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The Second Church Age Messenger

John Collins09/24/2013

Video available here: http://youtu.be/QZqfICkSX0c

When William Branham copied the works of Clarence Larkin to establish his “revelation” of the “Seven Church Ages,” he added to Larkin’s dispensational theology the “Messengers” that he claimed to be assigned to each “age.”  This idea of separating the Churches into “ages” was established by John Darby in the 1800’s, taking the prophecies that John the Revelator wrote to the churches in Asia Minor and claiming that they were for future generations instead of the churches to which the prophecy was given.

In the introduction to the Book of Revelation, the opening statement of the scroll is the greeting, very similar to the letters from Paul to the churches in Corinth, to Timothy, Galatia, Rome, and more.  The scroll of Revelation was a letter, and it was sent specifically to seven churches in Asia Minor:

 

“John to the seven churches that are in Asia:  Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.”

Revelation 1:4-5

 

In the introduction, John also writes that he had a vision of the Son of Man, and his instruction was to send this letter to these churches:

I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

Revelation 1:10-11

Many who have been influenced by the theology of dispensationalism are not aware that these churches were established at the time the prophecy was written on scrolls and sent.  Darby’s influence was strengthened by the spread of the Scofield Bible, into the hands of several men who studied Scofield’s notes on the book of Revelation.  Though Cyrus Scofield’s life has been criticized for living a life filled with scandal, theft, and even prison time, his notes have been promoted by many as an accurate authority, and they strongly support this idea of adding the word “age” to the Word of God for the Seven Churches.

The Isle of Patmos is just off of the western coast of modern day Turkey, and the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea were under 300km inland.  While many programmed with this dispensationalist doctrine believe that the “age” we live in is the Laodicean age, the actual letter (or scroll) was written to Laodicia on the Lycus – better known as the City of Zeus.

Laodicea had a very large Jewish community, and the early church had nominated this city to be one of the chief seats for the early church.  It is believed that this church was established by Epaphras, a Colossian, and is mentioned in the epistle to the Colossians by Paul.  Some of the Greek manuscripts end the First Epistle to Timothy with these words: "Written at Laodicea, metropolis of Phrygia Pacatiana".

But taking the work of Scofield, Darby, and others, Branham built upon this idea that the letters were not sent to the cities that John the Revelator addressed in his opening statements.  This extra-biblical theology literally ignores the opening statements in the first chapter, even though the end of the book is very condemning of any who would add to or take away from the book.

And William Branham did not compare his “messengers” to recorded history.  We find huge discrepancies, such as Columba not being alive during his “church age.”  Others fit slightly outside of their “age,” making several members in the cult following scratch their heads in confusion.

But the most interesting character Branham chose to be a “messenger” was Irenaeus. 

Branham appointed Irenaeus to the church of Smyrna, or “age” as he copied from Larkin.  Smyrna was a strategic port city on the Aegean coast, like Ephesus.  Irenaeus was Bishop of Lugdunum, which is now Lyons, France.

Irenaeus is best known for his book “Adversus Haereses,” or “Against Heresies.”  Ironically, this book denounces several of the doctrines promoted by William Branham that came from Gnostic beliefs.  Irenaeus felt that these Gnostic teachings were infecting the church, and placed a call-to-action for the church to stand against heresy.

If you were programmed by the teachings of William Branham, this is not only a book I recommend for you to read, but a MUST read if you want to understand just how subtle the serpent can be.  You will recognize many of the teachings that Irenaeaus condemns – though you won’t recognize any of the names.  The doctrine is the same, but Irenaeus is condemning the origin of the doctrine: mystic gods and demogods. 

The Gnostic influence had started to distort the view of the Godhead, taking the early Christian faith and twisting it into something entirely different.  Irenaeus knew that this was creating a different “jesus” – not the Jesus from the Bible, and that this new and different god that was being created was a false god.  This twisting was done through integration of false gods and their myths or legends into Christianity.  Irenaeus knew that this heresy would eventually distort the Word of God into the teachings of pagan gods and goddesses, and attacks them at their root:  Gnosticism.

The irony is that his stand for the faith promotes everything that Branham opposes.  While Irenaeus promotes unity in the whole body of Christ, Braham promotes division and separation.  Irenaeus stands firmly on the triune nature of the Godhead, while Branham waffles back and forth between Trinitarian, dualism, modalism, oneness, and more.  Against Heresies is an interesting read, because this confusion that is being promoted is the exact same confusion that was starting to infect the church.

In the opening statements of the chapter, “Unity of the Faith of the Church Throughout the World,” Irenaeus writes this:

“The Church, though dispersed through our the whole world, even to the ends of the earth, has received from the apostles and their disciples this faith: [She believes] in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are in them; and in one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who became incarnate for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who proclaimed through the prophets the dispensations(6) of God, and the advents, and the birth from a virgin, and the passion, and the resurrection from the dead, and the ascension into heaven in the flesh of the beloved Christ Jesus, our Lord, and His [future] manifestation from heaven in the glory of the Father "to gather all things in one,"(7) and to raise up anew all flesh of the whole human race, in order that to Christ Jesus, our Lord, and God, and Saviour, and King, according to the will of the invisible Father, "every knee should bow, of things in heaven,, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess"(8) to Him, and that He should execute just judgment towards all; that He may send "spiritual wickednesses,"(9) and the angels who transgressed and became apostates, together with the ungodly, and unrighteous, and wicked, and profane among men, into everlasting fire; but may, in the exercise of His grace, confer immortality on the righteous, and holy, and those who have kept His commandments, and have persevered in His love, some from the beginning [of their Christian course], and others from [the date of] their repentance, and may surround them with everlasting glory.”

Against Heresies

The Serpent’s Seed doctrine Branham tried to re-establish was condemned as heresy by Irenaeus in chapter 12.  The pagan gods that were being integrated into Christian faith were not integrated by name, but by fictional legends and fables.  The Gnostic teaching of the birth of good and evil was through sexual intercourse between the two forces, thus producing a “sin child.”

But the followers of Ptolemy say(2) that he [Bythos] has two consorts, which they also name Diatheses (affections), viz., Ennoae and Thelesis. For, as they affirm, he first conceived the thought of producing something, and then willed to that effect. Wherefore, again, these two affections, or powers, Ennoea and Thelesis, having intercourse, as it were, between themselves, the production of Monogenes and Aletheia took place according to conjunction. These two came forth as types and images of the two affections of the Father,--visible representations of those that were invisible,--Nous (i.e., Monogenes) of Thelesis, and Aletheia of Ennoea, and accordingly the image resulting from Thelesis was masculine,(3) while that from Ennoea was feminine. Thus Thelesis (will) became, as it were, a faculty of Ennoea (thought). For Ennoea continually yearned after offspring; but she could not of herself bring forth that which she desired. But when the power of Thelesis (the faculty of will) came upon her, then she brought forth that on which she had brooded.

Against Heresies

This teaching, while seemingly harmless, alters the Gospel at its beginning:  the birth of Christ.  When the idea of sexual intercourse is introduced into the Garden of Eden, then the only possible solution for fixing the situation is to deny the birth of Christ into mankind.  While the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man, born through immaculate conception, Gnostics teach that Christ became “god” later in His life.  This denies Christ being the Son of God, which is antichrist.

When the Propator conceived the thought of producing something, he received the name of Father. But because what he did produce was true, it was named Aletheia. Again, when he wished to reveal himself, this was termed Anthropos. Finally, when he produced those whom he had previously thought of, these were named Ecclesia. Anthropos, by speaking, formed Logos: this is the first-born son. But Zoe followed upon Logos; and thus the first Ogdoad was completed.

 

4. They have much contention also among themselves respecting the Saviour. For some maintain that he was formed out of all; wherefore also he was called Eudocetos, because the whole Pleroma was well pleased through him to glorify the Father. But others assert that he was produced from those ten AEons alone who sprung from Logos and Zoe, and that on this account he was called Logos and Zoe, thus preserving the ancestral names.(1) Others, again, affirm that he had his being from those twelve AEons who were the offspring of Anthropos and Ecclesia; and on this account he acknowledges himself the Son of man, as being a descendant of Anthropos. Others still, assert that he was produced by Christ and the Holy Spirit, who were brought forth for the security of the Pleroma; and that on this account he was called Christ, thus preserving the appellation of the Father, by whom he was produced. And there are yet others among them who declare that the Propator of the whole, Proarche, and Proanennoetos is called Anthropos; and that this is the great and abstruse mystery, namely, that the Power which is above all others, and contains all in his embrace, is termed Anthropos; hence does the Saviour style himself the "Son of man."

Againts Heresies

It is no surprise that William Branham taught the same thing under a different name:

“Remember, Jesus was a Man; God was in Him. There come a time, where the Spirit that was leading the Lamb, the Dove. There had to be a conference between the Lamb and the Dove. And they formed a place to set it. After the supper that night, they crossed over a little brook Cedron, and... or somewhere, and went across the brook, and went into a garden called Gethsemane. They had to have a conference. God and Christ had to talk it over. The Lamb and the Dove had to set together. It was the Dove that had to talk to the Lamb, and it was the Lamb's death. Now, when they set by that rock, and all the Angels come down from heaven to listen in to this conference. Oh, there was Gabriel, Michael, Woodworm, all the thousands of them setting around the rock.”

59-1220M CONFERENCE.WITH.GOD

Also interesting is that William Branham combined two bible verses to teach a “little bride” theology – insisting that scripture be mixed and blended together to teach an “eight soul” doctrine.

Branham would often make this statement:

 

Jesus said, "As it was in the days of Noah, wherein eight souls were saved, so shall it be at the coming of the Son of man."

65-0801M  THE.GOD.OF.THIS.EVIL.AGE

This was a combination of Matthew 24:

“For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.”

Mixed with 1 Peter 3

“because they formerly did not obey, when God's patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.”

Ironically, this was one of the exact teachings that came into the early church through Gnostic influence.  Irenaeus condemns the doctrine:

Further, they declare that the arrangement made with respect to the ark in the Deluge, by means of which eight persons were saved,(7) most clearly indicates the Ogdoad which brings salvation. David also shows forth the same, as holding the eighth place in point of age among his brethren.(8) Moreover, that circumcision which took place on the eighth day,(9) represented the circumcision of the Ogdoad above. In a word, whatever they find in the Scriptures capable of being referred to the number eight, they declare to fulfil the mystery of the Ogdoad.

Against Heresies

How many times have you heard this exact heresy in the message of William Branham?  How many times does the number “five” point to spiritual significance?  Or the number “seven?”  This is how the Gnostics were lifting their false gods into power!  And William Branham does the exact same thing!  But here specifically, the Gnostics were teaching an “eight soul theology,” that was the exact same heresy that Irenaeus condemned!  And Irenaeus was the “second messenger” that Branham added to Larkin’s “Seven Church Age” dates.

The cult of William Branham will teach you that these seven “Church Age Messengers” were guideposts, signs pointing the church back into the pathway of the early fathers.  Each “messenger” was provided by God – not as a messenger to the sinners that Christ is offering salvation to, but to the “little Bride” for the “age.”  These messengers have one purpose: to show the church the “mysteries” that have been hidden all through the “ages.”  What the followers do not realize is that this Gnostic faith was a faith based on “mystery.”

What they do not realize is that a road filled with guideposts pointing into different directions will not take you to your destination.  Even worse, from the “messengers chosen,” there seems to be only one road sign that is pointing in all different directions:  William Branham.