Video available here: http://youtu.be/Yv5_s6E_weA
The other night, I watched a video from Otis Stone, pastor in South Carolina entitled "Our God." If any are interested in watching it, I highly recommend watching what this pastor has to say:
http://facebook.com/video/video.php?v=3210537038621 (part 1)
http://facebook.com/video/video.php?v=3210619160674 (part 2)
I was really blessed last night to listen to a man who was not afraid to preach the Word. My heart goes out to any man in any church who will stand up for God and take what the Bible says over anything that any man says, and who will teach others that Christ came to save the lost - not to save the saved.
I believe Pastor Stone is still in the "Message of the Hour," the denomination of faith that follows the teaching of William Marrion Branham. And while I don't know Pastor Stone or what he believes, I do know that this sermon, "Our God," lines up with what I read in my Bible. He's reading the same Book I'm reading, and that same Holy Spirit will correct all error and lead to all Truth. This sermon magnifies the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Looking over comments and photographs about his church, it looks very different from other "Message churches." I don't see any pyramids hanging on the walls, no photos of "mystery clouds," "halos to uplift a man," or any other "household idols." And I find scripture after scripture after scripture in his writing - all things taken back to the Word of God.
One comment really stood out to me, and I think more people that are still following William Branham should pay close attention to:
"Friends, let us remember that William Branham was human, and humans do forget, make mistakes and have opinions. Of course, when I say that, the Branhamites would jump on me and call me "an unbeliever". (I am not anti-Branham, I am pro-Branham but not a Branhamite.) The Branhamites hold to "every word" of the prophet. The majority of them believe that Bro. Branham did not make any mistakes and that his "every word" was "Thus saith the Lord". Questions put to the Branhamites are usually never answered with the backing of Scriptures because they don't have the answer. They don't know the Bible. And they would either avoid the questions or they would (almost always) say, "Well, now, I am not a prophet. So I don't know. But Bro. Branham said this..." and they would refer to his sermons and quote his words verbatim. Most of the Branhamite preachers themselves are unable to preach anything without first compiling a list of quotes from 'The Spoken Word' books instead of the Scriptures. When they have no answers for questions put to them they would take the opportunity to either scold you for "questioning the prophet" (as they put it) or justify themselves by saying, "If the prophet didn't preach it, then it's not important. We do not need to know." Their cultic spirit and bad attitude have caused not only Christians but also non-Christians alike to brand everyone who believes in the Message of William Branham as "Branhamites" like them."
One part of this sermon described the uncomfortable situation that would happen in most "Message churches" if a prostitute or a homosexual were to come in and sit down beside someone in the congregation. He hit the nail on the head: they would be quickly escorted out of the building by the deacons!
This hit home with me. I can remember a day at my grandfather's house when a woman needed help and was walking up to the front door. But she was wearing PANTS! I don't remember the exact comment, but the summary was that since she was not matching the dress code, she was not allowed into the house to speak with grandpa - who was supposed to be a minister of the Gospel.
I can remember similar events, some in homes, some in churches. I can vividly remember the discouraged look on faces as a new person sat down to listen to the sermon, and after having holes burnt through the back of her neck, she quickly made her exit never to return - simply because she did not know about the "dress code."
Congregations have become so accustomed to tradition that they forget not everyone knows about their "extra rules." How could they know that a painted toenail would make them seem like the enemy - that isn't in the Bible! And their modest pants that they specifically chose for the church service seemed modest to them! How are they to know that some extra-biblical rules were to be followed before entering the door?
The problem is that so many today have forgotten the Gospel of Jesus Christ. They forget that Christ sat with sinners and loved them the same as we should do ourselves. He ate with the tax collectors - people that were so despised by the Jews that they would not even go near them!
I've asked several in the "Message churches" that have been in our forums "What do you think the Gospel of Jesus Christ is." One person was even in my home when I asked the question, and had no clue.
The most common answer is that it is "power" or it is "the bible." Some will say, "well the Gospel is the books in the bible that have that in the title!" â€¦yet they don't know the summary behind what is written in those books, because they have listened to sermons over and over that "take this little verse as my context."
The introduction to the Gospel of Jesus Christ that is found in the Gospel according to John has some very profound statements, statements that as Christians we should know and understand. In today's English, there are four paragraphs, each having a very important topic that brings you to the conclusion that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God.
It reads like this:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Though some churches have now forgotten this passage, it is highly important. In the beginning, all we HAD was the Word of God. The Word was not just the Absolute, the Word was Everything!
And many have overlooked that second sentence: "He was in the beginning with God." This, remember, is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and this is the introduction to Christ Himself. He was in the beginning with God, and all things were made through Christ. Christ was the Creator.
Next, we have a messenger:
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
Even the messenger, the spirit of Elijah the prophet in the man, was just that: a man. In other words, do not worship the man. Do not worship the "God in the man" in JUST THAT MAN, worship the God that IS the Word.
The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
This paragraph, though mostly about US is just as important. All who believed in His Name were given the right to become the children of God. ALL who believed.
And this confirms the path to salvation given by the apostle Paul. Not by will of the flesh NOR the will of man - we can only be saved because God has been graceful enough to allow us salvation by simply believing in His Son, Jesus Christ.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.'") For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known.
And this last paragraph of the section reminds us that Jesus Christ was the Word made manifest. That same Word that was back there in the beginning was now given skin and bones to walk among the sinners who needed a Savior such as you and I.
This is just the introduction, remember, and there is much more to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The book goes on to tell how He lived the perfect life, suffered for our sins, nailed our sins to the cross, and died so that we do not have to.
But the key element that gives us hope, as Christians, is that He did not stay dead. Christ rose again, so that we can rise again with Him.
And He is not gone from us - God keeps his promises. Christ promised that he would send His Helper, the Holy Spirit, to be with us and lead us and guide us in all Truth. And that Truth is found in His Word.
Because that Word, that book that you hold in your hands with those leather bindings, IS God.
Don't get me wrong, the physical book is not to be worshipped like some Christians falsely believe. And those words that have been translated into your language are not to be worshipped as they are translated. Those words are not some magic potion that has an enchantment.
But if you read those words in the Word, you will find Christ.
I was recently discussing where I had been and where I was now with one of my new pastors, and I'm sure that for him it was a very strange conversation.
You see, he viewed my past religion, called the "Message of the Hour" as a religion that had a set of beliefs and teachings that they thought to be according to the Bible, and founded by a man who had a set of teachings that all had followed. And with good reason - because that is the way that the "Message of the Hour" is promoted.
The "Message of the Hour" is promoted as a non-denominational Christian church, or set of churches - but nothing could be further from the truth.
A denomination is a set of beliefs or standards that set you apart from another group of religious faith under the same umbrella. The "Message churches" claim to be Christian, just as the Baptist claim to be Christians. But you won't find too many "Message folk" frequenting the Baptist churches, because they have a different set of doctrines that they hold as valuable.
Yet, to answer my new pastor's question, "Where did I come from," this was much more difficult than I first realized. No two "Message churches" believed the same way - all placed different doctrines above another. All were organized with the same foundation, William Branham, but not a single church can be found that believes the same way as another within the "Message of the Hour," and many will not even fellowship with one another.
So to answer the question, I couldn't look at the church - I had to examine the foundation. Unless I had been born and raised in the same church, and had been there my entire life, that would never have had made any sense. And I had been to AT LEAST fifteen different churches within the "Message of the Hour," from South Carolina to Arizona
The latter part of my "Message life" was spent in William Branham's home church of Jeffersonville, Indiana (Branham Tabernacle) - over fifteen years. And both the church and the headquarters, Voice of God Recordings, promote the theology that William Branham was the absolute "voice of God" for this day. They promote the idea that he did make mistakes as a human, but when teaching the "Word," there is not a mistake to be found. They promote those tapes as "absolute truth" that are the "stored up food" for this day and age. In fact, there is a video online of Joseph Branham, William Branham's own son, claiming that "this message is my absolute."
But in examining William Branham's teaching, we find that there are many things that do not line up exactly with the Bible. The first part of his ministry on recorded tape was during a time when he was the second half of the "Baxter Branham Campaign," where Ern Baxter would preach and teach the Word of God while William Branham prayed for the sick and afflicted.
Branham himself admitted not to be a teacher, even not to be a preacher, but simply one who prays for the sick while he was with Baxter. But there was a strange and unusual series of comments with regards to the Word of God, which the book of John says WAS GOD.
Branham made these statements often - saying it in a joking manner. I still remember the laughter ringing each time this statement was made in the Branham Tabernacle. Even though each member of the congregation had heard that same tape many, many times before, those same people would laugh at the same jokes at the same time as if they were part of some stage act and a light started flashing in the corner that said, "LAUGH."
While Branham was with Ern Baxter, he would often admit that he had not studied his own Bible. Others, beside himself, were more qualified to teach - so he just simply prayed for the sick. One sermon was even using that same title, "Why I'm Praying For The Sick."
Here are a few examples:
I don't know the Book; I know the Author right well. So I--I... But many of them are--are more qualified to speak the Word. -51-0503 AS.I.WAS.WITH.MOSES
I'd rather have the Author anyhow any time. His Book's fine. That's right. But I'd rather know the Author. Wouldn't you? -51-0413 THE.WORKS.THAT.I.DO.BEAR.WITNESS.OF.ME
I may not know too much about the Word. I don't' know the Book, but I know the Author. -51-0720 THE.ANGEL.OF.GOD
I don't know too much about the Word, the Book; I just know the Author real well, the One Who wrote It, the Holy Spirit. -52-0713A EARLY.SPIRITUAL.EXPERIENCES
I don't know too much about the Word, but I know the Author real well. -54-0307A THE.END.TIME
And now, as... I've... Well, as doctrine, I don't have very much about that. I--I don't know the Book too well, but I know the Author real well, and that's the main thing. I--I--I don't try to preach doctrine. -54-0314 WHY.I'M.PRAYING.FOR.THE.SICK
And that was the real, underlying problem: He didn't know the Word. If he had just studied that one book in the Bible, the Gospel according to John, Branham would have known that God IS THE WORD. The Word was with God, and the Word WAS GOD.
Reading that one book might have inspired him to learn the rest of it before he started teaching, but unfortunately for between two and four million people worldwide, that is not the case!
The problem with this is that from headquarters - that multi-million dollar building that sends out the missionaries to other countries - these recorded sermons by a man who did not "know the Book too well," are promoted as the "inspired Word of God" They are promoted as lining up with the Bible EXACTLY, and that to understand the Bible, you must look through the lens of those teachings by the man who did not know the Word of God.
I can remember watching several testimonies by Branham's oldest son, Billy Paul, where he compared the "Message of the Hour" to the back sight of his rifle. He would often describe how his gun would never hit the target if you only use ONE of the sights. If you tried to get the kill with just the front sight, you'd miss every time. And if you only used the back sight, you'd be a million miles from your target.
He would say that you MUST look through the back sight (which he called the teachings of his father) to see the front sight (which he called the bible), and then "you'll hit the target every time."
In other words, you must filter the Bible by the words of a man, and that man just happened to be his father who set up his money train.
Folks, if you can't hit the target by reading your Bible, then you are NOT READING it! The Bible is the Word of God - and remember, that same Word was in the beginning with Him, and it WAS HIM!
It is because of this doctrine, coming directly from headquarters at Voice of God Recordings, that many churches will not take the words of the Bible over the words of William Branham. If he said it, and it disagreed with their Bible, then their Bible must be wrong. I even had a man from South Africa arguing this very concept with me. According to his teaching by these false missionaries, the "messenger for the hour" comes with the message that they must follow - and the Bible was some book of some message for days gone by.
There is a blog that I used to follow called "Two Message Ministers." Both are still ministers, and one has his new church established with a paying congregation. This teaching has so greatly influenced them that they promote William Branham as being "sola scriptura," which is Latin for "by scripture alone."
Yet, this entire concept is in direct argument with William Branham himself! He did not know the Word, remember?
As Christians, there are not "two sights" that have to line up. There is One Word of God, and that Word is absolute Truth. That Word can be found in your Bibles.
That Word is not separated from the Author - that Word IS the Author. To know the Author, you must know His Word!
If you think that you know the "author" without knowing the "Word," then friends, you know a different "author."
Wouldn't you like to know the Real Author! Wouldn't you like to know Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God who died for you on the cross so that you don't have to? Wouldn't you like to now the One who created the heavens and the earth? The One who offered you salvation by simply believing that He is the Son of God?
Wouldn't you like to know an author that will give you love for a prostitute or a homosexual as human beings bound by sin and needing a Savior? A God who loves even the lowest of sinners?
Friends, You CAN know Him. He can be found in His Word. Read it. Learn it. Know It. Tell it.
Spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ like it is burning in your hands - as fast as you can, to as many people as you can!
Seek the Truth! It's in the Bible!