Saturday, 1 April 2017

Doctrine - Bread breaking

Oh crumbs!

OAC member #1 wrote: “...No razor shall come on the head of Samson because his might is in his hair. So beloved let's look this teaching in a spiritual concept, what is this hair that must not be cut and who is Samson today?...”

OAC member #2 wrote: “…samson ke moya wo o phelang within us.. n de hair dat must nt b cut off is our own identity of being called israelites or child of God.. if separat ourselves frm God,dats wen de hair has been cut off...”
For those of you who don’t understand Southern Sotho, this member is saying “…samson is a living spirit within us… and the hair that must be cut off is our own identity of being called Israelites or child of God… if we separate ourselves from God, that’s when the hair has been cut off…”

OAC member #3 wrote: “...Sal se dusi sewe dae se aktiwiteite dus war os krag le een dag weg van jo aktiwiteit af en j vloor i vlegsels dus mar my siening goeie dag my broeders en susters...”
For those of you who don’t understand Afrikaans slang, this member is saying “...Will say it’s the seven days of activities that’s where our power lies one day absent from your activity and you lose your pleats that’s my view good day my brothers and sisters...”

OAC member #1 replied: “...Samson can also be the officer that leads us we as the members and the hair is us brothers and sisters because without us Priest/Anderdeacon has no power...”

The comments above are actual examples of “bread breaking” and in this instance the “bread breaking” is about Samson and his hair!

“Breaking bread” in OAC terms is when verses of Scripture or “teachings” are discussed in imaginative detail to discover so-called hidden “mysteries” or “spiritual” interpretations. This is where the Bible loses its actual meaning in an attempt to discover its “spiritual” meaning, and imaginations run wild. This is considered as being led by the “spirit” because the “letter is dead”. Ironically, members of the OAC accuse members of other churches of believing in a “god of imagination”.

Literal breaking of bread

OAC members don’t believe Jesus performed literal miracles because they don’t believe the Bible should be interpreted literally. For instance when Jesus fed thousands with a few loaves and a few fish, the “bread” is commonly believed within the OAC to have been “teaching” which multiplied as it was discussed. The teaching gets broken down into easy to understand pieces (bite sized) because your ears are your mouth and your mind is your stomach. The fish is commonly believed within the OAC to be souls (fishers of men), and as teaching is shared, souls are added to the church.

When Jesus fed the thousands, the Bible mentions loaves. A loaf is bread that has been raised (Matthew 14:13-21, Matthew 15:32-39, Mark 6:30-44, Mark 6:52, Mark 8:1-10, Luke 9:10-17, John 6:1-15).

  • OAC members believe the loaves are words of teaching, but there are no loaves mentioned for example when Jesus spoke to the multitudes during His sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7). Jesus did however teach us to prayerfully ask for our daily bread (Matthew 6:11); and compared bread as a good gift as opposed to a stone (Matthew 7:9).
  • OAC members believe fish are souls, but there is no mention of fish for example during Peter’s sermon at Pentecost and God added to the church daily (Acts 2:14-47).

Literal loaves and fish

Jesus was quite clear when He meant for something to be understood literally or figuratively (Matthew 16:5-12, Mark 8:14-21, Luke 12:1-3 etc.) The rest of the Bible is also very clear when something should be understood figuratively (1 Corinthians 5:6-8, 1 Corinthians 10:15-17, Galatians 5:7-9 etc.)

We read about the breaking of bread in Luke 24:35, Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 20:7. When read in context we see that the activity of breaking bread is not the same activity as expounding Scripture:

  • Expounding Scripture (Luke 24:25-27, Luke 24:32)
  • Breaking bread (Luke 24:30, Luke 24:35)

Later we read that Jesus after He was resurrected ate a piece of broiled fish when He appeared to His disciples (Luke 24:36-43).

Jesus’ disciples came together daily for meals together and this included sharing their bread because they had all things common (Acts 2:44).

We also read about the unleavened bread that Jesus broke during Passover. The Passover meal is a family meal and Jesus also had a special Passover meal (commonly known as the Lord’s Supper) with His disciples (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 14:12-26 and Luke 22:7-38). He also washed His disciples’ feet (John 13:2-17) before the meal signifying by this humble deed that God’s power lies in love and sacrifice. His disciples are expected to serve one another in humility.

The breaking of bread is not to be understood literally according to members of the OAC, but they celebrate “avondmaal” once a month where they literally break unleavened bread (matzo) during the service.

1 Corinthians 11:26 For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord's death till he come.

If breaking bread at “avondmaal” is to be done literally, then there’s no reason why members’ feet shouldn’t also be literally washed prior to “avondmaal” being served according to the example that Jesus set for us (John 13:8-17).

In summary, “bread breaking” in the OAC is a form of Bible study, but without confirmation from the Bible because “the letter killeth”.

Let’s read “the letter killeth” in the context in which it was written:

2 Corinthians 3:3-7 Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life. But if the ministration of death, written and engraven in stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not stedfastly behold the face of Moses for the glory of his countenance; which glory was to be done away:

The letter that kills is the Mosaic law chiselled in stone because it meant a literal death sentence to the sinner or transgressor of the law (Leviticus 20:10-21, Deuteronomy 22:22-27, John 8:4-12). The words that Jesus spoke are spirit and life and they are written in the Bible (John 6:63).

There appears to be a clear aversion in the OAC to actual Bible study. When I was still active in the OAC, single verses were always quoted out of context to mean something completely different and termed as “bread breaking”. The term “Bible study” did not exist in our vocabulary.

In July 1835, there were twelve ʺliving apostlesʺ ordained in the Albury circle. The words of these “apostles” were considered to be more authoritative and binding than Scripture. Some of them were of the highest political and social standing. Eight of them were members of the Church of England; three of the Church of Scotland and one of them from the Independents when they held their first council in Albury in 1835.

“chief-apostle” Hermann Christoph Niehaus in 1896 called the Bible “...withered hay and stinking stagnant well water...”

An OAC member wrote:
“...What God has given to the Apostles is Authority over the scriptures...”
“...the Apostolic spiritual guidence is Supreme. To us (OAC), a bible/translation will always remain just that...”

When compared to what Paul wrote, the “apostles” in modern times differ vastly from what the apostle wrote in the first century.

2 Timothy 3:15-17 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Now let’s see what actual Bible study reveals about Samson.

The angel of the Lord instructed Samson’s mother even before his birth to raise him as a Nazarite so that he could deliver Israel out of the hands of the Philistines (Judges 13:5-7). This demonstrates the fact that God has a plan, a purpose and a destiny for a person even while still in the womb which is also confirmed by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 1:5).

A Nazarite is someone who practices self denial as a spiritual discipline; they do not cut their hair and take a vow of abstinence from any food grown on the vine, including wine. Many Nazarite vows are taken on a temporary basis while some people live their entire lives under the vow (Numbers 6:2-21).

Three aspects comprised the Nazarite vow:

  1. No intoxicating drink or anything from the vine (Numbers 6:3-4)
  2. Hair must remain uncut (Numbers 6:5)
  3. No contact with the dead (Numbers 6:6-7)

Such a vow indicates the dedication of all a man’s strength and service unto the Lord (Numbers 6:8).

The definition for the Hebrew root word nâzir means to be made separate. A Nazarite therefore, is separated from worldly activities to focus on serving God alone.

Sadly, even though Samson possessed super strength through the Spirit of the Lord, he failed morally and spiritually in his calling as a Nazarite. His Nazarite vow did not make him holy.

Giving in to temptation leads to sin. Samson went to the vineyards of Timnath (Judges 14:5) which would’ve been a tempting invitation to break the Nazarite vow regarding the vine (Numbers 6:3-4). Had he avoided the vineyards he would not have encountered the lion. His encounter with the lion led to further sin (Judges 14:8-9) when he broke the Nazarite vow regarding contact with the dead (Numbers 6:6-7).

God will even use a sinful man to do His will. Samson’s acts of rebellion led him into situations that caused him to sin. God was still able to use him for His glory. Samson’s encounter with the lion would’ve given him the confidence to face the Philistines (Judges 15:3-8, Judges 15:14-16). God used Samson to lead Israel out of their oppression, despite Samson’s sin.

There are still consequences for sin. Samson’s fleshly weakness for women would ultimately lead to his downfall (Judges 14:1-3, Judges 16:1, Judges 16:4). He married a Philistine woman against his parent’s wishes and then the final part of the Nazarite vow (Numbers 6:5) was broken when his hair was cut (Judges 16:17-19). Samson gained confidence from previous violations which seemed to have gone unpunished. He thought he could continue as before, not knowing that the Lord had departed from him (Judges 16:20). Mighty Samson was reduced to a sad example of tragic ignorance; the Philistines poked his eyes out, chained him and put him in prison. King Saul also had to face the consequences of his actions when the Lord left him (1 Samuel 28:5-6).

The lesson here is that if we willingly and continually walk into temptations that lead us to sin, we will suffer the consequences of our disobedience even though God still uses us to do His will.

Samson ended up blind, humbled and in prison. In the end, Samson understood where his great strength came from – his dependence on God (Judges 16:28). Samson never understood his true purpose though, because he was still driven by personal revenge and it cost him his life. The many blessings Samson might have seen were never realized. Samson ended up killing more Philistines with one final act of strength than he did in his whole life (Judges 16:30). With his death, God’s purposes prevailed and the people of Israel were delivered from the Philistines.

The lesson here teaches us that it’s never too late to turn back to God, no matter how much time we’ve wasted.

Besides Samson, there are also other lessons in the Bible warning us against temptation which leads to sin (James 1:14-15).

  • Sin blinds (2 Peter 1:5-7)
  • Sin binds (2 Peter 2:19)
  • Sin becomes a bad habit (2 Peter 2:22)

The effects of sin are not easily removed, it is better to never yield to temptation at all. During Samson’s reign he was a bad example and ignored the consequences of sinning wilfully, he continually broke his vow.

Each of us has also been given a precious calling and a destiny. We cannot live only for ourselves or for the gratification of our fleshly desires. We were bought with a price and our lives are not our own (2 Corinthians 5:14-17). Just as Samson was given special strength by God, we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us (Philippians 4:13).

I hope that this piece of Bible study will encourage you to start reading and studying your Bible. The sword of the Spirit is the word of God (Ephesians 6:17). Reading single verses out of context and calling it “bread breaking” will only lead you further from the truth. “Private revelations” shouldn’t be trusted apart from confirmation in the literal Word because God doesn’t leave His Word to private interpretation.

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  1. Note of interest: The dates on both Constitutions that you have on the right side pane are both wrong.