The Message of the Hour


The Message of the Hour

The Message of the Hour, or simply 'The Message', is a term used by the followers of William M. Branham (1909-1965) an American faith-healer and preacher of the mid Twentieth Century, to refer to his sermons, doctrines, and prophecies. The followers of "The Message" believe these doctrines to form a distinct belief, which they believe to be the same doctrines of the original Christian Churches.

Followers of The Message refer to themselves as Message Believers, Believers, or most commonly, as Christians. Groups of these Christians can be found around the world without any formal affiliation or governance. These Believers use the term 'The Message' to refer to Rev. Branham's teachings and to underline the central importance of his ministry in what they believe is the restoration of the 'true apostolic faith' to the Christian Church. Most of Rev. Branham's followers also view him as a Prophet and the messenger of Christ's second coming based on their understanding of [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Mal/Mal004.html#top Malachi 4:5-6] ; [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Mat/Mat017.html#11 Matthew 17:11] ; [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Rev/Rev003.html#14 Revelation 3:14] ; [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Rev/Rev010.html#7 Revelation 10:7] and other Scriptures.

The term Branhamism or Branhamite is an exonym generally used to refer to the followers of Rev. Branham by people outside of The Message followers. This term, however, is generally disliked by believers as Branham strongly denounced organized religion and any form of categorization. Anti-Denominationalism is one of the key doctrines of The Message. Anti-Denominationalism is an important nuance that needs to be understood to be able to classify or define the doctrines of The Message in a proper context. Followers of The Message are not monolithic which ads another layer of complication to defining them.

It is difficult to find a definition of ‘the Message’ written by believers themselves because they do not have a statement of faith. They generally believe that Bible is the absolute source of Revelation and the highest authority. Because of this they do not have any religious church by-laws but believe and conduct their selves according to the how they believe the original church did in the bible.

ermons and Books

The primary source for the distinctive doctrine are the recorded sermons of William Branham (nearly 1200 with the number occasionally rising as further recordings are discovered [ [http://www.branham.org/BranhamDefault.asp?Home=Table&dir=Home&LoadPageDetail=01_Table.htm The Table, Voice of God Recordings] ] ). Many of these sermons have been put into book form. [ [http://www.branham.org | Branham.org] ] These books document Branham's teachings with Bible references. There are also publications by different ministers who distribute news letters and doctrinal tracts based on Branham's teachings.

Many groups of Branham's followers, though not all, regard Branham's sermons as being of equal authority to the Bible. Others regard them as being of generally lesser authority with only those sections for which Branham explicitly claimed to be speaking "Thus Saith the Lord" as being divinely inspired. In Addition to the recorded sermons, William Branham co-authored (along with Lee Vayle) the 1965 book 'An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages' (more commonly referred to as the 'Church Age Book').

But the most important contribution that believers in the Message see is the "Revelation of the Seven Seals" that Rev. Branham delivered in a series of sermons during February and March 1963. These sermons are believed to have opened and revealed the first six seals of [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Rev/Rev006.html#top Revelation chapter 6.] It is generally believed that when the seventh seal is opened at some point in the future it will be the Rapture [ [http://nt.scbbs.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=14462777&advquery=%22seventh%20seal%22%20%22how%20He%20will%20come%22%20%22when%20he%20will%20come%22&infobase=message2006.nfo&record={14CC2}&softpage=Browse_Frame_Pg42 Branham, W. M., "Christ is the Mystery of God Revealed", Voice of God Recordings, July 1963] ] , the end of grace for Gentiles, and will begin the last half of the 70th Week of Daniel, usually referred to as the Great Tribulation [ [http://nt.scbbs.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=14462777&advquery=Daniel%20tribulation%20%22seventy%20weeks%22&infobase=message2006.nfo&record={13D2C}&softpage=Browse_Frame_Pg42 Branham, W. M., "The Sixth Seal", Voice of God Recordings, March 1963] ] .

ize and Distribution of Followers

Branham's doctrinal teachings against ' denominationalism' has deterred the formation of widespread formal associations of Branham’s followers. This makes it difficult to establish how many followers exist today, an unofficial estimate by David Branham (grandson of William Branham) in 1986 based upon literature distribution gave the figure at 300,000 worldwide. [C. Douglas Weaver, The Healer Prophet, William Marrion Branham: A Study of the Prophetic in American Pentecostalism, 1987, p.149] Many believe that the figure is much larger today. Voice of God Recordings have recently estimated that there may be upwards of 750,000 in the Democratic Republic of Congo alone. [ [http://www.branham.org/BranhamDefault.asp?Home=Blog_pages&LoadPageDetail=FrenchPrinting_121907.htm "French printing", Voice of God Recordings, Jeffersonville, Indiana.] ]

Groups of Branham's followers are widely distributed around the world, including North America, Latin America, Africa, Europe, Australia and many parts of Asia.

Major Groups

Another difficulty in estimating accurate numbers is that the movement is not entirely monolithic and lacks any formal organization. The interpretations of Branham's doctrines vary between some groups. There are also groups that follow Branham's teachings but put much less emphasis on his person than other groups and are therefore not obvious followers of The Message.

Voice of God Recordings, based in Jeffersonville, Indiana, is headed by Joseph Branham, one of Branham’s sons. They currently distribute Message materials to 177 countries in 57 languages [ [http://www.branham.org/BranhamDefault.asp?Home=Blog_pages&LoadPageDetail=Paper_101607.htm "Paper", Voice of God Recordings, Jeffersonville, Indiana] ] . Groups which are supportive of VGR do not always have a preaching minister and often listen to recorded sermons of Branham. They believe he taught the complete interpretation of the Bible for the last day Church, and there is nothing new to be revealed. Amongst these groups there are minor doctrinal differences.

Other groups do not believe that revelation ended with Branham but rather that he was the starting point for a new ministry who would bring the final revelations. One such group is the followers of Raymond "Junior" Jackson [Faith Assembly Church] . These followers, while believing in Branham's doctrines, do not adhere to Church Order as explained by Branham.

A radical minority of the movement believes Branham to be God himself, an incarnation of Jesus Christ [Weaver, C. D., "William Marrion Branham: The Healer-Prophet", Macon University Press, 2000, 142.] . Branham openly denounced these ideas. [ [http://nt.scbbs.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=297199718&advquery=%22I%20have%20been%20taken%20from%20my%20bracket%20of%20a%20minister%20or%20a%20brother%20and%20being%20called%20Jesus%20Christ%22&infobase=message2006.nfo&record={FEDB}&softpage=Browse_Frame_Pg42 Branham, W. M., "Revelation Chapter Five", Voice of God Recordings, Jeffersonville, Indiana, June 1961] ] . Mainstream Message Believers also denounce these ideas, while acknowledging that it is Scriptural for some to make such a mistake ( [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Act/Act014.html#11 Acts 14:11] ; [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Rev/Rev022.html#8 Rev 22:8-9] ).

Major Doctrines and Teachings of The Message

The Prophet-Messenger

A major doctrine that unites all Message Believers is the central role of William Branham who is believed to be a Word prophet and the messenger ("angel") of the Laodicean church age. As a Word prophet they believe he was given revelation (understanding) of the meaning of the Scriptures. As the messenger, they believe he was sent to lead the Bride (the true Church) and to prepare them for the pre-tribulation rapture. It is said that Willian Branham fulfilled the Elijah prophecies of [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Mal/Mal004.html#top Malachi 4:5-6] ("turn the heart of the children to their fathers") and [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Mat/Mat017.html#11 Matthew 17:11] ("restore all things"). They see his ministry as the messenger to Laodicea (the last church age) identifed in [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Rev/Rev003.html#14 Rev 3:14] and [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Rev/Rev010.html#7 Rev 10:7] . Branham taught that his gift of discernment [ [http://www.believethesign.com/second_sign.htm Believe the Sign] ] was typed in [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Luk/Luk017.html#28 Luke 17:28-30] which speaks of the "days of Lot". In those days, God appeared to Abraham in a human form and revealed the secrets of the heart. ( [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Gen/Gen019.html#top Genesis 19] ).

The Godhead and Incarnation

One of the most distinctive features of The Message's teaching is the rejection of both the Trinitarian view of the Godhead and also a rejection of the 'Oneness' views held by those of the Oneness Pentecostals. Message followers' doctrines on the Godhead are an acknowledgement that Jesus Christ was the Image of the invisible God, that all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Him (Jesus Christ) and that He was literally the Tabernacle of the Father on earth. ("A body hast thou prepared for me" [http://www.blueletterbible.org/kjv/Hbr/Hbr010.html#top Hebrews 10:5] )

The Message followers believe that there is One God who is the Father, and that God Himself is a Spirit. They believe that the Holy Spirit and God the Father are the same being but in different manifestations [ [http://nt.scbbs.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=369822005&advquery=%22one%20God%20with%20three%20offices%20or%20manifestations%22&infobase=message2006.nfo&record={18EFC}&softpage=Browse_Frame_Pg42 Branham, W. M., "An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages", Jeffersonville, Indiana:WBEA, 1965, p19, ] ] . They also believe that the Holy Spirit is a portion of God that dwells in people when they are 'born again'.

Their doctrine also states that Jesus is the Son of God just as Adam was a Son of God (a perfect human being), and that God's Spirit, entered Jesus at His baptism and then left Jesus in Gethsemane, prior to the crucifixion, so that He could suffer and die as a mortal. It was because God the Father was in Christ that He could speak as though He was God, because God was literally dwelling within him and using him to speak. This is similar to Modalism. This doctrine is also tied to the serpent seed doctrine to show that Jesus was the perfect sacrifice because he was pure and had no link to the serpent. The Message followers believe that the revelation (i.e. understanding) of the Godhead was formally abandoned with the Nicene Creed.

The "supreme deity of Jesus Christ" is regarded as the major truth restored to the Church today: '

'The Spirit of God in John (Rev 1:4-6) expresses thusly in order to set forth the Supreme Deity of Jesus Christ and to reveal the Godhead as ONE God. Today there is a gross error. It is that there are three Gods instead of one. This revelation as given to John by Jesus, Himself, corrects that error. It is not that there are three Gods, but one God with three offices. There is ONE God with three titles, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. This mighty revelation is what the early church had, and it must be restored in this last day along with the correct formula of water baptism." [ [http://nt.scbbs.com/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=369822005&advquery=%22the%20Supreme%20Deity%20of%20Jesus%20Christ%22%20%22ONE%20God%22&infobase=message2006.nfo&record={18EF4}&softpage=Browse_Frame_Pg42 Branham, W. M., "An Exposition of the Seven Church Ages", Jeffersonville, Indiana: WBEA, 1965, p17] ]

As with most Pentecostal churches, Message Believers see the incarnation of God in man ("being filled with the Holy Spirit") as a necessary part of the process of redemption on the basis of John 3:3 "Except a man be born again, he cannot see (understand) the kingdom of God".

erpent's Seed Doctrine

The Message followers believe that the original sin resulted from Eve having sexual intercourse with an upright 'Serpent' which was not a snake but the human-like animal between apes and man. They believe the serpent's current form is a result of God's curse in Genesis 3:14). [ [http://www.nathan.co.za/message.asp?sermonum=1066 'Questions and Answers', 30 August 1964] ]

The Message followers believe that from this relationship Cain was conceived and born. While from a scientific perspective it is unusual to have interspecies hybrids that are fertile, it is not impossible as evidenced by animals such as the Beefalo/cattalo and the Wolphin. The result of these interspecies cross-breeds is that they produce an offspring that has to breed back into one of its parental lineages. With reference to Serpent's seed, this would mean that Cain's children would have come through Adam's daughters, and the evidence of any difference between Adam and Cain's lineages would have been diluted with each successive generation.

The Message followers do no accept any of the potential racist implications of the doctrine, and the racial tendencies of the world in general. They believe that all humankind is created equal and is equally able to become Christian. [ [http://www.nathan.co.za/message.asp?sermonum=951 'He Cares, Do You Care?', 21 July 1963] ]

The followers of The Message support the doctrine of the serpent seed with various Scriptures including: :" for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ. But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ."(1 Corinthians 11:2b,3)

:"Such [is] the way of an adulterous woman; she eateth, and wipeth her mouth, and saith, I have done no wickedness."(Proverbs 30:20)

:"she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they [were] naked;"(Genesis 3:6b,7a)

:"Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children;"(Genesis 3:16)

Branham identified the tree of knowledge of good and evil as being Satan, and the tree of life being God himself. Not all of his followers understand this in the same way, particularly the followers of Junior Jackson who believe the two trees were spiritual laws.

The Message followers believe that one basis for the assertion that Eve had sexual intercourse with the serpent was Eve’s claim that the serpent had ‘beguiled’ her (Genesis 3:13 in the King James Version). Branham taught that ‘beguiled’ actually meant sexually ‘seduced’ or ‘defiled’ rather than ‘deceived’ (which most contemporary translations give). The original Hebrew word is ‘nasha’ ("naw-shaw") which literally means to lead astray or to mentally delude, with a secondary meaning to morally deceive. Genesis 3:13 is the only place where it is translated ‘beguiled’. Elsewhere in the Old Testament the word is usually translated ‘deceive’.

William Branham also focused on Adam’s wilful decision to join Eve in her sin (e.g. Romans. 5:12-19, 1 Corinthians 15:21,22) as a type of Christ taking on our own sin for our redemption. ['Ephesian Church Age', William Branham] The Serpent seed may seem difficult to reconcile with the Biblical claim that God had decreed that man should "Be fruitful and increase in number" (Genesis 1:28). However, God's curse to Eve in Genesis 3:16 (which came after the first commandment) was that her sorrow and her conception would be multiplied (insinuating a conception had already taken place, and that while God's initial commandment to multiply had not changed, the method of fulfilling that commandment was now to occur in a different manner). Prior to the curse, Adam and Eve were both naked, and were not ashamed. The mainstream of The Message believes that God never intended for mankind to partake of sexual intercourse.

Further evidence claimed for the serpent’s seed doctrine was that Cain and his descendants showed the characteristics of evil, which were not shown by Abel, Seth and his descendants. To the Message followers, the source of inspiration for the evil acts of Cain and his descendants was revealed in 1 John 3:12, which states: "Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother." In contrast to Cain's descendants, Seth's descendants were righteous, particularly Enoch who "walked with God: and he was not; for God took him" (Genesis 5:24).

William Branham also noted that Cain was excluded from Adam's physical lineage in Jude 1:14 "And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam". Branham considered that Cain and Seth's lineages are spiritually present today. [ [http://www.nathan.co.za/message.asp?sermonum=445 'Questions and Answers Hebrews Part 3', 6 October 1957] ] [ [http://www.nathan.co.za/message.asp?sermonum=445 'Questions and Answers Hebrews Part 3', 6 October 1957] ]

Ultimately this leads to the understanding that the serpent seed doctrine was important because it revealed why Jesus had to be born of a virgin birth, and the reason why Jesus had to shed His blood. [ [http://www.nathan.co.za/message.asp?sermonum=239 'The Mark of Christ', 12 March 1955] ]

Predestination

The Message of the Hour includes a variation of the doctrine of predestination. Followers believe that God, being omnipresent in the past, present, and future, knows what choice a person will make before the person is presented the choices. They believe that in the beginning of time, God knew every event that would occur and the outcome of each event. That would include God knowing before people where born whether or not they would voluntarily serve God. This is taken to show that God has given man free-will but knows what the individual will choose. This doctrine is used to explain how in many different scenarios that people are in control of their own destiny, but God already knows what that destiny is before it occurs.

Doctrine of Presence

Some in The Message adhere to a doctrine teaching that The Message of the Hour was God was Declaring that God had had down in Spirit form before the physical second coming and that the literal presence of God was necessary to rapture the Christian church away from the earth before the tribulation. It is said that God had not been present this way for some time. [From William Branham's sermon [From That Time PP. 227] ]

This is applied with varying degree throughout the followers of The Message. The main stream takes this to indicate that God entered William Branham in the same way he entered Christ through the Holy Spirit. One fringe uses this same doctrine to arrive at the conclusion that Branham was equal to Christ, or an incarnation of God himself. While still others believe that Branham, while used mightily by God, was still given a lesser degree of the Holy Spirit than Christ and they believe that this is no different than how any other Christian is given the Holy Spirit but that Branham was just given a greater portion the most .

The Six Seals

The Message of the Hour includes a set of doctrines that encompass a unique interpretation of the seven seals in Revelation chapters 6 and 8. The mainstream of the followers believe that the meaning of the first six seals was revealed to Branham in 1963, but that the details of the seventh have not yet been revealed. The first four seals are concerning the four horses and it is taught each one represents the means by which Satan will try to delude or destroy the true Church. They are counteracted by the four beasts which represent the Spirit of God combatting the influence of these "horses". The other three seals have quite different meanings.

The First Seal: The doctrine teaches that the first seal concerning the white horse is referring to the spirit of antichrist that entered into the churches after the death of the original apostles. It is also taught that the means of counteracting this spirit is the Lion beast, representing the pure Word of God with which the elect would overcome.

The Second Seal: The doctrine teaches that the second seal concerning the red horse is referring to the spirit of persecution that affected the church during the second church age. The Calf Beast is the means of counteracting this horse. A calf, as the beast of burden and sacrifice, indicates that God's Spirit would give them strength to endure.

The Third Seal: The doctrine teaches that the third seal concerning the Black Horse is referring to the spirit of corruption in the organised church that permeated the "Dark Ages". The means for counteracting this spirit was the beast with the face of a man, indicating that through the ministry of anointed men, such as Martin Luther and John Wesley, God would guide the true Church out of darkness into the truth.

The Fourth Seal: The doctrine teaches that the Grey Horse is referring to the spirit of the red, black and white horses mixed together to present a deceiving mixture of truth and error. The means for counteracting this spirit is the Beast that is as a Flying Eagle, representing a return to the pure Word of God through the ministry of a prophet.

The Fifth Seal: The doctrine teaches that the fifth seal provides the means of salvation for Jews who did not accept Christ. By giving their lives in the persecutions against them and by living faithfully to the light they have received, they may still be saved.

The Sixth Seal: The doctrine teaches that the sixth seal is a description of the wrath of God which will occur during the last half of the 70th Week of Daniel, often referred to as the Great Tribulation.

The Seventh Seal: Most followers of The Message do not believe that the full understanding, or revelation, of the seventh seal has been given yet. It contains the details concerning the return of Jesus Christ for the Bride (the true Church) in the Rapture. Most also believe the seventh seal, chronologically, will occur before the sixth seal, but it is placed as the seventh because it was to be the last to be revealed.

The Seven Church Ages

The doctrine of the Seven Church Ages is a teaching that the seven messages to the seven churches in Asia stated in Revelation 2 & 3 are describing ages of time which the church will pass through and what would occur on those ages. These messages were intended to be used as a means to escape the troubles of the those times. This is closely linked to the first four seals in the doctrine of the six seals.

The basic flow is that in end of the first age Christians starting losing some of their zeal. In the second age their lack of zeal led to false doctrines being introduce and left unchecked. In the third age, when the church became recognized by the Roman Empire, they became slowly incorporated into the empire and the church began to be more interested in politics than the souls of men. Then in the fourth age complete apostasy slowly set in and much of the original revelations where lost and church became completely corrupt. Then in the fifth age the reformation began and some of the lost revelations where rediscovered. By the sixth age many true Christians had separated from the old church it an attempt to return to the original church values and doctrines. Finally, the seventh age which is present day, many of the separated churches are in some way to become apostate themselves and out of them will come the final church restored to it original doctrines and faith.

Church Order

Church order is not doctrine, but a method in which church services are conducted. It was originally developed by Branham to limit the use of the Gifts of the Spirit during a service and was then spread to many of the churches that became associated with him and his teachings. It is not followed strictly by all followers of The Message and completely ignored by others.

Church order primarily limited the use of the gift of tongues, interpretation, and prophecy. People who were inspired to, or wished to use those gifts had to go into a side room where the gift would be used and recorded. If it was deemed noteworthy it would then be given to the congregation as a whole. It also limited other expressions of the Holy Spirit, like those in Pentecostalism, in the open congregation.

In some groups Church Order is also used to prevent speaking in church, eating candy or chewing gum, using musical instruments, and in some cases even clapping. These things are not all followed in the main stream of the movement.

Water Baptism

Followers of The Message believe in water baptism according Acts 2:38. They fully submerge the individual in water and baptize in the name Jesus Christ. This is in contrast with other denomination who sprinkle water on the forehead or baptize in the Titles of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

The doctrine rejects baptizing in the titles of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost because Christ says to baptize in the NAME of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The doctrine says that the NAME is Jesus Christ and that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not names, but titles.

Anti-Denominationalism

One of the central themes of The Message is from Rev. 18 "... Come out of her my people that ye be not partakers of her sins". This is taken to mean to come out of the denominations before they are judged and punished by God. The "Great Whore" is interpreted to be the Modern Catholic Church and the "Harlot Daughters" are interpreted to be the various other "apostate" denominations. This belief is similar to that of the Churches of Christ, although derived from different sources.

This belief has prevented The Message from taking on a formal organization of its own lest the followers be judged by God. It is because of this lack of high level organization that lines between the different groups are not clear to observers from outside The Message. Churches are all operated individually being owned by either the congregation, the Pastor, or a board of trustees or deacons. Some of the different groups will have annual regional, national, and inter-national conventions where ministers and followers of the same or similar interpretation of The Message will gather for preaching and discussions. Other than this there is no over-arching governance of The Message as a whole.

ee also

* William M. Branham
* Branhamism
* Pearry Green
* Raymond M Jackson
* Serpent Seed

References

External links

* [http://www.believethesign.com William Marrion Branham: "Believe the Sign"] An introduction to the Ministry of William Branham
* http://www.messagedoctrine.net the teachings of William Branham with hyperlinks to the quotes so you can hear his own voice declare what he taught
* [http://branham.org Voice Of God Recordings]
* [http://youngfoundations.org Young Foundations]
* [http://www.thefreeword.com thefreeword.com :: William Branham Sermons] "Complete Library of the Sermons of William Marrion Branham in both audio and text format"
* [http://WMB1.com WMB1.com :: William Branham Legacy] "Complete Resource of Information covering 1909 to present day William Branham eLibrary"
* [http://www.SpokenWordChurch.com Spoken Word Church] "Spoken Word Church, Sermons & Videos of William Branham"


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