Tag Archives: doctrine of church

Conclusion to Articles on the Biblical Doctrine of “Church”


Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 9, 2011


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Conclusion to Articles on the Biblical Doctrine of “Church”

41The Supreme Ruler ordained the church, as He ordained civil government. He gave churches—as He has given individual, family and civil governments—His Word wherein they can learn God’s guidelines which He wishes His churches, as well as all other governments, to follow. Satan has successfully misled most churches and other governments, and most have followed his principles. He has used false teachers from the beginning. As a result, apostasy crept into the church shortly after its inception. That apostasy has accelerated in America as the  tribulation approaches.

Many or most people in American churches today are materially rich, but spiritually blind. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Re. 3.17).

1Ti.2.14Ep.5.23-27Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression (1 Ti. 2.14, Ro. 5.14, Ge. 3.1-6).  Christ was not deceived, but His bride was. “As the first Adam had to give up a perfect existence in order to be with his wife, so the last Adam, Christ (1 Co. 15.22, 45), stepped down from heaven to save his bride. While the first Adam ‘blew it,’ the last Adam would make everything right! (Ro. 5:12-21) Charles Wesley set this doctrine to music with the words, ‘Second Adam from above, reinstate us with thy love.’ … “The all-important verse that connects this typology to the present Laodicean apostasy is Ec. 1:9a: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done….’ Thus, the history of mankind will undoubtedly end the same way it began—with a bride being deceived!” (William P. Grady, How Satan Turned America Against God (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 2005), p. vii.).

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

Ro.5.12-21“[Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph. 2.6-8).

3Regardless of this inevitable apostasy and the events that are to follow, things are looking good for you and me—that is, if you are a Christian! Christians have the ultimate hope: they will reign with the Lord. This should be a cause for great rejoicing as well as incentive to be responsible members of a local autonomous New Testament church and to make sure that every effort is made to glorify God and assure that a church remains totally under Christ in every way. The Holy Spirit is now calling out, not the subjects, but the co-heirs and co-rulers of the kingdom.

2Ti.2.12“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Ti. 2.11-12).

“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Re. 1.6).

Ro.8.18_2“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Re. 3.21).

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Re. 5.10).

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 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. 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” (Ro. 8.15-18).

“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life” (1 Co. 6.2-3)?

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.

Introduction to Articles on the Biblical Doctrine of Church


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December, 2010


Click here to go to “Self-exam Questions: Introduction to the Biblical Doctrine of Church”

Sermon by Pastor Jason Cooley: “The Gifts of the Body,” September 5, 2012 (Left click to listen to sermon)

Click here to listen to other sermons which deal with church doctrine
Click here to listen to Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on the “Introduction to ‘The Biblical Doctrine of the Church'”

15


Introduction to the Biblical Doctrine of the Church

These teachings are based upon a literal interpretation of Scripture. Of course, the Bible uses metaphors, personifications, similes, and other figures of speech.  However, untold damage to the cause of Christ has been caused by unbridled allegorization or spiritualization of Scripture by Catholics, Protestants, Jehovah’s witnesses and others. Some of those religions, due to their heinous theologies (false interpretations of Scripture) have violently persecuted and murdered others, including true believers who stood on God’s Word in spite of persecutions and martyrdom, down through the last 2,000 years. Sadly, perversions of Scripture by such religions and the resulting atrocities based upon false interpretations have been attributed to true Christians by the world in general—true Christians and churches have been lumped together with imposters by both secular and Christian revisionists.

10This series of articles, a revised and updated version of Section II of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application, will develop the biblical doctrine of the church. In order to understand why church incorporation and 501(c)(3) status violates biblical principles and grieves 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. To fully understand this requires a lot of time and study, and God wants His children, and especially pastors, to take the time to do the studying (1 Ti. 2.15). Most pastors are so consumed with their ministries that they need to rely on specialists within the local church body-for example, born again, Bible believing, God honoring lawyers or others who have the time, gifts, abilities, and love for the Lord necessary to examine these matters. Those requirements eliminate many so called Christian “lawyers” who are using “churches” and “Christians” to enrich their coffers while dishonoring and grieving God and His principles. The author has done such a systematic study and published the results in God Betrayed. He is now step by step presenting that study in academic course form on this “Separation of Church and State Law” blog. This series of articles will develop the biblical doctrine of the church.

Matthew3.1-3As foretold by Isaiah (Is. 40.3), John the Baptist announced: “Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the Prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” (Mt. 3.2-3. See also, Mk. 1.2-3; Lu. 3.4; and Jn. 1.23). The phrase “kingdom of heaven” “is peculiar to Matthew and signifies the Messianic earth rule of Jesus Christ, the Son of David. It is called the kingdom of the heavens because it is the rule of the heavens over the earth (Mt. 6.10). The phrase is derived from Daniel, where it is defined (Dan. 2.34-36, 44; 7.23-27) as the kingdom which ‘the God of heaven’ will set up after the destruction by ‘the stone cut without hands’ of the Gentile world-system. It is the kingdom covenanted to David’s seed (2 Sam. 7.7-10, refs.); described in the prophets (Zech. 12.8, note); and confirmed to be Jesus the Christ, the Son of Mary, through the angel Gabriel (Lk. 1.32, 33)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n.1 to Matthew 3.2, p. 996; See also, J. Vernon McGee, Matthew, Volume I (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980 revised printing), pp. 8-10. The author has diligently studied the biblical principles of government, church, separation of church and state, as well as other principles for years. His studies include extensive study of the Bible and commentaries upon the Bible. He does not agree with Scofield’s doctrine of the church (See C.I. Scofield’s ‘true church’ doctrine). However, he does agree with much of what Scofield includes in his notes and margins. Quoting Scofield indicates agreement unless otherwise indicated.).

After Israel morally rejected the kingdom of heaven, Jesus predicted judgment on the places chosen for the testing of the nation, Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, “wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not” (Mt. 11.20-24). Jesus, at that point, turned from the rejecting nation, offered rest and service to individuals in the nation, and turned to the Gentiles (Mt. 11.28-30; Mt. 12.18). “In fulfillment this awaited the official rejection, crucifixion, and resurrection of Christ, and the final rejection of the risen Christ” (Lk. 24.46, 47; Acts 9.15; 13.46; 28.25-28; Rom. 11.11; 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Mt. 12.18, p. 1012).

Just as God ordained civil government, He also ordained His churches after the nation Israel rejected Him and the kingdom of heaven. The power given by God to His churches on earth was to secure a spiritual good for their members. When Christ asked His disciples whom they thought Him to be (Mt. 16.15, Mk. 8.29, Lu. 9.20), Peter answered, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Mt. 16.16; see also, Mk. 8.29, Lu. 9.20). At that point, our Lord announced the out calling of the church when He said: “And I say also unto thee, [t]hat thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Mt. 16.18-19).

Mt.16.18_1The building of the church is on the rock of Peter’s confession, the Christ he confessed. Peter makes clear that the rock upon which the Lord will build the institution of the church which is made to be made up of local, autonomous churches, which are spiritual houses made up of spiritual beings offering up spiritual sacrifices, and not physical houses made by man, is Christ Himself:

“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. 2.4-9).

3“This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner” (Ac. 4.11, part of Peter’s address to the Sanhedrin). From the context, it is obvious that Peter is speaking of the Lord as being the chief corner stone. Nowhere in the Bible is there any indication that Peter was the cornerstone of a universal visible or invisible church. The words used also make clear that Christ was referring to Himself as the rock on which the church would be built. “There is in the Greek [in Matthew 16.18] a play upon the words, “thou art Peter [petros—literally, ‘a little rock’], and upon this rock [Petra] I will build my church.” He does not promise to build His church upon Peter, but upon Himself, as Peter himself is careful to tell us (1 Pet. 2.4-9)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Mt. 16.18, p. 1021).

Re.1.18Jesus Christ, Head of the church, “loved the church and gave Himself for it” (Ep. 5.25). Jesus did not give Peter the keys—a key being a badge of power or authority (see, e.g., Is. 22.22 and Re. 3.7)—to the church, but to “the kingdom of heaven,” the keys in the sense of Matthew 13, that is of the sphere of Christian profession. Peter assumed no other authority. In the council at Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15, James seems to have presided. Peter claimed nothing more than to be an apostle by gift and an elder by office (See 1 Pe. 1.1 and 5.1). The power of binding and loosing was shared by the other apostles (See Mt. 18.18 and Jn. 20.23). Since only Christ held the keys of death and the place of departed spirits, “this did not involve the determination of the eternal destiny of souls” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Mt. 16.19, p. 1022).  “I [Jesus Christ] am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Re. 1.18).

Isaac Backus, the great Baptist leader in New England, elaborated upon the faith confessed by Peter:

keysToKingdom“This faith is the foundation of the church; against this faith the gates of hell shall not prevail; this faith hath the keys of the kingdom of heaven; what this faith shall loose or bind on earth, is bound and loosed in heaven…. Now it followeth, that whatsoever person hath received the same precious faith with Peter, as all the faithful have, 2 Pet. i. 1, that person hath a part in this gift of Christ. Whosoever doth confess, publish, manifest or make known Jesus to be the Christ, the Son of the living God, and Saviour of the world, that person opens heavens gates, looseth sin, and partakes with Peter in the use of the keys; and hereupon it followeth necessarily, that one faithful man, yea, or woman either, may loose and bind, both in heaven and earth, as all the ministers in the world” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called BaptistsVolume 1 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 12 quoting John Robinson, A Justification of Separation from the Church of England.).

God’s Word describes the church as being the bride of Christ and the wife of Christ. Those designations carry connotations about how He feels about His relationship with His churches, and the Word of God gives ample instruction Ep.5.22-24to alert churches to what this relationship entails. The Lord while on earth did not explain how, when, or of what materials local church bodies on this earth should be built, or what should be their position, relationships, privileges or duties. Instead, He revealed to Paul the mystery of the churches who were to be made up of both Jewish and Gentile believers in autonomous local assemblies. Paul’s epistles develop the doctrine to be followed by the churches. God, through the Apostle Paul, explained the purpose, membership, make-up, and operation of the churches, and the relationship of His churches to the Lord Jesus. Through Paul alone we know that churches are not earthly organizations, but spiritual organisms, local spiritual bodies.

The Bible makes clear that churches here on earth are to be visible, local, autonomous bodies, each operating under the principles of the Word of God. Paul wrote to local churches or assemblies—the church of God which is at Corinth (1 Co. 1.2, 2 Co. 2.1), the churches of Galatia (Ga. 1.2), the church at Ephesus (See Re. 2.1), the church of the Thessalonians (1 Th. 1.1; 2 Th. 2.1). Christ stood in the in the midst of seven golden candlesticks (local churches still on earth) (Re. 1.11-13); and He instructed John to write to those seven churches (Re. 1.19-20). The Lord delivered individual messages to each of those local assemblies (Re. 2.1-3.22).

Although the Lord made clear that He wants every church to be under Him in all things, God allows men in a church free-will to decide whether to do things His way. Our Lord warned against false teachers to come and some writers of the New Testament warned of already existing apostasy in the church and revealed that before the return of Christ true believers would all be raptured and those left behind in the visible “church” would go into total apostasy, be called a whore and not a church, and be destroyed by the nations. Religious apostasy of some churches in America began with the importation from Europe of modernism and has recently accelerated as seen in the recent Church Growth Movement and, after that, the Emerging Church Movement.

Christ is described as the only head, husband, and bridegroom, of His churches. He will conduct a marriage ceremony, the wedding of the Lamb (Re. 19.7-10). The bride who will be called to the marriage supper of the Lamb will be arrayed in fine linen, which is the righteousness of the saints (Ibid). Because of the signs of the times, as related to biblical prophecy, true believers should be vigilant in seeking the salvation of the lost since it appears that the Lord will return soon. Only true believers have the ultimate hope: they will reign with the Lord. The Holy Spirit is now calling out, not the subjects, but the co-heirs and co-rulers of the kingdom. Since the Lord told believers to love others, since believers will be eternally with God, and since nonbelievers will be eternally separated from God for all eternity, those who are saved should have a great burden for the salvation of the lost.

DoctrineIn order to maximize the witness of the local church, believers should be careful to do all they do as individuals, families, as a church body, and as citizens according to the principles of the Word of God. Initial compromise of God’s principles on the church level inevitably leads to further compromise, to heresy, and in most cases to apostasy. Compromise introduces leaven which in turn infects the whole body. Thus, for example, the initial compromise of many Baptist churches after the adoption of the United States Constitution in getting corporate status introduced a little poison into churches. Corporate churches, generally speaking, had no problem with further compromises such as the abandonment of God’s Word in English, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) status. The religious apostasy in America among God’s churches has accelerated at an alarming pace.

This section will delve into what the Bible teaches about God’s institution of the church and the local churches which make up that institution.

American Abuse of Romans 13.1-2 and Related Verses

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September 29, 2009


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Are you interested in understanding what Romans 13 and other related verses really teach about the relationship of a church and of individual Christians and families to civil government? Has your preacher ever preached on the verses? If so, what position did he take on these verses? Did he interpret the verses in their immediate context and in the overall context of Scripture? Did he explain why the first Christians, including the apostles, as well as God’s own angels and many other biblical characters repeatedly violated, and were sometimes rewarded by God for violating, the modern American “interpretation” of those verses? Did he tell you about the Christians since New Testament days who have been subjected to the most cruel tortures and killed (tarred and feathered, twisted on racks, boiling oil poured down their throats, thrown in with wild beasts, beheaded, pulled apart, beheaded, drowned, buried alive, hanged, etc.) for disobeying the powers that be for refusing to recant their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and in Him alone? Did he explain to you that in America the First Amendment provides for religious liberty and that no church is supposedly required by man’s law to incorporate, get a 501(c)(3) tax exemption, or to become a legal entity of any kind? Did he explain to you the biblical doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state?

Romans 13.1-2 and related verses are among the most abused Bible verses in America today. I use the word “abused” as opposed to “misinterpreted,” although people also misinterpret the verses while abusing them.  According to Webster’s Dictionary, abuse means “to put to a wrong or improper use” or “to use so as to injure or damage.” Webster’s defines “misinterpret” as “to explain wrongly” or “to understand wrongly.” Those who use Romans 13.1-2 and related verses to justify submission to civil government in all matters, including spiritual matters or matters involving the first four commandments, have abused those verses. They have not considered the immediate and overall context of Scripture in reaching their conclusions. They have assumed state superiority in ecclesiastical affairs and the use of religion to further state policy. Such an assumption has been labeled as Erastianism and this assumption or philosophy pervaded all Europe, with the exception of Calvin’s ecclesiocratic Geneva, after the Reformation, and achieved its greatest triumph in England. Sadly, this assumption is widely accepted in America today.

The verses used to support Erastianism include Romans 13.1-2 (“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers…. Whosoever resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation….”), and other Bible verses such as Matthew 17.24-27 (“Doth not your master pay tribute? …”), Luke 20.25 (“Render unto Caesar….” which is also recorded in Matthew 22.21 and Mark 12.17.), 1 Peter 2.13-14 (“Submit to every ordinance of man….”), and 1 Timothy 2.1-6 (which exhorts Christians to pray for all men, including rulers). Many nonbelievers as well as carnal and/or baby Christians in America confidently quote one or more of these verses out of context to support their position that Christians are to bow down to civil government in all things, or all things except limitations on the preaching of salvation.

Some go further and take the unbelievable position that these verses mean that churches should become state churches by incorporating, becoming unincorporated associations or charitable trusts, operating as corporations sole, getting 501(c)(3) tax exemption, or by some other means and that churches which do not are in sin. Many of those Christians and churches who take this position pressure churches which are under God, and God only, to put themselves under the state through one of the methods mentioned above.

If you are interested in an in-depth study each of the above mentioned verses of Scripture, click on the WordPress Players below. Each segment below is an edited version of a radio broadcast. Click the following links to hear Jerald Finney’s audio teachings (Right click link and left click “Save link as…” to download):

Introduction and Matthew 17.24-27: “Doth not your master pay tribute?” (13 min. 42 sec.)

Luke 20.25, Matthew 22.21, Mark 12.17: “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which be Caesar’s, and unto God, the things which be God’s” (4 min. 47 sec.)

Romans 13: “Let every soul be subject to the higher powers” (24 min. 15 sec.)

I Peter 2.13: “Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man….” (6 min. 6 sec.)

I Timothy 2.1-5: Pray for rulers (8 min. 6 sec.)

You may also be interested in:

More on Romans 13: The Powers/Governments God Has Ordained (article)

Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (booklet)

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