Sunday Sevice, May 1, 2005; Politics
A church not controlled by the government. If you are in America you may be thinking a free church title is redundant since the Constitution guarantees the government will not interfere with religion. Unfortunately congress, who is supposed to create the few federal laws in areas not addressed by the States, has created a plethora of agencies that make regulations with the effect of laws. Many churches have incorporated, and are now controlled by State incorporation law. The IRS, that behemoth 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 politicians dislike. It is ok for politicians to grab votes by speaking at a church, but against IRS rules for a church leader to make conservative pronouncements.
How did the Church get under the thumb of the IRS? By filing for tax free status they became a nonprofit organization, not a church, at least in the IRS eyes. As a corporation they must follow all the statutes, regulations, and forms required by government. The church has done this to themselves.
If your church is not incorporated or is not recognized by the IRS by 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 the law, will they be controlled by law.
We believe that scripture teaches that the head of the church is Jesus Christ. At Junior Partner Ministries, our university, and our partner charities we will accept no other authority. We are not and will not be incorporated. 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 source, not the government; and not even you my friend.
If we get no tax benefit, well and good, 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 are safe taking their deductions if they wish; but regardless of man's rules we will not trade God's unlimited provision for man's limited promise.
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.
I believe that a libertarian philosophy is the most advantageous to the spreading of the gospel. The smaller the government, the more free the people 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 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 that non restrictive environment we will be able to move when and where God leads, without man's restrictions.
He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression.
We can trust God to take care of all the negatives that sincere people will claim arise from freedom. We just need our freedom and the willingness to follow Jesus.
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 their 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. If we do not want others controlling us, then we should respect the freedoms of all.
Preach Jesus; 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 love than condemning the tragedy of sin in the unsaved.
Use your time well. Bring sinners to Jesus. Bring Jesus to the 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.
If you do not yet know the growing joy of a full relationship with God, start now.