John 5,43: "I have come in my Father's name, and you do not receive Me; if another comes in his own name, him will you receive."
Acts 9,15-16: "Go [Ananias], for he [Paul] is a chosen of Mine to bear My name before the Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."
2Corinthians 10,12: "For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."
2Corinthians 11,4: "For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted- you may well put up with it!"
A good friend of mine recently assumed that Zion Pentecost Mission already had 501(C)(3) "Non Profit" status, or was eagerly seeking such.
We haven't decided yet.
This designation grants tax deductability to donors, and freedom from corporate income taxes. Likewise, all our 50 United States do the same, and exempt churches from state and local property taxes too.
Her assumption raises many issues of how secular law and denominationalism influences how we Christians live our bible-based faith.
It would take me a good while to unpack even some of the issues in her assumption, so I'll write today only about the first aspect of it- that when we Christians spread the gospel we are communicating on behalf of a group seeking to maintain monetary benefits given by the government.
Her assumption is "normal" in and out of the church.
I don't begrudge anyone setting up churches and denominations according to the advantages of secular law. That's our choice, but then having read the book of Acts I remember the call of the Apostle Paul.
He was chosen to bear the name of Jesus to all the world (Acts9,15-16).
He wasn't chosen to form a non prophet corporation according to secular law. He wasn't chosen to bless groups and factions such as the libertine "super apostles" that winked at immorality in favor of "success" and went about recommending themselves for it (2Corinthians10,12;11,4;12,21), or the legalistic Judaizer denomination that fancied their own creed and spying on our faith liberty in Jesus (Galatians 2,4).
He was chosen to be an apostle in Christ's living body that had no separate groups, no denominations, no creeds, no claim to special treatment by governments, no preach-to-the-tithe preachers, but was comprised of all who had gracefully met the risen Lord Jesus, and lived accordingly.
Paul wasn't even an "Apostolic!"
He was just a Christian, an anointed one, a follower of his messiah and Lord.
He had no brand name.
Most faithful folks know that our Christian bible ends up (see Revelation 13) with a great majority of believers beholden in thought and deed (marked on the forehead and hand) to a revived world empire that forces everyone to take its mark to trade and survive.
This is the dramatic "mark of the beast."
I don't claim to know what this mark will be.
Mayby it will be a tattoed branding like the Nazis used, denoting the beast's estimation of every individual's future "efficiency". Or, mayby it will be a non physical ideological "mark" say of "anything-goes-so-long-as-I have-food-and-big media-and-gas-for-the-car."
Or, mayby it will be a computer chip attempting to violate the integrity of our temples (beast man say "privacy" is so 20th century) that tracks all the Beast's subjects, to make sure they spread his false gospel.
But what we do know from the scriptures is that this "mark", whatever it is, correlates primarily to the name of the beast: "And no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666." Rev.13,17.
There's something about a name.
It suggests exactly who we follow, are following, and in whose name we come.
At water baptism we Christians called on the name of Jesus (Acts 4,21), or, to put it another way, had his name called over us (Acts15,17).
So thereafter, whatever we Christians "do in word or deed" we do in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ! (cf Colossians3,17).
This world ruler-governmental beast will likely come in his own name (John5,43 above), and then say blasphemous things like the name of Jesus nowadays is too "divisive." (Revelation 13,6).
Why not just join a denomination and use its name and forget the NAME of Jesus?
And the religious cohort of the governmental beast, also a beast, will seem like a lamb, and be so comfy, that s/he speaks up on behalf of the first beast (Revelation 13,17).
Did the prophets of Israel worry overmuch about their tax exempt status?
Did they worry overmuch about offending the governmental and religious powers of their day?
I'm an American.
I like the very American notion of the seperation of church and state. We left state churches behind. I don't fancy "The Church of this nation" or "the Church of that nation", or any official church for that matter. I think this sepration is one of the things that all the nations of the world should copy us on, and soon too.
And furthermore, that all the nations of the world would let down their religious walls that keep the gospel chained up in politics (in His name I pray).
Nor do I have an overriding ambition to speak in the name of any organizational structure (even Zion Pentecost Mission that the Lord has given), because groups and churches and missions and denominations, if they are healthy, are nothing more than part of the living body of Jesus Christ risen from the dead.
We come bearing His name and his resurrectional spirit.
Whether we have tax exempt status, or not, or will seek it, or will be able to keep it in the future, or a denominational name is secondary to bearing his name in faith and declaring and offering up the whole counsel of God (cf Acts20,27).
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Tobin Hitt is the founder of the Zion Pentecost Mission. He is open to gospel partnership with all, and identifies with Paul's description of our mission as ambassadors for our king, Jesus, urging all to reconcile with God (2Cor.20-21). He resides in Cheshire, Connecticut.read more...