Copyright © April 2, 2012
Revised July 24, 2014
Click here to go to “Self-Exam Questions: Distinct Differences between Church and State Render Them Mutually Exclusive” [To be added when time permits]
Combining church and state has had dire consequences, as history shows (See (1) Section 4 of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application which is available free in both PDF and online form or may be ordered in softback and Kindle by going to “Order information for books by Jerald Finney”; (2) the section on the history of the First Amendment; and/or (3) An Abridged History of the First Amendment.). Catholic and Protestant theology historically justified (and continue to justify) the union of church and state by examining Scripture not literally, but allegorically or spiritually, when and where convenient to support a desired conclusion. Thus, those religious organizations interpret Scripture in such a way as to apply the principles for Israel and Judaism to Gentile nations and the established church of that nation.
Many of America’s founding fathers, most especially James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, understood that church and state should be separate. From a worldly common sense point of view they arrived at their understanding by studying the consequences of such unions both historically and also contemporaneously. Isaac Backus and some other Baptists understood both the problems created by combining church and state and the true reasons for those problems. Backus wrote: “Christians must be careful not to apply God’s principles for the Jewish religion and the nation Israel to church and state. The principles for the two are so distinct that they are mutually exclusive. The government of the Church of Christ is as distinct from all worldly governments, as heaven is from earth” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume 2 (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), p. 561)! Indeed, union of church and state is contrary to biblical principles; and, therefore, the consequences of church-state union have always been dire and will be so until the return of Christ and the establishment of the Kingdom.
God gave both church and state certain powers. God gave the state earthly and temporal power within jurisdictional boundaries which He set out.
“EARTH’LY, a. Pertaining to the earth, or to this world.
Our earthly house of this tabernacle. 2 Cor. v.
“2. Not heavenly; vile; mean,
This earthly load
Of death called life. Milton.
“3. Belonging to our present state; as earthly objects; earthly residence.
“4. Belonging to the earth or world; carnal; vile; as opposed to spiritual or heavenly.
Whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. Phil. iii.
“5. Corporeal; not mental. Spenser”(AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828)).
The power given a church was meant to provide a spiritual and eternal good.
“1. Consisting of spirit; not material; incorporeal; as a spiritual substance or being. The soul of man is spiritual.
“2. Mental; intellectual; as spiritual armor.
“3. Not gross; refined from external things; not sensual; relative to mind only; as a spiritual and refined religion.
“4. Not lay or temporal; relating to sacred things; ecclesiastical; as the spiritual functions of the clergy; the lords spiritual and temporal; a spiritual corporation.
“5. Pertaining to spirit or to the affections; pure; holy.
God’s law is spiritual; it is a transcript of the divine nature, and extends its authority to the acts of the soul of man.
“6. Pertaining to the renewed nature of man; as spiritual life.
“7. Not fleshly; not material; as spiritual sacrifices. 1 Peter ii.
“8. Pertaining to divine things; as spiritual songs…. Ephesians v. (Ibid.)”
Spiritual beliefs determine earthly actions. Much of God’s spiritual word deals with actions of individuals, families, churches, and nations here upon the earth. Civil governments are not given jurisdiction over many areas of life which are governed by the Word of God. A civil government which ignores God and His Word is setting itself up for judgment.
God ordained a church under God, not a business under civil government, an entity that is to work hand in hand with or perhaps over the state to bring in the kingdom of God, or an entity that is to work under state rules. Admittedly, the ultimate God-given purpose of both a church and a civil government is to glorify God, each acting under God, but neither acting with or under the other. However, the underlying purposes of a church and the state are significantly different: the underlying purpose of a church is heavenly or spiritual; the underlying purpose of a civil government is earthly.
The purpose of the Gentile civil government is fleshly or earthly. See the section “The biblical doctrine of government” for more on the jurisdiction and purposes of the various God-ordained governments including civil government. Gentile civil government, according to God, was ordained by God to deal with those temporal earthly matters assigned it by God. God gave man certain authority over man. He gave man the responsibility to rule over man under His rules. Gentile civil government has authority to punish those who commit certain crimes against their fellow man and to reward those who do good. The purpose of the Gentile civil government is to control evil men thereby maintaining some degree of peace in this present world. A civil government, as defined by God, is made up of men under God ruling over man in earthly matters.
A church is a local autonomous body of believers; and, as such, it is a holy temple for the habitation of God through the Spirit (Ep. 2.21, 22); is “one flesh” with Christ (Ep. 5.30, 31); and espoused to Him as a chaste virgin to one Husband (2 Co. 11.2-4). A church, under God, owes no allegiance to any tribunal in the universe, except to that of the Lord Jesus Christ unless she willingly and wrongly places herself under the jurisdiction of another (Mt. 16.13-18), and is the body of Christ of which He is the Head (Ep. 1.22, 23). See the section “The biblical doctrine of the church” for a thorough examination of the doctrine of the church.
Neither a church nor the state was given authority from God to rule over or with the other. Christians are told to obey civil government as regards certain earthly matters. But Christians and churches are not to be under the civil government with regard to spiritual matters, which include many activities and actions as shown in the Bible. God gave churches free will, and churches can therefore choose to disobey God and voluntarily put themselves under the authority of civil government.
Civil government does not meet the qualifications needed to rule over a church and those matters assigned the church by God. Civil government does not have the authority given it from God to oversee or rule a church. Since civil government is usually led by the unregenerate, it does not have the nature or wisdom to handle spiritual matters; and, therefore, when a church combines with the state, both are corrupted. Christians do have such nature and wisdom, as proclaimed by Paul: “Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath proposed in himself” (Ep. 1.9).
Paul was a very well-educated man. He was a Pharisee of Pharisees. Before his conversion, he studied in Tarsus under Gamaliel (Ac. 22.3).
“Tarsus was actually the center of Greek learning to that day. The finest Greek university in Paul’s day was in Tarsus, not in Athens or Corinth which had passed their zenith. Tarsus was a thriving Greek city and an educational center. Undoubtedly Paul had been brought up in that university in Tarsus and had a Greek background, but he had also been in Jerusalem where he had studied under Gamaliel. He had worked on his doctorate in Jerusalem under the outstanding scholar of that day, Gamaliel” (J. Vernon McGee, Acts, Volume II (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1984), p. 258).
Despite his worldly education, which he obtained before his conversion, Paul declared:
“And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power. Howbeit we speak wisdom among them that are perfect: yet not the wisdom of this world, nor of the princes of this world, that come to nought: But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them to us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God. Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God. Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Co. 2.1-16). [Bold emphasis mine].
Thus Paul first made clear that, as a spiritual man, he discarded his worldly education gained as a lost carnal man. After he got saved he relied only upon his knowledge of God; and he made clear that only the born-again believer, led by the Spirit, was qualified to handle spiritual matters. Paul also asserted that rulers, “the princes of this world,” do not possess spiritual wisdom, indicating that most leaders are not Christians (undoubtedly, almost all leaders, and almost all leaders of civil government when he wrote the above words, are not and were not Christians) and are blind to spiritual matters.
- “InScripture theology, wisdom is true religion; godliness; piety; the knowledge and fear of God, and sincere and uniform obedience to his commands. This is the wisdom which isfrom above. Ps. xc. Job xxviii”….
- “The wisdom of this world, mere human erudition; or the carnal policy of men, their craft and artifices in promoting their temporal interests; called alsofleshly wisdom. 1 Cor. ii., 2 Cor. i” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828), definition of “WISDOM.”).
Persecuted Christians down through the ages have understood this and therefore have refused, even under penalty of torture, imprisonment, and/or death to submit the church and spiritual matters to the ungodly, usually the civil government, and/or the state-church. This was apparent under the Roman Empire at the time of Christ and after. Roger Williams correctly observed, as have other students of unrevised history:
- “Scripture and all history tell us, that those Caesars were not only arrogant, without God, without Christ, &c.; but professed worshippers, or maintainers, of the Roman gods or devils; as also notorious for all sorts of wickedness; and lastly, cruel and bloody lions and tigers toward the Christians for many hundred years.
- “Hence I argue from the wisdom, love, and faithfulness of the Lord Jesus in his house, it was impossible that he should appoint such ignorant, such idolatrous, such wicked, and such cruel persons to be his chief officers and deputy lieutenants under himself to keep the worship of God, to guard his church, his wife. No wise and loving father was ever known to put his child, no not his beasts, dogs, or swine, but unto fitting keepers.
- “Men judge it matter of high complaint, that the records of parliament, the king’s children, the Tower of London, the great seal, should be committed to unworthy keepers! And can it be, without high blasphemy, conceived that the Lord Jesus should commit his sheep, his children, yea, his spouse, his thousand shields and bucklers in the tower of his church, and lastly, his great and glorious broad seals of baptism and his supper, to be preserved pure in their administrations—I say, that the Lord Jesus, who is wisdom and faithfulness itself, should deliver these to such keepers? …
- “[W]hen the Lord appointed the government of Israel after the rejection of Saul, to establish a covenant of succession in the type unto Christ, let it be minded what pattern and precedent it pleased the Lord to set for the after kings of Israel and Judah, in David, the man after his own heart.
- “But now the Lord Jesus being come himself, and having fulfilled the former types, and dissolved the national state of the church, and established a more spiritual way of worship all the world over, and appointed a spiritual government and governors, it is well known what the Roman Caesars were, under whom both Christ Jesus himself, and his servants after him, lived and suffered; so that if the Lord Jesus had appointed any such deputies—as we find not a title to that purpose, nor have a shadow of true reason so to think—he must, I say, in the very first institution, have pitched upon such persons for thesecustodies utriusque tabulae, keepers of both tables, as no man wise, or faithful or loving, would have chosen in any of the former instances, or cases of a more inferior nature…” (Roger Williams and Edward Bean Underhill, The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution for Cause of Conscience Discussed and Mr. Cotton’s Letter Examined and Answered (London: Printed for the Society, by J. Haddon, Castle Street, Finsbury, 1848), pp. 204-205).
- “Christ never delivered His sheep or children to these wolves, his wife and spouse to such adulterers, his precious jewels to such great thieves and robbers of the world, as the Roman emperors were. Paul never appealed to Caesar as judge appointed by Christ Jesus to give definitive sentence in any spiritual or church controversy; but against the civil violence and murder which the Jews intended against him, Paul justly appealed. For otherwise, if in a spiritual cause he should have appealed, he should have overthrown his own apostleship and power given him by Christ Jesus in spiritual things, above the highest kings or emperors of the world beside…” (Ibid., p. 209).
- “A civil magistrate may be a good subject, a good magistrate, in respect of civil or moral goodness, which thousands want; and where it is, it is commendable and beautiful, though godliness, which is infinitely more beautiful, be wanting, and which is only proper to the Christian state, the commonweal of Israel, the true church the holy nation, Ephes. ii.; 1 Pet. ii” (Ibid., p. 212).
How can it be that a Christian can be godly, while a non-Christian as a hopeless lost sinner can only have some degree of virtue? Once a person is born again, he becomes a new creature, a spiritual being who is instructed by God to walk in the Spirit:
- “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3.3).
- “Except a man be born of water (SeeEN1) and of the Spirit (John the Baptist said, “I indeed baptize you with water, but he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost.” Mk. 1.8. See also, Mt. 3.11 and Lu. 3.16), he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (Jn. 3.5).
- “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit” (Jn. 3.6).
- “Therefore if any manbe in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (1 Co. 5.17).
- “And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins: Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others. But God, who is rich in mercy for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.1-6).
- “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which arethese; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit” (Ga. 5.16-25; see also, Ep. 5.1-17, Jn. 6.63, Ro. 8.1-13).
Thus, the lost man, the man who has not been born again, is a fleshly man, who walks in the flesh without the indwelling Spirit of God. He is subject only to the law. The believer, a member of a church, a part of the body, is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth who is told to be led of the Spirit. He is told that if he is led of the Spirit, he is not subject to the law.
- “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ” (Ep. 1.3).
- “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace are ye saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ep. 2.4-5).
- “If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell youof heavenly things” (Jn. 3.12)?
- “WHEREFORE, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus” (He. 3.1).
- “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul” (1 Pe. 2.11).
The word “heavenly” signifies that which is heavenly in contradistinction to that which is “earthly”:
“‘The heavenlies’ [or ‘heavenly places’] may be defined as the sphere of the believer’s spiritual experience as identified with Christ in nature (2 Pet. 1.4 [‘Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.’]); life (Col. 3.4 [‘When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.’]; 1 John 5.12 [‘He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.’]); relationships (John 20.17 [‘Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.’]; Heb. 2.11 [‘For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,’]); service (John 17.18 [‘As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.’]; Mt. 28.20 [‘Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.’]); suffering (Phil. 1.29 [‘For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake;’]; 3.10 [‘That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;’]; Col. 1.24 [‘Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:’]); inheritance (Rom. 8.16, 17 [‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 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.’]); and future glory in the kingdom (Rom. 8.18-21 [‘For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.’]; 1 Pet. 2.9 [‘But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:’]; Rev. 1.6 [‘And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.’]; 5.10 [‘And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.’]). The believer is a heavenly man, and a stranger and pilgrim on the earth (Heb. 3.1 [‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;’]; 1 Pet. 2.11 [‘Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;’])” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Ep. 1.3, p. 1249).
The church is made up of believers. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Ac. 2.47). The church, made up of spiritual beings, is a spiritual or heavenly body whose ultimate purpose is to glorify God. “The word ‘spiritual,’ found 23 times in the Bible, always means heavenly minded, godly, holy, never self-centered” (Questions and Answers, The Berean Call, January 2007, Volume XXII, No. 1, p. 5, available at www.thebereancall.org.). “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Co. 10.31). As was pointed out in “The biblical doctrine of the church” and further explained in “God Betrayed/Church Corporate-501c3 Status: Union Of Church and State”, a church, as the spiritual body of Christ, is told to be subject to Christ, the Head of the body, in all things.
Spiritual matters include all things involving a church, such as the use of (not ownership of by the church) property for the assembly of the saints. These matters are all related to the primary purpose of loving and glorifying God and the Lord Jesus Christ who is likened to the Head, the Husband, and the Bridegroom of the church, and loving our neighbor as well. Jesus stated, concerning the commandments concerning man’s relationship with God, in response to “[A] lawyer, [who] asked a question, tempting [Jesus], and saying Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and prophets” (Mt. 22.37-40. See also, Mk. 12.28-34 and Lu. 10.25-28).
Love is shown by action—that is, it is an act of the will and not lust or just an emotion or a verbal profession. Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (Jn. 14.21). “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love…. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (Jn. 15.10, 14).
Only God’s people can exhibit God’s love. Again, the first and great commandment of God is to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind;” and the second, like unto it, is “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Mt. 22.37-40. See also, Mk. 12.28-34 and Lu. 10.25-28). This is repeated to emphasize God’s greatest commandments. These commandments were also in the Old Testament (See De. 6.5, 30.6 and Lek 19.18). If one loves God and his neighbor as commanded by God, he will automatically keep the Old Testament Commandments. Thus, rulers, when they forbid a church and/or individual believers to perform their God given functions to love God and to love their neighbors and usurp that role for themselves, have not only assumed an illegitimate role not given them by God, but also have assumed a role they are unqualified to assume because of both a lack of spiritual wisdom and a lack of the most important ingredient—love given the believer by the Spirit of God.
“They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error. Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be a propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another. No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world…. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also” (1 Jn. 4.5-14, 18-21). [Emphasis mine.]
- “Civil officers [are, and] are called in the word of God, princes, heads, captains, judges, magistrates, nobles, lords, kings, them in authority, principalities and powers, yea, in their respect, gods; and according to their names so are their offices. But on the contrary, ecclesiastical officers are not capable of these, or the like titles, which can neither be given without flattery to them, nor received by them without arrogancy. Neither is their office an office of lordship, sovereignty or authority, but of labor and service, and so they, the laborers and servants of the church, as of God. 2. Cor. iv.5; 1 Tim. iii.1. [This same principle applies to government entities such as incorporated churches which, by secular or earthly law, must have officers with certain non-biblical titles. See Section VI.]
- “Magistrates may publish and execute their own laws in their own names. Ezra i.1 &c; Esther viii.8; Matt. xx.25. But ministers are only interpreters of the laws of God, and must look for no further respect at the hands of any to the things they speak, that as they manifest the same to the commandments of the Lord. 1 Cor. xvi. 37. [Officers of incorporated churches are subject to and must apply the laws of their sovereign, the state. See Section VI.]
- “Civil administrators, and their forms of government, may be and ofttimes are altered, for the avoiding of inconveniences, according to the circumstances of time, place and persons. Exod. xviii.13 &c.But the church is a kingdom which cannot be shaken, Heb. xii.28, wherein may be no innovation in office, or form of administration, from that which Christ hath left, for any inconveniency whatsoever.
- “Civil magistrates have authority by their offices to judge offenders, upon whom also they may execute bodily vengeance, using their people as their servants and ministers for the same purpose; but in the church the officers are the ministers of the people, whose service the people is to use for the administering of the judgments of the church, and of God first, against the obstinate, which is the utmost execution the church can perform…. But here it will be demanded of me, if the elders be not set over the church for her guidance and government? Yes, certainly, as the physician is set over the body, for his skill and faithfulness, to minister unto it, to whom the patient, yea though his lord and [or] master, is to submit; the lawyer over his cause, to attend unto it; the steward over his family, even his wife and children, to make provision for them: yea, the watchman over the whole city, for the safe keeping thereof. Such, and none other, is the elder’s or bishop’s government” (John Robinson,A Justification of Separation from the Church of England (1610), quoted in Isaac Backus, A History of New England…, Volume 1, pp. 19-20). [Bold emphasis mine.]
Mr. Robinson’s distinctions between civil and church government are relevant in America today.
A church is to sit together in heavenly places. God wants His churches to be run according to His spiritual principles. Sadly, most churches are not run according to God’s principles. A “church” run as a corporation, unincorporated association, corporate sole, or charitable trust with an Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”) 501(c)(3) tax exemption is, to a greater or lesser degree, earthly. It is designed and operated, at the very least partially, under the earthly rules of man which are contrary to the spiritual rules of God.
The contrast between how God treats earthly and heavenly concerns is shown in many ways. This article will examine a few: first, the contrasts between the manner of redemption of the nation of Israel and the manner of redemption of the individual; second, the contrasts between the new law of Christ in the renewed heart and the external law of Moses; third, the contrasts between the weapons and means of nations to attain their ends and the weapons and means of a believer and a church to attain their ends; fourth, the contrasts between the different punishments ordered by God for the church and for the state; fifth, the contrasts between Old and New Testament prayer; sixth, the contrasts between the hope of nations as seen in the Old Testament and the hope of the church as seen in the New Testament; seventh, the contrasts between the promises to the nation Israel for obedience and the promises to the Christian for obedience; eighth, the contrasts between the position and fate of the nation Israel and the position and fate of the church; and ninth, the contrasts between the different houses of God for Israel and the church—the Old Testament tabernacle was earthly, the New Testament church is spiritual. A discussion of each of these contrasts follows.
“redemption is essential to any relationship with a holy God; and that even a redeemed people cannot have fellowship with Him unless constantly cleansed from defilement.
“In Exodus, God, hitherto connected with the Israelitish people only through His covenant with Abraham, brings them to Himselfnationally through redemption, puts them under the Mosaic Covenant. In the Commandments God taught Israel His just demands. Experience under the Commandments convicted Israel of sin: and the provision of priesthood and sacrifice (filled with precious types of Christ) gave a guilty people a way of forgiveness, cleansing, restoration to fellowship and worship” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, headnote to Ex., p. 71).
In Galatians, Paul demonstrates: “that justification is through the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 15.18), and that the law, which was four hundred and thirty years after the confirmation of that covenant, and the true purpose of which was condemnation, not justification, cannot disannul a salvation which rests upon the earlier covenant. Paul [also vindicates] the office of the Holy Spirit as Sanctifier” (Ibid., headnote to Ga., p. 1241).
“The new ‘law of Christ’ is the divine love, as wrought into the renewed heart by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5.5 [‘And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.’]; Heb. 10.16 [‘This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them.[.]]’); and out flowing in the energy of the Spirit, unforced and spontaneous, toward the objects of the divine love (2 Cor. 5.14-20 [‘For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again. Wherefore henceforth know we no man after the flesh, yet now henceforth know we him no more. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new….’]; 1 Thes. 2.7-8 [‘But we were gentle among you, even as a nurse cherisheth her children; So being affectionately desirous of you, we were willing to have imparted unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls, because ye were dear unto us.’]). It is, therefore, the law of liberty (Jas. 1.25 [‘But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.’]; 2.12 [‘So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty..’]); in contrast with the external law of Moses. Moses’ law demands love (Lev. 19.18 [‘Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.’]; Deut. 6.5 [‘And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.’]; Lk. 10.27 [‘And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.’]); Christ’s law is love (Rom. 5.5 [‘And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.”]; 1 John 4.7, 19, 20 [‘Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. We love him, because he first loved us. If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?’]), and so takes the place of the external law by fulfilling it (Rom. 13.10 [’Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore, love is the fulfilling of the law.’]; Gal. 5.14 [’For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’]. It is the ‘law written in the heart’ under the New Covenant (Heb. 8.8, note)” (Ibid., n. 1 to 2 Jn. 5, p. 1326). [Bold emphasis mine.]
The old law kills, the new law saves. “Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life…. Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty” (2 Co. 3.6, 17). When God told Moses to get down from the mountain, he brought the law down, and three thousand were killed (Ex. 32.28). When Jesus rejoined his disciples after the resurrection, He told them to “wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Ac. 1.4-5). They waited, the Holy Spirit came down, and three thousand were saved (Ac. 1.6-2.41).
- “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfareare not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds.)” (2 Co. 10.3-4).
- “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of he devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints” (Ep. 6.10-18).
- “For the word of Godis quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (He. 4.12).
The weapons of Israel as a nation were carnal, although the real secret to success in their earthly battles was obedience to and faith in God. Their goal as a nation was earthly—possession of and prosperity in the land promised them by God (See, e.g., De). When they entered the land they had to take it by force. For example, they “utterly destroyed all that was in [Jericho], both man and woman, young and old, and ox, and sheep, and ass, with the edge of the sword” (Jos. 6.21). The children of Israel, under Joshua, continued to do battle and “took the whole land, according to all that the LORD said unto Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance unto Israel according to their divisions by their tribes. And the land rested from war” (Jos. 11.23). However, they did not expel all the inhabitants as instructed, nor did they possess all the land God had given them (See, e.g., Jo. 13.13). Joshua, before his death, instructed the children of Israel to expel those remaining of the nations in the land, with penalty of banishment from the land should they fail to keep his instructions (Jos. 23.4-16). They did not drive out all the inhabitants of the land as instructed nor did they take all the land the Lord had given them to possess (Jud. 1).
Weapons used for spiritual warfare are not suitable for earthly warfare and vice versa. Roger Williams, the founder of Rhode Island, the first government in history to have religious liberty (See Section IV, Chapter 6 of God Betrayed) pointed out:
- “[T]o take a stronghold, men bring cannon, culverins, saker, bullets, powder, muskets, swords, pikes, &c., and these to this end are weapons effectual and proportionable.
- “On the other side, to batter down idolatry, false worship, heresy, schism, blindness, hardness, out of the soul and spirit, it is vain, improper, and unsuitable to bring those weapons which are used by persecutors, stocks, whips, prisons, swords, gibbets, stakes, &c., (where these seem to prevail with some cities or kingdoms, a stronger force sets up again, what a weaker pulled down); but against these spiritual strongholds in the souls of men, spiritual artillery and weapons are proper, which are mighty through God to subdue and bring under the very thought to obedience, or else to bind fast the soul with chains of darkness, and lock it up in the prison of unbelief and hardness to eternity” (Williams,The Bloudy Tenent of Persecution, pp. 119-120).
Roger Williams maintained that the civil power has five proper political means to attain its end:
- “First, the erecting and establishing what form of civil government may seem in wisdom most meet, according the general rules of the word, and state of the people…. The magistrate has power to publish and apply such civil laws in a state, as either are expressed in the word of God in Moses’s judicials—to wit, so far as they are of general and moral equity, and so binding all nations in all ages—to be deducted by way of general consequence and proportion from the word of God.
- “For in a free state no magistrate hath power over the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of a free people, but by their free consents. And because free men are not free lords of their own estates, but are only stewards unto God, therefore they may not give their free consents to any magistrate to dispose of their bodies, goods, lands, liberties, at large as themselves please, but as God, the sovereign Lord of all, alone. And because the word is a perfect rule, as well of righteousness as of holiness, it will be therefore necessary that neither the people give consent, nor that the magistrate take power to dispose of the bodies, goods, lands, liberties of the people, but according to the laws and rules of the word of God….
- “Secondly, the making, publishing, and establishing of wholesome civil laws, not only such as concern civil justice, but also the free passage of true religion: for outward civil peace ariseth and is maintained from them both, from the latter as well as from the former.
- “Civil peace cannot stand entire where religion is corrupted, 2 Chron. xv. 3, 5, 6; Judges viii. And yet such laws, though conversant about religion may still be counted civil laws; as on the contrary, an oath doth still remain religious, though conversant about civil matters.
- “Thirdly, election and appointment of civil officers to see execution of those laws.
- “Fourthly, civil punishments and rewards of transgressors and observers of these laws.
- “Fifthly, taking up arms against the enemies of civil peace” (Ibid., pp. 212-213. See pp. 219-223 concerning the power of the magistrate in making laws.).
On the other hand, according to Mr. Williams,
- “the means whereby a church may and should attain her ends, are only ecclesiastical, which are chiefly five. First, setting up that form of church government only of which Christ hath given them a pattern in his word.
- “Secondly, acknowledging and admitting of no lawgiver in the church but Christ, and the publishing of his laws.
- “Thirdly, electing and ordaining of such officers only as Christ hath appointed in his word.
- “Fourthly, to receive into their fellowship them that are approved, and inflicting spiritual censures against them that offend.
- “Fifthly, prayer and patience in suffering any evil from them that be without, who disturb their peace.
- “So that magistrates, as magistrates, have no power of setting up the form of church government, electing church officers, punishing with church censures; but to see the church doth her duty herein. And on the other side, the churches, as churches, have no power, though as members of the commonweal they may have power, of erecting or altering forms of civil government, electing of civil officers, inflicting civil punishments—no, not on persons excommunicated—as by deposing magistrates from their civil authority, or withdrawing the hearts of the people against them, to their laws, no more than to discharge wives, or children, or servants, from due obedience to their husbands, parents, or masters: or by taking up arms against their magistrates, though they persecute them for conscience; for though members of churches, who are public officers, also of the civil state, may suppress by force the violence of usurpers, as Jehoiada did Athaliah, yet this they do not as members of the church, but as officers of the civil state” (Ibid., pp. 213-214).
Fourth,the Bible lays out different punishments to be administered by church and state. As to the church, there is no example in Scripture of the church physically punishing anyone for any type infraction or of the church turning either one guilty of sin (not classified by the state as penal) or one guilty of spiritual wrongdoing over to the state for punishment:
“But as the civil magistrate hath his charge of the bodies and goods of the subject: so have the spiritual officers, governors, and overseers of Christ’s city or kingdom, the charge of their souls, and soul safety. Hence that charge of Paul to Timothy, 1 Tim. v. 20, Them that sin rebuke before all, that others may learn to fear. This is, in the church of Christ, a spiritual means for the healing of a soul that hath sinned, or taken infection, and for the preventing of the infecting of others, that others may learn to fear, &c” (Ibid., p. 99).
Paul instructed the church at Corinth to deliver a church member who was guilty of fornication with his father’s wife “to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Co. 6.1-5). He goes on to tell them that “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” and that they are not to “company with fornicators” “or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters” “or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner” (1 Co. 6.7-11). The Corinthian church did expel the man and he repented and was restored (See 2 Co. 7.8-11). As Roger Williams points out, “Where it is observable, that the same word used by Moses for putting a malefactor to death, in typical Israel, by sword, stoning, &c., Deut. xiii.5, is here used by Paul for the spiritual killing, or cutting off by excommunication, 1 Cor.  v.13, Put away that evil person, &c” (Williams and Underhill, p. 62).
Paul tells the church that members of the church are not to go to law against each other for non-criminal actions, rather to take wrong, to “suffer [themselves] to be defrauded” (I Co. 6.1-8). He tells the church that they are to judge among themselves (Ibid.). Titus was instructed by Paul: “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject” (Tit. 3.10). Roger Williams’ insights into this verse are instructive:
- “[F]or an erroneous and blind conscience, (even in fundamental and weighty points) it is not lawful to persecute any, til after admonition once or twice” (Williams and Underhill, p. 20).
- “First then Titus, unto whom this epistle and these directions were written, and in him to all that succeed him in the like work of the gospel to the world’s end, was no minister of the civil state, armed with the majesty and terror of a material sword, who might for offenses against the civil state inflict punishments upon the bodies of men by imprisonments, whippings, fines, banishment, death. Titus was a minister of the gospel, or glad tidings, armed only with the spiritual sword of the word of God, and [with] such spiritual weapons as (yet) through God were mighty to the casting down of strongholds, yea, every high thought of the highest head and heart in the world, 2. Cor. x. 4.
- “Therefore, these first and second admonitions were not civil or corporal punishments on men’s persons or purses, which courts of men may lawfully inflict upon malefactors; but they were the reprehensions, convictions, exhortations, and persuasions of the word of the eternal God, charged home to the conscience in the name and presence of the Lord Jesus, in the midst of the church. Which being despised and not hearkened to, in the last place follows rejection; which is not a cutting off by heading, hanging, burning, &c., or an expelling of the country and coasts; neither [of] which (no, nor any lesser civil punishment) Titus, nor the church at Crete, had any power to exercise. But it was that dreadful cutting off from that visible head and body, Christ Jesus and his church; that purging out of the old leaven from the lump of the saints; the putting away of the evil and wicked person from the holy land and commonwealth of God’s Israel, 1 Cor. v. [6, 7.] Where it is observable, that the same word used by Moses for putting a malefactor to death, in typical Israel, by sword, stoning, &c.,, Deut. xiii. 5, is here used by Paul for the spiritual killing, or cutting off by excommunication, 1 Cor. v. 13,Put away that evil person, &c.
- “Now, I desire the answerer, and any, in the holy awe and fear of God, to consider that—
“From whom the first and second admonition was to proceed, from them also was the rejecting or casting out to proceed, as before. But not from the civil magistrate, to whom Paul writes not this epistle, and who also is not bound once and twice the admonish, but may speedily punish, as he sees cause, the persons or purses of delinquents against his civil state; but from Titus, the minister or angel of the church, and from the church with him, were these first and second admonitions to proceed.
- “And therefore, at last also, this rejecting: which can be no other but a casting out, or excommunicating of him from their church society.
- “Indeed, this rejecting is no other than that avoiding which Paul writes of to the church of Christ at Rome, Rom. xvi. 17; which avoiding, however woefully perverted by some to prove persecution, belonged to the governors of Christ’s church and kingdom in Rome, and not to the Roman emperor, for him to rid and avoid the world of them by bloody and cruel persecution” (, pp. 61-63).
A heretic in the church who continues in his heresy after the first and second admonition “is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself” (Tit. 3.11).
The state, on the other hand, is to punish men for certain carnal infractions against their fellow man, not for spiritual infractions against God.
“Prayer in the O.T. is in contrast with prayer in the N.T. in 2 respects: (1) in the former the basis of prayer is a covenant of God, or an appeal to his revealed character as merciful, gracious, etc. In the latter, the basis is relationship: ‘When ye pray, say, Our Father’ (Mt. 6.9). (2) A comparison, e.g., of the prayers of Moses and Paul, e.g. will show that one was praying for an earthly people whose dangers and blessings were earthly; the other for a heavenly people whose dangers and blessings were spiritual” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Hab. 3.1, p. 957).
Whereas, in the Old Testament, prayers were made for temporal destruction of those God had a purpose to pluck up, Christians are to pray for all men:
“Jeremy had a commission to plant and build, to pluck up and destroy kingdoms, Jer. i.10; therefore he is commanded not to pray for that people whom God had a purpose to pluck up, Jer. xiv.11, and he plucks up the whole nation by prayer, Lament. iii.66. thus Elijah brought fire from heaven to consume the captains and the fifties, 2 Kings i. And the apostles desired also so to practise against the Samaritans, Luke ix.54, but were reproved by the Lord Jesus. For, contrarily, the saints, and servants, and churches of Christ, are to pray for all men, especially for all magistrates, of what sort or religions soever, and to seek the peace of the city, whatever city it be, because in the peace of the place God’s people have peace also, Jer. xxix.7; 2 Tim. ii., &c (Williams and Underhill, p. 86).”
Sixth, nations as seen in the Old Testament and churches as seen in the New Testament have different hopes. Every nation is on probation (if it violates its probation, it loses its land and identity as a nation); believers in a church are a family awaiting glory:
“The scene that happened while Moses was on the mount where the children of Israel broke the law, made a golden calf, etc., affords a striking contrast between law and grace. Cf. Moses’s intercession with Christ’s (John 17). Israel was a nation, under probation [earthly] (Ex. 19.5,6); believers under grace are a family, awaiting glory [heavenly] (John 20.17; Rom. 5.1, 2). For them there is “an advocate with the Father,’’ whose propitiatory sacrifice never loses efficacy (1 John 2.1, 2). Moses pleads a covenant (Ex. 32.13); Christ points to a sacrifice (John 17.4)” (See Ex. 32 and 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Ex. 32.10, p. 113).
[put persecution 1 here]Seventh, the promises to the nation Israel and its people and the promises to the Christian are different. The Christian was promised, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Ti. 3.12). Israel was given conditional promises of material blessings for obeying God’s commands, for keeping His statutes and judgments. Under the Palestinian Covenant, they were told that they would prosper materially if they kept and did all the words of that covenant (De. 30.9). God repeated this promise to other leaders of Israel. For example, the LORD spoke to Solomon, King of Israel saying,
“And if thou walk before me, as David thy father walked, in integrity of heart, and in uprightness, to do according to all that I have commanded thee, and wilt keep my statutes and my judgments: Then I will establish the throne of thy kingdom upon Israel for ever, as I promised to David thy father, saying, There shall not fail thee a man upon the throne of Israel. But if ye shall at all turn from following me, ye or your children, and will not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods, and worship them: Then will I cut off Israel out of the land which I have given them; and this house, which I have hallowed for my name, will I cast out of my sight; and Israel shall be a proverb and a byword among all people: And at this house, which is high, every one that passeth by it shall be astonished, and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the LORD done this to this land and to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the LORD their God, who brought their fathers out of the land of Egypt, and have taken hold upon other gods, and have worshipped them, and served them: therefore hath the LORD brought upon them all this evil” (1 K. 9.4-9).
Eighth, the position and fate of the nation Israel and the position and fate of the church are distinct. God called the nation Israel the wife of Jehovah to be restored on this earth; the church is symbolized as the bride and wife of Christ:
“That Israel is the wife of Jehovah (see [Hosea 2.] 16-23), now disowned but yet to be restored, is the clear teaching of [Hosea 2:14-23]. This relationship is not to be confounded with that of the Church to Christ (John 3.29, refs.). In the mystery of the Divine tri-unity both are true. The New Testament speaks of the Church as a virgin espoused to one husband (2 Cor. 11.1, 2); which could never be said of an adulterous wife, restored in grace. Israel is, then, to be the restored and forgiven wife of Jehovah, the Church the virgin wife of the Lamb (John 3.29; Rev. 19.6-8); Israel Jehovah’s earthly wife (Hos. 2.23); the Church the Lamb’s heavenly bride (Rev. 19.7))” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Ho. 2.2, p. 922).
- “Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary. For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the shewbread; which is called the sanctuary…. But Christ, being come an high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building” (He. 9.1-2, 11).
- “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, andthat the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are” (1 Co. 3.16-17. “In the N.T. the usual Gk. word for sanctuary (naos) is used of (1) the temple in Jerusalem (Mt. 23.16); (2) of the believer’s body (I Cor. 3.16, 17; 6.19); (3) of the local church (2 Cor. 6.16); and of (4) of the true church (Eph. 2.21). But in all these instances the thought is simply of a habitation of God. No reference to the structure of the temple, as in the case of the tabernacle (Heb. 9.-10), is traceable.” 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to 1 K. 6.1, p. 393.).
- “Now therefore ye [church members] are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth into an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” (Ep. 2.19-22).
- “Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and makethem the members of an harlot? God forbid…. know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined to the Lord is one spirit… What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? …” (1 Co. 6.15-20).
- “But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” (He. 3.6).
- “[Y]e are the temple of the living God: as God hath said, I will dwell in them and walk inthem: and I will be their God, and they shall be my people” (2 Co. 6.16).
- “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” (1 Pe. 2.4-5).
John the Baptist announced the coming of something new. He spent no time in the temple. With him, a new system that required a decision began. “Jesus’ real temple—as … with John the Baptist—was the desert” (Leonard Verduin, The Anatomy of a Hybrid (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Derdmans Publishing Co., 1976), fn W, p. 61). “Some of the negative miracles he performed (e.g., the cursing of the fig tree so that it withered) were a reflection of his attitude toward the temple and the concept of which it was the rallying point” (Ibid.). Jesus foretold the destruction of the temple (Mt. 24.2), and failed to endorse Jerusalem and the Jewish system of worship stating that the time was coming when she would neither worship in “this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem,” but that “the hour cometh, and now is when true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father seeketh such to worship him” (Jn. 4.21, 23).
The resources and manpower needed to build the temple (earthly and tremendous, provided by man) and the church (heavenly, provided by God) are distinct (He. 9.1-2, 11). In the Old Testament, we learn that the shekinah-glory of the LORD came to fill the house of the LORD, built by man’s hands. The Holy Spirit comes to live in the believer, who is born again by the spirit of God. As has been shown, the church is a spiritual building, made up of spiritual stones (believers) built on the cornerstone (Jesus Christ).
America has seduced most churches to submit to the state through incorporation and 501(c)(3) status. The civil government has convinced Americans, saved and lost, to embrace its illegitimate authority, and has taught them that people are to worship and glorify God and spread the Gospel only within the four walls of a building. Today, in America, the civil government has made it impossible for an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization and Christians to exercise, in many instances, the second great commandment. For example, the state will not allow a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization to run a home for children without being licensed and controlled by the state.
Observing most churches—with no civil law purportedly requiring state control of churches as in Communist China and other nations throughout the world—running to seek affiliation with the state, and born-again believers putting churches under state control is vexing to the Christian who knows that such actions displease God. A church in the United States is not required to affiliate with the state. No one will be persecuted if a church refuses to affiliate with the state unless the church, in some circumstances, attempts to exercise the second great commandment to love one’s neighbor as oneself. Many, probably the majority of born-again church members, love the Lord and would reject civil government entanglement with the church if taught by their pastors and other teachers the biblical truths about the matter. Yet the vast majority of churches affiliate with the state. Why? Because of false teachers—“Christian” lawyers and unregenerate pastors as well as saved pastors who have never studied biblical principles concerning separation of church and state—and the itching ears of some of God’s people; because some church members love the world and what it teaches and offers more than they love the Lord and what He offers. The Lord taught us:
“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever” (1 Jn. 2.15-17).
EN1. The water which is spoken of here is the Word of God. This is consistent with all of Scripture, and is specifically stated in the Bible. “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever.” 1 Pe. 1.23. Jesus, in talking to the Samaritan woman said, “If thou knowest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him and he would have given thee living water…. Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again. But whosover drinketh of the water that I give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” Jn. 4.10, 13-14. “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Ep. 5.26
EN 2. Why should believers, and especially pastors, be concerned about the area of church and state law? Because only through knowledge can they avoid dishonoring the Husband/Bridegroom/Head of their local church body and thereby failing to achieve their God-given goal—glorifying God and pleasing Him.
These articles systematically examine the biblical doctrines of church, state, separation of church and state and the application of those doctrines in America. For believers and churches, the information presented is—according to God’s Word—of great importance to our Lord. By reading and studying each article using the Bible as the standard, a believer will discover that the biblical principles are correct as presented. By studying the historical and legal facts presented—without bias, prejudice, illicit motive, or an overriding opposing agenda which has a vested interest in maintaining a status quo due to loss of finances, support or something else—and examining those facts in light of biblical principle, a qualified believer (a believer who has the necessary biblical, historical, and legal qualifications and education) can understand that the conclusions are correct.
That said, understanding the biblical principles, relevant history, and legal principles and facts is, first, impossible for one who is not a born again believer who is walking in the Spirit, and, second, daunting for even the spirit filled follower of Christ. Years of honest, open minded study is required to achieve the correct knowledge and understanding of all facets of church and state law. First, one must interpret Scripture correctly (See 2 Ti. 2:15) as to the relevant topics. After mastering the biblical principles, one must then labor through the annals of history, and the intricacies of law. In order to be qualified to comment upon the law, one must have an extensive legal education. He must understand how to do legal research and how to reach correct legal conclusions. Legal commentary by a pseudo lawyer can sound good to the untrained, while he may be correctly understood as frivolous and unlearned and probably heretical by the educated believer.
This is not to say that a non-lawyer cannot understand the legal and historical aspects of spiritual matters. In fact, the author knows some pastors and other believers who, having already correctly divided the Word of Truth and determined to seek to please God in all matters, have open minds and who have eagerly sought truth in the historical and legal church and state law arena. He is working with such a young pastor at this very moment. He is a brilliant young man who had mastered the Scriptures and Baptist history before the author met him. He excels the author in those matters, as do some other pastors and believers known by the author. Unlike most pastors, he does not have the disadvantages of having gone to either a secular or ecclesiastical (Baptist or otherwise) institution of higher learning. Secular colleges and universities usually corrupt even the most devout child of God; and religious colleges, institutions, and seminaries generally (with few exceptions, one of which the author has personal knowledge of)—by either mixing an ample dose of humanism with whatever biblically correct teaching they dose out; or by having totally having abandoned truth—likewise usually corrupt their students to one degree or another.
On the other hand, the author is vexed by what he reads in some books and websites concerning church and state law; particularly by some vicious, unfounded attacks upon the Biblical Law Center Declaration of Trust by unqualified, biased assailants who are attempting to mislead believers and churches through incorrect biblical and legal analyses and personal attacks upon and outright lies about those with whom they disagree in such matters.
Being a believer alone, even a pastor, does not by itself qualify one to teach on church and state law. The author has been a believer and faithful member of independent Baptist churches since his salvation. He was called by God to go to law school for His glory and to please Him. As a result of that calling, he obtained a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from one of the best law schools in the country and has practiced law for seventeen years. He has no motive for dishonesty. By design, he has never made a dime above expenses in his work in the church and state law arena. In fact, he has spent tens of thousands of dollars with total income of at most three to four thousand dollars in all the years he has worked in this area of law. Because of this he is beholden to no one and nothing but the truth and his Lord and Savior. Since becoming a lawyer, he has devoted untold thousands of hours in biblical, historical, and legal study and analysis of church and state law.
As always, he declares that if anyone can show him where he is in error, he will recant. Honest, loving believers have taught him much and caused him to modify some of his positions. He has also, in his continued studies, modified some of his conclusions and positions. However, he maintains his primary positions because neither he, through his continued studies, or others have shown him to be wrong about his basic church and state law principles and conclusions.
EN 3 All books, except An Abridged History of the First Amendment, by Jerald Finney are available free in both PDF and online form. One may go to Order information for books by Jerald Finney should he desire to order any of the books which are in print.
God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (Link to preview of God Betrayed)(PDF; online form) may be ordered from Amazon by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Amazon.com or from Barnes and Nobel by clicking the following link: God Betrayed on Barnes and Noble. All books by Jerald Finney as well as many of the books he has referenced and read may also be ordered by left clicking Order Information for Books by Jerald Finney or directly from Amazon by going to the following links:
- Render Unto God the Things that Are His: A Systematic Study of Romans 13 and Related Verses (Kindle only)(PDF; online form);
- The Most Important Thing: Loving God and/or Winning Souls (Kindle only from Amazon.com; see Order information for books by Jerald Finney to order directly from Kerygma Publishing Co.)(PDF; online form) ;
- Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities? (Link to preview of Separation of Church and State/God’s Churches: Spiritual or Legal Entities?) which can also be ordered by clicking the following Barnes and Noble link: Separation of Church and State on Barnes and Noble (PDF; online form)
- An Abridged History of the First Amendment is available in PDF only.
- Tract on the legality of street preaching is available in PDF only.
- “Quick Reference Guide for Churches Seeking to Organize According to the Principles of the New Testament” is available in PDF only.
- Miscellaneous articles by Jerald Finney.
- Links to some of Jerald Finney’s writings on legal issues.
Click here to see for updated list of Finney’s books. This Endnote is complete up to August 1, 2014.