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Insult? Or Exhortation?

John Collins09/06/2013

Video available here: http://youtu.be/lWheQwWw-PA

William Branham said some very good things.

When cult followers come across Seek Ye The Truth, their mind is focused on the negative in such a way that they misunderstand a stand for the Truth as a rejection of everything.  As with any religious group that lifts the leader into a higher spiritual status than themselves, to speak negative of any part of the leader’s beliefs is to speak against his entire teaching.

Branham was active with many other men, some of which were good, solid, Bible-based preachers.  In the Voice of Healing magazine published by William Branham and Gordon Lindsay, you will find hundreds of men in the faith healing movement.  Branham’s own publication describes the many healings that took place in their ministries.

Even the well-loved favorite sermon, “The Eagle In Her Nest,” has some very good things to say.  It was a sermon copied from C. L. Franklin’s 1953 Sermon, “As The Eagle Stirs Her Nest.”  You’ll notice that Branham’s title has been changed on the tape index to avoid conflict – this was Franklin’s most popular sermon of all time.

These men Branham associated with brought some powerful sermons that included some strong truths that we find in God’s Word.  And those truths were relayed to Branham’s own small following.

But these sermons, filled with both truth and fiction, are a gift and a curse.

Most followers refuse to draw a line between the good things William Branham taught and the occult.  If you point out Branham’s occult teaching on the Zodiac and the Pyramids, you’ll face a strong opposition.  Scriptures will be stretched from the punishments described under the Mosaic Law for this type of worship into hints that maybe God does not think the occult is so bad after all.

When you explain to the people that Branham’s 1909 birthdate was complete fiction to promote a story about a fortuneteller – one who puts these occult Zodiac numerologies into action – followers will ignore the truth to support the evil.  They will ignore Branham’s own marriage license, and the United States Census records showing a 1908 birthdate, just to support the occult!

We have denied the things that are an abomination before God, just as the Bible tells us to do.  We have warned others about these things, just as the Bible tells us to do.  We have stood for the Truth.

You see, a cult does not look at the Body of Christ as One Body.  They do not seek nourishment from the other parts of the Body; they have been programmed to believe that their severed portion receives nourishment from itself.  They have been programmed to believ that all other parts of the body are despised, and that nothing can be gained by the working of the Holy Spirit in those other parts.

Paul says in Romans 12,

“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.”

 

By nature, a religious cult must deny this passage of scripture.  The working of the Holy Spirit throughout the entire body is denied, and all of these functions that Paul mentions for the entire Body of Christ is believed to have been manifested in one single human being: the cult leader.

Because of this, they reject the very thing that God has given them to grow and mature, spiritually:  exhortation.

We are often asked by people trapped in the Branham cult, “Where are the Gifts of the Spirit in the other churches outside of Branham?”

…and then they combine that sentence with, “where do we see people being healed or see prophecy?”

If you mention “exhortation” to them, they look at you with this glazed and dumbfounded look on their faces.  Branham has trained them to ignore most of the Spiritual Gifts to the church, and focus on the things that Branham claimed to have been given.  To them, exhortation is just another word for “argument.”

It’s ironic, because when we look at the definition of exhortation, we find exactly what the cult followers are condemning when their attacks turn into hatred in our discussion forums.  The definition of “exhortation” is “to incite or excite others through an argument or advice: strongly urge.”

And exhortation is a spiritual gift!  Cult followers actually deny themselves a gift from God when they program themselves to believe that the cult leader is the only human with power to urge them to truth.  In 1 Thessalonians 2:12, the Apostle Paul describes the ministry of the early Christians among the Thessalonians as “encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory”.  We must worship God in both Spirit and in Truth.

In the fifth chapter of Thessalonians, Paul asks for others to pray for exhortation.  Paul placed strong value on this spiritual Gift; it was one of the gifts given to edify the church.

He says,

“We urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.

Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

 

Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil.”

If the Apostle Paul was alive today, and he was to have come across a cult that had lifted William Branham into the power of sorcerer, he would probably quote from this passage.

I can hear Paul saying, “Don’t serve a false prophet!  Take the good things that he said, and use them to encourage one another!  Test ALL things.  If we find the occult in the teaching, walk away from it, taking only the things that are good!”

It is sad to say, but the Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive.  Though it is a simple Gospel, Good News describing the greatest Gift that God has given us, it is offensive.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Good News that God loved us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and free us from the Old Covenant Law.  He suffered and bled on the cross so that we did not have to, died, and rose again so that we can rise with Him.

He promised that the Father would send His Holy Spirit, and that Spirit would lead us and guide us into all Truth.

It is offensive, because to accept truth, one must first humble his pride.  He might have to accept failure.  He might suffer defeat. 

A cult pastor is given a choice:  either admit that they were promoting lies from behind the platforms and accept God’s exhortation, or try to cover them up like a small child hiding his green beans under his biscuit.  No matter how you try to hide them, they are still there.

Apologetic websites are not a rebuke of the man.  All men sin, and some are led astray by forces that we cannot see.  When the Truth is uplifted by exposing the false, the man is not the focus – the doctrine is the focus.

Romans 12 tells us the “Marks of a True Christian,” and this passage brings a sobering thought.  These sayings are instructions for not only the person the apologetic is speaking to, but also are intended to exhort the apologetic himself.

Paul says,

“Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good.  Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.

 

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.”  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

You’ll notice that Paul is giving exhortation, not only for the ones arguing against the early Christians, but also the Christians themselves.  There are as many instructions pointed at the giver as are pointed at the receiver.

It’s difficult.  I think that this is something that we all struggle with.  Those on both sides of the debate have placed their emotions into the argument, and those emotions lead from simple persecution to vengeance.  But Paul said that vengeance was reserved for God, and God alone. 

As an apologetic, we must be careful to exhort the cult followers with patience.  We must never lose sight on the fact that they are no different than we are.  Some of us were in their shoes, not very long ago.  God has blessed us with an eye salve that has opened our eyes and allowed us to separate the truth from the evil.

But we must remember that cult followers that uplift a man do not have this ability.  Any hole that is poked in their leader’s theology is a hole pierced through the man himself – not the doctrine that the man promoted.  When we tell them that William Branham promoted the occult, their ears do not hear what we are saying.  They misunderstand our words to say that William Branham himself was THE occult.

My favorite parable that Jesus gave is the parable of the sower and the seed.  If you are active in any apologetic discussions, you’ll find comfort in the words of Christ.

We are nothing more than spreaders of seed.  Some of those seeds will fall into fertile soil.  Some will fall into rock.  We can stand there to water the seed ourselves, but if we try to stand there, watering the seed until we see growth, we will drown it.  We will never see it grow.

God is the one that brings the water.  God is the one that gives the growth.  It is not our job to focus on one single seed until we see the roots take hold – that would give us the glory and make us become filled with pride.

Our glory is to be given to God.  Everything we do, we must do it to show the power of almighty God.  We must show others that we are all God’s children, and that His Gospel is the only gospel that can save the lost.

Let the exhortation spread the seed.  But let the Holy Spirit take our water buckets and start watering with rain from the heavens.


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