Tag Archives: IRC Section 501(c)(3)

Chapter 3: Analysis of “Church Establishment Affidavit”

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”
Chapter 3: Analysis of “Church Establishment Affidavit” (Below)
Conclusion 
Appendix A: What is a Corporation Sole?
Appendix B: Corporation Sole and Internal Revenue Code §§ 501(c)(3) and 508

Related articles:

Chapter 3: Analysis of “Church Establishment Affidavit”

Jerald Finney Copyright © February 3, 2015

For understanding, please read the Introduction and Chapter 1: Legal Entity Status and the Corporation Sole and Chapter 2: Analysis of “Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3 Church” before studying this chapter. As you read this chapter, you will note that my comments on some of the material on the Church Establishment Affidavit webpage below are answered, “I have already covered this.” You may find the answer by reading the introduction and prior chapters of this online booklet.

This chapter will analyze the Church Establishment Affidavit webpage written by Joshua Kenny-Greenwood, Overseer of The Empowerment Center Church.

Quotations from the webpage Church Establishment Affidavit will be in red.

The analysis will be in the following order:

Click to go directly to Church Establishment Affidavit Page
Click to go directly to Church Establishment Affidavit Page

1. Analysis of the first two paragraphs 2. Analysis of section 1, “THE JURISDICTIONAL DISTINCTION AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE LAWS OF 508C1A AND 501C3 IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO A CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT AFFIDAVIT” 3. Analysis of section 2 “WHY OUR CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT AFFIDAVIT IS SO IMPORTANT TO CHURCHES4. Analysis of “DOES THE GOVERNMENT OR IRS REALLY WANT THIS FIGHT?”

Quotations from the webpage Church Establishment Affidavit will be in red.

1. Analysis of the first two paragraphs

When getting a Corporation Sole for your Church and Ministry, it is important to note that your actually creating two separate legal creatures. First, you create your Church (which is legally manifested through a Church Establishment Affidavit) and then the Churches subsequent Corporation Sole (which is nothing more than an incorporated office held within the Church for the purposes of managing all of the Churches assets and is NOT the Church itself).

TwoHeadedAnimalMy comments. Yes, you are creating two legal creatures, but they are not separate which is made clear by the law and by the paragraph quoted above. Notice that he says, “Corporation Sole (which is nothing more than an incorporated office held within the Church for the purposes of managing all of the Churches assets and is NOT the Church itself). The incorporated sole office is held within the church for the purpose of managing all of the Church’s assets. It is also an office created by the corporation sole contract with the state, Oregon in this case. The Bible mentions no such office for a New Testament church. A church under God will comply with New Testament guidelines for the church. A church under the state, created by men, such as the church created by a Church Establishment Affidavit, will concoct its own manner of organization. Some will then publish that method and deceive others such that they contribute monetarily (of course, they are not required to donate) to the deceivers who help them profane God’s church through devices such as non-profit corporation sole and Church Establishment Affidavit which, among other things, defines the church according to the IRS defintion of a church.

Mt.16.18_1A Corporation Sole CANNOT be established unless your Church is first created through the use of a Church Establishment Affidavit that needs to be signed by both you as the Pastor of the Church but also two Church member witnesses and your Churches eventual Corporation Sole’s Successor and/or Secretary.  If a Corporation Sole were to be established prior to you signing, witnessing and having notarized the Church Affidavit, then your Corporation Sole can be out of statutory compliance and potentially deemed a sham organization by the IRS.”

This man, Joshua Kenny-Greenwood, Overseer of The Empowerment Center Church, just makes stuff up, as I have pointed out over and over in this booklet. Hundreds of thousands of churches alone have been established under God, in Bible order, without a church establishment affidavit. Sadly, most American churches chose, against the will of God according to His word, to become legal entities such as non-profit corporations (which, as explained in prior chapters, includes the corporation sole non-profit corporation), unincorporated associations, charitable trusts, and business trusts; the vast majority of those went on to become 501(c)(3) churches. There is a significant remnant of churches in America who are doing things God’s way.

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).

Click to go directly to code.
Click to go directly to code.

Should the IRS target a church which is a legal entity, such as a corporation sole church, for some reason, the church will have to first go through the agency process, perhaps a hearing. The IRS Code § 7611 covers church tax inquiries and examinations. § 7611 says:

  1. IRS personnel must observe the restrictions imposed by IRC § 7611 in any inquiry or examination of a church. Such inquiry or examination must be limited to determining whether:
  2. The organization is exempt from tax under IRC § 501(a),
  3. The organization is a church under IRC §§ 509(a)(1) and 170(b)(1)(A)(i),
  4. The church is carrying on an unrelated trade or business as defined in IRC § 513,
  5. The church is otherwise engaged in activities subject to federal tax, or
  6. The church has engaged in an excess benefit transaction (See procedures in IRM 7.27.30.8).
  7. The term “church” includes
  8. Any organization claiming to be a church. However, see ,IRM 4.76.7.4.2(4), and
  9. Any convention or association of churches.

Should the IRS begin an inquiry and examination of a corporation sole church, or any other church which is a legal entity, they must abide by § 7611. Should the church lose in the agency process, she can appeal to Federal Court. Affidavits are not acceptable evidence in many agency and court proceedings. Generally, the adversary has the right to cross-examination. If a trial is required, affidavits will not be accepted. Witness evidence under oath and subject to cross-examination is the highest form of evidence and witness evidence will be required. Even should a church corporation sole be supported by affidavit, an affidavit is not subject to cross-examination and the IRS can subpoena the signers of the affidavit and place them under cross-examination. Since the signers have already displayed their ignorance by falling for the corporation sole scheme, they most assuredly would not look good under cross-examination by an experienced and studied government attorney. The IRS can also bring in other witnesses. See § 7611 for the areas the IRS can inquire into.

2. Analysis of section 1, “THE JURISDICTIONAL DISTINCTION AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE LAWS OF 508C1A AND 501C3 IN THEIR RELATIONSHIP TO A CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT AFFIDAVIT”

This section is like the writing on this entire website, a disgrace in the eyes of man and God. It is similar to a written Frankenstein in that its author, Joshua Kenny-Greenwood, grabs quotes from all kinds of sources, out of contest, puts them together in a chaotic mess, adds hyperbole and falsehoods and presents it to the world as though he has created something beautiful. He is either a brilliant con man or an unknowledgeable person who does not have the requisite skills to understand what he is doing. The sad thing is, apparently, some pastors and churches fall for his scheme.

In order to better understand everything, let’s first discuss the IRS’s Jurisdiction over both 508c1a and 501c3. You’ll begin to see WHY creating your Church with a Church Establishment Affidavit and then organizing its finances through a subsequent Corporation Sole is the only viable way to creating a Church here in America.

I cover this in other parts of this booklet and in what follows below. Refer, for example, to the section “5. Analysis of Alleged Benefit # 4” of Chapter 2 of this booklet (Analysis of “Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3 Church”).

First lets look at the law of 508c1a and what entities it has jurisdiction over:

26 USC 508(c)(1)(a) gives MANDATORY Tax Exemption to Churches without any pre-conditions (Unlike 501c3’s stipulations of barring religious organizations from all political activity).

Therefor, 508c1a has Jurisdiction over: Churches, their integrated auxiliaries, and conventions or associations of churches and any organization which is not a private foundation and the gross receipts of which in each taxable year are normally not more than $5,000.

A Church organized with the use of a Statutory Declaration Affidavit is underneath the jurisdiction of 508c1a.

While 501c3 only has Jurisdiction over: Corporations, Certain Trusts, Community Chests, Funds and Foundations. Source, Cornell Law University. You notice that the word CHURCH is completely absent from this list? Thats because Churches are NOT subject 501c3 rules, they are only mentioned in under the jurisdiction of 508c1a. It is generally misunderstood by most law professors that Churches are generally always under the classification of 501c3. This is a misconception because nearly 99% of all Churches are fully incorporated (thus fall under the Corporate designation of 501c3). Since a Church being formed through an affidavit and being declared under 508(c)(1)(a) is neither considered a Corporation, community chest, religious trust, fund or foundation, the same designation of a Church generally being under 501c3 DOES NOT APPLY.

Now, unlike 508c1a that gives the Church mandatory tax exemption, 501c3’s tax exemption status is only guaranteed if the religious organization meets the conditions set forth in 501c3.

These Restrictions for Churches Include: 

Click the above to read
Click the above to read “1,000 Pastors who pledge to defy IRS and preach politics from pulpit ahead of election misunderstand the law and the hierarchy of law.”

The government has jurisdiction over incorporated churches (including corporation sole churches). The same rules are applied by the IRS to both 501c3 and 508 churches. I have covered this in Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status. You can go directly to the article, of course, by left clicking the link in the last sentence. The IRS makes clear that the 508 church is subject to the same rules as the 501c3 church. Some 501c3 churches are publically proclaiming that they are breaking the rules of 501c3 and the IRS usually has not taken action against them. I wish the IRS had the resources to confront all 501c3 and 508 churches who break the rules. Why? Because all churches who are legal entities such as incorporated churches (including non-profit corporation sole churches) and all 501c3 and 508 churches grieve our Lord by operating under man’s laws rather than under God’s law. I covered the activities of the “Pulpit Initiative” churches several years ago in the article 1,000 Pastors who pledge to defy IRS and preach politics from pulpit ahead of election misunderstand the law and the hierarchy of law. That article will serve as my further comments here.

To disprove skeptics that would claim otherwise, let me prove to you that a Corporation Sole is immune to this 501c3 requirement. Please allow me present to you an active Oregon State Law § 65.067 (1) which states,

1.) Any individual may, in conformity with the constitution, canons, rules, regulations and disciplines of any church or religious denomination, form a corporation hereunder to be a corporation sole. 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.

All other religious organizations, religious trusts, community chests funds and foundations are subjected to this IRS rule and are legally required to have a board.

Oregon Revised Statutes Section 65.067. Click the above image to go directly to statute.
Oregon Revised Statutes Section 65.067. Click the above image to go directly to statute.

He says an active Oregon State Law § 65.067 (1) law, but quotes the 2011, as opposed to the 2013 amended law. Notice that the law he quotes does not require a Church Establishment Affidavit. Then, he adds his own statement: “All other religious organizations, religious trusts, community chests funds and foundations are subjected to this IRS rule and are legally required to have a board.” That does not prove that the corporation sole is immune to the  501c3 requirement. 501c3 has no such rule which requires any church to have a board. The Oregon Non-Profit Corporation Law can be accessed at the following link: 2013 Oregon Revised Statutes, Oregon Non-profit Corporation Law, Volume 2 Business Organizations, Commercial Code § 65.067. Read it for yourself. You will see that Joshua Kenny-Greenwood is wrong (to be kind).

Greenwood continues:

#2. No substantial part of the activities of which is carrying on propaganda and which does not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office:

This absolutely satanic law means your incorporated Church or religious trust CANNOT engage in or influence any aspect of public policy for any reason whatsoever. Completely defeating the intent of the Church achieving its purpose of fulfilling Romans 8:20-21.

This is why the Church Establishment Affidavit is so important. Only Corporations (that means ANY incorporated Church or religious organization), Trusts (that means ANY form of a religious trust), community chests, funds and/or foundations are under the jurisdiction of 501c3. Since the Statutory Declaration is neither one of things listed above, it is completely immune to 501c3 and is allows your Church to be under the law of 508c1a. Without this jurisdictional distinction between the Church itself (created under the affidavit) and the office of the Corporation Sole (which is incorporated as a 501c3 for banking purposes) then it would be impossible under current US law to organize a ministry using any other method without the Church itself fully coming under the law of 501c3.

As has been shown and as is obvious from the law relied upon by the promoters of the church corporation sole, the corporation sole is a corporation provided for by state law. As such, it is subject to the rules that come with 501(c)(3) when it in any way appeals to either 501(c)(3) or 508. One cannot simply override reality by concocted rhetoric as the writings of Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole website purport to do.

3. Analysis of “WHY OUR CHURCH ESTABLISHMENT AFFIDAVIT IS SO IMPORTANT TO CHURCHES”

We should note that the Church Establishment Affidavit we’ve created here at The Empowerment Center was crafted in such a manner that it accomplishes the following:

  1. It lawfully fulfills ALL 14 Points both the IRS and courts require Churches to have in order to be legally recognized as a Church by the Federal Government.
  2. It distinctly declares the difference between the Church itself and isolated Office of the Corporation Sole (including the different responsibilities of each office).
  3. It uniquely declares your Corporation Sole’s intended future Successor and it defines who fulfills the role of its Secretary.
  4. It allows for two additional witness Church members to declare and affirm the existence of this said Church/Ministry.
  5. It declares its recognition of being under the law of 508c1a.
  6. It declares that it does NOT find it advantageous to seek official recognition from the IRS for the Churches tax exemption status and rejects the IRS’s form 1023.
  7. It removes all doubts and puts an end to any conflicting decision regarding your Churches existence.
  8. The Bank will use it to validate the role of the Successor in the event of the Corporation Sole’s demise and or resignation.

My comments. I have already covered everything of importance here in other portions of the booklet, but I will add a few comments here. Notice that the Affidavit defines the church according to IRS criteria, not Bible doctrine, so that the IRS will recognize the religious organization as being a church. In other parts of the website, the Empowerment Center recognizes that corporation sole status makes the church a legal entity, not a spiritual New Testament entity only. Hence, the corporation sole church obviously violates Bible principles for New Testament church organization.  All church members of a New Testament church will affirm the existence of the New Testament church. In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ will affirm the existence of the New Testament Church; He will be pleased with the New Testament church. His precepts show that the corporation sole church is a religious organization, not a New Testament church and that He is grieved when a church organizes as any kind of corporation, including a corporation sole. The corporation sole status removes any doubts that the church is a worldly religious organization, not a New Testament church. When a church claims 508 status, that church does not fill out IRS form 1023. The 508 church is subject, as explained elsewhere, to the same rules and the 501(c)(3). In other words, the 508 church is under the authority of the Internal Revenue Service as to the rules which come with 501(c)(3) status.

 4. Analysis of “DOES THE GOVERNMENT OR IRS REALLY WANT THIS FIGHT?”

The Corporation Sole Scheme chains a church to the government, then she invites a fight with the government.
The Corporation Sole Scheme chains a church to the government, then she invites a fight with the government.

Prior to our Church writing the Book and setting the record straight on the Corporation Sole, no one had ever thought to use an unincorporated Church Affidavit to both manifest the Church but also outline the jurisdictional distinction between the Church itself and the isolated office of the Corporation Sole. Then use the Church that is under the law of 26 USC 508(c)(1)(a) and NOT the 501c3 Corporation Sole to conduct operations that could influence public policy.

No wonder no one had thought to do so. Obviously, the Lord Jesus Christ did not have Joshua Kenny-Greenwood around to help him build his church. The Lord established a reasonable order for His churches, not  a chaotic order such as that proposed by Kenny-Greenwood. The Lord inspired the Apostle Paul as he, under the inspiration of God, laid out the ordered doctrine of the New Testament church. No wonder no one else thought of Kenny-Greenwood’s sham. It is so riddled with legal and spiritual error that only one with a fertile imagination and knowledge of neither relevant Bible principles nor law would have implemented it had they thought of it.

There is an argument to be made that a Church can perform and operate in this manner and not become subjected to 501c3 political restrictions (since the affidavit clearly outlines the different jurisdictions). In fact, it would be the only argument the Church could legally make since every other method a Church uses to incorporate or manage its finances places it underneath 501c3’s jurisdiction.

This method also, as I have explained over and over in this booklet, places the corporation sole church of Joshua Kenny-Greenwood under the rules of 501c3. Furthermore, he again concedes that the corporation sole church is a legal entity (a non-profit corporation) since only a legal entity can be taken to court. Since she can be taken to court, the state (through the court) is her authority. She is bound to abide by the decision of her authority, the court.

We understand that this puts us in a position where there is no prior legal precedence for this type of legal claim. That is good for several reasons:

If the IRS really wanted that fight and wanted to disprove that the said Church in this claim (Lets use our Church, The Empowerment Center, as an example) is in fact NOT a Church, they are going to need to be able to disprove our affidavit (which is vital to our argument that our Church is indeed a Church) is false. They would have several problems in this area. First, they would need to prove that everyone on the affidavit was lying (and thus committed the penalties of perjury). This would be especially difficult since it is VERY difficult for any Judge or IRS official to have the proper regulatory authority to even legally define a Church (one might even say to legally define a Church is unconstitutional in and of itself)! Now, the IRS has in place what they consider a 14 point test to see whether or not a Church is a legitimate Church. The principles of this test are used by the IRS and courts to determine if a Church is just that, a Church. Never mind that in the very same report the authors make the very wise statement that we will HEAVILY be using in any defense,

“‘Given the variety of religious practice, the determination of what constitutes a church is inherently unquantifiable. Attempts to use a dogmatic numerical approach might unconstitutionally favor established churches at the expense of newer, less traditional institutions.” – IRS 14 point rule guide.’

I have already covered the evidence needed in federal court above. Your church members could testify that the church meets the 14 IRS criteria. That is not the problem. They would hold your church to be a church. I know that the Lord Jesus Christ in His word proves that an Empowerment Center church is not a New Testament church. The problem is that your church is under and recognizes the authority of the state to decide questions brought to them. You have a hybrid church, with two heads – er, maybe only one head, the state. After all, you have defined your church according to the IRS rule book, not God’s rule book.

Here at The Empowerment Center and ChurchFreedom.org, we recognized this opening and took all 14 points to the IRS’s own preferences and applied them within the framework of our affidavit. Its important that we did this, as this should be enough to satisfy their very own discrepancies since a minimum of 4-5 people are coming together and attesting to these facts under the penalty of perjury, facts that any lawful Church could easily prove. This leaves only the isolated Corporation Sole as the lone bearer of the 501c3 status and not the Church itself. This means the Corporation Sole (which is the only entity underneath 501c3’s jurisdiction) needs to be the sole party responsible for any alleged violations to the 501c3 principle (which again, should only be limited to the 501c3 Corporate Sole and NOT the 508c1a Church). In addition, we would also take a play from the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Pulpit Freedom Sundays playbook as well and argue a secondary point that in their words,

“‘For instance, if a church loses its tax-exempt status for the pastor speaking from the pulpit, there is an argument to be made that because the church is automatically exempt under section 508(c)(1) (A) of the Internal Revenue Code, the tax-exempt status is only lost for the day the sermon was preached, and any contributions made at other times would still be deductible. It is important to note that this argument has not been tested and taxpayers should seek professional advice before claiming any such deduction for itemization.” –From, Pulpit Freedom Sunday and The Alliance Defending Freedom

Here, as in many other places, Joshua Kenny-Greenwood contradicts himself. Read it and figure it out for yourself. Kenny-Greenwood’s writings on this website are so ill-conceived and crazy that reading them leaves a knowledgeable believer who understands these matters with a spiritual headache. I would not continue this booklet if not for the Lord’s admonitions to his children to stand for truth, to fight the spiritual warfare that He has called us to fight. As to the quote from the ADF Pulpit Freedom Sunday’s, I again refer the reader to the article 1,000 Pastors who pledge to defy IRS and preach politics from pulpit ahead of election misunderstand the law and the hierarchy of law.

The argument he then refers to is ridiculous in light of the truths I have presented in this booklet. The argument is for the person who is denied the tax deduction for gifts to a church and not for the church and the church corporation (corporation sole in this instance). Remember what Joshua Kenny-Greenwood wrote in

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.

He did not seem to be concerned about the giver when he wrote Benefit #8. I analyzed Alleged Benefit # 8 in Chapter 2: Analysis of “Benefits of the Corporation Sole Compared to a Traditional 501c3. Furthermore, the corporation sole church has no reason not to give an acknowledgement. It, as has been explained in this booklet several times, is a 508 church which is required to abide by the rules of 501c3.

Making such bold argument(s) for legitimate Churches could potentially set a VERY REAL and VERY SERIOUS precedence if the Federal Government failed to make their case to a Judge or Jury. If they challenge our argument that Churches operating under the law of 26 USC 508(c)(1)(a), not the Churches subsequent and isolated Corporation Sole, can influence politics, have the Church body vote for or against political candidates, have the Church lobby congress or have the Church distribute political propaganda on behalf or against any political candidate for office (once again, the Church and NOT the 501c3 isolated Corporation Sole) and they lose, then they will potentially open the door WIDE OPEN for EVERY SINGLE CHURCH IN AMERICA to RUN to get their Corporation Sole and be FREE from the political restrictions that have plagued our Nations Churches. If they win such an argument, by the time they win we would have already freely given away our Corporation Sole support to TENS OF THOUSANDS of CHURCHES that already HATE 501c3 with a passion and are already bold enough to speak unfiltered truth behind the pulpit. This could mean EXTREME backlash from potentially millions of registered voters from members of those congregations (many of whom are EXTREMELY influential Christian business men and politicians themselves) that we’ve been training Pastors in how to lead in influencing intended Christian reforms. To make enemies with the Church as well in a political season such as this with the IRS already embroiled in scandal after scandal (from Lois Lerner lying to Congress to the IRS ‘accidentally’ destroying all hard drive evidence) or a Justice Department that fails to enforce current laws or investigate any Government agency of any wrongdoing, it would leave a VERY bad taste in the mouth of Christian voters in these Churches and would propel us to the National Spotlight (which is EXACTLY what we want, so we can make our case to Christians everywhere). It would also be extremely unwise timing as they would have underestimated the Jury’s potential disdain for the Government and their routine MANY failures, coverups and current violations to oaths of office perceived by the American public by officials in the Federal Government (this is in addition to the fact, that we will call upon the several hundred eye witnesses and VERY Charismatic Pastors that will first hand testify that we’re a Church). Any one person being on that Jury that is either a Republican or Christian WILL side with us. This would give the Church a HUGE edge in court. Either way, wisdom would see that such a challenge (if ever) given by the Government based on these merits would end up being a lose/lose situation for them.

Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole has already lost because your scheme is not according to the Bible and not according to the law. Your incorporated 508 church is subject to the rules of 501c3. That has already been covered in this booket. Since the IRS does not have the resources to deal with every state church who is violating the rules of 501c3, they are not enforcing the law. You are grieving the Lord by organizing a state church (a legal entity). You did not have to so organize, but you did. You then try to twist the law to conform to your vision. The main thing is that your authority is the state. If the IRS wishes to take your church(es) to court for alleged violations of the rules that come with 501(c)(3), they can. They have authority over you. Christ does not wish His authority over His churches to be shared with anyone. Old Paths Baptist Church Separation of Church and State Law Ministry helps churches remain under God only. We can do this because we correctly understand Bible principle and law.

This is WHY we do whatever it takes to freely give our support to as many qualified approved Churches in the shortest time as humanly possible. Officials should know and understand that while other unscrupulous Corporation Sole peddlers have fallen to greed and tried to sell the Corporation Sole away as a mere tax shelter, we have not. We ABSOLUTELY NEVER give our support to individuals or entities looking to create a tax shelter. If a person cannot get at least 4 living people over the age of 21 that are willing to sign an affidavit under the penalties of perjury that they are a bona fide Church that lives up to the IRS’s own 14 point test, then we deny their application immediately. We’ve denied more applications than anyone knows with individuals trying to offer us everything you can think of for access to our support and we’ve denied ALL OF THEIR ATTEMPTS. If we even remotely smell someone coming that gives us the impression that they are either an individual trying to evade lawful taxes owed or an undercover informant trying to entrap us with promises of money, power or prestige for giving them our ministry and Corporation Sole support, we not only deny their application but we also permanently prohibit their access to our website by blocking their unique IP address. We ONLY work with legitimate BONA FIDE Churches.

Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole needs to study these matters out and trash their ill-conceived ideas and schemes. They are not according to knowledge, as this booklet has made perfectly clear.

16This is why we need your help to spread the word about ChurchFreedom.org! We want to freely help support EVERY SINGLE Christian Church here in America. With your help, we’ve been able to directly support over 2,000 new Christian Churches this year alone. With your help, we can help FREE America’s Churches from 501c3 entirely.

If Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole loves the Lord, then they need to study, grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom and repent. They need to contact all the churches they have helped, ask forgiveness, let them know the truth, and encourage them to trash their Affidavits, dissolve their corporations and organize according to Bible principles.

Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status

See also, Legal answer to Pastor’s inquiry concerning whether a potential donor of substantial gift an claim a tax deduction under IRC Section 508 even though the church will not give an IRS acknowledgement (123118)

Jerald Finney
Copyright © April 28, 2014

Click the above to go to online version of God Betrayed.
Click the above to go to online version of God Betrayed.

In the book God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (“God Betrayed”) as well as in other books and writings, I originally taught that a New Testament church could depend upon Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) § 508 (“508”) for her non-taxable status (See Endnote 1 for links to the two free versions of God Betrayed or for ordering information should you desire a softback copy as well as information on other books and resources by Jerald Finney.). I was wrong. After years of study, I have learned that a New Testament church cannot depend upon 508 for her non-taxable status because, in so doing, the church gives up her New Testament and First Amendment status. However, I am more certain than ever of the correctness of my original biblically based conclusions that a church grieves the Lord when they intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or negligently attain church corporate and/or 501(c)(3) status or legal entity status (See Endnote 1) of any kind. I ask those who have followed my teachings to forgive me for misleading them concerning church 508 status. This brief article explains church 508 status and its effect.

A New Testament Church is also a First Amendment Church. This is because the First Amendment is a law which corresponds with biblical principles to include freedom of religion and conscience (separation of church and state), freedom of speech, freedom of press, and freedom of association. The First Amendment is a part of the second highest law of the land, the United States Constitution. The highest law of every nation is God’s law, whether a nation recognizes it or not. The Lord, for the time being, allows individuals, families, churches, and nations free will to honor His precepts or not. The choices determine the ultimate consequences. Click here to listen to Jerald Finney’s lecture “Hierarchy of Law” (CD of speech at Old Paths Baptist Church in Fayetville, TN. given on the Sunday the church formally adopted the Declaration of Trust). The following article “First Amendment Protection of New Testament Churches/Federal Laws Protecting State Churches (Religious Organizationsalso explains hierarchy of law.

The First Amendment says:

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

Notice especially that the First Amendment says, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” [Emphahsis mine.]

Are not those words very clear? No law means “no law.” What is IRC § 508? It, like IRC  501(c)(3), is a law made by Congress and signed by the President. According to the clear meaning of the First Amendment, IRC § 508 and IRC  501(c)(3) are, when applied to churches, laws “respecting an establishment of religion and preventing the free exercise thereof.”

Why would a church take themselves from First Amendment status and protection to either IRC § 508 or IRC § 501(c)(3)? One reason is lack of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. When a church claims either 508 or 501(c)(3) status, she has rejected her First Amendment non-taxable status and freely accepted the offer of the federal government to enter into an agreement (contract) for tax exempt status as provided by a law. (See God Betrayed for teaching which explains this)

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

A portion of Internal Revenue Code § 508. Click to the above to go to § 508.
A portion of Internal Revenue Code § 508. Click the above to go to § 508.

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

§ 508(a),(c) says churches are excepted from obtaining IRC § 501(c)(3) tax exempt status (See Endnote 2 for links to articles which fully explain church IRC § 501(c)(3)) status). 508 churches are an exception to the civil government requirement that certain organizations file for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status.

A church should rely on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, not on 508 status for three reasons. First, the First Amendment is a statement of the biblical principle of separation of church and state (See, for a short explanation with links to more in depth studies, Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?). When a church relies on the First Amendment, they are relying on a biblical principle. Should the biblical principle be abused or ignored by the civil government, so be it—a church should then rely and act only on the biblical principle. Endnote 3.

A law of man which enacts some biblical principles.
A law of man which enacts some biblical principles.

Second, to rely on 508 contradicts the First Amendment. To repeat, the First Amendment religion clause states:

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

IRS Publication 1828. Click the above to go directly to IRS Pub. 1828.
IRS Publication 1828. Click the above to go directly to IRS Pub. 1828.

Obviously, 508 is a law made by Congress which regards an establishment of religion; 508 also prevents the free exercise of religion because a church which claims 508 status thereby submits themselves to some control by the federal government in that the church becomes subject to the rules that come with IRC 501(c)(3) status. 508 does not state that the First Amendment forbids Congress from making any law in violation of the First Amendment; and that, therefore, a church is non-taxable. 508 is a law made by Congress which states that Congress, by law, is declaring an exemption for churches. Thus, by a clear reading of the First Amendment, 508 is clearly unconstitutional. Most churches and pastors could care less about this technicality.

From IRS Publication 1828

The correct position which is held by the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) is that a church has submitted herself to IRC § 501(c)(3) regulation and ignored her First Amendment status by relying on 508 (a law passed by Congress) instead of the First Amendment. The IRS makes this position clear. Page 3 of IRS Publication 1828 states that “churches that meet the requirements of § 501(c)(3) are automatically considered tax exempt and are not required to apply for and obtain recognition of tax-exempt status from the IRS” [Bold red emphasis mine]. The IRS repeats this on page 24 of IRS Publication 557, “Tax –Exempt Status for Your Organization.” Under Organizations Not Required To File Form 1023 churches are listed. The following sentence is included: “These organizations are exempt automatically if they meet the requirements of section 501(c)(3).” [Bold red emphasis mine.]

IRS Publication 557, p. 24. Click the image to go directly to the publication.
IRS Publication 557, p. 24. Click the image to go directly to the publication.

One should also understand that the New Testament (First Amendment) church will not be involved with the IRS for several reasons: the church claims no 501(c)(3) or 508 status; is not a legal entity such as a corporation aggregate or sole, an unincorporated association, or a charitable trust; is not a business; has no income; has no employees or staff; has no constitution or by-laws; and, no matter what the particular civil government does, honors the biblical principle of separation of church and state which is reflected in the First Amendment in America.

The New Testament (First Amendment) church who loves the Lord will be prepared for the eventuality that the Internal Revenue Service, some other Federal agency, the President (recent presidential actions and orders as well as the actions of many prior presidents demonstrate what a tyrannical president can and will do), and/or the Supreme Court of the United States may someday misinterpret and apply the First Amendment, and a New Testament church who loves the Lord and is committed to pleasing Him will remain submitted to the higher authority. God Betrayed (see above for free links to the book) explains all this and also shows how churches are operating in America without becoming legal entities such as incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations thereby retaining their First Amendment and biblical status. For specifics on how to organize a church under the Bible principle of separation of church and state, one can also go to: ABIBLETRUST.COM.

Third, a New Testament church (a church organized according to the principles of the New Testament), among other things, receives no income, is not a 501(c)(3) or 508 religious organization, has no constitution or by-laws,  has no employees or staff, and runs no businesses (daycare, “Christian” schools, “Bible” colleges, seminaries, cafes, etc.). Church members of a New Testament Church give their tithes and offerings to God, not to a religious organization, for use in ways consistent with New Testament teaching. All monies given to God are disbursed in accordance to the guidelines of the New Testament, and no money is left over. Let us use our common sense, if not our biblical sense: Even a business which makes no profit pays no taxes. A church which has no income cannot be taxed. A church which does have net income should be taxed since (1) she is operating as a business and not as a New Testament church; and (2) (if she is a legal entity such as a non-profit corporation (includes corporation sole – see Critique of “Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole” Website), or unincorporated association she is set up as a non-profit religious organization and therefore violates not only biblical principles for the organization of a church but also her non-profit agreements with the state of incorporation by making a profit.

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

If a church does not apply for 501(c)(3) tax exempt status or claim 508 tax exempt status, and if she is organized as a New Testament church, according to the First Amendment which agrees with the biblical principle of separation of church and state, the non-taxable status of that church must be honored. No matter what the civil government claims, that church cannot be taxed anyway because she has no income; she gives her tithes, offerings, and gifts to God, not to a government created religious organization. Said another way, the church (the members) give to God, not to the church, inc.

Always keep in mind matters which I cover in detail in other writings and teachings: a church who incorporates (non-profit corporation or corporation sole), or becomes a charitable trust, unincorporated association or some other type legal entity has voluntarily given up her exclusive First Amendment status in favor of partial and substantial Fourteenth Amendment status since she has become a legal entity.

There are other ways a church may violate biblical principles concerning the doctrine of the church thereby becoming some type church other than a New Testament church. Understanding these matters requires a believer to grow in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom through dedicated Bible study.

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

Please, God’s dear churches, do not lose your New Testament status by becoming a legal entity of any kind. Please learn to love the Lord as he loves you and gave Himself for you;

“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).

Please, dear believer, learn to think Biblicly (spiritually), not practically from the human perspective (fleshly). Please become more Christian than American, more heavenly than earthly. God made clear that Christ in heaven is to be the only authority (power or head) “over all things to” His churches. Put another way, a church, the body whose feet walk and work on earth, is to be connected to only one head, Christ in heaven. A church with two heads (authorities or powers) is a monstrosity.

  • “And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power, Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ep. 1.19-23).
  • “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ep. 2.19-23).
  • “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. 1.18).

From the above verses, and many more that could be quoted, one sees that God desires his churches to be spiritual entities or bodies (See also, e.g., Ep. 4 and the whole book of Ep., Col., and 1 Co. 12 for more on churches as spiritual bodies) connected to their only God ordained Head, the Lord Jesus Christ in heaven, while walking as spiritual entities only here on the earth. Churches are to be “builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit,” not built together as a corporate 501(c)(3) or 508 organization according to man’s earthly, legal laws.

Please repent and turn from the deceits of the god of this world to the precepts of God. Please prepare for the day when believers and churches will have to choose either to lay it all down for God and for eternal reward or to lay it all up for Satan for a perceived earthly security. That day has not yet arrived for believers and churches in America, but that day appears to be fast approaching.

Endnotes

1. For the definition of and more information on “legal entity” see the index of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State:The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is available free in PDF, in online form (no index), or which may be ordered by clicking Order information for books by Jerald Finney.”

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

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed)(PDF; online form) may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking Order Information for Books by Jerald Finney or directly from Amazon by going to the following links:

  1. Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only)(PDF; online form);
  2. The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only from Amazon.com; see Order information for books by Jerald Finney to order directly from Kerygma Publishing Co.)(PDF; online form) ;
  3. Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble (PDF; online form)
  4. An Abridged History of the First Amendment is available in PDF only.
  5. Tract on the legality of street preaching is available in PDF only.
  6. “Quick Reference Guide for Churches Seeking to Organize According to the Principles of the New Testament” is available in PDF only.
  7. Miscellaneous articles by Jerald Finney.
  8. Links to some of Jerald Finney’s writings on legal issues.

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

Companion website:Church and State Law

When Did the Church Become a Business?” a beautiful song by Jason Bellard

2.Federal government control of churches through 501(c)(3) tax exemption” and “The incorporation-501(c)(3) control scheme.”

3. To understand the hierarchy of law, one may read the article “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself” or listen to the lecture “Hierarchy of Law.”

When Did the Church Become a Business?” a beautiful song by Jason Bellard

Click here to go to the article
Click here to go to the article “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution?”

A biblical and historical Baptist principle is that God desires separation of church and state, not separation of God and church or separation of God and state. Study Jerald Finney’s writings and/or audio teachings to discover the truth about and how to apply the principle. Finney’s teachings prove that the revisionist view of Separation of Church and State accepted without examination by most American “Christians” is false and has done great damage to the cause of Christ and to America.

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.

(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

Letters from Pastors in Response to this “Separation of Church and State Blog” and My Replies: March, 2010 posting

Jerald Finney
Copyright © March, 2010
All articles on this blog may also be accessed from the following link:
Separation of Church and State Law Blog,” the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com)

Contents
I. Letter No. 1
II. My Reply to Letter No. 1
III. Letter No. 2
IV. My Reply to Letter No. 2
V. Letter No. 3
VI. My Reply to Letter No. 3
VII. Letter No. 4
VIII. My Reply to Letter No. 4
IX. Pastor’s Response to My Reply to Letter No. 4
X. My Reply to Pastor’s Response
XI. Letter No. 5
XII. My Reply to Letter No. 5
XIII. Conclusion
XIV. Links to IRS Laws
XV. Note

Click maroon or blue colored links to go directly to the linked articles, websites, etc.

This article gives some pastors’ e-mails with their comments and questions concerning articles on this blog, and my replies to those e-mails. This is the second article on this blog with letters from pastors. The first article was What Pastors Are Saying in Response to this “Separation of Church and State Law” Blog (click link to go to article).

I will publish future articles on other e-mails from pastors because these e-mails not only raise important questions which need to be addressed, but also give insights into the thoughts of pastors on issues such as church incorporation and 501(c)(3).

You probably have received and possibly read some of my articles on this blog. Click this link, “Separation of Church and State Law Blog,” for links to all the articles on this “Separation of Church and State Law” blog.

 I. Letter No. 1 (Received October 21, 2009:):

Bro. Finney…Thank you for the email.  Where did you get my info?  I am the pastor of ________________ Church in ______________, TN.  We have recently formed a church and were debating about incorporation.  This is very intersesting, we merged with another church that was incorporated and were about to just chnge the name on the incorporation, even though it is a whole new church.  I asked God to stop me if it was ot His will, and I got your email out of the blue.  I would love to talk to you and get the other side of the story.  What is your #, Mine is ______________________.

[Pastor’s name]
“Ye Must be born again”

II. My Reply to Letter No. 1:

Dear Pastor _______________,

My phone nos. are: C: 512-785-8445; H: 512-385-0761. It would be an honor to discuss this with you. I still have some work to do, then going on visitation and church. I will try to call you as soon as I can get my work done, or feel free to call me at anytime.

For His Glory,
Bro. Jerald Finney

Note. I did call this dear brother

III. Letter No. 2 (received December 19, 2009 Pastor gave me permission to use his identifying information.):

Dear Brother [Finney],

I briefly read your article on Separation of Church and State.

When we planted Fellowship Baptist Church in Cumberland R.I. in 1997, I was getting counsel from my sending church on how to write-up the “articles of incorporation” to become “legitimate” .

I praise the Lord that my eyes were open to God’s wisdom and shut to man’s foolishness.  As I was reading through the laws of what  incorporation meant, it struck me like a lightening bolt that Caesar and of course the devil were immediately seeking to control the church that our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shed His precious blood for.  The State IS NOT the head of the church and if it becomes the head through incorporation, then one has immediately surrendered.

Incorporation is a way for these  State run entities to protect their lands and buildings.  Of course when Peter warned of false prophets making merchandise out of the brethren, clearly the LORD saw our modern day “churches” being run as businesses.

I have had some professed believers who would not join the church because of us not being incorporated.  Clearly, taking this stance separates the sheep from the goats.

I praise God for your article and will share it with the brethren.

In the Love of Christ Jesus,
Mark Manzoni
Pastor
Fellowship Baptist Church
Cumberland, Rhode Island

IV. My Reply to Letter No. 2:

Dear Pastor Manzoni,

Praise the Lord for men of God like you! Any man of God who believes God’s Word should have your insights, but many professors do not. It is an encouragement to hear from you. The Lord called me into this ministry in 2005, and since then I have spent thousands of hours in research as well as writing and speaking on the issue. As you might suspect, many pastors do not respond to this message as you have. It is encouraging every time I meet another pastor or Christian who realizes the importance of this issue to our Lord.

With your permission, I would like to use your letter. It may be a month or two before I publish it. If you do not want your church or name mentioned, I will delete names.

As I teach in my books, articles, etc., members of a corporate church have less protection than a New Testament church. First a New Testament church has the blessing and power of God, which a state church  does not have. Second, if church property is held properly by a New Testament church, church members have more protection than do members of state churches.

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney

V. Letter No. 3 (Received October 15, 2009):

Are you saying we should not be registered?

________________

VI. My Reply to Letter No. 3:

Dear Brother _________________,

It is not what I say or think about an issue. The real question is, “What does the Word of God teach on this issue. That is, what are the biblical principles concerning this issue?” So, first one must understand the biblical principles involved – in this case, the biblical principles concerning church, state, and separation of church and state. Then, one must apply fact to principle to see if principle is being violated.

This is what I do in the studies provided. A pastor or other Christian can study the teachings. This gives one a reference point to consider these issues. Most pastors, evangelists, missionaries, and other Christians today have never looked at these principles. Christ loved the church and gave himself for it that he migh sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word (Ep. 5.25-26). The epistles of Paul develop the doctrine of the church who was jealous over the church with a godly jealousy. As Paul wrote “I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his sutilty, so your  minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (1 Co. 11.2-3). The principles of civil government are also laid out in the Bible as is the principle of separation of church and state. Millions have and continue to give their lives for these principles, but not in America.

It is your love relationship with the Lord that is affected. When an individual and a church violates that relationship, not only is our Lord is grieved but also there are bad consequences.

Thanks for your interest in this matter.

For His Glory,
Bro. Jerald Finney

VII. Letter No. 4 (Received January 16, 2010):

Dear Jerald,

I have been a fundamental Baptist pastor for almost 40 years. My dad was a IFB pastors for 50 years. The churches involved are/were all 501(c)(3). I have never witnessed any government interference or encroachment into church affairs.

Dr. ____________________

VIII. My Reply to Letter No. 4:

Dear Pastor __________________,

There are many good pastors who have never studied either the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state or the facts about the nature of incorporation and 501(c)(3). When a born-again believer does not do such a study, he is easily led astray in the matter of church organization since he does not know or understand those very important biblical principles. Most of the “fundamental Baptist churches” in America are not following God’s principles of organization for His churches. The Bible makes clear that God desires us to continue in His Word so that we may know the truth and so that we may grow and proceed in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom in this spiritual warfare we are in.

In fact, the civil government will not interfere in your church affairs as long as you abide by the rules you agreed to when you took the 501(c)(3). When a church gets a 501(c)(3) exemption, she violates biblical principles and grieves our Lord. 501(c)(3) originally had no rules.  Five rules or requirements for 501(c)(3) organizations have been added to the law since Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) was initially enacted, four of which were added by legislation and one by the Internal Revenue Service and upheld by Supreme Court decision. There is nothing a religious organization can do to stop further rules from being added to 501(c)(3) or to remove those already there because the controlling party to the agreement initiated by 501(c)(3) status is the federal government.

In order to get the 501(c)(3) a church must be a legal entity such as a corporation. The facts about incorporation and 501(c)(3) prove that for a church to incorporate and get 501(c)(3) status violates many biblical principles and grieves our Lord.

The heretical teaching that 501(c)(3) and incorporation of churches is acceptable to God displeases our Lord and leads to further heresy and finally to apostasy. The steps in the downfall of a nation, according to the Bible, are religious apostasy, moral awfulness, and political anarchy. We are well into the third stage in America.

Fundamental Baptist churches who have incorporated and obtained 510(c)(3) status display the results of heresy to one degree or another. Of course, those churches do not even realize their error and the results; but the consequences of their ignorance, whether willful or not, is on display. Since they have no  power of God or a diluted power of God, the world sees nothing in them that is attractive, nor do I or other knowledgeable Christians.

I get into these matters in great detail in my books, audio teachings, and articles.

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney, BBA, JD
churchandstatelaw.com
opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com

IX. Pastor’s response to my reply to Letter No. 4:

Dear brother Finney,

I have annotated several comments below for your consideration. I find it of interest that you as a lawyer consider yourself to have greater understanding of Scripture than ordained men of God who have spent a lifetime studying the Word. What would you think if I as a layman to the legal arena had read some books on law and therefore were making pronouncements about how lawyers should discharge their law practice? By the way, as the founding pastor of this church, I personally filled out the papers to incorporate with the State of Minnesota and then the 501(c)(3) application myself and did not use a lawyer. The Minnesota not-for-profit papers are renewed each year (or 3 years whatever) on a 3″x5″ post card or more recently a couple of clicks on the internet. I am aware of the benefits of incorporation and have never seen any of the supposed problems thereof in the real-life work of the church.

X. My reply to His response:

Dear Pastor __________________,

A lot of the ordained men of God who have studied the relevant principles agree with me. The problem is that many who do not agree with me have not studied the principles, facts, history, or legalities; nor were they taught these matters in church, Bible College or Seminary, or by the “Christian” lawyers who make millions helping state churches or helping churches to become state churches.

I have been saved since 1982. I was saved in a revival meeting at a non-incorporated, non-501(c)(3) Baptist church. Of course I had no idea that the church was non-incorporated or non-501(c)(3) at that time. I knew nothing about such matters. However, for the first time in my life, I saw the power of God at work.

Since that time, I have been faithful to church and faithful to studying the Bible. In addition to the teaching from my pastors, I read the Bible, heard and took notes on thousands of sermons since I rarely missed church services and attended camp meetings where many pastors preached and taught, and followed the teaching of Dr. J. Vernon McGee for many years. I have been an active particpant in many ministries, a faithful tither and giver, etc.

In 2003, I began an intense study of the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state. I have read many, many other books dealing with those issues, and was called by God, in 2005, to actively deal with those issues. I wrote my findings in my writings, beginning with God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application. Before I published it, I gave it to several pastors, including my own pastor, and asked for them to critique it. I received feedback from a few. My pastor said the book was OK to publish.

After publishing the book, I gave copies to probably 50 or more pastors, missionaries, Bible teachers, and other Christians, besides those who have bought the book. I asked for honest feedback. I told everyone, and continue to do so, “Tell me where you believe I am wrong and I will be glad to have a congenial and honest discussion to see if  you can convince me I am wrong.”

The  result has been that many have praised or agreed with the book. However, those Christians and pastors who are against it, but cannot refute it (or just do not take the time to study it), get mad, usually as soon as they learn that I am crusading against churches becoming incorporated and getting 501(c)(3) status or becoming legal entities in any way, and that I believe doing so is contrary to the will of God as laid out in His Word.

I have met very few pastors, Christians, lawyers or anyone else, as a percentage,  who have done a study of the biblical principles of church, state, and separation of church and state; and I have met very few who have studied incorportion, 501(c)(3) or the other methods of becoming a legal entity. Especially of note is that I have never met the pastor of an incorporated, 501(c)(3) who has a clue about the relevant biblical principles and facts, both legal and historical. I see, for the most part, the blind leading the blind.

It is easy for a church to incorporate and get a 501(c)(3) exemption. It is just a matter of filling out forms. Anyone of average intelligence can fill out forms. Thank God you did not abuse God’s money by using a lawyer to do that. However, understanding the law, facts, and biblical principles concerning what you were doing is something entirely different. How many hours have you spent to understand those matters?

I invite you to critique my books. In order to do that, you must read and study them, as well as the Word of God, with an open mind as led by the Holy Spirit. It will be well worth the effort because “Christ loved the church and gave himself, for it;” because He likens His church to His wife, his bride over whom He desires to be the only Head; because He is jealous of His church, etc. Let me say that there are problems with incorporation and 501(c)(3), but only one who is walking in the Spirit according to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding can see them.

All born again believers, including pastors, have a responsibility to study the Word of God. The Holy Spirit leads them into truth when they diligently continue in God’s Word. Every one of us is responsible for growing in knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

I  am not  your enemy. Actually, I was sent by God to help those who have an ear to hear. “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches” (Revelation 3:22).

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney
churchandstatelaw.com

XI. Letter No. 5 (Received 12/28/09):

Dear Jerald Finney, JD

I’m the Pastor of an Independent Baptist church in Texas. I find your information very informative . Now comes my question if our church iscurrently a 501 (c) (3) what can we do to leave the governments program . Would we face legal repercussions. Please when you have time advise me .

Sincerely In Christ,
Pastor _________________

XII. My Reply to Letter No. 5:

Dear Pastor ________________,

In order to properly advise you, I need to talk to you. There is absolutely no charge for my services. Should you decide to go forward, I do ask a love gift for my legal associate who does the ground work. She is highly qualified, and I do ask a love offering for her services since she has given her life to serving the Lord in this cause.

Can you all me at 512-385-0761 (H&O) or 512-785-8445?

For His Glory,
Jerald Finney

Note. Pastor ______________ called and we discussed this matter.

XIII. Conclusion

My conclusions from reading and responding to these e-mails, as I believe you will agree, is that:

“the understanding of the biblical principles, history, law, and facts among pastors varies widely. Some pastors are like secularists in that they have no spiritual knowledge, wisdom, and understanding and refuse to  (and maybe cannot) look at the issues with an open mind. Some rely on their opinions as opposed to the Word of God as the basis for what they believe. Many take Scriptural verses completely out of context to support their erroneous views. Others are eager to please the Lord, and seek to increase their knowledge about these preeminent matters. Some already have some degree of understanding, greater or lesser, about these issues. Some are already practicing biblical principles in the area of church and state.”

XIV. Links to Internal Revenue Code Laws

You can read portions of the following Internal Revenue Code laws which pertain to churches and pastors by going to the following site: “Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself”; or you may read an entire law online by clicking the following links:

1. § 501(c)(3). Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.
2. § 508. Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations
3. § 7611. Restrictions on church tax inquiries and examinations
4. § 1402. [Dealing with taxes on income of pastors]
5. § 107. Rental value of parsonages
6. § 102. Gifts and inheritances (Tithes and offerings are gifts and, therefore, according to the Internal Revenue Code § 102, not income)
7.
§ 2503. Taxable gifts
8. § 170. Charitable, etc., contributions and gifts

XV. Note

The Biblical Law Center helps churches to organize as New Testament churches completely out from under civil government and under God only. See churchandstatelaw.com for contact information for Jerald Finney, counsel for the Biblical Law Center. 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.

About Jerald Finney: 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, BBA, JD
churchandstatelaw.com
opbcbibletrust.wordpress.com

Does God and/or Civil Government Require Churches to Get 501(c)(3) Status?

Jerald Finney
Copyright © March, 2010
Revised on April 10, 2013

Does the Word of God teach that churches in America should get Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) (“501c3”) status? What about civil law? Does American law purportedly require that churches get 501c3 status? This article will answer those questions.

Since you will probably want to know something about Jerald Finney before you give any consideration to his positions, this article will begin by providing you with a brief profile of Finney. At the end of the article are links to important Internal Revenue Code laws concerning churches as well as an important note.

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.

The Bible makes clear that God desires that Christians love Him and He tells them what it means to love God. The relationship between God and his children is very important to Him. Likewise, the love relationship between God and His churches is preeminent to Him. After all, “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it” (Ep. 5:25). Do you understand God’s definition of love? Jerald Finney has covered this subject in the booklet, The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls? which is available on the Order Information on Books by Jerald Finney page of this website, and also free on this website at The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls in online form as well as in PDF form. Of course, if one loves God, he will win souls.

The author realizes that there are different interpretations of Scripture on any given subject—there are false interpretations and one true interpretation. Christians, including the author, should do everything possible to make sure they correctly divide Scripture since the Bible commands them to do so. In fact, the biblical way for a Christian to make sure that he is right about an issue was given to Timothy and to all Christians by Paul: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Ti. 2.15). Most Christians rely totally or heavily upon their pastors for leadership in instruction in spiritual matters. Sometimes, as is the case with the author, they rely upon their pastors and others, and are also called themselves to deal specifically with an issue.

To totally understand all the issues and sub-issues involved with the 501c3, one must not only have extensive knowledge of biblical principles, but he must also have an understanding of history and law. You see, the issue of the relationship between church and state is very important to God and His Word completely explains His desired relationship. Historically, true Christians understood the importance of this relationship, and they stood up for their relationship even though they suffered greatly for their stand on this issue—they were imprisoned, drowned, beheaded, burned at the stake, hung, tortured, etc. because they loved their Savior and were willing to do all that He asked them to do.

With that said, let us now go to the issues—first the issue of the truth about civil government requirement that churches get 501c3 status. The unabashed truth is that civil government does not require churches in America to get 501c3 status. They do so completely voluntarily, just as they incorporate on a voluntary basis. Since there is absolutely no law that requires a church to get 501c3 status, no attorney, pastor, or anyone else can show you such a law.

In fact, there is a law that clearly states that you do not have to get 501c3 status: The First Amendment to the United States Constitution. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances. It was adopted on December 15, 1791, as one of the ten amendments that constitute the Bill of Rights. The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

The religion clause of the First Amendment, in conjunction with the other clauses of the First Amendment, is a statement of the biblical principle of separation of church and state. To understand this, read An Abridged History of the First Amendment or the more complete version (Section IV of God Betrayed, or Part II of The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus which are available free or can be purchased in softback. (See Order information, free PDF, and free online version page for books by Jerald Finney) or. The First Amendment commands that the federal government make no law respecting an establishment of religion or preventing the free exercise thereof.

When I first wrote this article, I stated that Internal Revenue Code § 508 (“508”) is a law that protects churches and states that churches are an exception to getting 501c3 status. That law explicitly states that churches are an exception to the requirement that certain organizations get 501c3 status. However, after years of study, I am convinced that a church should never claim 508 status. A church should rely on the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, not on 508.

508 is a law made by the federal government that regards and establishment of religion and prevents the free exercise thereof. Therefore, a church that agrees to 508 status has agreed to place herself under a law which is unconstitutional as applied to churches (a law which violates the First Amendment when applied to churches) thereby waiving First Amendment status and also weakening the First Amendment. The federal government can also argue that churches who claim 508 status have agreed to the rules of 501c3, since the state may argue that the federal government is granting the exemption under 508 and the church chose to depend upon 508 instead of the First Amendment. The Internal Revenue Service completely understands the First Amendment implications as to churches. The Internal Revenue Service states in Internal Revenue Code Publication 1828: “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.” One may argue that this interpretation of 508 is too explicit, but the devil is in the details, and the legal system is expert in arguing the details. See, for more thorough explanation, Church Internal Revenue Code § 508 Tax Exempt Status.

501c3 comes with rules that churches agree to honor. Thus, when a church gets 501c3, she places herself under a sovereign other than God to some degree. The author goes into the rules that come along with 501c3 in the following articles: The Internal Revenue Code Section 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme, Laws Protecting New Testament Churches in the United States: Read Them for Yourself.

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

In spite of the irrefutable fact that churches are not required to get 501c3, many Christians will tell you that Romans 13 requires that churches get 501c3 status. Of course, that is a ridiculous statement, since American law clearly gives each church a choice in the matter. No “ordinance of man” requires churches to get 501c3; therefore, churches cannot violate an ordinance which does not exist. To repeat, does God require that a church get 501c3? Of course not, and no “ordinance of man” purportedly requires man to get 501c3.

Another important question, although not at all relevant (as we have seen) to the issue of whether churches in America are required to get 501c3,  is this: “If God is against a church obeying a certain civil law, even if the civil law purportedly requires churches to obey that law, is man to obey the civil law?” When one does an honest and systematic biblical study of the issues involved, the answer becomes very clear. The author has done such a study and has written and taught on this very issue. He has written four books that cover the biblical principles as well as history and law. Again, those books are available free on this website in online form as well as in PDF form or may be ordered in paperback. See Order information, free PDF, and free online version page for books by Jerald Finney.

This article will just mention a few Biblical principles and teachings. Clearly, when a man-made law conflicts with God’s law, Christians are instructed by God to obey God’s law. All the apostles, except John, were martyred for adhering to this principle. Likewise,  as mentioned above, Christians down through the ages in and since the primitive church have stood on this principle.

The Bible teaches that God is sovereign over all, and that He ordained all powers that be. Thus, God established or ordained civil government. He gave civil government the responsibility for ruling over men, under Him. He also gave man free will. Since civil government is run by a man, or by men, civil government, like man, is free, under God to honor or dishonor Him and His principles. Of course, God desires that civil government honor Him, but sadly, civil governments rarely do so, and they never permanently do so in this age. This is the clear teaching of history.

To interpret Romans 13 and other verses to mean that Christians are to obey all civil laws which contradict God’s law would mean that Romans 13 is inconsistent in both the immediate and overall context of Scripture. Many Old Testament characters, the apostles, God, God’s own angels, and Christians throughout the last 2000 years who have refused to honor laws of men which require God’s children to submit to man rather than to proceed under God only in certain matters, violated the modern American interpretation of Romans 13. The author goes into all the details on this matter in Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses and in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (The book is in online form at Render unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses. Also, click the following links for other articles which teach on this matter: Separation of Church and God, American Abuse of Romans 13:1-2, An Abridged History of the First Amendment.

In conclusion, churches who get 501c3 dishonor the Lord and His principles concerning His desired relationship between church and state. Christians are responsible to God to study His Word and make the practical application of His Word to real life. The relationship between Christ and His churches is very important to Him: “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” (Ep. 5.25-27).

That relationship has been so important to Christians since the beginning of the Church that they have been willing to die rather than to dishonor it. How important is that relationship to you and your church?

You can read the following Internal Revenue Code laws online by clicking the following links:

1. § 501(c)(3). Exemption from tax on corporations, certain trusts, etc.
2. § 508. Special rules with respect to section 501(c)(3) organizations
3. § 7611. Restrictions on church tax inquiries and examinations
4.§ 1402. [Dealing with taxes on income of pastors]
5. § 107. Rental value of parsonages
6. § 102. Gifts and inheritances (A
ccording to Internal   Revenue Code § 102 tithes and offerings are                        gifts and, therefore, , not income)
7. § 2503. Taxable gifts
8. § 170. Charitable, etc., contributions and gifts

Note. Should you desire to know how your church can organize according to both biblical principles and also within the parameters of American law contact Jerald Finney, a licensed lawyer. Click here for contact information for Jerald Finney.

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.

END