A response to Bill Ivy's Defense of the Message
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Our response to Bill Ivy
Bill Ivy is the pastor of Living Word Tabernacle, a message church in Gibson, Missouri.
On December 24, 2019, he posted an article on the website of Living Word Tabernacle which we strongly disagree with. While his post does contain something we would agree with, we want to be clear about our main points of disagreement.
A question for Bill Ivy
We were believers of the message for decades. We eagerly received the message that was brought to us by message followers. We listened to the tapes. We were the first ones to digitize the sermons and post them online. We were also part of the team that originated the initial textual search technology for the message. We believed the message with our whole hearts.
However, we discovered that the pastor of our church, the largest message church in North America at the time, had covered up the sexual abuse of a minor. What disturbed us further was the fact that the many message ministers we knew failed to stand for righteousness. Some of them, like Tim Pruitt and Jason Watkins, sided with our pastor, even though they did not know the facts. Others, like Donny Reagan and Ron Peterson, acknowledged that what our pastor did was wrong. But they refused to say anything publicly. They ignored the issue. They ignored our church. And they ignored the victim. They refused to stand for the truth. They screamed against sin and the wrongs of the Roman Catholic church, but they did the same things as those they railed against.
We were confronted with two questions:
- Had ministers of the message perverted William Branham's teaching? OR
- Was there a fundamental problem with the message itself?
We believed the message and we WANTED IT TO BE TRUE. But like the Bereans we needed to DETERMINE IF THE MESSAGE WAS TRUE.
So we started researching the message to prove that it was true. This would mean that the ministers of the message were the ones with the problem. Bro. Branham would be proved to be the prophet we thought him to be and his message would be our guiding light.
But as we started to verify the prophecies with facts we encountered problems. After being unable to confirm the facts surrounding the Municipal Bridge vision, George Smith told us that no one had died in the construction of the bridge. There weren't just a few problems, there were dozens and dozens of them.
The words of Deuteronomy 18:20-22 constantly confronted us:
- But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
So we would ask Bill Ivy a simple question - What do we do with the problems in the message?
Should we ignore the plain reading of Deuteronomy 18:20-22 if we discover a significant problem? What if we discover dozens of problems?
If Bill Ivy denies there are problems, we would ask him to click on the issues below and respond publicly to the questions we have asked (these questions have been on this website for over 7 years without a single message minister contacting us with an answer AND we have stated publicly we would change anything that anyone could prove to be incorrect):
- Why did William Branham say that the municipal bridge vision was fulfilled when it clearly wasn't? (Is this a failed prophecy?)
- Why did William Branham say "Thus Saith The Lord" that he would shoot a large brown bear, when he didn't? (Is this a failed prophecy?)
- Why did the vision that William Branham had of the meetings in south Africa fail to be fulfilled? (Is this a failed prophecy?)
- Why did William Branham prophecy that America would start World War 2? (Is this a failed prophecy?)
- Did William Branham visit the graves of Muhammad, Buddha, and Confucius? . Did William Branham lie?
- Did William Branham visit the Vatican and see the inscription "VICARIVS FILII DEI" above the throne of the Pope? Did William Branham lie?
- Did William Branham see a mother eagle carry her babies on her wings? . Did William Branham lie?
- Why did William Branham say that he was under the cloud when they took its picture, when he clearly wasn't? . Did William Branham lie?
- William Branham believed that if a wife cuts her hair, her husband can divorce her. Does the Bible teach this? Did William Branham teach something that is not scriptural?
- Why did William Branham say that 2 major prophets were never on the scene at the same time when the Bible doesn't teach that?
These are only a few of the questions that we asked... To see the full list, click here.
We have tried to behave like the Bereans and we are respectfully requesting that Bill Ivy do the same. Bro. Bill, if you believe that we are incorrect in our conclusions, please email us and let us know why. We will promptly change anything on this website that can be proved to be incorrect.
Does the Bible REQUIRE us to defend our faith?
Bill Ivy effectively says there is no requirement for Christians to defend their faith, and in particular, there is no need for message followers to defend what they believe.
Bill Ivy's view is unscriptural
Bill Ivy's view is in complete opposition to the Bible. In 1 Peter 3:15, the Apostle Peter plainly tells us what is required:
- ...but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect...
The word “defense” used in 1 Peter 3:15 is the Greek word, apologia, which means to provide a reasoned statement or argument and is the same word used to described the defense a lawyer makes in a court of law.
Many of the Apostles and disciples were martyred because they recognized a need to defend their faith, and to proclaim their belief in Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
Sadly, Pastor Ivy does not take the approach given to us in scripture. This is similar to virtually all message ministers today. They say that the message can defend itself and then provide no answers to the questions raised by sincere message followers (such as the questions we had when we were in the message).
Receiving the word with all readiness of mind
In Acts 17:11, we read:
- And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed...
With respect to this passage of scripture, Bill Ivy states:
- ...they were not searching because they doubted, but because they believed the Word with ALL readiness of mind!
Here Bill Ivy misses the point of what the Bereans were doing it and why they were doing it.
Here is another translation of the same passage (New Living Translation):
- When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.
They heard the Gospel and it sounded good. They were EAGER to believe, they wanted to believe BUT they first they asked the tough questions by searching the scriptures to SEE IF WHAT WAS BEING TAUGHT WAS TRUE.
Also note the order of what happened:
- The Bereans heard the word eagerly. It sounded good and they wanted to believe it.
- The searched the scriptures to see IF what was being taught was true. They would have rejected if it was not.
- THEREFORE MANY OF THEM BELIEVED. They believed AS A RESULT of their research because it proved that what Paul was teaching was backed up by scripture.
Bill Ivy clearly states that there is a requirement to examine what is heard to make sure it aligns with Scripture BUT there is NO discussion about how to behave when it DOESN'T.
Disagreement on doctrinal issues is not the point. What are we to do when we come across something that does not align with Scripture?
We are to WITHDRAW OURSELVES from the teaching which would take us further from Christ as Paul states:
- If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
The concept of "church ages"
Bill Ivy states:
- I believe that God give us a one man ministry, it was a one man ministry to the “AGE”. None other possesses that, he was the last church age Messenger and the Seventh Angel according to scripture (Rev 3:14, 10:1-7).
Bill Ivy is stating his belief in the concept of "church ages", but this term never appears in Scripture.
William Branham did not come up with the idea that there were "seven church ages."
Some early dispensationalists (such as Clarence Larkin from whom William Branham copied the idea, including the dates of the ages) interpreted the seven churches of Asia (Rev. 1:4) symbolically as seven “church ages,” or stages of church history, though few hold this view today outside of the message. For the following reasons, this line of interpretation is no more feasible than allegorizing the churches addressed in Paul’s letters:
- There is no reference in the book of Revelation that would suggest that the seven churches are seven church ages. The Bible does not use the word "age" or "ages." This is a construct of early dispensationalists which William Branham copied.
- Abundant evidence suggests that Revelation addresses seven literal church communities, including items of local color that fit each of the seven letters (see Seven Churches In Asia).
- A map shows that Revelation addresses the seven churches in the very sequence that a messenger from John, arriving first in Ephesus near the sea, would travel to each of the cities listed, presumably along the main roads of Asia. The average distance between each city was about thirty to forty-five miles.
- Only a forced reading of church history (regularly revised with the passing of time) has allowed this interpretation.
- Finally, if Revelation requires the completion of seven church ages before Jesus’ return, then, in most centuries of church history, Christians had no right to expect the imminent return of the Lord! This would be a curious conclusion for advocates of the seven church ages view, most of whom vehemently emphasize the imminence of Christ’s return.
The burden of proof is clearly upon William Branham and Bill Ivy to show that these local letters are successive "ages" or "eras".
One "proof" that we often hear is this - "Simply look around at churches today, they clearly demonstrate that we are in the age of Laodicea." While this sounds like a good argument, as there are many lukewarm churches in North America, it fails to deal with the global church today. There are currently 245 million Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. Their churches reflect NONE of the characteristics of Laodicea.
What are we defending? By Bill Ivy
We all want to defend what we believe! From one extreme to the other we can find a reason. We have our scriptures, we can find quotes to shut the mouth of those that oppose us. Where does it end, who is right, and who is wrong?
We have the most glorious “Message” that has ever come to mankind, since the angels told the shepherds that Christ had come. A message that corresponds completely with the teaching of the Apostle Paul, who was identified by the pillar of fire and gave us the biggest part of the New Testament.
As a Pastor what is there to explain, and is there anything to defend! Have we become a people of apologists. Perhaps it becomes our pride, our church, our ministry, that we feel compelled to protect or is it Jesus Christ we are defending? He did not even defend himself!
Does our defending become just another method of criticizing those that are not like us, or perhaps see things differently. Lord help me to pray as Rev. William Branham (1909-1965) prayed in regards to his own ministry: “So you help me, as I stand here with my hand up at the pulpit, help me to criticize nobody. And help me that God will give me a spirit in my heart, that instead of criticizing it, I will love them anyhow, and go on.”
We have so much more information than ever before and it is at our fingertips. We can share it with the world instantly. Has it united us and drawn us closer together, as we wait to be gathered in the rapture with those that have gone before?
As a pastor, there is one that has spoken for me in this age, and he was the voice of God to this generation, I do not have to explain it, nor do I have to give you quotes, you can look them up yourself, we all are responsible! It doesn’t offend me because Bro. Branham said; “If I offended you by saying that, forgive me. But I felt that might been resented. But I am God’s Voice to you. I say that again. That time was under inspiration. And I felt bad about the first time, but It repeated it.”
There is no other voice that represents what I stand for and believe! I believe that God give us a one man ministry, it was a one man ministry to the “AGE”. None other possesses that, he was the last church age Messenger and the Seventh Angel according to scripture (Rev 3:14, 10:1-7). Yes God is a big God, he is able to keeps His Word, He still has a fivefold ministry that fulfill their office and duty to God, to speak from a clean heart, the revelation that has already come to us in God’s provided way.
That does not need any apologist to defend! Search the scripture, YOURSELF, as that noble church at Berea; Acts 17:11 “…they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” The things that was brought to them by the Prophet Messenger of the age. They did not blindly follow no man. Not a prophet or a local ministry (pastor). However, they were not searching because they doubted, but because they believed the Word with ALL readiness of mind!
Yes, people have made Brother Branham more than our brother, but many have done the same thing to a Preacher or a Pastor, placing him above the Word of God. And there are men, who have allowed themselves to be put in that position, believing they had a little more to say than others, or a better interpretation. My Brother, with all due respect, God may have given you a great ministry that can be a benefit to many, but there is only ONE prophet message to the age. He spoke for me, and for the age, NOT YOU. It is was a message headquartered not in any geographical location on this planet, but at the very throne of God in the heavens.
There are many that believe Brother Branham was false, is that unusual? If there were none that believed that then he would be false. Jesus himself commissioned us to preach the gospel and they that “BELIEVED” would be saved (Mark 16:16). The others will not believe, no matter what you show them in the Bible, in the Message, or by any other means. They simply cannot believe. Yes, they will persecute those that do, but again that is scriptural, and the Believer is blessed for it (Matthew 5:11).
This message has the strength to hold me, it is not the prophet that has held me or a pastor, as noble as they may be. But it is the one that is guiding us to the other side as I just hold steady. I love what was said in the sermon “Christ is Revealed in His Own Word;”
- “Now the stabilizers has been put on the ship. Great fearful waves are out here before us; but we know, just beyond that wave yonder, we’re nearing the shore. We’re nearing the shore. Just stay stabled. Just stay in the Word. Stay with God. No matter how you feel, what anything else; stay right with the Word. Let it stay stable, when you see all these great big old clouds around us, and storms coming, and atomic bombs, and everything else they’re talking about. But our stabilizer is right straight in the Word. God said it would be here; we’ll crest every one of them. Yeah, we’ll go right over the top of them. Yes, indeed! They, they can’t sink us. They can’t drown us. You put us in the grave; we’ll come out again. That’s just all there is to it. There ain’t no way in the world to keep it down there. We’ll crest every one of them, ’cause our great Chief Captain is calling at the other side.”
Then our Prophet sang; “We’re anchored in Jesus, the storms of life I’ll brave; I’ve anchored in Jesus, I fear no wind or wave;”
The Word has come alive to me because His presence is in me making the one Book I believe in for redemption live. Yes, God sent a restoration Prophet with a message to forerun the coming of Christ, not to write another book, as the prophet Mohammad and the Mormon’s prophet Joseph Smith had to do. Our Prophet brought light to the ONE Book which we have been told is “God in print form.” That is why I can say the only Book for me is the Bible, as the only book that contains redemption!
Bro. Branham is clearly not my absolute, but neither is any OTHER MINISTER in this message. Bro. Branham wasn’t against the ministry, but he sure had problems with them when they were together as a group of men. Trying to persuade him, understand him, abuse him, take advantage of him, imitate him and even learn from him how do understand the supernatural in his life. How many times they got him in trouble! Do you need the quotes?
Yes, we need pastors, evangelist, teachers, etc. but ultimately as a minister and a Pastor I stand alone leading those that the Holy Ghost has entrusted to my care. I appreciate my brethren ministers, but they do not speak for me as a Pastor of my local congregation. However, I am not alone, we are following the same bloody footprints the Prophet followed. We can stand on His shoulders and see so much further down the road than any other age.
I don’t care how many quotes, and I appreciate them all, no matter how right they are, or how well a person can put them together. I am not even interested in the results a person gets from his ministry, to be able to stir a crowd, and even produce the supernatural, IF THE TRUE FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT ARE NOT PRESENT Gal 5:22-23) and if love is not projected, how can the marvelous grace which this message has produced have its effect!
We draw sides and join clubs and pick our leaders, and do not realize there is something wrong in all of it. The world is still falling apart again as it was when Christ came the first time!
There was a time, we heard the message and we wanted to repent, constantly we were examining ourselves to be right with the Word which the Prophet brought to us. But alas, now, we look more for what kind of social functions a church has, what is available for the youth, is the music at the standard the young people enjoy, and as pastors we do our best to provide what the people want. Have we, that claim to still believe, do we really believe, or have we fallen like those we criticize for not being right?
Have we all become idolaters in our religious beliefs, calling our views the Word of God? Even if our views are correct, if the fruits of the spirit is not present, and the CHARITY of 1 Corinthians 13 is missing, we make what we know and believe a stumbling block to so many?
Have we made a golden calf out of what we believe. Remember, while the Prophet Moses was away, the people wanted to know about the God that brought them out of Egypt. So Aaron gave them a golden calf, which was not another God, but his interpretation (image) of the God that brought them out, an idolatrous medium of the true God. This was taught by Aaron, but it was the work of man (denominational work)! Look what it produce!
After bringing the revelation of the Seven Seals to us, Brother Branham closed with the following statement, which I do NOT believe will make us ignorant of what God has revealed, but will make it really live in us as being true!
63-0324E THE.SEVENTH.SEAL_ JEFFERSONVILLE.IN
- There’s no great man among us. We’re not great men, not great women–we’re all brothers and sisters, all the same in the same bracket. We’re no great. One don’t make one greater than the other one–not a thing at all to do. No, sir. But we’re just all human beings. Don’t try to interpret the things. Don’t try to do anything more than just live a close life, giving praise and honor to Jesus Christ. Everybody understand that now? Amen. Love Him with all your heart. Do you do it?
Then Bro. Branham sang the song; “I love Him (And I will) I love Him, Because He first loved me, And purchased my salvation, On Calvary’s tree.”
In conclusion, no matter how we might disagree upon doctrinal issues can we project to others such a spirit of love that they will have to say; “I might totally disagree with you, but I can see that you really LOVE JESUS CHRIST!”
Pastor Bill Ivy - Campbell, Missouri
- The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Dt 18:20–22.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), 1 Pe 3:15.
- James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995).
- The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Ac 17:10–12.
- Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2015), Ac 17:10–11.
- The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), 1 Ti 6:3–5.
- Craig S. Keener, Revelation, The NIV Application Commentary, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 74–75.
- from livingwordtabernacle.com/?p=2602