It is not an uncommon trait of Christian cults to utilize this section of the Gospel of John in order to deemphasize Jesus Christ and overemphasize their cultic belief system and central figurehead.
It is no different in the cult that surrounds the ministry of William Branham. In order to elevate themselves, the clear meaning of scripture is reinterpreted, as we will see in our study today.
The Gospel of John continues in chapter 10 with Jesus once again being confronted by the Jews—presumably the leaders in the temple. The questions they are asking are not new—they are precisely the same as the questions they had been asking from the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and much of what is said in response is the same theme as his previous conversations—this time the allegory He uses to illustrate His point is that of sheep hearing and obeying the voice of their shepherd:
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
But of course, the Jews reject this teaching and instead of attempting to truly understand what He is teaching them seek to put Him to death for the Truth that He proclaims. They aren’t killing Him because they don’t believe that He has power, but because Jesus Christ is clearly claiming to be the Son of God, and they understood that by claiming to be THE ‘Son of God’ He was claiming to be equal to God—to be God:
31 Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, 32 but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?”
33 “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
Usually, Jesus escapes them by this point, and disappears into the crowd. The Gospels state this in a variety of ways (see Luke 4:30, John 8:59, among others). This time, however, Jesus answers their hatred with a reminder from the book of Psalms—from the text of their Law:
34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your Law, ‘I have said you are “gods”’? 35 If he called them ‘gods,’ to whom the word of God came—and Scripture cannot be set aside— 36 what about the one whom the Father set apart as his very own and sent into the world? Why then do you accuse me of blasphemy because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? 37 Do not believe me unless I do the works of my Father. 38 But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in me, and I in the Father.”
The portion of scripture Jesus is reminding the Jews of is found in Psalm 82:6:
‘I say, “You are gods,
You are all sons of the Most High.”
According to William Branham, Jesus references this verse in order to show that as believers, message-following Christians are ‘amateur gods’:
56-0814 - Divine Love And Sovereign Grace
Now, did you realize, that you being a person as you are, that you're not altogether flesh? You're spirit and flesh. Not only that, but Jesus said that the Bible said, that we are in a miniature way, gods. The Bi—Jesus said that. We are… He said, if that was prophets and so forth of the Old Testament, that Jesus were—was referring to, said, "It's written in your law, that ye are gods. And if he called them gods, who the Word of God come to, then why not Himself, being the Son of God, when He makes Himself equal with God?" Now, we are, in an amateur way we are creators.
WMB also uses this verse to boost his credibility as a prophet and as a servant of God:
60-0731 - Show Us The Father And It Will Satisfy Us
For the Word of God is sharper, more powerful, than any two-edged sword, piercing to the sunder, and the marrow of the bone, a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart. The Word of God comes into a human being and discerns the thought. Jesus perceived their thought. If that's right, say, "Amen." What was He? "In the beginning was the Word; the Word was with God; and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh." And He said, "You condemn Me because I call Myself the Son of God, and it's written in your laws that ye are gods." 70 Man was made to be a god. His domain is the earth. The whole earth's awaiting now for the manifestation of the sons of God to be made manifest. Look how far behind we are. But remember, the prophets… He said, "If you call them gods, who the Word of God came to…" What was a prophet? A Divine interpreter of the Word, had the Divine interpretation. The signs of Him foretelling, and foreknowing, that was a vindicate to the people that he was a prophet.
And once again, WMB teaches that man will become god—and all because Jesus quotes this segment of Psalms:
62-1104M - Blasphemous Names
191 And some day the sons of God will again become gods. Jesus said so. "Is not it written in your law, 'Ye are gods'? Then if you can call those who He called god, who God visited, how can you condemn Me, say, when I say I'm the Son of God?" See? Now we're getting into something deep. Now watch this when we drive it down.
The issue is that the 82nd Psalm that Jesus is bringing to their remembrance has absolutely nothing to do with elevating man to the level of god—it has everything to do with elevating Jesus Christ—the One sent into the World—to His rightful place as Lord and God, and correcting the arrogance of these Jews who are thinking of themselves more highly than they ought. Here is the Psalm in its entirety:
God presides in the great assembly;
he renders judgment among the “gods”:
2 “How long will you defend the unjust
and show partiality to the wicked?
3 Defend the weak and the fatherless;
uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed.
4 Rescue the weak and the needy;
deliver them from the hand of the wicked.
5 “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing.
They walk about in darkness;
all the foundations of the earth are shaken.
6 “I said, ‘You are “gods”;
you are all sons of the Most High.’
7 But you will die like mere mortals;
you will fall like every other ruler.”
8 Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
for all the nations are your inheritance.
Jesus was reminding these Jews about their eventual end—about their arrogance, and with the same tone in the same context puts them in their place. “God presides in the great assembly,” the Psalm says, “he renders judgment among the ‘gods’”!
These Jews had elevated themselves so highly that they had forgotten the sovereignty of God. They had become so corrupted by defending the unjust and showing partiality to the wicked (brings to mind the Jews’ defense of Barabbas (John 18:40)), and had for so long ignored the weak and fatherless, the poor and needy that the Psalm says, “The ‘gods’ know nothing, they understand nothing. They walk about in darkness.”
The Psalm does indeed say, “Ye are gods”—but not with the tone and intention WMB and other cults as well try to use. The Psalm tells us that these ‘gods’, these ‘sons of the Most High’ will, “…die like mere mortals; you will fall like every other ruler.” Verse 8 probably most clearly brings to light the point Jesus was attempting to make by reminding these Jews about this portion of scripture:
“Rise up, O God, judge the earth,
For all the nations are your inheritance.”
So, ignoring all the flawed Biblical teaching from the message, let’s examine Jesus’ teaching in light of the clear Truth of scripture:
1) Jesus very clearly claims to be God. The Jews understood this and sought to stone Him for blasphemy because of the claim He was making.
2) Jesus calls their remembrance to this section of Psalms, reminding them that though they have ‘power’, they are NOT and cannot ever be equal in authority and power to God, and that they are subject to the judgments of God the Father.
3) He asks them why they consider it blasphemy for Him to claim to be God’s Son, and tells them to look to the works that He is doing and will continue to do. It is these works, Jesus says that testify that “He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him”.
4) Ergo, Jesus is claiming the authority of judgment. He is claiming the right to preside over the Assembly of God, and He is showing them that they are to be in subjection to Him—that far from being comparable in power and authority, they are subject to His judgments.
The Jews obviously understood what it was He was claiming, and immediately tried to seize Him again:
39 Again they tried to seize him, but he escaped their grasp.
40 Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.
Jesus escapes, and when He arrives on the Jordan where John the Baptist had been baptizing, He is met with a reaffirmation of the Truth Christ taught in the temple—that John the Baptist’s testimony of Jesus Christ was true. And what did John the Baptist testify?
John 1:15—“He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because He was before me.”
John 1:27—“I am not worthy to untie the thong of His sandal.”
John 1:29—“Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
John 1:34—“I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
And so, far from an attempt to elevate the position of man to ‘amateur godhood’, John chapter 10 is about the superiority of Christ—about His rightful place as ruler and judge, about His deity, and about His glory.