Question 14 (ABM) - What if a person rejects the message?
The following are a series of questions and answers between one of our editors (referred to as BTS) and an anonymous Branham minister (referred to as ABM). This subset of the Q&A relates to the current status of the "message". The full text of this question and its answer is below.
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Question 14 (ABM) - What if a person rejects the message?
This further question is a natural progression from Question 13 - What is the message?.
From your perspective, what are the consequences of a person rejecting William Branham as a prophet and rejecting his message?
From my understanding of the message, William Branham appears to say that if you reject his message, you are lost.
Here are a few quotes of William Branham to provide context for the question:
If I reject William Branham's authority, am I still a Christian? Am I lost?
This is a question which has a nuanced answer, and you have to carefully parse what Bro. Branham taught. It is easy to take one quote and magnify it over another, just the same as you could take one scripture and fail to interpret in the context of all scripture. This is also not a question that can be quickly answered, as there is much scripture to be reviewed to have a full explanation. But I will endeavor to give a basic explanation. I also question just how you define "rejecting Bro. Branham's authority." I assume by that you mean rejecting his teachings and doctrines which were divinely inspired. If you mean something besides this, let me know so I can better understand the question.
If you "reject Bro. Branham's authority", you will quite likely not be in a state ready to take part in the pre-tribulation rapture that Bro. Branham believed in. I suspect that will be missed by one who rejects. But that does not mean you are lost to hell. That is a difference between the wise and foolish. The foolish virgins will pass through the tribulation, along with other righteous classes of people. They will be saved as well, but their path is not going to be as pleasant, in that sense.
To add to the complexity a bit, there is a difference between rejecting the message, and never knowing it to begin with. Most lay Christians have never heard the message at all. A large portion have certainly been influenced by it, but many unknowingly. They are "foolish". There is perhaps also a distinction from rejecting the message and blaspheming. If you reject the message in such a way that constitutes blasphemy, then most certainly the person would be lost. If the rejection was in such a way as to not constitute blasphemy, then again there is still an opening to the person. However, God is the judge of these things, not man. I would not venture to speculate on any individual. I am afraid many of the idolaters have failed to fully understand Bro. Branham's teachings in this area... Ultimately Bro. Branham's teaching on this subject is entirely compatible and an extension of the doctrine of entire sanctification and christian perfection as established by John Wesley. You have to follow the underpinning scriptural logic established in those underlying doctrines to fully interpret what Bro. Branham taught on this subject.
Bro. Branham taught this. He many times explained that you could believe different than him, or that those who did not accept his holiness teachings could still be Christians. He expressed that often and was emphatic about it. To reconcile that with the quote you give above, and other like it, you have to realize the distinction. If the righteous fail to go in the rapture, then they will die a natural death during the tribulation. In that sense they will perish. Yet their soul will be saved. (Rev 13:7-10, Rev 14:12-13) This entails many scriptures, I am just giving a couple here.
This meets the standards of the scriptures. In Matt 5:19, Jesus expresses a similar thought. Stating that some will meet the expectations of the gospel and be great in the kingdom of heaven, whereas others will not and will then be least. They are still saved, but there is a distinction between them. Those of my "sect" prefer to use the scripture rather than quotes to establish what we believe. but just to demonstrate Bro. Branham believed the same I will point you to one quote to help with this. Because even Bro. Branham believed you could fail to accept him and his message, but still be saved.
All this said, I think there is scriptural evidence that a large number of professed Christians fall into the category of those who will say "Lord Lord, have we not done many wonderful works in thy name? But he will say unto them, depart from me. I never knew you." But who falls into what group, this is for God to decide.
So my ultimate answer to you would be this. If you reject the authority of William Branham in such a way that constitutes blasphemy of the holy spirit, you would be lost. Otherwise, there is still every potential for you to be saved, just not as part of the bride of Christ who will be raptured.
Addendum to response
P.S. from my last message.
It occurs to me, that interestingly enough, this would be quite convenient for most Christians seeing that many do not believe in the rapture, and most of those who do believe it will occur after or during the tribulations, rather than before. In effect, they will partake of what they already believe in respect to the rapture. It is a curious thing to consider.
Follow up question - Is it possible for Christians outside the message to go in the "rapture"?
This is a follow up to "What if a person rejects the message?" (Question 14)
Is it possible for Christians outside the message to go in the "rapture"?
Response to follow up question
Thank you for your continued dialogue.
You ask, "Is it possible for Christians outside the message to go in the "rapture"?" in keeping with my last answer, I say that is it quite unlikely that a Christian outside of the message could go in the rapture. I believe the quote you give in is keeping with my answer, as was the quote I provided in my last answer. In all of these, he states clearly, there are believers who will pass through the tribulations and still be saved, but only the bride will go in the rapture. This is all correct and scripturally defensible.
In Revelation 19:7-8 it states that the bride had made herself ready, which is comparable to the wise virgins of Matthew 25. And she was granted to wear a wedding garment, which is comparable to the Matthew 22:11-13. What was the wedding garment? It was the righteousness of a saint (sanctified person). What is the source of our sanctification? It is related to the extent to which our life has been brought into line with the word of God. We are sanctified by the word (John 17:17, Eph 5:26, 1 Pet 1:22) which results in christian perfection (1 John 2:5, Heb 10:14). These are not doctrines unique to Bro. Branham. Those who have satisfied the criteria of christian perfection will be eligible for the rapture. I do not mean to make this sound like something based soley on a person's own efforts, but I put it this way to explain the mechanics and the doctrinal precedence on which this rests. These are the teachings of John Wesley, not Bro. Branham. Bro. Branham is merely repeating them. So if you reject this doctrine, you are conflicting with core teachings of the Wesleyan and Pentecostal traditions.
So if the word sanctifies us and leads to our perfection, and thus also to our ability to go in the rapture, we much conclude that the word is a critical element in this process. If we believe the message is a part of the word, then to be completely sanctified we must as apply the word that came as a part of the message. If I have rejected or never received a potion of the word, then I do not have everything necessary to achieve entire sanctification. If I am not entirely sanctified, I am not fully a saint and have not on the wedding garment. Without a wedding garment, I cannot go to the wedding supper and am not part of the bride. Yet, I am saved by the blood of Jesus through faith and will not go to hell. There are so many scripture that this touches, I have only communicated some key ones.
I hope you are following the scriptural logic. Bro. Branham here is looking at his own message through the lens of doctrine of christian perfection and entire sanctification, and he is using the rationale established in those doctrines to arrive at his conclusions here.
I want to point out a couple statements in Bro. Branhams quote as you gave them, just you show you how I read this.
What about the people that believed in the Lord—believes in the Lord now and the way…and don’t believe the way you preach for this end-time-day Message? Will they be saved? And then the sister signed her name.
Now, very good question. Now, the first place, the confusion is, is what I have said about the Gentile’s days be done when the tribulation…in the tribulation. Now, I do not see the Gentiles in the Bible…The Gentile Bride, Bride, not the Gentile church now, the Gentile church will go through the Tribulation Period [ABM: In this message Bro. Branham is calling the saved who go in the rapture the Gentile Bride, and those who are saved but pass through the tribulation the Gentile Church.] (see?), but not for their…See, the Bride is the Elected; They go through nothing but the Rapture. They’re just changed and taken out of the world. See? Now, I’ll explain that in a further question here, bringing it from Luther up, and you’ll see then what it means; it’s the maturing of the Body. See?
Now notice. Now, the Jews that’s left is the one who will be preached to by the two prophets, Elijah and Moses. [ABM: Besides the "gentile church" who miss the rapture, the Jews who will be converted to the faith are also left behind and are not part of the rapture. This is also scripturally sound. Up until this point, his statements are fully with precedent in the teachings of others, primarily within Seventh Day Adventism and United Brethren eschatology.]
Now, this is my own thoughts, minister brethren, in my own way that I feel the Holy Spirit has revealed to me. [ABM: Note he is making sure he lets us know he is going beyond the doctrines that preceded him]
Now, the next thing is to happen is the Jewish, or, the Gentile, elected Bride to be caught up with the rest of the Gentile, elected Bride that’s been down through the ages, be caught up in the Presence of Christ in the heavens. The dead raises; the ones that’s alive and remain is changed; and they’re caught up together in the air to meet the Lord. Then, because…
After the Wedding ceremony in Glory, Jesus, after that has caught up into the skies, Jesus returns onto the earth and makes Hisself known to His people, in the type like Joseph made hisself known to his brothers. And his wife, no Gentile was present, nobody but Joseph alone, when he made hisself known to his brethren. All understand that now? [ABM: Here he points to Zech 12:10. He is looking into the revival which will occur in Israel in the future, this statement also proves to be scriptural sound, but is without solid precedent at the time he says it.]
He sent…Even his wife was in the palace, the type that the Bride will be in the palace in Glory at that time. Then Jesus makes Hisself known to the Jews (see?) [ABM: Zech 12:10 again, and related scriptures] after the Wedding ceremony, the three-and-a-half years, and—and—and Jacob’s trouble, that three-and-a-half years, the end of the seventieth week of Daniel. The Messiah’s to be cut off in the midst of the…And He prophesied three-and-a-half years and was cut off. Then there’s three-and-a-half years left yet for their prophets, Moses and Elijah, and then at the end of their seventy days as yet determined upon the people, as Daniel said; then at the end of that seventy days, Jesus is to make Hisself known to them. He’s that Prince that should come to the Jews. See? [ABM: This ends the portion where he going beyond what other men have already taught, and he resumes looking at what has precedent in other men's doctrines.]
Now, and then at that time…See, the Gentile Bride is in Heaven, and the sleeping virgin, the Gentile virgin, [ABM: Now he begins to refer to those saved but left behind as the sleeping virgin. The wise virgin was raptured, the foolish virgin left behind] is not to be saved during that time; she’s already been saved, but has been rejected in the Bride. [ABM: The ones who are sleeping\foolish are still saved, but not going in the rapture. He next states what will happen to them] And she only goes through the Tribulation Period for the time of purification, because she has rejected Christ, the Word, for her purification. Then she has to suffer for her deeds, but the Bride who has become the Word, a complete atonement was made of Christ, ’cause He is the Word. That body was rended, and when that body was rended, the Bride was in that body, because It’s all the Word! Amen! You see it? [ABM: They are all saved, but the wise were raptured and the foolish passed through the tribulation]
When Jesus suffered in that body, He suffered…Cause a man and a woman are one person. Eve was taken out of Adam, and the Church…What happened? God opened up the side of—of Adam and took out of there a helpmate, the bride. And God opened up the side of Jesus at Calvary and took out the Bride. See? And when Jesus died at Calvary…Remember, the Bride was not taken from the body until the body was dead. He had already died, and they was going to break His legs. And the prophet said, “There’ll not be one bone broken.” So they done drawed back the hammer to break a leg, and a man went up with a spear and pushed it through His heart; and water and Blood came forth; He was already dead. She was already redeemed in the body by His death, so there’s no more suffering Tribulation Period for the Bride. See? She goes in. But the Gentile church that just believe on Him and take the denominational creeds and so forth, and still… [ABM: He trails off, but he is merely repeating what he said in the last paragraph. Denominational Christians will pass through the tribulation - but do not to end up in hell]
Like this poor person said: “My husband and son, they still love the things of the world and things like that…” See, they haven’t accepted that redeeming, for when you do, it cleanses you automatically. “He that’s borned of God does not commit sin.” There’s no desire, nothing in him for the things of the world. [ABM: In this lady's case, her husband and son are not even denominational Christians. They are unbelievers. There is no hope for someone who has not repented. This is different than the scenario he has been talking about up until this point.]
Jesus said, “He that loves the world (Kosmos now), or the things of the world, the love of God’s not even in him.” He’s not in love with the Groom. See? [ABM: He begins here to confusingly mix two ideas.. But he is returning to looking at the denominational Christians. Note the transition from He to She] Therefore, she has to pay that penalty, and not… She’s not saved during that time [ABM: Grace to the gentiles is over, so only those saved before that grace ended are saved] ; she’s saved now [ABM: or this side of the end of grace] from eternal death; but she will have to go through the Tribulation Period for the purification. [ABM: Through the destruction of the flesh, the soul will still be saved. The result all who fail to be fully sanctified according the teachings of Paul] See what I mean? Now, now, there, I believe that settles that question. [ABM: Note that through all of this, he does not give the scriptural rationale behind his answer, he just gives the answer.] (64-0823M - Questions And Answers #1, para. 144-154)
[ABM: This is a separate quote and must be evaluated on its own. The context is different.] Now, the Rapture is only…This Rapture that we’re talking about, is only for the Bride. [ABM: View this in light of his other statements. The next sentence is a nearly complete change in topic.] Remember, the Bible said, “And the rest of the dead lived not for a thousand years.” [ABM: This has nothing to do with saved people who passed through the tribulation. This is related to the lost. He is not even considering them in these statements] This great Rapture! If there’s not a Rapture, friends, where are we at? What are we going to do? What age are we living in? What promise do we have? [ABM: In other words, if there is no rapture and we all pass through the tribulation, then what is the point of even trying to live up to entire sanctification?] There is going to be a Rapture. The Bible says there will be. And it’ll be only for the Elected, the Elected Lady, the Bride in this day, that’s pulled out, the Church. [ABM: And the rest of them will pass through the tribulation, and the righteous will still be saved, though by fire] (65-1204 - The Rapture, para. 81)
The idolaters take what Bro. Branham says and make it something to be accepted verbatim and without question. The correct thing to do is to understand the scriptural and doctrinal basis by which he made the statement so you can properly understand his meaning. I believe I have given you that. He is following the scriptural logic established by other men, primarily men of the Wesleyan tradition here, and using it to arrive at the conclusion of who will and will not be able to go in the rapture.
Follow up question #2 - What distinguishes true message followers from false?
As a further clarification, only true followers of William Branham's message are considered the Bride of Christ. Is my understanding correct?
From your perspective, what distinguishes a true follower of William Branham from someone who is, in your words, an idolater (or an idolatrous follower of William Branham)? Are most self-identified message followers considered idolatrous by your "sect" of the message?
Response to Follow up question#2
I do not completely reject the possibility that there are followers of Bro. Branham's message who are somewhat unaware of Bro. Branham himself. In fact I know people who do generally follow his teachings and are fairly unaware of the origin of them. In a sense that has been necessary because of the way the idolaters have so blemished the name of Bro. Branham. When we do missionary work, we never mention Bro. Branham. The last thing we would want to do is lead someone to that train wreck of idolatry. Bro. Branham is not the message. But yes, I do believe that everyone who is part of the Bride of Christ is in some way touched and influenced by the teachings of Bro. Branham's message. But the message is not Bro. Branham's message, it is God's. The message itself lives on, in varying degrees throughout charismatic Christianity and especially within the Branham movement.
You ask: "From your perspective, what distinguishes a true follower of William Branham from someone who is, in your words, an idolater (or an idolatrous follower of William Branham)?" From our perspective, all followers who put Bro. Branham on equal footing with Christ, put his words (including those "under the anointing") above or equal to the bible, baptize in his name, pray in his name, worship Joseph as the son of God, or believe Bro. Branham to be God in the flesh are idolaters.
At the death of Bro. Branham, message followers divided into two camps. Those expecting his resurrection, and those not. Those not expecting his resurrection were, after Bro. Branham, the leading men in the movement following his death. They preached his funeral and took the lead in the immediate years after his death in making missionary journeys and continuing on in Bro. Branham teachings.
From the onset they were challenged by the men who began to baptize in the name of Bro. Branham and teach that he was Christ. This began while Bro. Branham was still living. He rebuked it, and thought it had ended, but following his death these wicked men revived the teaching and practices. Billy Paul was the deciding element in allowing these men to gain control of the key "institutions" of the Branham movement - the tabernacle, the William Branham Evangelical Association, the Spoken Word and the Voice of God Recordings. Once they became the majority of the deacon board at the tabernacle, they ejected the ministers who opposed idolatry and instituted the form of tape services that are quite common now. They took down the picture of Jesus at the tabernacle that had been hung by Bro. Branham and replaced it with a picture of Bro. Branham. The sickness only continued, one man disinterred the body of Bro. Branham, Leo Mercer began doctoring the tapes, Fred Sothesmen, Joseph Coleman, on and on. The false garbage teachings started being promoted. Pearry Green taught the grace age was over and no more souls could be saved. Lee Vayle was worse. They taught the seventh seal had been broken, they taught the seven thunders was the stature of the perfect man. They took church order and used it to choke out the moving of the spirit and rule the people. It became doctrinal madness. All those men, and more, were involved either secretly or openly in baptizing in the name of Branham, praying in his name, etc. Multiple people had December 1977 weddings so they could be married before the rapture, people cashed out their savings and had pre-rapture spending sprees. All this openly supported by their crazy leaders. They have been off the rails since the beginning, and they have only gotten worse with time.
You ask: "As a further clarification, only true followers of William Branham's message are considered the Bride of Christ. Is my understanding correct?" I would not express it in that manner. I would say only those who are fully sanctified by the truth of God are Bride of Christ. To the extent Bro. Branham gave us truth, we must also be sanctified by that truth as well. Whether they have heard a magnetic tape or not is irrelevant. There are many younger people in our "sect" who have never listened to a tape in their life. And we do not have to quote Bro. Branham every third word. We just preach the truth, the same truth he did. And not the doctrinal idolatrous nightmare that the majority of the movement is in - which is not the fault of Bro. Branham. (We are not a small sect, we have hundreds of associated fellowships around the world, but we are certainly not the majority of the Branham movement. Not if their three million number is accurate.)
You also ask "Are most self-identified message followers considered idolatrous by your "sect" of the message?" Most, but not all. There is another large"sect", besides our own, which have heavily melded into the charismatic church world. They consist of several hundred fellowships as well. They consider themselves message churches. Their main hub church is in Europe, but they likewise have fellowships in many countries. Then the next ribbon out are groups like the Vineyard Association, which begin to take on a bit of a denominational structure yet hold to many of Bro. Branham doctrines. They are the line at which I stop thinking of them as message believers, but charismatics. But the line between the message churches and the charismatics gets blurry with many of the churches which are not really associated with any one fellowship.
But yes, most are idolatrous. Did you know there are some who bow down and worship Joseph? They say he is Christ, because his father was God. Joseph lets them do it too. I have signed letters from Billy Paul, in writing, stating he is still waiting for the resurrection of Bro. Branham to finish his ministry. They still gather out there at Easter. They are a wreck. Never in a million years would Bro. Branham ever have accepted or permitted those things to go on.
I hope you truly believe me when I say to you how sorry I am for you coming into contact with the message through them. I truly believe you would have a different perspective had it not been for those men. But perhaps I am wrong. Bro. Branham would apologize to you for them were he still here. I believe he would weep and cry if he knew what became of them all. I can understand why John Collins has such a terrible reaction to them when he began to see the error of their ways. The same with Duyzer. I am sorry for that. I do not wish any of you ill, and hope you all find your way to truth, if you have not already. I do hope though that some of what I am saying is helping you see things maybe you did not before.