William Branham used one short verse in Ephesians both to prove the seal of God was the baptism of the Holy Spirit; and to prove that we could grieve the Holy Spirit away by various means and might be doomed if we did so! But was he correct?
Ephesians 4:30 states:
- And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.
What does the Bible teach?
To answer the above question we must focus on what Paul actually taught. In fact, William Branham said many times that he taught exactly what Paul taught and that our own entrance to heaven banked on his identical teachings with Paul’s. So first let’s read Ephesians 4:17-32:
- Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ! — assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.
- Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we re members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
We also refer to 2 Timothy 2:14-26:
- Remind them of these things, and charge them before God not to quarrel about words, which does no good, but only ruins the hearers. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth. But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some. But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.”
- Now in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver but also of wood and clay, some for honorable use, some for dishonorable. Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from what is dishonorable, he will be a vessel for honorable use, set apart as holy, useful to the master of the house, ready for every good work.
We see in these similar portions of Paul’s writings above that he was encouraging new Christians to live a pleasing life for their king and Lord after they had accepted his grace and salvation into His kingdom. It shows the gentle mercy, that Paul knew only too well, of our precious Savior given to those with perfect hearts and minds toward Christ. If you heard it as rebuke and anger—read it again softly with tremendous love and it will sound closer to what Paul meant. Paul deserved terrible punishment but received grace and mercy and was put to work for the Lord. Does sin grieve our Savior? Yes, of course, it does, but he knows better than we do that Adam’s race will always sin and that was why he brought a New Covenant. Now look again at verse 30—What? Paul said these sealed Christians did all those things mentioned above? He asked them to quit that behavior and stop grieving the Holy Spirit which had sealed them. In verse 32, Paul told them to be kind to others because God was kind to them even while they were still at it!!! Good advice. Every parent knows well the grief our children can cause us at times, but we still love them and they are still our children. Paul had no train cars to seal or reload and never thought of it as such. Paul did know about the seals used on scrolls which had a name and witness as part of the seal. The seal was often a sort of title and identification for rolled scrolls.
William Branham used the term Seal of God 121 times and the term Mark of the Beast 213 times focusing so harshly on them that they took on a whole new aura and volume in our minds so that we often missed noticing more important words in the same chapters. The Mark of the beast is only mentioned 6 times in the Bible and all in Revelation - Revelation 7:7:
- After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel...
The New Covenant refers to the Church as Israel and Israel means overcomer. Church in the Old Testament was also called by different names such as sons of Israel and Abraham’s seeds. We are the spiritual seeds of Abraham, Isaac and Israel if we overcome in Christ. I don’t pretend to understand Revelation well enough yet, and that is on a different topic, so I will leave it for now. But in verse 24 of II Timothy 2 we were called servants. William loved to create hard fast rules for words in the Bible but none of them worked consistently. Servant was one such word.
- Mark the blameless and behold the upright, for there is a future for the man of peace. But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed; the future of the wicked shall be cut off. The salvation of the righteous is from the Lord; he is their stronghold in the time of trouble. The Lord helps them and delivers them; he delivers them from the wicked and saves them, because they take refuge in him.
David didn’t place the same power on Mark as William did! The mark in Psalm 37 was for the faithful and righteous—the transgressors were simply destroyed—unmarked. Paul didn’t preach the seal of God as did William. William seemed to move the goal posts for us so that they always seemed just out of reach; while Paul said if you had a pure heart and mind toward Christ your faith in Jesus’ blood had saved you – imperfect as you were!
It becomes difficult to compare Paul with Bill because Paul consistently preached the New Covenant as taught to him by Jesus and his apostles and he was already very familiar with the six Covenants that had pointed to Messiah. William had little knowledge or understanding of the Bible overall, and taught a myriad of doctrines some that contradicted themselves over time. Paul would not have recognized Bill’s teaching as Christian. From Genesis and until today people were always saved by faith in God and a pure heart and mind toward Christ. Paul said, “The flesh profiteth nothing.”
God said to Abraham ,“Walk before me and be thou perfect. And I will make my Covenant between me and thee.” We understand “be thou perfect” as perfect, total, commitment of heart and mind to the Lord; not the perfection of unfailing sinlessness.
- So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart. Have nothing to do with foolish, ignorant controversies; you know that they breed quarrels. And the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will.
In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
And it is God who establishes us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, and who has also put his seal on us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.
- Ephesians 4:30 English Standard Version (ESV)
- Ephesians 4:17-32 (ESV)
- Revelation 7:7 (ESV)
- II Timothy 2:14-26 (ESV)
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Eph 1:11–14.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 2 Co 1:21–22.