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2. Christ Ordained His Local Visible New Testament Churches and Builds Them upon the Rock


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.


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

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Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 1, 2018


Just as God ordained civil government, He also ordained His churches after the nation Israel rejected Him and the kingdom of heaven. Civil government, as we learned in earlier lessons was to secure a temporal earthly blessing for mankind. The power given by God to His churches on earth was to secure a spiritual good for their members.

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

The building of the institution of the New Testament church which is made up of local visible church bodies is on the rock of Peter’s confession, the Christ he confessed. Peter makes clear that the rock upon which the Lord will build the institution of the church is Christ Himself:

  • “To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner. And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed” (1 Pe. 2.4-9).

“This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner” (Ac. 4.11, part of Peter’s address to the Sanhedrin). From the context, it is obvious that Peter is speaking of the Lord as being the chief corner stone. Nowhere in the Bible is there any indication that Peter was the cornerstone of a universal visible or invisible church.

The words used also make clear that Christ was referring to Himself as the rock on which the church would be built. There is in the Greek [in Matthew 16.18] a play upon the words, “thou art Peter [petros—literally, ‘a little rock’], and upon this rock [Petra] I will build my church.” He does not promise to build His church upon Peter, but upon Himself, as Peter himself is careful to tell us (1 Pet. 2.4-9).

Jesus did not give Peter the keys—a key being a badge of power or authority (see, e.g., Is. 22.22 and Re. 3.7)—but to “the kingdom of heaven,” which in this age is represented by Christ’s local autonomous New Testament Churches and the individual believers therein who are to function as a spiritual body, each exercising his/her individual spiritual gifts. Peter assumed no other authority. In the council at Jerusalem as recorded in Acts 15, James seems to have presided. Peter claimed nothing more than to be an apostle by gift and an elder by office (See 1 Pe. 1.1 and 5.1). The power of binding and loosing was shared by the other apostles (See Mt. 18.18 and Jn. 20.23). Since only Christ held the keys of death and the place of departed spirits, this did not involve the determination of the eternal destiny of souls.  “I [Jesus Christ] am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death” (Re. 1.18).

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

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


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

Lesson 2: A Church Is a Spiritual Body (Ephesians)

The Work of the Son of God on Behalf of the Church –
Ephesians 1.7-12
(9 questions with answers following)

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 3

Added on March 21, 2017

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. What was the first work of God the Son on behalf of the church? (See Ephesians 1.7)
  2. What was the second work of God the Son on behalf of the church? (See Ephesians 1.8-10)
  3. How many mysteries are there in the New Testament?
  4. A mystery in Scripture means that God is ______________ something that, up to that time, He had not ___________. There are two elements which always enter into a New Testament mystery: (1) It cannot be discovered by __________ agencies, for it is always a revelation of _________; (2) It is _____________ to establish the _______ without all the ___________ being disclosed.
  5. The mystery of the church was ______ _________ in the Old Testament.
  6. What was the third work of God the Son on behalf of the church? (See Ephesians 1.11, 12)
  7. In the third work of God the Son on behalf of the church, Christ gives us an inheritance. He ________ us for something ___ ______ _______ ________.
  8. Paul writes in Romans 8.17: “And if children, then _______; _______ of God, and joint-______ with Christ; if so be that we _________ with him, that we may be also _________ _________.”
  9. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23: Therefore let no man ________ in men. For all things are _________; Whether ________, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the _________, or _________ or _________, or things _________, or __________ to come; all are ___________; And ye are ___________; and Christ is ___________.

Answers

  1. The first work of God the Son on behalf of the church was redemption. He paid the price for the sin of church members. (Ephesians 1.7). Remember, Ephesians is addressed to “the saints which are at Ephesus” (Ephesians 1.1); that is the body of believers at Ephesus over which He is the Head (See Ephesians 1.22).
  2. The second work of God the Son on behalf of the church was to reveal the mystery of His will. (Ephesians 1.8-10).
  3. There are eleven mysteries in the New Testament. They are: (1) The mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (Mt. 13.3-50); (2) the mystery of Israel’s blindness during this age (Ro. 11.25, with context); (3) the mystery of the translation of living saints at the end of this age (1 Co. 15.51, 52; 1 Thes. 4.14-17); (4) the mystery of the NT church as one body composed of Jew and Gentile (Ep. 3.1-11; Ro. 16.25; Ep. 6.19; Col. 4.3); (5) the mystery of the church as the bride of Christ (Ep. 5.28-32); (6) the mystery of the inliving Christ (Ga. 2.20; Col. 1.26, 27); (7) the “mystery of God even Christ,” i.e., Christ as the incarnate fullness of the Godhead embodied, in whom all the divine wisdom for man subsists (Col. 2.2, 9; 1 Co. 2.7); (8) the mystery of the processes by which godlikeness is restored to man (1 Ti. 3.16); (9) the mystery of iniquity (2 Thes. 2.7; Mt. 13.33); (10) the mystery of the seven stars (Re. 1.20); (11) the mystery of Babylon (Re. 17.5, 7).
  4. A mystery in Scripture means that God is revealing something that, up to that time, He had not revealed. There are two elements which always enter into a New Testament mystery: (1) It cannot be discovered by human agencies, for it is always a revelation of God; (2) It is revealed to establish the fact without all the details being disclosed. The mystery of the church was not revealed in the Old Testament.
  5. The mystery of the church was not revealed in the Old Testament.
  6. The third work of God the Son on behalf of the church was that Christ rewards us with an inheritance.
  7. In the third work of God the Son on behalf of the church, Christ gives us an inheritance. He rewards us for something we have not done.
  8. Paul writes in Romans 8.17: “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
  9. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23: Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And ye are Christ’s; and Christ is God’s.

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.

Book Review: [The first Baptist church in America: Two recent books reviewed] Did Roger Williams Start The First Baptist Church In America? Is the “Baptist Church the Bride of Christ? What About Landmarkism or the Baptist Church Succession Theory and Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance

Book Review:

Did Roger Williams Start The First Baptist Church In America? Is the “Baptist Church the Bride of Christ? What About Landmarkism or the Baptist Church Succession Theory?
By Jim Fellure

Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance
By Pastor Joshua S. Davenport

For information on other books click: Books page of “Church and State Law”

Jerald Finney
Copyright © July 30, 2012

Preface

After this “Preface,” Finney will review (1) Did Roger Williams Start The First Baptist Church In America? Is the “Baptist Church the Bride of Christ? What About Landmarkism or the Baptist Church Succession Theory by Jim Fellure; and (2) Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance by Joshua S. Davenport. This preface will explain the importance of writing this review including important issues which are raised by Jim Fellure’s booklet and Finney’s belief as to which was the first Baptist church in America.

Jim Fellure wrote in Did Roger Williams Start the First Baptist Church In America? Is the “Baptist Church the Bride of Christ? What About Landmarkism or the Baptist Church Succession Theory: “Now brethren, please believe me when I say that it is not our intention to create contention and strife…. I will, however, as have historical Baptists, fight for one’s right to freedom of conscious, but I will also ‘earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.’”  Jerald Finney, the reviewer, seconds that by writing this review because the truth and the Glory of God are preeminent. Our Lord has instructed believers to “earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.”

Jim Fellure’s booklet started a debate in that it summarily deals with issues at the very heart of the faith which was once delivered to the saints. Joshua Davenport entered the debate and countered Brother Fellure with the publication of Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance.

The reviewer, Jerald Finney, attended the April 17-20, 2012 Baptist Heritage Revival Tour which was planned and executed by Evangelist Ted Alexander. A few days before he left for the tour, he came across a book he had in his library entitled Did Roger Williams Start the First Baptist Church In America? by Jim Fellure. Finney did not ask for or buy the book. Brother Fellure handed him a copy of the book in April, 2011 at a camp meeting, explaining that he did not realize that the publication of the book would start a firestorm. Perhaps reading the book just before attending the tour was a coincidence, or perhaps God wanted Finney to read it at that very time. At any rate, after reading the book, further study of relevant historical facts and consideration of biblical principles surrounding issues raised in the book was placed on his agenda. Fortunately, others, as he was to discover very soon, had already done and published such studies concerning, especially, Brother Fellure’s historical conclusions and the facts upon which he based those conclusions.

On the tour, Finney bought several books, two of which addressed the issue of which was the first Baptist church in America: Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance by Joshua S. Davenport and The First Baptist Church in America: Not Started by Roger Williams by J. R. Graves, first published in 1887. Finney read Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated on the tour bus. He later read The First Baptist Church in America: Not Started by Roger Williams. Brother Ted Alexander, the tour organizer and leader, did not ever address or discuss Brother Jim Fellure or his booklet, either to the entire group or to Finney individually.

Finney is always seeking truth on important issues relevant to the topic of separation of church and state. The subject of this book review is one which God has impressed upon him as a result of the above-mentioned events. In earnestly contending for the faith, Finney was compelled to write this review. As will become apparent as one reads this review, the issues raised by the search to find out which was the first Baptist church started in America are extremely important both doctrinally and historically. An open-minded honest search for truth in the matter should be the goal. Finney has based his conclusions on the Bible and historical facts, nothing more. He knows both Jim Fellure and Joshua Davenport and loves them both. Brother Fellure has been a friend for many years. Finney has known Brother Davenport only a short time, but has grown to love him as well.

The first Baptist church in America was started by either Roger Williams at Providence, Rhode Island, or Dr. John Clarke at Newport, Rhode Island. Searching for the answer to the question as to which of these churches was first is of immense significance because Roger Williams, when he arrived in Rhode Island, was immersed by a man who was not only himself unbaptized, unordained, and a member of no church; and then Williams, after being thus baptized and also being unordained except by the Anglican Church in England, baptized others and started what he temporarily called a Baptist church in Providence, Rhode Island. Dr. John Clarke was baptized and ordained a Baptist and started a Baptist church in Newport, Rhode Island.

Brother Fellure concludes, among other things, that Roger Williams started the first Baptist church in America at Providence, Rhode Island. Brother Davenport concludes that Dr. John Clarke started the first Baptist church in America at Newport, Rhode Island. Two questions are inherent in the debate: (1) Was the church Roger Williams started a Baptist church in name only? (2) Which church was started first?

In answering the question of whether the church Roger Williams started was a Baptist church, other very important questions are implicated:

(1) Have the gates of hell prevailed against Christ’s church such that there was no continual succession of true churches? In other words, were there time periods in history since the beginning of New Testament churches during which no true churches existed?
(2) Are all so-called churches valid and biblically ordered, according to God and the Bible? If not, which churches are biblically valid and ordered? Is there a biblical order for the planting of a local church? If so, what is that order?
(3) Does the Bible teach an order for the ordination of pastors? For example, is it within God’s perfect will for a man to ordain himself? Is it within God’s perfect will for an unbaptized, unordained person to baptize and/or ordain another man? Is mail order ordination valid and/or within God’s perfect will?
(4) Is an ordination valid if administered by a man who believes that there is no biblical order for ordination?
(5) Is an ordination valid if conducted by some who were biblically ordained and baptized and some who were not (if there is a biblical order for ordination and baptism)?
(6) Did God set up a biblical order for baptism? Can a man who was unordained and unbaptized be baptized by an unordained, unbaptized man then administer valid baptism to others and form a biblically ordered church?  Quoting from The First Baptist Church in America: Not started by Roger Williams by J. R. Graves:

“Suppose a person, baptized by a man, who takes upon himself to preach the gospel, and proceeds to administer the ordinances without a regular call or ordination from any church, whether the person so baptized may be admitted into any orderly church—yea or nay?”

Can a person get saved, have a friend baptize him, baptize that person and others, and from that group form and pastor a biblically ordered church? Can an unsaved person have a friend baptize him, baptize that person and others, and from that group form and pastor a biblically ordered church?

(7) Can orderly ordinances come from disorderly ones (if there is a biblical order for ordinances)?
(8) Can orderly churches be planted by a disorderly church (if there is a biblical order for churches)?
(9) Does the Bible teach that God established both a universal invisible church and local autonomous churches (assemblies), or does the Bible teach the concept of the institution of the church and local autonomous churches?
(10) What are the true historical facts concerning the formation of the church in Providence by Roger Williams, Roger Williams’ view of the validity of that church, and the subsequent history of that church?
(11) What are the historical facts concerning the formation of the Baptist church at Newport and the subsequent history of that church?

Of course, some facts about history are subject to debate, and sometimes one cannot prove a fact or issue by a preponderance of the evidence, by clear and convincing evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt (the highest standard in the legal system). The only way one can know some facts beyond all doubt is by being a witness. Sometimes, even then, one cannot know the truth for sure. One can correctly understand biblical principles but still be misled (1) by inaccurate facts, facts taken out of context, only some of the facts, or by a distortion of true facts; (2) by failing to look at all arguments (unless one looks at all facts and arguments, he definitely is in danger of coming to the wrong conclusion(s)); (3) or by failing to apply the true principles in the Word of God to the facts.

Finney is always open-minded on any issue and will consider all facts, doctrines, and positions in reaching his conclusions. After reading the books which are the subject of this review, having already built a sound foundation in the religious history of the colonies through thousands of hours of study, Finney is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Dr. John Clarke started the first Baptist Church in America. His conclusion is based upon facts and biblical principles. Furthermore, this question of who started the first Baptist church in America can be answered without resort to a reference to the Baptist Bride, Landmark, or Baptist church succession beliefs. Finney has not studied the Baptist Bride, Church succession, or Landmark positions, although he believes that the Bible teaches a continuing succession of true New Testament churches; in other words, by faith alone Finney believes in such a succession. He also believes that many facts, both circumstantial and concrete, demonstrate that there has never been a time in history that New Testament churches and the institution of the church (as opposed to false or non-New Testament churches and false institutions which label themselves “churches” and “the church”) since ordained by the Lord Jesus were non-existent. Finney believes Christ’s promise that the “gates of hell will not prevail against his church [that is, when correctly and contextually interpreted, the institution of the church and his local churches].”

Did Roger Williams Start The First Baptist Church In America? Is the “Baptist Church the Bride of Christ? What About Landmarkism or the Baptist Church Succession Theory?
by Jim Fellure

The title and subtitle to Brother Fellure’s booklet present not only one, but three, very important questions for a serious student of history and the Word of God. Does Brother Fellure successfully and convincingly answer the primary and secondary questions presented in his short, 22 page, double-spaced pamphlet? Is it necessary to address the sub-questions in order to answer the primary question?

Two important questions in the debate over which was the first Baptist church in America are:

(1) Was Roger Williams qualified to start a Baptist church or, put another way, was the church he started Baptist?
(2) Did Roger Williams start the church in Providence before John Clarke started the church in Newport?

The first question is important because Roger Williams was not ordained in a Baptist church (he was only ordained as an Anglican) and because of the order of his baptism. Williams was baptized by one of the men who joined him in Rhode Island. Williams then baptized that man and the others who became part of the church he started.

Roger WilliamsConcerning question 1 above, Brother Fellure concluded in his booklet that the church Roger Williams started was Baptist. He certainly did not biblically support that conclusion in any way except through explicit or implicit assertions such as: “Just trust me since I have studied these matters;” “You certainly can’t rationally believe otherwise because anyone who is saved is a member of the universal invisible church;” and “as a saved person, one is qualified to baptize.” Furthermore, he most likely understands that his short and perfunctory defense of the “universal invisible church” position and his selective references to the Baptist Bride position and Landmarkism or Baptist Church Succession theory and his conclusions based thereon are in no way adequate to convince a serious student of history and the Word of God.

He asserts that opposition to his conclusions on these matters “has come from those who follow the Baptist Bride, Landmark, or the Baptist Church Succession philosophy.” However, those are not the only sources of opposition. Interestingly, among those who opposed Fellure’s conclusions concerning the authenticity of the church Williams started, as a matter of historical fact, was Roger Williams himself who made known his belief that the church was not authentic and withdrew therefrom a few weeks after starting it, as pointed out in many reliable historical works including the opposing work which is the subject of this review. This reviewer is among many who are not Baptist Briders, Landmarkers, or per se Baptist Successionists who are convinced that Brother Fellure’s conclusions are wrong. Brother Fellure also has asserted that James Beller, a pastor who opposes his view that Roger Williams started the First Baptist Church in America, is a “Brider.” Brother Beller wrote an open letter and published it over the internet. In that letter, Brother Beller replies to certain assertions made by Brother FellureSee En4 for the entire letter and the online link.

Brother Fellure’s analysis indicates that he believes that any baptism by a saved person, and even a baptism by an unsaved man, may be valid; perhaps he does not believe the latter, but if not, he needs to make clear what he believes concerning that issue and why. He also needs to give some convincing biblical reasoning to support his belief that one who is saved, yet unbaptized, can perform a biblically acceptable baptism. He quotes a few verses and states some conclusions and selected facts concerning baptism, ordination, the church, and other doctrines but does not give the issue and his conclusions anywhere near the degree of analysis needed to support his positions.

As to question 2, Brother Fellure concludes that Roger Williams started the church in Providence before Dr. John Clarke started the church at Newport. Even if one assumes or concludes, as does Brother Fellure, that the answer to question 1 above is that Williams was qualified to start a Baptist church, historical facts which are available from various  sources and which are presented in Joshua Davenport’s book which is reviewed below prove that Clarke started the Newport church before Williams started the Providence church. Fellure states on page 14 of his booklet:

“[O]ut of all the books and documents I have read, I have not found one historical record stating Dr. John Clarke started any Baptist church before 1644. Some historians claim 1639 as the most probable date, but all records I have found agree Roger Williams did start the First Baptist Church in America.”

First Baptist Church Building of Providence, Rhode Island
First Baptist Church Building of Providence, Rhode Island

That statement alone totally discredits his analysis and proves that he is not qualified to write on the subject. There are many historical records which refute the conclusion that Roger Williams started the church in Providence before Dr. John Clarke started the Baptist church at Newport. In other words, Brother Fellure was not qualified to comment on the issue because, by his own admission as applied to all the facts, he did not know of and consider all the facts.

Brother Fellure not only fails to consider all the historical facts concerning the issue of who started the first Baptist church in America, he also, within this 22 page, 5 ¼ by 8 ½ inch double spaced book, addresses many other matters. 22 double spaced pages are woefully inadequate for such a task. In 22 short pages, Brother Fellure, among other things:

  1. attempts to discredit the followers of Baptist Bride, Landmark or Baptist Church succession “philosophies” who opposed his position that Roger Williams started the first Baptist church in America, proclaiming that their conclusions are guided by ulterior motives only. This was completely off point and unnecessary and to have any credibility would require a very voluminous and painstaking study and written refutation and not a few paragraphs interspersed within a very short, 22 page book;
  2.  attempts to discredit the history utilized by the Baptist Succession theory (the author in his own studies has encountered facts which would refute some of Fellure’s cursory historical assertions about Baptist Succession);
  3. attempts to explain some parts of his version of the biblical doctrine of the church. The universal church doctrine of the Catholic and Protestant churches may not be the same as Brother Fellure’s version in all respects, but understanding and explaining any version of the doctrine requires a lot more than a few paragraphs out of a 22 page pamphlet. He summarily describes his versions of both a universal invisible church versus local autonomous New Testament churches. All these matters have been painstakingly analyzed by serious students of the Word over the centuries. Brother Fellure does a disservice to the cause of Christ in this ill-conceived effort. Serious biblical study (perhaps aided by the study of relevant scholarly works) would be required for a believer to arrive at correct conclusions concerning the issues he raises.

To comprehensively address the universal invisible church theory would be a voluminous undertaking, but one of Brother Fellure’s statements will be summarily addressed. On page 4, he writes:

“Where Victory Baptist Press differs with such a philosophy is that out of the fifteen times the word ‘Baptist’ is used in the Bible, it is always referring to John, the man who was baptizing, and there is no indication John was starting a church, and when Jesus said ‘upon this rock I will build my church…’ (Matthew 16.18), He was not referring to a local Baptist Church, He was referring to the ‘church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven…’ (Hebrews 12:23). ‘…written is heaven’ is a very interesting phrase. It would be hard to support the idea that God will wait until a saved person is baptized in water by a ‘qualified Baptist’ to write their name in heaven.”

The reviewer agrees that when one is saved, his name is written in the “book of life.” However, please notice that Brother Fellure makes a quantum leap in his statement in the above paragraph in his supposed identification of the church Jesus was referring to in Matthew 16.18. He quotes one verse, Hebrews 12.23, to make his point, but he does not refer to any context. Hebrews 12.22-24, which includes the immediate contest of Hebrews 12.23, states:

“22 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. 23  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, 24 And to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinking, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.”

Clearly, “the church of the firstborn” spoken of in verse 23 exists at the time of “the city of the living God and the heavenly Jerusalem,” and in the presence of “an innumerable company of angels” (see verse 22). Historic Baptists have never believed that a universal visible or invisible church, a city of God and the Kingdom operate at present. From what he says in his booklet, it appears that Brother Fellure, at least to some degree, agrees with Catholic and Protestant doctrines of the church; while necessarily disagreeing with the historical Baptist and biblical position. Finney believes that not only the verses surrounding Hebrews 12.23, but also all verses in the New Testament which deal with the doctrine of the church, disprove his version of “church of the firstborn,” and universal invisible church.” For example, the Lord Jesus stood among the seven golden candlesticks and wrote a message to each.  (See Revelation 1.9-3.22; those “candlesticks” are local churches, not a universal invisible church (Revelation 1.20). That said, the reviewer knows that this brief review is no more adequate to explain the doctrine of the church than are the few paragraphs in Brother Fellure’s booklet, but a few insights are appropriate.)

Furthermore, the name “Baptist” is just an identifier used by many Baptist authors to refer to those churches, although not always called “Baptist,” which, since the time of Christ, held to, at all costs, certain principles which have been called “Baptist distinctives.”

For the last ten years, the reviewer has done and continues to do extensive biblical studies and, during the course of those studies, has pondered upon on the doctrine of the church. He agrees with Pastor Jason Cooley that the New Testament speaks of no “true” church (as it is called by C. I. Scofield), or “universal invisible (or visible) church” terms adopted by Catholicism, Protestantism, and by many modern churches including so-called Fundamental Independent Baptist churches.  When the Bible speaks of “the church,” it is referring to the institution of the church which consists of all local autonomous assemblies in which born again believers are instructed to be baptized, to be added to the institution of the church (in a local autonomous assembly), to observe the Lord’s supper, and to exercise their God-given gifts as they glorify God by growing in spiritual knowledge and obeying and following the Lord Jesus Christ and his precepts.

In other words, when the New Testament refers to “the church,” it is referring to the institution of the church. Can a universal visible or invisible church have a pastor, teachers, etc. who are functioning? How can they function as an all-encompassing visible or invisible institution? Are the local churches then subject to or part of an alleged “universal visible or invisible church?” If so, how can that be since the Bible in no way explains the organization, methods, jurisdiction, etc. of such such a universal institution—only local autonomous churches? Does God desire that a person be saved and remain only in a universal church and not a local autonomous New Testament church? Is it within God’s perfect will for a person to be saved and then to become, or remain, a member of a spiritual harlot who claims to be a church (but only God can remove a candlestick, but he has warned that He will do so in some cases) or even a non-New Testament church? Of course, there are no perfect churches, but one can glean principles from the Bible to guide him in his search for a New Testament church or to help him disciple new converts on finding and joining with a New Testament church and many other important matters. Is it God’s will for one, in his attempts to lead others to the Lord, to state, “I am not concerned about which church you attend. I am only concerned about your eternal salvation”?

The questions and insights in the preceding paragraph are very important because one must believe in some type of “universal church” in order to buy the conclusion that Roger Williams started a Baptist church. Finney believes that “universal church” doctrine makes no sense biblically or in reality.

(4) states (notice, in relation to local autonomous churches), “If a Church is found today believing and practicing the same thing the churches believed and practiced 2000 years ago, I would not assume they were linked to each other through an unbroken chain of Baptist Church Succession. My assumption would be that both churches had been influenced by the truths of the same Book.” Must one’s conclusion on this matter be based upon Jim Fellure’s or any other person’s assumption? One can be influenced by the truths of the Bible but still be in error on any number of biblical doctrines. How much does a church have to be “influenced” by the truths of the Bible to be either within or outside the will of God as to organization, practice, methodology, etc.? In examining whether a church believes and practices the same thing the churches believed and practiced 2000 years ago, one must answer many questions such as:

(a) What was the New Testament model for planting a church? What New Testament church was first started by an unordained man who was baptized by another unordained unbaptized man, and who then baptized that man and others and formed a church which believed and practiced the things a New Testament church was to believe and practice?
(b) What is to be the biblically acceptable motive of church members for giving: one’s love for God or for some other reason such as, partially or wholly, a tax deduction? Biblically, to whom are tithes and offerings given: to the Lord Jesus Christ for His purposes or to, for example, a non-profit, incorporated, 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization? Is the church (which is the body made up of individual members) the giver or the receiver?
(c) What is the biblically correct view of pastoral leadership?
(d) What about the exercise of gifts by members of the local church body? Certainly exercise of such gifts cannot take place in an invisible organization; the exercise must be in a local assembly.
(e) What is the role of deacons? What place would deacons have in an invisible body?
(f) What is the biblical order, if any, concerning, for example, ordination, baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the marriage of a man and a woman, the marriage of Christ and His church, etc.?
(g) What about the doctrine of separation including separation of church and state? All New Testament churches in the Bible and thereafter have believed in and practiced separation of church and state. Is a church which combines with state through incorporation and/or through 501(c)(3) tax exempt status practicing the same thing the churches believed and practiced 2000 years ago?
(h) What are the biblical principles for organization of a church?
(i) Is there a biblical order concerning the methods practiced by a church? For example, is it within God’s perfect will for a church to utilize business and/or worldly methods which conflict with the methodology laid out in the Bible in reaching its goals? To what extent?

(5) raises the issue of the definition of a Baptist church.
(6) raises the issue of whether the Baptist Bride, Landmark, and Baptist Church Succession theories are true. Can this debate be decided upon biblical teaching and/or facts? Does one have to trash the Baptist Bride position, Landmarkism, and the belief in church Succession to prove that Roger Williams started the First Baptist church in America?
(7) raises the issue of whether there is a proper order for churches, baptism, ordination, etc. What should a church do should she, from a study of Scripture, decide that she is not biblically ordered? See Endnotes 1 and 2 examples of what some churches have done if out of order as to ordination and baptism.
(8) quotes from doctrinal statements of two Baptist churches who follow the “Baptist Bride of Baptist Church Succession” theory (pp. 2-3). He assumes that those brief statements will be sufficient to discredit those theories.

In addition to his conclusions about the “universal invisible church,” the Baptist Bride position and Landmarkism or the Baptist Succession theory which raise the above questions, Brother Fellure presents quotes from some records of history to support his position that Roger Williams started the church at Providence before Dr. John Clarke started the church at Newport. Finney, in his book God Betrayed (see pages 241-242) which was published in 2008, pointed out that the issue was factually disputed and that Dr. John Clarke may have started a Baptist church in Newport Rhode Island in 1838, but did not do further study on the issue at that time. That was written in the midst of a voluminous study of the issue of separation of church and state in which Finney came across, in the natural course of his studies, some disputed facts on the issue of which was the first Baptist church in America. Certainly one who has done a serious historical study of the facts would have come across at least some of those facts.

Brother Fellure states on page 20 of his booklet: “At Victory Press we have no intention of ‘revising’ history or reading into the historical records events that did not happen in order to promote our agenda,” yet he does just that plus more which is not in the interest of serious study in the name of Christ. This is a hard thing to say to a man the reviewer loves, but it is something that must be said. Brother Fellure’s booklet is a result of either a biased selection of facts or incomplete research. Now that Brother Davenport has published his reply, Brother Fellure has access to many facts which he did not consider when writing his book.

Brother Fellure is put on alert, by this review, of the folly of his offering. He states that his pamphlet is an “expanded edition;” but a study of his booklet by one who has some understanding of biblical doctrine and Baptist history reveals that he has bitten off more than he can chew in such a short publication. The task he assumes requires a treatise, not a tract. Whether he will do the research needed to uphold his conclusions and publish the results thereof remains to be seen. This reviewer believes that the Bible, history, and honesty render that an impossible task.

Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance
by Pastor Joshua S. Davenport

First Baptist Church building of Newport, Rhode Island
First Baptist Church building of Newport, Rhode Island

Pastor Joshua Davenport’s book shows a keen understanding of the issue presented and its importance. He backs up his position that Dr. John Clarke founded the first Baptist church in America with studied facts and analyses. Davenport bases his conclusion that the Newport church started by Dr. John Clarke in 1638 was the first Baptist church in America on historical research and facts. His conclusions are enhanced by correctly recorded citations of the historical sources he relies upon. Many other sources could be cited to support Brother Davenport’s conclusion, but the reviewer does not expect that anyone has the time to cover all possible sources. Finney is convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Baptist History IN AMERICA is correct factually and historically and proves that the church started by Dr. John Clarke in Newport, Rhode Island was the first Baptist church in America, even should one consider the church started by Roger Williams to be a Baptist church.

Dr. John Clarke
Dr. John Clarke

Brother Davenport does not address Landmarkism, the Baptist Bride theory, or Baptist Church succession, but “a matter of mere historical correctness and facts.” Like any good advocate who believes in the factual and doctrinal truth of his position on a very important issue, he considers some facts concerning Jim Fellure’s possible personal motivation for writing his booklet. Then he gives the four necessary categories of facts that need to be considered in order for the issue to be correctly understood. His well-documented facts are very persuasive in supporting his conclusion.

In addition to the facts, Davenport explains the importance of the issue and the importance of accurate facts. He correctly and with great insight points out that “Once one starts changing history, one changes who he is, where he came from and where he is going.” As he explains, (1) “Integrity for Historical Correctness is at Stake. (2) Proper Examples of Doctrinal Soundness is at Stake. In this section, Davenport gives his argument for a biblical order for baptism. (3) Regard for our Baptist Heritage and Identity is at Stake. (4) Historical Influence on American Principles is at Stake.” In this last section, Davenport declares something which Finney discovered himself after an intensive study over several years: “One cannot truly understand American history until he understands Baptist history.”

Finney, without equivocation, recommends that all true Baptists read and study Davenport’s jewel, Baptist History IN AMERICA Vindicated: The First Baptist Church in America/A Resurfaced Issue of Controversy/The Facts and Importance. This booklet is the kind of writing and teaching those seeking the truth of the matter need to read and digest, and the quality of writing that needs to come forth from one who is contending for the faith. From a foundation of intense study over many years, Finney attests to Davenport’s biblical, historical, and analytical acuity. See En3 for information on books by Jerald Finney.

Endnotes

En1. The following concerning ordination is from J. A. Shackelford, Compendium of Baptist History (Louisville, Kentucky: Press Baptist Book Concern, 1892 (Reprint), pp. 123-124. (Can be ordered from Local Church Bible Publishers):

“‘Commenius, who published a synopsis of the discipline of the churches of Bohemia, dwells particularly upon this article and shows that ‘a stated ministry was always considered as a matter of great importance among the Waldensean churches.’ A dreadful persecution broke out among the Bohemian brethren in the days of Commenius, which produced such havoc among them that he himself ‘was the only surviving bishop that escaped.’ The scattered brethren, in process of time, elected three persons as qualified for the pastoral office, but ‘found themselves greatly perplexed about their ordination.’

“‘Having understood that there were some Waldensean churches on the confines of Moravia and Austria, to satisfy their own scruples, as well as those of others, they resolved to send Michael Zambergius, one of their pastors, with two other persons to find out those Waldenses, and give them an account of what has passed among them, and especially to ask their advice upon the matter in hand. They met with one Stephen, a Waldensean bishop, who sent for others also residing in that quarter, with whom they had a conference upon the doctrines of the gospel, and the state of their churches, and by them the said three pastors were ordained by the imposition of hands. ‘Hence,’ says Dr. Allix, ‘it is abundantly evident, that as the Waldenses have preserved the faith that was committed to them, so have they been as careful to preserve entire among them the ancient discipline of the church.’

“These Waldensean brethren regarded regular ordination so much of importance, that they sent the three brethren some five or six hundred miles that they might be ‘examined upon the doctrines of the gospel,’ and receive ordination at the hands of a regularly ordained ministry. In this way have the pure doctrines of the gospel been preserved through all ages.”

En2. From the May 12 entry concerning baptism of This Day in Baptist History Past, “The Conversion of a Church”:

The Congregational church in Sedgwick, Maine, had enjoyed the ministry of the Reverend Danil Merrill for twelve years. During which time it became one of the largest of the denomination’s churches in the state. However, when several of his ministerial students became Baptists, the rev. Mr. Merrill determined to restudy the matter of baptism and write a book on the subject which would protect against such losses, and such a volume would be invaluable to many in refuting what he considered heresy taught by the Baptists. After more than two years of studying the scriptures he concluded that the Bible did not support his long-held position of sprinkling.

The matter came to a head when a group of children were presented to be sprinkled and the pastor could no longer with good conscience perform the rite. For several months Merrill continued in agony of heart for, as he confessed, he “could not bear the idea of being called one .

On February 28, 1805, after a series of sermons on the biblical mode of baptism, the congregation voted unanimously to call for a council of Baptist ministers to administer New Testament immersion, to constitute them as a Baptist church, and to ordain Daniel Merrill as their pastor. In all, sixty-six candidates were baptized on May 13, 1805, and nineteen more were baptized on the following day.

En3. Notice that two of Finney’s books listed below have already been fully reproduced on the “Separation of Church and State Law” website; links are included below. Also, God Betrayed has already been reproduced in audio form on the website, and much of the book is already reproduced, in written form, on the website. Soon, all the books will be in written form on the website. Finney is concerned with imparting truth, not with making money, in his God-called “Separation of Church and State Law” ministry. If one does not want to buy the books, but wishes to read them, he can do so at no cost.

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed): 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 “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) 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) which has been reproduced on the “Separation of Church and State Law” website at Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses; (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only) which has been reproduced on the “Separation of Church and State Law” website at The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls; (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.

En4. Letter from James Beller replying to assertions made by Jim Fellure in his booklet. The online link to this e-mail is: http://www.21tnt.com/index.php?view=article&catid=47:ancient-nature-of-the-baptists&id=25:a-letter-to-jim-fellure-of-victory-baptist-press&format=pdf

1 / 3A Letter to Jim Fellure of Victory Baptist Press

March 13, 2011

Bro. Fellure,

Thank you for your time on the phone on March 3, 2011. I had called to clarify some things with you concerning the “Open Letter To Those Who have Questioned Our Stand On The Baptist Bride, Lankmarkism, or Baptist Church Succession Theory,” which was dated March 3, 2011. This email letter was sent to over 15,000 recipients and, as I shared with you, had references to me, describing me as a Baptist “brider.” In this you linked me with a group of people I do not represent. I mean no disrespect in this short answer and I believe you to be a good man, but I mean to try to set the record straight.

Even though I am not a part of this group, nor have I ever denominated myself as a “landmarker,” you painted me as such. As I mentioned on the phone, I would have wished you had contacted me before you painted me with such a broad brush.  I will say that some of what is called “landmarkism” I embrace, as do a large number of independent Baptists. For instance, our church does not accept immersions for membership from any organization that has its roots in the Roman Catholic, or catholic Reformed. This is an ancient practice. We also believe in the local church as the only church found in the Bible. We also believe strongly that churches are to birth churches. We also, like many, many Baptists believe in the succession of principles. This was believed by Henry D’Anvers, Theilman Van Braght, Charles Spurgeon and the late David L. Cummins. This is nothing new. You seem to misunderstand both “brider” and “landmark” positions, mixing them together.  I am going to answer your letter in detail at a latter time, but you promised me a retraction:

1. On page 2 you write:

“The Baptist Bible Fellowship, the Bible Baptist Fellowship, the World Baptist Fellowship, and the Independent Baptist Fellowship International can all trace their history back to Dr. J. Frank Norris, an ordained Southern Baptist pastor who left the SBC and promoted and influenced the independent, fundamental Baptist movement. Men such as Dr. John R. Rice, Dr. Jack Hyles, Dr. Lee Roberson, Dr. Harold Sightler, Dr. Shelton Smith, Lester Roloff and many others had their roots in the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention has its roots in the American Baptist Convention, which is linked back to Roger Williams and the First Baptist Church in America at Providence, Rhode, Island.“ It is a grievous error to claim “the independent, fundamental Baptist movement…had their roots in the Southern Baptist Convention, and the Southern Baptist Convention has its roots in the American Baptist Convention, which is linked back to Roger Williams and the First Baptist Church in America at Providence, Rhode, Island.” ANY Baptist historian, Cathcart, Armitage, McBeth, etc. knows the SBC has its roots in the Separate Baptist Revival through Shubal Stearns. Stearns was baptized by Wait Palmer and the line of baptism does go back to Newport, Rhode Island. However, all that aside, you…

2. On page 3 state:

“The Landmark theory would teach that not one of the pastors mentioned previously, or the converts that were saved and baptized under their ministry, are legitimate Baptists, and none of them will be in the Bride of Christ.”

I know of no “landmarker” that believes this and even if they did, I don’t believe it and have never said such a thing. But you make me one of the number that would say this by…

3. Writing on page 3:

“Some writers that follow the Landmark theory have some great historical information. Examples of two of these mens’ books are, The Trail of Blood, by J. M. Carroll, which VBP prints and sells, and America in Crimson Red, by Brother James Beller which we sell in our bookstore.”

You have made me a companion of those you claim “would teach that not one of the pastors mentioned previously, or the converts that were saved and baptized under their ministry, are legitimate Baptists, and none of them will be in the Bride of Christ.”

I do not believe this, nor do I know of any “landmarker” who believes it either. You made me out to say things I have never said, nor believed.

Bro. Fellure, you said you would print a retraction, but instead you re-sent the same email letter on March 10 (even though it was still dated March 3). Is this a retraction?

James Beller

Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teaching on “The History of the Religious Freedom in America”

One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

As this study progresses, the Christian who has listened closely to the previous broadcasts will begin to understand the importance of all the prior broadcasts to the issue of separation of church and state and the history of the First Amendment. The historical facts presented in this section should be taught in every American History class. Only when one knows history (plus biblical theology and law) can he understand where he came from, where he is, and where he is going. Only when one knows the facts presented in these studies and included in books by Jerald Finney in more detail, can he understand how we got our First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

This begins the study of the American application of the biblical principle of separation of church and state. Since the beginning of the church, Christians believed and practiced separation of church and state. They paid dearly for this practice. In the fourth century certain religious leaders were seduced by Constantine to join hands with the state. Over a thousand years of the worst persecutions imaginable followed as religion worked hand in hand with the state to enforce all ten of the commandments. Anyone who did not bow down to the theology of the state church was imprisoned, horriby tortured, burned alive, drowned, buried alive, beheaded, etc. as the state religion tried to stamp out all forms of what they called “heresy.” The Protestant churches followed the theology of their mother in this matter and continued the persecution. However, forces and circumstances were such in the American colonies that the final result was the first nation, the second civil government behind the colony of Rhode Island, to have religious liberty.

Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to Preview of God Betrayed) is a comprehensive study of the issue of separation of church and state and 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 “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) 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); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction to the History of the First Amendment (August 23, 2009 and July 25, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Introduction to the History of the First Amendment and The Light Begins to Shine (August 30, 2009 and August 1, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The light begins to shine (August 30, 1009 and August 1, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (1) (August 30, 2009 and August 1, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (2) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (3) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (4) (September 6, 2009 and August 8, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Pilgrims and Puritans in Massachusetts (5) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (1) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (2) (September 13, 2009 and August 15, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (3) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (4) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Baptists in Rhode Island (5) , the Separates and Baptists in New England (1) (September 20, 2009, August 22, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (2) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (3) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

The Separates and Baptists in New England (3) (September 27, 2009, August 29, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

From New England to the South (October  4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (1) (October 4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (2) (October 4, 2009, September 5, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (3) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (4) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

To Virginia (5) (October 11, 2009, September 12, 2010, 3rd 15 min. segment):

To the new nation and conclusion (October 18, 2009, September 19, 2010, 1st 15 min. Segment):

END

Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teaching on “The Biblical Principles of Separation of Church and State”

This purpose of this page is to record the radio broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teachings on the biblical principle of separation of church and state. One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to Preview of God Betrayed) is a comprehensive study of the issue of separation of church and state and 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 “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) 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); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction to the biblical principle of separation of church and state (June 27, 2010, 40th Broadcast, 2nd 15 min. segment):

Introduction to the biblical principle of separation of church and state (June 27, 2010, 40th Broadcast, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Defintions and dispensational versus covenant theology (1) (July 4, 2010, 41st Broadcast, 1st 15 min. segment):

Dispensational versus covenant theology (2) (July 4, 2010, 41st Broadcast, 2nd 15 min. segment):

Dispensational versus covenant theology (3) (July 4, 2010, 41st Broadcast, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Dispensational versus covenant theology (4) (July 11, 2010, 42nd Broadcast, 1st 15 min. segment):

Distinct differences between church and state (1) (July 11, 2010, 42nd Broadcast, 2nd 15 min. segment):

Distinct differences between church and state (2) (July 11, 2010, 42nd Broadcast, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Distinct differences between church and state (3) (August 16, 2009 & July 18, 2010, 15th & 43rd Broadcast, 1st 15 min. segment):

Render unto God the things that are His (1) (August 16, 2009 & July 18, 2010, 15th & 43rd Broadcast, 2nd 15 min. segment):

Render unto God the things that are His (2) (August 16, 2009 & July 18, 2010, 15th & 43rd Broadcast, 3rd 15 min. segment):

Render unto God the things that are His (3) (August 23, 2009 and July 25, 2010, 1st 15 min. segment):

Render unto God the things that are His (4) (August 23, 2009 and July 25, 2010, 2nd 15 min. segment):

END

Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s Teaching on “The Biblical Principles Doctrine of the Church”

This purpose of this page is to record the radio broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teachings on the biblical principles of the church. One can find links to all articles on this blog by going to the following link: “Separation of Church and State Law Blog: Links to all articles” (This link is to the “Blog” page of churchandstatelaw.com.).

Jerald Finney’s broadcasts on Liberty Works Radio Network are aired and streamed over the internet on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m. Central Time (7:00 a.m. ET, 9:00 a.m. MT, 10 a.m. PT). Click the following link and scroll to the bottom to go to LWRN radio: LWRN (this link is also on the “Radio Broadcast” page of churchandstatelaw.com).

God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to Preview of God Betrayed) is a comprehensive study of the issue of separation of church and state and 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 “Books” (on the “Church and State Law” website) 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); (2) The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only); (3) Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble.

Introduction to the biblical doctrine of the church (June 13, 2010, 38th Broadcast, 1st 15 min. segment): 

Definition,  organization, and purposes of a church (June 13, 2010, 38th Broadcast, 2nd 15 minute segment): 

Definition,  organization, and purposes of a church (June 13, 2010, 38th Broadcast, 3rd 15 minute segment): 

Heresy and apostasy – 1 (June 20, 2010, 39th Broadcast, 1st 15 minute segment): 

Heresy and apostasy – 2 (June 20, 2010, 39th Broadcast, 2nd 15 minute segment):

Recent accelerated apostasy in the United States (June 20, 2010, 39th Broadcast, 3rd 15 minute segment):

“Apostasy at the end of the church age,” “The church will reign with the Lord,” and “Conclusion of the biblical principles concerning the church.” 

END

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


 Jerald Finney
Copyright © April, 2010
All articles on this blog may be accessed from the following link:


 Contents

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


I. Introduction

This article quotes without editing more e-mails from pastors with their comments and questions concerning articles on this blog, and my replies to those e-mails. This is the third article on this blog with letters from pastors. The first article was What Pastors Are Saying in Response to this “Separation of Church and State Law” Blog (Click link to go to article; all colored titles, etc. are links which can be directly accessed by a click of your mouse.). The second article was Letters from Pastors in Response to this Separation of Church and State Blog and My Replies.

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

II. Letter No. 1 (Received April 13, 2010 in response to “How church
corporate/501c3 status dishonors the Christ-church love relationship
”):

I am not sure who you are or how you found me but I am so thankful for your e-mails.  You have kept our new little church from incorporating.  I don’t know why I was sooo blind.  Thank you for the eye opener.

III. My Reply to Letter No. 1:

Dear Mrs. ______________,

What an encouragement to hear from another of God’s “remnant” who still loves Him! May the Lord richly bless you with all spiritual blessings.

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney

IV. Letter No. 2 (Received January 16, 2010 in response to the article
An Abridged History of the First Amendment”):

Dear Mr Finney,

            Some months ago I began to receive your emails.
I was wondering…how did you get our email address?? I am not at all opposed to the info simply wondering.

Pastor _______________

V. My Reply to Letter No. 2:

Dear Pastor __________________,

Your e-mail address is on a list of fundamental Baptist churches which I obtained by doing  a Google search.

Jerald

VI. Pastor’s Response to My Reply

Thanks for the reply. Do keep us on your email list. Have a great LORD’s Day tomorrow.

VII. Letter No. 3 (Received January 21, 2010):

Bro. Finney:  I have recently gotten a couple of emails from you dealing with the legal affairs of the N.T. church.  I wonder if I could bother you and ask a question:  If a church is NOT a 501 (c)(3) organization, and is just simply a church, can the members use their contributions to the church as deductions when they file income taxes?  I read some of your material, and couldn’t find anything specific about this.  Thank you for your time and help.

Sincerely in Christ,
Pastor __________, ______________ Church, __________, Michigan

VIII. My Reply to Letter No. 3:

Dear Pastor _______________,

Thanks for contacting me about your concern, which is a common concern of many churches, pastors, and Christians. Maybe you can give me a call. Since the answer is not to short, it would be easier to talk about this. I have written on this in Section VI of God Betrayed and also in Separation of Church  and State: God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities.

Please feel free to call me at your convenience. My office no. is 512-385-0761 and my cell number is 512-785-8445. I would be glad to discuss this with you. I will return your call if you get a voice mail and  leave a phone no. where you can be reached. Of course, there is no charge.

For His Glory,
Jerald Finney

IX. Letter No. 4 (Received March 9, 2010 in response to article
Does God and/or Civil Government Require Churches To Get 501(c)(3)?”)

Thanks for the information! I am involved in missions now after over 50 years in church related ministry. We just spent a few years in a missions church in the ‘bush’ of Alaska. Also involved with starting churches in the Dominican Republic. The second one will have its first service the last Sunday of this month. The first started one year ago this month has seen about 300 saved and the church family attendance is over 250 a month in all services and ministries. The missionaries we work with are Independent Fundamental from Costa Rica – doing a great ministry in these last days.

Again, thank you!
Pastor ______________
Dr. _____________, Pastor

X. My Reply to Letter No. 4:

Dear Dr. ______________,

Thanks for the e-mail! It was a great blessing to me. Missionaries are my heroes. Let me know if I can ever be of help in any way.

For His Glory,
Bro. Jerald Finney

XI. Letter No. 5 (Received April 12, 2010 in response to “Church law articles and resources from a believing lawyer who also loves the Lord”):

Thank you for the e-mail. How did you get my e-mail address? Also, I know a pastor who has been both incorporated and unincorporated. He says he can find no benefit to either one. My question to you is, where in the Bible is this issue made into such a big deal? Is it a fundamental of the faith? It seems that those who believe the way that you do about it can only talk about one thing as if that is all the Bible had to say about the matter. Perhaps I am just ignorant about the passages that deal with this, but I am not aware of any. Maybe you could show me. Anyway, let me know.

Thanks,
Pastor ______________
Jude 3

XII. My Reply to Letter No. 5:

Dear Pastor ________________,

Thank you for your kind e-mail. I humbly offer my response, in love for God and for you and all Christians and churches.

Your e-mail strikes at the heart of the issue, at the heart of our Lord. To completely answer your question would require that I write a book. I have already done this – in fact, I have written four books which address your concerns from a biblically based perspective – in  other  words, from the mind and heart of God as revealed  in His Word.

I consider myself very fortunate to have had pastors who have taught me many great biblical principles, one of which was that the Lord has feelings and that He wants the love of His children. I have learned from teaching, from preaching, and from Holy Spirit led study of the Word of God that I can cause my Savior much grief by disobeying Him, that God’s Word reveals the mind and heart for God, and what actions on my part and the part of my church dishonor our Lord. God desires His children and His churches to walk in the Spirit, not in the flesh, according to knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

All my pastors have, to the best of their understanding, honored the love relationship between Christ and His churches. Due to their direct confrontation with the issues, they came to understand the underlying principles. They understood that (1) Christ is married to His churches (Ro. 7.4; Ep. 5.22-33, etc.); and (2) that God takes this spiritual relationship with His churches very seriously: “Christ loved the church and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish…. For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.” (Ep. 5.25-27, 30). I explain this in depth in the article “The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls?

The Word of God makes clear that God desires that His churches choose to honor their Husband, their Head, their Bridegroom. He gives them a choice because love requires choice. He wants their love. He wants His churches to choose to submit to His Headship in all matters. His churches are subject to Him, but He gives them free will so that they have the choice of either honoring or dishonoring Him; to love Him is to honor Him and love requires choices as to action. In other words, love is an act of the will. I Corinthians 13 explains this completely.

Once one understands the biblical principles concerning church, government, and separation of church and state, one can compare facts about incorporation to the biblical principles to determine whether incorporation of churches violates biblical principles, whether God  is grieved should a church incorporate. I have done that in my books, blog articles, and audio teachings (all of which are accessible on the “Books,” “Radio Broadcast,” and “Blog” pages of churchandstatelaw.com).

I believe that the issue is fundamental for many reasons which I get into in my resources. If one does not understand the biblical doctrine of the church, government, and separation of church and state, he is not proceeding in the Spirit according to knowledge, wisdom, and understanding as to those matters. He is not equipped to fight the spiritual warfare against powers and principalities, etc., that God enlisted us in (see, e.g., 2 Ti, 2.3-4; Ep. 6.10-18, etc.).

There is a great spiritual benefit to obeying God in the organization and operation of a church. Of  course, incorporation and 501c3 is only one biblical matter for a church to consider as she seeks to please our Lord. Churches and Christians are to strive to be subject to our Lord in every thing. I believe many churches have a form of godliness, but deny the power of God. I believe that this state of affairs has come about because of heresy and apostasy within our churches. Uniting church and state through incorporation, 501c3, or any other means is the result of a lack of knowledge is some cases. In others, such union is the product of heresy and/or apostasy.

One can see the consequences by comparing the operation and organization of a New Testament church as compared to that of a state incorporated 501c3 church. Again, I have done this in many of my books, articles, and audio teachings.

I hope this begins to answer your questions. By the way, I got your e-mail address from a list of Baptist churches.

For His Glory,
Brother Jerald Finney

XIII. Conclusion

My conclusions from reading and responding to these and other e-mails which have been quoted along with my replies in other articles and that will be in future articles, as I believe you will agree, is that:

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

XIV. Links to Internal Revenue Code Laws

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

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

XV. Note

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

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

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

END

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