The Olive Branch: Sweet or Sour?
NCW 76, July-September 2002
Q. I just finished reading Section 217 and it was inspirational and something I needed for today. I have been engulfed in the writings, psalms, and revelations in the Olive Branch and have found nothing like it save the Sacred Scriptures (the Bible). Sweet water can not come from a bitter well - this well is not bitter from which these things come ... Thank you for sharing with me that section from the Olive Branch. I find it a great compliment to the Sacred Scriptures.
A. The response we get to the Olive Branch, which technically is actually only for use by the ministers of NCCG/BCAY, is of course very varied, the approaches to it being very different. Any new revelation must, of course, always be strictly tested against the previously revealed canon of Scripture (the Bible) before being accepted even in a secondary canonical sense, and in practice that means testing by the New Covenant Christian Community or Church. This one might call the "Berean approach".
The subjective approach is always more difficult because the reference is a person's soul which is always in different states of sanctification, or lack of it. Only yesterday someone said that the Olive Branch made them sad. Another once told me it made him afraid. And if that is the case, then it was obviously not for those persons ... at least then. Others have described loathing, and one couple expressed the delightful horror of feeling that they were talking with Yahweh face-to-face. When it comes to testing its spirit we again face many problems, for to one person the "Spirit" says it is true and to another that it is "false", or its various parts (some reject it en masse, and others certain portions).
It has always been our position that the Olive Branch is principally for those who come to this New Covenant work, though others outside of it may well be blessed by portions of it. It is also true that not every revelation is of comparable depth or inspiration. Thus some of the lists of the kings of Israel recorded in Chronicles do not inspire in quite the same way as does Paul's Psalm to the Excellence of Love (1 Cor.13). And finally, different parts of Scripture will speak to different people at different times and in different ways. The fact that one is indifferent or even hostile to some scripture one day does not, of course, make it false necessarily. The next day it may sing the sweet melodies of heaven to the soul.
The important thing is that one is led by the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit) for ones personal edification. But being as this is a very subjective realm, it is possibly best left to the individual. The Olive Branch is not canon like the Bible, but more like a Priesthood Manual for NCCG/BCAY ministers, to enable them to deepen their relationship to Yah'shua (Jesus) and run the congregations. The relevance of Yahweh's Word is always in what it conveys to the soul and what the soul can in turn convey to others by way of bringing salvation, consolation or other spiritual blessing.
I suppose, therefore, New Covenant Christians view scriptures in a slightly different way to many fundamentalist Protestants. And whilst we are certainly (when it comes to the Bible) committed to the belief in the inerrancy of the original Hebrew and Aramaic autographs (we regard the Olive Branch as principally conceptual revelation and not therefore necessarily verbally inerrant), we are mostly interested in the life-giving Ruach (Spirit) that lies behind it (2 Cor.3:6) and the way that is able to transform souls. If Scripture does not bring spiritual life and rejuvenation, then its purpose has been defeated and it is hardly of any use.
There has been fierce debate over the Olive Branch both within and outside NCCG/BCAY at different times, and for some years it was even put aside (1992-6) so that unity could be first built on the more important corpus of divine writing, the Bible. It is by no means indispensable, but nevertheless quite useful. The Olive Branch is not studied in the local colonies (congregations), only the Bible, though occasional references may be made to it. It's principle use is in the Holy Order for Priesthood training and for private devotions.
The "sweet/sour" test may in principle be applied to any non-Biblical writing, as it is. It was certainly Yah'shua's (Jesus') counsel that it be applied for a wide variety of human interactions, remembering though that there can also be sweet and bitter counterfeits, and that ultimately subjectivity is not the best arbiter of truth. Thus the apostle John was told that whereas one aspect of something right may be sweet, another part may be bitter (Rev.10:9-10). The truth does not always comfort but may at times condemn also. The important thing is the end result of the counsel, instruction or revelation - for if then it is not redemptive/sweet, quite possibly it is not right.
In the end, then, we are forced back to comparison with the original ruler of truth, the Bible, and the constant need for holiness and cultivation of the Ruach (Spirit) in our lives. Yahweh blesses in many ways.
This page was created on 16 June 2004
Last updated on 16 June 2004
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