Servants of God and to the Church of Jesus Christ
a State Church
This freedom should apply to all speech, all educational institutions, and all religions. The following is mainly about churches and their auxiliaries; such as church charities, schools, and clinics.
World religious freedom exists in a continuum from martyr to slave. To a lesser extent this applies to all schools worldwide. Lesser because the propaganda value for educating the young shrinks the continuum to degrees of slavery. All governments know their future depends on indoctrinating children in government's vision of the proper "team spirit." There has not been a large government that has ignored this power source for centuries.
"It has been discovered that the best way to ensure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery." - Benjamin Disraeli, British Prime Minister
If you are in America you may be thinking the title 'free church' is redundant since the Constitution guarantees government will not interfere with religion. The first amendment is actually where you will find that government is not to interfere with religion. Unfortunately congress, who is supposed to create the few federal laws in areas not addressed by States, has created a plethora of agencies making rules and regulations with the effect of laws. A large number of these rules and regulations can impact the church.
The IRS, that behemoth agency that considers all citizens guilty until they prove themselves innocent, has taken away a church's tax free status for saying things in the pulpit that some politicians dislike. This has muzzled many churches who now fear loss of their tax free status. It appears to be ok for politicians to grab votes by speaking at a church about politics using religious rhetoric; but against IRS rules for a church leader to make political pronouncements.
At the state level there can be even more interference with local churches. Most churches have incorporated, and are now controlled by their state's corporate law. As corporations they must have board members, file regular reports, have state mandated meetings and votes, etc. If you have seen a divided church, it is frequently over legal governance issues, the result of rendering unto Caesar that which belongs to God.
A church that ends up in court is frequently there due to their legal status. Christians should be in prayer meetings, seeking God's will and asking for his assistance. Instead they end up in a secular court arguing law before a secular judge. A local church must choose to subjugate themselves to government to be in this position.
How does a church get under the thumb of government? By filing for tax free status they became a nonprofit organization, not a church, at least in IRS eyes. By becoming a corporation they must follow all statutes, regulations, and forms required by state government. Instead of a Biblically defined leadership, they end up with governing boards and employees. Their actions are then defined by statute rather than God.
As Christians we need to always be free to follow Jesus Christ. First pray and decide; is it God's will? If so, there is only the choice to follow God or not. It is of course to everyone's benefit to follow God, he loves us and is smarter and wiser than we are. We can not let a bribe of a tax deduction be our decision criteria. God is more than big enough to sustain or grow a ministry he values without deductible contributions. If God does not want to sustain the ministry, let it die.
If your church is not incorporated or is not proclaimed tax free by the IRS with their 501c3 edict is there a problem for contributors? According to Free the 501c3 Church and ecclesia.org there is no problem. The direct quote from the second site:
According to the Internal Revenue Code, "a church, its integrated auxiliaries, and conventions and associations of the church are excluded from taxation." United States Code, Title 26, § 508(c)(1)(A).
Section 508(c) of the Internal Revenue Code provides that churches are not required to apply for recognition of Section 501(c)(3) status in order to be exempt from federal taxation or to receive tax deductible contributions. Churches are automatically exempt from Federal income tax, and contributions to churches are deductible by donors under section 170.
Only if Churches put themselves under law, will they be controlled by law.
The founding fathers looked at the monarchy ruled Church of England and wanted to eliminate problems created in both government and religion by subservience of church to state. Separation of church and state is to protect religion from government interference; and to protect the people from a government that would use religion to gain power. Separation was not instituted to limit the churches. We believe that scripture teaches that the head of the Christian Church is Jesus Christ. At Junior Partner Ministries, at Bastiat Free University, and at our partner charities Jesus Christ is the authority to which we answer. You must chose you this day whom you will serve.
And the people said unto Joshua, The Lord our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey. Joshua 24:24
We are not and will not be incorporated. We will follow Jesus Christ. We will not file for an IRS ruling of 501c3 status. God's Church is not exempt from taxes, it is outside of tax. By the provisions of the First Amendment to the Constitution: "Congress shall make no law regarding an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The Church is therefore immune to government limitations; unless a local church willingly subjects itself to government control, and thereby surrenders Christ's headship.
Jesus is Lord!
God is our service ministries' source, not any man made government; and not even you my friend. If the government closes our assembly doors we will still praise God, and follow him. To see how our model, the early church, handled government orders read Acts chapters 3 & 4.
If we get no tax benefit - well and good.
Junior Partner Ministries is a free Church and has equally free auxiliaries such as the university and partner charities. God is able to supply all our needs, exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or think. We think those who contribute to our church and live in America are safe taking their deductions if they wish. Regardless of man's rules and how they change, we will not trade God's unlimited eternal provision for man's limited promise.
Ask God's Holy Spirit where and how He would have you contribute, and then follow His leading. If you are to give to us, give joyfully. If you can not give joyfully, don't give. God will provide for us from some other quarter. Jesus Christ is our source.
And now, a bit of political talk from the pulpit. I will speak as God leads. I have no tax status to protect by silence. We will look to God for direction rather than read law books to decide what is approved.
I perceive that a very limited form of government is most advantageous for spreading the gospel. The smaller the government, the more free citizens are to embrace anything they chose, the greater our freedom to preach as we are led. God's love is what we will use to draw the lost to him; we can not, and should not try to legislate our values. Once values are legislated then controls will also be asserted against everyone, including us. Freedom must be for all to live, talk, and act as they wish; as long as they do not interrupt others rights to the same. In a nonrestrictive environment of maximum liberty we will be able to move when and where God leads, without encountering government's restrictions.
If we want freedom to worship and live our lives as we wish, then we can not restrict others rights to do the same without being hypocrites. We must bring sinners to Jesus, not seek to separate sinners from sin. As long as no harm comes to others, as long as no harm comes to others rights to do as they wish, then we should not seek to control other's actions - there is no virtue in a forced action. If we do not want others controlling us, then we must respect the liberty of all.
Preach Jesus; worthy of our dedication, crucified for us, and resurrected in power.
In apologetics it is better to study the Bible and let the Holy Spirit guide you in refuting error by using scripture; rather than studying error looking for weakness. So in witnessing about the love of God it is better to show and live love than just condemning the tragedy of sin in the unsaved.
Use your time well. Bring sinners to Jesus. Bring Jesus to sinners. Don't bother to try and push sinners away from sin. There is a frustrating circle of sin, where experimentation creates dependence, and with dependence comes less pleasure and still more dependence. This cycle can only be broken by Jesus Christ. Jesus offers expanding joy to replace the fading short term pleasures of a wasted life. The lost do not know what glorious wonders they are missing, we can not show them by pointing to where they are.
If you do not yet know the growing joy of a full relationship with God, start now.
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Here is a telling quote from a travel log in Sweden written by an unbeliever. He is traveling throughout Europe, visiting "aggressive and obnoxious" political dissidents he admires.
"Scandinavians tend to score the highest for irreligion in the Western World on public opinion polls. Nominally, Swedes belong to the State Church, and 1& 37; of their income is taxed to finance the Church. Any Swede can avoid the 1& 37; deduction simply by making a formal request to the government, but most don't bother. Henrik said that the government will probably privatize the Church within the next five years, but there are evidently people who are concerned that a private church might become aggressive and obnoxious."
The Swedes obviously are comfortable with a tame church. A church supported by the government is weak, luke warm, without flavor or effectiveness. A great reason for separation of Church and State. (this download by Pufendorf was written in 1687, the argument for keeping state out of religion has a long history.)
Read chapter 3 of Revelation. I'll give you just a taste of what is written to the church from verse 15 through 20: "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me."
Christ said "Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men."
It sounds like government supported Scandinavian churches have lost their savour. They have been thrown out of the lives of their countrymen. The unbelievers think the churches only function is to be trodden under foot.
If the Church chooses not to be free, if it accepts government control, it is making itself a willing slave, a bond-servant, to a corrupt world system. A church so ensnared can not be effective for God. SPUE.
Let's move it to a personal level:
As a Christian; what is your temperature?
Do you still add saltiness to the stew?
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Jesus Christ is the sacrificial lamb of God that died for your sin. A simple "I love you" is always nice to hear. Jesus Loves you too!