What is formalism? You might be surprised to know that it is not a lack of emotionalism! Formalism is a emphasis on outward appearance or form. We can be very emotional and it be just a form of worship. For example; knowing exactly when to go to the altar (“everyone else is doing it”), when to respond by clapping, or know the right times to stand up to respond to something you think you heard.

These can all be acts of formalism, especially if they are merely a trained response! Real worship is not that, it is not a “guess it is the thing to do,” but it is the real know-so of faith that is everlastingly true! Just as Bro. Branham said; “Takes all the guess out, and all the hocus-pocus out, and all the formalism out of your heart, and puts a real know-so in there, and a faith that’s everlasting true.”


Belonging to a certain church can be formalism. Yes, I believe in the local church, it is scriptural. However, to merely be a part of a church, by joining it out of form-alism, believing that this is the church where everything is going on could be just following the crowd. It is good to be a part of a church which has the right things going on as long as something is going on in you first! It reminds me of those Doctor’s of Divinity asking the Welshman; “We want to know where the revival is, and where it’s held.” He said, “Sir, you have arrived. I am the Welsh revival. The Welsh revival is in me.”


A certain local church is not going in the rapture. Just because you belong to a certain church does not mean you will go either! It is Individuals that go in the rapture! Individuals that make up the body of Christ – His Bride!

Remember this age is religious but dead and dying. Quoting William Branham; “this church age was to be a lukewarm (Rev 3:16), just beginning to get into the world. And the vine of formalism growing around the church and choking out the spiritual life of the church.”

Formalism comes to the church by looking to a man and not to God, thus a manmade salvation. You can see it when the church begins to do things like the worldly church. They look like the world, act like the world, do things the worldly denominational church does. They sing the songs of the world (contemporary gospel rock), cater to the young and old, by giving them a social gospel, even if it is contrary to the Word.

In the following quote William Branham said it like this; “That’s exactly what’s happened to the church today: wrapped itself around these creeds, and man-made things, and organizations, denominations, and getting away from the Word of God in formalism. And the church looks like the rest of the world, and acts like the rest of the world. And the first thing you know, you find the Holy Spirit’s gone.”


Formalism is a lack of understanding, worshippers that do not hear, or sometimes do not even try to understand what they are hearing, singing or worshipping. Our worship must be a living adoration from the heart! As Charles Spurgeon once wrote; “Never be content with hearing a sermon unless you can understand it, and if there be a truth that is above you, strain after it, strive to know it. …When shall we have done with formalism of worship and come into living adoration. Sometimes, for all the true singing that there is, the song might as well be in Latin or in Greek. Oh, to know what you are singing, to know what you are saying in prayer, to know what you are reading, to get at it, to come right into it, to understand it-this is the way to holy joy.”

Pastor Bill Ivy –