Have you noticed the many new products on the supermarket: "Fat-Free Mayonnaise," "Caffeine-Free Soda Pop," "Fluoride-Free Toothpaste" and "Salt-Free Chips?"
Why would a product be "Fat-Free" or "Caffeine-Free"? Isn't it because these substances have been shown to be harmful in some way? Too much fat may clog arteries. Caffeine beverages may cause sleeplessness. Our bodies do well on natural food. But when certain substances are added, we start experiencing annoying or painful side effects. That is why many people look for products that are free of these substances.
Seeking to keep our body free from harmful additives improves our physical health. But what do we do about those harmful additives that pollute our spiritual body? Today there is a damaging substance that we want to get rid of in the Church. That substance is the State. It's time to purify the Church. Let's have a State-Free Church!
Let's examine the substance or foundation of the State to see why it is a harmful additive. First, the State is founded on negative law. Negative law is full of "Thou shalt nots." It is law upon law, hundreds of new laws every year. It is really quite a heavy burden.
Secondly, the State is run by "unregenerated" men. In other words, they are not baptized of Christ and have not been born again. They are not in the Kingdom of Heaven. Many of them even try to lock up the doors to the Kingdom and they themselves will not go in.
The State is full of unregenerated men, continuing Adam's lineage. Because of Adam's fall, these unsaved men are under the curse of the law. They continue to follow after Adam, not acknowledging that Jesus Christ brought us the Kingdom of Heaven, which is far better.
We wake up and see this old line of Adam proliferating everywhere. The whole world lies under the power of Statism. Whether it be in North America, South America, or across the oceans. The State is everywhere. But there is one place where the State has no business - and that is, in the Church. Why is the State running our Church?
Not only is the State run by unregenerated men, but the unregenerates are trying to run the Church. They have not been baptized of Him, neither do they know Him, and yet they are running our Church!
You don't believe the Church is being run by unbelievers? Ask almost any church in America about their connections with the State. We know what the Scripture says, "What communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Corinthians 6:14) Yet almost every Church is joined to the State through State incorporation.
The Scripture at 1 John 4, verses 1 through 3 gives a "religious test" that needs to be given to anyone claiming an interest in the Church. It says:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets have gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God; And every spirit that confesses not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God; and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come and even now already is it in the world.
That is an important passage. Does the State pass this religious test? No. The State does not confess Jesus Christ. Therefore, if your church is a State corporation, you have antichrist in your church.
Instead of confessing Jesus Christ, the State offers "freedom of religion." These are two very different things. To confess Jesus Christ is to confess one faith, and one faith only. One Lord, and One Lord only. But "freedom of religion" allows many gods. You can be of any faith, worship any god, or even be an atheist.
If the State is antichrist, then how can it be a legitimate government? Why are we, as believers, obligated to obey antichrist? For "they have set up kings, but not by Me. They have made princes and I knew it not. Of their silver and their gold they have made them idols, that they may be cut off" (Hosea 8:4).
Let's look at the other side. What is the nature of the Church supposed to be? The Church is headed by Jesus Christ and is based upon positive law. It basically boils down to being obedient to the great command of Jesus Christ: "Love God and Love thy neighbor as thyself." Love fulfills all the negative law.
Under the light burden of Jesus Christ, with its one commandment to love, you don't have to worry about the thousands and thousands of negatives laws. The State, with all its negative law, is completely fulfilled in Christ. (Galatians 5:14)
The Church is supposed to be run by "regenerated" people, those who have been born again and baptized of Him. And for a Christian, there is no freedom of religion. A Christian has only one Government, one Body, one Head. And that Head is Jesus Christ. We cannot go out meddling with other gods and obeying them. If we do, we cease to be a Christian.
Now, can the State and the Church mingle? Can negative law and positive law mingle? It is an impossibility. That is why one is the antichrist and one is the Christ. Yet, look around. Today we find antichrist in our church. And we find antichrist capturing almost every soul. Soul after soul is weighed down by the heavy burdens of negative law. And what is preached in the churches is not positive law. It is Statism: "Obey the law of the land."
What happens when the State gets an interest in the Church? The best way to illustrate is by an example. Remember that old story of the camel? It is cold outside, really cold. I am in the tent keeping toasty warm, huddled around a fire. It is a small tent, but it is adequate. I hear a noise and look over at the door. The camel moves his nose under the tent flap and now I see the camel's nose. I slap his nose and say, "Get your nose out of here!"
But the camel says, "I'm so cold out here."
I have a little compassion and say, "All right, maybe it is okay if you just warm your nose in the tent." Soon the camel has his whole head in the tent. "Wait a minute. Get your head out of my tent!"
"But it is freezing cold out here," cries the camel.
You know the rest of the story. The camel, step-by-step, moves into the tent. Soon the whole camel is in the tent and I am out in the cold. The camel, being much bigger, has pushed me out.
The camel started out with just a nose in the tent, but soon he took over the entire tent. What about the State poking its nose in the Church? Don't you think the State will be like the camel and continue taking over more and more of the Church? No longer will it be the Church of Jesus Christ. It will be a State church. In fact, as soon as it lets the State in, it ceases to be the true Church because Christ is no longer the Head.
If you have a fine garment, but one of the threads running through it is rotten, the whole garment is ruined.
What about a thief who breaks into your house? Would you let him stay for maybe an hour? Oh, you don't want him there that long because he is packing up your things? Well, would you let the thief stay five minutes? How about two minutes? No, you don't want the thief entering your home at all.
You say you are married. Would you let your wife go out with another man once a month? How about once a year? No, you don't want your wife to commit adultery, not even once! I can't blame you. God instilled in a man and wife the desire to be faithful to each other for the rest of their lives.
When it comes to the Church, the forest is made up of the trees. We are the trees of the forest. We, as individuals, are the Church. Therefore, if the trees (individuals) are of the State, then it is a State church. It is not the pure Church with Jesus Christ as the Head.
We must separate from the unbelieving State and be born again. We must be found in Him. We must draw the line to where Christ is all and in all. There cannot be other gods numbering, licensing and commanding our lives. "Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). For Christ is all, and in all (Colossians 3:11). That leaves no room, as far as I am concerned, for a secular life.
What happens when the State gets an interest in the Church through State incorporation? First of all, the Church gets a new head. It must surrender the Lordship of Jesus Christ because it has a new master to please. It becomes an entity that the State has created and what the State creates, the State controls.
Since this entity is no longer God's creation, but the State's, who takes over as the head of this church? It is the State attorney general. He is the head of all State corporations, including State churches. The State attorney general has the authority to scrutinize the church on land use issues, permits, taxes or even what is preached from the pulpit. Right now the attorney general might keep his nose out. But if the State church starts getting into politics or using funds irregularly, the State can come in and shut it down because they own the church. In California, the attorney general has taken over the records of various State churches and all funds received or paid out are controlled by the attorney general. A State incorporated church has no right to privacy and all its books and papers can be examined by the State and federal governments at any time.
A corporation, by operation of law and by definition, is a State creation. But the Church is a God-instituted creation. When the "First Baptist Church" registers as a State corporation, it is given the franchise name of "First Baptist Church, Inc." It is no longer God's Church, it is the State's corporation. It is a State church.
Neither is the pastor the earthly head of the incorporated church. The pastor is just a hireling of the corporation. The pastor is an officer of the State, doing State business. As an example, when he conducts a marriage, he does it "under the authority of the State." He makes sure all the paperwork is prepared and the required State fees and licenses paid.
Then the State church is required to install "unscriptural officers" that are subject to the State. They are not subject to the Scripture. They are normally referred to as "trustees." They may take on other titles, such as "elders" or "deacons," but they are basically the same type of board of trustees that any State corporation has. They sit in office at the pleasure of the State.
The corporate officers of a nonprofit corporation are agents for the State. That is why they hold regular meetings and abide by their Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws. These provisions are required for State purposes, not by the Scriptures.
Technically, a State incorporated church is just another State business. Just like other State corporations, churches are commercial enterprises competing to attract customers (members). Such entities cease to be the church when they allow the State to register them as a State corporation. The church becomes a marketplace and big business. When this happened in the first century, Jesus upset the tables of the money changers, and drove the merchants out saying, "Get out of here! How dare you turn my Father's house into a market!" (John 2:16).
Let's say the Church acquires property and says, "We have God's property here and we are going to build a church for the Lord Jesus Christ." Then they go out and incorporate with the State. The State requires that they appoint trustees to hold this property in trust. But they will not be holding it in trust for God. They will be holding it in trust for the State. By incorporating, all property held by the Corporation is transferred from God to the State. This is done by operation of law.
The State incorporated church must exalt the laws of men above the laws of God. The State church has a relationship with the State by contract and is answerable to the State as its creator. It must abide by all the laws of the State, even the ones that are still in the minds of men.
The State church is subject to all the legislative decrees of the State, which is negative law. When something new comes up, the State makes more laws because that is the nature of negative law. If the State should pass a law that is repugnant to the State church, it still must obey. Charters for State churches must include provisions to obey all the laws of the State or lose their franchise.
In a State church, there are people outside the immediate membership who have control of the church because it is a State institution. The State can stick its nose further and further into the church so that the church conforms to the State. For instance, the scripture forbids homosexuality, but the State condones it. Therefore, the State church must allow homosexuals to be members of their church. It is public policy. Some State churches even have a homosexual, unregenerate minister preaching to the congregation.
The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a corporation is a State creation, that it is State property and that it is answerable to the State.
A corporation is not a church and cannot be a church by definition. A corporation admits to State jurisdiction by the very act of requesting permission to exist. What we have in the churches today is an alien jurisdiction.
Let's look at who is to have jurisdiction over the true Church. In Colossians, Chapter 1:18, it says Jesus Christ is the head of the body, the Church, and He is to have the preeminence. Christ is to have the exclusive preeminence. He is to have the exclusive jurisdiction over His Church.
What about those little matters where the State wants to encroach? The State presents many compelling arguments to justify their interest in the Church. There is zoning and building permits, fire and safety, asbestos and teacher certification of schools.
If God tells you to put up a building at the corner of High and Second Street, should you worry about zoning? What if the State wants the Church to get a building permit? There's that old camel's nose trying to get in again. What about safety regulations? Aren't they for a good purpose? Isn't the State just trying to help? Yes, the State wants to help, but remember, their help is coming from unregenerated men. How smart do you think the camel was? What interest did the camel have inside that tent? He really had no business inside. Yet he presented a good argument. He said he was cold. The State has a good argument, too. They say, "It is for the purpose of safety." But don't you think Jesus Christ can look out for the affairs of His own people?
In all of these areas, we face a claim of alien jurisdiction over the Church. We face a violation of the sovereignty and preeminence and Lordship of Jesus Christ. That is why we have to draw the line and have zero tolerance. If the State wants to exercise jurisdiction over the Church, how much jurisdiction can they take without violating the exclusive authority of Christ over the Church?
The only Biblical stance on jurisdiction is that no branch of the State - the courts, the legislature, the administration, has jurisdiction over His Church. The State cannot exercise any authority over the Church or her property because it is all God's. And God is sovereign. If God is sovereign over the Church, He has to be sovereign over it all: the people, the ministry and the property.
What about filling out State forms for tax exemptions? To fill out a form, is to ask for permission. Because you have requested a privilege, they have a right to say "yes" or "no." Taxation is a function of a sovereign over a subject. Why would the child of one sovereign ask permission from another sovereign? It does not even make sense. It is like my child going to some other parent and saying, "Daddy, can I do this?" Someone else's Daddy does not have authority to grant the request. You have to have the proper relationship in order for a request or a command to be acknowledged. "Nontaxable" is the only acceptable status for Church property because it belongs to another sovereign.
Remember that the forest is known by the trees and the Church is known by its members. There are many churches who are disincorporating from the State. That's a step in the right direction, but they need to also have their members sever their connections with the State. All the members need to be born again as creations of Jesus Christ.
An unregistered, unincorporated church is still a State church if the congregation is full of State residents. Embassy of Heaven Church desires that those who want to participate be born again and separate from the kingdoms of the world. Intercourse with the world is adultery. It is not sanctioned by God. We need to come out from among her, both as individuals and as the congregated body of Christ. The State has no place in our Church. If they want in, they must go through the same Door we went through. They must be born again and acknowledge that Jesus Christ is our Sovereign and our Lord.
Listen to the audio tape, The State-free Church, online