What happens when you mix law and grace? Why did William Branham teach that Jesus came to "magnify" the law? (related video: Fallen From Grace)
What did William Branham teach?
William Branham taught that:
- God ever says anything, He can never change it. He always magnifies it, not change it. The law was magnified, not changed. Magnified! "'Whosoever commits adultery shall be guilty of death,' but whosoever," now magnified, "looketh upon a woman to lust after her!" He never changed the commandment. He magnified it.
William Branham used this concept of the magnification of the law, among other things, to bring Old Testament law into the church. But the question is - Does the Bible support this?
What does the Bible say?
Jesus NEVER states that he came to magnify the law.
There is only one verse in the Bible that refers to the law being magnified and it is not a reference to the ministry of Jesus:
- The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness’ sake; He will magnify the law, and make it honourable. But this is a people robbed and spoiled; they are all of them snared in holes...
Here is the same verse from a few other translations:
- Yahveh desired his servant’s vindication to make his law grand and glorious; but this is a people plundered and despoiled; they are all trapped in holes...
- The LORD was pleased, for his righteousness’ sake, to magnify his law and make it glorious. But this is a people plundered and looted; they are all of them trapped in holes and hidden in prisons...
- The LORD is a God who is eager to save, so he exalted his laws and teachings, and he wanted his people to honour them. But now his people have been plundered; they are locked up in dungeons and hidden away in prisons. They were robbed and plundered, with no one to come to their rescue.
It is obvious from these translations, that this passage has nothing to do with the coming of the Messiah. There is no prophesied magnification of the law. However, in William Branham's mind and in that of most message believers it means to make larger and, therefore, harder to meet.
What Jesus said was:
- Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. (Mt 5:17)
Here are couple of other translations of Matt 5:17 in more up to date English:
- Don’t suppose for a minute that I have come to demolish the Scriptures—either God’s Law or the Prophets. I’m not here to demolish but to complete. (The Message)
- “Do not think that I have come to do away with the Law of Moses and the teachings of the prophets. I have not come to do away with them, but to make their teachings come true. (GNT)
- “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose. (NLT)
What does fulfill mean?
Does it mean to magnify?
- πληρόω: to give the true or complete meaning to something—‘to give the true meaning to, to provide the real significance of.’ οὐκ ἦλθον καταλῦσαι ἀλλὰ πληρῶσαι ‘I did not come to destroy but to give true meaning to’ (Mt 5:17)
Paul stated that Jesus came "having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross..." (Col 2:14)
What does this mean? What is the handwriting of requirements that Paul is talking about?
He is talking about the law. Jesus came to fulfill all of the requirements of the law on our behalf so that the way to God is now opened!
- Jesus condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (Ro 8:3–4)
- God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh: That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Ro 8:3–5).
Could this be true?
What does Paul say about the Law?
Jesus did not sweep the the law under the carpet. He did not do away with it.
He came and fulfilled every requirement of the law perfectly on our behalf. So by Jesus, the law has been fulfilled.
Jesus did not redeem us from the curse of sin. Read your Bible:
- Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us... (Ga 3:13)
- To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. (Ro 5:13)
Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law (and not from the curse of sin) because where there is no law there is no sin. Even the ten commandments are referred to as producing death.
- But if the ministry that produced death — carved in letters on stone tablets — came with glory, so that the Israelites could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face (a glory which was made ineffective), how much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be? (2 Co 3:7–8 NET)
Paul called the ten commandments the ministry that produced death.
Did you know that the ten commandments were received by Israel on the day of Pentecost. It was forty days after the Jewish passover when Moses went up on Mt. Sinai and received the Law. On that day they received the Law, three thousand people died (Ex 32:28). But what happened on the day that the church was born, the day of Penecost? Three thousand people came to life (Acts 2:41). The law produced death in 3,000 people on its first day, grace produced life in 3,000 people on the day the church was born!
So we don't have to pay attention to the law anymore?
Did Jesus go to Calvary and die to bring back the law to its pristine standard, a standard that ensured that no man could keep the law?
Why did Jesus say this:
- You have heard that it was said, ‘You must not commit adultery.’ But I say to you, anyone who stares at a woman with lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart. So if your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one of your body parts than to have your whole body thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away from you. It is better for you to lose one of your body parts than to have your whole body go into hell.” (Mt 5:27–30 ISV)
If he was wanting you to obey what He said here, churches would be filled with blind amputees!
The reason for His unbelievably high standard is to drive home the point that man cannot depend on himself... he cannot meet the standard of the law. He desperately needs a savior.
If you try to keep the law you will fail. So why then does William Branham's message bring with it a set of rules and regulations that we are required to keep?
Do you know that the apostles specifically talked about the laws that us Gentiles were required to keep?
- It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from the meat of strangled animals and from blood. (Ac 15:19–20)
- It seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us not to burden you with anything beyond the following requirements: You are to abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality. You will do well to avoid these things. (Ac 15:28–29)
- As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.” (Ac 21:25)
So what gives William Branham the right to change the requirements laid down by the Apostles?
Can we mix law and grace?
The law demands perfection but does not lift a finger to help. Grace on the other hand imparts perfection and does everything for man through Jesus Christ.
- I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!” (Ga 2:21)
- You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace. (Ga 5:4)
If you try to mix grace and the law as the Galatian church did, Paul said that you have fallen away from grace. Paul said you are either entirely under the law or you are under grace. They can't be mixed.
So how are Christians supposed to behave?
- Whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law. (Ro 13:8–10)
- ...serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself. (Ga 5:13–14).
- Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. (Ga 6:2)
Do you know that Jesus never called sinners - not even the prostitutes and corrupt tax collectors - "a brood of vipers". Not once! Those harsh words Jesus reserved for the religious people, Pharisees, whose fixation on the law blinded them from seeing God in the flesh.
We need to be like Christ and be filled with His love:
- If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit. (1 Co 13:1–3 NET)
Is this relevant in any other way to William Branham's ministry?
We receive a question which asked: So, if the law is indeed magnified, would it not be logical to also assume the part of the prophets being done away with is not the case, that instead, the role of the prophet might be magnified as well?
This question appears to be based on an incorrect understanding of the Biblical teachings of the law in the New Testament. We are no longer under the law but under grace.
- The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then, the good news of the kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is strongly urged to enter it. (Lk 16:16 HCSB)
- “I tell you the truth, among those born of women, no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he is." (Mt 11:11).
The least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist.
Why? Because every true Christian has the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which is greater than the spirit of Elijah!
Why would we need the spirit of Elijah when each believer possesses something greater? It is sad that Christians sometimes fail to recognize what they really possess.
What New Testament scriptures support the need for an Old Testament prophet, particularly one that seeks to lay requirements from the law on the church? There don't appear to be any.
Prophets are part of the five-fold ministry but they are in a secondary position to that of apostles:
- And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. (1 Co 12:28)
- So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Eph 4:11–13)
- I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles. (2 Pe 3:2)
Finally, why did William Branham considered himself immune from the judgement of the church? He bases this position from the Old Testament and not from the New Testament:
- A prophecy has to be judged by two or three judges; a prophet is borned a prophet and raised a prophet. See? It's foreordained of God for that age. WE.WOULD.SEE.JESUS_ SPOKANE.WA THURSDAY_ 62-0712
- But there's a lot of difference between a prophet and a prophecy. A prophecy has to be judged by three witnesses (two or three) before it can be given or accepted in the church, according to the Scriptures. But a prophet, like the Old Testament prophet, they had the Word of the Lord. The translation was right to them. And they were known, because the Bible said, "If there be one among you spiritual or a prophet, I, the Lord, will make Myself known unto him, speak to him in visions, and reveal Myself in dreams. And if what this man says comes to pass, then hear him, for I'm am with him. If it doesn't, then don't hear him. I'm not with him. Don't fear him." JESUS CHRIST THE SAME YESTERDAY TODAY AND FOREVER TUCSON.AZ SUNDAY_ 61-0205E
However, Paul clearly requires all prophets to be judged and makes no exceptions for so-called Old Testament prophets:
- Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. (1 Co 14:29)
Based on William Branham's criteria, what does the occurrence of a single failure of a vision like the Municipal Bridge Prophecy require us to do with his prophetic ministry?
Quotes of William Branham
But then, God can speak through His servant in gifts. Do you believe that? Then what He would say in a way what I've been testifying about of those things, that's God's Word, secondarily. And if God should tell you a certain thing to do, you go do it. If you fail to do it, then it'd be just like you failed to do in His Word here. 
He said, "If you come back at all, God hasn't spoke to me." Uh-huh? See? There was a prophet, there was a sign; there was His voice. And, to fail to obey it, brought judgment. The Holy Ghost is our prophet today. Fail to hear His Voice? He's identified in the Scripture, that He would say these things. Jesus Christ, the form of the Holy Ghost!
They might say, "Well, I do this. I dance in the spirit. I, I speak in tongues. I, I prophesy. I preach the Gospel." But fail to let your hair grow out, fail on one thing, and see what happens, the Spirit will leave you right there. That's what's happened to our churches, failed. 248 "In vain, worshiping Me. Oh, it's a beautiful worship. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching for doctrine the commandments of man."
If you fail, come back to this tape again. I don't know how much longer I'll be with you. Remember, this is the Truth, of THUS SAITH THE LORD. It's the Truth. It's the Scripture.
- Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. 1996. Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: Based on semantic domains, 2nd edition. Vol. 1 (404), United Bible Societies: New York
- Prince, Joseph, Unmerited Favor, 2011
- ↑ 63-0728, Christ Is The Mystery Of God Revealed
- ↑ The Holy Bible: King James Version, Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version. (Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2009), Is 42:21–22.
- ↑ Joseph Blenkinsopp, Isaiah 40–55: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary, vol. 19A, Anchor Yale Bible (New Haven; London: Yale University Press, 2008), 216.
- ↑ The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Is 42:21–22.
- ↑ American Bible Society, The Holy Bible: The Good News Translation, 2nd ed. (New York: American Bible Society, 1992), Is 42:21–22.
- ↑ William Branham, 53-0605 - The Beginning Of Jesus' Fame, para. 25
- ↑ William Branham, 64-0321E - The Voice Of The Sign, para. 203-204
- ↑ William Branham, 64-1212 - The Harvest Time, para. 247-248
- ↑ William Branham, 63-0728 - Christ Is The Mystery Of God Revealed, para. 210