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Denominated

John Collins07/22/2013

Video available here: http://youtu.be/-tH6uKPUybU

Sometimes I stand amazed at just how backwards life can seem.  As humans, we have a tendency to adjust to our surroundings and claim them as our own without the foresight to see into the future.  We grow accustomed to the way things are, not the way that God wants it to be.

The Children of Israel in Egypt had the same problem.  They grew accustomed to life in Egypt.  Egypt was a superpower, and offered protection and provision.  Even though they were bound by the clutches of slavery, they mistakenly felt that they had a good life — to the extent that some wanted to turn back to slavery rather than adjust to the new circumstances and surroundings.

So many that are reading and commenting on my writings in the many forums and blogs that I am involved with mistakenly accuse my family of having some unique dislike or hatred of the cult.  Those that do not know me assume that we either "couldn't live it," or that we were forced into our exodus by men who did not correctly follow the cult leader's teachings.

But those that know us are absolutely puzzled.  They remember talking with us, laughing with us, discussing life with us, and don't remember a single complaint in the lives we lived.  In fact, some would tell you that we lived it much more firmly than themselves, not wavering in faith in the "prophet."

This puzzle is seen as dangerous for them.  Since leaving the cult, most of the people we once knew have avoided the puzzle altogether — abandoning our friendship and avoiding us completely. 

I recently watched as a close friend's wife started entering a restaurant while he was lagging behind.  I got a bit of a chuckle, because I knew this man well, and he lagged behind quite often. 

I was preparing to stand and wave to them, moving towards the edge of my seat to greet them as they entered into the restaurant.  But my movement caught her eye.

She pointed at me, spoke something to him, and they both backed out the door, got in their vehicle, and fled the parking lot like it was on fire!

Living in the "devil's den", Jeffersonville, Indiana, this is a common occurrence.  Frequently in a restaurant, grocery store, and even auto repair shop, people that we would have taken a bullet for will show the true evil nature of a religious cult that has strayed from the Love of Christ. 

Those that can't run from us will turn their heads toward the ground, pretending that they do not see or hear us.  My wife recently met one face to face in a grocery store, and the poor lady did not have time to bow her head — so she stood there with a puzzled look on her face, eyes moving back and forth rapidly, thinking "WHAT DO I DO?  WHAT DO I DO?"

I told my wife not to let it get her down.  I mean, really!  How often in God's service to you have an entire group of hundreds who bow down as you see them!  We are like KINGS!

You see, for those that know us personally, they realize that we have not left the love of Christ.  They know that we had no intention of leaving for the extra-biblical rules imposed by the cult leader, and that we loved our cult life just as much as they did — if not more.

They have one single objection to us:  We broke their long lines of tradition.

When the Pentecostal movement got into full swing, and branches of the Pentecostal faith started growing from the trunk, there were many "non-denominational" churches that started springing up across the nation.  Some of these independent, fundamental churches have outreach ministries, and you can now find "non-denominational" churches in several countries — especially in developing nations.

The very core of the idea of a "non-denominational" church seems to have the correct idea:  Your denomination of faith will not save you.  Joining a church will not save you, belonging to a group of people will not save you, absolutely NOTHING will save you except the grace that Jesus Christ has given us through faith in Him.

So initially, these independent churches will promote themselves as not being "bound by denominational boundaries."  All are welcome!  There is not Baptist, Methodist, or even Catholic in God's eyes — we are God's Children.  The Church of Jesus Christ has no divisions; the Body of Christ is made from men and women from all nations, races, and churches.

The very beginning of William Branham's ministry was much the same.  Some of the old-timers in the cult are very upset with the way that the cult has turned out, because Branham promoted this idea when he started his ministry.  They'll repeat Branham's "all are welcome" statement: "If they draw you out of their circle, draw a bigger circle and draw them back in!"

But tradition has set in, and the many of us that are now leaving the cult are starting to realize that nobody is drawing bigger circles!

And I personally am finding that life really is backwards.  Not just because people quit drawing circles of friendship, but because the new friends I am finding are powerful friendships that fellowship around Christ — not something that happened fifty years ago!  Our friendship is fresh and new, alive and growing — not dwindling down to a glimmer of the past.

I have new friends now that are still inside the cult of William Branham.  Many of them know the cult theology does not match the bible, and some of them have known for years that Branham had failed prophecies.

It makes for an interesting conversation, because while sitting in a pew listening to things that they know are not true, they also are bound by their tradition. 

When these independent "non-denominational" churches begin, their initial cause is growth.  They pull in people from their own tradition, telling them that their own traditions are making them grow stagnant.  The new church grows, the seats are filled, and everybody is happy in their new church.

Many new ideas are formed, many of which are based on the ideologies of multiple denominations.  These ideas are blended together, forming new doctrines and teachings.  Those teachings are preached repeatedly, and become the ideas that make them a separate people.

What they do not realize is that over time, they have become the very thing they opposed.  They have created a new denomination of faith based on a new tradition.

A denomination is nothing more than a set of values commonly agreed upon by a group of people, ideas that make them different from another group.  These "non-denominational churches," over time, become miniature denominations.

But their initial growth is limited.  It can only fill the four walls of a building.  And a single church of people does not technically produce a denomination — it is not considered such until there is a large number to be counted.

Like the two to four million people denominated into the cult of William Marrion Branham.

Over time, these new independent churches find ways to become more independent.  As they grow, they become proud in their new denomination.  That separating line between what they once were and what they have now become is no longer a circle; it is a line in the sand.

When the denomination has grown to maturity, that line in the sand becomes four lines, and those four lines are to keep people in — not keep people out.  Most of them do not have strong lines of outreach and growth, because they were formed from an independent, separated people.  The years and years of growth behind the other denominations are not found in the new denomination — so in order to survive, they must do more to retain the people. 

The only way this can be accomplished is to start speaking evil of those in other churches.  The other churches must become the enemy, and the "outreach programs" then become "internal Gestapo." 

For those who have examined the ministry of William Branham from start to finish, they have realized and noticed this change.  The early tapes were filled with a message that "all are welcome," but towards the end are filled with a message that "everyone else has taken the Mark of the Beast."  What began as an open circle ended with a line in the sand.

But the real problem is that over time, the real purpose behind their forming a new church is long forgotten:  The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is a story against human tradition.  Jesus asked in Matthew 15: "Why do you break the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition?"

And just as the Pharisees had forgotten the reason for the Law through repetition of their tradition, these new denominations have forgotten the reason for the Gospel of Jesus Christ through their own tradition.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ was Good News to everyone, but especially to the Gentiles.  Christ offered salvation to everyone who believed on his name — Jew and Gentile alike.  Men and women that were filled with the traditions of idolatry — which integrated unspeakable evil into their temple worship — were now asked to sit at the table with those who had lived under and followed the Mosaic Law. 

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is about drawing bigger circles, bringing in more and more people.  It is about telling others about the love and mercy of Christ, how He came to save the lost and dying world.

And it is not about drawing lines in the sand to keep your denomination alive from the inside.  It is about spreading seed, and growing the Body of Christ from the outside.

When the early disciples began spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it was a much different time and place.  Satan had a hand of power over the land because the Children of Israel had broken and abandoned the Covenant.  Temple worship of the Ba'als was dominating the earth, and demons were everywhere.

The Gospel speaks of men and women casting out demons in the name of Jesus Christ — something that most Christians today will never see.  Satan was lifted into authority, and his demons were openly turning hearts and minds into his slaves. 

Malachi 4 foretells the time when God would take back control, and the enemy would be trampled.  Many people do not realize how powerful this event really was.

Today, when we pray for someone because the enemy is tempting them, we find that it is much, much different.  The early Christians describe what it looks like when a demon flees — something that almost none of us have witnessed.  They describe the demon fleeing into animals, causing convulsions, and creating a visible, noticeable event when a demon leaps out of a human when it hears the name of Jesus Christ.

When the early Christians went out, Jesus said that He saw Satan fall from the heavens as they went out and trampled over the demons.

The Body of Christ was established, and Christ was the Head of that Body.

While many confused by the false teaching of William Branham confuse this passage, Ezekiel 17 describes exactly what happened, long before Malachi prophesied about the calves leaping from the stall over the ashes of the wicked demons.

Because of Branham's teaching, the cult has the false idea that all prophecy of Old Testament prophets were peering into the future as if they had crystal balls.  But that statement is not only false, it is exactly backwards.  Most of the prophets were speaking the voice of God against events that already had taken place.  Though many of them ended with a vision of the coming Messiah, the target of the prophecy was usually against those who had fallen into idolatry.  Those that created "lines in the sand."

Branham falsely taught that the "prophets were likened to eagles," but listen to WHO these two eagles were!

Ezekiel saw a vision of two eagles, both carrying a twig in its mouth and planting it.  The first one described Babylon and king Nebuchadnezzar.  The "eagle" was Nebuchadnezzar, and he was a very beautiful eagle with many colors.  Coincidentally, this was the emblem used by Babylon worship. 

Nebuchadnezzar had uprooted the Children of Israel, and was trying to assimilate them into his cult worship.  The Children of God, the chosen people of the Lord, were taken from their true faith to be converted into idolatry.

If you read down in the chapter a bit, you'll find that the scriptures give the answer as to who this prophecy was about:

Then the word of the Lord came to me: "Say now to the rebellious house, Do you not know what these things mean? Tell them, behold, the king of Babylon came to Jerusalem, and took her king and her princes and brought them to him to Babylon.

Ezekiel 17

But there was another Eagle.  And that Eagle carried another branch.  It wasn't the multi-colored eagle of Babylon, this Eagle was God himself.

He carried His branch to Mount Zion, and planted it so that it would grow and produce fruit from the OUTSIDE — not the INSIDE.  And it was not just for the "little eagles," as we have been taught, this Twig would produce branches that would support all KINDS of birds!

Thus says the Lord God: "I myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain.  On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest.  And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the Lord; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it.

Ezekiel 17

That Eagle was God.  And that "twig" was Christ.  It wasn't some prophet or messenger.  It wasn't some new denomination that would form and draw lines in the sand to keep others out. 

This was Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, the One who offered salvation to ALL who would believe on His Name. 

Under Christ, there are no denominational barriers — those barriers are walls that we have setup ourselves.  But under Christ, there are real barriers — barriers to prevent false teaching.

As a false leader rises with false teaching, snatching helpless souls out of their place in the Body of Christ to create his own "little bride," they build their barriers.  God does not even have to build barriers to keep these out — you will notice that they eventually build their own barriers.  They sever themselves from the Body of Christ.

They reinforce the barriers by adding rules and regulations, many of which are not found in the Bible — neither in the Old Covenant of Law that Paul called "obsolete," or under the New Covenant of Grace.  They reinforce with visible barriers, creating rules based on outward appearance so that their new denomination can look at the Body of Christ and SEE the difference!

As Christians, we should ask ourselves the very same thing that Paul asked the early church — after they had been freed from the demons:

"If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations—"Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts [traditions] and teachings?  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh." — Colossians 2


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