Video available here: http://youtu.be/5F5DRg6a2qs
There is one saying that you will find on the sermons of William Branham that is very correct: "Satan cannot create, he only has the power to pervert what God has created." Though Branham broke this rule during the latter part of his ministry by teaching that beauty, women, and knowledge were created or designed by Satan, this statement describing limited power to pervert was fairly consistent.
When Simon the Magician was rebuked and condemned for attempting to purchase the Gift of the Holy Spirit, he decided to pervert not only this gift, but Christianity itself. With the help of Marcus the Sorcerer from Memphis, Egypt, Simon began to integrate the false gods of Egypt and their worship into a new breed of Christianity called Gnosticism. Irenaeus, who Branham revered as the "second church age messenger," devoted his life towards exposing the evil behind this form of religion.
Simon and Marcus, through pagan practice, started to lead Christians away from the New Covenant of Grace to focus their hearts and minds back to the Law -- which still had the power to curse. When Jesus said, "It is finished," Satan was stripped of his power, but by using the power of the curse of the Law, Satan brings our own curse upon our own heads. The book of James teaches us that any person that tries to keep the Law, but does not keep the entire Law, is guilty of the entire Law. This guilt brings a curse -- but not the same curses of famine, captivity, and utter destruction. It brings a self-inflicted curse of bondage and oppression.
Gnosticism integrated ascetic practices into Christianity. This new breed of "Christianity" began to turn the minds away from the power of the Blood of Jesus Christ. Instead, and like the Law, they began to find ways that they could save themselves through the rules of this new version of the Law.
They had become works-righteous. Trying to save themselves by their own works, or by their own ascetic lifestyles.
This foundation that was laid did not stop with the Gnostics. Throughout time, you can easily trace Gnosticism's rise, division, and new branches that formed. Those branches grew, divided, and formed new branches -- each seeming to be better until it grew to bear fruit.
One of those branches was Pentecostalism. Through the foundation of ascetic practices and works-centered faith, Azusa Street produced another branch that grew into power. That branch has since splintered into a large number of denominations including thousands of independent churches. Like the Gnostics of the ancient world, the Pentecostals taught the Holy Spirit as an achievement -- rather than a gift that was given by faith in Jesus Christ.
While the Bible teaches that the Spirit is freely given to all who believe in Jesus Christ, Pentecostalism taught a formula to achieve it. And William Branham took this formula one step further, laying out a roadmap of first justification, then sanctification, and finally the Gift of the Spirit, or as the Pentecostals call it, the "Holy Ghost."
Using one single scripture, describing the question at Pentecost, "Have ye received the Spirit since ye believed?" Pentecostals taught baptism as part of the formula of "justification." Not realizing that by doing so, they were ignoring several other passages of scripture. Peter's famous sermon in Acts 10:
Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? - Acts 10:47
Like the Pentecostals, Branham used a passage of scripture from Acts 19 to lay out his formula for this achievement:
And he said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" And they said, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit." And he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They said, "Into John's baptism. - Acts 19:2
But there is one key element to this passage that was very quickly skipped over: "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."
They had never heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
John's baptism was into repentance, and John was executed before the Gift of the Holy Spirit was given. But the book of John tells us everything we need to know in order to receive our Gift. And it is simple: believe in Jesus Christ:
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, 'Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'" Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. - John 7:37-39