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Church-State Relations and the Book of Revelation
An Introduction to The Parousia: A Careful Look at the New Testament Doctrine of the Lord's Second Coming
by James Stuart Russell (1878) // Written by
Todd Dennis, Curator
 


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Church, Inc.

By Ovid Need, Jr.

Foreword

At the onset, we must point out that this booklet is in no way meant to imply any kind of legal advice. It is strictly a Scriptural view of what is involved in the church-state marriage through the incorporation of a local body of believers, a local church. Laws vary from state to state, but the law of being under state control will not vary. Any steps which might be considered to remove a church or ministry from under the state's authority and place it under God's authority should to be compared with local laws concerning the corporation. This we did when we sought advice and help from Attorney Al Cunningham (Rt. 2, Box 33a, Big Bend Road, Montgomery Creek, Ca. 96065).

We also need to make a few more points: First, the purpose of this booklet is to examine the Word of God and consider the Scriptural danger of a church or ministry placing itself under the authority of the state. Second, this booklet is not meant to point an accusing finger at the state. Our God told us that the state would control any area in which the Christian refuses to glorify God as God (1 Samuel 8; Rom 1:21). Therefore, any infringement by the state into the church is because of sin in God's people. If God cannot control us by His Law-Word, then He will raise up an ungodly state to take the authority which God's people refuse to give Him.

Third, this booklet is not intended to deal with federal involvements or relationships, e.g. tax-exempt status.

Fourth, in Indiana, the corporation is created, owned, controlled and protected by the state at the body's request. The corporation must then have trustees to protect the state's property, and the pastor is an employee of its trustees. We assume this policy is typical of any state. (We will use "state" to refer to all civil government--local, state or federal.) We have reproduced copies of all the documents referred to in this little booklet. Does Caesar have the authority over the Lord and His kingdom on earth? The historic conflict has been the church's refusal to recognize any such authority of the civil government over the body of Christ. Christ alone is the head of His church; only an unincorporated church can take a consistent stand that the state has no authority over the body of Christ, viz. the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.


 
Introduction
Newly arriving at the Linden New Testament Baptist Church in 1983, the church had the annual Corporation Report waiting for me to fill out and file. This being my first experience with such matters, I read the form before filling it out. Alarmed, I called the men of the church together. I read the form to them. They were shocked, readily seeing that the church could not comply with the state's requirements as listed on the form. It was evident that up to this point someone had simply filled in a minimal amount of required information, mostly with Not Applicable, then filed the form and the $10 fee without examining it. (I would strongly suggest to anyone reading this booklet: read the forms your church fills out for the state! You could be in for a shocking surprise.) In the past, incorporated "religious organizations" were probably separate under state laws. At that time, the laws may have presented no theological problems. But as time passed, the "religious organizations" were united with other corporations. Now we do have a theological problem. We looked at the form, and because I didn't really know what was involved Scripturally, I handed it to a man and said, "Here, pretend I didn't see this and file it as has been done in the past." He put N.A. on everything; enclosed $10, and the state accepted it. Because it took me by "surprise" and not knowing Scripturally what to do, I procrastinated on doing anything. The next time the form was due, we tried to file it again with N.A., but the state would not accept it. Therefore, we put in a minimal amount which the state accepted. Presently, the state apparently accepts, among other things, the total income and outgo of an incorporated "religious organization," but how much longer will it be accepted without, among other things, an itemized list of givers? Then S.S. Form 8274 came along. This undoubtedly was one of the most wicked, ungodly forms any church has ever been asked to sign. If filed voluntarily, it opened all records to government inspection at their convenience. Even the lawyers (Gibbs and Craze) with whom I spoke could not say definitely what could be required if 8274 was submitted: "We won't know until it is litigated." We knew we could not sign 8274, but if we remained a corporation, we had no choice but to do as the I.R.S. or any civil authority requested. The corporation placed us under their authority and answerable to their desires. The corporation is a child of the state; therefore, it must obey its parent. We voted the church out of the corporation the night before the deadline for filing Form 8274. We renamed the church, Linden Baptist Church, and took all necessary steps to break with the corporation. Since unincorporating the Church, some things happened to confirm the Lord's direction in the matter: 1. In the summer of 1985, I gave the opening prayer at the meeting of the Tipmont R.E.M.C. members. Before the meeting opened, I was seated next to a board member of Wabash Valley Power, Assn. Inc. He said the reason WVPA had to file bankruptcy was because the Federal Government agency which guaranteed the loan to help with the Marble Hill Nuclear Power Plant that failed was now suing individual board members for the millions of dollars the corporation owed the agency. Since the corporation could not protect their personal property from government confiscation, the corporation had to file bankruptcy for protection. 2. One of our church men had a school friend who became a lawyer. He went on to practice as a trial lawyer in Alaska for eight years. Because of the pressure to compromise, he felt he could not "remain a Christian" and do what was required of him as a lawyer, so he discontinued his practice, returning to our area. Speaking with him, I brought up the subject of incorporation. I pointed out that though many pastors view incorporation as simply notifying the state of their intention to operate and carry out the great commission, I felt it sought the state's permission to carry out our Lord's command. He was emphatic: incorporation seeks the state's permission to operate and carry out its purpose as stated on the form requesting incorporation. Thus it is immaterial how incorporation came about or the reasons for incorporating "religious ministries," the obvious fact remains which must be willfully ignored: today it is a request to the civil authority to operate for the stated purpose of the corporation. Finally, I understand that lawyers know how useless the corporation is for what it promises, viz. protection. I have heard that they operate on the principle that someone wanting to start a business needs to incorporate. They offer corporate protection, but more importantly for the lawyers, fees are involved to set up the corporation and for every change the corporation desires to make. I also understand that lawyers know the ease of piercing the corporate veil. The corporation is being passed off as protection by the state, yet it offers very little, if any, protection. It appears to be more for state control and money than for protection. The following information is what the Lord used to force us to make our difficult decision. It is presented with a prayer that God will use it to reveal the dangerous, wicked connection of the state-owned and controlled "church." The church or ministry, whether a missionary organization or otherwise, with "Inc." in its name is obviously little more than a state-owned and controlled "person" under the law and under God. Is it thus possible for a state-owned and controlled "Religious Organization" to be a ministry under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ?

A Personal Word Because of the difficult time this pastor had and has addressing this and other issues, he realizes that pastors cannot make such major moves as dealt with herein without clear direction in the soul from the Lord. Therefore, the following is presented with a prayer that the reader will at least consider and then pray about the "principles" discussed. We will open with a look at the practical implications of any ministry operating under the name of "God" being incorporated. Then we will proceed to address the Biblical precepts involved in incorporating a ministry.


Chapter I  

Secular Reasoning Like most men, when I first became involved in the Conservative Christian Movement in the mid-60s', I knew nothing about incorporation. Of course, there was no issue back then. While an associate pastor of a church in the deep south in 1977, we became involved in a dispute with the state over its desire for us to take a license for the church nursery. But incorporation was not an issue. (The church was incorporated; therefore, it probably would have lost in court.) Soon after we moved to Indiana, we attended a 1984 legal seminar. The lawyers speaking (Gibbs and Craze) pointed out that whereas it was unheard of ten years ago, there are presently very few cases against churches where corporation is not an issue. Most pastors and laymen have not had to face the issue of incorporation. Or if they have, they, like myself, have chosen to ignore it. The issue of incorporation has not yet developed to its logical conclusion. The state is not yet demanding the detailed completion of the annual form, nor is it pressing the implications of incorporation. But how long will it be before "religious ministries" will be required to line up with public policy? (I understand that Public Policy is being enforced against churches in some states.) The incorporated ministry does not have a leg to stand on against its parent-owner's, i.e. the state's, demands. The issue is no doubt being ignored by many because they do not want to disturb the waters or "rock the boat," or they may be afraid of the cost involved. The civil authorities are not pressing the implication at this time, so "we" are able to carry on "business as usual." But God knows the issue, and He will rock the boat and force churches and ministries to choose who is their god. Even though I had a man file the annual not-for-profit corporate report with minimal information, I knew we could not give the state what they required; however, I realized we would eventually have no choice if we kept the corporation. State financial reports As we talk to pastors, some agree that they cannot submit the state's required information. But does not giving the required information make the church dishonest? Other pastors express willingness to provide the state with its required financial information concerning the churches God has placed them over: the completed forms appease the state, so they can "serve the Lord." Any spirit of willingness to open the church for state inspection is detested by God.

 

Isa 39:2-8 And Hezekiah was glad of them, and shewed them the house of his precious things, the silver, and the gold, and the spices, and the precious ointment, and all the house of his armour, and all that was found in his treasures: there was nothing in his house, nor in all his dominion, that Hezekiah shewed them not. Then came Isaiah the prophet unto king Hezekiah, and said unto him, What said these men? and from whence came they unto thee? And Hezekiah said, They are come from a far country unto me, [even] from Babylon. Then said he, What have they seen in thine house? And Hezekiah answered, All that [is] in mine house have they seen: there is nothing among my treasures that I have not shewed them. Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the LORD of hosts: Behold, the days come, that all that [is] in thine house, and [that] which thy fathers have laid up in store until this day, shall be carried to Babylon: nothing shall be left, saith the LORD. And of thy sons that shall issue from thee, which thou shalt beget, shall they take away; and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. (The seriousness of Hezekiah's act is seen in the fact that the Lord records his evil three times: Isa 39; 2 Ki 20, & 2 Ch 32:31.)

The result of providing Babylon with a financial statement for God's house was that the children would be slaves to Babylon. Hezekiah effectively verbalized the attitude that says, "As long as I have peace in my day to ‘preach the gospel,' I don't care what happens to my children." But keep in mind, Hezekiah simply reflected the proud attitude of his people, e.g. Isa 29:13 . Regardless of how the situation came about or the motives involved, one of incorporation's more obvious facts is that it yokes together Christian's who desires to serve God with the anti-Christ crowd. This is a clear violation of the word of God (Cor 6:14-18). Certainly, the issue of the Social Security Tax Form 8274 is long past, but what was involved was much deeper than 8274, which, by the way, simply made the state-church marriage tighter. What was involved was the law of proper authority over God's work and yoking together with unbelievers. Incorporation goes to the state to seek its permission or approval to carry out the work of the ministry, &c. Along with the approval comes protection and strings. Thus far, though, the strings are not too tight. But one must realize that the final authority for incorporated "ministries" is a source other than the Lord, and that source's word in the past has been anything but dependable. Evidently in central Indiana, incorporation was presented in the early 40's as an ideal means of protection from prospective problems. This offer in itself by an anti-Christ state should cause alarm. Clearly, the state is required to provide conditions for righteousness to freely operate. But does the Godly responsibility of the state include providing for and protecting the church? There were and are three reasons used to influence ministries to incorporate: 1) Limited Liability, 2) Respectability, and 3) Perpetuity.

1) Limited Liability: the state sets the limits on the liability of the ministry. This point is very important as we consider incorporation of a ministry which is said to belong to God. Through incorporation, the state creates a body: a "person" after its own image, according to its standards and desires. This "person" now exists by the will of its creator, the state. It must be subject to the will of its creator, and as it subjects itself to the state, its creator protects it. The state sets the limits of its child's liability; then the "person" buys insurance to cover its limited liability. As the "person" who has been created by the state obeys the laws of its creator, its creator puts its umbrella of protection over its child. The parent, the state, then tells anyone who would seek to harm its "child," "You can come this far and no farther." The state's promise of Limited Liability presents some problems:

First, who is to protect the church or any ministry which claims to be carrying out Christ's work on earth?

Second, Whom the Father loveth, he chasteneth. Does the state defend its child from the Father's chastening hand? Observe: If a man will not work, he should not eat, but because of the state's protective hand (welfare, food stamps, unemployment compensation, &c.), the laws of God can be violated even by God's people, and they will be fed. "Hunger is God's cure for slothfulness," but when the state intervenes with its social programs, the slothful man proliferates (Heb 12:6; 2 Thes 3:10). How can one preach against the state's socialists programs that replace God and hinder His implementation of the things that will cure slothfulness, when the church through incorporation seeks the same protection of the state as its god from any acts of God which might call the church to consider its wicked ways? Instead of the corporation (church, ministries) looking to the Everlasting Father for safety and protection, in the eyes of the law, it looks to the state. This raises the question: "Who is the protector of the church or any ministry which is incorporated?" One may say, "The Lord is the protector," but God is not that protector in the eyes of the law. One of the reasons given for incorporating is the state's offer of protection. Thus by incorporating, a ministry seeks to become a child of the state as it sought the state's protection. The church needs to make the break from the state; incorporation gives the state the authority to extract any price it desires from its "children." The state can "eat its own children" for its own welfare. When the tie is cut from the false god, the state, the ministry will have to stay prayed up and right with God in order to have the Lord's protection. On the other hand, all it had to do as a corporation was send a small fee with the state's required information to have Babylon's protection. But we can be assured, it is only a matter of time before the small annual fee will increase to all the treasures of the house of the Lord if Babylon is not forsaken. 2 Chron. 23:20, Because ye have forsaken the Lord, He hath also forsaken you. The marriage to the state for permission to operate and for protection forsakes the Lord's protection. The chickens will come home to roost; the wild oats will grow (Chro 25:8; Hosea 10:4). It is the devil's lie that says God's ministries can link up with the state and 1) still be God's ministries (they are the state's!) and 2) avoid the results of being a State Church (Gal 6:7). Where are we going to look for our safety and protection? We should keep in mind that though Christ was perfect in every area, the state still put Him to death. God received more glory in His death than in His life. Even if the church gets every area in line with the Word of God, it is still distinctly possible that God will receive more glory from our death than our life. But it's better to die for being right than for being wrong (1 Pet chapters 2 & 3). It's just a matter of time before there will be no more compromise to make - Then what? The line must be drawn, and the tie cut from the state. Not only does the State create a new "person," or "body," with limited liability, it also creates:

2) Respectability: in the corporation, the state recognizes a person, a "fictitious person," a "non-existing person," yet that person has all the rights, privileges and protections of a real person. This presents a problem. The "ministry" sought respectability in the eyes of the state, and will be respected as long as it remains obedient to its creator, but:

1. By whose grace is the local church to exist? God's or man's?

2. Who brought the local church into existence? Who is its creator? Who has the authority to create a local body to carry on the work of God? the state or the Word of God?

3. From whom must the church seek respectability? God or man?

4. By whose permission is a local church (or any ministry which carries out God's work) to exist? God's or man's? Not one time in the Book of Acts do we have a record of the apostles seeking civil authorities' permission to preach the Gospel. This `oversight' created quite a bit of contention between the men and the civil authorities. Clearly, incorporation seeks the state's permission to exist. Finally, we have:

3) Perpetuity: a never-dying "person." Instead of the person (organization) dying with the death of its founder, the state has created a never-dying person in the eyes of the law. In the corporation, the state, at its sovereign will, creates a person. That person will live forever by the grace and power of the state because the state breathed into the new corporate body the breath of life. The state gives its new creation a set of laws to live by, and if its creation does not live by its laws, thou shalt surely die: the state refuses to recognize its creation any longer, or the state chastises its creation by withholding some of its benefits. Moreover, in the creation of the obedient body, the state not only tells its child it can live forever, but tells anyone who might want to harm its child in any way, "This is my never-dying child; this child has my protection as long as it lives, and its life span is not dependent on any creature created by God. Its life span is now dependent on my word - my authority - my power." Thus the life of the child is not dependent on God or God's Word. Certainly, if the church or ministry is founded on the teachings of a person such as Moon, Mary Baker Eddie, Ellen G. White, Joseph Smith, Mohammed, or any who have died or will die, then it should be an incorporated, dependent child of the state; it will need its father's, the state's, protection. But the Founder of a Biblical Church is still alive and will outlive any human creation, state creation, as well as any state, government, social order or race of people. Heaven and earth will pass away, but the Lord will not. The church's perpetuity must be found in the life of its Founder, the Lord Jesus Christ! Either He ever liveth to guide His body, protect it and establish its laws, or we have nothing better than what was offered by Mohammed. The state's life, provision and protection from enemies must be sought (Mat 28:18-20). With sincere desires to serve God, numerous groups of people have besought the state to create and recognize them as corporations, "never-dying persons:" "churches," ministries, mission boards, &c. They acted upon the advice of secular lawyers (i.e. without God) or of people who had no grasp of Godly precepts involved. Please note that the word "church" is being used very loosely. A New Testament church would be a group of people gathered together in obedience to and under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ac 2:36). If Christ's authority to establish a local church is given over to the state, is it still a group of people under His authority? Is it possible to recognize two authorities over the same body at the same time? (Lu 16:13). Who is the higher authority in an incorporated church? For lack of a better word, we will continue to use the word "church," although we are actually referring to a group of people operating under the authority of the state, a religious corpora- tion. Lord, help us to be right; give us the courage to do right even with the prospect of the death of the cross. If Christ could determine to do right as He viewed His horrible death on the cross, then how much more should we be determined to do right with the little aggravation that the state can cause? As we look at the past saints of God who gave all for being right, how much more should we be willing to give all for the cause of righteousness? We do not really have anything to give, not even our lives, because it is all His anyway (Heb 11:33-40; 1 Cor 4:7). In closing this section, let us consider one more point: Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution grants to Congress the power to collect taxes. The power to tax is further described and limited in Article I, Section 2, paragraph 3, as well as in Section 9, paragraph 4. On the bases of these Sections, the courts have ruled that Congress has the power to lay and collect two distinct types of taxes: Direct and Indirect Taxes (Pollock v. Farmer's Home Loan and Trust Co., 157 U.S. 429, 15 S. Ct. 673, 39L. Ed. 759 [1895]). According to Black's Law Dictionary, Fifth Edition, p 415, the two taxes are defined as follows:

Direct Tax is referred to in Section 9: the tax levied by the individual states in the form of property tax.

Indirect Tax is referred to in Section 2: according to the court (Brushaber v. Union Pacific [1916]) and Black's Law Dictionary, this is a tax on the privileged manufacture, sale, or consumption of a commodity. This is the tax on a foreign businessman who has permission from the U.S. Government to do business within this Nation. The other arm of the Indirect Tax is the tax on the acts and events of a privileged person, such as a corporation or licensed attorney. The people besought the state for creation as an artificial "person," corporation; they asked for and were granted specific privileges from the state: perpetual life, limited liability and respectability from the STATE (A complete treatment of these Direct and Indirect taxes can be found in Christianity and Civilization-Tactics of Christian Resistance, Vol. III, Edited by Gary North, Geneva Divinity School Press, Tyler, TX, pp 251-256, 1983). When the group of believers went to the state and sought permis- sion to carry out the great commission, they were granted the privilege, incorporated. Thus they are no longer a church in the eyes of civil law or in the New Testament sense of the word; rather, they are a religious organization. Therefore, the civil government now has the Constitutional and Biblical right to tax the privileged person it created. The privileged person must file for "Not-For-Profit" approval to be tax-exempt. There is no other way to look at this except to see that the government has the Constitutional, legal and Biblical right to demand whatever tax it desires from the privileged person of its creation,viz. the corporation. The corporation must submit to whatever tax pleases its creator, as well as any other desires of its creator. The church who has not sought the state's privileged status as a corporation or a Not-For-Profit organization is immune from taxes under the Scriptures and under the Constitution (We might mention that seeking is not the same as being "forced" into a situation). When a "Free Church" takes its stand against government intervention, it obeys Romans 13; but when a "Bondage Church" stands against government intervention, it violates Romans 13. Both are commanded to be obedient to the authority over them, but each has recognized a different authority: one has recognized the state as its final authority, and the other has recognized the Lord God as its final authority. Therefore, the answer is readily apparent for the incorporated church: "What about Rom 13?" Biblically, it must submit to every whim of its authority, the state. Thus lawyers are justified in seeking compromised positions for the incorporated church: the "Bondage Church" cannot say no; rather, it must say, "Let's find a compromise we can live with." "In theory, this sounds simple, but the practical application is different. I'm afraid I'll lose my property." This pastor must admit, that is certainly a difficult position to find one's self in, but the question must be addressed: is the property ours to lose, or was it provided with money dedicated to God? Is it not His business if He sees fit to take it by whatever means pleases Him: the state, fire or wind? Furthermore, if Christ was despised for doing right, what can His followers expect? (John 15:20).


Chapter II As we examine the church-state relationship, we must mention the not-for-profit (NFP) situation. Above is a copy of the opening page of Indiana's Bulletin #17. Most, if not all, states probably have similar statements. The state's claim as seen in bulletin #17 clearly presents the problem. We had no choice but to remove the church from the state owned corporation. When we did, we also changed the name under which we purchase utilities. The power company had not charged sales tax, so when they turned us in to the state as being tax-exempt, we had no exempt number. Reviewing their files, the state found us. We received a request from the state to file for NFP status, so we could be tax-exempt. The above opening statement is only the "tip of the iceberg" of what was required in this application. We really did not worry about the rest of the form because the opening statement settled the question for us. Clearly, the state is claiming total power and authority over everything right down to God's tithes and offerings. Thus those who will submit to the state's claim of authority can do as they please with the state's blessings: "tax-exempt." Hence, the major problem with the NFP recognition: to receive their `benefit,' the group of people must submit to the authority of the state. NFP, though, can be obtained apart from incorporation. [Does one want to open an abortion clinic and murder little babies? Then apply to the right people in this system and receive "tax-exempt" donations to continue the work, e.g. Planned Parenthood, Inc. Do you want to preach the gospel? Then apply to the same people in the same system, submit to their authority by seeking their approval and go on about your business, "Church, Inc." Is it not strange how we feel the same system which gives permission for abortion, pornography, drunkenness and debauchery of all kinds, must also give permission to preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is this not the "FORCE" of Star Wars with its good side and its dark side? Why would someone desiring to serve the holy, righteous, sovereign Lord God of heaven and earth want to go to this type of power for permission to carry out His commands here on earth?] God's Word   What does God's Word establish about submitting the local church to the state through incorporation or NFP? This pastor wrestled with the problem until the Lord brought the following to light. Though we will be speaking specifically of local "churches" as we know them, what we will present can apply generally to individual Christians. Though Daniel chapter three has been preached to death, the laws established by the Lord there neither have nor will change. Daniel chapters 1 through 6 were put here by the Lord to give us a proper view of Romans 13:1-5 (1 Cor 10:11; 2 Tim 3:15-17). It is impossible to conceive that the God Who changes not would have one set of laws for the Old Testament saints and another set for the New Testament saints. There is only one God, one Spirit and one mediator between God and man: the man Christ Jesus. Thus there is only one means of Salvation: the Blood Atonement. Therefore, there can be only one standard of holiness for His saints of all time. Daniel three reveals King Nebuchadnezzar's golden image: 60 cubits by six cubits. Six represents the number of man, so the literal image no doubt represented man's wisdom, pride, might and power. The terrible image was meant to inspire fear and awe in the hearts of all who saw it (Compare this with the image of 2:31. There was probably an eighteen year laps between the dream and the image. Was the king trying to imitate the terrible image he saw in his dream?). Of course, the image carried with it the demand to bow or burn: face the full wrath of the civil authority.

Daniel 3:6 holds an answer for our confusing day as if it were written last year. Let us consider Albert Barnes' comments in opening this section. Writing in 1851, long before our present day issue, he said:

"It was an act to enforce uniformity in religion by the authority of the civil magistrate, and to secure it by threatened penalties. It should be observed, however, that the command at that time would not be regarded as harsh and oppressive by heathen worshipers, and might be complied with consistently with their views, without infring- ing on their notions of religious liberty. The homage rendered to one god did not, according to their views, conflict with any honor that was due to another, and though they were required to worship the divinity, that would not be a prohibition against worshipping any other. It was also in accordance with all the view of heathenism that all proper honor should be rendered to the particular god or gods which any people adored. The nations assembled here would regard it as no dishonor shown to the particular deity whom they worshipped to render homage to the god worshipped by Nebuchadnezzar, as this command implied no prohibition against worshipping any other god. It was only in respect to those who held that there is but one God, and that all homage rendered to any other is morally wrong, that his command would be oppressive. Accordingly, the contemplated vengeance fell only on the Jews, of every other nation, who were assembled, complying with the command without hesitation. It violated no principle which they held to render the homage which was claimed, for though they had their own tutelary gods whom they worshipped, they supposed the same was true of every other people, and that their gods were equally entitled to respect; but it violated every principle on which the Jew acted- for he believed that there was but one God ruling over all nations, and that homage rendered to any other was morally wrong. (Barnes' Notes, Daniel I, p 212, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI).   Notice his conclusion:   Persecution of idolaters by those who were idolaters was rarely known among the heathen, and toleration was not contrary to the views which prevailed, provided the gods of the country were recognized (i.e. as long as all religions would recognize the authority or validity of others, there was no problem.), persecution was rare, and the toleration of other forms of religion was usual. According to the prevailing views, no mode of religion could be tolerated which would maintain that all the gods that were worshipped were false. Religion was supposed to be identified with the best interests of the state, and was recognized by the laws, and protected by the laws. To deny the claim, therefore, of any and all the gods that were worshipped; to maintain that all were false alike; to call on men to forsake their idols and to embrace a new religion - all this was regarded as an attack on the state. This was the attitude which Christianity assumed toward the religions of the Roman Empire, and it was this which led to the fiery persecutions which prevailed there. While Rome could consistently tolerate any form of idolatry that would recognize the religion established by the state, it could not tolerate a system which maintained that all idolatry was wrong. It would allow another god to be placed in the Parthenon, but it could not recognize a system which would remove every god from that temple. These [pagan] views may be thus summed up: (a) all the gods worshipped by others were to be recognized [e.g. genocide treaty]; (b) new ones might be introduced by authority of the state; (c) the gods which the state approved and acknowledged were to be honored by all [e.g. abortion, &c.]; (d) if any person denied their existence, and their claims to homage, they were to be treated as enemies of the state. (c) The attempts made to produce conformity in countries where the Christian system has prevailed. In such countries, as among the heathen, it has been supposed that religion is an important auxiliary to the purposes of the state, and that it is proper that the state should not only protect it, but regulate it. It has claimed the right, therefore, to prescribe the form of religion which shall prevail; to require conformity to that, and to punish all who did not conform to the established mode of worship. This attempt to produce conformity has led to most of the persecutions of modern times (Ibid. pp 227-228. We have only reproduced a few portions of Barnes' very pertinent comments. Read the rest of his treatment of Dan 3).   Observe: 1) the heathen worshipers would not consider Nebuchadnezzar's command harsh or oppressive. In fact, it complied well with their beliefs in many gods, each due its respective honor. Thus as long as each religion recognized the validity of another, there was no problem. But any claim of exclusiveness by any one religion was a problem. And 2) the command did not carry with it a command prohibiting the worship of other gods, including the Lord God. Required in the command was not an admission that Nebuchadnezzar's god was the only god, but that his god was the final authority in his land, and all other worship was under his authority (Cf. Keil-Delitzsch, v 9, Daniel, p 124, Eerdmans). Is this not consistent with 2:47, That your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of Kings and a revealer of secrets? Thus the com- mand in 3:1-7 is to recognize the authority of Nebuchadnezzar's god over all other gods; it was not against worshipping other gods; it was an act to bring all religions under the authority of the Babylon's civil government and magistrates. Modern view of religion Thus today, civil magistrates see nothing wrong with demanding that all religions seek and submit to their authority. Though their demands contain threats of dire consequences against those who refused to bow to their claims of authority, it does not contain prohibitions against other religions and gods. In fact, their demands are quite the opposite, containing encouragements for other religions through "tax breaks." Not only do civil authorities see nothing wrong with their demands of homage, but 99% of those upon whom the demands are placed see nothing wrong with them. Why? Because the demands do not prohibit the "Free Exercise" of the religion of one's choice, as long as his religion claims not exclusiveness and recognizes the final authority of the state (Politically Correct). Thus the Church of Wicca obtains the same recognition from the state as does the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

  Therefore, the state's "freedom of religion" is very shallow; looking deeper, one sees finds attached which can be used later to control every movement and message of the "religious organization." Some states exercise more control than others, but for now, the state's primary requirement seems to be recognition of its authority over all religious practice, Biblical or pagan. Though the state appears to be headed toward total control, presently, its requirements do not seem to involve submitting every "religious action" to it for approval. It "simply" demands recognition as the authority over authorities, the chief god among the gods while not strictly prohibit other gods. History indicates that as long as the state is recognized as the god of gods who grants permission to worship other gods, it is satisfied to allow the worship of other gods, including the Lord God. Both Institutional (Church) and Personal Religion   Clearly, today's civil magistrates see nothing wrong with demanding that everyone submit (bow) to their authority and fill out the forms. The forms do not prohibit the "free exercise" of the individuals' or groups' religion. Furthermore, most of those upon whom the demand is placed see nothing wrong with the demand because it does not carry with it a prohibition against the worship of or service to God as each person sees fit. All each person must do is recognize the state's authority and each will not only have freedom to exercise his/her religious beliefs, but be encouraged in it, e.g. "tax-exempt." Barnes points out that the basic problem with Rome's civil authority was its claim of authority to authorize the people to worship as they pleased. But the early Christians refused to recognize Rome's claim; hence, the conflict between Rome and Christianity.

The conflict between Christianity and Rome was exemplified by Polycarp around A.D. 155:

Now, as soon as he had ceased praying, having made mention of all that had at any time come in contact with him, both small and great, illustrious and obscure, as well as the whole Catholic Church throughout the world, the time of his departure having arrived, they set him upon an ass, and conducted him into the city, the day being that of the great Sabbath. And the Irenarch Herod, accompanied by his father Nicetes (both riding in a chariot), met him, and taking him up into the chariot, they seated themselves beside him, and endeavoured to persuade him, saying, "What harm is there in saying, Lord Caesar, and in sacrificing, with the other ceremonies observed on such occasions, and so make sure of safety?" But he at first gave them no answer; and when they continued to urge him, he said, "I shall not do as you advise me" (The Martyrdom of Polycarp, The Anti-Nicene Fathers, p 40. WM. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. See also The Martyrdom of the Holy Martyrs, p 306. The Martyrs did not have to forsake the worship of Jesus; all they had to do was "offer the sacrifice with one accord to the gods").   At the demand to "recognize civil authority or else", many church leaders say, "I don't see any problem as long as I'm permitted to carry on my religious beliefs." Polycarp would have been able to continue his "worship" of the Lord by simply saying "Lord Caesar" and burning a little incense. His actions would have been unnoticed because everyone was doing it. His refusal and subsequent death for his refusal causes him to be exalted by many who today say, "As long as they don't interfere." Some leaders may submit and say, "Lord Caesar," quietly burn their small bit of incense, and then justify their actions as did the small boy from the corner: "I may be bowing on the outside to your authority, but on the inside, I'm still standing up. Besides, God is interested in the heart being right. Lord, You know that I'm not really submitting to this authority, but in order to keep peace so I can go on about Your business of winning souls, I will bow on the outside. I'm bowing, but not on the inside, Lord." But is it good enough for the Lord for one to remain "standing" on the inside while bowing on the outside? Obviously, God prohibits His people from both outward and inward submission to any authority above His authority. The Commandments consider inward and outward submission to authority as one and the same. Not until 20:17 does the Lord make any distinction between inward motive and outward action: Thou shalt not covet. E.g. "Lord, I may be committing adultery on the outside, but I am not on the inside." Dan. 3:7, "fell down and worshipped the golden image" God makes no distinction between those who unwillingly and those who willingly bowed. God tells us that everyone who recognized Nebuchadnezzar's authority to make them bow, even so they could continue with their individual religious practices, worshipped the golden image. Therefore, no matter how good the motives or intentions might be, submission to civil authority's permission to worship God is bowing down to the image, i.e. idolatry (Exo 20:4, 5). Idolatry reap results upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me. God is no respecter of persons; therefore, He will judge denial of His authority when civil authority is sought to obey Him. The Church & Balaam We should be reminded again that a New Testament Church is a group of people who have trusted Christ as their Substitute and Savior, and have recognized Him as both Lord and Christ (Ac 2:36). When a group of people submit the local church to civil authority, do they still have a church under the headship of Christ, or do they have a "religious organization" under the state? Read the incorporation papers; read the mailing stamp, and it will be obvious that the group is a state religious organization. God never approves the use of the world's means to do His work (Ro 6:1). "But we are under Grace, not Law" expresses the desire to operate outside of God's Word. Observe: 1) Galatians 6:7-9, anytime one sows to the flesh, corruption will result, or God's Word is not true, and 2) the judgment of God is not according to how we feel it should be nor to our social standing but according to the Truth (i.e. the Law of God, Ps 119:142. Ro 1:18, 21; 2:2, 5-9, 11; Ja 2:9; 1 John 3:4; 1 Pet 1:17). The doctrine of "under Grace, not Law" has given the enemy an excellent opportunity to do his destructive work: the error of Balaam for reward. The Lord tells us that Balaam's doctrine was formulated to persuade God's people to compromise God's standards so the natural, destructive results would develop (Jude 11; Rev 2:14). Thus the sin, fornication, was used to turn God against His own people. As destructive sins infiltrate under the cover of "under Grace, not Law," God needs not do anything except allow the natural results of death to develop (Pro 8:36. Cf. John 14:15- love for Christ is compared with obedience to His commands. Thus hate is defined as disregard of His commands, Hos 13:9. We are not saying that God does nothing against sin. Rom 2 tells us that God's action against sin is more often than not patience in rewarding sin {or, for that matter, in rewarding good: be not weary}. But evil, lawless men mistake His goodness and forbearance for God's ignorance of or winking at their sin, Ecc 8:11. Geneva: "Where justice is delayed, there sin reigns). Through the error of Balaam, the destruction of God's people, individuals &/or groups, i.e. incorporated NFP "religious organizations," is from within. The error of Balaam has been the most effective method of destruction against God's people ever devised: it makes sin look harmless, appealing and profitable to God's people. The devil needs not to roar; all he needs to do is purr and make sin appear harmless. By getting compromise accepted by whatever means at his disposal, the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness. Regardless of its location, His wrath is against all ungodliness. Some brief Conclusions:

1) the civil magistrates see nothing wrong with demanding all religious activity be submitted for their approval.

2) those who worship other gods see nothing wrong with the demand because it corresponds with their belief in many gods, each god receiving what he claims as his as long as none claim exclusiveness. (That is, none claiming exclusiveness except the state.)

3) the pagan idea of the validity of each god has infiltrated Christian circles: "It doesn't hurt to recognize another authority over the `work of the Lord' as long as there is no prohibition against worshipping God as I see fit." Of course, there is no prohibition against "worshiping" God because this kind of "worship" is well within the heathen framework of many gods, each owed his individual respect as long as none but the state claim exclusiveness, e.g. respect each person's belief.

4) therefore, idolatry is recognizing any other authority, civil or otherwise, not only over, but on equal footing with the Lord God. Can a ministry, even under the name of the `work of God,' serve two masters? Many attempt to live the impossible dream: the Lord said, "No servant can serve two masters" (Lu 16:13). Enemy from Within Balaam taught Balak well: the error of Balaam has been dressed up, cleaned up and passed off as not really an important issue as long as one is allowed to "worship the Lord." "So what if we have to bow down to the image, as long as we can go back and win souls, preach the gospel, have Christian Schools and teach about Jesus. The state isn't hindering our religious freedom as long as we submit to it what it wants. The devil always has his most effective victories from within, and the state owned and controlled corporation is no exception. The little sin which he has convinced us is okay will not only be our ruin, but its effect will be felt for four or five more generations. The little sin that Balaam taught Balak to offer to God's people is destroying them and rendering them powerless to bring a revival to a wicked, ungodly, anti-Christ society. My, how we need some Phinehas' who will recognize what Balak has done and drive out the compromise (Num 25:7). Daniel "It doesn't hurt to bow to the image and submit to the civil authority so we can continue to have religious freedom. The civil authority is not hindering us from worshipping or serving God as we see fit, so what is wrong with recognizing that authority?" The civil authority saw no problem with the demand. Nebuchadnezzar's rule was known for its religious freedom. He allowed the conquered kingdoms to continue their religious practices with a certain amount of self-rule. If they would only submit their "worship" of the Lord God to his authority, they could "worship" the Lord God (or any god) as they desired. But the three young men clearly understood the law of God and the implications of bowing. Thus though the command involved no prohibition against "worshipping" the Lord God, they saw submission to the state's authority before the image as idolatry. The rest of God's people saw no problem, or if they did, they did not let their objections be known. They all submitted (bowed) to Nebuchadnezzar's claim of authority over their religious beliefs and practices. The Issue Thus we are confronted with the issue: if you will submit to the state's claim of jurisdiction over your religious practices, you can practice whatever religion you please. Filling out the state's forms does not presently prohibit soul-winning, prayer, assembly, preaching &/or teaching. In fact, the forms make these things more convenient. If you will only notify the authorities of your intention to carry out the great commission, they will put their stamp of approval upon it, and away we go - doing God's work under the state's protection and authority. Certainly, the state should provide protection for God's work to prosper, but protection is not the issue. The issue is authority. No place does God's Word imply the church should permit the state's authority over the church. But is it only a matter of notification? If it was, the forms would not be necessary. Rather, a simple letter notifying the state of the purpose of the group would be sufficient to secure the same freedom to practice religion as other groups have who file the forms. But a letter will not work. We received our letter from the state saying that because we did not fill out the forms, we are not longer tax-exempt as a NFP. The vast majority of God's people living in Babylon, the world system, see no problem or voice no objection to the demand bow to the image as long as they can continue "preaching the gospel." Notice the ones who did not believe in the one true God also had to bow to the image to practice their religion. Balaam has taught Balak well. Balaam has convinced God's people that it is okay to bow to the image as long as bowing does not prohibit the worship of God and the carrying out of the great commission. It presently does not. What our enemy has been unable to accomplish by outward pressure and cursing, he is seeing accomplished by inward pressure to bow to the image: "Bow, then you can preach the gospel with no interference." The result is just as he knew it would be: a powerless gospel which leaves society in his hands. Moreover, because bowing does not prohibit carrying out the great commission, i.e. "preaching," those who submit to the state and bow regard those who refuse to bow as a "cult," or simply trying to make names for themselves by standing while everyone else bows (Please note that we use "carrying out the great commission" very loosely. Those who bow fail to teach all things He has commanded. They fail to teach that Christ is the final authority in all matters of faith and practice for the church & individual). Anytime the `work of God' is submitted to civil authority in order to obey Scriptures through incorporation or NFP status, Exodus 20:4-5 is violated. The results will come to pass to the fourth and fifth generation. In fact, the fulfillment of God's Word does not depend upon man's believing it: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar" (Ro 3:4). Is it hopeless as the large majority of God's people bow before the image? No! God still has faithful men who stand in the face of the forces of compromise. The applied Truth of God's Word will prevail. Another Problem Let us consider a problem with the civil authority. When those making the demands see the rest of God's people bowing so they can go on about the "Lord's business," they wonder about those who refuse to bow. Everyone but the three bowed. The percentage is probably about the same today - three out of thousands. Thus because the percentage who stand is so low, the civil authorities see them as just some hard-headed, stubborn people who are out of the mainstream of Christianity. Hence, the authorities gain encouragement to move against the three (We should mention that if all professed Christians stood for the freedom to worship the God of the Bible according to each group's understanding of the Word of God, the state would lose its power. In other words, the unincorporated groups should support the right of incorporated groups to be state churches, and the state churches should support the right of unincorporated groups to be free of the state).

We are either salt or we are not. Gary North says it like this:

As godly people begin to restructure their behavior in terms of what the Bible requires, the world around them will change (Backward Christian Soldiers? Gary North, p 10, Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler TX 75711).   If the salt loses its saltiness, it will not prevent corruption. Rather than preventing corruption, it will be trod under foot by the corruption. As God's people bow to society's pressure to compromise, society gets worse, demanding more compromise (Mk 9:49, 50; Lk 14:34; Mat 5:13). The problem has never been and never will be the wickedness of the heathen; rather, it is God's people bowing to the pressure place on them by the heathens (Judges 6:1; 2 Chron 7:14; Isa 10:5,6). Moreover, the church that refuses to submit to civil authority in order to carry out the commands of her Lord will be mocked and criticized by those of `God's people' who have bowed to the image (2 Tim 3:12). Why do those who bow say that we make such a big deal over so little, i.e. NFP &/or incorporation? Because if they admit the issue is something to seriously consider, they will be forced to seriously consider it also. Therefore, they must keep the issue small or even refuse to admit a problem exists. Furthermore, those still standing after others have bowed draw attention to those who have bowed to the image. Many of the pastors we know who belittle the issue simply refuse to admit there is something worth standing for. Maybe some who ignore the issue are fearful that there is an issue requiring action. They may hope that if the issue is ignored, it will go away, but it has not "faded into the woodwork." Rather, the implications of being a state religious organization are being pursued by the state. Bowing, whether as an individual or as a church, to surrounding pressure is idolatry, Daniel 3:7, fell down and worshipped. Though we read later of a malicious attempt against Daniel's praying, Nebuchadnezzar's demand with the image is mentioned neither as a malicious plan nor as a trap for God's people. The image and demand that everyone bow appear to have been in the natural course of the human history of the fallen nature. It was not until the order came to honor the image in equal place with God that problems developed. The demand of submission to authority contrary to Scriptural authority brought about the conflict with those who wanted to glorify God as God (Ac 5:29; Rom 1:21). The Charge & Response The charge brought against the three Hebrew children is worth examining. It was not a charge against them for refusing to serve Nebuchadnezzar or any other national (or local) god of Babylon. The complaint was not that they had refused to offer the sacrifices or to honor the false gods in the past. It had probably been about 18 years between chapters two and three, and the complaint had never been raised before. They serve not thy gods, nor worship (Dan 3:12). The issue of not serving the false gods of the land did not come up until now. Therefore, the charge was that they would not submit their religious beliefs to the civil authority and bow before the image. It was not until they refused to submit to the civil authority that other charges were brought to make the refusal to bow to the king's claim of authority over all religion appear much worse. No doubt their refusal to worship any false gods was already well known throughout Babylon, but their refusal was not yet an issue. At issue was their present refusal to submit their worship of Jehovah God to the state. It was not until the state made its demand that all bow to its image that the truth of what really happened came to light. Apparently, the state did not intentionally make the demand to "smoke out" those who would stand. Rather, it probably made the demand because it saw each already serving his god under the state's authority. Thus the state saw nothing wrong with demanding that all bow to its image. Everyone had served under the state's authority for so long that any refusal to take the next step before the image surprised the state. But God knew what was needed and how to do it (Jer 17:6-11). By His grace alone can one understand the precepts of His Word in light of situations at hand and then stand up from his long held bowing position (Ps 119:27). These Hebrews were accused of ignoring the king. Really, the accusation was of rebellion against him, yet they were not in rebel- lion against the king. Rather, they were against his command that was contrary to the clear instruction of God's word. Today, though, many of "God's people" would consider them rebels in any stand for God's Word over the state's word.

The enemies of God knew very well what the issue was. The Geneva Bible notes say for Dan 3:1:

Under pretence of religion, and holiness in making an image to his idol Bel, he sought his own ambition and vain glory: and this declares that he was not touched with the true fear of God before, but that he confessed him on a sudden motion, as the wicked when they are overcome with the greatness of his works. The Greek interpreters write that this was done eighteen years after the dream, and as may appear, the King feared lest after the dream, and as may appear, the King feared lest the Jews by their religion should have altered the state of his commonwealth: therefore he meant to bring all to one type of religion, and so rather sought his own peace than God's glory.   Moreover, notice Dan 3:12, There are certain Jews that have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up. Thus the God-hating crowd knew precisely what the issue was: Nebuchadnezzar did not forbid the "worship" of any god, but they knew that it involved the worship of another god. We find that many times the unsaved, anti-Christ crowd understands the issue far better than do God's people. When we were working toward separating our church from the state, the banker holding the loans at the time clearly understood the precept of the state's authority over any corporation and, thus, over an incorporated church. We see, therefore, that it is idolatry to comply with any ordinance inconsistent with the total of God's Word. Moreover, it is interesting that the Pulpit Commentary identifies the command to bow with an "attempt to enforce religious uniformity" (Daniel p 118). Certainly, Christians owe civil magistrates obedience and honor; yet when magistrates overstep their Divine limits, they forfeit the Christians' obedience. The magistrates stand in place of God to protect society from anarchy and harm: to reward good, to promote conditions for good to prosper and to punish evil as defined by God. Therefore, our loyalty, as always, belongs to the totality of Scripture, not to men nor institutions. When men become loyal to institutions and other men rather than to God's Word, the door is opened for false cults. Only as institutions represent the basic premises of God's Word do Christians owe them loyalty. The Response Let us consider some points from Daniel 3:13-30. Nebuchadnezzar was angry, yet he gave the young men a second chance. The order had already been given that anyone who did not fall down would be thrown into the fire immediately, yet he did not follow through with his order. Evidently, he respected the young men highly even in his fury and rage. He knew they served not his gods, yet their refusal was not an issue until they refused to bow to his image. The boys did not stutter, but spoke right up. They had God's Word upon which to stand, and they stood firm. In this matter the conflict was not in other unrelated matters, but only in this matter. They had been obedient, model citizens in a heathen nation. The conflict came when they were commanded to submit their faith to civil authority. Who is that God? To civil authority, the Lord God is only a god among gods; thus they see no problem demanding the submission of Scriptural faith to their authority. Of course, if He was a god among gods, there would be no problem. But He is not, so thus the problem. Civil authorities are to bow before Him, and this civil authority does shortly. Would civil authority have bowed before the Lord of Heaven if the "Lord of Heaven" had bowed before the civil authority here through these three young men? If so be Their decision to stand was not made on the assurance of victory. As we talk to people about this issue, one of the first objections some make is the cost that might be involved. These three young men stood because they understood the precepts of God's word involved; they stood with no regard for the cost. How many pastors have made their determination on when and where to stand based on what a lawyer told them it might cost? But if they are incorporated &/or NFP, there will be problems if one desires to stand against civil authority's unBiblical pressure, viz. according to the Indiana NFP forms, the civil authority has the right to tax or regulate a NFP in any way it chooses. BJU proved the civil authority's right over a NFP (The Bomb and Its Fallout, p 5. Bob Jones University, Greenville, SC 29614). But if not Their only responsibility was to stand on thy precepts; the results were up to God. Standing faithful to the Lord is the Christian's sole responsibility, duty and requirement (Ecc 12:13, 14; 1 Cor 4:2). Hence, the enemy's primary job is to hide from the Christian his responsibility to God. The enemy does this through his expert use of lies and deceits. His lies tell us that we are responsible to win the heathen king, and the best way to win him is to bow down to his level. "Don't compound the problem," the liar says, "Look at how much more effective you can be if you will work with them. After all," the lie goes, "if you are in the fire and are burned up, how will you be able to influence the `court' around you? You have a responsibility, and if you are destroyed by fire, you won't be able to carry it out." As we have already pointed out, would the king have bowed before God if God's three young men had bowed before the king's image? The argument is common in our day of compromise: "Bow to the civil authority so you can continue to be a witness and preach the gospel. How do you expect to reach Nebuchadnezzar and the civil magistrates if you don't work with them? Look at what it will cost if you don't submit to that authority over our Bible belief. If you don't submit, it may cost you the buildings, members, tax-exempt status. Then what?" The enemy has a long, throughly considered, reasonable list of things it may cost us if we do not submit the Biblical principle of authority to the civil government's authority. Many of God's people have bought his arguments. He is well-versed on what means to use to cause us to forget or ignore our responsibility to the authority of God's Word. Our requirement is not to be fruitful, prosperous, successful, &c, but to be faithful to Him and His Word. The one and only thing for which we will answer is how faithful we have been in following the Word of God in every area of life and thought, according to the measure of grace provided by the Spirit (1 Cor 4:2; Mat 6:33). The boys spoke right up and answered the civil authority in a very calm manner. They did not argue or fuss; rather, they quietly told him what the Lord God demanded of them. The civil authority became enraged; the magistrate could not imagine that anyone would have the nerve to resist his claim of authority over all religion; he was in- furiated to think there was someone who would not recognize his authority. The most mighty men. The civil authority turns loose its best against those who refuse to recognize its authority over their obedience to God's Word. Thus God's people see the heat, fiery furnace and the great army of mighty men, so they forget that God is the one who established them. They are there only because God permitted it. Furthermore, we are currently in the "hot spot" because God's people in the past have refused to take a stand on the Lord's authority: they willingly bowed down to the surrounding false gods of the heathens, and now bowing is expected of everyone. And yielded their bodies. These four words are Romans 12:1 in action. Yielded bodies to the Lord is not some mystical experience nor feeling. Rather, it is trusting in Him, and then "forcing," if necessary, our bodies to obey His word. Those who bowed to the demands of civil authority over their obedience to God's Word can claim they have yielded their bodies to the Lord God all they want, but they have not. Rather, they have yielded their bodies to the demand of the civil magistrate contrary to the principles of the Word of God. Thus the principle of idolatry in this situation cannot be avoided. These young men feared God more than they feared man, the king and his fire (Mat 10:28). Because they feared God, when the time to choose came, they obeyed God rather than man. Notice that the king knew the issue, viz. That they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God. Can we honestly believe that, as a rule, the civil authorities making their demands do not know what they are doing? The King of Babylon sure did. It is God's people who have bowed who will not admit the issue. Thus yielding the body in accord with the Word of God must be an act of one's will: a determination that he will not allow any part of his body to do anything that is contrary to God's Word from the mind to the feet. It was not until after they yielded their bodies that God sent His angel to deliver His servants who trusted in Him. It was after they stood that the Lord changed the king's word. Trusting in Him results in yielding the body to Him. Those who "bow" or "submit" to the demands of the state contrary to the clear requirements of God's Word because they fear loss or cost have not submitted totally to Him. One cannot submit equally to two masters (Mat 6:24; Luke 16:13). These young men of Daniel show us that it is not our business if our bodies are yielded to Him and burn anyway. Rather, it is the Lord's business. It is certainly easy to say and hard to apply, but our bodies are not to be our concern; our concern is to obey our God. Ye servants of the most high God. It was not until they refused to bow that the civil authority recognized that they were servants of the most high God. Thus we see the state requiring the registration and regulation of all religion. If the religion will register and submit to regulation, then the state will protect the religion; if the religion refuses to register and submit, then the state looks at the religion as its enemy to persecute to the fullest extent of the "law." Admittedly, the choice provided by the state is very difficult: either submit to its authority and have peace, protection and prosperity, or refuse their claim and have persecution and pain. What a choice- but persecution over the past centuries has worked to keep the church strong and pure (1 John 2:19). In conclusion, we see that unGodly civil authority punishes those who refuse to submit their worship of the Lord God to its claim of authority, considering the unsubmissive as sinners, e.g. Polycarp was called an Atheist because he would not say, "Caesar is Lord." The historic issue has been that Christ does not need anyone's permission to operate. From the time of Rome, the state has said, "You can worship Christ if you will seek our approval." But when obedience to God is submitted to civil authority, what do we have but a state-sanctioned religious organization? Read the Forms. In light of history, our "religious freedom" at the end of the twentieth century is not freedom but "religious toleration." In other words, if you will submit to the state's authority, it will tolerate your manner of worship. Those who say that genuine "freedom" and our current "toleration" are the same must ignore the facts. We received the letter saying that if we would seek their approval, we would have freedom from taxes. ("The power to tax is the power to destroy.") We did not seek their approval, so they sent us another letter saying that because we did not seek their approval, we must pay the sales tax. If we truly had "religious freedom," those who seek not their approval would enjoy the same "benefits" as those who seek their approval. We are living in an idolatrous generation with which we are commanded not to keep company. God identifies covetousness as idolatry (1 Cor 5:10; Col 3:5). Does this not prohibit the use of God's money, tithes & offerings, to support state created religious organizations regardless of their name, e.g. "churches," "college," "mission boards," &c.? The name cannot hide the fact that they are state-created, state-owned and state-controlled religious organizations if they are incorporated &/or a NFP organization. Certainly, we can purchase goods &/or services from religious organizations the same as can be purchased from any other business. But is God's money, tithes & offerings, to be used for God's work or to purchase goods &/or services from "religious organizations?" God's work is to be accomplished in His way and under His authority. But obviously, God can and does uses any means, organizations, persons &c., pleasing to Himself to bring glory to Himself. God used many pagan Babylonian kings and systems to glorify Himself. Though God uses paganism for His own glory, the prospect of monetary benefit that causes groups of people to submit God's work to the state is still idolatry (Eph 5:5. Let us avoid placing the Lord God of all creation into our restricted "theological box." God works not according to our understanding, but His). Men more interested in financial benefit than in making Christ Lord over every area of life, especially over His Church, are a mark of the end times (2 Tim 3:2). Our Lord warned us, Take heed, and beware of covetousness (Lu 12:15). Peter sums it all up: And through covetousness, false teachers, appearing as Christ's apostles, deny the Lord and His authority over His church. Moreover, they may even speak evil of those who refuse to compromise His authority (1 Pet 4:4). They speak evil because of the monetary benefit which comes from submitting the "religion" or church of the Lord Jesus Christ to civil authority (2 Pet 2:1-3; 2 Cor 11:13-15). To submit the Great Commission to civil authority, as we are asked to do through incorporation, is idolatry. Furthermore, to submit God's tithes and offerings to the civil authority, as we are asked to do through the not-for-profit, is idolatry no matter how many pleasant words are used to gloss it over. In the past, submission of the church to the civil government was recognized as idolatry, but for some reason, 1900 years apparently has changed the principles involved (Polycarp, qv.) It does not matter if the whole kingdom of Babylon bows to the image and submits to Nebuchadnezzar's claim of authority over the Lord's work, other's submission does not change the Word of God. Our prayer should be that the Lord would see fit to give us both wisdom and courage to stand true to Him and His word in the face of social, economic, religious and political pressure. Moreover, we should pray that He would work in us both to will and to do His good pleasure in spite of the "fire" involved with the civil magistrates' demand of authority over all religious practice.


Chapter 3 A Concluding Thought

We should make one last point. Dr. R.J. Rushdoony points out that the Moloch worship in which God's people partook was no more than the worship of the state, statism (1 Ki 11:7, 33). He says,

Moloch worship was thus state worship. The state was the true and ultimate order and religion was a department of the state. The state claimed total jurisdiction over man; it was therefore entitled to total sacrifice. For a state to claim total jurisdiction, as the modern state does, is to claim to be as God, to be total governor of man and the world. The Moloch state is the product of apostasy. When a people reject God as their King, and make a man or the state their king, God declares the consequences (The Institutes of Biblical Law, Craig Press, pp 33-34. 1 Sam 8:7-9. I would recommend strongly that you read Dr. Rushdoony's treatment of Moloch worship). We are now brought to a difficult situation concerning incorporation or the registration with the state as a NFP organization in order to do God's work. In this submission, God's people reject God as their King (final authority) and replace His authority with the state's.   The minor prophets dealt with this very thing. Notice especially Zep 1:5, and them that worship and that swear by the LORD, and that swear by Malcham (Moloch). Thus God's people attempted to serve both the LORD and the state. God warned them, but they said, The LORD will not do good, neither will he do evil (Zep 1:12). "He doesn't care if I have to submit to another authority (incorporation/NFP) as long as I can go ahead and do His work." The LORD clearly points out that this cannot be done.

E.B. Pusey says of Hosea 2:5,

For whoever receives the gifts of God except from God and in God's way received them from devils. Whoso seeks what God forbids, seeks it from Satan, and holds that Satan, not God, loves him: since God refuses it, Satan encourages him to possess himself of it. Satan, then, is his lover (Barnes' Notes, Minor Prophets I, p 30). Thus seeking the state's protection and provision through incorpora- tion or NFP status is devil worship under this principle laid down in the Old Testament. These principles are given to us for our instruction in righteousness today. When His people try to worship (submit to) both Him and the state, there is judgment ahead. No man can submit to two different authorities, nor will God share His glory with another (Isa 42:8; Acts 12:23). Our beloved country can spend the total GNP on defense, but unless those who claim to be His people stop submitting the work they are doing in the Lord's name to the state, God's judgment is sure to come against all ungodliness, against all who refuse to glorify him as God (Psa 127:1; Pro 21:31; Rom 1:21). Modern Moloch worship is extremely prevalent in the church-state marriage relationship, i.e. incorporation &/or NFP. The secret church-state marriage where the church seeks benefits from the state is devil worship (Note the secrecy & convince the state provides to deny the Lord: churches do not have to place Inc. after their name). Then the church stands "amazed" at the rise of open devil worship in society. Throughout history, God has raised up God-hating heathens to chastise His people. What is to prevent His doing the same today? (Jer 25:9; 27:6; 43:10, &c. should cause God's people to fear their Lord. Geneva on Jer 25:9, "So the wicked and Satan himself are God's servants, because he makes them serve him by constraint and turns that which they do out of malice to his honour and glory." See also 1 Cor 5; Heb 12).   The only time any other authority can be submitted to is when submission does not conflict with the established truths of God's Word. All the pleasant words of "we are His special people" will do no better today than they did for those to whom Jeremiah spoke in their refusal to submit totally to their Redeemer and LORD. Nor did the Israelites of Paul's day who claimed special privileges when they refused to submit to the Lord Jesus Christ find special privileges. They vainly said "Abraham sits before the gate of hell and does not allow any circumcised Israelite to enter in there." (Romans, Charles Hodges, Banner of Truth Trust, p. 70. See also Mat 3:9).   But we must not forget that our God delights in mercy; His delightful mercy is available to His people right up to the final day of judgment. Anyone who will turn back to Him and seek His righteousness can claim His mercy. (Mic 7:18; Zeph 2:1-3 (Compare Zeph 2:3 & Mat 6:33); Pro 28:13, 14, &c). If His people will break their ties with Moloch, He can do some marvelous works through them. If they do not, then God have mercy on this land that we dearly love (Zeph 3:1-7).   God will judge this land for the sins of His people. One sin is identified as linking up with the state for the financial benefit in order to do "His Work." This sin is called covetousness, and has God's wrath against it (Jer 6:13; 8:10; 51:13; 6:13). Only by repenting of Moloch (Malcham, Satan) worship by those who are called by His name can there be any hope for any kind of a Christian future for America.

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