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9 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It is this single chapter that brings hope of
salvation to any who are reminded of their past sins covered under the Blood of
Jesus Christ. It is the perfect example
that the power of the cross knows no boundaries. God can take the most violent, cruel, and
heartless sinner, wash them in His blood, and make them new creatures that are
filled with excitement to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The early Christians were severely persecuted for following
the teachings of Christ. Christ's
examples and actions clearly violated the Mosaic Law, which was the code of
conduct required by the Jews and even partially enforced by Roman
soldiers. Violation of the Mosaic Law
was considered Impiety, or lack of proper respect for the religious custom of
When the new Christians who once were bound by Law started
to experience freedom from that Law, their freedom was in the eyes of God — not
the eyes of their fellow Jews. With each
new freedom came punishment when observed by others, even by men and women they
once knew and held dear. Depending upon
the Law that was breached, the punishment could be severe, even death.
But Christ, by example, taught the early church how to live
their lives by Love instead of Law.
Christ came and lived a perfect life among men to give us a living
example, but that example was not bound by the requirements of Mosaic Law.
Under the Law of Moses, an adulteress was to be stoned for
her impurity. But under the law of
forgiveness, Christ set the adulteress at the well free, even though she had
been with several men.
There was a difference in the Law of Love as compared to the
Law of Moses. It is a difference that
many Christians of today do not see or understand: The focus of Christ's law of Grace was the
soul, while the focus of the Law of Moses was the physical body.
Christ's teaching and "untangling the scriptures" for the
people was seen as a threat to the Scribes and the Pharisees. The priesthood was descended through the Levites,
not the tribe of Judah that brought the Messiah. According to Mosaic Law, the Levitical
priesthood was established pure and holy, from the cleansing of hands to the
practices of internal "cleanliness."
But Christ came teaching others to serve, not to be
served. He taught that the lowest among
them was the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
The chores most despised by the people — jobs that the priesthood would
never do, such as washing feet — were the ones that Christ praised the most.
By example, Christ washed his disciples feet. Though some churches of today have turned
this into useless tradition, the message Christ was relaying to his disciples
was that they were there to serve the people — no matter how filthy or how
dirty the job might be.
The Scribes and Pharisees tried to stop this threat with
personal attack. Leviticus
10 tells how the priesthood should refrain from wine or strong drink when
administering the Law to the people in the tents, and that tradition was held
But Christ loved wine.
He enjoyed life without the Law and restrictions that did not produce
Love, and drinking wine was one of those restrictions. The Pharisees attacked Jesus, publicly
denouncing him for being a "wine bibber."
Their personal attacks had little effect on the early
Christians who had experienced a new life through the teaching of Christ. The people could very easily see and
understand that while the attacks were bred from hatred, Christ was giving them
love and internal satisfaction. The
clean hands of the priests would never match the clean hearts that Christ was
giving the people.
Paul was among those filled with hate. He was very familiar with the Mosaic Law, and
persecuted the early church in violation of that Law. He was involved with the stoning of Stephen,
a punishment that ended with death.
We know very little of Paul's prior life with the exception
of the descriptions that he gives us, but we do know that it was not a life
filled with the love that Christ taught.
Paul had a life undeserving of the Gospel according to the eyes of
men. In fact, many churches today would
turn Paul from their door, having remembered his anger and hatred towards those
who did not strictly adhere to the Mosaic Law.
But that is why I love this chapter. As humans, we are born into sin. We naturally are destined to fail. We are all undeserving of the Gospel, and
there is nothing we can do by ourselves to make ourselves worthy.
Studying the scriptures, especially the words of Paul after
his conversion, we find that this was the primary purpose of the Mosaic
Law. It had failed. This entire chapter of history for the Jews
was to set an example for the rest of mankind, for the future generations to
come, that works-righteous faith will never save.
Many times as parents, we teach our children the correct way
by first showing them an example of the incorrect way. "Don't tie your shoelaces like THIS, it won't
work. Start by tying them like
THIS." "Don't make your bed like THIS,
pull the cookie crumbs out from under your pillow first like THIS."
As a whole, the Bible is this type of example. Our Heavenly Father is instructing us how to
live our lives, and he starts with the first half describing what NOT to
do. He shows us how the Children of
Israel sent Moses back up the mountain to ask the Lord how they could save
themselves, shows us how that will NEVER work, and then sends His Son, Jesus
Christ, to show us a better way.
When Christ came, he magnified the Law — put it under a
magnifying glass for inspection. The
people that he taught were His pupils, letting them peer through the glass at
the old Mosaic Law, pointing out the many failures. It is as if he were standing in a classroom,
saying, "Now class, this is not the way that will lead you to love of your
fellow man. All of these laws are
fulfilled in two single commandments:
Love the Lord thy God with all your heart and mind and soul, and love
your neighbor BETTER than you love yourselves."
But again, Paul knew nothing of that teaching. He did not know the Love that Christ poured
out into his students. In fact, in the
example we just gave, Paul would be the student bringing a bomb into class,
setting it off to kill the rest of the students, all while standing behind the
bushes laughing. He was the person that
the other students should absolutely hate with pure devotion.
But Christ did not look to the things that Paul had
done. He does not look at the outward
things, remember? Christ looks at the
heart. And what looks like a heart of
stone to us looks completely different in the eyes of God.
These are the types of people that God loves to use!
I like to think that this is God's sense of humor. Let's take the worst example among you, the
one that every single one of you would LOVE TO KILL, the one that causes you to
have nightmares in your sleep, and let him LEAD YOU! In the eyes of Hollywood, this is what you
call situational comedy!
Listen how Acts Chapter 9 begins:
still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to
the high priest and asked him for letters to the synagogues at Damascus, so
that if he found any belonging to the Way, men or women, he might bring them
bound to Jerusalem."
Paul was a bounty hunter!
He got his papers to start collecting the Christians! Even worse, he didn't do this for the money —
he was fuming mad, breathing threats and murder against these new disciples!
"Now as he went
on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone
around him. And falling to the ground he
heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he
said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.
But rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to
do." The men who were traveling with him
stood speechless, hearing the voice but seeing no one."
Now I know what some of you are thinking: WHOOOAH!
Paul saw the "Pillar of Fire!"
Branham told us so! After Branham
had that photograph of the florescent light bulb that looked magical, Branham
tried to associate this story with the poorly captured photo.
He LOVED to use this chapter, because there is very little
description of the event. It was almost
as if Branham were saying, "Hey guys!
Read THIS one! Don't read the
description that comes later in the book, because â€¦ um â€¦ well â€¦ it gives the
details that I DON'T want you to see!
Acts 26 gives a better description of the Light that Paul
saw in the wilderness; the light that blinded him. And it wasn't a "pillar of fire," this was
DAYLIGHT, remember? The Pillar of Fire
led the Children of Israel by night, not by day. And Paul was not being led ANYWHERE — he was
Literally translated, Acts 26 describes this light from the
heavens like this: "from heaven, above,
the brightness, of the sun, having shone about me, a light."
The word "light" is translated from the word "phos", which
is the same word used for "daylight." No
magical fires, no florescent light bulbs, absolutely nothing but God shining a
VERY BRIGHT light to blind Paul so that he would see (no pun intended) and
understand that Jesus was the Christ.
"Saul rose from
the ground, and although his eyes were opened, he saw nothing. So they led him
by the hand and brought him into Damascus.
And for three days he was without sight, and neither ate nor drank."
Those of you who have fled the cult, think about that period
of time when you first realized that Branham did not have a single fulfilled
prophecy, and that his teachings did not align with scripture. How did you feel?
I've had many describe this to me, and it matches my own
conversion story. It felt like a blow in
the stomach, like a two-ton I-beam had fell from the Eiffel Tower and landed
squarely on my gut while I lay resting on a park bench. I couldn't eat, couldn't sleep, and might as
well have lay there blinded! What a
waste of thirty-seven years that I could have been reading this Bible I owned
instead of listening to a man who pretended to know what it said!
But God doesn't let you lay there bruised beyond
healing. You may seem down, unable to
eat or sleep, winded from the huge blow to your stomach, but God will always
send someone your way to lift you back to your feet.
It happened to me. It
happened to others who have fled the cult.
It happened to Paul:
"Now there was
a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision,
"Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."
And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight,
and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he
is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his
hands on him so that he might regain his sight." But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard
from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at
Jerusalem. And here he has authority
from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name."
Let's stop right here.
How many of you across the world who are helping others out of a cult
and into Christ have this same exact thing come onto your minds! "But Lord, I remember this man
excommunicating even his OWN FAMILY because they simply QUESTIONED "the
prophet!" "I've seen this man turn his
back on his own congregation — even when they were desperately in need — simply
because her hair was cut or she wore a pair of pants!"
We can't look inside the soul. Only God can.
When God says to extend a helping hand, don't turn that hand away. That outstretched arm may be thinking about
suicide. Those desperate eyes may be
looking at atheism or another cult even worse than the cult of William
Branham! Don't turn them away, show them
But the Lord
said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before
the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer
for the sake of my name." So Ananias
departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother
Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent
me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."
This last verse describes my conversion to Christ. I had read my Bible, multiple times. I had studied the scriptures, but I had
studied them according to the teaching of a man who decided to invent new
scriptures that changed the meaning of the others. I had studied it by a man who combined
scriptures to give false points of reference for me, and those points of
reference had turned it into another book entirely.
I can relate to Paul's experience. It's something that I hope many of you will
never go through. It takes years to
untangle twisted scriptures, and even longer to deprogram the programmed
Paul describes exactly what it felt like when I suddenly
realized that my Bible was my Absolute, and absolutely no man is above the Word
immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his
sight. Then he rose and was baptized; and taking food, he was strengthened."
This is a great chapter in the Bible, Acts 9. This verse will help you. If you are struggling with sins of the past,
think about this example that Christ has given us through Paul.
The example that the cross has the power to save — no matter
what the sin!