William Branham and the Atonement

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William Branham taught that, on the cross, God poured His wrath out upon Christ, and that Jesus died under the judgments and wrath of God.[1] He also taught that in the Garden of Gethsemane, the Spirit of God left Jesus and that he died on the cross as a man.[2]

Does the Bible teach this?

What the Bible teaches

There are no passages in the New Testament that state that the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus.

The question must therefore be asked - Where did William Branham get this doctrine?

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

In Matthew 27:46 and in Mark 15:34, 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?”).[3]

William Branham, as seen in the quotes below, explains Jesus crying out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” as a man forsaken by God. But is this what Jesus was doing? Why didn't Jesus cry, "My Father, My Father..."? If this was simply cry of personal distress, why did Jesus not use Abba as he did in the Gethsemane?[4]

In biblical times, one way that Jews referred to the Psalms was by the first line of a particular psalm. So when Jesus cried out in Aramaic - “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”[5] - he was simply quoting the first line of Psalm 22.

In citing the first line of Psalm 22, Jesus has the whole of the psalm in view, which ends with the righteous sufferer’s vindication and restoration (Psalm 22:22–31). He is telling Mary and that disciples that are watching him in wonder that God is to be praised, since he “has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help” (Psalm 22:24). This is not, then, a cry of despair, but rather an assurance of victory.[6]

Mark tells us that when Jesus cried out, it was the ninth hour, the Jewish hour of prayer (Acts 3:1), and Jesus prayed the prayer of the righteous sufferer, who trusts fully in God’s protection. Psalm 22 tells us that Messiah was to be mocked (Ps. 22:7–9), his strength dried up (22:15–16), his hands and feet pierced (22:16), and his garments divided (22:18). Jesus therefore did not simply let out an anguished wail of pain but deliberately quoted this lament, which moves from an expression of pain to confidence in God’s deliverance. Why would Jesus cry out to an absent God unless he believed that God was indeed there to hear and able to deliver him? Senior argues:

These words are, in effect, the final version of the prayer in Gethsemane where, also in a “lament,” Jesus affirmed his unbroken trust in his Father while feeling the full horror of approaching death (Mark 14:32–42).

Jews in Jesus’ day were immersed in the Scripture the way moderns are immersed in television and the movies, and they would know that Psalm 22 begins with despair but ends on a triumphant note.

In other words, by using Psalm 22, Jesus chose to complain stridently about his suffering and tragedy but to look beyond it to express his faith in the God who vindicates the righteous. He identifies himself with the righteous sufferer, who feels the pain of his testing but whose intimacy with God allows him to voice his complaint bluntly and to demand rescue. He accepts his suffering, trusting that God’s intervention will come in his death. If one understands this cry as a prayer, God immediately answers it. The darkness lasting from the sixth to the ninth hour lifts, and the following events reveal in overwhelming fashion that his confident hope in God’s vindication has not been misplaced. “For he has not despised or disdained the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help” (Ps. 22:24).[7]

The real question is - Why didn't William Branham understand this?

For God was so filled with wrath against the world

William Branham taught that God saw us as a wretched sinners, worthy of death. The reason Jesus had to die was so that God would see him... and not me. God can’t look on us because of our sin. He can only look at us through the blood of his son.

If you believe William Branham, John 3:16 should read as follows:

“For God was so filled with wrath against the world, that he sent his only begotten son to take the beating that we all deserved. That if anyone would want to escape eternal suffering, and would raise their hand and repeat this prayer after me, they would escape this horrible wrath. For the son was not sent into the world to change our minds about God, but to change God’s mind about us. So now that Jesus has taken the punishment for us, God can now finally love us, and forgive us.” (Keith Giles)

But of course, that is not what John tells us… “For God so loved the world.” The object of God’s love is people, the world, us.

One of the most successful evangelists of the 19th century was D.L. Moody. While revivalists of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries used descriptions of the torments of hell as a basic tool of their trade, hell was seldom mentioned in Moody’s sermons. It was not because he did not believe in hell, but rather, he understood that God wanted to draw people to himself by love and not to attract slaves by fear. Moody had grasped that to manipulate crowds by appeals to fear was out of character with God and did not produce the results that God desired.

Moody stated, “I know of no truth in the whole Bible that ought to come home to us with such power and tenderness as that of the love of God.” (D. L. Moody)

Love and fear are opposites. John tells us that perfect love drives out fear. Why? Because love is sacrificing your interest for the good of others. Love is focused on the other person, while fear is self-focused.

As we read in 1 John, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters… In this world, we are like Jesus.” (1 John 3:17, 4:17 - NIV)

Quotes of William Branham

God cannot look upon sin; He’s holy. But the Blood of Jesus holds it off as a bumper on a car. Every time you sin, the Bumper, Jesus Christ, catches you at your sin before it reaches God. Aren’t you ashamed the way you’ve treated Him?[8]

Seem like I could see the world. And around the world was a rainbow. And that rainbow represented the Blood of Jesus Christ. And if that Blood would ever leave there, God couldn’t look at the world a second. He’d destroy it. That Blood of Christ is the only thing that keeps the—the wrath of God off us tonight. Did you know that? If it wasn’t for that, there’d be no more world in five minutes from now. God cannot look in the face of sin. And the reason He can’t see the world is because the Blood of Jesus Christ is a holding it off of sin. 6[9]

Crying Eli, Eli, Father, Why hast Thou forsaken me? Being forsaken in life, being forsaken in death, and all the wrath of God poured upon Him and He stood our judgments. And God, He took our judgments and bore them away into an isolated place, into the regions beyond; and the law—laws of God condemned and put the damned, and He took our sins there. And resurrected again on Easter morning for our justification, now stands in the Person of the Holy Spirit to save every lost sinner in the world.[10]

Notice it now. Then when they realized that they had sinned and gone away from God. God had had to kill some animals, perhaps a sheep. Because Christ was the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world. And when he killed the lambs, and or sheep, and throwed back the skin to Adam and Eve, they covered themselves in the skins and stood in the Presence of God to receive their judgment and their eternal destination. Couldn’t stand no other way; God couldn’t look upon them without a covering. And God can’t look upon you without a covering. And a covering in that day was blood. And that’s the same covering today.[11]

When He was in Heaven, He was the “Logos” that went out of God, in the beginning. And He came down on earth, and was not to be made an Angel. He came down on earth and took the form of a bondsman, not an Angel; not come down in the great Jehovah Glory. But He came down as a Man, to redeem man, to die for man, to die for…as a man. He never died as God. He died as a man. The sin of man was upon the Son of man. And He had to become a Man, in order to pay the penalty.[12]

I want to unite under His power. I want to unite with you men and women tonight under His power. He did cry at the cross, “Father, why has Thou forsaken Me?” He died as a man. But on Easter morning, when He broke the Roman seal and rolled away the stone, and rose triumphantly He proved He was God. He’s thrilled the hearts. He looked like God. He acts like God. He is God. That’s true.[13]

I said, “No. As long as you’ve got life, you’ve got hope, because the Blood of the Lord Jesus has this world encircled, and God can’t see your sins. But someday when your life passes beyond that circle of Blood, then you’ve already judged yourself.”[14]

God poured His wrath out upon Christ Who took my place at Calvary. He died under the judgments and wrath of God. God poured out His fierce judgment upon Him and He took my place.” I said, “I was a sinner, and He took my place.” And I noticed tears coming up in the woman’s eyes. I said, “We’re sinful, and we have no hope. But God knowed that we had to stand these judgments, and Jesus took them for us. And them clouds hanging over the cross was God’s wrath pouring out upon Him. And He bore the wrath of God in His own body that we might be free.”[15]

Is there a sinner in here that don’t know nothing about this what I’m talking about, but yet you believe it to be the truth, that Jesus Christ is God’s Son, that the wrath of God was poured out upon Him and He died at Calvary the death of a sinner to take your place? He died your death at Calvary, and only in Him can you be saved, and you’ve never done it yet, I’ll invite you to this altar. Come here now and be reconciled to God through Christ.[16]

A beautiful type of us today, unworthy, worthy of death when we sin, but God cannot kill us, because He would…we are a part of Christ.[17]


And then one day He came to Kadesh-barnea, where He stood the judgment for us all: the judgment seat of God, where God poured out upon Him the iniquity, and the penalty for our iniquity, the wrath of God upon Him. And He bore in His body our sins, and He crossed the river that we call Jordan, death.[18]

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.[19]

Dear God, one by one we are called, one by one we have to meet the challenge to walk down through the valley of the shadow of death. And it’s due to every one of us, as mortals. But, tonight, You have offered us Your petition, that if we would believe on Him and be baptized in His Name, that You would take us in. And then in this Body, the Body of Christ, not in the church; but in the Body of Christ, that Body has already been judged. It will not have to come to Judgment. God poured out His wrath upon that body, and that body is free from sin; and, being in Him, puts us free from sin, by His Atonement that died for us. And in there we have fellowship with one another, while the Blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, keeps us clean from all sin and defilement.[20]


Footnotes

  1. William Branham, 61-0217 - The Mark Of The Beast And The Seal Of God #2, para. 40
  2. William Branham, 65-0418M - It Is The Rising Of The Sun, para. 241
  3. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Mt 27:46.
  4. David E. Garland, Mark, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 601.
  5. The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Mk 15:34.
  6. Mark L. Strauss, Mark, ed. Clinton E. Arnold, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2014), 702.
  7. David E. Garland, Mark, The NIV Application Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 601–602.>
  8. William Branham, 53-0219 - Accept God's Gift, para. 6
  9. William Branham, 53-0902 - Testimony, para. 6
  10. William Branham, 54-1114 - Redemption By Judgment, para. 53
  11. William Branham, 55-0605 - Fellowship Through The Reconciliation Of The Blood, para. 23
  12. William Branham, 56-0401M - The Mighty Conqueror, para. 95
  13. William Branham, 58-0326 - United Under One Head, para. 49
  14. William Branham, 58-0512 - Life, para. 24
  15. William Branham, 61-0217 - The Mark Of The Beast And The Seal Of God #2, para. 40
  16. William Branham, 61-0316 - The Church Choosing Law For Grace, para. 67
  17. William Branham, 62-0506 - Possessing All Things, para. 42
  18. William Branham, 62-0611 - It Is I, Be Not Afraid, para. 12
  19. William Branham, 65-0418M - It Is The Rising Of The Sun, para. 241
  20. William Branham, 65-0220 - God's Chosen Place Of Worship, para. 121


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