[anzac] WILLIAM BRANHAM -the strange true story

Message: < previous - next > : Reply : Subscribe : Cleanse
Home   : July 2004 : Group Archive : Group : All Groups

From: "ANZAC Prophetic List" <revival4@...>
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 14:09:26 -0500
The Enigma of WILLIAM BRANHAM
-by A. Strom and L. Magnello.

William Branham was an evangelist last century who was mightily
used of God for a number of years. In fact, there can be little doubt
that he was endued with power to a degree that has rarely been seen since
the days of the apostles. And there is still a great deal of controversy
surrounding his life, death and teachings. To some of his most ardent
followers (who are still around today), he seemed to assume almost semi-
divine status,- a damaging and tragic fallacy that has frightened many
sound Christians away from studying his life. On the other hand, even in
his heyday some believers were sceptical and suspicious of the tremendous
power and unusual signs and miracles that accompanied his ministry. 
There can be little doubt that Branham went astray in his ministry in the 
latter part of his life. (The fact that God took him home early, and that 
the cause of death was a car-crash in which his body became horribly 
tangled in the wreck, though he lingered on for a few more days - bears 
this out). However, it is my belief, and the belief of many who have 
studied his life, that in his early years he was one of the most anointed 
men of God that has ever lived in modern times.

As Gordon Lindsay wrote in his 1952 biography of Branham's early life and
ministry:  "The story of the life of William Branham is so out of this
world and beyond the ordinary that were there not available a host of 
infallible proofs which document and attest its authenticity, one might 
well be excused for considering it far-fetched and incredible." (G. Lind-
say, 'William Branham - A man sent from God', pg 9). Even his birth and
childhood had unusual aspects to them. Born in 1909 in Kentucky, his fam-
ily soon shifted to the state of Indiana, where they eventually settled
not far from Jeffersonville. Branham's family were the "poorest of the
poor". When he was seven years old, he experienced the first of many
godly visitations:  "It seemed to be a very still afternoon. I stepped
back from the tree and noticed that in a certain place about the size of
a barrel, the wind seemed to be blowing through the tree leaves. Then
there came a voice saying:  'Never drink, smoke, or defile your body in 
any way, for I have a work for you to do when you get older.'" (Pg 30).

Branham obeyed these strictures, but he had still not been truly 
converted. When he was about twenty years of age, the death of his 
brother Edward caused him to again turn his thoughts toward God's call 
upon his life. However, he carried on the way he was going (essentially 
running away from God) for a couple of years. Finally, he ended up ser-
iously ill - at death's door, in hospital. And suddenly God visited him
again:  "Closer the wind came, louder and louder... I heard that same 
voice that said, 'Never drink or smoke.'  And the leaves I heard were 
the same that blew in that tree that day. But this time the voice said,
'I called you and you would not go.'  The words were repeated the third
time. Then I said, 'Lord, if that is you, let me go back again to earth
and I will preach your gospel from the housetops and street corners.
I'll tell everyone about it!'... When this vision had passed, I found
that I felt better."  (Pg 40-41).

However, Branham was not completely healed at this time. But he was 
now filled with a great hunger after God. "I started out to seek and find 
God. I went from church to church trying to find some place where there 
was an old-fashioned altar call. The sad part was I could find none... 
One night I became so hungry for God and a real experience that I went 
out to the old shed back of the house and tried to pray... All at once 
there came a light in the shed and it formed a cross, and the voice from 
the cross spoke to me in a language I could not understand... as I pray-
ed it appeared again. Then it seemed to me that there had been a 
thousand pounds lifted from my soul...

"I knew then that if God wanted me to preach he would heal me, so I 
went to a church that believed in anointing with oil, and I was healed 
instantly. I saw then that the disciples had something that most of the 
ministers do not have today. The disciples were baptized with the Holy 
Ghost and so could heal the sick and do mighty miracles in His name. 
So I began to pray for the baptism of the Holy Ghost. One day about 
six months later God gave me the desire of my heart. He spoke to me 
in a great light telling me to preach and pray for the sick and He would 
heal them regardless of what disease they had. I then started preaching 
and doing what He told me to do." (Pg 41-42). Branham began tent 
meetings in his home town of Jeffersonville, and for a 24-year-old who 
was just starting out, these were astonishingly successful, with up to 
3000 people being attracted to the meetings at one time, and scores 
of conversions. 

Afterwards when  Branham was baptizing 130 converts in the Ohio River,
a heavenly light, like a blazing star, appeared above him just as he
was about to baptize the seventeenth person. This was witnessed by the 
vast 4000-strong congregation that stood on the banks of the river look-
ing on. Some of them ran for fear, while others shouted or fainted. A 
report of this unusual event appeared in the local newspaper shortly 
afterwards. It has also been reported that a voice spoke from within the 
light, saying, "As John the Baptist was sent to forerun the first coming
of the Lord, so you are sent to forerun His second coming..."  What is
certain is that a heavenly light was seen, and it seems likely also that 
something along these lines was spoken over him.

It was in this same year of 1933 that a number of significant visions
were given to William Branham. In June 1933 he was given a series of
seven visions relating to world events that lay immediately ahead (and
he told his congregation of these visions at the time). In the first of
these he saw the Italian dictator Mussolini successfully invading
Ethiopia, but eventually coming to a terrible demise - murdered and spat
upon by his own people. In the second he saw America being drawn into a
world war against Germany, which would be headed up by an Austrian. The
war would overthrow this leader, and he would come to a mysterious end.
The third vision showed the three 'isms' in the world - Fascism, Nazism 
and Communism, and that the first two would come to nothing, but that 
Communism would flourish. He was told, "Watch Russia. She will be-
come a great world power." In the fourth vision he was shown some of 
the tremendous advances in Science that would come after the Second 
World War. 

The fifth vision showed the rapid moral decay in the world, relating 
especially to women. He was shown this decline from the beginning of 
the feminist "liberation" movement of the late 19th century, and the 
gradual gaining of worldly power by women, to the eventual election of 
a 'boy president' (probably Kennedy - known to have been elected be-
cause of the women's vote) and after this the progressive decline in the 
way women dressed - deliberately exposing their bodies more and more 
in an ever-increasing display of brazen sensuality. With true womanhood 
so little valued, a terrible decay of all flesh came upon the earth, and 
every form of perversion arose, just as is prophesied for the Last Days. 

In the sixth vision there arose in the United States a beautiful woman, 
clothed in splendour and royal robes - a woman given great power, and 
beautiful - yet cruel, cunning and deceitful. She dominated the land with 
her authority. Branham felt that she represented either an actual person, 
or else a particular organization (perhaps the Catholic church?) However, 
surely there is also the possibility that she represents a great "Jeze-
belic" spirit that utterly dominates the landscape?  In the seventh and
final vision, he witnessed a great explosion that rent the entire land
and left America a smouldering, chaotic ruin, with no humanity in sight.
This final vision then faded away. (This last one reminds me of another
Branham vision/prophecy, which he referred to often in later years, that
showed that the day would come when the entire state of California west
of the San Andreas Fault, would be wiped out and sent into the Pacific
Ocean by a massive earthquake).

The amazing thing about this series of seven visions is that they were 
given at a time (June 1933) when Branham had no way at all of coming 
to these conclusions through mere guesswork. In 1933 Germany was 
by no means ready for war, Russia was by no means a dominant world 
power, and Communism was a relatively minor force in the world. Some of
the details given in the visions were just too extraordinary to pass
off as mere coincidence. (See 'The Acts of the Prophet' by Pearry Green,
pg 48-51, for a fuller description). Also, the fact is that these visions
were given to an uneducated, simple man in the back-blocks of Indiana, a
man who had little understanding at all of political complexities. And
the fact that at least five of these visions have now been precisely
fulfilled, means that we should surely take the others seriously also.

After the baptisms, a church was built for Branham to pastor in Jeffer-
sonville. The next few years were a fruitful time in his life and minis-
try, during which he married a lovely Christian wife and they had two
children. However, several years later Branham came to a crossroads and
made a serious error of judgement that was to have serious repurcussions
for his family and ministry. After attending a Pentecostal convention
for the first time (up until then he had been an independent Baptist),
Branham was invited by these Pentecostals to become a travelling evangel-
ist for them, and he felt that this was definitely a call from God.
However, he allowed himself to be persuaded by friends that the Pente-
costals were "trash" (they were known as 'holy rollers' at the time -
the lowest of the low), and he drew back from joining with them.

"It was at this time that the anointing of God which had come upon me 
left me. It never really returned until five years later... Everything
went wrong. With my church going down, I didn't know what to do. Then
began the dark period of my life when the Ohio River flood that took so 
many lives, came, and was responsible for the death of two of those that 
were the dearest to me in all the world." (G. Lindsay, 'William Branham 
- A man sent from God', pg 51). The great Ohio River flood of 1937 
claimed the lives of Branham's wife and baby daughter, and Branham 
was left heartbroken, with only his infant son left. This was only eight 
months after he had drawn back from obeying God and joining with the 
Pentecostals, and he himself acknowledged the tragic connection.

For a number of years after this, Branham continued to preach and also 
work at various jobs. He remarried, and when a new visitation of the 
angel of God came in 1946, he was working as an Indiana state game 
warden. This was to be the beginning of his international miracle minis-
try:  "I must tell you of the angel and the coming of the Gift. I shall
never forget the time, May 7, 1946, a very beautiful season of the year 
in Indiana, where I was still working as a game warden. I had come 
home for lunch... and while walking around the house under a maple 
tree, it seemed that the whole top of the tree let loose. It seemed that 
something came down through that tree like a great rushing wind... My 
wife came from the house frightened, and asked me what was wrong. Trying
to get hold of myself, I sat down and told her that after all these
twenty odd years of being conscious of this strange feeling, the time had 
come when I had to find out what it was all about. The crisis had come! 

"That afternoon I went away to a secret place to pray and read the Bible. 
I became deep in prayer; it seemed that my whole soul would tear from me.
I cried before God...I laid my face to the ground...I looked up to God
and cried, 'If you will forgive me for the way that I have done, I'll try
to do better... I'm sorry that I've been so neglectful all these years in
doing the work you wanted me to do...Will you speak to me someway, God?
If you don't help me, I can't go on'... Then along in the night, about
the eleventh hour, I had quit praying and was sitting up when I noticed a 
light flickering in the room... the light was spreading out on the floor, 
becoming wider... as I looked up, there hung that great star. However, it 
did not have five points like a star, but looked more like a ball of fire
or light shining down upon the floor. Just then I heard someone walking
across the floor... 

"Now, coming through the light, I saw the feet of a man coming toward 
me, as naturally as you would walk to me. He appeared to be a man who, 
in human weight, would weigh about two hundred pounds, clothed in a 
white robe. He had a smooth face, no beard, dark hair down to his 
shoulders, of rather dark-complexion, with a very pleasant countenance, 
and coming closer, his eyes caught with mine. Seeing how fearful I was, 
he began to speak. 'Fear not. I am sent from the Presence of Almighty 
God to tell you that your peculiar life and your misunderstood ways have 
been to indicate that God has sent you to take a gift of divine healing
to the peoples of the world. IF YOU WILL BE SINCERE, AND CAN GET THE
PEOPLE TO BELIEVE YOU, NOTHING SHALL STAND BEFORE YOUR PRAYER, NOT EVEN
CANCER.'" (Pg 76-77).

The angel told Branham that he would now have two special signs or 
gifts operating in his life, given to him by God. The first would enable 
him to detect or discern illnesses in people - a visible violent reaction
in his left hand which would make it red and swollen whenever it came
into contact with sickness. The second sign would be a gift that would
enable him to discern the thoughts and deeds in the past life of the ind-
ividual - specific sins that needed to be repented of, etc. It was often
found that as Branham challenged people over such specific sins, and they
confessed them to God, they would regularly be healed of whatever ailed
them even before he had a chance to lay hands on them.

This angelic visitation marked the beginning of Branham's incredible 
international miracle ministry, and also led directly to the great Ameri-
can Healing Revival of 1947 through 1955, in which many well-known min-
istries were raised up, and thousands upon thousands of people were 
saved and healed. As Branham himself said, "The great things which 
have taken place during these months are too innumerable to ever be 
recorded, but God has confirmed the angel's words time after time. 
Deaf, dumb, blind, all manners of diseases have been healed, and thous-
ands of testimonies are on record to date. I do not have any power of 
my own to do this... God always has something or someone to work 
through, and I am only an instrument used by Him." (Pg 78).

Right to the end of his life, William Branham was renowned for his trans-
parency, his simplicity and his genuine humility. No doubt this was due
in part to his early life of hardship, brokenness and poverty - a great
advantage when it came to his eventual ministry. I have read several of
his early sermons, and they often appeared to be little more than person-
al testimonies accompanied by a simple (yet effective) gospel message.
There was little sign of the somewhat strange, divisive and controversial
teachings of his latter years. After all, the angel had told him that
part of his commission was to help UNIFY Christians of differing back-
grounds. Speaking of Branham's "outstandingly humble spirit", one observ-
er wrote:  "There is nothing boisterous or arrogant about him. He is a
meek and humble man... He is a man loved by all. No-one begrudges him any
of his success or is envious of his great popularity." (David Harrell Jr, 
'ALL Things are Possible', pg 39).

Over the following months and years, Branham travelled widely in the 
USA, and also to Europe and South Africa, etc. Thousands came from 
far and wide to hear him preach and to witness the many outstanding 
healings, miracles and 'words of knowledge' that accompanied his 
ministry. Often, he would call out the name, city of origin and back-
ground information of people in the audience whom he had never met, 
who had come to hear his preaching or to be healed. Of all the thous-
ands of such 'words of knowledge' that he gave, none was ever known 
to be wrong or inaccurate. His gift was reportedly "exactly 100%". The 
deaf were healed, the blind received their sight, and even the dead were 
raised. There were also a number of meetings where Branham was photo-
graphed with bright 'haloes' or strange lights around him. It became
standard for Branham to have the angel of God standing beside him as 
he ministered, and he would often wait for the angel to arrive before he 
began. It was also commonplace for Branham to see specific miracles 
enacted before his eyes in vision form several days before they actually 
occurred, so that when he found himself in the precise circumstance pic-
tured in the vision, he would know exactly what to do. Astounding! And 
everywhere he went, God was glorified in the most profound way. 

There can be no doubt that Branham was the initial pioneer and the key 
leader of the great Healing Revival of 1947 through 1955. During this 
Revival, literally dozens of healing ministries were raised up all over 
America, some well-known and others less prominent, but all of them 
inspired by the example of Branham and others. Thousands were saved 
and healed, not just in America, but in many other nations also. And the 
mighty 1954 Argentina Revival under Tommy Hicks (with meetings of 
up to 400,000 people) also had strong links with this Revival. Even 
amongst the better-known evangelists who came into prominence at that 
time (such as Oral Roberts, T.L. Osborne, A.A. Allen, Jack Coe, etc), 
William Branham was acknowledged as something special - something 
extraordinary. "The younger deliverance evangelists viewed him as a 
man set apart, like Moses. 'He was number one,'  said Richard Hall, 'of 
the common run of evangelists that we have now, put twenty of them at 
one end and William Branham on the other; he would outweigh them 
all.'" (Winkie Pratney, 'Revival', pg 220-221). 

Later in the 1950's, when a number of healing evangelists were drifting 
into showmanship, hype, 'prosperity' doctrines and begging for money, 
Branham would have none of it. He was unchanged in his attitude to-
ward these kinds of excesses right to the very end. One observer wrote 
of him in 1959:  "On my last visit I mentioned how 'car conscious' Amer-
ican preachers are, almost judging a man's success by the car he drives. 
At this particular conference, where Brother Branham was the principal 
speaker, they all came up in their nice cars, the picture of elegance,
but Brother Branham drove up in a truck. He doesn't seem to worry about
these things..." (D. Harrell Jr, 'ALL Things are Possible', pg 162).

However, there were crucial weaknesses in the practices and ministry of 
William Branham, which tragically began to manifest themselves in the 
mid-1950's. In 1955, largely through his own carelessness and lack of 
good management, Branham fell into financial difficulty. He had always 
been nonchalant, almost naive, toward all business matters. "He some-
times missed scheduled meetings and was totally unconcerned about 
business details. Some of his business associates came to feel that he 
was culpably irresponsible. At any rate, Branham came to write:  'For 
nine years, the Lord met every need without my having to pull for money. 
Then, in 1955, in each of three of my greatest meetings, the income fell 
far short of expenses and others stepped in to make up large deficits'... 
Branham's difficulties became more complicated in 1956 when the Internal
Revenue Service filed a tax evasion suit against him... The unsophistic-
ated Branham, apparently little interested in personal wealth, had made
no systematic effort to account for the thousands of dollars that flowed
through his ministry." (Ibid, pg 39-40). For the remainder of his life,
Branham worked under the burden of a $40,000.00 debt to the IRS. (Which
was an enormous amount of money in those days).

It is obvious that God was little able to financially bless Branham's
ministry any longer, due to the careless and dubious state of his finan-
cial management. This had clearly become a "legal gateway" through which
the devil could now disrupt and tie-down Branham's ministry. And one 
of the most devastating results of this was that when most of the other 
prominent healing evangelists were called into large, mobile tent minis-
tries (which God used very effectively at that time), Branham was unable 
to make this jump, due seemingly to the parlous state of his finances. 
Thus, his ministry immediately began to lose momentum, and it seemed 
that he was no longer on the 'cutting edge' of what God was doing.

By 1958, William Branham (along with many of the other healing evangel-
ists) was deeply re-assessing his ministry. It was clear that the great
Healing Revival was now well and truly over, and there can be little
doubt that the decline in Branham's own ministry had contributed to
this. You can never afford to lose such a leader in any move of God, as 
history clearly shows. It was after this that Branham began to gradually 
withdraw into his own little circle, where he had an adoring and loyal 
following. (Essentially this circle was made up of "Oneness" or 'Jesus-
Only' Pentecostals). And instead of his previous unwillingness to speak 
about contentious or divisive 'minor' issues, he now gradually began to 
emphasize such things more and more in his preaching. Slowly, these 
teachings became ever-more alarming and extreme. 

As early as 1957, Branham had received a dream in which he was minister-
ing in a 'white disk' above a pyramid. A voice from heaven proclaimed
that no other man could stand in the disk "unless he die or be killed",
and that Branham was "the only one who can and will stand there." Bran- 
ham apparently considered this dream to be of 'spiritual significance'. 
(Ibid, pg 41). By the 1960's, he had clearly become convinced that he 
was the end-times "Elijah" and the true "Messenger of the Covenant".
And the adoring followers in his tight little circle were certainly not
going to contradict him. A number of writers believe that it was when
Branham took a 'teaching' ministry upon himself that he fell into error.
It is clear that he had been anointed and commissioned by God to have a
prophetic / evangelistic ministry, but never one of teaching. And as
soon as he got into this area of teaching doctrine, he began to trespass
into realms to which God had never called him, thus opening himself up
to ever-increasing deception. It has been reported that towards the end,
some of his teachings almost bordered on the occult. However, the orig-
inal sign-giftings that God had given him never left him, right up until
the time of his death in 1965.

There were a number of men who tried to warn Branham, and to bring 
him back into some form of balance, including his respected colleague 
and old friend, Gordon Lindsay. But Branham would not listen: "Brother 
Lindsay said, 'I begged him not to teach. I said, "... Leave the Bible 
teaching to the teachers. Just go ahead and preach and exercise the 
word of knowledge and gifts of healing as the Spirit wills, and be a 
blessing to the Body of Christ.'''  This prophet said to Brother Lindsay, 
'I know I'm not a teacher, but I want to teach. And I'm going to teach!'

"It's dangerous to intrude into a ministry office to which you are not 
called. In the Old Testament, if people intruded in to a holy place that 
was reserved for those who held certain offices, they instantly fell
dead. Under grace, people in disobedience can last for a while, but soon-
er or later, those who intrude into ministry offices to which they are
not called will be judged. It is dangerous to intrude into another man's
office." (K. Hagin, 'He Gave Gifts unto Men', pg 164-170).

A full TWO YEARS before Branham died, Kenneth Hagin, who was renowned
for his accurate prophetic ministry at that time, was given a prophecy
about Branham which he took to Gordon Lindsay. The prophecy read:  "'At
the end of 1965, He who now stands in the forefront of the healing
ministry as a prophet will be taken out of the way. He'll make a false
step and Satan shall destroy his life, but his spirit will be saved,
and his works will follow him. Ere 1966 shall come, he shall be gone.'

"I took that prophecy to brother Lindsay, because it's scriptural to
have other spiritual men judge prophecy. I never made it public. Prophets
make a mistake by publicly broadcasting some of these things."  God 
later told Hagin: "I had to permit him to be removed, because of the 
damage he was causing in the body of Christ..."

"... Then brother Lindsay related something else to me that had happen-
ed regarding this same prophet. He said to me, 'This past year, I was 
praying with my wife and sister Schrader about the work of the ministry. 
(Sister Schrader was a prophetess who has since gone on to be with the 
Lord.) We were praying about different projects in our ministry. Right
in the middle of the prayer, Sister Schrader blurted out, 'Go warn
Brother [Branham]... he's going to die.'  Brother Lindsay said, 'I was
busy, and I let that get by me, and I didn't go warn him like I was sup-
posed to. Then later, my wife and I and Sister Schrader were again pray-
ing about ministry projects. Again Sister Schrader blurted out right in
the middle of prayer, 'Go warn Brother [Branham]... he's going to die.
He's walking in the way of Dowie.'  After his morning meeting, Brother
Lindsay said, 'I talked to him as the Lord had instructed me, but I saw
that he wouldn't listen...' (K. Hagin, 'He Gave Gifts unto Men', pg
164-170). Please remember that Dowie had also got into error, proclaiming
that he was the end-times "Elijah".

Gordon Lindsay's wife also confirmed the account given by Kenneth 
Hagin: "One day Kenneth Hagin came into our offices. He handed 
Gordon a piece of paper on which was written a prophecy he said the 
Lord had given him. The prophecy stated that the leader of the deliver-
ance movement was soon to be taken in death, because he was getting 
into error and the Lord was having to remove him from the scene for 
that reason. Gordon took the prophecy and placed it in his desk. After 
Brother Hagin left I asked, 'What do you think about this? Is this Bran-
ham?'  Gordon answered gravely, 'Yes, it is Branham. He is getting into 
error. He thinks he is Elijah. He thinks he is the messenger of the cov-
enant. The sad thing is that unscrupulous men around him are putting 
words into his mouth, and due to his limited background he is taking 
them up.'" (Mrs Gordon Lindsay, 'My Diary Secrets', Sixth Edition, pg 
152).

Two years later, when driving to Tucson, Arizona, William Branham 
was involved in a head-on collision with a drunk driver. His wife was 
badly injured in the smash, and Branham's body was horribly tangled in 
the wreck. He lingered on for a few days in hospital, though his head be-
came terribly swollen and a tube was placed in his throat to assist his 
breathing. William Branham died on Christmas Eve, 1965, just before the
turn of the year, exactly as the prophecy had predicted. Once more - "How
have the mighty fallen". Satan had again succeeded in 'taking out' one of
God's great servants. And there can be little doubt that God's full purp-
oses for Branham's life and ministry remained at least partially unful-
filled. There was talk amongst a few of Branham's followers that he might 
rise from the dead after several days, but it is clear that only a rela-
tively small number believed this. (Such Branham-followers can still be
found around the world today, some of whom adore him with a fervour
bordering almost on idolatry - a sad and tragic epitaph to a once-mighty
man of God).


The LESSONS we Must Learn: 

Some people believe that the coming move of God will be so powerful and
so awesome that it will be almost impossible for the ministries involved
in it to fall into error or into sin. I simply cannot go along with this.
History clearly demonstrates that the greater the power, the greater
the potential for subtle pride and error to enter in. This is why God has 
taken so long in preparing His future (now hidden) ministries for the 
coming move. Please remember that Satan himself was once one of the 
most splendid and powerful creatures in all of Heaven - an 'anointed 
Cherubim' of the highest order, who walked in the very presence of 
God. If such a creature as this - walking in the very presence of God - 
can fall from grace, then so can we, even at the height of a powerful 
God-given ministry.

It is important also to realize the strength and the cunning of our ad-
versary. The devil has had literally thousands of years to study mankind,
and to learn how to manipulate human beings in the most effective way.
He has seen Revivals come and Revivals go. He has caused great men of
God to fall, and others to stumble or to not fulfill their potential. He
is a past master at the arts of spiritual war, and he plays HARD, with no
conscience and no mercy. He has had thousands of years to perfect his 
techniques for causing good men to fall, of setting snares that sometimes 
take months and years to bear fruit, but eventually lure men to the de-
mise of their lives or their ministries. He has seen it all. And yet, by
the power of God it is still possible to beat him, and to beat him well.
But we must not be ignorant of his wiles or devices to trap us. And we
must learn well the lessons that history has to teach us.

SPIRITUAL PRIDE

Spiritual pride is the major, but often very subtle underlying root of
much deception, and the fall of many once-promising ministries. A 
friend of mine who has studied this subject told me that over the past 
30 years, he has personally known of at least a dozen anointed men
of God who have lost their anointings and ministries. He says that a num-
ber have even ended up dead or in prison. As Paul Billheimer's wrote:  
"THE SANDS OF TIME ARE STREWN WITH THE WRECKS OF THE 
BROKEN LIVES OF MANY, WHO WERE ONCE MIGHTILY USED 
OF GOD, BUT WHO SUFFERED SHIPWRECK UPON THE ROCKS 
OF SPIRITUAL PRIDE." 

Obviously, those who are involved in powerful ministries are particular-
ly susceptible to pride entering in, because of the amazing things that
they see happening every day in their ministries, and the temptation to
begin taking some of the glory for themselves, or to start to think that
they are something 'special' - forgetting that every gift they have is
from God. Such pride can be incredibly subtle, and the devil delights in
placing such ministries under as much 'pressure' of this kind as he poss-
ibly can. However, it is important to remember that God will not allow us
to be tempted more than we can bear. (1 Cor 10:13).

It is significant to note that William Branham was apparently still a
truly humble man in many ways right up until the time of his death, and
yet the devil managed to introduce subtle pride into his mind and heart
in a couple of crucial areas. He presumed to become a teacher when this
was obviously not his calling, and he eventually came to believe inflated 
"Elijah"-type revelations about himself and his 'special' position, pro-
claiming these to his followers. As the apostle Paul wrote, we are not 
to think of ourselves "more highly than we ought to think" (Rom 12:3). 
Speaking of the fall of Lucifer, God said, "Your heart was lifted up 
because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of 
your splendour." (Ez 28:17).

It is also important to remember that it is often when we have won our 
greatest victories in God, that we are most susceptible to attacks from 
the enemy. We see this particularly in the life of John Alexander Dowie,
a century ago. It was when he had won through into a period of 
comparitive success and prosperity in his ministry that he apparently 
relaxed his guard, and became deceived into "BELIEVING THE LIE" 
that he was the 'Elijah' of God. Thus one of the great healing ministries
of all time fell into great error and shipwreck.

It is clear from the Scriptures that in the Last Days, there ARE to be 
ministries who will go forth in the 'spirit and power of Elijah'. However, as
Gordon Lindsay wrote in his biography of Dowie, "HAD HE BEEN THE VERY ELIJAH,
WHAT AN UNFORTUNATE MISTAKE WAS MADE, IN PROCLAIMING HIMSELF AS SUCH! John the
Baptist was satisfied in declaring himself 'a voice crying in the wilderness'.
When they asked John if he were Elijah, he said he was not. Yet Christ later
said that he was! (Matt. 11:14)  Jesus commended the humility of John who had
said, 'He must increase, but I must decrease', and declared that none born of
women was greater than he." (G. Lindsay, 'John Alexander Dowie', pg 190).

It is the old story of avoiding the pitfalls of the "gold, the girls and 
the glory". In other words, many have been shipwrecked by money, 
by women, and especially by taking the glory that belongs to God 
alone. The devil is able to make all of these temptations far more 
subtle than you would believe possible. He is a master at this 
kind of deception. Let every one of us beware! Only by God's grace 
will we be able to stand in these last days.

God bless you all.