Who Really Heads The Church?
(“Sharing” His Glory?)
[Isaiah 42:8, 48:1]
Choose you this day whom ye will serve…”
“No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 16:13
“Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? But my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit.” Jeremiah 2:11
Church (church) n. 1. The body of Christ; also, the bride of Christ. [GK. Ekklesia, or “called out” assembly.]
While some may not see eye to eye with all aspects of a legal system, civil law agrees with God’s word in this aspect: a church is not a corporation and a corporation is not a church. The two are mutually exclusive entities, each with a distinct sovereign authority at its head. The state is the head of a corporation, the Lord Jesus Christ is the head of the church.
When a church accepts the Internal Revenue Service’s 501 (c)(3) non-profit status, it agrees to relinquish its authority as a local
branch of Christ’s church. It accepts restructuring as a state-regulated and partnered “religious organization.”
Who really heads the church?
Does your church hold 501(c)(3) non-profit status? Many entire denominations and some independent church bodies, rather than being New Testament churches in the biblical sense, are in fact subsidized non-profit corporations.
Why is this so? Pastors and church boards often seek the 501(c)(3) status due to a belief that non-profit status facilitates contribution$ and limits legal liabilitie$. In some cases, due to debt, a pastor may conclude he has no other option. The members of the church body might insist upon tax deductibility for offerings; or church advisors will sometimes recommend non-profit status as a helpful aid to growth. But should the church be run by the same methods and standards as other worldly institutions?
“Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!” Isaiah 31:1
The state is the “creator” of all corporations. When a church contracts with civil government to gain benefits of incorporation, it signs over the final authority in church matters to the state. The church grants headship to the civil government and allows it to dictate the limits of church authority, autonomy, and action.
We hear of concerns regarding “separation of church and state.” Biblical separation results if a church maintains its simple original structure. But when it is reestablished as a “state-church,” a boundary shift occurs. Now one-way separation is the demand of the creator-state, to separate “state-church” from state, so the state may more easily preempt God’s sovereignty.
Other issues arise too, for the church body in possession of 501(c)(3) non-profit status. IRS materials state “…the Internal Revenue Service maintains two basic guidelines: 1) That the particular religious beliefs of the organization are truly and sincerely held, and 2) That the practices and rituals associated with the organization’s religious belief or creed are not illegal or contrary to clearly defined public policy,” (IRS Pub 557, “Tax-Exempt Status for Your Organization.” Pg 23 (Emphasis added)
Further it states: “No substantial part of the activities of the corporation shall be carrying on of propaganda, (IRS Pub 557, pg 17). Propaganda is normally defined as the spreading of doctrine. The gospel of Jesus Christ is one example of doctrine. Apparently the state wants exclusive rights to propaganda and if you refuse to support legalized abortion or homosexual marriages (or hiring the same for church work), you are not in conformity to public policy!
A 501(c)(3) corporation is legally required to support the government’s agenda, even sinful activities identified as “public policy.” Soon euthanasia, when legalized with federal healthcare, will be a part of public policy. Any church that accepts non-profit status must anticipate standing in silent support of such policies or risk the loss of its properties. The truth is that 501(c)(3) religious organization are structured to serve two masters.
“For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.” 1 Timothy 6:10
Some claim that non-profit religious organizations are merely precluded from supporting particular legislation or candidates for office, and that no additional limitations are placed upon them. In reality, corporate churches are already under state control, whether or not the state has yet fully exercised it. Such churches have left their “first love” to bend the knee to civil government operating outside its proper parameters.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” Ephesians 5:1
For those who decide to accept the benefits of non-profit status without full compliance, civil authorities can and do confiscate the assets of such organizations, when action suits their interests. Yet, this is only a secondary matter. In the final analysis, the 501(c)(3) status is never required for any New Testament church to lawfully exist as a church. It is evidence of spiritual adultery, the product of an idolatrous faith in (or fear of) human government. The church actually then becomes a state harlot if it claims the God of the Bible at all, and the pastor its pimp!
Tolerating compromise of the Lord’s headship may be the primary sin within the churches of Christianity today. Other sins follow from this lack of respect for Christ’s authority over a church, which He is supposed to be building.
“Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4
Any church that trades Christ’s authority for corporate status has ceased to be a church, according to God’s definition. The state sees such organizations as merely the same as the Red Cross or the Green Crescent. Do some church bodies conclude that spiritual compromise is acceptable if financial gain or the security of “limited liability” results? What is wrong with honestly owning up to one’s responsibilities? We must be willing to consider our true status in the eyes of the sovereign Lord Jesus Christ.
“But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication. So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate. Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.” Revelation 2:14-17
Balaam and the Nicolaitans – These doctrines resulted in some of the early churches being led into compromise. God’s word speaks here to those within the church who would rationalize, teach, or merely tolerate worldly compromise,
mixing holy things with unholy. Nicolaitans were known for taking Christ’s authority and giving it to man. Where in the Bible are Robert’s Rules of Order? Why should the ultimate decision for the church rest in the word of an attorney, CPA, or an insurance agent? Certainly, granting the civil government a headship role in the church accomplishes the same thing.
“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.” Colossians 1:18
God’s lesson for us
“Now when these things were done, the princes came to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests, and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the people of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.” Ezra 9:1
We know that throughout the scriptures, God deals with His people when they decide to take up the ways of the world. In some instances, faithful individuals responded in obedience to correct the course of the people or to separate themselves from the sin.
“Then arose Ezra, and made the chief priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they should do according to this word. And they sware.” Ezra 10:5
What should we do?
Most importantly, each of us should make a personal decision to remove ourselves from any setting of spiritual compromise with the church. Would your church continue to hold its non-profit status after considering the facts?
God’s Word clearly shows the way to go:
“Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thessalonians 5:22
“Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?” 2 Corinthians 6:14
“Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.” 1 Corinthians 10:21
“Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” James 4:17
To support a church structure with dual foundations, split loyalties and opposing heads is not God’s way. The result is distortion, deceit, and decay, which effectively corrupts and perverts the body of Christ. Fortunately, the situation can be resolved, if we as individuals will act. And God’s Word gives us clear direction, if no corrective action is to be implemented by a particular church:
“But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.” 1 Corinthians 6:17
As those “called out,” we are not to support anyone in the church who would teach or tolerate compromise, or rationalize service to rival gods. And we can be certain of God’s will –we must extract ourselves from spiritual immorality. This is the day to repent and to seek out or start a New Testament church with the Lord Jesus Christ alone as its head and the Bible as our sole constitution and bylaws.
“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.” Revelation 2:5
Is your church Christ’s organism, or merely another social club styled organization? May the Lord act on your heart to respond in obedience to His 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 5:27
–Pastor Dan Hardin, 2010