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During the American Civil War in the Battle of Fredericksburg on Dec. 13, 1862, a Confederate soldier by the name of Richard Rowland Kirkland endured a full day of severe fighting. In the bloody aftermath, tremendous suffering persued.
About 8,000 Union soldiers had been shot, and many lay there, dying. By daylight the next day, moans from the dying filled the air – an unbearable tragedy. The next several hours were worse, testing the hearts of the victorious Confederate soldiers – thousands of men dying without food, water, or medical treatment. Painful cries and pleas for help filled the air, but none dared lift a finger to help the enemy – it could mean certain death.
Kirkland could no longer bear listening to the cries of these men. He bravely walked towards the pleas for help, and told his general that he was going to help these men – dangerous or not!
Kirkland gathered as many canteens as he could carry and filled them at a nearby water well. Then, at extreme risk, he carried them to the wounded and suffering.
Even though these men were bitter enemies, Kirkland’s heart was filled with the spirit that Christ gave us by example. We should love our neighbors – even our enemies.
Kirkland’s good deeds required no ‘spiritual gift,’ no ‘mystical power,’ and no ‘sign’ from the heavens. Yet, when we learn of his love towards his fellow man, we all realize that Kirkland was acting in accordance with the Holy Spirit in tender mercy.
Sometimes cult followers get caught up in signs and wonders – even though Jesus said that an “evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.” Great power – even using the name of Jesus Christ – does not signify the Holy Spirit.
Acts 19 tells us a story about the men trying to misuse the power in the Name of Jesus Christ. They had watched Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, casting out demons in the name of Jesus:
And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them.
But we find that others – not having the Holy Spirit – tried to do the same in the name of Jesus.
Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists undertook to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “I adjure you by the Jesus whom Paul proclaims.” Seven sons of a Jewish high priest named Sceva were doing this.
These seven sons were not concerned with the people – they were after the power. They wanted the ultimate power so that people would respect THEM – not the Christ that Paul pointed to. They tried to elevate themselves by using the name of Jesus as an enchantment.
But the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and Paul I recognize, but who are you?” And the man in whom was the evil spirit leaped on them, mastered all of them and overpowered them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this became known to all the residents of Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks. And fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was extolled. Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.
Power-hungry men did not die with the Old or New Testament. Even today, we find men who seek after the power, rather than the Holy Spirit. They want to be able to have the power to help others – instead of using the Power that comes from the Holy Spirit. They want to point others to themselves instead of pointing others towards God. Instead of showing others how they, too can do these things through the Holy Spirit, they want the ‘power’ all to themselves.
Some think that Branham fell into this error late in his ministry, after his mental illness worsened, but we want to present you a different argument.
Let’s take the “Man from Windsor:”
William Branham tells a story about a man who questioned his power. This man “faked” the illness on his card, and when he came through the prayer line, Branham used his ultimate power to smite the man to the ground.
This story starts in 1950:
1. He fell to the floor and began screaming (1950) -50-0110 MOSES_ HOUSTON.TX TUESDAY_ E-41
2. He received the diseases that were written on his prayer card and was still afflicted (1953). -53-0508 GOD.COMMISSIONING.MOSES_ JONESBORO.AR FRIDAY_ E-67 through E-69
3. He died from the diseases written on the card (1954). --54-0902 SOUTH.AFRICA.TESTIMONY_ NEW.YORK.NY THURSDAY_ E-12 through E-15
Let’s stop here. In 1954, the story from Branham is that the man died from the diseases. To this point, the story is somewhat believable. The man fell to the floor, eventually received the diseases, and finally passed away.
There is a problem here, though. Branham, though claiming to be filled with the Holy Spirit, had no remorse! He was almost thrilled that his power could “smite” a man! Like the Jewish exorcists, he was after the power – not like the man who risked his own life to save the enemy!
But then, two years later, we have a problem:
4. He was still bedfast "to this day" (1956). -56-0407 BLIND.BARTIMAEUS_ CHICAGO.IL SATURDAY_ E-66
5. He ran screaming from the platform (1956). -56-1209E JEHOVAH.JIREH_ BROOKLYN.NY SUNDAY_ E-88 through E-90
One could argue that when the man fell to the floor in the original story, he was only temporarily paralyzed – but this does not end here.
6. He died a year later (January 1957). -57-0127E BLIND.BARTIMAEUS_ LIMA.OH SUNDAY_ E-66 through E-67
7. He was still in "serious condition" (June 1957). -57-0630 THIRSTING.FOR.LIFE_ CHICAGO.IL SUNDAY_ E-4 through E-5
1957 was an interesting year. The man had died … yet he was “still in serious condition!” Which is it? A dead guy? Or a sick guy?
1958 is an out-and-out lie:
8. He died 6 months later from cancer (1958). -58-0208 THE.QUEEN.OF.THE.SOUTH_ SOUTH.BEND.IN SATURDAY_ E-85 through E-86
9. He was carried from the platform paralyzed and was still paralyzed (1958). -58-0330E CHRIST.KNOCKING.AT.THE.DOOR_ MIDDLETOWN.OH SUNDAY_ E-61
This is less than 30 days apart. Branham says that the man died from cancer. But then, a few days later, the man was carried from the platform paralyzed! And he was STILL paralyzed!
So tell me this: How did the man run screaming when he was paralyzed? HOW DID THE MAN RUN SCREAMING WHEN HE WAS DEAD?
He mentions this man three more times, and never apologizes to the congregation for lying. Though this is a BLATANT lie, he went to his grave, thriving on the power that he claimed to have in this story.
10. He died six weeks later (1961). -61-0212M JEHOVAH.JIREH_ LONG.BEACH.CA SUNDAY_ E-24 through E-26
11. He died six weeks later (1962) -62-0124 HAVE.NOT.I.SENT.THEE_ PHOENIX.AZ WEDNESDAY_ E-142-143
12. He received the diseases that were written on his prayer card (1963). -63-1124E THREE.KINDS.OF.BELIEVERS_ JEFFERSONVILLE.IN V-3 N-6 SUNDAY_ 203-218
Never was any remorse for the man. While most pastors would have stared in sheer horror that some poor man had fell, suffering, Branham was not concerned with the man’s welfare. All he was concerned with is the power that he describes in the story. All he cared about was that the people knew that he was all-powerful.
The funny part? He did not even need to have the power to get this “power trip!”
Right before Jesus told the parable of the “Unforgiving Servant,” Peter asked him:
“Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?”
When you consider the unforgiving nature of Branham’s power-hungry mind, and this poor “Man from Windsor” that likely never even existed, the words of Jesus are humbling:
Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
As Christians, we should ask ourselves: If we stood by the pearly gates and watched people enter, and Branham were to walk in beside Richard Rowland Kirkland, what would happen? If St. Peter were given a choice of one man or the other, and after being instructed by Jesus to forgive without hesitation, which man would Peter choose?
Which man would Jesus Christ choose?