Anyone claiming to be a prophet, who cannot accurately predict the future, has a toothless ministry which indicates that he is an uninspired person trying to impress or intimidate others.
To be useful to us, a prophet must be able to see the future in advance. He must see visions that come to pass.
TB Joshua in Nigeria, claimed by many to be a prophet, saw a vision of Hillary Clinton winning the 2016 American presidential election. She did win the popular vote, but did not become president, and thus lost the presidential race. So that prophecy was a time-wasting, pointless exercise as Trump won the actual political power. Hillary is now just a relic of the past. Her sad face after the election revealed that she had actually won nothing of value, but lost heavily.
So T B Joshua’s prophecy was not necessarily false but it was useless.
Denominational leaders and Message pastors also predicted that Hillary would win. All they proved was that they are out of tune with God’s thinking.
But we need useful prophecies.
60-0417M GO TELL
There never was nobody on earth, no prophet, no great man, no sainted person could ever conquer [death]. They could conquer sickness by the Spirit of God. They could conquer the time by the Spirit of God, and foresee things that was coming.
Time is a great enemy as we cannot see the future. Time also puts limits to our stay on planet Earth.
The real evidence of God’s power over our enemy called ‘time’ is His ability to foretell future events. Then we can prepare.
62-0607 PUTTING ON THE WHOLE ARMOR OF GOD
… an apostle, a prophet, a seer. Foresee, before Satan ever gets to it, done told it. What is it? God dressed up in His church. These offices is God’s dress-wear. When you see those offices, pastors, teachers, evangelists, what is that? That’s God’s dress-wear, God’s Presence, God’s Spirit …working through man.
And if that office denies any of this Word, then it’s not God-dressing…?… No, not that. That’s that wolf in sheep’s clothing. Watch that fellow. Beware of him.
But when he just takes what the Word says, remember, that’s God, ’cause He’s speaking His Word.
A prophet must tell us in advance what will happen. Every office or ministry of God must stay with the full Word, the whole Bible.
Jacob begot Joseph; we know, the perfect type of Christ. Well, when Joseph was dying, he said, “Don’t bury my bones down here.” Why? He was a prophet. He foresaw things that the rest of them didn’t see.
This Joseph spoken of in the Bible was a genuine prophet. Why? He could accurately forsee things that would happen.
56-1001 THE MINISTRY EXPLAINED
… or Nathan being a real prophet of God… But you know, prophets are just men that’s anointed time after time by the Spirit. They’re eagles who go up and foresee things. They can’t go up on their own power.
A eagle can’t go up on his own power; the wind has to pick him up. And it takes the Holy Spirit wind to pick the prophet up. It take him away in yonder to see things, see things back this a way, or things back that way.
A prophet gets caught up by the Holy Spirit into a higher spiritual dimension of dreams and visions. Then he can see beyond the curtain of time, and come back to tell us about those future events.
There are four categories of prophets.
First, a Word prophet who actually wrote Scripture, from Moses in Genesis to John the revelator in the Book of Revelation. The Bible was then complete, with nothing more to be added. Thus there are no more Word prophets.
Secondly, a New Testament prophet who is part of the five fold ministry.
53-0609A DEMONOLOGY RELIGIOUS REALM
Now, you said, “Well, the prophets are the Old Testament.” Oh, no. The New Testament had prophets.
Agabus was a New Testament prophet. Look at the Spirit of prophecy falling down there and telling Paul about… Then here come Agabus down from Jerusalem, and found Paul, and tied his girdle around him, and turned over, and said, “THUS SAITH THE LORD, the man that wore this will be bound in chains when he gets to Jerusalem.” Agabus, who stood up and told, foretold what would take place, he was a prophet, not a man with the gift of prophecy.
ACTS 11:28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.
Agabus made a prophecy and it came to pass. There was no fooling around here.
He was not trying to impress, or usurp a leadership role.
He simply predicted the future, and the disciples were able to prepare for the famine. This indicates the vitally important and useful aspect of prophecy.
Prophecy was there to help the church, not to elevate the man.
Thirdly, a gift of prophecy which is part of the local church.
This is one of the gifts of the Spirit whereby God can anoint any individual.
I CORINTHIANS 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy;
God may use a person often or seldom in this ministry.
Fourthly, there is a special prophetic ministry which is very difficult to define.
Why? Because this ministry only applies to three men. Two of whom are the future prophets to Israel during the Tribulation — Moses and Elijah.
The Bible predicted that these three would rise on the scene, but they cannot add anything to the Bible.
So what is the purpose of their ministry?
The Gentile Elijah must turn Christians back to the Word of God, which is Jesus Christ in Word form, as he clears up the mysteries in Scripture applicable for the Bride of Jesus Christ, and shows us Jesus walking through the pages of the Bible. The Bride who are restored to being Scriptural will then be caught up to meet the Lord in the flesh as a Person.
Then the two Jewish prophets must turn the 144 000 Jews back to this same Word, and then introduce them to Jesus Christ in the flesh as a Person while they are still on earth.
MATTHEW 17:11 And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
II THESSALONIANS 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
So, during the church ages the truth got lost in the Dark Ages. Then an Elijah (Elijah is the Hebrew name, Elias is the Greek name) must come along to restore the church back to the original New Testament church doctrines as laid down by the apostles.
A mealie or corn seed cannot be harvested unless it looks identical to the seed that was planted. The Church now cannot go to be with God until she believes the same as what the apostles believed in the book of Acts and the New Testament.
60-1211E THE LAODICEAN CHURCH AGE
Now, watch! What kind of a nature will Elijah have? First, he’ll be a mighty prophet true to the Word of God, for Elijah was true, and John was true. That’s right. Doing signs and wonders, will turn the hearts of the children back to the faith of the Pentecostal fathers.
William Branham, as Elijah, had a fabulously powerful ministry of signs and wonders. But this was not his main ministry.
Revealing the mysteries of the Bible, to turn us back to the New Testament church, was the real purpose of his ministry. Because William Branham revealed those Bible mysteries to restore the Church in this age, there is absolutely no need nor purpose for a successor, as there is nothing for such a “successor” to do.
If a “successor”, as Elisha, revealed some new mysteries, it would simply mean that brother Branham did NOT restore all things, and then he would not be the promised Elijah.
There are three options for someone claiming to be, or promoted by others as, a successor:
Any person that claims or is nominated as a “successor” to William Branham falls into one of these three categories. From the Biblical descriptions of his ministry, it is clear where we should place any candidates.
65-0221M MARRIAGE AND DIVORCE
People has called me a prophet. I don’t call myself no prophet, because I would be daresn’t to say that, but I can say this, that the Lord has let me foresee things, tell things that has happened, will happen, is happening, and not one time has it ever failed, in the tens of thousands of times.
Brother Branham, in the last year of his life, would not dare to call himself a prophet despite often foreseeing the future and producing great signs and wonders.
So he had a different ministry. His ability to predict the future qualified him as a great prophet, yet he did not accept this honour. Why not?
He knew what the Scripture prophesied of him. He knew what the main thrust of his ministry was.
William Branham was not sent to impress us with his prophecies (which were most impressive) and the signs and wonders in his ministry. He was sent to undo errors, and reveal the mysteries of the seven Seals that would unlock the mysteries in the Bible that had been lost during the church ages. Only then could the church return to the original Bible teachings of the New Testament.
63-0318 THE FIRST SEAL
Takes the Book and… of Seals and breaks them and shows the seventh angel, for this alone, the mysteries of God, is the ministry of the seventh angel. Now, we just come through the church ages with even history and prove that. See? It is the angel’s message of the seventh church.
All right, reveals all the mysteries that’s been in the past, all the things in the past: Revelations 10:1-7. That’s to be.
William Branham had a unique ministry which was to clear up the muddled denominational thinking and restore us back to the teachings of the first church age.
For “this alone”, the revealing of the mysteries was his Scriptural ministry.
Everything else in his ministry played a supporting role to vindicate him and attract attention to him, so that people would listen when he revealed the mysteries of the Bible.
To say that there is someone to follow him as a Gentile prophet is totally unScriptural.
This claim would simply be someone seeking his own preeminence.
The apostle John warns us against men who loved pre-eminence in the church.
III JOHN 1:9 I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.
:10 Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
Some things do not change. This is typical “pastor behaviour”. Throwing out those who wanted to stay with the Bible that the apostle John helped to write.
Nicolaitanism is elevating a holy man to a position of pre-eminence above the people of the church. God hates this.
Brother Branham never claimed that his ministry made him important or that he was the leader of the church.
May you always bear that in mind: to be a gem in the crown of Jesus Christ. Paul said to the church, “You are–you’re the jewels, gems of His crown.” We want to be the gems of the crown of Jesus Christ.
We don’t want never put a man in it.
You forget anything about me. I am your brother, a sinner saved by grace, not fit to live; that’s exactly the truth; and I ain’t saying that to be humble; that’s facts. There’s nothing in me, not one sound thing at all. But the grace of God has let my poor dimming eyes look beyond the curtain of time and see those things yonder, and I come back…
“We don’t want never put a man in it”.
This means we must stop looking for a human leader. If the Holy Spirit cannot guide you then you have missed the whole point of the Gospel.
A prophet gets lifted up by the Holy Spirit to see future events. Then he describes those events in the vision as they happen. We then have a revelation of what is to happen. But the actual happening will only take place in the future.
Do not be fooled by the difference between the present tense revelation of the vision and the future reality of events that it describes. A prophet foresees. He tells us now what is going to happen in the future.
Jesus prophesied of Elijah coming at a later date, but He never mentioned Elisha.
There is no need for an Elisha, because brother Branham, as Elijah, has already revealed the mysteries. So there is nothing left for Elisha to reveal.
William Branham’s only real ministry was to reveal the seven Seals which unfolded all the mysteries needed by the Bride to be ready for the second Coming of the Lord.
63-0318 THE FIRST SEAL
Now, remember, in the days of the seventh angel, his sounding forth, blasting forth the Gospel Trumpet, he is to finish all the mysteries of God.
Also remember that Elisha had a double portion of Elijah’s ministry.
So who can stand in the shoes of William Branham and do twice what he achieved? No Gentile of today.
Many Gentiles have claimed to be the Elisha who followed Elijah, but compared to the phenomenal supernatural power evident in brother Branham’s ministry, they are a very poor reflection. But Elisha is supposed to be twice as powerful.
However, there is a future Jewish prophet to Israel during the Tribulation, who will speak a world-wide drought into existence for three and a half years and also use all manner of plagues and disasters to hold back the Beast and his armies from defeating Israel. Now that will be real supernatural power on a grand scale.
All the unScriptural, self-promoted Gentiles who claim to be Elisha will end up in the Tribulation because they hold an unScriptural modern day ministry. In the Tribulation they will be able to see for themselves what real supernatural power is like. Their feeble follies will then be made manifest.
Note that of the true successors, Elisha was not from Elijah’s family, and Joshua was also not of Moses’ family.
At the start of his ministry, Elisha’s first opposition were the sons of the prophets who did not fully believe the fact that Elijah was taken up into heaven (“raptured”) by God. (Read this in 2 Kings 2). We also read how that the “wild” doctrines of these ministers put “death in the pot” to all who partook of their pottage. The solution was to put meal, as symbol of Scripture, back into the pot. We always have to some back to and stay with the Word of God. The only way to be sure that you will not have “death in the pot” is to stay with Scripture. Even if a son of a prophet says anything “wild” that contradicts the Scriptures, you have to stay with the Scriptures.
2 Kings 4:38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.
39 And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not.
40 So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof.
41 But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot.
God told Elijah to anoint Elisha as a prophet so that Elisha could start his ministry immediately after Elijah left, not many years later. There was no gap of 16 to 50 years.
If Elijah represented the catching away of the church up into Heaven, then Elisha would reflect the Tribulation events.
Salt prevents decay. So salt speaks of Christ who is the antidote to sin and corruption.
The Gospel of Christ returns to the Jews in the Tribulation. The 144 000 will receive eternal life. This will remove all the error and unbelief that the Jews had accumulated in their Old Testament faith.
II KINGS 2:21
And he went forth unto the spring of the waters, and cast the salt in there, and said, Thus saith the LORD, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.
:22 So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake.
:23 And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head.
:24 And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them.
50-0821 THE ANGEL AND THE COMMISSION
You remember Elisha? Young fellow went baldheaded, was young, when he was young man. Some little children begin to holler, said, “Old bald-head, old bald-head, why didn’t you go up with Elijah?” Remember that?
That angered prophet now, turned around angry, and cursed those children in the Name of the Lord, and two she bears run out of the woods and killed forty-two little innocent children. Is that right? That’s not the nature of the Holy Spirit. You know that. But that prophet was angry. See? You have to be careful what you do.
The number of children is forty two. This is a clue that links this event to the forty two months of the Great Tribulation.
REVELATION 11:2 But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months.
This final Elijah-ministry to Israel will clear up the waters of doctrine for the Jews during the Tribulation by turning them to Christ. But there is no Holy Spirit for the Gentiles in the Tribulation. This is a time of God’s wrath and anger towards the sleeping virgin. The little children represent the saved end-time Christians of this age who should have been turned back to the first church age fathers – the apostles. But they rejected the revealed Bible truths of the Gentile Elijah who is the seventh angel or messenger. During the Great Tribulation they will be aware that they have missed the catching up of the church, which is why they raise the issue. The human conscience dwells on the point that troubles it. They will know that they are in the wrong because they have been left behind, to die.
Russia has a bear for its national symbol. The Medes and Persians whose empire stretched from Turkey to Afghanistan (today we call them Muslims) were also symbolized by a bear in Daniel’s prophecy.
Two she bears. A woman symbolizes a church or religious group. The Orthodox Russians and Muslims are very religious, but have some wrong beliefs. Muslims are devoted to their hatred of Israel and America. We serve God in love, not by hate.
The children in the Great Tribulation represent saved denominational Christians who reject the revealed truths of the Bible and the saved Message believers who splice quotes together from various messages, instead of taking the quotes back to Scripture. Thus the Message believers end up believing things that the first church age Christians never believed. (“Denomination” and “Message believer” are both unScriptural terms which will save no-one. The early church were called Christians. We must follow their example.) Because today’s church groups had a chance to learn truth, but rejected the idea of proving the truth from Scripture, they will be torn to pieces in the Tribulation by the very religious Russian and Muslim people who suddenly wake up to the fact that they have been fooled by their religious leaders and thus they are lost. They will be furious towards those sleeping virgins who had a chance to learn and teach the truth, but threw their chance away. The Russians and Muslims are so wrapped up in their enforced beliefs that they have very little chance of finding truth today.
Brother Branham was a prophet. He was not interested in making a profit.
Solomon was the son of David and David’s successor. But money helped to ruin his reputation.
He was a very clever man, but all the money he earned was tainted by its association with the number or mark of the beast, 666. The first mention of 666 in the Bible is associated with the money that the son and successor of David got in from people, each year.
This was the first clue that something was going wrong and that he would eventually forsake the ways of God.
I KINGS 10:14 Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was six hundred threescore and six talents of gold,
A score is twenty. Three score is 3 x 20 = 60. So the total income per year was 666.
Earning big money is not the secret to success.
LUKE 6:24 But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
MATTHEW 19:24 And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.
Some claim that Peter was the leader of the apostles. This is not actually true, but look what he said.
ACTS 3:6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
Peter was a true prophet, unconcerned with making a profit out of religion.
Peter was focused on supernatural power, not money. William Branham shared that attitude.
49-0718 I WAS NOT DISOBEDIENT TO THE HEAVENLY VISION
When I was a minister, a Baptist preacher in my church for twelve years, I never even received one red penny of salary…
Not long ago in California, some of the Armenian people, who had all sold out of their winery and things, sent me a check that amounted to more than a million dollars. And I wouldn’t even put my hands upon it. I sent them back. I’d rather be poor and live in a shack and have favor with God, and the feeling that I had the satisfaction I love Him, than all the wealth the world owns.
50-0820A MY LIFE STORY
… and try to live just as cheap as I can. When I go to the cities, I don’t look for big hotels. The cheapest one I can find, that’s what I want. See? I want to be just as poor as everyone that comes to me to be prayed for. That’s right. If I’d accepted the money that’s offered me, I’d be a multimillionaire.
… and sent me a check, bank draft for a million, five hundred thousand dollars. And I refused to put my hands on it and look at it. The Baxters had brought it to me. I said, “No, sir, I don’t want to see it.”
Said, “Well, Reverend Branham, it was sent to you.”
I said, “I do not want to see it. I don’t want nothing to do with money.” When a man gets his mind on money, he loses God. That’s right.
51-0729E THE SECOND MIRACLE
In Texas and Dallas there, a rich oil man flew his mother in there; she was in a wheelchair. She’d been there two or three days now, I was preaching. I said, “I see an elderly woman coming in a wheelchair, gray headed, shaky.” I said, “I see her rise up and go.” I said, “Where is she?” Here she set out there; I said, “Woman, Jesus Christ has healed you, come to your feet.”
And away she went running down through the building….
He said, “Here’s a check, a little check I want to give you.”
I looked on there, twenty-eight thousand dollars; I said, “Oh, no, no.”
He said, “Here,” said, “not for saying the prayer for my mother; that isn’t it,” said, ” I’m worth it.”
Took that check and tore it up, I said, “No, sir, brother, no, sir. God never sent me to take money; He sent me to preach the Gospel.”
52-0715 FAITH IN THE SON OF GOD
Brother, sister, I had a million five hundred thousand dollars give to me at one time, and refused to put my name on it, and told them to take it back. That’s right. I had twenty-five thousand dollars give to me in one check at the platform in Texas, where a man from the Texas oil owner there that come said, his mother was healed out of wheelchair. They just flew in there. I said, “Sir,” and I tore the check up before him. That’s right. I’m a poor man.
Then Solomon, who lacked something that his father David had, allowed foreign women to lead him astray.
I KINGS 11:6 And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father.
So Solomon, the son of David, took over his father’s eminent and respected position but because he did not seek God with the dedication that his father did, this succession ended up as a disaster.
The son of the famous father did not have his father’s spiritual strength and talent.
Thus the son could accumulate money on an impressive scale, but what he ended up achieving was spiritually evil.
This succession from father to son did not work well.
Many men today claim to be the leader of the church. Humans love power and importance. But modern leaders also love money and a luxury life-style, and they accumulate as much as they can.
When God needed the successor of Moses to be effective, He did not choose a son of Moses, nor any relative of Moses.
Moses and Joshua had a special role to play as they had to symbolize a deep truth.
Moses symbolized the Law that leads us to the promised land. Joshua symbolized the Holy Spirit that takes us over Jordan (dying to ourselves) into the promised land.
60-0713 BLIND BARTIMAEUS
See, Moses didn’t bring the children into the promised land. He was the law-giver, but he didn’t bring the children into the promised land. Joshua took them over. See? And the Holy Spirit’s the One that’s taking them over now. Christ made the way and the plans, and was the giver of the law and so forth. But the Holy Spirit takes the Church to the promised land, the rapture, taking it up, the Holy Spirit in the rapture.
Joshua, as the successor of the powerful Moses, also had to demonstrate great power.
He dried up the river Jordan when it was in flood. This was an incredible act. He brought the huge walls of Jericho tumbling down, except for the precise section of the wall where Rahab dwelt. Such was the enormous supernatural power of this man who was the successor of a great prophet.
Even as a young man, Joshua was always dedicated to the service of God.
Joshua never lost a single battle. (The lost battle of Ai was when they sent a small group to conquer that city, but there was sin in the camp.) Joshua never backslid, even when he was young.
Human leadership of the church is not God’s plan.
The Roman Catholic church claims that Peter was the first leader of the apostles. The Bible does not state that. Peter had an important role to play. He was a fisherman, and God used him to pull in the Jews on the day of Pentecost. Then he pulled in the Gentiles at the house of Cornelius. After that he became an apostle to the Jews, especially those in Babylon.
There was no appointed leader of the apostles.
When there was a dispute the apostles met with the elders for discussion.
Acts 15: 2 When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question.
ACTS 15:6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter.
: 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe.
ACTS 15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.
: 13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me:
: 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God:
Peter, Barnabus and Paul all wanted to turn to the Gentiles. Then James did the final summing up but never claimed to be the leader. They all spoke as equals.
When Paul was starting out, he describes James, Peter and John as pillars. He does not describe Peter as the leader!
GALATIANS 2:9 And when James, Cephas [ Simon Peter ], and John, who seemed to be pillars,
GALATIANS 2:6 But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me:
Some seemed more important than others but this supposed importance did not impress Paul because God regards no person as being important.
GALATIANS 2:7 But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter;
: 8 (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles:)
Paul dealt in basics. God was obviously using Peter to save Jews, and Paul to save Gentiles. So they all simply recognized who God was using and they did not get in each other’s way. There was no attempt by anyone to be classified as leader or head-apostle.
II CORINTHIANS 11:5 For I suppose I was not a whit behind the very chiefest apostles.
Note that the term “chiefest apostles” is plural!
Some had more influence than others but no-one tried to be the chief apostle. And Paul, coming in from the outside, was just as good as any other apostle.
But Paul, being a tent maker, used to his 14 letters or epistles to sew together the Old Testament law with the New Testament grace. His explanations were so deep and so far-reaching as far as spiritual things are concerned, that Paul ended up having the most influence amongst the early church.
His widespread travels amongst the Gentiles also spread the influence of his teachings far and wide.
He never claimed to be the chief apostle, but he was the most effective and most influential apostle amongst the early church.
Nicolaitanism, which is the elevation of a holy man above the people, would only start after the death of the apostles.
The rank that would be used was that of “bishop”.
The Christian church downfall started when they agreed that one man would be elected as the (single) bishop of a city.
PHILIPPIANS 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:
There were many bishops in Philippi.
So there was not one man who dominated the city.
The word “pastor” is only mentioned once in the New Testament and condemned six times in the Old Testament.
So there never was a pastor in charge of a New Testament church.
A priest or pastor being the head of a church was a tradition that crept in later.
But pagans always had a priest who was in charge of their congregations.
No certain man, in the Bible, was ordained to carry on as a successor to Peter or Paul.
Both Paul and Peter handed over the authority of guiding the church to the local elders of each area. Never did they ordain one man to succeed them.
Paul established the Ephesian church this way.
ACTS 20:17 And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders of the church.
:20 And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shewed you, and have taught you publickly, and from house to house,
The early church had meetings in houses. They did not have to put up a building and get a large congregation that could be dominated by one man. All the Christians in the city did not have to meet at the same venue.
ACTS 20:27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.
:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
The full counsel of God involved the local elders overseeing the local assembly. This was not a “one-man leadership”.
On e-man human leadership would sneak in during the second church age of Smyrna. The name Smyrna means bitterness and death.
Elevated human leadership then dominated the cities as each city appointed a bishop to be in charge.
God then sent endless persecutions to scatter them so that Christians could stay alive in small groups that did not have a human leader.
Peter said the same thing towards the end of the New Testament. He refers to himself as an elder, and thus makes himself equal to the other elders, rather than calling himself an apostle which would elevate him above them.
I PETER 5:2 The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
:2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
:3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
No-one should regard themselves as being above the people.
53-0614A EARNESTLY CONTENDING FOR THE FAITH THAT WAS. ONCE DELIVERED TO THE SAINTS
But let me tell you, the Church of God is led by the Spirit of God. They move as the Spirit moves them. God didn’t promise just to move with bishops. Elders is what’s the head of the church, every church.
57-0126B INDIA TRIP REPORT
… Now, remember the reason that I just kind of stuck with the Baptist church was the sovereignty of the local church what I think is apostolic….
According to the Bible, the highest office in the local church is the elder.
57-0908M HEBREWS CHAPTER FIVE AND SIX 1
But I believe in the supreme authority of the local assembly. Yes. Let each church be its own, choose its pastors, its deacons, its, whatever it is. And then, that way, the man in there has no bishop over him. The Holy Spirit wants to speak something to that church, they don’t have to ask anybody about whether they could do this or do that. It’s the individual in contact with the Holy Spirit. Show me by the Bible what’s greater, in the Bible, than a local elder to a local church? That’s right, yes, sir, the sovereignty of the local church, each church in itself. Now, brotherhood, that’s wonderful. All churches ought to be in a brotherhood like that, together. But the sovereignty of local church!
CHURCH AGES BOOK CHAPTER 5 – DOCTRINE OF NICOLAITANES
But no, the bishops did not stick to the epistles of Paul, but rather they went to Paul’s account of the time he called the elders from Ephesus to Miletus in Acts 20. In verse 17 the record states, “elders” were called and then in verse 28 they are called overseers (bishops). And these bishops, (no doubt political minded and anxious for power) insisted that Paul had given the meaning that ‘overseers’ were more than the local elder with official capacity only in his own church. To them a bishop was now one with extended authority over many local leaders. Such a concept was neither Scriptural nor historical, yet even a man of the stature of Polycarp leaned toward such organization.
After the apostle John died about 100 AD, a move started to make one man, a bishop, the leader of the Christians in a city.
The first to introduce this idea was Ignatius, who died around 110 AD, in the Colosseum.
He wrote “Take care to do all things in harmony with God, with the bishop presiding in the place of God”.
Irenaeus (130 – 202) was a great man but he believed that “Peter and Paul were preaching at Rome, and laying the foundations of the Church”. He claimed that “the apostles instituted bishops in the Churches”. There is no record of this in the Bible.
He wrote five books against heresies. This is an extract from his third book.
“the very great, the very ancient, and universally known Church founded and organized at Rome by the two most glorious apostles, Peter and Paul; as also [by pointing out] the faith preached to men, which comes down to our time by means of the successions of the bishops. For it is a matter of necessity that every Church should agree with this Church, on account of its pre- eminent authority”.
Irenaeus was a great man, but here he made one fatal mistake. Peter never was in Rome. The Roman church was not too far wrong in his day, but just over a hundred years later they would impose the Nicene council and its Trinity doctrine on everyone. Trying to set up a human system of control, instead of just staying with scriptural elders, Irenaeus pointed the people to Rome and its succession of bishops who would later, around 400 AD, be called Popes.
Making up man-made rules to control the church by means of human leadership was the first big step along the downward path into the apostacy of the Dark Ages.
Irenaeus lists 12 bishops in succession, as they followed each other in Rome. The apostle John was alive during the reign of the first four bishops of Rome. So if these Roman bishops had authority over all Christianity, then even the apostle John was supposed to be subject to them. That of course is utter nonsense. But it just indicates how far wrong Irenaeus was going with his personal opinion of a “perpetual succession of bishops”.
So the desire to prove a “succession theory” opened the door to the errors of Rome, which was the great enemy of truth.
Irenaeus said “Polycarp (who died 156) also was not only instructed by apostles, and conversed with many who had seen Christ, but was also, by apostles in Asia, appointed bishop of the Church in Smyrna, whom I also saw in my early youth”.
But the apostles never appointed anyone as the bishop of a city.
Irenaeus only saw and heard Polycarp preach when he was in his early youth.
There is no historical record that Polycarp appointed the very young Irenaeus as his “successor”.
60-1206 THE SMYRNAEAN CHURCH AGE
But there’s where the Roman Catholic Church was formed, out of a group of people that were converts of Saint Paul, and Irenaeus, and Saint Martin, and on down. They were converted from paganism over to Christianity, but wanted to pull the church back into an Old Testament form of ministry, like having high priests, and apostolic successions, like one pope to another pope, another pope. If we could go on down through this Bible, you’d find out that that’s just exactly the truth and how God condemned the thing from the very beginning; and last night’s church age, said, “I hate it!” and so did the Church.
60-1206 THE SMYRNAEAN CHURCH AGE
God never intended the Church to be run by men.
Many think that “being in the Branham tabernacle will make us safe”. But that is not true.
59-0628M A DECEIVED CHURCH BY THE WORLD
Stay true to God.
“Samson, the Philistines is on thee.” Branham Tabernacle, worldlyism is creeping in among you. What about it? Have you exposed your secret? Have you exposed that secret that God give you when you were wallowing there in the sawdust a few years ago? Have you let it creep out by social, formal worship? What’s happened to you? God can come down and perform a miracle, and go right down through the audience, and tell people the secrets of their hearts, and everything, and heal the sick and afflicted, and do signs and wonders, and preach His Word as hard as they can by the Holy Ghost, and people say, “Well, I guess that’s all right. We enjoy listening to it once in a while, if we’re not too tired.” That’s Branham Tabernacle. The Philistines is on thee.
When, used to be when the preaching of the Word, and the old saints with the tears in their eyes, would rise to their feet and walk, sobbing, maybe not saying a word, just walking around, two or three times, and set down, so filled with the Holy Ghost… The Word fed them. “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Philistines is on thee, Branham Tabernacle. Philistines is on you, Pentecostal.
Philistines, the ancient enemy of Israel, are a symbol of demonology.
Worldliness creeps over the people. Every year the dresses get shorter and the heels get higher. If the dresses are long they lose their sleeves, and more gets cut away from the tops of the dresses.
Anybody’s that’s borned again knows that’s wrong. Why, it’s only the devil that makes you strip your clothes. There never was nobody in the Bible, but just demon powers that does those things. And the world’s just full of it. And it’s even religious to do so. Why, certainly that’s the devil.
Demon power also makes us get away from Scripture.
61-1119 PERFECT STRENGTH BY PERFECT WEAKNESS
Oh, my, talk about the lid off of the kettle: demons going around, powers of the devil under the name of Christianity, teaching for doctrine the commandments of men, theological seminary doctrines, leaving the Bible alone. Hallelujah. Who’s able to… Who’s strong enough, who’s wise enough? Who’s powerful enough to tame this legion stripping the clothes off of our women in the name of preachers, Methodist, Baptist, and even Pentecostal? Painting their faces like Jezebel, and bobbing their hair, and wearing pants just like men, our preachers, not enough get up about them to tell them about it: devil-possessed... It was the legion that tore his clothes off of him. Who is this roaring devil?
Finally, let’s look at claims that some make, saying that brother Branham, at the dedication service of his baby son, claimed that God said that Joseph Branham would be a prophet (and by implication his “successor”).
NOTE: The topic under discussion here is whether Joseph Branham could be the “successor” to William Branham as some claim. It is not looking at whether Joseph Branham has a ministry or not.
This is what was actually said at the dedication service for Joseph Branham in 1955. There were a group of babies and brother Branham wanted prophets (plural) and teachers to be raised from them. This was simply a prayer request . Parents always want the best for their children.
55-0724 ENTICING SPIRITS
God, we pray that You’ll raise preachers and prophets and teachers out of this group of babies that’s around the altar this morning. And when we’re old and can go no farther, someone has to take us from place to place, may we be able to stand and hear the Gospel preached by these that’s here today….
In a little closet, way yonder in the north lands You promised this child to me. Father, may Your blessings rest upon him. Joseph, my boy, I give you to God, and may your life be a blessing. May you be a prophet, Joseph; may God’s grace rest on you. May the God of your father, the Lord Jesus Christ ever bless you and make your life a blessing to others. In Jesus Christ’s Name I bless this child. Amen.
Brother Branham prayed that prophets (plural) would raise up from this group of babies, not just Joseph.
He then prayed that Joseph may be a prophet. He did not say that Joseph was a prophet.
But in later years, when he referred to this dedication service, he changed the wording of this prayer.
57-0728 THIRSTING FOR LIFE
Somehow, when I was in our church. Many of you sprinkle them in baptism, infant baptism; that’s all right. We try to follow the Bible. Jesus picked up little children and blessed them. We dedicate them. And in dedication of the little boy at the altar, somehow, I was inspired to say, “Joseph, thou art God’s prophet.” And maybe when I leave, I pray that a double portion of the Spirit will come upon Joseph for the age to come, if there is one.
But in 1955 at the dedication of Joseph, brother Branham said “May you be a prophet Joseph”, he did not say “You are God’s prophet”.
Joseph Branham has never demonstrated a supernatural ministry at the level of William Branham, and has never demonstrated a double portion, twice as much as his father.
Brother Branham, as any father would, desired to have his son in an important role.
59-1129 LET US SEE GOD
When I dedicated him to the Lord the morning, there was many little babies standing up, and had mothers with them along the altar. When I picked up Joseph in my arms, not thinking of what I was saying, I said, “Joseph, my son, thou art a prophet.” That’s my prayer anyhow, and I believe it’ll be someday; God will take everything that He ever give me, and double it times double, and put on that boy, then when I leave that he’ll take my place.
“May you be a prophet, Joseph” changes to “Joseph thou art God’s prophet”, and changes to “Joseph, my son, thou art a prophet”. He is trying to remember the 1955 dedication event and words are changing. The last statements are different from the original which said, “ May you be a prophet, Joseph”.
Then he states that “That is my prayer anyhow”. This was a prayer request, not a prophecy.
William Branham’s next prayer request is for Joseph Branham to get a ministry “double it times double” greater than his own ministry. This is a fourfold increase.
This has never transpired in the 50+ years since brother Branham left the scene.
Only when Joseph has four times the supernatural ministry that William Branham had, then he will be in a position to succeed his father and take his place.
Until then, there is no Scriptural successor for the end time Elijah because Jesus said “Elias shall restore all things”. If brother Branham restored all things, then there is no ministry left for a so-called Elisha who was never promised for the end time.
We were promised Elijah. So those who follow an Elisha are not the Word bride, as Elisha was not promised for our day.
60-0522E ADOPTION 4
I want to raise my little boy back there, Joseph. I want to see him in the pulpit, when I can take this Bible… When I get to a place I see Joseph in the pulpit preaching as a young man filled with the Holy Ghost, anointed with the Spirit of God upon him… And I believe he’ll be a prophet. The day when I saw him six years before he was born, you remember me telling you he was coming. Remember when I caught him right there at the side of the altar, not knowing what I was saying, dedicating babies, I said, “Joseph, thou art a prophet.”
Notice the different statements that brother Branham makes.
I was inspired to say, “Joseph thou art God’s prophet”. Then the words change to,
I said, “Joseph, my son, thou art a prophet”. And the words change again to,
I said, “Joseph, thou art a prophet”.
But what he actually said in 1955 was, “May you be a prophet, Joseph”.
Human memory fades and we all struggle with recalling facts accurately. So just stay with this original statement from 1955.
Brother Branham wanted to see Joseph in the pulpit preaching. There is no mention of playing tapes.
60-0522E ADOPTION 4
I want Sarah on the organ, Becky on the piano; I want Joseph in the pulpit.
(As a typical parent, brother Branham wants all his children involved in God’s work. How much of this has come to pass?)
…see my boy standing there anointed with the Holy Ghost, preaching this same Gospel. I want to take this old Book and say, “Son, here It is; It’s yours. You stand with It. Don’t you compromise on one Word. You stay right with It, honey. Don’t you, don’t care… I don’t care who’s against you, who’s against; God will be for you. You preach every Word just the way It’s wrote in There; daddy will see you across the river.
William Branham wanted Joseph Branham to take his Bible and preach on every written Word. No mention of playing tapes.
60-0608 HAVING CONFERENCES
The second, I’d like to live long enough that I could see my little Joseph setting there become a minister; take the spirit that I shall leave him. May my spirit come upon him. When I dedicated him to God, standing there in his mother’s arms… I don’t know, there’s ten or fifteen babies.
When I picked him up, the Spirit caught me and said, “Joseph, my son, you are a prophet.” God, let my spirit come in a double portion on my son.
When I come to the end of the road, and I can’t go no farther, I want to hand this Bible to Joseph, and say, “Honey, don’t you… Don’t you compromise on one word. Stay true to God; if it takes everything there is, you stay true to God.”
When I can see you do that, and see Joseph take my Bible and walk to the pulpit as a anointed servant of God,
He wanted Joseph to preach from the Bible. But the Bible does not speak of a Gentile at the end-time having an “Elisha ministry”. Brother Branham, here, made no mention of playing tapes.
60-0716 FROM THAT TIME
Father, I cannot say what it was. I do not know. You know my heart, that I’m only honest in what I’m saying. You bear me record, Father. And I’ll… It’s such a sweet place. God, when my days are done, I’d like to see little Joseph be a man that I could place this Bible in his hand. Because the day of his dedication, You spoke. Said, “Joseph, thou art a prophet.”
Notice the changing words.
I was inspired to say, “Joseph thou art God’s prophet” changes to, I said, “Joseph, my son, thou art a prophet” changes to, I said, “Joseph, thou art a prophet” now changes to, “You spoke. Said, “Joseph thou art a prophet”.
But what was actually said at the dedication was, “May you be a prophet, Joseph”.
This was not God’s prophecy, this was brother Branham’s request. Any father wants the best for his child.
He prayed the same for other babies who were in the dedication group. “God, we pray that You’ll raise preachers and prophets and teachers out of this group of babies that’s around the altar this morning.”
He was praying for prophets, plural. Not for a single prophet to “succeed” him as Elisha.
63-0323 THE SIXTH SEAL
Now, they may be present, some Mormon brethren or sisters, and they may be some get these tapes now. And I don’t want to say that… Some of the finest people you would want to meet would be in the Mormon people, very fine type of people; and then their prophet, Joseph Smith, that the Methodist people killed here in Illinois, on their journey over… And so then that fine man… And the vision, I don’t doubt at all but what he had the vision. I believe he’s a sincere man, but the vision he had was contrary to the Scripture; therefore, they had to have a Mormon Bible to make it.
Here brother Branham calls Joseph Smith a prophet. This Joseph changed the Bible so that America could also be a promised land in addition to Israel. Changing what is written in the Word is not what a prophet should do. Brother Branham is just being very polite towards this Joseph because many people look up to him as a prophet. But what brother Branham says is not the truth in the Biblical sense. A true prophet can only stay with Scripture. When he praises Joseph by calling him a prophet, in the interests of politeness, that is not to be taken as a definite statement of truth.
…prophet stumbles the people. I don’t claim to be a prophet.
Brother Branham modestly understates his own ministry at times. Being self-effacing is a typical characteristic of talented individuals.
So when he downplays his own ministry, out of humility, that is also not to be taken as a statement of truth.
We cannot just repeat his quotes like “parrots”. We need to know what we are talking about.
There is no Scripture that says that there are “parrots” in Heaven.
God wants you to have Scriptural understanding, knowledge, and wisdom.