Tag Archives: New Testament church

I. B. Bible Doctrine of Church

 


Click here to go to Short Answers to Some Important Questions

Links to lessons:

  1. Introduction 
  2. Christ Ordained the Church and Builds It upon the Rock
  3. A Church Is a Mystery, an Assembly, a Spiritual Body
  4. The Holy Spirit Forms a Church which Is a Temple, a Spiritual Body, the Body of Christ
  5. Christ, the Head/Bridegroom/Husband of the Local Church
  6. The Love between Christ and His Churches
  7. Other Bible Metaphors for a Church: Family, Etc.
  8. How To Recognize a New Testament Church
  9. Heresy and Apostasy

Conclusion


Click here to go to Short Answers to Some Important Questions. 
Click here to go to links to the written lessons.
Click here to go to links to the 3 1/2 to 6 minute video lectures.

Click here to to to Why Understanding and Applying Church and State Law Is Important for Believers and Churches

Click here to go to Articles, Essays, and Other Resources Related to the Doctrine of the Church, Incorporation, 501c3, Etc.

Click here to go to Essays on the Bible Trust Relationship: Links to Essays and Other Resources


 

3. A Church Is a Mystery, an Assembly, a Spiritual Body


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.


Previous Lesson:
2. Christ Ordained the Church and Builds It upon the Rock

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4. The Holy Spirit Forms a Church which Is a Temple, a Spiritual Body, the Body of Christ

Click here to go to all lessons on the Bible Doctrine of the Church.

Click here to go to links to all written lessons.

Click here to go to the 5 minute video lectures.


Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 1, 2018


Note. For more on this, see Stewards of the Mystery of the Church Found Lacking, Except for a Remnant (033020)

Members of a New Testament Church under Christ alone are stewards of the mysteries of God; therefore, stewards of the mystery of the church. God requires that His stewards be found faithful. (1 Co. 4.1-2).

The institution of the New Testament church, made  up of local assemblies, is a mystery hidden in past ages and, therefore, not revealed in the Old Testament; but now “made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ep. 3.5). Believers in a local church may understand this mystery of Christ, when they read the words of God penned by the Apostle Paul (Ep. 3:4).

That the Gentiles were to be saved was no mystery (Ro. 9.24-33; 10.19-21).[i] The mystery was the divine purpose to make of Jew and Gentile a wholly new thing—the church made up of local autonomous New Testament bodies in this age—and in which the earthly distinction of Jew and Gentile disappears. (Ep. 2.14, 15; Co. 3.10, 11). Jesus Christ established His local assembly while he walked as the God Man on earth and appointed His local assembly as executor of His Will or Testament. For more on this, see, e.g., The New Testament of Jesus Christ:  His Executor Named and Empowered. The revelation of this mystery which was foretold but not explained by Christ (Mt. 16.18) was committed to Paul.

Just as the church in the wilderness was an assembly called out by God, an ecclesia (see Ac. 7.38), so a New Testament church is an assembly of called-out ones. Israel, in the wilderness, was a church or assembly, but in striking contrast with the New Testament ecclesia. Israel in the land is never called a church; they were not all assembled after they entered the land. Born-again believers are admonished not to forsake the assembling of themselves together, not to forsake the local church, the only assembly of believers on earth (He. 10.25).

The institution of the New Testament church is solely made up of local spiritual bodies, made up of an assembly of believers (See, e.g., Ep. 4). Christ will gather all members of his earthly family together in a general or universal assembly in the heavenly Jerusalem (He. 12.22-24) at the marriage of the Lamb (Re. 19.7-10). Before that, there will be no universal assembly.

All Bible references to a church here on the earth refer to an local body of Jewish and/or Gentile believers and not to a universal or catholic church. Nowhere in the New Testament is a church here on the earth ever referred to as anything other than a local spiritual body and nowhere does Scripture teach that a church is to have any type authority above it other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Some examples of references to churches as they existed in the New Testament are listed and quoted in endnote [ii].

Adherents can do no more than quote Matthew 16.18 or 1 Corinthians 12.12-13 out of context in support of the universal church doctrine. 1 Corinthians was written to a local autonomous church, with principles to be applied by all churches. One must analyze the verse in context of all immediate verses as well as all New Testament doctrine to ascertain its meaning; such an examination gives absolutely no support to a universal church doctrine for this age. See [iii] for links to more resources, a webpage with teachings and links to more sermons, and an article on C. I. Schofield’s “True Church” doctrine.

In his seven letters to seven local autonomous Gentile churches (in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica), the church, the “mystery from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God,” (Ep. 3.9) is fully revealed, and fully instructed as to her unique place in the counsels and purposes of God. Through Paul alone, we know that a church is not an organization, but an organism instinct with His life, and heavenly in calling promise and destiny. Through him alone, we know the nature, purpose, and form of organization of local churches, the right conduct of such assemblies, and the commandments for the earthly walk of the members.

A church is a spiritual body made up individual believing members (Ep. 4, 1 Co. 12). Each member is indwelt by the Holy Spirit and has a proper place in the local body. Christ sets some in the body as apostles,[iv] prophets,[v] evangelists, pastors, and teachers; “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ep. 4.12). The members of the local body are to speak the truth in love, that they “may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ. From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ep. 4.15-16).


Click here to go to Bible Study of Ephesians. Ephesians reveals the local church as God’s masterpiece. It is more wonderful that any temple made with hands, constructed of living stones, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1 presents the local church as a body.

Articles, Essays, and Other Resources Related to the Doctrine of the Church, Incorporation, 501c3, Etc.

The Local Church: A Building or What?

Bible Studies of various Books on the Doctrine of the Church.

The Biblical Doctrine of the Church


Endnotes

[i] A mystery in Scripture is a previously hidden truth, now divinely revealed, but in which a supernatural element still remains despite the revelation.

[ii] New Testament verses:

  • “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied” (Ac. 9.31).
  • Paul said, “Likewise greet the church that is in their house. (Ro. 16.5)” Notice that the church refers to the local body of baptized believers. The house was just the place where they met; it was not a church.
  • Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “Paul … Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s” (1 Co. 1.1-2).
  • “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place….” (1 Co. 14.23).
  • “The churches [Not “the church of Asia”] of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house” (1 Co. 16.19).
  • “Paul … unto Philemon … and to the church in thy house” (Phil. 1-2).
  • “… [T]hat thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Ti. 3.15).
  • The Bible defines “house of God”: “For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God. And Moses verily was faithful in all his house; as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken of after; But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (He. 3.4-6).
  • In Revelation, the Lord speaks to “the church of Ephesus” (Re. 2.1) “the church in Smyrna” (Re. 2.8), “the church in Pergamos” (Re. 2.12), “the church in Thyatira” (Re. 2.18), “the church in Sardis” (3.18), “the church in Philadelphia” (Re. 3.7), and “the church of the Laodiceans” (Re. 3.14).

[iii] Defining the word Church: Local, Visible, Institutional, never Universal; Origin of the Universal Church Exposed: Constantine, Augustine & Scofield; Rightly Dividing Baptisms: Is 1 Corinthians 12:13 Spirit baptism or water baptism?. For more in depth teachings and sermons on the church, go to the following webpage and scroll down: The Biblical Doctrine of the Church. See also, the article, Scofield’s headnote to “Ephesians” and margin notes on his false “true church” doctrine.

[iv] The word apostle, means “one sent forth,” and is is used of our Lord He. 3:1. Elsewhere it is used for the twelve who were called to that office by our Lord during His earth ministry; of Paul, called to the apostleship by the risen and ascended Lord, and of Barnabas Ac. 14:14 specially designated by the Holy Spirit Ac. 13:2. Of Matthias, chosen by lot by the eleven to take the place of Judas Iscariot, Ac .1:16-26: “And he was numbered with the eleven.” Ac. 1:26
The “signs” of an apostle were (1) They were chosen directly by the Lord Himself, or, as in the case of Barnabas, by the Holy Spirit (Mt. 10:1-2; Mk. 3:13-14; Lk. 6:13; Ac. 9:6; 13:2; 22:10,14-15; Ro. 1:1). (2) They were endued with sign gifts, miraculous powers which were the divine credentials of their office (Mt. 10:1; Ac 5:15; 16:16-18; Mt 28:8-9). (3) Their relation to the kingdom was that of heralds, announcing to Israel only Mt. 10:5-6 the kingdom as at hand and manifesting kingdom powers Mt. 10:7-8. (4) To one of them, Peter, the keys of the kingdom of heaven, viewed as the sphere of Christian profession, as in Mt. 13, were given Mt 16:19. (5) Their future relation to the king will be that of judges over the twelve tribes Mt 19:28. (6) Consequent upon the rejection of the kingdom, and the revelation of the mystery hid in God (Mt .16:18; Ep. 3:1-12), the Church, the apostolic office was invested with a new enduement, the baptism with the Holy Spirit Ac. 2:1-4; a new power, that of imparting the Spirit to Jewish-Christian believers; a new relation, that of foundation stones of the new temple (Ep. 2:20-22) and a new function, that of preaching the glad tidings of salvation through a crucified and risen Lord to Jew and Gentile alike. (7) The indispensable qualification of an apostle was that he should have been an eye-witness of the resurrection (Ac. 1:22; 1 Co. 9:1).

[v] The church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone (Ep. 2.20). These “prophets” were New Testament prophets; to the Old Testament prophets, the church remained a mystery.

  • The mystery of the church, “Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit” (Ep. 3.5).
  • “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded” (1 Pe. 2.4-6).

1. Introduction to New Testament Church Doctrine


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.


Previous Chapter:
A. Bible Doctrine of Government

Next Lesson:
2. Christ Ordained the Church and Builds It upon the Rock

Click here to go to all lessons on the Bible Doctrine of the Church.

Click here to go to links to all written lessons.

Click here to go to the 5 minute video lectures.


Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 1, 2018


These short lessons will reveal the truth about Christ’s true church and churches and in the process of doing so will also shatter myths fostered by religio-political lawyers, pastors, establishments, politicians, and theologians. “The house of God, which is the church of the living God,” is to be “the pillar and ground of the truth,” and not a bastion of the lies of Satan.[i]

Untold damage to the cause of Christ has been caused by unbridled allegorization or spiritualization of Scripture by Catholics and Protestants. Some of those religions, due to their heinous theologies (false interpretations of Scripture) have, since the early fourth century:

  1. prostituted religion by joining hands with the state and continuing to call the resultant religious organizations “churches;”
  2. violently persecuted and murdered others, including true believers who stood on God’s Word in spite of persecutions and martyrdom, down through the last 2,000 years;
  3. lied about the history of true believers and churches whom they tried to stamp out and obliterate using every conceivable means, including barbaric torture, murders of horrific proportions, imprisonment, conficscation of property, and banishment.
  4. destroyed or confiscated and held the writings and documents of those persecuted ones in their libraries;
  5. continued their tactics as far as possible, absent the persecutions, against God’s true churches.

Satan and his demons never give up. They continue to attack on all fronts. Because of great religious victories by true believers in America, the efforts of true believers and churches can no longer be thwarted by the atrocious persecutions of the past. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding provisions in the constitutions of every state protect freedom of religion, conscious, press, association, and speech from persecution.[ii]

But Satan never ceases to fight. He unceasingly uses any and all tactics to hide the truth about establishmentarian[iii] theology, history, persecution, and goals.[iv] Perhaps Satan’s greatest tool of warfare is lies, as always. He keeps people in the dark through lies. Most of mankind hate the light (truth, Jesus Christ[v]) and come not to the truth lies because their deeds are evil.

On the other hand, even most believers do not come to the truth. They have not taken the time to study the credentials, motives and teachings of “Christian” revisionists. The father of those revisionists is the devil, the god of this world. He controls the institutions of the world—civil government, secular media, and secular education. Most believers do not continue in the Word of God and studies of the Word of God, much less legal, earthly, historical facts. They have become easy prey for that old serpent and his army.

Let us never join, through ignorance of the Word of God, history, and law with those religions who have prostituted God’s church. God wants His children, and especially pastors, to take the time to study preeminent Bible issues (1 Ti. 2.15) and relevant historical and legal facts concerning the doctrine of the church.

These lessons will provide a good starting point for those who wish to step out of the dark into the light of Christ. “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light” (Ro. 13.12). “But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (Jn. 3.21).


Click here to go to Bible Study of Ephesians. Ephesians reveals the institution of the church as God’s masterpiece. It is more wonderful that any temple made with hands, constructed of living stones, indwelt by the Holy Spirit. Ephesians 1 presents the church as a body.

Articles, Essays, and Other Resources Related to the Doctrine of the Church, Incorporation, 501c3, Etc.

The Local Church: A Building or What?

Bible Studies of various Books on the Doctrine of the Church.

The Biblical Doctrine of the Church


Endnotes

[i] John 8:39-45: “They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.  And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.”

[ii] See, ESSAYS, ARTICLES, AND OTHER RESOURCES RELATED TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE CHURCH, INCORPORATION, 501C3, ETC.

[iii] Establishmentarian definition: “Adhering to, advocating, or relating to the principle of an established church; a person adhering to or advocating this.”

[iv] The history of religious freedom in America and the past, present, and future of the efforts of the religious Calvinists, Catholics, and Charismatics to return America to the days of Old World establishment and persecutions are chronicled in The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus/A Case of Premeditated Murder/Christian Revisionists on Trial/The History of the First Amendment.

[v] John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

Lesson 1: The Church Is a Spiritual Body (Ephesians)

The Church is a Body – Ephesians 1
(38 questions on the Bible Doctrine of the Church and the American application of that Doctrine with answers at the end) 
Click here to go to the “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” (Has links to all lessons) 

Click here to go to Lesson 2
Added on March 20, 2017

Answers follow the questions.
Those who disagree with anything please see the note at the end. Reasoned dialogue is encouraged and any Bible or fact based comments, if made in a Christian manner in an attempt to get to the truth will be considered.

1. The theme of Ephesians chapter 1 is that a church is a ___________.

Questions 2-7 below are from Ephesians 1.1 which says: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:”

  1. Paul says he is an apostle. An apostle is the highest ____________ a church has ever had.
  2. A church today cannot have an apostle today because they cannot meet _____ ____________.
  3. The requirements of an apostle are that: (a) The apostles received their commission directly from the living lips of __________. Paul made that claim. He said in Galatians 1.1, “_______, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” The disciples named___________, but the word of God never states that Jesus made him an apostle. (b) The apostles saw the ______________ after His resurrection. Paul could meet that requirement. 1 Corinthians 9.1. (c) The apostles spoke directly with the Savior. Paul met that requirement. Acts 9.3-6. (d) They expounded and wrote Scripture. See John 14.26, 16.13; Galatians 1.11, 12. (e) They exercised supreme authority. See John 20.22, 23; 2 Corinthians 10.8. (f) The badge of their authority was the power to work miracles. Mark 6.13; Luke 9.1, 2; Acts 2.43. (g) They were given a universal commission to found churches. 2 Corinthians 11.28.
  1. Paul rested his apostleship on the _________ of ______ rather than any personal ambition or will of ______ or request of a _____________. For more on this, see, e.g., Galatians 1.15, 16; 1 Timothy 1. 12, 13; 1 Corinthians 1.1; 2 Corinthians 1.1; 1 Colossians 1.1; 2 Timothy 1.1.
  2. Paul addressed this epistle to the ___________ which are at ____________ and to the ___________ in Christ Jesus.
  3. A saint is a ___________ and a believer is a ___________.
  4. In Ephesians 1.3-6, we learn that God the _______________ planned the church.
  5. In Ephesians 1.7-12, we learn that God the _________ paid the price for the church.
  6. In Ephesians 1.13, 14, we learn that God the ________ ____________ protects the church.
  7. God the Father set ___________ “at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all _____________ and ___________, and _____________, and _______________, and every ________________ that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: And hath put _____________ things under his feet, and gave him to be the _____________ over ____ _____________ to the ___________, Which is his ___________, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1.20-23.
  8. God clearly states in His word that He wants to be over _____ things to the church.
  9. Which church in the New Testament was under any authority other than Jesus Christ?
  10. What church in the New Testament went to any civil government for non-profit corporation and/or tax exempt status or for recognition, organization, favor, power, or any other perceived advantage?
  11. Who provides the basis for non-profit corporation and/or Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) status?
  12. Who creates the corporate part of a church who is a non-profit corporation?
  13. Who defines a non-profit corporation church?
  14. Who is the authority or authorities over a non-profit corporation?
  15. Who is over a church who is a non-profit corporation?
  16. Is any church in America required by civil law to attain and receive non-profit corporation and/or Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) status?
  17. Does any civil law require a church to obtain non-profit corporation and/or Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) status?
  18. When a church asks for and receives non-profit corporation status, does the state of her incorporation become her authority for many matters?
  19. If the answer to the last question is “yes,” will the authority allow Bible arguments in deciding the controversy?
  20. What is the term for the relationship created by non-profit corporation status?
  21. What is a non-profit corporation contract?
  22. Which New Testament church in the Bible contracted with the state through incorporation and/or tax exempt status?
  23. Who is the controlling party of the contract created between the non-profit corporation and the state of incorporation?
  24. What rules come with 501(c)(3) status?
  25. Who officiates over a dispute which a non-profit corporation takes to her state authority?
  26. According to whose plan is a church who is a non-profit corporation operated?
  27. To whom does a church who is a non-profit corporation report?
  28. To whom does a church who is a non-profit corporation pay a yearly fee?
  29. To whom does a church who is a non-profit corporation go for resolution of many matters?
  30. What officers does a non-profit corporation have?
  31. What are the only church officers authorized by the New Testament?
  32. What New Testament church had any of the following officers: CEO, President, Secretary?
  33. What New Testament church had corporate trustees?
  34. Does corporate and/or 501(c)(3) or 508 status combine church and state?

Answers

For help with questions 15-38 click here to go to Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?

  1. The theme of Ephesians Chapter 1 is that a church is a body.
  2. Paul says he is an apostle. An apostle is the highest office a church has ever had.
  3. A church today cannot have an apostle today because they cannot meet the requirements.
  4. The requirements of an apostle are that: (a) The apostles received their commission directly from the living lips of Jesus. Paul made that claim. He said in Galatians 1.1, “Paul, an apostle, (not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead;)” The disciples named Matthias, but the word of God never states that Jesus made him an apostle. (b) The apostles saw the Saviour after His resurrection. Paul could meet that requirement. 1 Corinthians 9.1. (c) The apostles spoke directly with the Savior. Paul met that requirement. Acts 9.3-6. (d) They expounded and wrote Scripture. See John 14.26, 16.13; Galatians 1.11, 12. (e) They exercised supreme authority. See John 20.22, 23; 2 Corinthians 10.8. (f) The badge of their authority was the power to work miracles. Mark 6.13; Luke 9.1, 2; Acts 2.43. (g) They were given a universal commission to found churches. 2 Corinthians 11.28.
  1. Paul rested his apostleship on the will of God rather than any personal ambition or will of man or request of a church. For more on this, see, e.g., Galatians 1.15, 16; 1 Timothy 1. 12, 13; 1 Corinthians 1.1; 2 Corinthians 1.1; 1 Colossians 1.1; 2 Timothy 1.1.
  2. Paul addressed this epistle to the saints which are at Ephesus and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.
  3. A saint is a believer and a believer is a saint.
  4. In Ephesians 1.3-6, we learn that God the Father planned the church.
  5. In Ephesians 1.7-12, we learn that God the Son paid the price for the church.
  6. In Ephesians 1.13, 14, we learn that God the Holy Spirit protects the church.
  7. God the Father set Christ “at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also 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, and the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” Ephesians 1.20-23.
  8. God clearly states in His word that He wants to be over all things to the church.
  9. No church in the New Testament was under any authority other than Jesus Christ.
  10. No church in the New Testament went to any civil government for non-profit corporation and/or tax exempt status or for recognition, organization, favor, power, or any other perceived advantage.
  11. The state of incorporation provides the basis for non-profit corporation and/or Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) status.
  12. The law of the state of incorporation creates the corporate part of a church who is a non-profit corporation.
  13. The state of incorporation defines a non-profit corporation church.
  14. The state of incorporation through her courts (and maybe the Lord Jesus Christ for some churches in some matters) is the authority or authorities over a non-profit corporation.
  15. The state of incorporation through her courts (and maybe the Lord Jesus Christ for some churches in some matters) is over a church who is a non-profit corporation.
  16. No church in America is required by civil law to attain and receive non-profit corporation and/or federal (Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3)) tax exempt status.
  17. No civil law in America requires a church to obtain non-profit corporation and/or Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) status. On the other hand, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and corresponding state constitutional provisions protect churches from civil government entanglement (corporate and/or tax exempt status). Churches must seek such status, of their own free will, from the civil government.
  18. When a church asks for and receives non-profit corporation status, the state of her incorporation becomes her authority for many matters.
  19. If the answer to the last question is “yes,” the state authority will not allow Bible arguments in deciding the controversy.
  20. The term for the relationship created by non-profit corporation status is contract.
  21. A non-profit corporation contract is an agreement between the state and the church.
  22. No New Testament church contracted with the state through incorporation and/or tax exempt status.
  23. The state is the controlling party of the contract created between the non-profit corporation and the state of incorporation.
  24. What rules come with 501(c)(3) status? Five rules come with the status. I have listed and explained those rules in my writings.
  25. A court of the state of incorporation officiates over a dispute which a non-profit corporation takes to her state authority.
  26. A church who is a non-profit corporation is operated according to the non-profit corporation laws of the state of incorporation.
  27. A church who is a non-profit corporation reports to the state of her incorporation.
  28. A church who is a non-profit corporation pays a yearly fee to the state of her incorporation.
  29. A church who is a non-profit corporation goes to the courts of her state of incorporation for resolution of many matters.
  30. A non-profit corporation must have officers such as President, CEO, treasurer, etc.
  31. The only church officers authorized by the New Testament are pastors, deacons, and elders.
  32. No New Testament church had any of the following officers: CEO, President, Secretary, etc.
  33. No New Testament church had corporate trustees.
  34. Church corporate and/or 501(c)(3) or 508 status combines church and state.

Should you disagree with an answer given, please explain why you disagree in the comment section below the article. All reasoned comments will be published, perhaps with reply. The purpose of this website is the Glory of God. God cannot be glorified by shutting out honest disagreement in the search for truth. The author would be interested in your explanation. The comments are required by the website to be approved or disapproved. The author is very busy with many matters and may or may not immediately notice your comment. He will address it as soon as he notices it. He almost always approves comments presented with a godly spirit. He never alters comments. Sometimes, he replies to comments.

Lesson 1 on the Doctrine of the Church

Introductory Questions
(9 questions with answers at the end)
Added on March 20, 2017

Click here to go to the “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” (Has links to all lessons)

Answers at the end, following the questions
Those who disagree with anything please see the note at the end. Reasoned dialogue is encouraged and any Bible or fact based comments, if made in a Christian manner in an attempt to get to the truth will be considered.

  1. In what verse(s) does the Bible record the out calling of the church?
  2. Please quote the verse(s) referred to in question 1.
  3. Those verses (in the prior 2 questions) record the words of whom?
  4. What New Testament writer explains, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, how, when, or of what materials, that church would be built?
    a. Jude.
    b. Luke.
    c. John.
    d. Paul.
  5. What New Testament writer, as inspired by the Holy Spirit, explains what should be the position, relationships, privileges, and duties of that church?
    a. Jude.
    b. Luke.
    c. John.
    d. Paul.
  6. Where is the doctrine of the church developed?
    a. The book of Jude.
    b. The writings of Luke.
    c. The writings of John.
    d. The Epistles of Paul.
  7. What Epistles present a composite picture of the Christ, the church, the Christian life, and the interrelationship and functioning of all?
    a. Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Philemon
    b. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (the prison epistles)
    c. Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, Titus
    d. Ephesians, Colossians, 1 Timothy, Philemon
  8. The epistle to the Ephesians is written to the church at _________________.
  9. The church, as an institution is made up of _____________, autonomous, _______________ bodies.

Answers

1. Matthew 16.18.
2. Matthew 16:18-19: “18 And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 19  And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
3. Jesus.
4. d. Paul, in his Epistles. In his letters to seven Gentile churches (in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica).
5. d. Paul, in his Epistles. In his letters to seven Gentile churches (in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, and Thessalonica).
6. d. The Epistles of Paul.
7. b. Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon (the prison epistles)
8. The epistle to the Ephesians is written to the church at Ephesus.
9. The church, as an institution is made up of local, autonomous, spiritual bodies.

Should you disagree with an answer given, please explain why you disagree in the comment section below the article. All reasoned comments will be published, perhaps with reply. The purpose of this website is the Glory of God. God cannot be glorified by shutting out honest disagreement in the search for truth. The author would be interested in your explanation. The comments are required by the website to be approved or disapproved. The author is very busy with many matters and may or may not immediately notice your comment. He will address it as soon as he notices it. He almost always approves comments presented with a godly spirit. He never alters comments. Sometimes, he replies to comments.

Expose And Reject The Teachings and Methods of Church Organization Con-Artists and Charlatans

Jerald Finney
May, 2016

This article concerns those who falsely claim legal expertise in the area of church/state relations and ends with Bible justification for standing against forces of darkness which invade the arena of church organization in America.

A remnant of believers in America seek to do all things the Bible way, God’s way. One perplexing and somewhat complex matter for those believers concerns the organization of a New Testament church. Believers who study and believe the New Testament quickly come across passages which make clear that Christ wants his churches to be under Him only. Some of those believers, including some of God’s good pastors, seek help in organizing churches. Tragically, many come in contact with and rely on charismatic pseudo-Biblical/legal experts.

Truly, a believer must be well-studied in both the relevant Bible and legal principles in order to intelligently and correctly organize a church such that she remains under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ (Scripture) only. Knowing the Bible without true legal competence is a recipe for disaster. For example, the Ecclesiastical Law Center alleges Bible as opposed to legal solutions to church organization, but due to legal incompetence organizes churches legally, not Scripturally.

Jethro on the Beverly Hillbillies often stated that he wanted to be a brain surgeon. Some pastors are wannabe “lawyers,” some even going so far as to claim lawyer status even though they never produce any reliable proof of such and even though a diligent examination of their attempts to keep churches under the authority of God and the Scriptures only belie their claim. Of course, few if any believers have the time to check out what they are told about such matters and many follow people who are skilled “Christian” con-artists and charlatans. Most get to liking and even loving their misguided mentors and many lash out at anyone who would try to discredit them. It is hard to confront uncomfortable or damnable truths about those one loves.

Complicating the matter is the fact that many “Christian” lawyers either prove to be incompetent or are trained in the law but not studied in the Bible. Their standard for all matters in faith and practice is not the Bible. Their authority for all matters is the law. As they amass their earthly fortunes, they teach and apply legal, not Bible, principles. For example, David Gibbs relies on the Internal Revenue Service, not the Bible, definition of “church,” and instructs churches to become legal, not spiritual or New Testament entities. These spiritual/legal con-artists, while deceiving and being followed by multitudes, also cause some to distrust all lawyers without further examination.

For years, this lawyer shied away from confronting false teachers. For example, he knew for many years that the Ecclesiastical Law Center (“ELC”) was not qualified to deal with church and state matters even though they falsely claim to have “Bible” as opposed to “legal” solutions to church organization. His attitude was that it is up to believers seeking help to sort out and apply good versus bad advice; and, additionally, he did not wish to attack the ELC because he knew and liked one of their leaders who spoke at his church on the subject of church organization several years before he delved into an extended study of Bible (first), and historical (second), principles and methods of church organization. After completing that study, he studied law to assure that he correctly navigated around the legal landscape in a manner which did not inadvertently result in organization of a church as a legal, as opposed to spiritual only, entity.

However, after coming in contact with many of good men of God who were deceived and who parroted the ridiculous rhetoric, the false teachings, and the foolish and unlearned questions of the ELC and after witnessing relentless and untrue ELC attacks against others over a period of years, this author finally took the time to do an examination of the ELC and their teachings. The result was an online booklet, Ecclesiastical Law Center Exposed.

The corporation sole and Internal Revenue Code § 508 method of church organization is another scam used by skilled but unethical charlatans to deceive the unwary. Critique of “Church Freedom and the Corporation Sole” Website exposes that fraudulent deception.

So far the message of this article to believers and churches seeking help in organizing New Testament churches is, “Beware of false teachers and unskilled pseudo-lawyers.” Do your homework. Look at qualifications and testimonies. Seek truth and apply it, even if you must confront false methods and teachings of others you love. Base all conclusions on Bible precepts and verifiable facts.

Now to the question, “Why is this article justified, under God?” What is the Bible basis for exposing deceivers? As soldiers of the Lord, one is to contend against the forces of darkness, to fight the good spiritual fight of faith. Only a few of many verses which support this conclusion are quoted:

Speaking of deceptions within the churches, Jude wrote: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities…. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.” Jude 3-4, 8.

Ep.6.10-12As to Christ’s relationship with his churches, the Apostle Paul wrote: “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. Speaking to the church at Corinth, he said: “For I am jealous over you  with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2-3.

Fight the good fight. Keep the faith. Expose false methods and teaching in all matters, including the preeminent  area of church organization. Make sure you get it right. Is not the Lamb of God worthy of your diligence efforts to keep his body pure and undefiled?

Corporation: A Human Being with No Soul

15

Jerald Finney
Copyright © July 29, 2014

Some define corporation to mean “a human being with no soul;” of course this statement makes an important point even though it is not literally true. A corporation is not a human being, but it is an “artificial person” (a legal fiction) who acts legally, by, for example, entering into contracts, buying and selling property, suing and being sued. And, as an “artificial person” with no soul, the corporation, whether profit or not for profit, will act accordingly. Human beings with souls in a corporation act within an unnatural, soulless, Godless, state-created fiction; because of the contracts created by their act of incorporation, all disputes can be taken to secular courts where only man’s law and rules will be tolerated; do not try to argue God’s law in that environment. The “church” non-profit corporation will be polluted to some degree, greater or lesser, by the immoral, soulless part of the two-headed monster.

“Christian” churches, wiccan churches, planned parenthood, etc. are all under the same non-profit corporation status.

Many secularists understand the nature of incorporation. The statements in a recent article on corporations “Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia” (click the blue title to go to the article) gives some of the characteristics of incorporation. I urge the interested reader to read that article. The article concerns business corporations; but, although some of what the article says cannot be applied to church incorporation, much of what the article says is applicable to non-profit church corporations. I have explained the intricacies of church incorporation in the Section VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (PDF, Online Version, Ordering Information) and in Separation of Church and State (PDF, Online Version, Ordering Information). Those resources thoroughly analyze church incorporation for the believer who has an open mind, some degree of intellect, and some Bible knowledge and wisdom about the principles of church, state, and separation of church and state—those requirements eliminate most believers and pastors, especially fundamental Baptist pastors.

5Some of the assertions in the article are applicable to non-profit corporations but some are not. The following are applicable to church incorporation (Quotes from the article are in parentheses. The bold material in brackets [] below are my notes, comments, and additions.):

  • Corporations had been viewed as artificial persons for millennia, the debate over whether they should be afforded the same rights as humans had been raging long before the United States created, or the 14th Amendment was adopted. The degree of permissible government interference in corporate affairs was controversial from the earliest days of the nation.”
  • LegalEntityStatus“Corporations as legal entities have always been able to perform commercial activities, similar to a person acting as a sole proprietor, such as entering into a contract or owning property. Therefore corporations have always had a ‘legal personality’ for the purposes of conducting business while shielding individual shareholders from personal liability (i.e., protecting personal assets which were not invested in the corporation).”

16[I cover “limited liability” for church corporation members in the article “Spurious rationale for church incorporation: limited liability/Incorporation increases liability of church members.”].

  • 6Corporate personhood is the legal concept that a corporation may be recognized as an individual in the eyes of the law. This doctrine forms the basis for legal recognition that corporations, as groups of people, may hold and exercise certain rights under the common law and the U.S. Constitution. The doctrine does not grant to corporations all of the rights of citizens.”
  • “As a matter of interpretation of the word ‘person’ in the Fourteenth Amendment, U.S. courts have extended certain constitutional protections to corporations. Opponents of corporate personhood seek to amend the U.S. Constitution to limit these rights to those provided by state law and state constitutions.”

First Amendment to the United States Constitution
First Amendment to the United States Constitution

[I explain how a church, by incorporating, gives up her First Amendment status and places herself to a large degree under the Fourteenth Amendment in the God Betrayed and Separation of Church and State. Non-incorporated churches (and churches which do not become legal entities in some other manner other than incorporation) are protected by the religion clause of the First Amendment, whereas, of course, the First Amendment religion clause gives no protection to a business. The religion clause is a statement of biblical principles (separation of church and state (the establishment clause) and soul liberty or freedom of conscious (the free exercise clause).]

  • PlannedParenthood_2“The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively.[5] In this view, treating corporations as “persons” is a convenient legal fiction which allows corporations to sue and to be sued, provides a single entity for easier taxation…, simplifies complex transactions which would otherwise involve, in the case of large corporations, thousands of people, and protects the individual rights of the shareholders as well as the right of association.”

14thAm.[Churches which do not become legal entities, unlike businesses, are protected by the First Amendment religion clause. I explain why First Amendment protection for churches is biblical and much preferable to Fourteenth Amendment protection in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application and in the much more concise book Separation of Church and State/God’s Chruches: Spiritual or Legal Entities. In fact, seeking Fourteenth Amendment protection places a church under Satanic rules and regulations; the creator of the corporation is the state and state incorporation law gives the manner of organization, the officers, etc. that the law of incorporation requires. Therefore, incorporation completely changes the nature of a church. In addition to the books linked to above, some more concise articles on this matter are “Christians Who Call Evil Good and Good Evil,” “Is Separation of Church and State Found in the Constitution” and “Laws Protecting New Testament Church in the United States: Read Them for Yourselves.”]

  • “Generally, corporations are not able to claim constitutional protections which would not otherwise be available to persons acting as a group. For example, the Supreme Court has not recognized a Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination for a corporation, since the right can be exercised only on an individual basis.”

[A New Testament (First Amendment)  church can claim First Amendment religion clause protection whereas a corporation cannot. Since a New Testament church, unlike a corporation, is a not a legal entity, she cannot sue, be sued, or act legally. Churches which become incorporated begin to act like corporate businesses in may ways.]

  • 9Corporations are NOT people.While it is true that what guides them is the human activity of their executives, boards of directors, managers and employees, all the human emotional factors of the people in the corporation pass through a “filter” created by the two basic rules: (a) Maximize profit (b) Do whatever is necessary to continue the business.”(Rule a should be modified when it conflicts with rule b).”

[In a church corporation, the officers of the corporation operate an entity whose organization, goals, structure, morality, piety, and officers are mandated by state law in direct contradiction to the organization, goals, structure, morality, piety, and officers given by God’s Holy Bible in the New Testament.]

  • 7“It is a slippery road to give personal rights to corporations. The corporation is an amoral entity, i.e., not governed by human moral values. It lacks guilt for what it does, or empathy for those it harms. What’s worse, this “sociopathic” entity is given the rights of a human being, but not similar responsibilities. A corporation is particularly dangerous because of its great concentration of money, power, and political influence–which it uses freely to reach its goals.”

8[These realities are clearly seen in the Catholic “church” (not incorporated), and also in incorporated Fundamental Baptist Churches. A prime example of the latter is First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana. See the article “Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy.” One can also do a google search to see the reactions of the church lawyer (David Gibbs) and the church members of First Baptist of Hammond for more confirmation. This scenario has played out on a smaller scale in many other Fundamental Baptist Churches, including the offspring, followers, and worshipers of First Baptist of Hammond and her pastors.]

13Other parts of the article (the parts dealing with rights of corporations to make political expenditures under the First Amendment free speech clause, the role corporate money plays and should play in democratic politics, the dangers of giving too much power to corporations to allow corporations to participate directly on political campaigns as a threat to democracy) apply to some degree to church corporations. All one has to do is look at the operations of, for example, the average “fundamental church and her pastor, the average seminary or Bible college and what they teach, and the words and activities of the lawyers involved with those institutions to see the application of those matters. That is all the author will say about that in this brief article.

Fundamental Baptist tradition perceives the truth to be that churches are to incorporate and get 28 U.S.C. Section 501(c)(3) status. At the same time, that tradition preaches that the Bible is to be the sole source of truth. The reality is that the biblical doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state disprove the first mentioned Baptist tradition. But after all, it is the perception of the truth, not the truth, that matters.

Church Internal Revenue Code § 508(c)(1)(A) 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(c)(1)(A) 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(c)(1)(A) for her non-taxable status because, in so doing, the church gives up her New Testament and First Amendment status; the church becomes tax exempt as opposed to non-taxable. 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)/508(c)(1)(A) 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, “… no law ….”

Are not those words very clear? No law means “no law.” What is IRC § 508(c)(1)(A)(“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(c)(1)(A) or IRC § 501(c)(3)? One reason is lack of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. When a church claims either 508(c)(a)(A) 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(c)(1)(A) 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(c)(1)(A) says churches are excepted from applying for 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(c)(1)(A) 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(c)(1)(A) 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(C)(1)(A) is a law made by Congress which regards an establishment of religion; 508(C)(1)(A) also prevents the free exercise of religion because a church which claims 508(C)(1)(A) 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(C)(1)(A) 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(C)(1)(A) 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(C)(1)(A) 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(C)(1) (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 added.]

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(c)(1)(A) 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: The CUCM Bible Trust.

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(c)(1)(A) 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(c)(1)(A) 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 Biblically (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.

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


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 10, 2012


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


Preface

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He refers to the law in his article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Endnote

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dr. Brown then refers to Hale v. Hinkle.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.  For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him (II Co. 11.2-4; Lk. 18.8; II Ti. 3.1-8).

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

Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December, 2010


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

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


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


Definition, Organization, and Purposes of a Church8

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

J. M. Carroll said this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. “For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.  Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body: but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (1 Co. 12.12-27). “Ye” in the last verse, is plural, and is addressed to the Church at Corinth.
  2. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.  (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)  And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:4-16).

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

  1. “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Ep. 1.22-23).
  2. “But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ep. 4.15-16).
  3. “And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God” (Col. 2.19).

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

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

A church is also compared to:

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

Wayne Grudem explains:

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

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

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

(Carroll, pp. 4-5).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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