What should we believe?
This article is one in a series on "Leaving the Message" - you are currently in the article that is in bold:
Many people have asked us, both those in the message and those that have left off following William Branham: "What do you think we should believe?"
Those inside the message expect that we are looking for followers (we're not) and those who have left are simply looking for guidance.
Don't follow any man
We are not pointing to ourselves, to any man, or to any church. Paul said that we are to follow the teachings that he laid out in scripture (2 Tim 1:13). Peter said the same thing:
A minister of the Gospel only speaks authoritatively to the extent that what he says agrees with scripture. But we don't follow these men, we follow Christ. We examine their lives and if they are worthy of being examples of the Gospel, then we may want to imitate them. But we must judge their teaching and their lives by the Gospel as the writer of the Hebrews stated:
We are not to follow a single man but those leaders (plural) that provide a godly example of a Christian life in word and deed. And we are to judge their teachings based on scripture.
Believe what the church has always believed
Think about the giants of the Christian faith over the past 500 years "of whom the world was not worthy". People like:
Were these giants of the Christian faith all wrong in their basic beliefs or were they Christians that were required to believe Satanic doctrine as William Branham taught?
Find out what the church has always believed
To followers of William Branham, "theology" is a dirty word. Theology simply means “the study of God,” and doctrine means “teaching.” Since the main message of Scripture is the unfolding mystery of Christ, who reveals his Father and reconciles us to him, theology is a central concern of every believer.
Since God is the author of reality, it is his interpretation that we must pursue. The gospel is good news, not good instructions, good ideas, or good techniques. It announces the “new thing” that God has accomplished in history for us and for our salvation. As an effective communicator, God tells us what he is going to do, does it, and then tells us what he did. Doctrine summarizes these divine accomplishments.
By questioning and testing our interpretation of God’s Word, we come to know what we believe and why we believe it, so that the grammar of faith becomes our own language of worship through which we interpret all of reality and live in the world. Theology is the concern of every believer because it is the grammar of the Christian faith. Learning God’s Word—including its doctrine—is a nonnegotiable responsibility of our new citizenship as Christians. The baptized are privileged and obligated to learn the language of Zion.
Our English word "disciple", in fact, comes from the Latin noun discipulus, meaning “student.” Thus, Paul writes,
What church should we go to?
In Paul's day, there were churches that were legalistic like the message (the Galatian church being an example) and liberal churches where people were getting drunk in church (see 1 Corinthians 11:21). There were also lukewarm churches (Revelation 3:14-22) But there were also good churches (Ephesus) and good leaders (like Timothy and Titus).
People in the message are used to following someone but the person we need to follow is the Holy Spirit. We are constantly being asked "If Bro. Branham wasn't the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5, then who is?" Our response is always to ensure we have a proper understanding of Malachi 4:5.
So if the message is not the way (it definitely isn't based on our research), where should we go to church? According to what we were taught in the message, all churches outside the message are weak, ineffectual and filled with people that are actually worshiping Satan. Is this true? Or could this simply be another false teaching by message ministers?
There is an old song that says:
Jesus will never leave you. If you are a child of God, the Holy Spirit has been promised to lead you. The job of the Holy Spirit is to make Jesus real, and when he is doing that in a church, the result is revival.
When the Holy Spirit is actively leading a church, there are five things the church is characterized by, and it comes directly from Jesus being real:
These five things: worship, deep teaching of the Word, intimate fellowship, aggressive evangelism, and compassionate social concern. When you find a church that’s strong on all of them, it’s a sign of the operation of the Spirit of God.
The tendency is for most churches to have one of them only and to be very, very condescending toward anyone else who doesn’t have their one. You see, because if you’re a church with great, sound doctrine, but your worship isn’t very good, your fellowship isn’t very good, your social concern isn’t very good, they look at other churches, and the only thing they tend to look at is they say, “But do they have our sound doctrine?” They’ll reject you, even though in every other area that is strong, they’re weak.
The same thing happens with fellowship and with worship. The one vitamin you have tends to make the church haughty and look down its nose at other people who don’t have their vitamin.
We said when you have all five, it’s a sign of the work of the Spirit, and the five continually change one another. Those five things are actually constantly stimulating each another. You really can’t have one without the others, because real worship always leads to teaching, fellowship, evangelism, and social concern, and real teaching always leads to real worship, evangelism, fellowship, and social concern, and real evangelism always leads, and so on. Those five things are interrelated. When they’re there, they stimulate one another, and they encourage the renewal dynamic.
A church that wants to be this kind of church is ruthless in making sure it is doing what God says in every one of those five areas, that it’s finding people with gifts in those areas and unleashing them to do the work, that it’s stimulating each one of those areas and they inter-stimulate one another. That’s the way it’s supposed to go.
Find a church with all five of these characteristics. They are out there but you have to go looking.