Tag Archives: First Amendment and Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3)

Chapter 2: Analysis of “Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3 Church”

This is the webpage being analyzed. Click the above image to go to the "Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole" website
This is the webpage being analyzed. Click the above image to go to the “Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole” website

Contents of this booklet (left click link to go to entry):

Introduction

Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole
Chapter 2: Analysis of “Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3 Church” (Below)
Chapter 3: Analysis of “Church Establishment Affidavit”

Conclusion

Appendix A: What is a Corporation Sole?
Appendix B: Corporation Sole and Internal Revenue Code §§ 501(c)(3) and 508

Related articles:

Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 2, 2015

For understanding, please read the Introduction and Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole before studying this chapter.

This chapter will analyze the Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3 Church webpage.

Quotations from the webpage Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3 Church will be in red.

The analysis will be in the following order:

1. Analysis of the first sentence and the first paragraph
2. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 1 – IT BRINGS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OF SPEECH BACK TO THE CHURCH!
3. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #2 – Local Cities and Governments Can No Longer Impose Permits, Fines and Penalties to Churches for Helping Feed the Homeless
4. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 3 – A Corporation Sole Requires NO BOARD OF TRUSTEE’S
5. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #4 – The Church Is Now MANDATORILY EXEMPTED From Both Taxation and Being Required to File Annual Information Return to the IRS
6. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #5 – NO BY-LAWS OR CHURCH CORPORATE CHARTER
7. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #6 – A CORPORATION SOLE CAN ISSUE PROMISSORY NOTES
8. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #7 – STATE TAX EXEMPTIONS
9. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #8 – TAX DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS
10. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #9 – TITLE TO REAL PROPERTY
11. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #10 – CLEAR LINE OF SUCCESSION
12. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #11 – DOES NOT REQUIRE AN ATTORNEY
13. Analysis of Alleged Benefit #12 – THE CORPORATION SOLE ACTS AS A NATURAL PERSON

1. Analysis of the first sentence and the first paragraph

The first sentence of Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3 Church states:

The benefits of the Corporation Sole are near limitless compared to every other form of a Church legally organizing itself.”

That sentence is revealing in so many ways to the knowledgeable believer. As one goes through this analysis, he will discover whether the language declaring the benefits to be limitless is accurate or false hyperbole.

First, that sentence is a clear recognition that the corporation sole organization is a legal entity which also organizes a church legally (makes the church a legal entity). As explained in the Introduction, a New Testament church cannot also be a church which is organized legally because this places the church under the authority of a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ; the legal entity status of the church makes the church a creature of the state. See also, Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole for definition and implications of “legal entity.”

The New Testament teaches that, in order to be in God’s will, a church is to be a spiritual organism under God only; that Jesus Christ is to be her only head; that God is the highest power; and that we are to obey God rather than man when man’s law contradicts God’s law. All this is covered in some detail in The biblical doctrine of government, The biblical doctrine of the church, and The biblical doctrine of separation of church and state. Those who already agree with the Bible on this may wish to go directly to Separation of Church and State to get a quick review of what a church incorporation is. (See Incorporation of churches). Remember that the analysis of church incorporation, for the most part, can also be applied to the corporation sole church: the few differences will be obvious and both Oregon Non-Profit Corporation Law and the article being analyzed here make clear the differences.

Further down in the article, the author quotes the 2011 Oregon Revised Statutes, Oregon Non-profit Corporation Law, Volume 2 Business Organizations, Commercial Code § 65.067(1):

The statute that establishes the corporation sole church as a legal entity.
The statute that establishes the corporation sole church as a legal entity.

“Such corporation shall be a form of religious corporation and will differ from other such corporations organized hereunder only in that it shall have no board of directors, need not have officers and shall be managed by a single director who shall be the individual constituting the corporation and its incorporator or the successor of the incorporator.” – Oregon ORS § 65.067(1)

The article quotes the 2011 statute. Note that in 2013, the law was amended and can be accessed at the following link: 2013 Oregon Revised Statutes, Oregon Non-profit Corporation Law, Volume 2 Business Organizations, Commercial Code § 65.067.

The law itself makes clear that the only difference in the corporation sole and the corporation is that the corporation sole is headed by one man. Perhaps this will be of advantage to the pastor who believes that he should be an earthly dictator of a worldly or legal organization and and not a Bible ordained leader, steward, trustee, overseer, and under shepherd of a New Testament spiritual only church:

“Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.  And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

After that first sentence, the article then states as it leads into alleged “Benefit # 1”:

Let us explain each one of the benefits in great detail so you have a better understanding for how the Corporation Sole can bring legal deliverance to your ministry as a whole.

Supposedly, according to the article, “the Corporation Sole can bring legal deliverance to your ministry as a whole.” Does it really? I thought the Lord Jesus Christ was the deliverer of the church. What about spiritual deliverance under God? How can a legal entity deliver God’s church?—I forgot, he said “deliverance to your ministry as a whole.” [Emphasis mine]. So by violating fundamental Bible principle for church organization “your ministry” can be delivered?

Notice, as you read the alleged benefits, that he gives no understanding under the so-called explanation  as to “how the Corporation Sole can bring legal deliverance to your ministry as a whole.” He just says that it will do so.

2. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 1

Corporation sole status combines church and state.
Corporation sole status combines church and state.

Then the article gets into the alleged Benefit #1 – IT BRINGS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM OF SPEECH BACK TO THE CHURCH!:  One can go to the article Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3 Church on the Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website to read the alleged benefits. The corporation sole organization is the same as that of any other Oregon non-profit corporation except for very limited matters (see Oregon Revised Statutes, Chapter 2, Non-Profit Corporations.). Notice under that there is no explanation of “how” on the webpage, thus leaving several questions unanswered:

(1) How can the corporation sole bring religious freedom of speech back to the church since the corporate sole organization is to comply with all but a very few requirements of the extensive Oregon non-corporation law?
(2) How can the corporation sole bring religious freedom of speech back to the church since the corporate sole non-profit corporation renders the church a legal entity just as does any other non-profit corporate state law organization?
(3) In short, how can the corporation sole bring religious freedom of speech back to the church while at the same time putting the church under the state? (See Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole), whereas a church which is not under state authority has all her First Amendment rights including freedom of speech.

The answer to all three questions is that the corporation sole cannot bring religious freedom of speech back to the church. It cannot do so because it takes religious freedom from a church.

Benefit number 1 is an impossibility. Nonetheless, the website, in the article, Church Establishment Affidavit, gives a ridiculous answer as to how the Corporate Sole form brings religious freedom of speech back to the church. That article states:

The reason we emphasis that a Church must first be organized through an Church Establishment Affidavit, is because an Affidavit is the highest form of evidence a person can bring forth into a Federal courtroom. This allows your ministry to prove to the court, without a reasonable doubt, the distinct legal existence of your Church, its MANDATORY tax exemption jurisdiction under the law of 26 USC 508(c)(1)(a), creates a record that is signed under the penalties of perjury by multiple Church members and declares that your Church even adopts the IRS’s own 14 point standard to even be legally recognized as a Church! Its creation and use also allows the Church to create a legal and jurisdictional separation of responsibilities between the role of the Church itself and the isolated and incorporated office of the Corporation Sole (which the latter is under 501c3’s jurisdiction).”

As a sidenote, an Affidavit is not the highest form of evidence a person can bring forth into any courtroom (not just a Federal courtroom) in America. Live testimony is the highest form of evidence since it is subject to cross-examination and is judged by the trier of fact (the judge or the jury, as the case may be) as to its veracity. An affidavit is not acceptable evidence in a trial; only live testimony of a fact witness will be heard since the opposing side has the right to cross-examination, and it is impossible to cross-examine an affidavit. Disputes brought under the contracts created by incorporation, including corporation sole, will be heard in a courtroom in the state of incorporation.

Church Establishment Affidavit then continues with an “explanation” which is not an explanation at all, but a pure exercise in postmodernism. It is so ridiculous to the knowledgeable reader that it, as does the entirety of the website, completely discredits the “Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole” organization.

The above quoted paragraph from Church Establishment Affidavit, has many flaws, some repeated and addressed already in this analysis. The church establishes herself as a legal entity by legally executing the paperwork which created the contract between the church and the state of Oregon, the contract between the members of the church and the church, the contracts between the members themselves, and the contracts between the members and the state (See Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities or Section VI of God Betrayed for an explanation of the law which makes this clear.).  Furthermore, any church, no matter how organized, may claim 26 USC 508(c)(1)(a) tax exemption even though a New Testament church gives up her New Testament spiritual only status when she does so; the paragraph above from Church Establishment Affidavit does not explain that church 508 status brings the church under the rules that come with 501(c)(3). This is explained in detail in the article  Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status (Click link to go directly to that article.).

The creation and use of a corporation sole does not allow “the Church to create a legal and jurisdictional separation of responsibilities between the role of the Church itself and the isolated and incorporated office of the Corporation Sole.”

One church member handles all the corporate responsibilities of the corporation sole: the pastor, not several officers as in the case of other non-profit corporations which are created by the same law as the corporation sole. Remember that the corporation sole law is just part of the Oregon Non-Profit Corporation Statute. Remember Oregon Revised Statutes, Oregon Non-profit Corporation Law, Volume 2 Business Organizations, Commercial Code § 65.067(1), 2013 which reads, in relevant part:

“(1) An individual may, in conformity with the constitution, canons, rules, regulations and disciplines of a church or religious denomination, form a corporation under this section to be a corporation sole. The corporation sole is a form of religious corporation and differs from other religious corporations organized under this chapter only in that the corporation sole does not have a board of directors, does not need to have officers and is managed by a single director who is the individual who constitutes the corporation and is the corporation sole’s incorporator or the successor of the incorporator….”

Again, the church, as a legal entity, a non-profit corporation, created by the corporation sole law, is represented by one officer instead of several officers.

Go back and study Introduction and Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole for clarification.

Furthermore, is one to believe that he can pick and choose the manners in which he is to violate God’s precepts? Is it OK with God for a church to submit herself to the state through non-profit corporation sole status, and then supposedly remove her submission to the state and submit herself to God by concocting, without understanding, a scheme which only purports to retain complete freedom when fact clearly shows that that corporation sole law which established the church as a legal entity gives the state who created her certain controls over her? Does the church want to retain their givers who give only if they get a tax deduction (not because they love the Lord) by falsely propping up this worthless scheme? Does a person lose their tax deduction for giving to a church who is totally under God as opposed to a church who is a non-profit corporation (which includes the corporation sole church)? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities and Section VI of God Betrayed explain these tax matters in some detail, including what the Internal Revenue Code says about the deductions.

All churches can help the homeless.
All churches can help the homeless.

3. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 2

Now, let us examine supposed Benefit #2 – Local Cities and Governments Can No Longer Impose Permits, Fines and Penalties to Churches for Helping Feed the Homeless.

Again, this is so disjointed and full of false statements that it is very difficult to analyze. Of course, everyone knows that people will be moved when one alleges, against the truth, that his scheme will allow a church to help the homeless, an opportunity to gain sympathy for the deception.

Lately, local City Governments across America have been treating traditional 501c3 incorporated Churches that feed the homeless no differently than any other corporate entity and have begun imposing sham taxes upon them in the form permits, fines and levies. The City Governments are able to accomplish this because of a little known Supreme Court ruling called Hale v. Henkle (1906) in which then US Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller stated that ALL incorporations (including incorporated Churches) are all considered to be, ‘Creatures of the State’.

The corporation sole is a non-profit corporation under the law of the state of Oregon (in this case). Therefore, corporation sole organization will have no effect on the ability of the church to do these type of good deeds without meeting the requirements of law. (See Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole. See the index of God Betrayed for Hale v. Hinkle.) As the article states, “ALL incorporations (including incorporated Churches) are all considered to be, ‘Creatures of the State’.” The corporation sole church is an incorporated church and a “creature of the state.” (Ibid.).

In the 1980’s the church I was saved in and a member of went downtown and fed the homeless for several years. The city tried to stop us by citing the pastor. The church was not incorporated as a non-profit corporation. Yet, after citing the pastor 80 or 100 times, the case finally went to trial and justice prevailed. The same result would have occurred had the church been a legal entity or not. The church was not charged with a crime, the pastor (who was leading the effort) was charged.

The article continues:

Once a Church incorporates under 501c3, it instantly looses its Mandatory Tax Exemption status under the law of 26 U.S.C. 508(c)(1)(a) and opens itself to needless legal attack. Only a Church that has been properly established through both a Statutory Declaration Affidavit and a Corporation Sole are completely immune to these types of restrictions and impose taxes. The Church reformed with a Corporation Sole is now able to be completely immune from these type of penalties because it is no longer incorporated (nor considered a creature of the state) and is under the better law of 508(c)(1)(a) instead of 501c3. A Church that is under 508(c)(1)(a) is completely immune to ALL forms of state imposed taxation (this includes City permits to feed the homeless). Without a Corporation Sole, Churches across America are wide open to needlessly imposed taxes that they never had to experience in the first place!

A church is not incorporated under 501c3. A corporation sole church is incorporated under state law, in this case Oregon Non-profit Corporation law. A church who applies for 501(c)(3) under federal law does not lose her 508(c)(1)(a) status. No church has 508(c)(1)(a) status unless she claims it; there are several ways in which churches can do this. By claiming 508 status, a church gives up her First Amendment only status. She does this by putting herself under a law as opposed to under the First Amendment. The First Amendment says, in relevant part: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof.” 508 is a federal law respecting an establishment of religion and which prevents the free excercise thereof. When a church claims 508 status, she has put herself under a federal law, thereby revoking her First Amendment non-taxable status.

Applying for 501c3 tax exempt status and claiming 508 automatic exemption status affect the church in the same manner. Again, this is explained in the article Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status.

The statement “The Church reformed with a Corporation Sole is now able to be completely immune from these type of penalties because it is no longer incorporated (nor considered a creature of the state) and is under the better law of 508(c)(1)(a) instead of 501c3” is utterly ridiculous, at best. Of course it is still incorporated and a creature of the state. The church applied to the state for non-profit corporation sole status as controlled by state law. And, as explained in preceding paragraphs and the linked to article, the 508 church must meet the same requirements as the 501c3 church in order to maintain her tax status.

4. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 3

One Man Board of Directors.
One Man Board of Directors.

Examination of Benefit #3 – A Corporation Sole Requires NO BOARD OF TRUSTEE’S:

Under the law of 501c3, the law states, “no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual” it is specifically due to this clause that EVERY Church in America organized under 501c3 has a polity body (aka a Board of Trustee’s, Board of Directors, Board of Elders and etc). The Corporation Sole is the ONLY EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE. In fact, States like Oregon fully recognize this difference and include it in their state law:

“Such corporation shall be a form of religious corporation and will differ from other such corporations organized hereunder only in that it shall have no board of directors, need not have officers and shall be managed by a single director who shall be the individual constituting the corporation and its incorporator or the successor of the incorporator.” – Oregon ORS § 65.067(1)

Of course, the phrase relied upon in the statute, “no part of the net earnings of which inures to the benefit of any private shareholder or individual” has nothing to do with establishing a “polity body (aka a Board of Trustee’s, Board of Directors, Board of Elders and etc.”) in a corporation. The corporation statute of the state of incorporation establishes a corporate “polity body” of corporations created thereunder.  501c3 was not enacted until 1954. The law of incorporation came long before that and provided for a Board of Trustee’s, Board of Directors, Board of Elders and etc. The Corporation Sole also has a long history, as pointed out on the website being examined at: The History of the Corporation Sole (I have not examined that article for accuracy, but the Corporation Sole does have a long history.). The clause in 501c3 had and has absolutely nothing to do with the body polity of any corporation including the corporation sole.

This means that a Corporation Sole only has ONE director…the Senior Pastor or Overseer of the Church. Most do not understand how utterly significant this is and why it is such a blessing. You see, most of the headache for Pastors (among other things) is the fact that 501c3 forces Churches to have appropriation committees! It should not take a board to approve whether or not to provide the necessary funds the Church needs to fulfill the Holy Spirit led vision of the Senior Pastor. A Church that has a Corporation Sole does not have to deal with this issue. Now, certain individuals might raise the question, “How can you trust a Pastor with the finances of the Church?” Our reply is simple: The Lord Jesus says in Luke 16:10“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” If you cannot trust your Pastor with $5, then you cannot trust them with $5 million and they do not need to be your Pastor or be a leader within the Body of Christ. For those Pastors that are Spirit led, this benefit of not having to go through a board, is a tremendous victory for the vision the Lord has laid on their heart. It cuts out any possible confusion and manipulation regarding the Churches finances.

There is a correct way to establish the pastor as overseer of God’s money and property, and the correct way is not the establishment of any kind of church corporation including a corporation sole. This is explained in the my writings already cited.

5. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 4

Alleged “benefit # 4” is so completely dishonest that it grieves not only the Lord, but also this author, to know that believers fall for this con.

P. 24 of IRS Publication 557. Click image above to go directly to the Publication
P. 24 of IRS Publication 557. Click image above to go directly to the Publication

Benefit #4 – The Church Is Now MANDATORILY EXEMPTED From Both Taxation and Being Required to File Annual Information Return to the IRS:

Unlike a traditional 501c3 Church that has filed an IRS Form 1023 seeking their official recognition of their tax exemption status (and is mandatorily required to file their annual informational returns consecutively every three years or face an automatic revocation of their tax exemption status), A Church properly organized through the use of a Statutory Declaration Affidavit and a Corporation Sole are MANDATORILY exempted from BOTH taxation and being required to file their annual information returns. This is due to the Church now being properly established underneath the jurisdiction of two unique federal laws. First is the mandatory tax exemption law of 26 USC 508(c)(1)(a) which states,

“‘(a) New organizations must notify Secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status: Except as provided in subsection (c), an organization organized after October 9, 1969, SHALL NOT BE TREATED as an organization described in section 501(c)(3).’

With key emphasis on the writing of the law that states, SHALL NOT BE TREATED as an organization described in section 501(c)(3).

From p. 3 of IRS Pub. 1828. Click image to go directly to publication.
From p. 3 of IRS Pub. 1828. Click image to go directly to publication.

The above gives a portion of the law (IRC § 508, Subsection (a)), and then a few words from that portion of the law which is emphasized in the article by placing it in bold capital letters (“shall not be treated”). The article then gives that portion of the law, out of context, a false meaning. This is clear when the entirety of the relevant law is read. The entire relevant portion of section 508 (sections (a) through(c)) states:

“(a) New organizations must notify Secretary that they are applying for recognition of section 501(c)(3) status
“Except as provided in subsection (c), an organization organized after October 9, 1969, shall not be treated as an organization described in section 501 (c)(3)
“(1) unless it has given notice to the Secretary in such manner as the Secretary may by regulations prescribe, that it is applying for recognition of such status, or
“(2) for any period before the giving of such notice, if such notice is given after the time prescribed by the Secretary by regulations for giving notice under this subsection.
“(b) Presumption that organizations are private foundations
“Except as provided in subsection (c), any organization (including an organization in existence on October 9, 1969) which is described in section 501 (c)(3) and which does not notify the Secretary, at such time and in such manner as the Secretary may by regulations prescribe, that it is not a private foundation shall be presumed to be a private foundation.
“(c) Exceptions
“(1)
 Mandatory exceptions
“Subsections (a) and (b) shall not apply to—
“(A) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches, or
“(B) any organization which is not a private foundation (as defined in section 509 (a)) and the gross receipts of which in each taxable year are normally not more than $5,000.”

Please notice the blatant dishonesty of the Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website. They quote only a portion of the law and then take that portion out of context to mean something that it does not mean when taken in context. They leave out (a)(1) and (a)(2), and (c)(1)(A) which when taken together with (a), as they have to be to understand the true meaning. When the relevant sections are all considered, they make clear that churches are excepted from the (a) and (b) notice requirements of other non-church non-profit organizations.

Their ridiculous conclusion – “With key emphasis on the writing of the law that states, SHALL NOT BE TREATED as an organization described in section 501(c)(3)”- is also totally unfounded. Again, for an accurate understanding of 508 status, I urge the student to go to and study Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status.

Subsection (C) is for: churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches. (source: Cornell Law)

This means that the Church is immune to ALL forms of taxation. This includes cities that try to impose an excise tax on Churches for requiring them to obtain permits to feed the homeless and more. There are NO preconditions either (unlike 501c3’s political restrictions and conditions).”

More ridiculous statements.  The quote from Subsection (c) does not mean that the church is immune to ALL forms of taxation. Subsection (c) deals with only the matters within its context. Yes, churches, no matter how organized, do not have to pay sales taxes, excise taxes, and other forms of taxes, but those matters are covered by state laws, not the Internal Revenue Code which is federal law.

1The insanity continues:

The Church is also immune from FILING annual informational returns to the IRS. This is due to the Law of 26 USC 6033(c)(a)(1-3). This Federal law gives the Church and its subsequent Corporation Sole immunity for being required to file annual information returns. The law states,

Except as provided in paragraph (3), every organization exempt from taxation under section 501 (a) shall file an annual return, stating specifically the items of gross income, receipts, and disbursements, and such other information for the purpose of carrying out the internal revenue laws as the Secretary may by forms or regulations prescribe, and shall keep such records, render under oath such statements, make such other returns, and comply with such rules and regulations as the Secretary may from time to time prescribe; except that, in the discretion of the Secretary, any organization described in section 401 (a) may be relieved from stating in its return any information which is reported in returns filed by the employer which established such organization.”  – Source, Cornell Law University

“Parapgraph (3) excludes the following:|

“(3) Exceptions from filing
(A) MANDATORY EXCEPTIONS
Paragraph (1) shall not apply to—
(i) churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches,
(ii) any organization (other than a private foundation, as defined in section 509 (a)) described in subparagraph (C), the gross receipts of which in each taxable year are normally not more than $5,000, or
(iii) the exclusively religious activities of any religious order.

“The church falls underneath the jurisdiction of subsection (i) while the Corporation Sole falls under the jurisdiction of subsection (iii) as it is operating and exclusively acting on the behalf of the religious order that manages the Churches assets.

“These are two ENORMOUS benefits that traditional 501c3 Churches do not get to enjoy.”

I cannot believe what I am reading. First, he gets the nomenclature of the statute wrong. He says 26 USC 6033(c)(a)(1-3) but the correct nomenclature is 26 USC 6033(a)(1-3), no big deal. However what follows in the above is a big deal. 26 USC 6033(a)(3)(i) clearly says that churches are mandatory exceptions to the filing requirement in 26 USC 6033(c)(a)(1). Thus churches, whether incorporated (corporations sole or otherwise) are subject to the same IRC rules and IRS regulations.  “Traditional 501c3 churches” and corporation sole 508 churches do not have to file. Non-incorporated, non-501c3, non-508 churches (First Amendment) churches do not have to file (See Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status for explanation.).

The statement which follows,

The church falls underneath the jurisdiction of subsection (i) while the Corporation Sole falls under the jurisdiction of subsection (iii) as it is operating and exclusively acting on the behalf of the religious order that manages the Churches assets. These are two ENORMOUS benefits that traditional 501c3 Churches do not get to enjoy.”

is nonsensical, facetious, and false. The corporation sole is not a religious order that manages the churches assets. The law makes clear that the corporation sole is a non-profit corporation (a legal entity) and that corporation sole status makes a church a legal entity (Review, e.g., Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole and Appendix A: What is a Corporation Sole for explanation). The above quote is saying that the law by which a church becomes a legal entity non-profit corporation for which the pastor acts as the only officer is magically transformed by the above ridiculous rhetoric. Obviously, the corporation sole church is in the same position as she would be in as any other non-profit corporation church as to these matters and the two alleged “ENORMOUS benefits” that “traditional 501c3 churches” do not get to enjoy are nonexistent.

6. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 5

Benefit #5 – NO BY-LAWS OR CHURCH CORPORATE CHARTER: Jesus was asked a question in Matthew 22:36-40 which states, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

“‘ALL the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.’ -Yeshua Ha-Mashiach

“ALL other laws that govern the Church that have been made in addition to these two commandments are MAN MADE By-Laws and are NOT from the Holy Spirit. These man-made by-laws do nothing but show us someone else’s personal standard of holiness and serve to do nothing more than bring forth both condemnation and a spirit of religion. In fact, By-laws in there very nature defy the scriptures of both Romans 14:22 and Colossians 2:14-15! We’ve witnessed Churches here at The Empowerment Center that deny membership access to Christians because the husband drove a beer truck to provide income for his family! Not that he was drinking the beer, but simply because he DROVE THE TRUCK. By-Laws have directly influenced Churches across the nation to separate from the fellowship of all Christians and bring forth unnecessary doctrines. Certain denominational by-laws state that you MUST be baptized in water in order to be saved, while others claim that you need to be baptized in the fire of the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues! So, who is right and who is wrong? These By-Laws do NOTHING but create both confusion, disorder, separation and death to the fellowship (1 Timothy 1:4-7 and 2nd Timothy 2:14).

“One of the unique attributes of a Church that is properly established through both a Statutory Declaration of Church Establishment Affidavit and a Corporation Sole is that it requires absolutely no By-Laws whatsoever. In fact, the Statutory Declaration Affidavit we freely provide Church leaders is specifically written in such a manner where it lawfully fulfills ALL 14 points to the IRS’s own requirements to even be considered a Church! There are no additional needless by-laws that cause either separation nor condemnation. The Corporation Sole itself requires no by-laws whatsoever. We’ve took careful consideration to make sure that only the Statutory Declaration itself declares nothing more than the Office of the Corporation Sole’s status and the Corporation Sole’s intended successor and/or secretary’s positions and nothing more. This provides the Church will an unheard of level of freedom that other traditional 501c3 Churches do not presently have.”

The above is inaccurate. The law which the Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole utilizes to help churches organize as corporations sole, Oregon Revised Statutes, Oregon Non-profit Corporation Law, Volume 2 Business Organizations, Commercial Code § 65.067(1), 2013 states:

ORS § 65.067(3). Click the above image to go directly to the law.
ORS § 65.067(3). Click the above image to go directly to the law.

65.067 Corporation sole. (1) An individual may, in conformity with the constitution, canons, rules, regulations and disciplines of a church or religious denomination, form a corporation under this section to be a corporation sole. The corporation sole is a form of religious corporation and differs from other religious corporations organized under this chapter only in that the corporation sole does not have a board of directors, does not need to have officers and is managed by a single director who is the individual who constitutes the corporation and is the corporation sole’s incorporator or the successor of the incorporator.
“(2) The name of the corporation sole is the same as the office within the church or religious denomination that the incorporator holds, followed by the words “and successors, a corporation sole.
“(3) All of the provisions of ORS 65.044 to 65.067 apply to a corporation sole. If the corporation sole has no officers, the director may perform any act that an officer may perform with the same effect and in the same manner as though one or more officers of the corporation sole performed the act.
“(4) If a corporation sole or the individual that constitutes the corporation sole is the only member of a religious corporation, the religious corporation is not required to hold an annual membership meeting under ORS 65.201 if the religious corporation is:
“(a) Incorporated under the provisions of this chapter; and
“(b) Of the same church or religious denomination as the corporation sole. [1989 c.1010 §27; 2013 c.139 §1]” [Bold emphasis which is mine is the portion relevant to this analysis.]

The bold portion of the law cited above makes clear that “All of the provisions of ORS 65.044 to 65.067 apply to a corporation sole.” Those sections are as follows:

65.044       Incorporators
65.047       Articles of incorporation
65.051       Incorporation
65.054       Liability for preincorporation transactions
65.057       Organization of corporation
65.061       Bylaws
65.064       Emergency bylaws and powers
65.067       Corporation sole

ORS § 65.061. Click above image to go directly to the law.
ORS § 65.061. Click above image to go directly to the law.

Section 65.061 which covers Bylaws states:

“(1) The incorporators or board of directors of a corporation, whichever completes the organization of the corporation at its organizational meeting, shall adopt initial bylaws for the corporation.
“(2) The bylaws may contain any provision for managing and regulating the affairs of the corporation that is not inconsistent with law or the articles of incorporation. [1989 c.1010 §25]”

Thus, to put it simply, law which creates the corporation sole clearly states that the corporation sole non-profit corporation “shall adopt initial bylaws for the corporation and that the bylaws may contain any provision for managing and regulating the affairs of the corporation that is not inconsistent with law or the articles of incorporation.”

Thus any church who adopts the corporation sole form of organization and who does not adopt bylaws is in violation of the law. The church violates the law because she becomes a legal entity by voluntarily seeking and obtaining corporation sole status. As a legal entity, she can sue, be sued, enter into contracts, etc. Again, she entered into a contract when she accepted the state non-profit corporation sole offer. (See Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status for clarification.).

The response to the rant attributing various practices and doctrines of some “churches” to their bylaws is:

  1. a church who includes their beliefs in their by laws could also implement those practices and beliefs into the by laws required by corporation sole status or,
  2. should they not be incorporated in any way, into a church covenant, statement of faith, or written creed, or
  3. should they not be incorporated in any way, they could believe and practice their religion without any writing except the Bible.

Finally, a corporation sole cannot get around the law of incorporation above by using a Statutory Declaration of Church Establishment Affidavit. That is so obvious that to contend otherwise is patently absurd, as are other Church Freedom and Corporation Sole matters.

7. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 6

aBenefit #6 – A CORPORATION SOLE CAN ISSUE PROMISSORY NOTES: A Corporation Sole can issue promissory notes.  A promissory note is a legal instrument (more particularly, a financial instrument), in which one party (the maker or issuer) promises in writing to pay a determinate sum of money to the other (the payee), either at a fixed or determinable future time or on demand of the payee, under specific terms. If the promissory note is unconditional and readily salable, it is called a negotiable instrument. – Source Wikipedia

Wikipedia. Click above image to go to the Wikipedia page.
Wikipedia. Click above image to go to the Wikipedia page.

The above is all that is said about this alleged benefit. One would suppose that the alleged benefit of this “legal instrument” for the corporation sole is to provide capital or to act as a source of finance to the creditors of the corporation sole. This author is not going to waste his time explaining all the ways in which this scheme violates New Testament church principle since any believer who has read his Bible should be able to figure this out.

8. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 7

9“Benefit #7 – STATE TAX EXEMPTIONS: A Corporation Sole is awarded ALL current state 501c3 tax exemptions. This can include property tax exemptions and more. Since the Corporation Sole is considered a 501c3 (because it is incorporated), it is qualified to seek any current state tax exemptions. It’s also important to note that even if you live in a state that does not have a current Corporation Sole (like here in Oregon) that you can still seek this exemption by having our Church, The Empowerment Center freely represent your Corporation Sole as a registered agent here in Oregon. In this case, your home state WILL fully recognize the tax exemption status of your Oregon based Corporation Sole (this is due to the commerce clause in the US Constitution). We’ve currently helped teach nearly 22,000+ Churches across America about the Corporation Sole and not a single Church has been denied an exemption from their home state.”

Property tax exemptions, sales tax exemptions, and what ever the “and more” tax exemptions are are all the product of state law. 501c3 is a federal law. 501c3 has nothing to do with state tax law provisions. Any church, whether a legal entity or not, is granted property tax exemptions “and more.” Churches who are not legal entities are granted such exemptions—this author has personal knowledge of this and knows of many churches who are not legal entities and who do not pay sales taxes, property taxes, etc.. Of course, an incorporated church such as a corporation sole church pays no such taxes. So this benefit is no benefit all. The Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website does here recognize that the Corporation Sole “is considered a 501c3 because it is incorporated“), which contradicts teachings covered above which state that the corporation sole church is a IRC section 508 church.

9. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 8

Benefit #8 – TAX DEDUCTIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS: A Church that has a Corporation Sole CAN receive tax deductible contributions from any member that gives a gift. The Corporation Sole is also immune from being required by law to give the donor a receipt acknowledging their gift! In this case, it is the responsibility of the donor to keep their records and NOT the Church or Corporation Sole. If your Church chooses to do so, it may voluntarily and freely (out of the kindness of its heart) give the donor a receipt acknowledging their contribution or donation.

No church has to give a receipt acknowledging their gift. The law requires no church to give an acknowledgement for gifts. If you disagree, I challenge you to show me that law – there is none. I deal with this issue often in discussing the right way for a church to organize according to the New Testament (and the right way is not any kind of non-profit corporation including the corporation sole.). The sad thing about this alleged benefit is that the corporation sole church has no reason not to give an acknowledgement since, if she claims 508 status, she is a legal entity who is subject to the rules of 501c3. See “5. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 4” above, Corporation Sole and Internal Revenue Code §§ 501(c)(3) and 508,  and Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status.

10. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 9

Benefit #9 – TITLE TO REAL PROPERTY: Other Advantages of a Corporation Sole, it can claim title to real property. This is especially great for possible State Property Tax Exemptions.

Any corporation, including any non-profit corporation such as a corporation sole, can buy and sell property. That is one of the attributes of being a legal entity. Since the corporation sole church becomes a legal entity by means of the corporation sole statute, the church is the legal owner of the property, although only one church member acts to fill all offices of the corporation sole.

11. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 10

Benefit #10 – CLEAR LINE OF SUCCESSION: Property and powers of a corporation sole are transferred on the death of an incumbent to successors in the office, “not to heirs or through executors”. This is especially nice for married couples that would like their spouse to continue leading their home based Church/Ministry. If the spouse in question is appointed the position of being the successor for the Corporation Sole, it is done through the unanimous consent of the entire Church and is lawfully declared through the Statutory Declaration of Church Establishment Affidavit. Currently, there is no Federal Law that prohibits this type of assignment within a Corporation Sole.  This is due to the 1st Amendment to the Constitution which states the following:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion” – 1st Amendment to the United States Constitution (the Supreme Law of the Land).

Let me first deal with the recitation of the First Amendment in this context. As any believer who understands the history of that Amendment knows, it came about as a result of 17 centuries of persecution (including hanging, burning at the stake, beheading, drowning, live burial, cruel torture) of martyrs who refused to profane God’s truths. This alleged benefit desecrates the holy as does this entire Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website.

Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website is here advising people to dishonor God’s precepts for the ordered church and also to use “religion” to protect their personal assets. People may declare themselves to be a “church” according to the 14 Internal Revenue Code criteria, but meeting the requirements of those criteria may be difficult for one who is just concocting a scheme to avoid probate law. Instead of keeping the church pure under God, as any believer who loves the Lord wants to do, this scheme uses man’s law to define their “church” and their motivation is to protect assets while dishonoring God.

Can anyone so motivated actually operate their “church” in conformity to Internal Revenue Code requirements? They may be called on the carpet by the IRS to prove that they have done so. Let’s look at those requirements. In attempting to define “church,” the IRS has “given certain characteristics [14 criteria] which are generally attributed to churches.” (S 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).

Again, another alleged benefit profanes the holy, and actually testing this benefit may result in bad IRS consequences.

12. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 11

Corporation sole pastor (his own attorney)
Corporation sole pastor (his own attorney)

Benefit #11 – DOES NOT REQUIRE AN ATTORNEY: A Corporate Sole can Sue and be sued, and defend, in all courts, and places, in all matters and proceedings wherever. It represents itself because it acts and behaves as a Natural Person.

They give the attributes of any legal entity, including those of a corporation sole which is a non-profit corporation.

Who will represent the corporation sole? The pastor, as the one officer? One of the church members?

Anyone can represent themselves in court. However, a person cannot represent another person in court. Furthermore, legal matters can be very complicated substantively and procedurally. The old adage “he who represents himself in court has a fool for a client” should be considered.

13, Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 12

Benefit #12 – THE CORPORATION SOLE ACTS AS A NATURAL PERSON: A Corporation Sole is recognized by the IRS as a Natural Person in ALL business related transactions for the Church. A Natural person is legally defined pursuant to the United States Supreme Court ruling of Hale v Henkle in which former United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller states,

“‘The individual may stand upon his constitutional Rights as a citizen. He is entitled to carry on his private business in his own way. His power to contract is unlimited. He owes no such duty [to submit his books and papers for an examination] to the State, since he receives nothing therefrom, beyond the protection of his life and property. His Rights are such as existed by the law of the land [Common Law] long antecedent to the organization of the State, and can only be taken from him by due process of law, and in accordance with the Constitution. Among his Rights are a refusal to incriminate himself, and the immunity of himself and his property from arrest or seizure except under a warrant of the law. He owes nothing to the public so long as he does not trespass upon their Rights.” – United States Supreme Court Chief Justice Melville Fuller

I must interject a comment here. The above Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website leaves out the first sentence of the above quote from Have v. Henkle. I quoted the entire paragraph in God Betrayed in 2008, which is reproduced below. The first sentence says, “[T]here is a clear distinction in this particular between an individual and a corporation, and that the latter has no right to refuse to submit its books and papers for an examination at the suit of the State.”

“Its also important to note that a ‘Natural Person” is legally defined by Blacks Law Dictionary as,

“A “natural person” and an “individual” are defined by Blacks Law Dictionary 9th Edition as:

Person (Be) 1. A human being. Also termed natural person.

Individual, adj. (I5c) 1. Existing as an indivisible entity. 2. For relating to a single person or thing, as opposed to a group. – Blacks Law Dictionary 9th Edition

There is a possible legal argument to be made that even though a Corporation Sole is registered with a Secretary of State as a corporation, that it in fact has the same rights as individual rights, which supersede corporate law. It is the only known corporation in American law to do this. It is also important to note that this argument has not been used in Federal Court as a defense (because they have not thought to do so).”

From p. 75 of God Betrayed
From p. 75 of God Betrayed. Click above image to go to PDF of the book.

The legal argument proposed in the last paragraph would be laughed out of court. This has already been settled. I covered this in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (2008)(Click here to go to the online PDF of the book.). The following is from pages 375-376 of that book.

The incorporated church [such as a non-profit corporation sole church] is an artificial person and a separate legal entity. This has many ramifications.

  1. “The corporate personality is a fiction but is intended to be acted upon as though it were a fact. A corporation is a separate legal entity, distinct from its individual members or stockholders.
  2. “The basic purpose of incorporation is to create a distinct legal entity, with legal rights, obligations, powers, and privileges different from those of the natural individuals who created it, own it, or whom it employs….
  3. “A corporate owner/employee, who is a natural person, is distinct, therefore, from the corporation itself. An employee and the corporation for which the employee works are different persons, even where the employee is the corporation’s sole owner…. The corporation also remains unchanged and unaffected in its identity by changes in its individual membership.
  4. “In no legal sense can the business of a corporation be said to be that of its individual stockholders or officers.”

(18 AM. JUR. 2D Corporations § 44 (2007)).

“A corporation is a person within the meaning of the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and similar provisions of state constitutions and within the meaning of state statutes.” (Johnson v. Goodyear, 127 Cal. 4 (1899). “However, a corporation is not considered as a person under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (religious liberty clause) or under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.”

Hale v. Hinkle, 201 U.S. 43, 74-75; 26 S. Ct. 370; 50 L. Ed. 652; 1906 U.S. LEXIS 1815 (1906) stated:

  • “[T]here is a clear distinction in this particular between an individual and a corporation, and that the latter has no right to refuse to submit its books and papers for an examination at the suit of the State. The individual may stand upon his constitutional rights as a citizen. He is entitled to carry on his private business in his own way. His power to contract is unlimited. He owes no duty to the State or to his neighbors to divulge his business, or to open his doors to an investigation, so far as it may tend to criminate him. He owes no such duty to the State, since he receives nothing therefrom, beyond the protection of his life and property. His rights are such as existed by the law of the land long antecedent to the organization of the State, and can only be taken from him by due process of law, and in accordance with the Constitution. Among his rights are a refusal to incriminate himself, and the immunity of himself and his property from arrest or seizure except under a warrant of the law. He owes nothing to the public so long as he does not trespass upon their rights.
  • “Upon the other hand, the corporation is a creature of the State. It is presumed to be incorporated for the benefit of the public. It receives certain special privileges and franchises, and holds them subject to the laws of the State and the limitations of its charter. Its powers are limited by law. It can make no contract not authorized by its charter. Its rights to act as a corporation are only preserved to it so long as it obeys the laws of its creation. There is a reserved right in the legislature to investigate its contracts and find out whether it has exceeded its powers. It would be a strange anomaly to hold that a State, having chartered a corporation to make use of certain franchises, could not in the exercise of its sovereignty inquire how these franchises had been employed, and whether they had been abused, and demand the production of the corporate books and papers for that purpose.”

When a church incorporates or becomes a legal entity, that church contracts with the state gaining certain “protections” but gives up certain constitutional rights. She takes herself partially out from under First Amendment protection, and puts herself, for some purposes, under the Fourteenth Amendment. While a corporation must “obey the laws of its creation,” it also has constitutionally protected rights. (See Ibid., pp. 74-75). Only the church who is not satisfied with the freedom and provisions afforded the church by God (which, by the way, are implemented by the First Amendment) seeks incorporation. For the incorporated church, God’s provisions are not adequate. Although perhaps the individual church member seeks incorporation for protection by civil government as opposed to protection by God, that member forgets that God is a far more strong and benevolent protector than the state. Furthermore, when a church is not a legal entity, that church cannot be sued. One can sue a legal entity such as a corporation, but how does one sue a church who is “a spiritual house made up of spiritual beings offering up spiritual sacrifices, and not a physical house made by man?” (See Section II of God Betrayed). Individuals, including members of a New Testament church, can be sued for tortious actions or tried for criminal acts, but a New Testament church cannot be sued or tried for criminal acts.

End

A Critique of Pastor Steve Anderson’s YouTube Comments on Church Incorporation and Church 501c3 Status

Jerald Finney
Copyright © October 14, 2013

Article follows sermon links

Click here to hear Pastor Sam Adams sermon which reveals other Steven Anderson lies (Steven Anderson ignorantly attacks anti-501c3 church position, falsely claims his church is non-501-c3, makes false accusations, and blatantly lies to his church.)(Click here for Youtube of Pastor Adams’ sermon.)(To see Steven Anderson’s documents proving his church is 501c3 click here.)

Article:

"Pastor" Steven Anderson
“Pastor” Steven Anderson

Someone recently referred me to a YouTube excerpt from one of Pastor Steven Anderson’s sermons dealing with the issue of church Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p0l2EkAZwB8&feature=youtu.be. A brief review of his ridiculous tirade is in order since Pastor Anderson’s teaching in that blurb is published for the world and since it deals with the institution which Christ loved and gave Himself for. The author offers a cursory analysis in this article, but one can educate himself biblically, historically, and legally on these matters by going to the Separation of Church and State Law blog. Pastor Anderson’s statements, usually in red and parentheses, are followed by the author’s comments.

The author will address some of Anderson’s points in the order or his presentation:

(1) “I don’t go to church because all the churches are 501c3. You didn’t get that from reading the Bible….”

The Bible is a book of many principles. One such principle is separation of church and state. 501c3 churches have at least partially submitted themselves to a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ who desires to be the only head of the local New Testament church. This is explained in much detail in the materials on the above website. For specific information on 501c3 go to the following articles: Federal government control of churches through 501(c)(3) tax exemption and The church incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme. By the way, all churches are not 501c3 or 508, both of which grieve the Lord. See Does God and/or Civil Government Require Churches to Get 501(c)(3) Status?. For more on church 508 status, see Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status and The Bible Answer to the Question, “Is an Incorporated 501(c)(3) or 508 Church a Church of Christ?”. I know of many such churches. If you are looking for one in your area, give me a call. Even though there are numerous such churches in America, they are a small remnant, as always.

(2)  “You got that off the internet, off some website…. ”

How does he know where they got it? The author got it from studying the Bible and 501c3 to see if 501c3 displeases our Lord. That is where the author’s pastor got it. The truth about the matter is undeniable by any knowledgeable believer. Of course, one must first understand the Biblical principles of church, government, and separation of church and state before he can fully understand some more advanced matters, but the above articles will easily be comprehended by the believer who has done some study of the Bible. One can study the Biblical principles of church, government, and separation of church and state by going to sections 1-3 (A-C) of the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. The book is available free in both PDF and online form. Or one can order this and other books by Jerald Finney by going to Order information for books by Jerald Finney.

(3) He then swerves into an explanation of the meaning of incorporation.

To understand incorporation, go to Church Corporate-501c3 Status, and especially to the Incorporation of Churches chapter. You will discover that he does not know what he is talking about. He is out of his field of expertise.

He states that the vehicle outside belongs to “the church” and that for the church to own it, the church has to be its own entity.

He is right about that. However, a church can take advantage of the use of a vehicle or the use of a building, for example without owning it. To own anything, a church must become a legal entity, as opposed to a spiritual entity. The Biblical principle is that God desires all His churches to remain spiritual entities only. Study the free materials above to understand this. The book, Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities, is a short book for a pastor or believer who already has a basic knowledge of Biblical principles. Pastor Anderson does not meet that condition. The book is available in both PDF and online form, or can be ordered (see the link above).

(4)  He then abruptly asks,Who thinks we should get rid of driver’s licenses, … birth certificates, … not carry I.d…“?

That has nothing to do with church incorporation and 501c3. Those things involve the individual, not the church. This author has a driver’s license, birth certificate, and carries an I.D. Anderson, not knowing what he is talking about, resorts to “straw men,” and attacks the straw men. Those who are not studied in these matters may be convinced.

(5)  He says,Running a church legally is really complicated. I spend days….

He is incorrect. His church is run illegally and it takes so much time and effort to run his religious organization that he does not have the time to also pastor a First Amendment (New Testament) church. Maybe that is why he is so ignorant about these matters. He does not have the time to do the studying a pastor is instructed by the Bible to do. He does not have time to be a pastor because his religious organization is a legal entity (not a church or a spiritual entity) and the non-profit corporation law requirements of the sovereign under whose laws that entity was organized (the state)  overwhelm the pastor, the trustees, and the corporate offices in legal red tape. The incorporated religious organization, a legal entity, is illegally organized according to the Highest Law (God’s Law) and man’s law (The First Amendment to the United States Constitution). According to the First Amendment, the civil government may make no law respecting an establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof. Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) is a law which was made by Congress which, when applied to churches, violates the First Amendment which is a statement of the Biblical principle of separation of church and state (not separation of God and state). Even though many religious organizations run down to get their illegal 501c3 status, the First Amendment guarantees churches the freedom to do things God’s way. Again, see the website for more information on this – the following articles give a quick look at the issues: Does God and/or Civil Government Require Churches to Get 501(c)(3) Status, and Christians Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil.

(6)  Then he says,Same thing with my business. Running a business is even worse than running a church…. [It takes me days and weeks to figure out my taxes].

He runs his church like he runs his business! Exactly. Are you getting the picture? Of course, when one runs a church like he runs a business, he is grieving our Lord, according to the Bible. No wonder this man is so utterly ignorant about these matters. Here he is, running his business and running a church according to the same principles. In addition, he leaves absolutely no significant time to study, prepare his sermons, and serve as a pastor.

(7)  “That is the way you have to do it in America to be legal in America, like you have to drive with a driver’s license…. I know a pastor in town … he has no driver’s license, he has no vehicle registration, he never files taxes, his church is totally off the grid, I mean he doesn’t report anything….. He even says to me, ‘Don’t do this’…. His church is much smaller than ours…. All of these people jumping up and screaming, ‘I don’t want to go to any church that’s incorporated,’ … you’d think he’d have 5000 people in his service this morning…. That’s shows me that these people are all just talk. They just have an excuse for not going to church….

There are plenty of non-incorporated non-501c3 churches. Refer to the author’s comments under (4) and (5) above for more relevant information. No more time will be expended to explain the obvious about these ludicrous remarks.

(8)  “There’s all this disinformation and lies out there claiming that any church that’s incorporated is of the devil, and that it’s worshiping Satan, and the head of the IRS actually runs the church….

See Separation of Church and State Law blog, for biblically, historically, and legally reasoned and reliable teaching on these matters. Perhaps Anderson is offering his spurious diatribe as justification for his own presumptuous, willful, or ignorant sin.

(9)  “None of it’s Biblical, none of it came from studying of the word of God, none of it came from the Holy Spirit.

Those assertions are applicable to his arguments.

(10) “There are different levels of going off the grid against government…. [Gets back into straw men arguments as “Driver’s License.”] I render unto Caesar the things that are Caesars.

He renders unto Caesar the things that are God’s when he incorporates a church. The church the author is a member of (Old Paths Baptist Church of Northfield, Minnesota), the pastor (Pastor Jason Cooley), and the members thereof render unto God the things that are His and unto Caesar the things that are Caesars. See Render unto God the Things that Are His/A Systematic Study or Romans 13 and Related Verses, available in both PDF and online form.

(11) “I’m not going to prison…. If anyone goes to prison because of the way offerings are taken and the way the bank account is, I’m the one that’s gonna go to prison. Pastor Anderson, the money that you make pastoring, I don’t think you should pay taxes on that. You need to be off the grid, our church needs to be totally off the grid. I church needs to do everything in cash. I’m the one that’s gonna go to prison and you’re just gonna disappear off into the sunset.

Anderson speaks like a businessman or the CEO or a corporate religious organization. He speaks in secular, not Biblical terms. A religious organization pays its pastor. The members of a First Amendment (New Testament) church provide for the pastor and his family.

The church the author is a member of is a First Amendment (New Testament) church (Old Paths Baptist Church of Northfield, Minnesota) which means it is non-incorporated and non-501c3. The pastor (Pastor Jason Cooley) pays income tax on the money given by the church body to provide for him and his family. Tithes, offerings, and gifts which are administered through a bank account (which is not in the name of the church but which is held in accordance with the law) are given to God, not to a religious organization or a corporation (as is the case with the incorporated and/or 501c3 religious organization), and used for Biblically acceptable purposes. If any pastor or church member commits a crime and is charged and convicted, he will be punished according to the prescriptions of his state (or the federal) penal code. That is true no matter how one’s church is organized. If one commits a tort, he is subject to suit in civil court, no matter how his church is organized. See Separation of Church and State Law and resources thereon for much more on this. See the website to learn who is more subject to liability – the member of the incorporated and/or 501c3 church or the member of a church which is not a legal entity.

(12) “Most churches are 501c3 and to say they’re wicked, you’re wicked.”

His misleading and false arguments and attacks would be funny if the subject matter were not so important. Sadly, many so called “Doctors” who are pastors, presidents of Bible Colleges, etc. are as lacking in substance and reasoning ability as this man as they argue before their “herd” and before the world, thereby not only hurting the cause of Christ as they mislead the members of their corporation while giving the world a good laugh as they are turned off to what they perceive to be a ridiculous religion. If one is going to invoke the ire of the world, why not do it in a manner which honors God – that is, with knowledge, understanding, and wisdom – the way the apostles did it and the way the Lord instructs us to do it in his word.

The author chooses to stop there with the analysis. The reader has access to enough information in the links above to check the matter out for himself. He can also get the same information by studying the Bible, law, and history. “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.” (2 Corinthians 11:2). “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.” (Ephesians 5:25-27). The incorporated churches and the 501c3 churches have taken on another lover for worldly approval, help, direction, control, power and financial gain. If a church is both incorporated and 501c3, that church has taken on two other lovers and is doubly the adulteress. These actions grieve our Lord, the Bridegroom, Husband, and Head of the church. Ultimately, these actions result in the death of the adulterous, heretical, and apostate churches.

Spurious rationale for church corporate-501(c)(3) status: Winning souls is the most important thing/The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls?

Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012

Contents:

Preface

I. Introduction
II. The Spirit Filled Walk of the Believer and God’s
Churches and the greatest Commandment
III. The love relationship between Christ and His
churches
A. Practical experience demonstrates the love
relationship between Christ and His churches
B. Old Testament insights concerning the marriage
relationship between Christ and His churches
C. Additional New Testament insights into the love
relationship between Christ and His churches
D. A I Corninthians 13 analysis of the love
relationship between Christ and His churches
IV. Conclusion

The sermon, “The Church Who Left Their First Love” given at Old Paths Baptist Church in Northfield, Minnesota on September 2, 2012 compliments this article, giving additional insights.

Preface

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

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

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

This article will deal with the second false reason, limited liability. Other articles cover the other five reasons:  

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

I. Introduction

Many churches, even “Bible believing churches” with saved pastors and members, state that the salvation of souls (witnessing to others in order to lead them to salvation) is more important than making sure that a church is not entangled with the civil government. Of course, salvation of souls is very important. The Great Commission is still in the Bible; but so is the principle that God desires His people and His churches to love Him. In fact, loving God is the greatest commandment. Loving God, according to the Bible is more important than loving one’s neighbor. However, if one loves God, he will love his neighbor. Please continue reading to the end to see how the Word of God makes this clear. Should you disagree with me, please contact me and give me the biblical basis for your disagreement. If God’s people and God’s churches love God first, many more souls will be saved, since churches who love God will have the power of God rather than a form of godliness.

Of course, churches (not to speak of individuals and families) dishonor their love relationship with Christ in many ways. My ministry is primarily concerned with a much neglected and egregious sin of churches as to their relationship with Christ—the union of churches with civil government through incorporation, unincorporated association status, corporation sole, and Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

I have addressed the biblical principles and the facts concerning legal entities and 501(c)(3) in books, articles on this “Separation of Church and State” blog, and audio teachings. This article is concerned only with the most important of the many sub-issues which must be developed to fully understand the issue of the God-desired relationship between church and state. What does it mean for a church to love God? How does a church demonstrate that she loves God or not? Other sub-issues—such as the God-given definition, purposes, and organization of a church—are covered in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (For free audio teaching on the book, click this link: “Free abridged audio of God Betrayed;” to order the book, click the following link: “Books”. Click the following link to preview God Betrayed: Link to preview of God Betrayed.).

Application of biblical principles to incorporation, other methods of making a church a legal enitity, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) tax exempt status makes clear that churches who become legal entities such as corporations and get 501(c)(3) status violate several biblical principles including the principle of separation of church and state, thereby dishonoring the love relationship between Christ and His church. Nonetheless, many churches use the excuse that the most important thing is winning souls to justify proceeding in the flesh and dishonoring their love relationship between Christ and His church by incorporating and obtaining 501(c)(3) status. However, as the Word of God teaches and reality reveals, corporate 501(c)(3) churches become more and more anemic with the passing of time. They do this because they resort to anti-biblical devises and place themselves at least partially under another sovereign and the anti-biblical rules of that sovereign

II. The Spirit Filled Walk of the Believer and of God’s
Churches and the Greatest Commandment

Just as it is important for a family to understand God’s definition, purposes, and principles for family, so it is important that a church family understand the God-given definition, purposes, and principles for a church and her members in order to fully understand and apply the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Very importantly a New Testament church is a purely spiritual entity made up of saved individuals who are instructed to walk in the spirit. A church will be spiritual only to the degree that the members, individually and as a church, walk in the spirit. Part of the walk of believers requires them to make sure that the church they are members of continues to organize and operate according to New Testament principles.

Scripture teaches that the most important thing for a church is the love relationship between Christ and His churches. Nothing a church can do overrides the importance of honoring that relationship. Jesus responded 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 (Mk. 12.28-34 and Lu. 10.25-28 add loving God with “all thy strength” along with “all thy heart, soul and mind” to the greatest commandment.”)). These commandments were also stated in the Old Testament (See, e.g, De. 6.5 and the Ten Commandments in Ex. 20.1-17).

Most believers will agree with the principle (How can believers who have even a rudimentary knowledge of God’s Word deny this?). Sadly, many miss the mark in the definition and application of love since they have not studied and meditated on relevant biblical teachings and applied them in the real world.

The Bible teaches that loving God first will result in loving one’s neighbor by witnessing to him, helping him, sending missionaries to him, etc. When one loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, loving one’s neighbor comes naturally and “is like unto [loving God]” (Mt. 22.37-39; Lu. 10.27; Mk. 12.29-31). One who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength will carry out the Great Commission, seek to lead others to salvation, disciple believers, help his neighbors, and walk in the spirit individually and as a church (keep his church body a spiritual entity subject only to the Lord Jesus Christ).

However gifted, moral, or refined, the natural man is absolutely blind to spiritual truth, and impotent to enter the kingdom; for he can neither obey, understand, nor please God because he is not born again and the Spirit of God does not dwell within him. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn.  3.3, 5, 6).

Only believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (I Jn. 4.13). Only one who has the Spirit of God dwelling in him can love God. This does not mean that such a person actually loves God, at least with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. It does not mean that a believer walks in the spirit (See Jn. 6.63; Ro. 8.1-13; Ga. 5.16-25; Ep. 5.1-17). Positionally, when one is saved, in the reckoning of God, the old man is crucified, and the believer is exhorted to make this good in experience, reckoning it to be so by definitely “putting off” the old man and “putting on” the new (Col. 3.8-14; Ep. 4.24). “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ep. 4.23-24). The fruit God desires from Christians is spiritual. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Ga. 5:22-23).

As has been pointed out, born-again believers are instructed to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. In God’s point of view, doing for others may help a person and make his live temporarily happier, but the Word of God teaches that doing for others is not love if one does not love God. The lost man does not know or love God, and he has no clue as to eternal matters. The natural man can only impart earthly, temporal help to others. Although this is not in and of itself a bad thing, this alone—from God’s point of view—is not love.

God is, and He desires His children to be, primarily concerned with the spiritual, the eternal. “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Co. 4.18). Only the saved man can offer anyone eternal hope in addition to helping him with temporal matters (see I Co. 2.1-16). One who loves God first will love and serve his fellow man as to eternal matters first, and temporal matters second; helping others without loving God first is not loving others from God’s eternal spiritual viewpoint.

If one loves, God dwells in him, and he will be a light to others. “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (I Jn. 4.12). “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (I Jn. 4.16). “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Co. 4.6).

III. The Marriage Relationship between Christ and His Churches

Christ is the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His churches. As to the issue of separation of church and state, this is particularly important. The church is called the bride of the Lamb (Jn. 3.28, 29). The church is “married” to Christ. “Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, evento him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God” (Ro. 7.4). Christ wants to be the only Head of His churches (Ep. 1.22; 5.23-33; Col. 1.15-18).

The apostle Paul, from whom Christians are given almost all doctrine of the church, was very concerned about the spiritual status and fruit of God’s churches. Paul spoke of the church as the virgin espoused to one Husband, and reveals that Eve is a type of the church as bride and wife of Christ. Paul said to churches, “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” (II Co. 11.2). Because of this jealousy over Christ’s church, Paul feared, “lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so [the minds of church members] should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Co. 11.3).

God, as revealed by the apostle Paul, likens the marriage relationship of husband and wife to the relationship of Christ and His church:

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wivesbe to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish…. 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. 5.23-27, 29-33).

A. Practical Experience demonstrates the love
relationship between Christ and His Churches

The Bible tells believers how God feels concerning certain actions of His churches. The Husband-wife and Bridegroom-bride analogies depicting Christ and His churches have important implications. From the Husband-wife analogy, we know that Christ, likened to a husband, wants to be over His wife, the church, in all things; and He is jealous when His wife, even if remaining for some purposes under Christ, also puts herself under another head. God obviously wants us to know how important this relationship is and how God feels when a church dishonors that relationship. New Testament teaching concerning the relationship of Christ and His churches (as we have already seen and will examine moreinfra), practical experience regarding the husband-wife relationship of man and woman as analogized by God to the marriage of Christ and His churches, and Old Testamentpassages concerning the Husband-wife relationship between God the Father and Israel reveal to the believer how God feels about the relationship of Christ and his churches.

Concerning practical experience, what godly husband would not be jealous if his wife came to him, arms around another man, and said:

“You know that I love you very much. I appreciate your love for me and all you do for me. I have entered into an agreement with Joe. I want you to know that I have decided that I am going to meet with Joe a couple of times a week for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner; and maybe occasionally meet with him just to talk. He cares for me, and he can give me additional advice and information which will be very helpful to me and which you are not able to give, although the advice you do give is most appreciated and helpful as far as it goes and as far as it is correct. He will also help me financially, since you cannot give me all that I need and want. I will still love and honor you. I know that my relationship with Joe will be alright with you.”

How would a husband feel about such an arrangement? Would it affect the marriage in any way? Would not it affect the way the husband and wife treat and respond to one another? Would the husband be jealous? In many such situations, would not the result be a ruined marriage and family? Thus God’s Word uses reality to reveal to us that Christ is jealous over His church and is grieved when His spiritual wife puts herself under the state through incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status or in any other manner. (See God Betrayed, Section VI and/or Jerald Finney, God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?(Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2009; these books are summarized in the audio teachings found on the following link: “Articles and audio teachings.”) for a thorough explanation of the incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exemption of churches).

What happens when a wife starts to have an affair, even a non-sexual affair? She may be able to hide her earthly affair from her husband, but she cannot hide the effects of the affair. (Of course, a church cannot hide her affair from the Lord.) The attitude, speech, and actions of the wife change. Her relationship with her husband changes. Her husband now has to share his time with another who is partially over his wife. Joy leaves the marriage. Many times, if she does not repent, the marriage is destroyed. Even if she repents, she and her husband will never forget. Hopefully, he will forgive.

In many ways, it is the same with the local assembly that enters into an unholy union with the civil government. Many times, the church who does so tries to minimize the dishonor and grief she has caused her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of those who even think about the possible implications of what they have done say, “Well, if my new partner ever tells me that I cannot preach salvation, he will have gone too far.” The pastor and members of such a church actually, if not knowingly, are saying by their actions:

“The Lord and his ways are not sufficient. The civil government takes better care of me than does the Lord. Civil laws are wiser and more beneficial than the precepts of the Word of God. The civil government protects the church, allows the church to enter into contracts, gives the church limited liability, gives the church tax exemption (not realizing that God makes the church non-taxable which is not good enough), allows my people to deduct their contributions, etc.”; or “Romans 13 requires a church to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status (click the following link for an article which addresses this argument: “American Abuse of Romans 13.1-2 and Related Verses“.).

Any rationale given to justify a union of church and state is spurious, and the Christian who offers such reasoning either does not understand or ignores the Word of God in these matters. He does not understand that God instructs him that the Lord is to be the only Head over His churches, that he is at the very least combining the holy with the unholy, or that he is at worst committing spiritual adultery, and that disastrous consequences, sooner or later, are ahead. He does not understand the spiritual effects that such an unholy relationship has upon the church body, church members individually and as families, and upon society as a whole.

Like the people of the nation Israel, not satisfied with proceeding directly under God as a theocracy, demanded and were granted a king by God, a church who is not satisfied with being solely under God will incorporate, get 501(c)(3) status, organize as a charitable trust, or become a legal entity by some other means. That church may still be blessed by God to some extent; but, like Israel (See I S. 8, 12.16-25), she has committed a great wickedness and started down a slippery slope. After taking the first step to dishonor her Husband, additional steps follow. The church and her members proceed, to a significant extent, according to earthly rules and procedures designed by the god of this world, not by Christ as given in His Word. Incremental compromises begin and continue, resulting in negative spiritual effects to the church, her members and families, and society to one degree or another. Sooner or later complete apostasy will likely result.

Unlike many earthly husbands who have been betrayed, God can and will forgive and forget if a wayward church repents and turns back to the Lord. Christ said to the church at Ephesus who had left her first love (Christ), “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. 2.5). How vexing to see that most men of God can understand the importance of honoring the marriage relationship between man and woman, but cannot understand the importance of honoring a more important marriage relationship.

B. Old Testament insights concerning the marriage relationship

The Old Testament offers additional insights about the marriage relationship between Christ and His churches. There God describes His feelings about the Husband-wife relationship. Israel is depicted as the wife of Jehovah God the Father who is called the Husband of Israel.

Isaiah 54 deals with Israel the restored wife of Jehovah & security and blessing of restored Israel. God the Father was the Husband of Israel.  “For thy maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy one of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Is. 54.5).

Hosea depicts the dishonored wife (Israel), and the sinful people. “… Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither  am I her husband. Let her  therefore put away her  whoredoms out of her  sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; Lest I  strip her naked, and set her  as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy on her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after other lovers, that give me  my bread and  my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink” (Ho. 2.2-5).

Hosea 4.6-11 speaks of the willful ignorance of Israel: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou has forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget my children…” (See Ho. 4).

Jeremiah 2-6 discusses the harlotry of Israel toward her Husband, Jehovah, and His warnings and promises to her depending upon whether she repents. “Turn, O backsliding children saith the LORD; for I am married unto you…. Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD” (Je. 3.14, 20).

Various people in the Old Testament are types of Christ and the church, the Bridegroom and 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[.]” (I 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[.]” (I 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 Ru., p. 315).

The coming of the Bridegroom is cause for great rejoicing by the believer, the friend of the Bridegroom (See, e.g., Jn. 3.29). The marriage of the Lamb to His bride the church will be a glorious event which will occur in heaven:

“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).

C. Additional New Testament insights into the love
relationship between Christ and His churches

As we have seen, the husband is to be the only head of the wife, and Christ is to be the only Head of His churches (See Ep. 5.23-27, 29-33 quoted above). “And hath put all thingsunder his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church” (Ep. 1.22). “[Christ] 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, whetherthey 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 His churches, gave Himself to redeem them. 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. “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” (Jn. 17.11). “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). Does not the Lamb of God deserve the reward of His suffering: a chaste virgin?

Just as a bridegroom gives gifts to his earthly bride, so Christ gives gifts to His bride, to those whom the Father gave Him. He gives her: (1) 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” (Jn. 17.6, 26). (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. 17.13). (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).

As Christ loves His churches, so should they love Him. Mere emotion and proclamations do not equal love. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14.15). “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). “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (Jn. 14.23 ). “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” (Jn. 15.10).  “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15.14). “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I Jn. 5.3).

What are Christ’s commandments? As has already been mentioned, the first and greatestcommandment is to love the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength, and thesecond is “like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

D. A I Corninthians 13 analysis of the love relationship
between Christ and His churches

This love between Christ and His church and what it entails 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.” Unless otherwise indicated, all definitions which follow are from this dictionary.). 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. No matter what she says, a church who does not honor Christ as her Husband, her Bridegroom, by remaining pure and chaste, demonstrates that she does not love God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. 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.

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

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

“In a theological sense, [‘charity’] “includes supreme love to God and a universal good will to men. 1 Cor. xiii. Col. iii. 1 Tim. i.” (definition of ‘CHARITY’). I Corinthians 13.4-8 reveals that love is an act of the will and describes what actions constitute love. 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 and/or violates any of the other attributes of love as given in those verses.

Churches who put themselves even partially under another head dishonor their Husband. Such churches, by their actions, show that they do not have a supreme love for God, that they do not love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let’s examine I Corinthians 13.4-8 verse by verse and apply it to the love of a church for the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (I Co. 13.4). “Suffereth long” means that one is patient and forbearing. In other words, he waits upon the Lord. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew theirstrength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; andthey shall walk, and not faint” (Is. 40.31).

“But they that wait upon the Lord – The word rendered ‘wait upon’ here (from קוה qavah ), denotes properly to wait, in the sense of expecting. The phrase, ‘to wait on Yahweh,’ means to wait for his help; that is, to trust in him, to put our hope or confidence in him…. “It does not imply inactivity, or want of personal exertion; it implies merely that our hope of aid and salvation is in him – a feeling that is as consistent with the most strenuous endeavors to secure the object, as it is with a state of inactivity and indolence. Indeed, no man can wait on God in a proper manner who does not use the means which he has appointed for conveying to us his blessing. To wait on him without using any means to obtain his aid, is to tempt him; to expect miraculous interposition is unauthorized, and must meet with disappointment. And they only wait on him in a proper manner who expect his blessing in the common modes in which he imparts it to men – in the use of those means and efforts which he has appointed, and which he is accustomed to bless. The farmer who should wait for God to plow and sow his fields, would not only be disappointed, but would be guilty of provoking Him. And so the man who waits for God to do what he ought to do; to save him without using any of the means of grace, will not only be disappointed, but will provoke his displeasure” (Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible…).

A church who loves the Lord and suffers long is patient and waits on the Lord, while using only those means authorized by Him. An incorporated 501(c)(3) church has not “suffered long.”

Charity is kind. “A man who truly loves another will be kind to him, desirous of doing him good; will be gentle, not severe and harsh; will be courteous because he desires his happiness, and would not pain his feelings” (Ibid.). A Church who loves God will not cause God pain or grief by dishonoring her love relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Charity envieth not. One who truly loves another will not envy in the bad sense; that is, he or she “will be kind to him, desirous of doing him good; will be gentle, not severe and harsh; will be courteous because he desires his happiness, and would not pain his feelings” (Ibid.).

Charity vaunteth not itself:

“The idea is that of boasting, bragging, vaunting. The word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Bloomfield supposes that it has the idea of acting precipitously, inconsiderately, incautiously; and this idea our translators have placed in the margin, ‘he is not rash.’ But most expositors suppose that it has the notion of boasting, or vaunting of one’s own excellences or endowments. This spirit proceeds from the idea of superiorityover others; and is connected with a feeling of contempt or disregard for them. Love would correct this, because it would produce a desire that they should be happy–and to treat a man with contempt is not the way to make him happy; love would regard others with esteem–and to boast over them is not to treat them with esteem; it would teach us to treat them with affectionate regard–and no man who has affectionate regard for others is disposed to boast of his own qualities over them. Besides, love produces a state of mind just the opposite of a disposition to boast. It receives its endowments with gratitude; regards them as the gift of God; and is disposed to employ them not in vain boasting, but in purposes of utility, in doing good to all others On as wide a scale as possible. The boaster is not a man who does good. To boast of talents is not to employ them to advantage to others. It will be of no account in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sick and afflicted, or in saving the world. Accordingly, the man who does the most good is the least accustomed to boast; the man who boasts may be regarded as doing nothing else” (Ibid.).

The application to the church regarding attachments to the civil government is obvious to the spirit filled believer.

Charity is not puffed up (jusioutai). This “word means, to blow, to puff, to pant; then to inflate with pride, and vanity, and self-esteem. [This word the feeling expresses the feelings of pride, vanity, etc.]…. Love[, on the other hand] is humble, meek, modest, unobtrusive” (Ibid.). Pride, vanity, and self-esteem exclude God, and lead to a betrayal of God by turning to another such as the civil government.

“Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil[.]” (I Co. 13.5). Charity “doth not behave itself unseemly” means, “to conduct improperly, or disgracefully, or in a manner to deserve reproach. Love seeks that which is proper or becoming…” (Ibid.). A church who loves the Lord will seek to abide in Christ and His principles for His churches.

Charity “seeketh not her own:”

“It means, to conduct improperly, or disgracefully, or in a manner to deserve reproach. Love seeks that which is proper or becoming in the circumstances and relations of life in which we are placed. It prompts to the due respect for superiors, producing veneration and respect for their opinions… [I]t prompts to the fit discharge of all the relative duties, because it leads to the desire to promote the happiness of all.” (Ibid.).

Churches incorporate, get 501(c)(3) tax exemption, or become legal entities in other ways in violation of their God-given duties thereby disrespecting their Highest Superior.

Charity “is not easily provoked, paroxunetai:”

“The meaning of the phrase in the Greek is, that a man who is under the influence of love or religion is not prone to violent anger or exasperation; it is not his character to be hasty, excited, or passionate. He is calm, serious, patient. He looks soberly at things; and though he may be injured yet he governs his passions, restrains his temper, subdues his feelings. This, Paul says, would be produced by love. And this is apparent. If we are under the influence of benevolence or love to any one, we shall not give way to sudden bursts of feeling. We shall look kindly on his actions; put the best construction on his motives; deem it possible that we have mistaken the nature or the reasons of his conduct; seek or desire explanation (Mt. 5:23-24).… That true religion is designed to produce this, is apparent everywhere in the New Testament, and especially from the example of the Lord Jesus; that it actually does produce it, is apparent from all who come under its influence in any proper manner.” (Ibid.).

A church who becomes a legal entity has not looked soberly at the principles concerning separation of church and state in God’s Word; and she has not governed her passions and subdued her feelings. This is true even though that church may have acted in ignorance without anger or exasperation.

Charity “thinketh no evil.” This proscription does not apply to the issue we are looking at if one interprets it to mean that one is not to think evil of another, his motives or conduct. However, a church who becomes a legal entity has definitely committed an evil act against God whether she knows it or not.

Charity “[r]ejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (I Co. 13.6). Iniquity means “Injustice, unrighteous-ness, … [w]ant of rectitude [rightness in principle or practice], … a sin or crime; wickedness….” Jesus is the truth (Jn. 14.6). By following man’s devises and combining Christ’s church with civil government, a church is in effect following man-made principles which are contrary to God’s precepts, committing a great wickedness or sin, and rejoicing in the fact that she is following the methods and provisions of a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

Charity “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (I Co. 13.7). A church who is a legal entity is seeking to avoid bearing perceived burdens such as losing rich earthly oriented church members. She is operating outside scriptural principles so that she can enter into contracts—such as contracts to pay her pastor or others a salary (for a church to pay anyone a salary violates biblical principle. See God Betrayed)—limit liability (not knowing that in effect, she is probably increasing risk and liability rather than limiting it. See Ibid., Section VI, Chapter 6), hold property (not knowing that a church can utilize property in America while honoring biblical principles. (See Ibid., Chapter 7), give tax deductions for contributions (See Ibid., Chapter 8), and for other spurious reasons. She may be allegedly seeking to obey what she incorrectly believes is her master, the civil government (See Ibid., Section III, Chapters 5 and 6,and Jerald Finney,Render Unto God the Things that Are His (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2009)). Finally, she is attempting to avoid any persecution and any adverse affects—she wants to assure her members that they will have no persecution or anything else to endure. A church who is a legal entity is not believing all the Word of God and she is not placing her hope in the Lord. At the very least, part of her hope is in civil government.

“Charity never faileth” (I Co. 13.8). A church who depends upon and subjects herself to the civil government has certainly failed the Lord.

IV. Conclusion

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

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

As Dr. J. Vernon McGee teaches us, this warning was for every church 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).

As the Lord Jesus Christ is jealous over His churches, so should pastors and church members be jealous, with a godly jealousy, over the church they belong to, just as Paul was (See II Co. 11.1-3).

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 since that church, by her actions, shows that she does not love the Lord Jesus Christ with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. A church who incorporates, organizes as a charitable trust or unincorporated association, takes a 501(c)(3) tax exemption, a license, an employee or taxpayer identification number, any type permit from the state, or puts herself under the state in any way, becomes an earthly legal entity subject to the jurisdiction of an earthly power, the civil government; and, in spite of any professions of love for the Lord, according to her actions, shows that she does not fully love the Lord Jesus Christ.

END

The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls?

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April, 2010
All articles on this blog may also be accessed from the following link: Separation of Church and State Law Blog

Contents:

Preface
I. Introduction
II. The Spirit Filled Walk of the Believer and of God’s
Churches and the greatest Commandment
III. The love relationship between Christ and His
churches
A. Practical experience demonstrates the love
relationship between Christ and His churches
B. Old Testament insights concerning the marriage
relationship between Christ and His churches
C. Additional New Testament insights into the love
relationship between Christ and His churches
D. A I Corninthians 13 analysis of the love
relationship between Christ and His churches
IV. Conclusion

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

The sermon, Pastor Jason Cooley, “The Church Who Left Their First Love,” September 2, 2012  compliments this article, giving additional insights.
Click link to hear the sermon. Right click link, then left click “Save link as…” to download.

Preface

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

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

I. Introduction

Many churches, even “Bible believing churches” with saved pastors and members, state that the salvation of souls (witnessing to others in order to lead them to salvation) is more important than making sure that a church is not entangled with the civil government. Of course, salvation of souls is very important. The Great Commission is still in the Bible; but so is the principle that God desires His people and His churches to love Him. In fact, loving God is the greatest commandment. Loving God, according to the Bible is more important than loving one’s neighbor. However, if one loves God, he will love his neighbor. Please continue reading to the end to see how the Word of God makes this clear. Should you disagree with me, please contact me and give me the biblical basis for your disagreement. If God’s people and God’s churches love God first, many more souls will be saved, since churches who love God will have the power of God rather than a form of godliness.

Of course, churches (not to speak of individuals and families) dishonor their love relationship with Christ in many ways. My ministry is primarily concerned with a much neglected and egregious sin of churches as to their relationship with Christ—the union of churches with civil government through incorporation, unincorporated association status, corporation sole, and Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

I have addressed the biblical principles and the facts concerning legal entities and 501(c)(3) in books, articles on this “Separation of Church and State” blog, and audio teachings. This article is concerned only with the most important of the many sub-issues which must be developed to fully understand the issue of the God-desired relationship between church and state. What does it mean for a church to love God? How does a church demonstrate that she loves God or not? Other sub-issues—such as the God-given definition, purposes, and organization of a church—are covered in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (For free audio teaching on the book, click this link: “Free abridged audio of God Betrayed;” to order the book, click the following link: “Books”. Click the following link to preview God Betrayed: Link to preview of God Betrayed.).

Application of biblical principles to incorporation, other methods of making a church a legal enitity, and Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) tax exempt status makes clear that churches who become legal entities such as corporations and get 501(c)(3) status violate several biblical principles including the principle of separation of church and state, thereby dishonoring the love relationship between Christ and His church. Nonetheless, many churches use the excuse that the most important thing is winning souls to justify proceeding in the flesh and dishonoring their love relationship between Christ and His church by incorporating and obtaining 501(c)(3) status or by not reorganizing according to Bible principles when the church already has legal entity status. However, as the Word of God teaches and reality reveals, corporate (includes corporation sole) 501(c)(3) churches and churches which are legal entities of other types become more and more anemic with the passing of time. They do this because they resort to anti-biblical devises and place themselves at least partially under another sovereign and the anti-biblical rules of that sovereign

II. The Spirit Filled Walk of the Believer and of God’s
Churches and the Greatest Commandment

Just as it is important for a family to understand God’s definition, purposes, and principles for family, so it is important that a church family understand the God-given definition, purposes, and principles for a church and her members in order to fully understand and apply the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Very importantly a New Testament church is a purely spiritual entity made up of saved individuals who are instructed to walk in the spirit. A church will be spiritual only to the degree that the members, individually and as a church, walk in the spirit. Part of the walk of believers requires them to make sure that the church they are members of continues to organize and operate according to New Testament principles as spiritual entities only, not as earthly legal entities.

Scripture teaches that the most important thing for a church is the love relationship between Christ and His churches. Nothing a church can do overrides the importance of honoring that relationship. Jesus responded 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 (Mk. 12.28-34 and Lu. 10.25-28 add loving God with “all thy strength” along with “all thy heart, soul and mind” to the greatest commandment.”)). These commandments were also stated in the Old Testament (See, e.g, De. 6.5 and the Ten Commandments in Ex. 20.1-17).

Most believers will agree with the principle (How can believers who have even a rudimentary knowledge of God’s Word deny this?). Sadly, many miss the mark in the definition and application of love since they have not studied and meditated on relevant biblical teachings and applied them in the real world.

The Bible teaches that loving God first will result in loving one’s neighbor by witnessing to him, helping him, sending missionaries to him, etc. When one loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, loving one’s neighbor comes naturally and “is like unto [loving God]” (Mt. 22.37-39; Lu. 10.27; Mk. 12.29-31). One who loves God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength will carry out the Great Commission, seek to lead others to salvation, disciple believers, help his neighbors, and walk in the spirit individually and as a church (keep his church body a spiritual entity subject only to the Lord Jesus Christ).

However gifted, moral, or refined, the natural man is absolutely blind to spiritual truth, and impotent to enter the kingdom; for he can neither obey, understand, nor please God because he is not born again and the Spirit of God does not dwell within him. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn.  3.3, 5, 6).

Only believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. “Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit” (I Jn. 4.13). Only one who has the Spirit of God dwelling in him can love God. This does not mean that such a person actually loves God, at least with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. It does not mean that a believer walks in the spirit (See Jn. 6.63; Ro. 8.1-13; Ga. 5.16-25; Ep. 5.1-17). Positionally, when one is saved, in the reckoning of God, the old man is crucified, and the believer is exhorted to make this good in experience, reckoning it to be so by definitely “putting off” the old man and “putting on” the new (Col. 3.8-14; Ep. 4.24). “And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness” (Ep. 4.23-24). The fruit God desires from Christians is spiritual. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law” (Ga. 5:22-23).

As has been pointed out, born-again believers are instructed to love God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. In God’s point of view, doing for others may help a person and make his live temporarily happier, but the Word of God teaches that doing for others is not love if one does not love God. The lost man does not know or love God, and he has no clue as to eternal matters. The natural man can only impart earthly, temporal help to others. Although this is not in and of itself a bad thing, this alone—from God’s point of view—is not love.

God is, and He desires His children to be, primarily concerned with the spiritual, the eternal. “While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (II Co. 4.18). Only the saved man can offer anyone eternal hope in addition to helping him with temporal matters (see I Co. 2.1-16). One who loves God first will love and serve his fellow man as to eternal matters first, and temporal matters second; helping others without loving God first is not loving others from God’s eternal spiritual viewpoint.

If one loves, God dwells in him, and he will be a light to others. “No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us” (I Jn. 4.12). “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him” (I Jn. 4.16). “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Co. 4.6).

III. The Marriage Relationship between Christ and His Churches

Christ is the Bridegroom/Husband/Head of His churches. As to the issue of separation of church and state, this is particularly important. The church is called the bride of the Lamb (Jn. 3.28, 29). The church is “married” to Christ. “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). Christ wants to be the only Head of His churches (Ep. 1.22; 5.23-33; Col. 1.15-18).

The apostle Paul, from whom Christians are given almost all doctrine of the church, was very concerned about the spiritual status and fruit of God’s churches. Paul spoke of the church as the virgin espoused to one Husband, and reveals that Eve is a type of the church as bride and wife of Christ. Paul said to churches, “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” (II Co. 11.2). Because of this jealousy over Christ’s church, Paul feared, “lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so [the minds of church members] should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (II Co. 11.3).

God, as revealed by the apostle Paul, likens the marriage relationship of husband and wife to the relationship of Christ and His church:

“For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish…. 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. 5.23-27, 29-33).

A. Practical Experience demonstrates the love
relationship between Christ and His Churches

The Bible tells believers how God feels concerning certain actions of His churches. The Husband-wife and Bridegroom-bride analogies depicting Christ and His churches have important implications. From the Husband-wife analogy, we know that Christ, likened to a husband, wants to be over His wife, the church, in all things; and He is jealous when His wife, even if remaining for some purposes under Christ, also puts herself under another head. God obviously wants us to know how important this relationship is and how God feels when a church dishonors that relationship. New Testament teaching concerning the relationship of Christ and His churches (as we have already seen and will examine more infra), practical experience regarding the husband-wife relationship of man and woman as analogized by God to the marriage of Christ and His churches, and Old Testament passages concerning the Husband-wife relationship between God the Father and Israel reveal to the believer how God feels about the relationship of Christ and his churches.

Concerning practical experience, what godly husband would not be jealous if his wife came to him, arms around another man, and said:

“You know that I love you very much. I appreciate your love for me and all you do for me. I have entered into an agreement with Joe. I want you to know that I have decided that I am going to meet with Joe a couple of times a week for breakfast, or lunch, or dinner; and maybe occasionally meet with him just to talk. He cares for me, and he can give me additional advice and information which will be very helpful to me and which you are not able to give, although the advice you do give is most appreciated and helpful as far as it goes and as far as it is correct. He will also help me financially, since you cannot give me all that I need and want. I will still love and honor you. I know that my relationship with Joe will be alright with you.”

How would a husband feel about such an arrangement? Would it affect the marriage in any way? Would not it affect the way the husband and wife treat and respond to one another? Would the husband be jealous? In many such situations, would not the result be a ruined marriage and family? Thus God’s Word uses reality to reveal to us that Christ is jealous over His church and is grieved when His spiritual wife puts herself under the state through incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status or in any other manner. (See God Betrayed, Section VI and/or Jerald Finney, God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2009; these books are summarized in the audio teachings found on the following link: “Articles and audio teachings.”) for a thorough explanation of the incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exemption of churches).

What happens when a wife starts to have an affair, even a non-sexual affair? She may be able to hide her earthly affair from her husband, but she cannot hide the effects of the affair. (Of course, a church cannot hide her affair from the Lord.) The attitude, speech, and actions of the wife change. Her relationship with her husband changes. Her husband now has to share his time with another who is partially over his wife. Joy leaves the marriage. Many times, if she does not repent, the marriage is destroyed. Even if she repents, she and her husband will never forget. Hopefully, he will forgive.

In many ways, it is the same with the local assembly that enters into an unholy union with the civil government. Many times, the church who does so tries to minimize the dishonor and grief she has caused her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ. Many of those who even think about the possible implications of what they have done say, “Well, if my new partner ever tells me that I cannot preach salvation, he will have gone too far.” The pastor and members of such a church actually, if not knowingly, are saying by their actions:

“The Lord and his ways are not sufficient. The civil government takes better care of me than does the Lord. Civil laws are wiser and more beneficial than the precepts of the Word of God. The civil government protects the church, allows the church to enter into contracts, gives the church limited liability, gives the church tax exemption (not realizing that God makes the church non-taxable which is not good enough), allows my people to deduct their contributions, etc.”; or
“Romans 13 requires a church to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status (click the following link for an article which addresses this argument: “American Abuse of Romans 13.1-2 and Related Verses.“).

Any rationale given to justify a union of church and state is spurious, and the Christian who offers such reasoning either does not understand or ignores the Word of God in these matters. He does not understand that God instructs him that the Lord is to be the only Head over His churches, that he is at the very least combining the holy with the unholy, or that he is at worst committing spiritual adultery, and that disastrous consequences, sooner or later, are ahead. He does not understand the spiritual effects that such an unholy relationship has upon the church body, church members individually and as families, and upon society as a whole.

Like the people of the nation Israel, not satisfied with proceeding directly under God as a theocracy, demanded and were granted a king by God, a church who is not satisfied with being solely under God will incorporate, get 501(c)(3) status, organize as a charitable trust, or become a legal entity by some other means. That church may still be blessed by God to some extent; but, like Israel (See I S. 8, 12.16-25), she has committed a great wickedness and started down a slippery slope. After taking the first step to dishonor her Husband, additional steps follow. The church and her members proceed, to a significant extent, according to earthly rules and procedures designed by the god of this world, not by Christ as given in His Word. Incremental compromises begin and continue, resulting in negative spiritual effects to the church, her members and families, and society to one degree or another. Sooner or later complete apostasy will likely result.

Unlike many earthly husbands who have been betrayed, God can and will forgive and forget if a wayward church repents and turns back to the Lord. Christ said to the church at Ephesus who had left her first love (Christ), “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. 2.5). How vexing to see that most men of God can understand the importance of honoring the marriage relationship between man and woman, but cannot understand the importance of honoring a more important marriage relationship.

B. Old Testament insights concerning the marriage relationship

The Old Testament offers additional insights about the marriage relationship between Christ and His churches. There God describes His feelings about the Husband-wife relationship. Israel is depicted as the wife of Jehovah God the Father who is called the Husband of Israel.

Isaiah 54 deals with Israel the restored wife of Jehovah & security and blessing of restored Israel. God the Father was the Husband of Israel.  “For thy maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy one of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Is. 54.5).

Hosea depicts the dishonored wife (Israel), and the sinful people. “… Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither  am I her husband. Let her  therefore put away her  whoredoms out of her  sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; Lest I  strip her naked, and set her  as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy on her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after other lovers, that give me  my bread and  my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink” (Ho. 2.2-5).

Hosea 4.6-11 speaks of the willful ignorance of Israel: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou has forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget my children…” (See Ho. 4).

Jeremiah 2-6 discusses the harlotry of Israel toward her Husband, Jehovah, and His warnings and promises to her depending upon whether she repents. “Turn, O backsliding children saith the LORD; for I am married unto you…. Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD” (Je. 3.14, 20).

Various people in the Old Testament are types of Christ and the church, the Bridegroom and 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[.]” (I 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[.]” (I 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 Ru., p. 315).

The coming of the Bridegroom is cause for great rejoicing by the believer, the friend of the Bridegroom (See, e.g., Jn. 3.29). The marriage of the Lamb to His bride the church will be a glorious event which will occur in heaven:

“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).

C. Additional New Testament insights into the love
relationship between Christ and His churches

As we have seen, the husband is to be the only head of the wife, and Christ is to be the only Head of His churches (See Ep. 5.23-27, 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). “[Christ] 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 His churches, gave Himself to redeem them. 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. “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” (Jn. 17.11). “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). Does not the Lamb of God deserve the reward of His suffering: a chaste virgin?

Just as a bridegroom gives gifts to his earthly bride, so Christ gives gifts to His bride, to those whom the Father gave Him. He gives her: (1) 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” (Jn. 17.6, 26). (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. 17.13). (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).

As Christ loves His churches, so should they love Him. Mere emotion and proclamations do not equal love. Jesus said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (Jn. 14.15). “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). “Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (Jn. 14.23 ). “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” (Jn. 15.10).  “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15.14). “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (I Jn. 5.3).

What are Christ’s commandments? As has already been mentioned, the first and greatest commandment is to love the Lord with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength, and the second is “like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”

D. A I Corninthians 13 analysis of the love relationship
between Christ and His churches

This love between Christ and His church and what it entails 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.” Unless otherwise indicated, all definitions which follow are from this dictionary.). 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. No matter what she says, a church who does not honor Christ as her Husband, her Bridegroom, by remaining pure and chaste, demonstrates that she does not love God with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. 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.

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

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

“In a theological sense, [‘charity’] “includes supreme love to God and a universal good will to men. 1 Cor. xiii. Col. iii. 1 Tim. i.” (definition of ‘CHARITY’). I Corinthians 13.4-8 reveals that love is an act of the will and describes what actions constitute love. 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 and/or violates any of the other attributes of love as given in those verses.

Churches who put themselves even partially under another head dishonor their Husband. Such churches, by their actions, show that they do not have a supreme love for God, that they do not love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Let’s examine I Corinthians 13.4-8 verse by verse and apply it to the love of a church for the Lord Jesus Christ.

“Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up” (I Co. 13.4). “Suffereth long” means that one is patient and forbearing. In other words, he waits upon the Lord. “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Is. 40.31).

“But they that wait upon the Lord – The word rendered ‘wait upon’ here (from קוה qavah ), denotes properly to wait, in the sense of expecting. The phrase, ‘to wait on Yahweh,’ means to wait for his help; that is, to trust in him, to put our hope or confidence in him….
“It does not imply inactivity, or want of personal exertion; it implies merely that our hope of aid and salvation is in him – a feeling that is as consistent with the most strenuous endeavors to secure the object, as it is with a state of inactivity and indolence. Indeed, no man can wait on God in a proper manner who does not use the means which he has appointed for conveying to us his blessing. To wait on him without using any means to obtain his aid, is to tempt him; to expect miraculous interposition is unauthorized, and must meet with disappointment. And they only wait on him in a proper manner who expect his blessing in the common modes in which he imparts it to men – in the use of those means and efforts which he has appointed, and which he is accustomed to bless. The farmer who should wait for God to plow and sow his fields, would not only be disappointed, but would be guilty of provoking Him. And so the man who waits for God to do what he ought to do; to save him without using any of the means of grace, will not only be disappointed, but will provoke his displeasure” (Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible…).

A church who loves the Lord and suffers long is patient and waits on the Lord, while using only those means authorized by Him. An incorporated 501(c)(3) church has not “suffered long.”

Charity is kind. “A man who truly loves another will be kind to him, desirous of doing him good; will be gentle, not severe and harsh; will be courteous because he desires his happiness, and would not pain his feelings” (Ibid.). A Church who loves God will not cause God pain or grief by dishonoring her love relationship with the Lord Jesus.

Charity envieth not. One who truly loves another will not envy in the bad sense; that is, he or she “will be kind to him, desirous of doing him good; will be gentle, not severe and harsh; will be courteous because he desires his happiness, and would not pain his feelings” (Ibid.).

Charity vaunteth not itself:

“The idea is that of boasting, bragging, vaunting. The word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. Bloomfield supposes that it has the idea of acting precipitously, inconsiderately, incautiously; and this idea our translators have placed in the margin, ‘he is not rash.’ But most expositors suppose that it has the notion of boasting, or vaunting of one’s own excellences or endowments. This spirit proceeds from the idea of superiority over others; and is connected with a feeling of contempt or disregard for them. Love would correct this, because it would produce a desire that they should be happy–and to treat a man with contempt is not the way to make him happy; love would regard others with esteem–and to boast over them is not to treat them with esteem; it would teach us to treat them with affectionate regard–and no man who has affectionate regard for others is disposed to boast of his own qualities over them. Besides, love produces a state of mind just the opposite of a disposition to boast. It receives its endowments with gratitude; regards them as the gift of God; and is disposed to employ them not in vain boasting, but in purposes of utility, in doing good to all others On as wide a scale as possible. The boaster is not a man who does good. To boast of talents is not to employ them to advantage to others. It will be of no account in feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, comforting the sick and afflicted, or in saving the world. Accordingly, the man who does the most good is the least accustomed to boast; the man who boasts may be regarded as doing nothing else” (Ibid.).

The application to the church regarding attachments to the civil government is obvious to the spirit filled believer.

Charity is not puffed up (jusioutai). This “word means, to blow, to puff, to pant; then to inflate with pride, and vanity, and self-esteem. [This word the feeling expresses the feelings of pride, vanity, etc.]…. Love[, on the other hand] is humble, meek, modest, unobtrusive” (Ibid.). Pride, vanity, and self-esteem exclude God, and lead to a betrayal of God by turning to another such as the civil government.

“Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil[.]” (I Co. 13.5). Charity “doth not behave itself unseemly” means, “to conduct improperly, or disgracefully, or in a manner to deserve reproach. Love seeks that which is proper or becoming…” (Ibid.). A church who loves the Lord will seek to abide in Christ and His principles for His churches.

Charity “seeketh not her own:”

“It means, to conduct improperly, or disgracefully, or in a manner to deserve reproach. Love seeks that which is proper or becoming in the circumstances and relations of life in which we are placed. It prompts to the due respect for superiors, producing veneration and respect for their opinions… [I]t prompts to the fit discharge of all the relative duties, because it leads to the desire to promote the happiness of all.” (Ibid.).

Churches incorporate, get 501(c)(3) tax exemption, or become legal entities in other ways in violation of their God-given duties thereby disrespecting their Highest Superior.

Charity “is not easily provoked, paroxunetai:”

“The meaning of the phrase in the Greek is, that a man who is under the influence of love or religion is not prone to violent anger or exasperation; it is not his character to be hasty, excited, or passionate. He is calm, serious, patient. He looks soberly at things; and though he may be injured yet he governs his passions, restrains his temper, subdues his feelings. This, Paul says, would be produced by love. And this is apparent. If we are under the influence of benevolence or love to any one, we shall not give way to sudden bursts of feeling. We shall look kindly on his actions; put the best construction on his motives; deem it possible that we have mistaken the nature or the reasons of his conduct; seek or desire explanation (Mt. 5:23-24).… That true religion is designed to produce this, is apparent everywhere in the New Testament, and especially from the example of the Lord Jesus; that it actually does produce it, is apparent from all who come under its influence in any proper manner.” (Ibid.).

A church who becomes a legal entity has not looked soberly at the principles concerning separation of church and state in God’s Word; and she has not governed her passions and subdued her feelings. This is true even though that church may have acted in ignorance without anger or exasperation.

Charity “thinketh no evil.” This proscription does not apply to the issue we are looking at if one interprets it to mean that one is not to think evil of another, his motives or conduct. However, a church who becomes a legal entity has definitely committed an evil act against God whether she knows it or not.

Charity “[r]ejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth” (I Co. 13.6). Iniquity means “Injustice, unrighteous-ness, … [w]ant of rectitude [rightness in principle or practice], … a sin or crime; wickedness….” Jesus is the truth (Jn. 14.6). By following man’s devises and combining Christ’s church with civil government, a church is in effect following man-made principles which are contrary to God’s precepts, committing a great wickedness or sin, and rejoicing in the fact that she is following the methods and provisions of a head other than the Lord Jesus Christ.

Charity “Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things” (I Co. 13.7). A church who is a legal entity is seeking to avoid bearing perceived burdens such as losing rich earthly oriented church members. She is operating outside scriptural principles so that she can enter into contracts—such as contracts to pay her pastor or others a salary (for a church to pay anyone a salary violates biblical principle. See God Betrayed)—limit liability (not knowing that in effect, she is probably increasing risk and liability rather than limiting it. See Ibid., Section VI, Chapter 6), hold property (not knowing that a church can utilize property in America while honoring biblical principles. (See Ibid., Chapter 7), give tax deductions for contributions (See Ibid., Chapter 8), and for other spurious reasons. She may be allegedly seeking to obey what she incorrectly believes is her master, the civil government (See Ibid., Section III, Chapters 5 and 6,and Jerald Finney, Render Unto God the Things that Are His (Austin, TX: Kerygma Publishing Co., 2009)). Finally, she is attempting to avoid any persecution and any adverse affects—she wants to assure her members that they will have no persecution or anything else to endure. A church who is a legal entity is not believing all the Word of God and she is not placing her hope in the Lord. At the very least, part of her hope is in civil government.

“Charity never faileth” (I Co. 13.8). A church who depends upon and subjects herself to the civil government has certainly failed the Lord.

IV. Conclusion

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

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

As Dr. J. Vernon McGee teaches us, this warning was for every church 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, Revelation, Volume I (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1982), pp. 121-122).

As the Lord Jesus Christ is jealous over His churches, so should pastors and church members be jealous, with a godly jealousy, over the church they belong to, just as Paul was (See II Co. 11.1-3).

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 since that church, by her actions, shows that she does not love the Lord Jesus Christ with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength. A church who incorporates, organizes as a charitable trust or unincorporated association, takes a 501(c)(3) tax exemption, a license, an employee or taxpayer identification number, any type permit from the state, or puts herself under the state in any way, becomes an earthly legal entity subject to the jurisdiction of an earthly power, the civil government; and, in spite of any professions of love for the Lord, according to her actions, shows that she does not fully love the Lord Jesus Christ.

Note

The Biblical Law Center helps churches to organize as New Testament churches completely out from under civil government and under God only. Should you wish to contact Jerald Finney, click the following link: Contact Jerald Finney. This is a ministry, not a business enterprise. Jerald Finney has made no profit at all in this endeavor of Christian love, but rather has expended much of his own money for God’s glory, in attempting to provide information and service for God’s churches.

All conclusions in this article are opinions of the author. Please do not attempt to act in the legal system if you are not a lawyer, even if you are a born-again Christian. Many questions and finer points of the law and the interpretation of the law cannot be properly understood by a simple facial reading of a civil law. For a born-again Christian to understand American law, litigation, and the legal system as well as spiritual matters within the legal system requires years of study and practice of law as well as years of study of Biblical principles, including study of the Biblical doctrines of government, church, and separation of church and state. You can always find a lawyer or Christian who will agree with the position that an American church should become incorporated and get 501(c)(3) status. Jerald Finney will discuss the matter, as time avails, with any such person, with confidence that his position is supported by God’s Word, history, and law. He is always willing, free of charge and with love, to support his belief that for a church to submit herself to civil government in any manner grieves our Lord and ultimately results in undesirable consequences. He does not have unlimited time to talk to individuals. However, he will teach or debate groups, and will point individuals to resources which fully explain his positions.

The author is a Christian first and a lawyer second. He has no motive to mislead you. In fact, his motivation is to tell you the truth about this matter, and he guards himself against temptation on this and other issues by doing all he does at no charge. He does not seek riches. His motivation is his love for God first and for others second. His goal is the Glory of God. Jerald Finney has been saved since 1982. God called him to go to law school for His Glory. In obedience, Finney entered the University of Texas School of Law in 1990, was licensed and began to practice law, for the Glory of God, in November of 1993.  To learn more about the author click the following link: About Jerald Finney.

END

For His Glory
Jerald Finney, BBB, Historic Baptist, BBA, JD
opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com

The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September, 2009
Jerald Finney teaches on “The Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme” Left click to hear Jerald Finney teaching on this subject. Right click the link and then left click “Save link as…” to download. The teaching is preceded by a hymn sang by Rocky Otwell, a great man of God, and prayer. The teaching is approximately 25 minutes, not including the song.
Click here to go to: ANSWER TO QUESTION REGARDING A LAWYERS FALSE STATEMENTS CONCERNING CHURCH CORPORATE 501(C)(3) STATUS

“And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light” (Lu. 16.8b).

It is amazing to see that most of the fundamental “Bible believing” pastors and Christians that I know believe that something is wrong with a church who refuses to incorporate and get Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) §501(c)(3) (“501(c)(3)”) status. Biblical principles are against incorporation and 501(c)(3) for churches, and civil law does not purport to require that churches get either corporate or 501(c)(3) status. In fact, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, laws, and regulations of the federal government as well as the constitutions, laws, and regulations of the states guarantee that churches may remain free under God without persecution. This article addresses church 501(c)(3) status.

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.

The more I study the subject of “separation of church and state,” the more I realize that secular scholars have more insight into the issue than do most of those, including pastors, who call themselves fundamental Bible believers.  Both the Internal Revenue Service and secular scholars know that churches are not required by law to be incorporated and get 501(c)(3) status and that 501(c)(3), as applied to churches, is an exemption-definition-control scheme which is implemented simply by invitation. In this article I give a brief review of the 501(c)(3)  exemption-control-definition scheme and insights from the law, from the Internal Revenue Service, and from legal scholars.

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

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

The above listed rules, except for rule number 5, are stated in 501(c)(3). The original 501(c)(3) law had no accompanying rules, but four of the five were added by legislative enactment, and signed into law by the president. The last one, “may not violate fundamental public policy,”is not stated in the law; that is, it is not listed as a requirement in § 501(c)(3). This requirement was unilaterally implemented by the Internal Revenue Service and upheld as law by the United States Supreme Court in the illogical Bob Jones University, 461 U.S. 574,  (1983) case. The federal government may add additional requirements to the law in the future.

Under these rules, 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 wants to control churches, and does so through 501(c)(3).

A study of relevant law, as well as IRS regulations and legal scholarship reveals that 501(c)(3) is voluntary and that it is a control-definition scheme.

IRC § 508(a),(c), in line with the First Amendment, says churches are excepted from obtaining § 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. In other words, churches are non-taxable; and, therefore, churches are an exception to the civil government requirement that certain organizations file for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status. Thus, the law recognizes that a New Testament Church is non-taxable under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

The IRS doesn’t hide the fact that churches are non-taxable under the First Amendment and IRC § 508(a),(c) and that the exemption-definition-control scheme is implemented by invitation. The IRS proclaims in IRS Publication 1828 (2007):

“Although there is no requirement to do so, many churches seek recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS because such recognition assures church leaders, members, and contributors that the church is recognized as exempt and qualifies for related tax benefits…. Unlike churches, religious organizations that wish to be tax exempt generally must apply to the IRS for tax-exempt status unless their gross receipts do not normally exceed $5,000 annually.”

In the exemption and restriction scheme, the government extends an invitation to incorporated “religious organizations” to receive a tax exemption in return for allowing the government to interpret and categorize their expression and activities.

Civil government not only knows what it is doing when encouraging churches to incorporate and seek 501(C)(3) status; it also blatantly belittles the fact that the IRC provisions exempting churches from taxation and providing for certain controls over corporate 501(c)(3) “churches” are contrary to the First Amendment. The federal government flaunts the lack of knowledge and understanding of the average Christian as to both spiritual and earthly matters. IRS Publication 1828 states:

Congress has enacted special tax laws applicable to churches, religious organizations, and ministers in recognition of their unique status in American society and of their rights guaranteed by the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.” [Emphasis mine.] …

A comparison of the above statements of the IRS with the words of the religion clause of the First Amendment reveals the fact that the IRS flaunts the fact that Congress has enacted laws “respecting the establishment of religion and preventing the free exercise thereof.” The First Amendment religion clause says:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof….”  [Emphasis mine.]

Some legal scholars who have studied the issue know what the civil government is up to with the exemption-definition-control scheme. For example, Richard Garnett, assistant professor at Notre Dame Law School, wrote in A Quiet Faith? Taxes, Politics, and the Privatization of Religion, published in Volume 42 of B.C. L. Rev. starting on page 771 (this is a paraphrase of selected portions of the article with citations omitted):

  1. “The imposition of a tax is, after all, an assertion of power and an ‘application of force.’ The same is true of the decision not to tax, or to exempt from taxation. A power is no less real that is exercised selectively or indulged with restraint. The decision to exempt certain associations, persons, activities, or things from taxation presupposes and communicates the ability to do otherwise; definitional lines drawn to mark the boundaries of such exemptions implicitly assert the power to draw them differently…. My claim here is that the decision to exempt religious associations from federal taxation may reasonably be regarded as an assertion of power—the power, perhaps, to ‘destroy’—over these communities, their activities, and their expression….
  2. “In other words, maybe the power to tax churches, to exempt them from taxation, and to attach conditions to such exemptions really does as Chief Justice Marshall quipped, ‘involve the power to destroy’ religion. Neither heavy-handed repression nor even overt hostility toward faith is required, but merely the subtly didactic power of the law. Government need only express and enforce its own view of the nature of religion—i.e., that it is a private matter—and of its proper place—i.e., in the private sphere, not in politics—and religious believers and associations may yield to the temptation to embrace, and to incorporate, this view themselves….
  3. “It is an exemption-and-restriction scheme in which the government extends an invitation to ‘religious organizations’ to receive a tax exemption in return for allowing the government to interpret and categorize the expression and activities of the church.  There is the danger that, having made their own the government’s view of religion’s place, now-humbled and no-longer-prophetic religious associations will retreat with their witness to the ‘private’ sphere where—they now agree—they belong, leaving persons to face the state alone in the hollowed-out remains of the public square….
  4. “Still it strikes me that the Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3)’s exemption-and-restriction scheme is noteworthy in the extent to which it invites government to label as ‘propaganda’ or ‘campaign[ing]’ what are, for religious believers and communities, expressions of their faith and responses to their calling. It is far from clear that this is an appropriate task for the liberal state….
    “My concern … is that the premises of the conditional exemption scheme, the labeling it invites, and the monitoring of distinctions it creates will tame religion by saying what it is and identifying what it is not, tempt religion to revise its conception of itself and of its mission, and convince religious consciousness to internalize the state’s own judgment that faith simply does not belong in politics….
  5. “[The tax exemption] is simply the government’s way of paying churches not to talk about certain things, enforce certain beliefs, or engage in certain actions—in other words, it’s the government’s way of privatizing the church….
  6. “By determining for its own purposes the meaning of religious communities’ statements and activities, and by enforcing the distinctions it draws, government subtly reshapes religious consciousness itself. In other words, by telling religion what it may say, really is saying, or will be deemed to have said, and by telling faith where it belongs, government molds religion’s own sense of what it is….
  7. “[Certain pronouncements] led my colleague, Professor Bradley, to suggest in another context that ‘[t]he Court is now clearly committed to articulating and enforcing a normative scheme of ‘private religion.’ Indeed, he argues powerfully that the Court’s post-Everson v. Board of Education cases ‘are most profitably understood as judicial attempts to move religion into the realm of subjective preference by eliminating religious consciousness.’ … [T]he Court turned to privatization ‘as the ‘final solution’ to the problem of religious faction.’ Its ambition—not merely the unintended effect of its decisions—is not only to confine the potentially subversive messages of religion to a ‘nonpublic ghetto,’ but also to revise and privatize the messages themselves. Having acquiesced to judicial declarations that it is a private matter, and accepted that its authority is entirely subjective, religious consciousness is unable to resist the conclusion that its claims to public truth are ‘implausible nonsense,’ and therefore cannot help but concede the field of public life and morality to government….
  8. “[T]his privatization of religion is not simply its institutional disestablishment or an entirely appropriate respect on government’s part for individual freedom of conscience and autonomy of religion institutions. Nor is the claim only that the exemption privatizes religion by deterring political activism and silencing political advocacy by religious believers and communities. It is, instead, that the exemption scheme and its administration subtly re-form religion’s conception of itself. Government evaluates and characterizes what churches say and do, and decides both what it will recognize as religious and what it will label as political….
  9. “[P]rivatization of the church is its remaking by government and its transformation from a comprehensive and demanding account of the world to a therapeutic ‘cacoon wrapped around the individual.’ It is a state-sponsored change in religious believers’ own notions of what their faith means and what it requires…. The government tells faith communities that religion is a private matter, and eventually, they come to believe it.
  10. “And finally, the retreat of religious associations to the private sphere suggests an ill-founded confidence that government will not follow. But it will. The privatization of religion is a one-way ‘ratchet that stems the flow of religious current into the public sphere, but does not slow the incursion of political norms into the private realm.’”

Michael Hatfield, Associate Professor of Law at Texas Tech University School of Law makes some important points in his article published in Volume 20 of Notre Dame Journal of Ethics and Public Policy beginning on page 125. (I suggest that the serious student get the article and study it for himself.):

  1. “There is an assumption among contemporary scholars [&, I might add, among Pastors and other Christians] that a church doing without tax exemption is ‘fundamentally repugnant,’ so there is no need for substantive analysis of the tax issues involved if a church becomes taxable. Instead of analyzing the tax problem, the tax problem tends to be used to introduce ‘bigger’ ideas about the Constitution, religion, and politics. In the current scholarship, the context of the issue – religion and politics – tends to become substituted for the substance: federal income taxation. The critical issue, however, is federal income taxation.”
  2. Professor Hatfield states that he uses the terms ‘Taxable Church’ and ‘Tax Exempt Church’ to make it clear that churches need not be Section 501(c)(3) organizations.…
  3. Professor Hatfield states, “A tax without a cost has no meaning.… Because of the unique treatment churches receive under the Internal Revenue Code, the impact of the revocation is likely to be more symbolic than substantial.”
  4. He states: “Churches ought not make guesses about the value of their assets or their moral convictions. There is no reason to believe that most American churches are eager to claim an express political identity, though there are indications that, more and more, religious and political identities in America are being fused. For churches with a clear moral conviction to campaign, the implication of the Asset Management Analysis is clear: crunch the numbers. Determine the cost of losing tax exemption. Decide if that cost is worth campaigning. Do not be distracted by imaginations as to what tax exemption is about. It is about taxes. It is about money. It is not about the ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ way to be a church, which is a religious issue and not a tax issue. It should be – and presumably is – the religious convictions and not the tax worries of churches that keep them out of politics.”

Thus, a New Testament Church (“NTC”) – that is, a church operating according to New Testament principles – is non-taxable, because even if the term “taxable” is used, civil government cannot, according to its own IRS law, tax a NTC because (1) all her income is from gifts (See Section 102 of the IRS Code; Professor Hatfield points this out in his article), and (2) a NTC spends every dime given in tithes and offerings for church ministries.  Since gifts are not net income, what is left after subtracting expenses from net income? Even a business with no net income pays no taxes. And an individual or a business has to make a certain amount of money before paying any taxes.

How can it be that “Bible believing” Christians have gotten the churches of America so far astray from the principles for churches laid down by God in His Word? Are pastors and Christians ignorant or are they willfully ignorant? We cannot hope to straighten America out unless we first straighten our churches out, but it seems that more Christians are concerned about the state of America than they are about the state of the churches in America. God’s people and God’s churches, as well as America, are being destroyed because of a lack of knowledge.

Note. The sodomites understand what 501(c)(3) for churches means, yet pastors and other Christians continue to ignore the issue because they, like lepers to whom the leprosy has spread to the head, have ‘their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart: Who being past feeling have given themselves over to lasciciousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness” (Ephesians 4.18-19).  Here is a link to a sodomite article on the issue: “Equality is what we’re all about in Maine” (110518: Checked link; link is no longer active).  

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