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Works-Righteous Shackles of Asceticism


Hebrews 6 a chapter many of you may be familiar with, though it is a very strange read while you’ve been programmed with the teachings of William Branham.  Many of the verses in this chapter are used “to take a context” as he called it, but are astounding if you read them in the actual context in which they were written.


Branham particularly liked the verse containing “its end is to be burned.”  Many times, when speaking about ‘demons,’ especially in his healing campaigns, Branham would use this scripture.


In 1953, a sermon entitled ‘Demonology’, Branham claimed that God Himself showed him that verse:


And the Lord come down in His mercy and showed me. Here's where it was. It has to be Scriptural first. He said, "Pick up your Bible." And I picked up my Bible. And I guess I held that Bible for ten minutes without anybody--any more Word coming. I waited just a few minutes. I heard Him say again, "Turn to Hebrews 6 and start reading." And I did. And when it come down there where it said, "The rain cometh oft upon the earth to water it and prepare it, dress it for which it's... but the thorns and thistles, which is nigh unto rejection, whose end is to be burned..." And I caught it right there.  I thought, "There it is. Thanks be to God. There it is." See?


Branham also liked the third verse, speaking about those who fell away never to return.  In fact, he preached an entire sermon with the title, “Hebrews Chapter Six – Three.”


You see, Branham taught that each “age” had just a little truth.  Throughout the church ages and their dates that Branham copied from Clarence Larkin, Branham taught that they had a “little truth,” but the “seventh age messenger” would “restore all things” to the foundation laid by the prophets. 


He often lined up the ones he felt were the “trail of the Gospel, and spoke their names with almost a little jingle behind them.  In 1964, he says this:


Down through the years, Luther, Wesley, Martin Luther, and all, Sankey, Finney, John Smith, Knox, all stumbled at It.  But what's it to be done in the last days? What is "to reveal"? "Bring forth!" What's Malachi 4 to do? To turn back the people from that stumbling block, to break down the traditions, and to reveal the Bread with the Shekinah Glory. Watch It ripen and produce just exactly what It said It would do, oh, my, the Shewbread for this age. To the denomination, a stumbling block, "a bunch of fanatics." But, we who believe!  But now as Revelations 10 has promised, "All the mysteries of God, that's been hid in the pages down through them years, would be ripened, brought forth in the age of the seventh angel's Message." Is that right?


Interestingly, when you read all of this in context, Paul seems to be preaching against those like William Branham who tried expanding on the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Paul’s proclamation of the Gospel is summed up in this one statement, which is repeated in example all throughout his works:


For by grace are you saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God

Ephesians 2:8


Let’s read Hebrews Chapter Six to see the real meaning of the many one-liners Branham pulls out of this chapter align with Paul’s original intention:


Paul says this: Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,


Just like he said to the Ephesians, Paul spoke against trying to make yourself righteous by works, the things that you do to make yourself more “holy.”  Paul called these “dead works,” and basically called those who do this “immature.”


Let’s continue:


And of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.  And this we will do if God permits. 


It’s interesting that he speaks about washings.  Most cult churches still practice “foot washing,” and there is no problem with it.  But it has become a cold-formal ritual, and is absolutely nothing like the original intentions.


Christ, by example, was showing his disciples that they should humble themselves to become a servant for others.  The servants were the ones who washed the sand of the desert from the feet!  In our modern day, we have very little to wash off with the exception of odor from smelly socks!


Paul says that these things we can do if God permits, but they are “works,” and people seem to have stumbled in works and not grown into maturity of Grace.


Let’s continue:


For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. 


Now this is quite honestly the most powerful statement in the entire chapter.  That is likely the reason Branham quoted it so often. 


But combined with the beginning of the chapter, we find that Paul is speaking of those who have turned away from Grace, salvation simply by faith in Jesus Christ, and have decided that there is a better way.  Paul is speaking against those who add doctrines of “holiness” on top of the basic Gospel of Jesus Christ.


Many cult followers have forgotten what the “Gospel” is, so it is important that we describe the Bible’s description of the Gospel. 


“Gospel” means “Good News.”  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the “Good News” that God sent his Only Son to Earth, Jesus Christ.  Jesus lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, conquered death, hell, and the grave, and rose again so that we might rise with him.  Those who believe in the Gospel have eternal salvation by the Grace of God (Unmerited favor), through faith in Jesus Christ.


Paul says, For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God.  But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.


Those who do not accept this plan of salvation, and try to add doctrines of “works” on top of it are worthless!  Very harsh!  Paul realizes this:


Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.  For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.  And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.


The Jews were hung up on works.  Paul knew it.  And he knew that he was speaking harshly.  But, he told them that God was not an unjust God.  He would not overlook their devotion to these works and be unmerciful, but there was no need for them!


Paul reminded the people of the covenant that God made with Abraham:


For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, “Surely I will bless you and multiply you.” And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation.  So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. 


So, should our anchor be in a “messenger” that paved the way before us with dead works?  Or should it be in Jesus Christ?  Let’s see what Paul says:


We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.


I chose Christ as my High Priest, not William Branham.  Which do you choose?