What is the Message of the Hour? What is Truth? What is the gospel? Ultimately we cannot rely on men to give the answer to such a question, but rather we have to let God answer the question. The Message of the Hour is the revelation of Jesus Christ in its fullness. It is to believe the bible is the ultimate authority on the truth, and the Christian Church we can see in the scriptures is the truest form of Christianity.
The Stream of the Gospel
Many denominations and church organizations adhere to things that have no basis in scripture whatsoever. Martin Luther discovered this in the 1500s, when he found that there was no scriptural basis for indulgences (paying money to the church in exchange for forgiveness of sins). This was the 95 thesis that began the Protestant Reformation. By the time Martin Luther went to his reward, he had gutted many key teachings of the Catholic church as having no scriptural basis whatsoever. In addition he rediscovered doctrines and practices which Catholicism had lost during the dark ages. From there the truths of the bible that were lost in ages past were rediscovered by a successive group of God-led men. The treasure hid in the field was recovered. The pearl of great price was repurchased. Little by little, the leaven of false teachings was removed from the lump. (Matthew 13) Men like Luther, John Knox, John Calvin, Jacob Arminius, John Welsey, George Whittfield, Charles Parham, Clearance Larkin, John Nelson Darby, and many others sought God diligently and through deep study of the scripture and the leadership of the Holy Spirit, a great many doctrines of truth were recovered. All of these men had a part to play in putting together this message of the hour. One discovered eternal security, another baptism by immersion. One rejected the leaven of the priesthood, another rejected the leaven of infant baptism.
The Birth of Modern Era
In 1906 revivals broke out that soon spread internationally. The events of Welsh Revival and the Azuza Street Revival broke out among Christians of the Wesleyan Arminian tradition. They held closely to the doctrine of Christian Perfection taught by John Wesley, and the Arminian view of predestination, among other things. From their ranks arose the new and distinct Pentecostal movement. As with most new branches of Christianity, they too began to find new doctrines that had been lost. Jesus name baptism and the manifestation of the gifts of the spirit were prominent, especially speaking in tongues and divine healing. As time progressed, soon new teachings further divided the movement regarding eternal hell, the Godhead formula, and other key doctrines. Meanwhile other men of both the Baptist and Wesleyan tradition had been deeply studying dispensationalism and the book of Revelation. A great wealth of scriptural doctrines had been recovered, but it was fragmented across many different denominations and streams of Christianity.
William Branham and Christian Restorationism
Into this setting a minister stepped onto the world stage in 1946, William Branham. A baptist who fellow shipped with the Pentecostals, he launched to national fame following reports of miracles and healing in his ministry. According to Malachi 4:5-6, God will send the spirit of Elijah again before his second coming. According to that passage of scripture, the purpose of his ministry is to turn the hearts of the children back to the fathers.
Bro. Branham brought a message urging Christianity to return to its roots. To forsake the creeds and ideologies of men, and instead hold to the bible as the ultimate source of truth. He encouraged Christians to put serving Christ ahead of denominational ties, to embrace the gifts of the spirit, and to have a personal relationships with Jesus Christ. He taught this message around the world, and reached millions. Because of his status as the leader of the healing revival and the most prominent of the mid-century Pentecostal evangelists, his teachings had a great impact on the Pentecostal world and beyond.
Bro. Branham has a unique place in the history of Christianity. While he himself is not so widely known anymore, the impact of his ministry is found throughout the fastest growing stream of Christianity: the Charismatic movement. His fellow evangelists in the healing revival, like Oral Roberts, adopted his teachings on Christian Restorationism and spread them further and carried them into the Charismatic Movement that began to develop as the healing revival years came to a close.
Christian writer Michael Moriarty describes Bro. Branham’s teachings on the subject as “extremely significant” because they have “impacted every major restoration movement since”.1 As a result, Moriarty concluded Branham has “profoundly influenced” the modern Charismatic movement. Paul Cain, Bill Hamon, Kenneth Hagin, and other restoration prophets cite Branham as a major influence on their ministries; they too played a critical role in introducing Branham’s restoration views to the Apostolic-Prophetic Movement, the Association of Vineyard Churches, and other large Charismatic organizations. The Toronto Blessing, the Brownsville Revival, and other nationwide revivals of the late 20th century have their roots in Branham’s restorationist teachings.2
What is the Message of William Branham?
Bro. Branham’s teachings can be looked at in two parts.
The first part is defining what the message is. Millions of Christians believe he was the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6, and he was turning the heart of the children to the fathers. In other terms, he was encouraging modern Christianity to return to its roots, to the form of Christianity practiced by the apostolic fathers as seen in the bible. In this respect, this was Bro. Branham’s message and purpose. Millions more Christians have never heard of him, yet are deeply affected by what he taught on this subject, as he is directly in the line of influence of the Charismatic movement. As defined by the scripture, this was the message. The message has had wide ranging impact among the 500+ million Christians who make up the Charismatic movement.
The second part of Bro. Branham’s teachings are beliefs he developed because of his message. He did not teach on these subjects widely or during the healing revival years, but primarily did so at his own church, the Branham Tabernacle, during the later years of his life. He believed that the church must return to its roots, ensure it was following the true doctrines of the early church, and purge out the leaven of false doctrines, creeds, and liturgy. As a result, being led of God, he began to examine the teachings of the broader church world to help those in his own church discern between the true and false doctrines of the church world, and in so doing he developed a unique combinations of doctrines. Almost all of his teachings have precedent within the various streams of Christianity, but no other stream has a combination of doctrines like his own. In addition to the majority of his teachings for discerning the true doctrines of the church, he also had a series of angelic visitations which provided to him a new and unique understanding of Revelation chapter 6. These teachings, which Bro. Branham believed were result of his message, have been accepted in varying degrees by over 3 million of Christians.
Did the message end with Bro. Branham?
Some followers of Bro. Branham believe that his ministry and message was completion of the truth, and that no new understanding, revelation, or furtherance of the gospel needed to occur following the death of Bro. Branham. This is very wrong. In fact, he was just a beginning. The doctrines and truths he restored to the church and the demonstrations of the miraculous powers of God lit a fire that is still burning. While some people walled themselves off and closed their minds to further understanding of the gospel or the need to evangelize or do mission work, others have carried forward the work of gospel of Christ. Do not get stuck in the past! The gospel of Christ is still alive today! Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, today and forever.