William Branham's understanding of Jesus Christ

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William Branham was very confused when it came to his understanding of who Jesus Christ is. This can be demonstrated by looking closely at what the Bible says and then looking at what William Branham said. With respect to the Godhead, William Branham's doctrine was a mixture of dynamic monarchianism and modalistic monarchianism.

What the Bible says

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.[1]

John is clearly stating here that Jesus Christ is God and make 3 statements in this regard.

The first statement is that Jesus existed “in the beginning.” In other words, Jesus was preexistent. He was “before” all things. There are several ways in which the phrase “in the beginning” is used in the Bible. In 1 John it is used of the beginning of Christ’s earthly ministry. John writes, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim concerning the Word of life” (1 John 1:1). In the first verse of the Book of Genesis the phrase is used of the beginning of creation: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The use of the phrase in John’s Gospel goes beyond even that, however, for John says that when you begin to talk about Jesus Christ you can do so properly only when you go back beyond his earthly life—back beyond the beginnings of creation—into eternity. That is where Jesus Christ was.

The second statement is that Jesus Christ was with God. This is an affirmation of Christ’s separate personality, and it is a very subtle statement. John wishes to say, and indeed he does say, that Jesus is fully God. He reports Jesus as saying, “anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). But John is aware also that there is a diversity within the Godhead. Thus he also expresses this truth in his statement.

The final phrase is a declaration that Jesus is fully divine, for John says, “and the Word was God,” or literally, “and God was the Word.” This means that everything that can be said about God the Father can be said about the Son. In Jesus dwells all the wisdom, glory, power, love, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth of the Father. In him, the Father is known. John then sums up his teaching by saying, “He was with God in the beginning” (v. 2). With these words the highly emphatic and unequivocal statement of the full divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ is ended.[2]

Who did William Branham think Jesus was?

When He was here on earth, how many knows that that was the Pillar of Fire that followed the children of Israel in the wilderness, that It was Christ, the Angel of the covenant? All right. And how many knows that that was Jesus in Jesus, that same Spirit?[3]

He was the Messiah. He was--He was Jesus when He was born. But when the Holy Ghost came upon Him after His baptism, He was anointed with God. God was in Him, 'cause He come to fulfill the Word.[4]

They said, "He couldn't be Deity and die." The Man (the body) was not Deity, but Deity was in the body. This body has to perish. The very Christ that's in you is the only thing that can raise you up. That's Deity, God in you.[5]

And this little Boy, twelve-year-old Child, no wisdom at all, why, but just a twelve-year-old Boy. The Father didn't dwell in Him at that time; because He come on the day when He baptized Him, "He saw the Spirit of God coming down, see, and went in Him." But, look, this little twelve-year-old Boy, being the Word; He was born the anointed One, see, to be the anointed. And here He was, "Know ye not that I must be about My Father's business?"[6]

Jesus was not God, but He was God. He was a Man, yet He was God. [7]

The Spirit left Him, in the Garden of Gethsemane. He had to die, a man. Remember, friends, He didn't have to do that. That was God. God anointed that flesh, which was human flesh. And He didn't... If He'd a went up there, as God, He'd have never died that kind of death; can't kill God. But He didn't have to do it.[8]

What happened on the cross?

As we read above, William Branham believed that the Spirit of God left Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. I also believed that God forsook Jesus on the cross:

The inoculation held on Jesus. It held at the cross. It held when He could’ve come down off that cross. Billy Sunday said, “Every tree was setting full of Angels.” Said. “You don’t have to come off the cross. Just point Your finger. We’ll change the situation.” But He said, “I do that always what pleases the Father.” What? The inoculation held. The Word and will of God stayed in Him, no matter whether He was patted on the back and called the young Rabbi of Galilee, or whether He was called Beelzebub, the devil, the fortuneteller, whatever it was, the blasphemy that they said about Him: the inoculation held. Then they watched how He was—if He’d scream and take it all back at the cross. But it held. Amen. Everything forsook Him: His church, His people, and even God forsook Him, everything. But the inoculation held.[9]

But this is not what the Bible teaches.

When Jesus was on the cross, we read:

About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).[10]

He was not stating that God had forsaken him. The Jews in Jesus time did not number the Psalms, that did not come until hundreds of years after Jesus was resurrected. They referred to the Psalms by the first line of the Psalm. So when Jesus cried out the first line of Psalm 22, he was simply telling his disciples to go read Psalm 22 if they wanted to understand what was going on.

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
“He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
“let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”
...they pierce g my hands and my feet.
All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.
For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it! [11].

Where was God when Jesus was crucified? Did he turn his back on Jesus? Paul tells us that

God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.[12]

Some of Branham's followers carry his teaching into Adoptionism

...the church has made the great mistake in making Jesus equal to God — which he is in a certain way — but he’s not God. He’s not Deity. I’m sorry, but he’s not, because God is not in him. No way. What God was in him is not Deity, same as what God is in you is not Deity, concerning Deity Himself, which is Sovereign God and Creator and Maintainer.[13]

Did you know that Brother Branham never said "God was Jesus"? Not once in 1,200 sermons did he ever say that. Now he did say that Jesus was God, but then he would always go on to say Jesus was God because God was dwelling in Him. And then he would quote the Apostle Paul as saying, "God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself."

...And did you know that He only said IN one place that "God is Jesus" ? But, then he qualified how "God was Jesus".[14]

Most people will now revert to oneness doctrine to explain it. They will simply say that the man Jesus was God. He's not God, and they are wrong.[15]

Jesus cannot be supreme Deity. He’s not even Deity. When you talk of supreme Deity, you are talking of the word in the Greek, which is ‘theos’, which means ‘supreme Deity’. And, if Jesus is the Son of God, then he’s merely the son of supreme Deity. He is not supreme Deity.[16]

Other are essentially modalistic

Footnotes

  1. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jn 1:1–2.
  2. James Montgomery Boice, The Gospel of John: An Expositional Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2005), 22-23.
  3. WE.WOULD.SEE.JESUS_ DALLAS.TEXAS THURSDAY_ 58-0612
  4. THE.MESSIAH_ SHREVEPORT.LA TUESDAY_ 61-0117
  5. GOD'S.GIFTS.ALWAYS.FIND.THEIR.PLACES_ JEFF.IN V-6 N-13 SUNDAY_ 63-1222
  6. PARADOX_ BAKERSFIELD.CA V-22 N-5 THURSDAY_ 64-0206B
  7. QUESTIONS.AND.ANSWERS.3_ JEFF.IN COD SUNDAY_ 64-0830M
  8. IT.IS.THE.RISING.OF.THE.SUN_ JEFF.IN V-3 N-12 SUNDAY_ 65-0418M
  9. William Branham, 62-1123 - The Way Back, para. 56
  10. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Mt 27:46.
  11. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Ps 22:1, 7-8, 16-18, 24, 30-31
  12. Tyndale House Publishers, Holy Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013), 2 Co 5:19.
  13. Lee Vayle, Godhead: Tape #1500/11-05-2000, Godhead Q&A #4: Tangibility of God
  14. Brian Kocourek, #1 07 "IN", January 21st, 2007
  15. Brian Kocourek, #45 One Mediator Bewteen, April 4th, 1993
  16. Lee Vayle, The Supreme Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ, July 1, 2000


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