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Millstone Around The Neck

John Collins07/12/2013

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When I was a child, I pretty much kept to myself.  High school was a dangerous place for me — according to the indoctrination from a cult, I was programmed to believe that I was alone, without my parents, in "Satan's Eden" — a world that Satan had the ultimate power and control. 

I was somehow led to believe that we were somehow trapped in this "evil" place, and that somehow the work that Jesus did on the cross was not as powerful as that of Satan.  Christ rose into power, but this world was filled with Satan's "agents" rather than potential converts to Christ.

Keeping to myself, I made no enemies, and made very few friends.  And most were friends until I voiced my opinion about this "Satan's Eden," and you can imagine what happened after I let them know all other Christians in denominational churches had taken the "Mark of the Beast!"

I remember very clearly a time when I walked alone, sat in a group of people pretending they did not exist, and listened to the teacher speaking as if she were one of the non-voiced teachers in the Peanuts cartoons.  I wanted to go home!  ... not my home made of brick and mortar, but home to another world and leave all of these people to their DOOM!

I can remember walking between classes one day, and three other teen agers were walking together, laughing.  I was watching them in awe, thinking about how nice it would be to have a group of buddies that I knew and could trust and that were NOT marked with the "Mark of the Beast." 

The problem was that I was staring — which breaks "rule number one" in the teenager code of conduct.  The guy in the middle caught it, walked up to me, and punched me solidly in the gut!  It caught me by surprise — I was completely relaxed — and so it took the wind completely from me, and I fell helpless to the floor gasping for breath.

I didn't know this boy.  In fact, this may have been the first time I had seen him.  But I was curious — I wanted to know WHO punched me in the stomach!  So I started asking around, got a name, and tried to find out a little more about him.

But before I could learn too much more, this boy who had punched me in the stomach was dead!  Running along the train tracks, he got a little too close, and was ripped apart by the force of a freight train loaded with cars and cars full of coal.

I can't really describe my emotions on learning of his death.  I wasn't angry with him — I didn't even know him.  Yet I felt some sort of unusual justice in knowing that this guy who punched me in the stomach got his just reward!

I quickly remembered the scripture that I was taught, one that seemed to have applied to this situation:  "It would be better to have a millstone tied around your neck and be drowned than to offend one of these little ones."

Thinking on that, and specifically how I had been taught to interpret that verse, I held my head up.  I had some sort of superpowers, power that those other people in "Satan's Eden" did not have.  I was some sort of wizard!  A sorcerer that could conjure up death to any who would oppose me! 

William Branham used that verse all throughout his ministry, specifically applying it to any who would question his authority.  He would use it in examples of conversations — that only he could confirm, of course — of those who would say something against his guessing names and addresses off of the back of prayer cards.

Typically, he would combine it with snippets of other verses, leading the listener to believe that all of these verses, taken out of context and blended together, was a magic spell that made them all untouchable!

"Jesus said, "These signs shall follow them that believe, and it'd be better for you that a millstone would hanged at your neck and drowned in the deeps of the sea, than to even to offend one of such." God, when He brings His children in a place, and ordains them and overshadows them, and positionally puts them into the place that they are suppose to be, and then fools say such remarks as that" --58-0209A  HEAR.YE.HIM

But as long as you're His child, the world better keep their hands off of you (That's right.), for He said, "It's far better for you that a millstone was hanged at your neck and you were drowned in the depths of the sea than even to bring an offense upon one of these little ones that believe in Me." That's right. What is that judgment going to be?  - 59-1223

Much later in life, in a director's position for a large firm, I had an employee that SHOULD have been fired.  In fact, I tried to release him from his position, but unfortunately his esteem with the owner of the firm was much greater than my own.

This employee had a gift for trying to get ahead by causing others to fall, and I had watched it time and again.  He was in a supervisor's position, a man that should help uplift his team and give them motivation and support — but if the opportunity presented itself, he would throw any one of them under the bus to lift himself up even higher.

Things started getting very difficult for me at the firm.  The favor I once had with the owner started to diminish, and for seemingly no reason.  My work there had increased profit considerably, projects were going well, and most people there seemed to like me.

But I found out that this employee — under me — had started throwing ME under the bus!  He was privately speaking with the owner, telling many things that were not true — and combining them with just a little bit of truth so that it sounded real.  And the owner started eating what he was being spoon-fed.

It didn't take long,  Less than a month after I found out, this man took his team to a park for a victory celebration for a project that went very well.  I'm told that he put on his swimming shorts, took one dive into the lake, and never came up.  Just that fast.

He dove feet-first instead of head-first, and there just happened to be some cabling at the bottom of the lake.  Somehow in one single dive, he entangled himself into that cabling, spent all of his breath screaming, and drown within just a few minutes.

Again, I remembered that verse, and this time I was definitely angry with this man.  Even after his death, I felt power over him with the power that was in me.  I was the mighty sorcerer, untouchable with my power and might that I thought God had given me.  My enemies crumble, my foes fall at my feet!

Looking back, this is very painful.  I almost can't number the sins I committed during this time, and all because of my programmed response to a situation that was meant to be a trial.  I failed my test miserably.

I was filled with pride, one of the sins listed in the new testament.  I was angry, another sin.  Christ said that when we are angry, we have committed murder.

Matthew 5:22 says, "But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment"

But the worst sin committed, although slightly unintentional, was sorcery!  What if my belief that my enemies will die had actually invoked some spirit?  What if I WAS using power from some elemental spirit — and thought it was from God?

Many cult pastors are now starting to tell their congregations that the Bible is FILLED with conflicts.  For me, this seemed to be the case.

What I had been programmed to believe SEEMED scriptural. 

Matthew 18:6 does say: "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."

How can I reconcile this with the fact that Christ sent us to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the face of MANY people who were GOING TO be offended?

And He didn't say that we should go be offended so that our enemies WILL DIE! 

We are supposed to be forgivers, not killers.  We are to be filled with love, not hate.  We are supposed to bear our cross as He bore his, against a world that will persecute us until He returns!

When asked how many times we should forgive, Jesus said, "I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven." — Matthew 18:22

If the Bible is to be our absolute, and it is to be our code of conduct, then that code must not disagree with itself.  We can't take two opposing stands if we are going to stand at all — especially when they seem to be arguing directly with each other!

The problem with my training on hanging millstones around the necks of my enemies was not a fault of William Branham's, other than the fact that he refused to study beyond the notes of Scofield and Charles Taze Russell.  He was reading from the King James Version, and the words he read seemed accurate.  ...and they were!

The problem is not even the King James Version.  At the time it was written, this single statement that conflicts with other scriptures and gives us power to kill, did not have the same meaning!

Few people in the cult realize this, because they have been programmed to believe that the King James Version is the ONLY Bible that God had His Hand of protection over.  And many are falsely taught that William Branham ONLY studied from the King James Bible, when in fact Branham promoted other bibles.  Even false bibles, like the version written by George Lamsa — a man who denied the deity of Christ!

In the Elizabethan English, the dialect that was predominate during the time of the translation for the King James Bible, this word "offend" has a much different meaning than today.

The number one meaning listed in the Merriam Webster dictionary is this:

"To transgress the moral or divine law : sin"

Shakespeare wrote this:

If it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive — Shakespeare

But in today's English, and even in the understanding during the 40's, 50's, and 60's, the word "offend" has a different meaning.  We do not currently understand this word to mean "causing us to sin."  We now interpret this word as "causing us great dislike," or "distress."  The word "offend" has somehow blended over time with the word "disgust."

William Branham's teaching on this word, though misguided by the outdated translation in the King James Bible, is stranger than you realize.

Reading the King James — in context — we find that the summary of the chapter is exactly what the true meaning of the word actually defines: a warning to those who would cause others to sin.

In fact, the very next verse says this:

Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! —Matthew 18:7

It's funny now that I think about it.  "WOE UNTO YOU FOR CAUSING DISGUSTED PEOPLE!"

Had I read this verse in context — even in the King James Version — I would have likely understood it as it should be translated today.

But the really strange part is that William Branham himself understood the meaning of the word in the upcoming verses.  This next verse is one that has been correctly understood by William Branham AND by cult pastors for YEARS:

Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.

I have heard ministers preaching from their King James bible and change this word "offend" to "sin."  And it makes much more sense than trying to interpret this verse like they do the other verse — why would anyone cut their foot off if it disgusted them?  And why would their foot even disgust them — unless they hadn't cleaned between their toes for a very long time!

The Greek-to-Latin word translated for "offend" is "skandalise," with the root word "skandal."  The root word we use today is "scandal," which means to stumble morally. 

The incident surrounding a "scandal" disgraces or damages the reputation of the offender, which is EXACTLY the most damaging thing to the testimony of a Christian.  Many good soldiers have fallen to scandals — many of which were unjustly accused.  Once the scandal has made it into the minds of the people, however, there is no avoiding the thought.  So it is a discredit to any who would try to continue their mission to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

 The newer translations of the Bible use the correct translation of this word.  And when you read the entire section — in context — you'll find that the translation fits like a glove around this word that we have been falsely taught to make us sorcerers!

Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.

Woe to the world for temptations to sin!  For it is necessary that temptations come, but woe to the one by whom the temptation comes!  And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.  And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.

Matthew 18:4-9

There is another word that has lost its translation over the years, and it goes hand-in-hand with this word "offense."  That word is "curse."

In today's English, we view "cursing" as "cussing," or we picture some witch standing over her pot of brew casting spells on other people.

But the Old-English version of that word is much like we find in our false teaching of the word "offense."  A curse was the idea that you can cause evil or misfortune to befall upon another person. 

Cursing is widely used in the cult today.  Many ministers will describe how evil will befall you if you question or if you leave.  Many of us that have now left have been "cursed" by ministers telling their congregations how they were doomed to die.  I think one minister down in Georgia even put a timeline on mine — describing how souls in prison had escaped his cult and died within a month.

This is no different than our misuse of the word "offense."  Causing evil to befall upon someone, whether by word or by deed is a curse.  And it is an abomination before the Lord.

Cursing is not something that you would find the Jewish people doing during the time of Jesus and the Apostles.  Under the Mosaic Law, this hideous crime was punishable by death.  It was one of the sins listed that resulted in stoning the offender — God did not want people within his people destroying each other from the inside.

I look back on these two men that I cursed, and I beg forgiveness from Christ.  No, I did not directly cause their death, and I did not summon up demons to attack them.  But I did not have the love and forgiveness that Christ wanted me to have.  I did not forgive these men seventy-times-seven — by not mourning their lost souls, I was actually rejoicing in their deaths!

What if I had endured the test, and those two men would have been led to Christ?  What if by my persecution, these men would have seen God in my actions?  What if I had conducted myself completely differently, not thinking that they had taken the "Mark of the Beast," and instead I viewed them as potential converts to Christ?

I ask myself: how many more people could I have led to Christ while I was programmed with the false teaching from a cult?  How many did I turn away because they were not part of "God's little bride?"  How many did I offend — in today's English — because I disagreed with their outward appearance?

Friends, it's not too late to lead others to Christ!  Jesus did not say bind yourselves together in communes for I will come and wipe out the majority of mankind!

Jesus said this:  "The harvest is great, but the workers are few."