Church Wars: The consequence of being out of God's will

For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, so we, who are many, are ONE body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Romans 12:4-5
Scripture clearly teaches that disciples of Yahshua are equal members of just one body - the Body of Christ - defined specifically by Yahshua as the ekklesia. Unfortunately, what most people consider the Body of Christ today are actually separate and competing non-profit religious organizations that brand themselves “Christian churches." 

Yahshua intended his ekklesia to be united as one body and grounded in his teachings, but a closer look at today's church reveals that it is the exact opposite. With respect to the facts, the word/term church today literally means division.
"And I also say to you [Peter], that you are a petros [Small stone], and on this petra [Huge boulder] I will build MY ekklesia [called-out assembly/community], and gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." Matthew 16:18
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Yahshua Christ, that you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10
But in giving this instruction, I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. For, in the first place, when you come together as an ekklesia, I hear that divisions exist among you; and in part I believe it. ...What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I will not praise you. 1 Corinthians 11:17,18,22 
Besides being a division in Christ's ekklesia, based on scriptural and doctrinal/traditional differences, a "church" also becomes a government created and regulated "entity" once it attains a 501(c)(3) IRS status. At which point, what probably began as a local group of Christians assembling together regularly as an integral part of the Body of Christ becomes transformed into a distinct and separate legal entity (Legally referred to as a "person") called "church." As an entity/person created solely by the State, the State becomes the formal "legal sovereign" (Having supreme authority) of the newly formed "church." 

No longer existing as the ekklesia created by Yahshua designed as a called-out unified community of believers (Assembled or not) with Christ as their head and serving under the direction of the Holy Spirit and answering only to God's word; the newly created government entity called "church" is now totally subject to the legal sovereign authority of the State, like every other religious non-profit entity/organization in America, and must conform to all 501(c)(3) IRS rules and regulations, regardless if those rules and regulations go against biblical doctrine and teachings.
Corporation - 501(c)(3): An artificial person or legal entity created by/under the authority of the laws of a State. An association of persons created by statute as a legal entity. Blacks Law Dictionary. 7 Ed.
Unfortunately, the misguided and misinformed leadership of these corporate churches continue to believe and declare that Christ is the head of "their" church, when in fact, because their congregations have entered into a legally binding pact with the State, they are now bound to conduct ALL of their "church" business and activities under the strict direction of the State - not God's Word. And they are legally bound as a new "legal entity by/under the authority of the laws of a State" to adhere to specific State rules and regulations; including limits on their speech and actions - regardless of what scripture commands. 

Acting in direct disobedience to God's word, these churches have willingly cut themselves off  from the Body of Christ by subordinating the biblical headship (Christ) of their assemblies to the State; with any and all biblical directives being subordinate to 501(c)(3) regulations.

Here is what a well known Christian leader had to say about the 501(c)(3) law and how it effects "his" church:
"Take the last presidential election. There were numbers of things that I knew that I was never able to say from the pulpit because if you advance the cause of one candidate or impede the cause of the other you can lose your tax exemption. That would have been disastrous not only for the church, but for our school and our seminary, everything. So you are gagged. You cannot do that. The IRS, a branch of our government, has succeeded in gagging Christians." Rev. D. James Kennedy 
Seriously!? Mr. Kennedy believes it would be "disastrous" for his church to lose their "tax exemption" for speaking his mind from the pulpit? That statement alone tells us plainly exactly who or what it is that Mr. Kennedy believes holds sovereignty over "his" church. And it also tells us that Mr. Kennedy is more than a little concerned about the money issue as well. 

It can probably safely be assumed that most pastors of State regulated 501(c)(3) churches believe and feel the same as Mr. Kennedy regarding their 501c3 tax exemption. And Mr. Kennedy, and all the other pastors, are shocked that the government is doing exactly what the 501(c)(3) law stipulates? What Mr. Kennedy failed to mention in his quote was that his church's potentially disastrous situation with the government is completely self-imposed because they entered into the 501(c)(3) with the State voluntarily.  Regardless of their ignorance of the law or of their rights as a church under the Constitution, Kennedy's, and all other churches that have entered into a 501(c)(3), have absolutely no one to blame but themselves for their situation.

It's easy to see by Kennedy's statement that fear of retribution by the State, especially the possibility of losing their non-profit status, creates and maintains a strong motivation for churches to strictly comply with every letter of the 501(c)(3) law. Compliance through fear is how corporate churches allow the State to leverage its power over their congregations in America today. 

This coercion today is very similar to how Rome leveraged its power over the Jewish church in Yahshua's time and beyond. While there is no evidence of any written agreement between Jewish leaders of the Sanhedrin and the State of Rome, both contemporary and biblical history clearly demonstrate there was a mutually beneficial "political" relationship between the two in Yahshua's day. And historical facts clearly show the consequences of that relationship resulted in the Jews forcing a falsely accused Yahshua to defend himself before Roman State officials. The farce trial that ensued resulted in condemning Yahshua to a brutal beating and his eventual death by crucifixion at the hand of the same Roman Government the Jewish leaders had consorted with.

Yahshua specifically warned the twelve disciples about his concern for the Jewish leaders' collusion with the Roman government when he made the following statement to his disciples in Mark 8:14-21; “Be careful… Watch out for the yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod.” But after making that statement, the twelve disciples still didn’t have a clue about what Yahshua was talking about,  but it’s kind of hard to blame them. The disciples probably knew the Jewish leaders had political agreements with local Roman governors to keep peace and order in return for freedom to worship and practice their faith, but beyond that, they were probably not aware of how deep the relationship between the two had become. The twelve were obviously unaware that the collusion between the Jewish leaders and Roman Governors was a deadly mix and would ultimately lead to Yahshua’s death by a Roman court at the behest of Jewish leaders to have him crucified. Shockingly, to accomplish their goal of having Yahshua killed, the Jewish leaders even went so far as to pledge allegiance to Caesar before the court yelling, "We have no king but Caesar," in an effort to seal Yahshua's fate of crucifixion.  

For Christians today, having the advantage of 2000 years of hind-sight helps make it clear that Yahshua's statement in the gospel of Mark about the "yeast of the Pharisees and that of Herod" was not only a reference to the evil political collusion between the Sanhedrin and the Roman government that would bring about his death, but it was also a prophesy about the future evil collusion between ruling church Bishops and the Roman government (Specifically emperor Constantine) and the evil and destructive consequences that collusion would have on the ekklesia Yahshua said he would build - even to this present day. The Edict of Milan legalized Christianity in Rome in 313 and later in 380 Christianity became the State religion of Rome. Yahshua's prophesy had been fulfilled, and the great evil collusion between church and State had begun.  

Once the "church" became the official Roman State religion, politics became the leading force of governance for all church business and activities; paving the way for many false doctrines and heinous actions perpetrated by church leaders in the name of God. And yet among today's protestant/evangelical churches, many of the doctrines they continue to follow and teach were devised by those same Bishops and leaders of the Catholic Church in political collusion with the Roman government in the fourth and fifth centuries.
Christ's ekklesia had not converted Rome - Rome had converted Christ's ekklesia.
The evil that transpired as a result of the unholy collusion between God's chosen people and the State of Rome to have Yahshua crucified should be a clear warning for today's churches and their leaders regarding the dangers and evil involved in entering into an un-biblical legal and binding relationship with the State by choosing to register their church congregations as 501(c)(3) organizations.  

Unfortunately, the majority of today's churches in America have registered as 501(c)(3) organizations. Again, this can be traced back to Yahshua's prophecy in the gospel of Mark. And if we add in the collusion that created the Church of England, the well known commercial expression "just keeps on giving" might be the best way to describe this prophecy of Yahshua.  
He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in EVERYTHING. Colossians 1:17-18
"Rivkin states that Josephus and the New Testament refer to a political Sanhedrin. This was a loosely organized group that dealt with public and State [Roman] matters under the presidency of the high priest. It was this Sanhedrin, acting as the 'stooge' for the Romans during the first century AD that was responsible for the trial of Yahshua... The high priest and his supporters aided the Romans in administering political affairs." Powers and Politics in Palestine: The Jews and the governing of their land, 100BC-AD70 James S. McLaren 
The Apostle Paul addresses the issue to the Corinthians of becoming "bound together with unbelievers" and having a "partnership" with the lawless. Clearly, the State and Federal government can't be defined as being a part of the Body of Christ can it? But organizing as a 501(c)(3) absolutely and unequivocally binds a "church" together with the State in a LEGAL and BINDING contractual partnership.
Do not be BOUND TOGETHER with unbelievers; for what PARTNERSHIP have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said,
“I will dwell in them and walk among them;
And I will be their God, and they shall be My people.
“Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord.
And do not touch what is unclean;
And I will welcome you.
“And I will be a father to you,
And you shall be sons and daughters to Me,”
Says the Lord Almighty. 
2 Corinthians 6:14-18
So what are the results if a church incorporates and surrenders itself to the jurisdiction of the State?
  • The Church is no longer considered a real institution, but it goes through a transformation and becomes a fictitious (State created) person or institution.
  • The Church comes under the jurisdiction of the State and therefore surrenders its headship to the state.
  • The Church’s chief officers become official representatives of the State by virtue of their corporate charter.
  • The Church must open its books and all practices to the investigation of the State.
      This would include:
  • Church membership roles
  • Christian school record
  • Regulations on all functions of the church and any of its ministries
  • Church financial records, including all tithing records (names, addresses and amounts)
  • Ministers and churches in courts of law are considered wards of the state by virtue of their charter, including all church members (adults and children).
  “The Transformation of the Church (From Reality to Fiction)” Kenneth Talbot, Ph.D.

The most unfortunate aspect of this situation is that our Constitution's First Amendment clearly guarantees ALL churches full protection under the law, and there is absolutely no need or reason for any church to seek further protection by incorporating as a 501(c)(3). Sadly, what most church leaders and Christians don't fully understand is that once a church registers as a 501(c)(3) with the State, there is no easy way to reverse that course. 

Unlike the Jewish church of Yahshua's day, there will be historical evidence that today's churches did, in fact, willingly enter into a written contract with the State, replacing Yahshua with the State by giving them legal jurisdiction as head of the church. (Read: "The Truth About Church Incorporation" for a full explanation) 
"Did the church ever need to seek permission from the government to be exempt from taxes? Were churches prior to 1954 taxable? No, churches have never been taxable. To be taxable a church would first need to be under the jurisdiction, and therefore under the taxing authority, of the government. The First Amendment clearly places the church outside the jurisdiction of the civil government: "Congress shall make NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion, nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof."
Any person that believes a local "church" needs the State's legal authority to exist in America is, in reality, making a public proclamation that Yahshua Christ is no longer competent to govern, provide for, and protect his own ekklesia.  
An alarming and detrimental consequence of the unholy alliance between the church and the State is the competition it creates between corporate churches for "members" in their efforts to grow, support, finance and maintain their exclusive church "brands."

The corporate church model promotes and perpetuates ungodly spiritual warfare among the body of believers in a relentless and almost cutthroat competition for members - all in the name of Christ. And it's evident that the battle for membership growth is a top priority for the exclusive corporate church brand. 

The corporate church strategy includes slick marketing campaigns to lure new members from other churches in their geographic area, where studies show that 96% of church growth comes from transferring members from other churches. You will see T-shirts, bumper-stickers, and billboards promoting specific church brands all over your town. Unfortunately, rarely will you see the name of Christ in those brands, just the occasional use of the common term "church;" as if that term denotes God's stamp of approval or some sort of unity among Christians as "church-goers."

The competition for members between denominational and independent brands creates a very harmful and divisive wedge of separation within the body of Christ. Unfortunately, out of either ignorance or a willful disregard for scriptural truth, most Christians and corporate church leaders don’t see it that way. 

Church leaders seem to believe that the corporate hierarchical church model is a natural progression of biblical design and represents how God intended to organize and structure the church body in the 21st century. But nothing could be further from the truth. Scripture couldn't be more clear on this issue. God never intended His ekklesia to be made up of thousands of divided groups of believers in constant competition with each other for "members." And Yahshua clearly warned of the consequences of a divided kingdom. 
Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Yahshua Christ, that you all agree and THAT THERE BE NO DIVISIONS AMONG YOU, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment. 1 Corinthians 1:10

And knowing their thoughts Yahshua said to them, ANY KINGDOM DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF IS LAID WASTE; and any city or house divided against itself WILL NOT STAND." Matthew 12:25
Church "membership" is a tool designed to divide Christians into specific denominational or congregational brands. Membership also serves as a man-made classification of Christians created by the corporate church to help monitor and maintain their level of activity and financial support. 

Membership is of utmost importance to the corporate church's practical existence. Corporate church leaders (pastors, elders and board members) understand the urgency today of getting people to "sign-up" as members of "their" respective churches, specifically because statistical trends show the percentage of Americans who regularly attend church is projected to drop a startling 50% by 2050.

Corporate church leaders understand the basic tendencies of most church members; that after several years of loyal membership, most members become both financially and emotionally invested in "their" church brand. So the ultimate battle strategy of every corporate church is to recruit and retain as many new members as possible to help gain and retain financial support and grow and maintain their exclusive church brands. 

Unfortunately, the competitive corporate church mentality only serves to benefit a single church brand, to the exclusion of all other churches. Sadly, the corporate church has taken the divisive path of exclusivity as the ekklesia in Galatia did, and embraced the plunder/greed and self-indulgence of the Scribes and Pharisees. 
"They eagerly seek you, not commendably, but they wish to shut you out so that you will seek them." Galatians 4:17
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of plunder/greed and self-indulgence." Matthew 23:25
The financial model of the corporate church is also very disturbing. Under the corporate church model, money is gathered from loyal members to support and operate the “church” business. Churches have ongoing weekly monetary collections, with occasional special financial capital campaigns designed to meet their ever increasing budget funding goals. They market their churches in the name of both independent and denominational brands, competing mostly for wavering members of other churches in their area - where studies show that about 96% of their (financial) growth comes from transferring members from other churches.

In keeping with corporate style marketing strategies, you won't find much, if any, professional courtesy among denominational churches in the highly competitive membership market. Evidently, in the battle for new members among corporate churches, all IS fair in love and war. 

You won't find "professional courtesy" disclosures on any church marketing materials or promotions suggesting that people NOT respond to their advertisement style invitations to visit or join if they are already members of another church. And for good reason, according to a recent "GivingUSA" report, America’s churches bring in just over $95 Billion in revenue annually from their members. Consequently, competition is taken very seriously because membership numbers are seen as the financial life-blood of every corporate church, so it's easy to understand that gaining or losing members greatly affects the revenue bottom line. 

Unfortunately, of the $95 Billion in revenue generated annually from church members, most of that revenue is used to maintain the corporate elements of those churches. 

Along with their annual revenue, corporate churches also hold combined real estate assets valued in the hundreds of billions of dollars. Unfortunately, those billions of dollars in revenue and assets are primarily used for the carnal comforts and conveniences of their members - not the scriptural directives of Christ and the Apostles for the church. 

According to a recent study by the Evangelical Credit Union of annual church budgets, 82 percent of those budgets were allocated toward administrative, building and marketing costs. The fact that similar nonprofit organizations like the American Red Cross, World Vision and Compassion International only use an average of 12.5 percent of their annual budgets on similar costs should raise some serious questions regarding the astounding discrepancy in budget spending by churches. 

Another shocking fact regarding institutional churches is fraud in the church. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary who published the Status of Global Mission, there was $35 billion in fraud in 2012, with that number estimated to hit $60 billion in 2025 if the same trends continue. These staggering statistics tell a very sad story of highly questionable stewardship within the institutional church.
But whoever has the world’s goods, and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him? 1 John 3:17 
And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mark 16:15
As you can see, the grievous consequence of dividing the bride of Christ into literally thousands of separate man-made organizations has created a destructive battleground of competition among the body of Christ in America today, all of which goes totally against God’s will for true unity among the body of believers, and continues to do great harm to the gospel of Christ. 

Sadly, while many local churches are separated by only a few miles, it may as well be a thousand miles, given that rarely, if ever, will individual congregations come together for any purpose, especially that of communal worship. And with such stiff competition for members, local pastors are often left serving for years in the vacuum of their exclusive church community without ever speaking or associating with any other local pastors or believers. 

Likewise, local Christians may have acquaintances or even close friendships with other Christians in the community, but because they are members of different churches, rarely, if ever, will they worship together in each others' church. Again, this divisive dynamic is a direct result of the corporate church model, and is exactly what is warned against in scripture.    
Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am of Paul,” and “I of Apollos,” and “I of Cephas,” and “I of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? Paul was not crucified for you, was he? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul? 1 Corinthians 1:12-13

Maybe a better translation for today might be:

Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, “I am a Baptist,” and “I am a Catholic,” and “I am of a specific pastor,” and “I am of Christ.” Has Christ been divided? A denomination or pastor was not crucified for you, were they? Or were you baptized in the name of your "church" or pastor?
This behavior is a consequence of man’s carnal desire for control, power and money. And the only solution to this situation is to follow God’s original plan for His ekklesia as laid out in the New Testament. All other solutions are against God's will and destined to fail.  
Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:1-3 
For the love of money is a root of all sorts of evil, and some by longing for it have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.
1 Timothy 6:10 
And not only does God address this issue in the New Testament, He called-out the "shepherds" in the Old Testament for their self-serving ways as well.  
Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, "Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been FEEDING THEMSELVES! Should not the shepherds FEED THE FLOCK? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have DOMINATED THEM. They were scattered for lack of a shepherd, and they became food for every beast of the field and were scattered. My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”’” Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: “As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did NOT search for My flock, but rather the shepherds FED THEMSELVES and did NOT feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am AGAINST the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will NOT feed themselves anymore, but I WILL DELIVER MY FLOCK FROM THEIR MOUTH, so that they will NOT be food for them.”’” Ezekiel 34:1-10
Understanding all of this, do you think Yahshua would agree today's corporate church model promotes unity, harmony and good financial stewardship within His body? Would He approve of the divisive, self-serving and competitive corporate church model? Does He weep and morn for His bride as He watches her tear herself into thousands of denominational pieces in pursuit of power, control and financial gain on the backs of His brothers and sisters for His namesake?

Fortunately, every year millions of believers are opening their eyes to the self-destructive nature of the man-made corporate church and beginning to heed God’s call to come out of that counterfeit church system and unite as one body into the fullness of Christ's bride - the ekklesia.
The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be ONE, just as We are ONE; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in UNITY, SO THAT the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. John 17:22-23 
To those who hold the power to perpetuate these highly destructive divisions in the body of Christ: Take heed of God's admonition... 

I know all the things you do, and that you have a reputation for being alive—but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what little remains, for even what is left is almost dead. I find that your actions do not meet the requirements of my God. Go back to what you heard and believed at first; hold to it firmly. Repent and turn to me again. If you don’t wake up, I will come to you suddenly, as unexpected as a thief. Revelation 3:1-3
‘I know your deeds and your toil and perseverance, and that you cannot tolerate evil men, and you put to the test those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and you found them to be false; and you have perseverance and have endured for My name’s sake, and have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Therefore remember from where you have fallen, and repent and do the deeds you did at first; or else I am coming to you and will remove your lampstand out of its place—unless you repent. Revelation 2:1-5
 ...and also God's encouragement:
For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus, so that with ONE ACCORD you may with ONE VOICE glorify the God and Father of our Lord Yahshua Christ. Romans 15:4-6
*This article may be copied and quoted in full or in part by permission - with credit to the author. Thank You... 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Son of Man

Son of Man