LETTER TO A PASTOR
Shalom Bro P_____,
I write this to make sure nothing is miscommunicated or misunderstood and that you are very clear as to what is in my mind and heart. This is by far the most difficult letter I have had to compose as I write it to the man who baptised not only myself, my wife, sister and own mother but also introduced me to the message of the hour. You met me when I was in spiritual darkness, not knowing my left from my right but only with a deep hunger to know The Truth. Prior to meeting you, I had struggled from church to church in search of a truth that I was not sure even existed until I heard the sermons of Bro Branham. I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for crossing our paths and that you shared the sermons with me. No words can express the joy I felt when I heard Bro Branham proclaim the good news of the gospel in words that were so clear and easy to understand. I can remember the Saturday I first listened to the sermon titled “Investments” that you loaned to me which I can recall was the turning point of my life when I knew my search for the truth had ended and that my life was never going to be the same. Listening to Bro Branham was a breath of fresh air compared to all the preachers I had listened to over the many years where frankly I remember that I felt drained when following them as I felt that something still was missing from what they proclaimed. At one point I even felt that something was extremely wrong with me as the other church members seemed content with what they were receiving but I thank the Lord Jesus Christ for bringing me to this world when the message of the hour had been given and was readily available.
The first months of coming to the message
Soon after I caught the vision, you will remember I purchased the sermons of Bro Branham. I listened to them as much as I could and I remember how you would say that your ministry was to “repeat what the prophet said”. I never questioned this and accepted it as you proclaimed. I will admit now that when I came to the church, I noted differences between what I heard on the tapes and what you preached on the pulpit. At that time I ignored it as I assumed that maybe I had not listened to all the sermons of Bro Branham and, therefore, I was to yet listen to the sermons you’ve got your understanding from. And so for many months I listened and listened, and still did not understand where you got your understanding from. For several months I ignored this nagging thoughts, and I would attribute it to language or translation differences. As I continued to listen to Bro Branham during this time, I realised that my knowledge or understanding of the Bible was lacking. Before coming to The Message, I had no grounding in the Word nor in any creed or doctrine that I could say I had or held to, and so one could say I was as a new sack into which the new wine was gladly received. I did however after listening to Bro Branham start to somewhat study the Bible, reading it in the places that Bro Branham would preach from. As I got into the deeper teachings I realised how out of depth I was and how I needed a firmer understanding of the Word as many a time Bro Branham would reference a scripture in a sermon which I had no idea of. The gap increasingly grew wider as everything that was unclear was referred to a quote of Bro Branham. Still at this point I did not understand but I still accepted the teaching by quotations as this seemed to be the way things were done - I had no idea then of the confusion that engulfed the end time message movement.
Having listened to sermons of Bro Branham
Time passed, and after having listened to numerous sermons, I understood that the message of Bro Branham had never changed. Bro Branham lifted up Jesus Christ head and shoulders above all other preachers in a manner so clear and had truly proclaimed the good news of the gospel that would set the prisoners free as they received the gift of the Holy Spirit that Bro Branham pointed to. Having come to this juncture, I was now unclear as to why there was a disconnect between what I heard at church and what I listened to on the tapes, especially since you had said that your ministry was to repeat what the prophet said.
This troubled me but as I was ‘young’ in the walk with the Lord Jesus, I pushed it out of my mind and received whatever I could. I then reasoned that no one is perfect and that we all understand things differently because of our humanity and the ambiguity of language. It was much later that the reason for our differences in understanding was revealed to me.
The Message is the Bible and the Bible is the Message
Truly the Lord Jesus could not have said it any better when he likened His believers to sheep that must be led. For years I sat under your ministry and I could not pinpoint the difference in my understanding to yours. It was only when you said that Bro Branham was your absolute and that the Bible was “just the basic” that it began to dawn on me what I had overlooked. I had understood that The Message pointed to the Bible and that The Message pointed us back to the Original Apostolic Fathers' Faith. The Bible does not point to the Message. It only verifies that the Message is true. I had believed on Bro Branham’s Message because I had identified it in the Bible as the fulfilment of Malachi 4: 5-6 and Rev 10:7.
The Bible almost completely forsaken
When I understood that you understood the sermons of Bro Branham to be above the Written Word and that all the words spoken by Bro Branham were ‘Thus Saith The Lord’ and that they were ‘The Absolute’, I then understood why the Bible had been almost completely forsaken in your teachings. It was from this that I understood how you could quote the texts from different sermons preached across different years just as one does with the Bible. This is the ‘revelation’ which you had which I clearly had missed. For some time it bothered me as I tried to understand what I was missing and where exactly Bro Branham could have made such a claim. I searched around and to date I have not found such a place where Bro Branham ever pointed to himself, but in fact throughout his ministry the Holy Spirit in him would point believers back to The Absolute, back to The Bible. Whist Bro Branham would raise the Bible as His Absolute, those that proclaim his message now raise his sermons as their absolute. (What am I missing?) There would be no problem I suppose if the people actually said exactly what Bro Branham said per sermon as each sermon was complete by itself. The problem I saw arose when quotes were taken from different sermons preached in different years to arrive at a ‘revelation’ different from what Bro Branham said. But I now I understand why this is done as Bro Branham’s sermons are taken as equivalent to and even above the Bible.
How the Lord dealt with me
As I said before, this bothered me for quite some time until the Lord dealt with me on the matter. One day I was studying the story of Jacob and noted how it grieved him when he thought that Joseph had been killed by his brothers. The Holy Spirit then pointed out how he had overlooked the two dreams that had been given to Joseph earlier foretelling of future events. As I thought on this, I thought of the dream that I could perhaps have similarly overlooked, that could help me understand the heart breaking situation I was witnessing whereby Bible had been relegated to just “the basic” all in the name of “taking a position for the message”. The Holy Spirit then directed me to the dream I had long overlooked…the dream of Junior Jackson that Bro Branham made reference to in the message “Sirs, is This the Time”. Below is the narration as given by Junior Jackson:
THE ROCK OF REVELATION – DREAM
In February of 1961, after the church ages were preached in December of 1960, I saw myself in this dream walking over rolling countryside. I knew that I was going to a certain point, where, when I arrived, I would find the place very congested, with many people that had gathered there from every direction. This was all in my mind as I was walking. Then after a period of time I began to notice that from every angle, I could see people approaching, coming from the north, south, east, and west. I could see myself still walking, constantly moving closer to a certain place where I knew that we would all gather. Finally, I saw myself as I came up over this last little knoll, in a rolling countryside, and looking down through a long valley in front of me, I saw a little figure standing by a rock, protruding out of the ground. As I saw the little figure standing there, I immediately knew who the man was. By this time the whole landscape was covered with a great throng of people, converging into a great circle, around that little man, there in the valley. As we all began to get closer, the circle became very congested. People were rubbing elbows with each other, but kept on crowding, moving in closer until we were within just a few feet of the man. Then, I hear myself, in the dream, yell out, really loud, saying, LISTEN TO WHAT HE SAYS, FOR HE WILL NOT ALWAYS BE HERE! (Now he never told this, that night, when he referred to the dream, in the message, Sirs, is This the Time.) I kept on walking until the whole circle was really pressed in tight around him. Then, I spoke the second time, and said, LISTEN TO WHAT HE SAYS, FOR HE WILL NOT ALWAYS BE WITH US. (Now you will notice that the two statements are different.) The first, was, HE WILL NOT ALWAYS BE HERE, and the second was, HE WILL NOT ALWAYS BE WITH US.
Now remember, brothers and sisters: I had that dream in February 1961, but I carried it in my bosom until October 1962. In the dream, as we all stood there, I noticed, laying on top of that big rock, a large pinch bar, like they use in rock quarries. I knew that the little man standing there was the only one who knew how to use it. I noticed in the top layer of that rock, was a little hair line crevice, which let me know that there was a crack in the structure of that layer of the rock. And I noticed, in that top layer, large, engraved, words which read, THE ROCK OF REVEALED TRUTH, beautiful letters! Then, as everyone had stopped, and was standing there, he took that bar and drew back, and jabbed it into that little crevice, and lifted that whole shelf of rock. With that, he began to work it, till he slid the whole top layer of that rock all the way off, exposing fresh rock, that had never been exposed to sunlight nor weather. After he did that, he laid that pinch bar on the shelf of that rock, then he turned to look at the people, and said STAND BY THIS. Then he began to slowly move out of the circle, as the people crowded in to look. Something inside of me said WATCH HIM. Therefore, I just sort of turned side ways, so that out of the corner of my eye, I just watch his little profile, while noticing that he had began walking westward. As he continued walking westward, I could see him going over little summits, and then down in the valleys, up and down, until I began to notice that each time he came up, his silhouette was getting smaller, and smaller. Then I noticed that the sun was going down in the west, casting its evening shadows back across the earth. As I stood there watching his little silhouette go over the horizon, there was a feeling came into me; I will never see him again. Then as I turned back to look at the rock for just a moment. I could see that everyone was very busy, looking at that fresh rock, but then they began lifting their heads from looking at the rock, and realizing that Bro. Branham was no longer there, they began to say, WHERE DID BRO. BRANHAM GO? WHERE IS BRO. BRANHAM? WHERE IS BRO. BRANHAM!? Becoming frantic as they asked the question. Suddenly, there was mass confusion, as they all began running in the many directions, and screaming, yelling, and crying. All you could hear, was OH, BRO BRANHAM! WHERE IS BRO. BRANHAM! OH, BRO. BRANHAM! On, and on they went, running in every direction, calling his name in this frantic way. Even as I came out of the dream, I could still hear them yelling, Bro. Branham! It was just like an echo, as I heard it over and over still. With all of that, it left only a few of us standing by the rock, and standing there together, looking toward the west, we had a great feeling of sadness, as we realized that he was gone, never to return anymore. Yet I could see us still standing by that rock.
DREAM RELATED TO BRO. BRANHAM
I never told that dream until October 1962. Bro. Branham came to our church on prayer meeting night, when we were still over here in Clarksville at the old building. After he had finished preaching and the service was dismissed, people began to gather around him to talk and ask questions. I wanted to tell him this dream, but I did not know how to do it without being rude. Just then, someone pulled up in front of the church with someone sick in the car, and asked Bro. Branham to come out and pray for the person. He turned to me, and said, Bro. Jackson, let us go out there and pray. When we were finished praying, and the car had pulled away, I was standing there with Bro. Branham and Billy Paul. I said, Bro. Branham, I have a dream that I would like to tell you. He responded by saying, let us go sit in the car. With Billy Paul as a witness, I sat right there in his station wagon and related that dream to him. When I finished, he said., Bro. Jackson; no one else knows this yet, but that is about to happen. We are planning to move west. That would mean he would no longer be here in this area. After that he said, Bro. Jackson; when this all comes to pass, STICK WITH THE WORD, (as he laid his Bible over on the dash), for they will go after everything, teaching everything.
From that time I have understood what is happening in the End Time Assemblies and witnessed first-hand the claim, to say what the prophet said but turn around and give revelations that Bro Branham never did say. When I asked what the message was, your answer to me was a quote from Bro Branham which said that ‘it was the words he said’. This is true but the question that will make an eternity of a difference in this hour to those that hear the words of the Prophet Messenger is: ‘what did Bro Branham say?’
The revelation that accompanied the answer to the above question explains the various camps in the ETM, with each camp understanding what they choose, and not waiting for the revelation from the One who held the seven star messengers in His hand. The uncomfortable reality is that most are not waiting for the answer,… and why wait for a revelation from the Lord Jesus when ALL the mysteries have been revealed; with all that one has to do is to search the quotations until one gets the ‘quotation’ that agrees with his personal revelation. After all ‘the Bible was finished’ after the ministry of Bro Branham and there is no new message to come.
Bro Branham preached many messages (sermons) but there is only one message behind them. That is, “COME BACK TO THE APOSTOLIC FAITH, COME BACK TO THE ABSOLUTE, ETC.” He never pointed to himself. He never pointed to his own words. He always pointed to God and His Word.
Where do those that heard the SHOUT fellowship?
Whilst it may make good sense to conclude that what distinguishes the ETM and denominations to be the sermons of Bro Branham, it is unwise to sideline the Bible to a ‘basic book’ that is used to support the quotes of Bro Branham. After all, “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works". If one believes that we will be judged by the Bible, how then have we come to neglect the full counsel of God? I suppose the answer comes back to having embraced another absolute that supersedes The Written Word that has been given over thousands of years by many different writers all moved by the same Holy Ghost and yet all the while not contradicting each other. This is that book which early believers gave their lives for just so that the children of the end time could get this ‘basic book’ that they have come to lowly esteem.
Back to Bible
Whist admittedly there are some ministers who have also believed on the message of Bro Branham and hailed the Bible as their absolute yet gone on to bring a reproach to this God-sent message, but it does not take away the infallible truth that is contained therein. One could similarly point to those who also hail the sermon booklets as their absolute, who also have gone on to bring a reproach to the good news of the gospel by practising polygamy and praying in the name of Bro Branham.
What do I invite by composing this letter?
By writing this letter I acknowledge that I invite ridicule as I openly profess my understanding or lack thereof. I understand that I will not receive applause by expressing such thoughts. What will happen after reading this? Though the Holy Spirit will bring to remembrance that the LORD does not reveal everything to his prophets but will tell them what He needs them to know, you may dismiss this letter as one coming from a young believer who has yet to understand the message.
What then is my objective in writing this letter? It is to be understood without ambiguity why I am taking the path that I will follow. I have not found safe ground, so to speak, outside of ‘His word’. The term ‘God’s word’, however, has found extended meaning as the curtains close on this grace age. I believe we have arrived at the time when the believers are on the Lord’s threshing floor and there is the separation between the grain and the chaff. What is clear though is that the two will not walk together because they do not agree.
In closing, may I say thank you for your dedication and sincerity in leading me this far. As you said the other day, perhaps you planted so that another may water.