who was guilty of fornication with his father’s wife “to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Co. 6.1-5). He goes on to tell them that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” and that they are not to “company with fornicators” “or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters” “or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner” (1 Co. 6.7-11). The Corinthian church did expel the man and he repented and was restored (See 2 Co. 7.8-11). As Roger Williams points out, “Where it is observable, that the same word used by Moses for putting a malefactor to death, in typical Israel, by sword, stoning, &c., Deut. xiii.5, is here used by Paul for the spiritual killing, or cutting off by excommunication, 1 Cor. [5] v.13, Put away that evil person, &c” (Williams and Underhill, p. 62).

Paul tells the church that members of the church are not to go to law against each other for non-criminal actions, rather to take wrong, to “suffer [themselves] to be defrauded” (I Co. 6.1-8).  He tells the church that they are to judge among themselves (Ibid.).  Titus was instructed by Paul: “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” (Tit. 3.10). Roger Williams’ insights into this verse are instructive:

  • “[F]or an erroneous and blind conscience, (even in fundamental and weighty points) it is not lawful to persecute any, til after admonition once or twice” (Williams and Underhill, p. 20).
  • “First then Titus, unto whom this epistle and these directions were written, and in him to all that succeed him in the like work of the gospel to the world’s end, was no minister of the civil state, armed with the majesty and terror of a material sword, who might for offenses against the civil state inflict punishments upon the bodies of men by imprisonments, whippings, fines, banishment, death.  Titus was a minister of the gospel, or glad tidings, armed only with the spiritual sword of the word of God, and [with] such spiritual weapons as (yet) through God were mighty to the casting down of strongholds, yea, every high thought of the highest head and heart in the world, 2. Cor. x. 4.
  • “Therefore, these first and second admonitions were not civil or corporal punishments on men’s persons or purses, which courts of men may lawfully inflict upon malefactors; but they were the reprehensions, convictions, exhortations, and persuasions of the word of the eternal God, charged home to the conscience in the name and presence of the Lord Jesus, in the midst of the church. Which being despised and not hearkened to, in the last place follows rejection; which is not a cutting off by heading, hanging, burning, &c., or an expelling of the country and coasts; neither [of] which (no, nor any lesser civil punishment) Titus, nor the church at Crete, had any power to exercise. But it was that dreadful cutting off from that visible head and body, Christ Jesus and his church; that purging out of the old leaven from the lump of the saints; the putting away of the evil and wicked person from the holy land and commonwealth of God’s Israel, 1 Cor. v. [6, 7.]  Where it is observable, that the same word used by Moses for putting a malefactor to death, in typical Israel, by sword, stoning, &c.,, Deut. xiii. 5, is here used by Paul for the spiritual killing, or cutting off by excommunication, 1 Cor. v. 13,Put away that evil person, &c.
  • “Now, I desire the answerer, and any, in the holy awe and fear of God, to consider that—
    “From whom the first and second admonition was to proceed, from them also was the rejecting or casting out to proceed, as before. But not from the civil magistrate, to whom Paul writes not this epistle, and who also is not bound once and twice the admonish, but may speedily punish, as he sees cause, the persons or purses of delinquents against his civil state; but from Titus, the minister or angel of the church, and from the church with him, were these first and second admonitions to proceed.
  • “And therefore, at last also, this rejecting: which can be no other but a casting out, or excommunicating of him from their church society.
  • “Indeed, this rejecting is no other than that avoiding which Paul writes of to the church of Christ at Rome, Rom. xvi. 17; which avoiding, however woefully perverted by some to prove persecution, belonged to the governors of Christ’s church and kingdom in Rome, and not to the Roman emperor, for him to rid and avoid the world of them by bloody and cruel persecution” (, pp. 61-63).

A heretic in the church who continues in his heresy after the first and second admonition “is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Tit. 3.11).

The state, on the other hand, is to punish men for certain carnal infractions against their fellow man, not for spiritual infractions against God.

4Fifth, Old and New Testament prayer are distinct:

“Prayer in the O.T. is in contrast with prayer in the N.T. in 2 respects: (1) in the former the basis of prayer is a covenant of God, or an appeal to his revealed character as merciful, gracious, etc. In the latter, the basis is relationship: ‘When ye pray, say, Our Father’ (Mt. 6.9). (2) A comparison, e.g., of the prayers of Moses and Paul, e.g. will show that one was praying for an earthly people whose dangers and blessings were earthly; the other for a heavenly people whose dangers and blessings were spiritual” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Hab. 3.1, p. 957).

Whereas, in the Old Testament, prayers were made for temporal destruction of those God had a purpose to pluck up, Christians are to pray for all men:

“Jeremy had a commission to plant and build, to pluck up and destroy kingdoms, Jer. i.10; therefore he is commanded not to pray for that people whom God had a purpose to pluck up, Jer. xiv.11, and he plucks up the whole nation by prayer, Lament. iii.66. thus Elijah brought fire from heaven to consume the captains and the fifties, 2 Kings i. And the apostles desired also so to practise against the Samaritans, Luke ix.54, but were reproved by the Lord Jesus. For, contrarily, the saints, and servants, and churches of Christ, are to pray for all men, especially for all magistrates, of what sort or religions soever, and to seek the peace of the city, whatever city it be, because in the peace of the place God’s people have peace also, Jer. xxix.7; 2 Tim. ii., &c (Williams and Underhill, p. 86).”

3Sixth, nations as seen in the Old Testament and churches as seen in the New Testament have different hopes. Every nation is on probation (if it violates its probation, it loses its land and identity as a nation); believers in a church are a family awaiting glory:

“The scene that happened while Moses was on the mount where the children of Israel broke the law, made a golden calf, etc., affords a striking contrast between law and grace.  Cf. Moses’s intercession with Christ’s (John 17).  Israel was a nation, under probation [earthly] (Ex. 19.5,6); believers under grace are a family, awaiting glory [heavenly] (John 20.17; Rom. 5.1, 2). For them there is “an advocate with the Father,’’ whose propitiatory sacrifice never loses efficacy (1 John 2.1, 2).  Moses pleads a covenant (Ex. 32.13); Christ points to a sacrifice (John 17.4)” (See Ex. 32 and 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Ex. 32.10, p. 113).

1Seventh, the promises to the nation Israel and its people and the promises to the Christian are different. The Christian was promised, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3.12).  Israel was given conditional promises of material blessings for obeying God’s commands, for keeping His statutes and judgments. Under the Palestinian Covenant, they were told that they would prosper materially if they kept and did all the words of that covenant (De. 30.9).  God repeated this promise to other leaders of Israel. For example, the LORD spoke to Solomon, King of Israel saying,

“And if thou walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done this to this land and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil” (1 K. 9.4-9).

1Eighth, the position and fate of the nation Israel and the position and fate of the church are distinct. God called the nation Israel the wife of Jehovah to be restored on this earth; the church is symbolized as the bride and wife of Christ:

“That Israel is the wife of Jehovah (see [Hosea 2.] 16-23), now disowned but yet to be restored, is the clear teaching of [Hosea 2:14-23].  This relationship is not to be confounded with that of the Church to Christ (John 3.29, refs.). In the mystery of the Divine tri-unity both are true. The New Testament speaks of the Church as a virgin espoused to one husband (2 Cor. 11.1, 2); which could never be said of an adulterous wife, restored in grace. Israel is, then, to be the restored and forgiven wife of Jehovah, the Church the virgin wife of the Lamb (John 3.29; Rev. 19.6-8); Israel Jehovah’s earthly wife (Hos. 2.23); the Church the Lamb’s heavenly bride (Rev. 19.7))” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Ho. 2.2, p. 922).

2Ninth, the different houses of God for Israel and the church are distinct—the tabernacle was earthly, the Christian and the church heavenly, a spiritual house, not an earthly house:

  • “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary…. But Christ, being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building” (He. 9.1-2, 11).
  • “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are”  (1 Co. 3.16-17. “In the N.T. the usual Gk. word for sanctuary (naos) is used of (1) the temple in Jerusalem (Mt. 23.16); (2) of the believer’s body (I Cor. 3.16, 17; 6.19); (3) and of the local church (2 Cor. 6.16; Eph. 2.21). But in all these instances the thought is simply of a habitation of God. No reference to the structure of the temple, as in the case of the tabernacle (Heb. 9.-10), is traceable.”
  • “Now therefore ye [church members] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ep. 2.19-22).
  • “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid….  know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit…  What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? …” (1 Co. 6.15-20).
  • “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. 3.6).
  • “[Y]e are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk in them: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Co. 6.16).
  • “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, 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” (1 Pe. 2.4-5).

JohnTheBaptist_Lk3.16John the Baptist announced the coming of something new. He spent no time in the temple. With him, a new system that required a decision began. “Jesus’ real temple—as … with John the Baptist—was the desert” (Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Derdmans Publishing Co., 1976), fn W, p. 61). “Some of the negative miracles he performed (e.g., the cursing of the fig tree so that it withered) were a reflection of his attitude toward the temple and the concept of which it was the rallying point” (Ibid.). Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple (Mt. 24.2), and failed to endorse Jerusalem and the Jewish system of worship stating that the time was coming when she would neither worship in “this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem,” but that “the hour cometh, and now is when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jn. 4.21, 23).

The resources and manpower needed to build the temple (earthly and tremendous, provided by man) and the church (heavenly, provided by God) are distinct (He. 9.1-2, 11). In the Old Testament, we learn that the shekinah-glory of the LORD came to fill the house of the LORD, built by man’s hands. The Holy Spirit comes to live in the believer, who is born again by the spirit of God. As has been shown, the church is a spiritual building, made up of spiritual stones (believers) built on the cornerstone (Jesus Christ).

5America has seduced most churches to submit to the state through incorporation and 501(c)(3) status. The civil government has convinced Americans, saved and lost, to embrace its illegitimate authority, and has taught them that people are to worship and glorify God and spread the Gospel only within the four walls of a building. Today, in America, the civil government has made it impossible for an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization and Christians to exercise, in many instances, the second great commandment. For example, the state will not allow a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization to run a home for children without being licensed and controlled by the state.

Observing most churches—with no civil law purportedly requiring state control of churches as in Communist China and other nations throughout the world—running to seek affiliation with the state, and born-again believers putting churches under state control is vexing to the Christian who knows that such actions displease God.  A church in the United States is not required to affiliate with the state. No one will be persecuted if a church refuses to affiliate with the state unless the church, in some circumstances, attempts to exercise the second great commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Many, probably the majority of born-again church members, love the Lord and would reject civil government entanglement with the church if taught by their pastors and other teachers the biblical truths about the matter. Yet the vast majority of churches affiliate with the state. Why? Because of false teachers—“Christian” lawyers and unregenerate pastors as well as saved pastors who have never studied biblical principles concerning separation of church and state—and the itching ears of some of God’s people; because some church members love the world and what it teaches and offers more than they love the Lord and what He offers; and because some “Christian churches” led by false theologies such as Calvinism and Catholicism teach that church and state are to combine and work together. Of course, they dislike the present state of the church relationship because the state controls the church whereas they believe the church should control the state; they like to say, “Incorporation in America today is not what it should be or “Incorporation is not what it once was.” The Lord taught us:

1Jn.2.15-17“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” (1 Jn. 2.15-17).

Endnotes

EN1. The water which is spoken of here is the Word of God.  This is consistent with all of Scripture, and is specifically stated in the Bible. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever.” 1 Pe. 1.23. Jesus, in talking to the Samaritan woman said, “If thou knowest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him and he would have given thee living water….  Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosover drinketh of the water that I give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jn. 4.10, 13-14. “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.” Ep. 5.26

EN 2. Why should believers, and especially pastors, be concerned about the area of church and state law? Because only through knowledge can they avoid dishonoring the Husband/Bridegroom/Head of their local church body and thereby failing to achieve their God-given goal—glorifying God and pleasing Him.

These articles systematically examine the biblical doctrines of church, state, separation of church and state and the application of those doctrines in America. For believers and churches, the information presented is—according to God’s Word—of great importance to our Lord. By reading and studying each article using the Bible as the standard, a believer will discover that the biblical principles are correct as presented. By studying the historical and legal facts presented—without bias, prejudice, illicit motive, or an overriding opposing agenda which has a vested interest in maintaining a status quo due to loss of finances, support or something else—and examining those facts in light of biblical principle, a qualified believer (a believer who has the necessary biblical, historical, and legal qualifications and education) can understand that the conclusions are correct.

That said, understanding the biblical principles, relevant history, and legal principles and facts is, first, impossible for one who is not a born again believer who is walking in the Spirit, and, second, daunting for even the spirit filled follower of Christ. Years of honest, open minded study is required to achieve the correct knowledge and understanding of all facets of church and state law. First, one must interpret Scripture correctly (See 2 Ti. 2:15) as to the relevant topics. After mastering the biblical principles, one must then labor through the annals of history, and the intricacies of law. In order to be qualified to comment upon the law, one must have an extensive legal education. He must understand how to do legal research and how to reach correct legal conclusions. Legal commentary by a pseudo lawyer can sound good to the untrained, while he may be correctly understood as frivolous and unlearned and probably heretical by the educated believer.

This is not to say that a non-lawyer cannot understand the legal and historical aspects of spiritual matters. In fact, the author knows some pastors and other believers who, having already correctly divided the Word of Truth and determined to seek to please God in all matters, have open minds and who have eagerly sought truth in the historical and legal church and state law arena. He is working with such a young pastor at this very moment. He is a brilliant young man who had mastered the Scriptures and Baptist history before the author met him. He excels the author in those matters, as do some other pastors and believers known by the author. Unlike most pastors, he does not have the disadvantages of having gone to either a secular or ecclesiastical (Baptist or otherwise) institution of higher learning. Secular colleges and universities usually corrupt even the most devout child of God; and religious colleges, institutions, and seminaries generally (with few exceptions, one of which the author has personal knowledge of)—by either mixing an ample dose of humanism with whatever biblically correct teaching they dose out; or by having totally having abandoned truth—likewise usually corrupt their students to one degree or another.

On the other hand, the author is vexed by what he reads in some books and websites concerning church and state law; particularly by some vicious, unfounded attacks upon the Biblical Law Center Declaration of Trust by unqualified, biased assailants who are attempting to mislead believers and churches through incorrect biblical and legal analyses and personal attacks upon and outright lies about those with whom they disagree in such matters.

Being a believer alone, even a pastor, does not by itself qualify one to teach on church and state law. The author has been a believer and faithful member of independent Baptist churches since his salvation. He was called by God to go to law school for His glory and to please Him. As a result of that calling, he obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from one of the best law schools in the country and has practiced law for seventeen years. He has no motive for dishonesty. By design, he has never made a dime above expenses in his work in the church and state law arena. In fact, he has spent tens of thousands of dollars with total income of at most three to four thousand dollars in all the years he has worked in this area of law. Because of this he is beholden to no one and nothing but the truth and his Lord and Savior. Since becoming a lawyer, he has devoted untold thousands of hours in biblical, historical, and legal study and analysis of church and state law.

As always, he declares that if anyone can show him where he is in error, he will recant. Honest, loving believers have taught him much and caused him to modify some of his positions. He has also, in his continued studies, modified some of his conclusions and positions. However, he maintains his primary positions because neither he, through his continued studies, or others have shown him to be wrong about his basic church and state law principles and conclusions.

EN 3 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.

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed)(PDF; online form) 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 Order Information for Books by Jerald Finney 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)(PDF; online form);
  2. The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only from Amazon.com; see Order information for books by Jerald Finney to order directly from Kerygma Publishing Co.)(PDF; online form) ;
  3. Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble (PDF; online form)
  4. An Abridged History of the First Amendment is available in PDF only.
  5. Tract on the legality of street preaching is available in PDF only.
  6. “Quick Reference Guide for Churches Seeking to Organize According to the Principles of the New Testament” is available in PDF only.
  7. Miscellaneous articles by Jerald Finney.
  8. Links to some of Jerald Finney’s writings on legal issues.

Click here to see for updated list of Finney’s books. This Endnote is complete up to August 1, 2014.

Christ, the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His Churches


Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 8, 2011


Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Christ, the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His Churches


Preface

This series of articles develops the biblical doctrine of the church. This article is the third in this series. The first is “Introduction to articles on the doctrine of ‘church.” The second is “Definition, organization, and purposes of a church” (Note. Simply left click blue underlined links to go directly to link). In order to understand why incorporated 501(c)(3) churches have violated biblical principle and grieve our Lord Jesus Christ, one must first be saved. Second, he must understand the biblical principles of government, church, and separation of church and state. He must then understand the facts about and legalities of incorporation and 501(c)(3). Finally, he must apply principles to facts and law. May we believers continue to grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom as we seek to please our God and Savior.


Christ, the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His churches

11_head-bodyThe Bible teaches that Christ desires to be the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His churches. As to the issue of separation of church and state, this is particularly important. This article will look at biblical teaching on this issue. To understand how churches violate the biblical principle of the headship of Christ over His churches, one must apply the biblical principles to the facts and law—e.g., what is incorporation, what is Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) (See, for thorough studies, Sections III, IV, and VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is reproduced on this website in both PDF and online form. See Review of Books by Jerald Finney and Order infomration for books by Jerald Finney for information on this and other books by Jerald Finney.). This blog publishes articles that will systematically examine the biblical principles as well as historical and legal facts necessary to understand the mind of God on the issue of separation of church and state in general and specifically applied to the American landscape.

Churches are called the bride of the Lamb. Christ is the bridegroom of the church: “Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled” (Jn. 3.28, 29).

The New Testament speaks of a church as a virgin espoused to one Husband; Eve is a type of the church as bride and wife of Christ:

  • “Would to God ye could bear with me a little in my folly: and indeed bear with me. For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. 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” (The Holy Spirit writing to the church at Corinth in 2 Co. 11.1-4).
  • “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Ro. 7.4).

Paul likens the marriage relationship of husband and wife to the relationship of Christ and His churches:

Ep.5.25“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. 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.  For no man ever hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband” (Ep. 5.23, 25-27, 29-33).

The Lamb will marry His wife:

Rapture (1)“And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth. Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints” (Re. 19.6-8).

All believers will be married to Christ at the marriage of the Lamb:

“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).

Various people in the Old Testament are types of Christ, the Bridegroom, and the church, the bride. For example, Rebecca was a type of the church, the “called out” virgin bride of Christ. Isaac was a type of the Bridegroom, who loves through the testimony of the unnamed Servant: “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Pe. 1.8). Isaac was a type of the Bridegroom who goes out to meet and receive his bride:

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. 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” (1 Th. 4.14-16).

“Typically, the book of Ruth may be taken as a foreview of the church—Ruth, as the Gentile bride of Christ, the Bethlehemite who is able to redeem” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, Headnote to Ruth, p. 315. The author quotes Scofield only when he agrees with the quote. Scofield was not right about everything, but he was right about some matters. A open-minded Holy Spirit led study of the word of God will lead one to truth, including the truth of the biblical teachings of any man.).

3The coming of the Bridegroom is cause for great rejoicing by the believer, the friend of the Bridegroom: “He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled” (Jn. 1.29).  The marriage of the Lamb to His bride will be a glorious event which will occur in heaven, unlike the restoration of Israel which will take place on the earth:

“Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, “These are the true sayings of God” (Re. 19.7-9; see also Re. 21.9-22.17).

The husband is to be the only head of the wife, and Christ is to be the only Head of His churches. See Ephesians 5.23, 25-27, 29-33 quoted above. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Ep. 1.22).  After Jesus was born, “there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him” (Mt. 2.1-2).  “‘The King’ is one of the divine titles (Psa. 10.6), and so used in the worship of the Church (I Tim. 1.17), but Christ is never called ‘King of the Church.’ He is ‘King of the Jews’ (Mt. 2.2) and Lord and ‘Head of the Church’ (Eph. 1.22, 23)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Matthew 2.2, p. 995). “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 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: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Col. 1.15-18).

Christ, likened unto a husband, because of His love for the church, gave Himself to redeem the church. He is, in love, sanctifying the church, and will present the church to Himself as a reward for His sacrifice and labor of love, a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, a perfect church without spot or blemish, “one pearl of great price” (Mt. 13.45-46).

Jesus is the Father’s love-gift to the world. “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” (Jn. 3.16).

The believer, the church member, is His reward, given Him as a love-gift by the Father. 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to John 17.2, p. 1139. “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (Jn. 17.2). “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word” (Jn. 17.6). “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine” (Jn. 17.9). “And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled” (Jn. 17.11-12). “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world” (Jn. 17.24).

Just as a bridegroom gives gifts to his earthly bride, so Christ gives gifts to His bride, to those whom the Father gave Him (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 3 to John 17.2, p. 1139). (1) He gives His bride eternal life: “As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him” (Jn. 17.2). (2) The Father’s name: “I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word…. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them…. Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God” (Jn. 17.6, 26; 20.17). (3) The Father’s words: “For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me…. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” (Jn. 17.8, 14). (4) His own joy: “And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves” (Jn 1.7.13). (5) His own glory: “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one” (Jn. 17.22).

bridewaitingLoving 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” (Jn. 14.15) The greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mt. 22.37; Mark 12.30; Lu. 10.27).

Love is action. This love between Christ and His church is seen in the Song of Solomon. The Song of Solomon, “[p]rimarily, is the expression of pure marital love as ordained of God in creation, and the vindication of that love as against both asceticism and lust—the two profanations of the holiness of marriage. The secondary and larger interpretation is of Christ, the Son and His heavenly bride, the Church (2 Cor. 11.1-4, refs.)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, Headnote to Song of Solomon, p. 705). “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” (Song of Solomon 8.7). “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 who does not honor Christ as a wife is to honor her bridegroom and her husband, by remaining pure and chaste, does not display love for the Lord. Thus, loving ones neighbor by witnessing to him, sending missionaries to him, 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. The love of the temporal—e. g., worldly organization, ownership of property, worldly power and prestige, etc.) by a church infringe the total love (charity) which Christ desires of his churches.

This fact is also articulated in the New Testament. The Lord Jesus is jealous over His church.  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” (1 Co. 13.1-3). “Charity” speaks of God’s kind of love. “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 or operates in any manner which is contrary to the principles for a church given in God’s word.

Love “[r]ejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (1 Co. 13.6). Iniquity means “Injustice, unrighteousness, … [w]ant of rectitude [rightness in principle or practice], … a sin or crime; wickedness…” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), 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 who is likened to His bride and wife, 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 is shown in Section VI of God Betrayed (online version or link to PDF) and Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (online version or link to PDF), the church who incorporates and secures a 501(c)(3) tax exemption commits wicked sinful acts in violation of biblical principle, and rejoices in iniquity by putting herself partially under two other heads (the state of incorporation and the federal government),.

Re.2.4The 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 who 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, RevelationVolume I (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1982), pp. 121-122).

Ep.5.31-32As 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” (2 Co. 11.2-4; Lu. 18.8; 2 Ti. 3.1-8).

The church who really loves her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, will seek to maintain her purity, to be subject to her Husband in all things. All the professions of love, all the good deeds, the hymns sung, and the messages preached by a church who does not totally submit herself in all things to her Husband, are contemned by the Lord. A church who 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 earthly powers, the state and federal government. Such a “church” is in fact a two headed monster. Such a “church,” in spite of any professions of love for the Lord, according to her acts shows that she does not love the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Biblical Doctrine of the Church

Jerald Finney
© October, 2009

Have you ever done an in depth study of the biblical doctrine of the church? Every Bible believer, and especially every pastor, should have done such a study. Every Bible institute and college should give priority to such a study. Did not Christ “love the church and give himself for it?” Included in that study should be a study of the application of the doctrine of the church. In other words, a scholarly spirtual study of the church would require an in depth study of the definition, organization, and purposes of a church. This  would require a study of such matters as the organization of churches as corporations, unincorporated associations, corporations sole, etc. and seeking Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3) of churches. Do such devices comport with biblical principles? Is our Lord grieved when such devices are employed by churches? What are the consequences to churches, individuals, families and the nation?

The players below will teach on the biblical doctrine of the church. In conjunction with other audio teachings on other pages of this blog, a spirit filled believer will be given the knowledge to answer all the questions in the paragraph above and more. You may or may not agree with all this teaching, but this study will be invaluable to the Bible believing Christian who wants to do things God’s way. This study is patterned after Section II of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Ordering information for this and other books is on the “Books” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

To play, just click the link. To download, right click link and then left click “Save link as.”

1. Introduction to the biblical doctrine of the church (Section II, Chapter 1 of God Betrayed) (The audio opens with a song by Brother Rocky Otwell, “Wilt Thou Be Made Whole?” followed by opening remarks and prayer. That portion of the audio is 5 min. 3 sec. in length. The total length is 14 min. 55 sec.).

2. Definition, organization, and purposes of a church (Section II, Chapter 2 of God Betrayed) (27 min. 22 sec.).

3.  The love relationship between Christ and His church (In God Betrayed, but not a specific chapter) (52 min. 16 sec.). This is covered in the booklet which is reproduced on this website at The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls?)  This may be the most important teaching concerning the issue of separation of church and state. The last few minutes of the audio is of poor quality because of technical difficulties that were later corrected).

4. Heresy and apostasy (Section II, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed) (Begins with a song, “In Times Like These,” sang by Rocky Otwell and prayer. Prayer ends at 3 min. 31 sec. Total length of segment is 28  min. 15 sec.).

5. Recent accelerated apostasy in America (Section II, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed) (14 min. 22 sec.).

6. Apostasy at the end of the church age (Section II, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed) (3 min. 30 sec.)(This audio teaching has been significantly revised. Click “Apostasy at the end of the church age”  to see the revisions).

7. The church will reign with the Lord (Section II, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed) (1 min. 56 sec.)(This audio teaching has been significantly revised. Click “The coming universal church will reign with the Lord”  to see the revisions).

8. Conclusion (Section II, Chapter 8 of God Betrayed) (Conclusion is 5 min. 41 sec. followed by song and prayer. Total length is 8 min. 51 sec.).

I am adding a new study of specific books and teachings on the Bible Doctrine of the Church. Click here to go to that study series.

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For His Glory,
Jerald Finney
Christian and practicing attorney