I sit here staring at a very full bookcase. It is neatly lined with large red volumes stamped with golden logos of eagles. A second and third shelf are filled with yet another set of dark leather bound volumes that took years to collect. There are multiple copies of several paper bound books and rows of media as well.
I can remember two tape libraries over the years. The first set was brown, and the last set was grey. Before they finished the grey set, compact discs became available. Next, there were MP3s and DVDs.
I now own “The Table”, complete with both formats which replaced my “Ebook player” and other software formats. I have purchased “Stories” and Owen Jorgenson’s series. They all fill multiple rows of shelving and now sit, gathering dust. Occasionally they are pulled out for reference, but not very often.
When something from the “message” came out, I made certain to buy it. I’ve ordered things from Cloverdale, Tuscon, VOGR, BC Fellowship, and others. Upgrades, new found sermons, booklets of quotes, photo books, devotionals, story books for kids, anything that came available, to support the ministry.
Mentally adding up the amount of money spent, paying royalty fees again and again over the years for the exact same sermons, I can’t help but feel a little empty inside. It wasn’t something I had considered before, it was just the appropriate thing to do at the time. I half smile remembering the long lines Easter weekend at the VOGR waiting to purchase more items. It was always a treat bumping into someone I knew to say hello.
I’ve been pondering on these things for a while. My heart has been heavy with regret. In one way, I always considered purchasing all of these various items a way to help support the ministry. But now, when I think about it, I know… that just isn’t the sum of it.
Over the last few weeks I’ve encountered circumstances that have stirred me and challenged me to reconsider missions and what missions were for.
I’ve began to ask myself just what the Gospel was. What does it mean to spread the Good News? Missions before were shipping tape libraries and books. Translating the message into the next language, watching slide shows of believers somewhere far away. Missions were for message outreach. Didn’t we feel the excitement knowing we could now hear the voice of the prophet in even the remotest of jungles?
As a youth, I volunteered at the VOGR to help package books. I felt privileged to be a part of spreading the “good news.” When I toured the VOGR and saw the thousands of books printed in multiple languages, it was exciting to see what God was doing. This was the “Message of the Hour” and God was calling out a bride across the world. The call was sent out, “Come out of her My people and into the Message of the Hour.”
The “Good News”.
“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” – Luke 2:10
“Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God.” – Luke 8:1
“And we bring you the good news that what God promised to the fathers, this he has fulfilled to us their children by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second Psalm,
“‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you.’
And as for the fact that he raised him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,
“‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.’
Therefore he says also in another psalm,
“‘You will not let your Holy One see corruption.’
For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, fell asleep and was laid with his fathers and saw corruption, but he whom God raised up did not see corruption. Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. Beware, therefore, lest what is said in the Prophets should come about:
‘Look, you scoffers, be astounded and perish; for I am doing a work in your days, a work that you will not believe, even if one tells it to you.”
For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, “I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.” – Acts 13
I am asking myself, when did the Gospel become so complicated? We used to go and spread the good news mouth to ear. God found it fitting for the Bible to make its way from a printing press and into the hands of His people. Today it is printed in over 2,530 languages.
The message of William Branham has managed to take the simplicity of the Bible (one book, the written inspired word of God) and add over 1200 sermons, multiple books, and various other “products.” Prior to MP3’s the cost of shipping the tape and book libraries was phenomenal.
People were poor, hungry, sick, and without clean water. People lived in trash dumps scavenging for things to sell to buy food to eat. Children are orphaned as infants when their parents died of HIV. Here in our own communities, there are poor and needy. We have homeless and widows. Yet, we feel that spreading the “good news” was placing a message book in their poor and empty hands. Excitedly, we asked them, “Do you know God sent a prophet?”
Life stories of the prophet, photographs, videos of his hometown are printed and sold all over the world. One man’s sermons gives the Bible a back seat, pushes Jesus to the side, and preaches a different gospel. These 1200 sermons are the focus of the message believing community for spreading the gospel.
A different gospel is a strong statement to make, when most message believers claim William Branham pointed you to Jesus. Branham.org indeed points you to a man, but it is not Jesus Christ. The photo at the top of this post, is the photo they have inserted into the Bible, commemorating the 100 year anniversary of William Branham’s birth. They are dedicated in spreading the news of a prophet. Jesus wasn’t enough for them.
These 1200 sermons point you to a prophet, they tell you to look for another Elijah. They tell you the word is incomplete and a prophet must come and divinely interpret the Bible for you. These 1200 sermons and their author have became another veil between God and His people. They supply you with the voice of a man with quotes to lead you and guide you in your every decision. This takes away the very purpose and intent of the New Covenant.
Without these 1200 sermons, you have an incomplete, un-restored word. The idea, that you need more than the Bible, the teaching that the word needs to be “restored” is heretical. What part of “it is finished” did Jesus not mean?
“For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” – 1 Timothy 2:5
The Bible says it is of no private interpretation, it tells us we are not to add to it or take away from it. Most Christians hold this Bible to be the written inspired word of God. They hold it to be their standard and their absolute.
Message believers have replaced this absolute with the books and tapes of these 1200 sermons. They search it, quote it, and live by it. Should you bring something William Branham said to them that is not found within the Bible, or disagrees with the Bible, it makes no difference. “He said it, they believe it, and that settles it.”
What is the good news?
It never changed. It never got any more complicated, Jesus Christ is still the same yesterday today and forever. His word never changed. There is no need to insert 1200 sermons, splice verses, or interpret the word to say something it does not.
God’s word says what it says and we say Amen.
Our traditions have bound us into the walls of a building, the confines of a select group of people, neglecting two words: The Gospel.
“And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” – Mark 16
The gospel is not 1200 sermons, another Elijah, the seals, or mysteries and secrets. Jesus said, there was nothing in secret. It was for children who would learn. Children. The same children that sat on his knee, and He said suffer to bring them to me. Why? Because, it’s simple, it is love.
““For God so loved the WORLD, that he gave his only Son, that WHOEVER believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
Upon leaving the message, I have been told “It just wasn’t for me”. They told me, “It isn’t for everyone.” What message are we spreading?
My Bible tells me it is for everyone. The whole world, all of creation, every creature, every tongue and nation.
They want you to believe they are another book of Acts. They drive fancy expensive cars, live in beautiful homes, and stand behind a pulpit with expensive suits. They swap pulpits and go on vacations. They set a higher standard that every member of the congregation strives to achieve.
“And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.” – Acts 4
Where are the poor, the desolate, the orphans, the widows, the hungry? They are being cared for by those harlot denominational churches. The ones we have been told Jesus is standing and knocking at the door trying to get in to.
“For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
“Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’ – Matthew 25
We sat with our bellies full, spiritual gluttons claiming to be the body of Christ. Our hands have fed only ourselves and lined the pockets of wolves in sheep’s clothing. We confined our giving to a box, a box that God does not fit inside of.
We drive past the homeless and the hungry. When disaster strikes our thoughts are to the message believers only. We cast off all of the other life that God has breathed into to say, it is only “birth pains” judgment upon them. Where is our charity, the love that is the greatest of faith and hope?
God commanded us to love our neighbor as our self. I highly doubt we even know their name. You cannot close your eyes and pretend not to see the hurting. When you are a new creature in Christ, saved by grace through faith, you cannot place it in a box for safe keeping. You must pour it out and empty it, so He can fill you up again.
“And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”
When was the last time that your message pastor encouraged you to volunteer at a homeless shelter, food bank, or other local outreach? When has the leadership in your message church stood shoulder to shoulder with other Christians in your local area to bring relief to orphans and widows, or those affected by natural disasters? When you sponsored tape libraries, did you also sponsor programs to bring clean water, food, and other basic services to believers AND unbelievers living in poverty? Are we really living out the great commission and writing a new book of Acts?
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known.
So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” – 1 Corinthians 13