This article is one in a series of studies on the Holy Spirit and the baptism of the Holy Spirit - you are currently on the topic that is in bold:
- The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
- The Evidence of the Holy Spirit
- Speaking in tongues
- Holy Spirit
- Spirit of... (Bible Study)
- The Spirit (Bible Study)
William Branham taught the evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person's life was believing William Branham's message. But what does the Bible teach?
What the Bible says
What does the Bible say is the evidence of the Holy Spirit in a person's life?
First, there is a subjective testimony of the Holy Spirit within our hearts bearing witness that we are God’s children:
- For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God...
- By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
This would include being led by the Holy Spirit:
- For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.
In addition, if the Holy Spirit is genuinely at work in our lives, he will be producing the kind of character traits that Paul calls “the fruit of the Spirit”:
- But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Another evidence of work of the Holy Spirit is continuing to believe and accept the sound teaching of the church. Those who begin to deny major doctrines of the faith give serious negative indications concerning their salvation:
- No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also. 24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.
- We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.
Finally, a major area of evidence that we are genuine believers is found in a life of obedience to God’s commands:
- Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
- Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
Details of William Branham's teaching
William Branham's teaching on the evidence of the Holy Spirit changed significantly over his ministry.
First, the Holy Spirit is love
William Branham initially believed that the Holy Spirit was the love of God and not speaking in tongues:
- Just like now, this is going to hurt you. But I'm responsible with God's Word, willing to discuss It, any time. Here's where you Pentecostal people has made your mistake, many of you setting here, of teaching the initial evidence of the Holy Ghost, speaking in tongues being the Holy Ghost. Why, speaking in tongues is all right, but that is an attribute. That isn't the Holy Ghost; that's what the Holy Ghost does.
- The Holy Ghost is the love of God. I can prove it by the Bible. "Though I speak with tongue of men and Angels, and have not love, it profit me nothing." If you want a apple tree, and just got an apple, you're a long ways from getting a tree. See, it's an attribute.
- If you want to know what I think the evidence of the Holy Ghost is, it's love. And that's right. I don't care what else, you can scream, shout, or do whatever you want to, if you haven't got love, Paul said, "You got nothing." That's right. You got to have love to go with this there. You got that without love, you haven't got it yet, 'cause God is love. And no--and there he goes. And up into the country...
Then, it was the fruit of the Spirit
He later added that the evidence of the Holy Spirit was the fruit of the Spirit (which includes love):
- Heavenly Father, tonight, knowing that hour is close, knowing that we're living in the end time, knowing that those old trees are going on, here is that vine bringing tonight, filled with the Holy Ghost, bringing forth fruit, the evidence of the Holy Spirit, being among us. How thankful we are, Lord. We could raise our hands and praise Thee and praise Thee over and over for all Thy goodness and mercy. How wonderful and how marvelous are Thy ways. We thank and praise Thee with all of our heart.
- We put so much stress on the evidence of the Holy Ghost. The Methodist said you have to shout 'fore you got It. A lot of Methodist shouted and didn't have It. The Pentecostal said speak with tongues when you got it. A lot of them spoke in tongues and didn't have It. That's right. But, brother, when you come to a place where you got love, it never will fail.
- So, there's nothing you can say is the evidence of the Holy Ghost, unless it's your life that you live.
- There's not one thing left in the Bible, as "evidence of the Holy Ghost," only the fruits of the Spirit. Find out any place that Jesus said so. Yes, sir. The evidence of the Holy Ghost is the fruit of your Spirit. Jesus said so, "By their fruit you shall know them." "And the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, peace, gentleness, meekness. And the fruit of the enemy is enmity, hatred, malice, strife, and so forth; that's the fruit of the enemy." So, you can judge by the way you're living, where you're standing with God. If your whole heart is in love with Him, and you love Him and are gentle, and live with Him daily, you know you've passed from death unto Life. If it isn't, and you're otherwise, you're just impersonating a Christian. That's right. Which, all carnal impersonations will certainly be exposed. We know that.
- I believe in speaking in tongues, but I don't take it to be the only evidence of the Holy Spirit. No, sir. The fruit of the Spirit is the evidence.
- Now, don't you get a hold of that. I spoke with tongues, and that's the evidence of the Holy Ghost." If your life... If you can still cut your hair, if you can still do these things the Bible says not do; you could speak with tongues all day and night, and it's still nothing to do with God. The tree is known by its fruit.
William Branham even went so far as to state something that was complete nonsense:
- When it come to being fruits of the Spirit, kind and gentle, I guess there wasn't a one of those priest but what could outshine Jesus Christ in it. He went to the temple, plaited ropes, looked upon them with anger, and turned over their tables, and run them out of the place. Is that right? The Bible said He looked upon them with anger. The Bible said that. That's exactly right. So see, those priest were gentle, meek, understanding men. When it come to the fruits of the Spirit, they could show more fruits of the Spirit than Jesus ever could.
This last statement is, of course, a completely incorrect statement.
Finally, the evidence is believing in William Branham
But then in 1964. William Branham changed his mind again and began teaching that the evidence of the Holy Spirit was believing William Branham's message:
- Now, that's no evidence of the Holy Ghost. See? You can't rely upon that. You can't rely upon the fruit of the Spirit, because the first fruit of the Spirit is love. And the Christian Science exercise more love than anybody I know of, and they even deny Jesus Christ being Divine. See? There's only one evidence of the Holy Spirit that I know of, and that is a genuine faith in the promised Word of the hour.
- Now we have been constantly saying that the true evidence of being baptized with the Holy Ghost is for the believer to receive the Word for the age in which he lives.
- The evidence of receiving the Holy Ghost today is just the same as it was back in the day of our Lord. It is receiving the Word of truth for the day in which you live. Jesus never did stress the importance of the Works as He did the Word.
The problem with William Branham's interpretation is that it is not based on the Bible.
The scripture does say that:
- When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.
However, this passage can only be interpreted properly by the context of Jesus' words. Who was he speaking to? The disciples! When the Holy Spirit was poured out on the day of Pentecost, the Spirit did lead them into all truth and they wrote it down on paper to form the New Testament, the source of truth for Christians. It is clear that the apostles were the divinely authorized agents through which the Holy Spirit proclaimed the final revelation of Jesus Christ.
Indeed, the apostles claimed this revelatory power (John 20:31; 1 Cor. 2:13; 1 Thess. 4:2; 2 Thess. 2:2; 1 John 2:19; 4:6), claiming the church was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets” (Eph. 2:20). The early church recognized this authority and “they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching” (Acts 2:42). The apostles were the eyewitnesses of Christ (Acts 1:22), even Paul (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:5–9). Since these divinely authorized channels of “all truth” died in the first century, it follows that divine revelation ceased with them. If revelation ceased, there was no longer a need for new revelation.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ro 8:15–16.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Jn 4:13.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ro 8:14.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Ga 5:22–23.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Jn 2:23–24.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Jn 4:6.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Jn 2:4–6.
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), 1 Jn 3:24.
- ISRAEL.AND.THE.CHURCH.2_ JEFF.IN IC 35-64 THURSDAY_ 53-0326
- GOD'S.PREPARATION_ LOUISVILLE.KY THURSDAY_ 54-0401
- THE.TRUE.VINE.AND.A.FALSE.VINE_ MACON.GA TUESDAY_ 55-0607
- LOVE_ SHREVEPORT.LA THURSDAY_ 56-0726
- HEBREWS.CHAPTER.FIVE.AND.SIX.1_ JEFF.IN HEB SUNDAY_ 57-0908M
- HEBREWS.CHAPTER.SIX.2_ JEFF.IN HEB SUNDAY_ 57-0908E
- GOD.HIDING.HIMSELF.IN.SIMPLICITY.THEN.REVEALING.HIMSELF.IN.THE.SAME_ JEFF.IN SUNDAY_ 63-0317M
- THE.FLASHING.RED.LIGHT.OF.THE.SIGN.OF.HIS.COMING_ JEFF.IN V-5 N-4 SUNDAY_ 63-0623E
- William Branham, 64-0823E - Questions And Answers #2, para. 45-46
- QUESTIONS.AND.ANSWERS.2_ JEFF.IN COD SUNDAY_ 64-0823E
- 155-2, SMYRNAEAN.CHURCH.AGE, CHURCH.AGE.BOOK CPT.4
- 169-4, PERGAMEAN.CHURCH.AGE, CHURCH.AGE.BOOK CPT.5
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Jn 16:13.
- Norman L. Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Baker Reference Library (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1999), 471.