Faith and belief

What is faith?

Faith is the substantiating of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. It is a gift from God, given to every repentant sinner, and is not dependent on works done. It comes by God’s word and always clings to God’s word and is nourished by God’s word. It is the inward energy of grace that holds fast to the truth. It is the reception of Divine testimony. Faith is the revelation of the object of faith to the soul by the Holy Spirit, it is real and living.

Faith is in God and the Person of Christ and in the work of Christ in dying for sinners, and shedding His blood, on the cross.

How do I know God?

The consciousness of the existence of a Supreme Being or power is often ignited as a soul contemplates with awe the perfect order of creation or through personal experiences. This recognition, however useful, does not establish communication between the soul and God.

The enlightened soul learns God through the Lord Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. John1v18 “no man has seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.” Through the scriptures we learn God, in a Man whose perfect life expressed His love towards all men.

What is involved in the doctrine of separation?

The principle of separation is practised by all people, nations and religions in some form or other.

The Bible refers to it in many passages – from Genesis chapter 1, where God divided between light and darkness, right through to Revelation chapter 22, where there are those who are within and those who are without.

The Lord Jesus said as to His disciples “they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world” John 17 v14. The world in this sense refers to the system of sin and lawlessness under the domination of Satan.

As a Church, we wholeheartedly seek to dedicate our lives to this principle. We choose to follow the teachings of Jesus as set out in the Gospels and taught in the Epistles of the New Testament. Refer passages such as Matthew 16 v24-26, Mark 10 v28-30, 2 Timothy 2 v19 and 2 Corinthians 6v14-18.

Separation represents a moral distinction between what is right and what is wrong, what is righteous and what is unrighteous. Christians as believers on the Lord Jesus Christ are exhorted to “refuse the evil and to choose the good” Isaiah 7 v15.

We make a commitment to eat and drink only with those with whom we would celebrate the Lord’s Supper – that is the basis of our fellowship.

This does not mean that we hold ourselves as superior to our fellow men, women and children. We live and work harmoniously alongside them, in the mainstream of society.

Our practice of separation does not preclude interaction in the broader community.

We help our neighbours and they help us. We care for and protect their property and they do ours.

We appreciate the good that we receive from many of our fellow citizens, and welcome the opportunity to fulfil our responsibility in the community. Our attitude is to do good to all, as opportunities arise.

Do Brethren believe they are the only ones that are saved?

No, not at all. The Brethren believe the Lord knows those that are His, and everyone who shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Romans 10v13). They believe there are many true believers, and that being one of the Brethren is not a guarantee of salvation.

What do PBCC believe happens to us after we die?

Scripture teaches us that when a believer in the Lord Jesus dies, they are immediately in His presence “today shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23: 43)

When Jesus comes again the dead in Christ will be raised first and the living who remain “shall be caught up together with them in the clouds …and thus we shall be always with the Lord”. (1 Thessalonians 4 v 17)

Are the PBCC members Christian?

Most certainly. The first use of the word ‘Christians’ in the Holy Bible is in Acts 11 v 26. The word described persons who received the gospel, put their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, received the Holy Spirit and were committed to gathering together to pursue the teachings of Christ and His apostles.

What is the PBCC lifestyle actually like?

Are there specific rules that the PBCC must follow?

There are no specific rules. Brethren universally maintain beliefs and a lifestyle that is based on the Holy Scriptures and we are genuine in our endeavours to secure a sustainable structure of family life for the enduring happiness of our members however diverse in character, capacity and cultural diversity.

Why don't the PBCC have clergy?

The Brethren do not have a formal hierarchical structure or any paid clergy. They recognise that Christ has given “gifts to men……some apostles, and some prophets, and some evangelists, and some shepherds and teachers” (Ephesians Ch4).

At its commencement the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church began as a brotherly fellowship of “Brethren” who rejected an ecclesiastical arrangement and focused instead on the individual’s direct relationship with God and the emphasis this placed on personal responsibility.

Can I talk to a member about the word of God?

Yes, PBCC members are glad to speak about their faith and the Holy Scriptures.

Why do PBCC members street preach?

Do members have to be born in fellowship?

How can I become a member?

Our evangelical work is intended to lead people to Christ for the salvation of their souls for now and eternity. Any that are prepared to be committed to our beliefs and way of life may choose to join our church.

Family and community

Are the Plymouth Brethren a cult?

No, the Plymouth Brethren are not a cult. Established for over 180 years, the Brethren are a mainstream Christian Church that has more than 300 autonomous assemblies in 18 countries around the world and whose members extensively engage with the wider community on a daily basis.

Do the Plymouth Brethren break up families?

No. The incidence of marriage break-up amongst the Plymouth Brethren Christian Church is fortunately very rare and well below societal norms.

Any breakdown of relationships within a family is always tragic and every effort is expended to prevent this occurring or to try and bring in reconciliation if it does.

Why is family so important to the PBCC?

The preservation and protection of the family unit is fundamental to the Brethren.

The conception of children is prized as a blessing from God (Psalm 127, verse 3). Children are loved and cared for as in any enlightened community.

The family is a principle set on by God and the Holy Bible is full of it from Genesis right through. It has been a binding force in the Western world where Christianity has prospered.

Do the Brethren only help the Brethren?

There is a strong and generous charitable spirit among Brethren, and this provides a constant source of help for those in need. This benevolence is all embracing and includes financial, social, pastoral, family and health assistance, and may involve guidance, training and ongoing support.

Brethren also support many outside charities, and have generously contributed to worthy causes.

Do PBCC members socialise with people outside of the Church?

We make a commitment to eat and drink in social fellowship only with those with whom we would celebrate the Lord’s Supper – that is the basis of our fellowship. This does not mean that we hold ourselves as superior to our fellow men, women and children. We live and work harmoniously alongside them, in the mainstream of society.

Our practice of separation does not preclude interaction in the broader community.

We help our neighbours and they help us. We care for and protect their property and they do ours.

We appreciate the good that we receive from many of our fellow citizens, and welcome the opportunity to fulfil our responsibility in the community. Our attitude is to do good to all, as opportunities arise.

Meetings and the church

How do Brethren dress for Church?

Members dress in a way that is respectful and honouring to the sanctity of the Church. Men usually dress in informal business style clothes ie. long dress trousers, business shirt and jacket as needed. The women wear dresses or skirts and always attend the services wearing a headscarf.

What holidays do Brethren celebrate?

Although we look forward to and appreciate the ‘Public Holidays’ throughout the year as providing a good opportunity for family time, in the sense of ‘religious observance” we don’t celebrate any particular holiday.

Our celebration is the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) which we hold weekly.

Why don't Brethren Churches have crosses or symbols of Jesus?

We don’t have these symbols on or in our Churches as the emphasis is on the moral or spiritual bearing of the Cross on our hearts and on our lives.

How often do Brethren attend Church?

Meetings are arranged every day and members attend as they are able.

The Lord’s Day (Sunday) is a special day and starts early with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. This is followed by a Bible reading later and then gospel preachings. Meetings that day are well attended. Bible readings, prayer meetings and other meetings during the week draw good attendances.

Technology, law and politics

Has the Brethren approach to technology changed recently?

PBCC members use technology everyday in their home, school and work.

Our school network, OneSchool, is built around technology rich classrooms. Plymouth Brethren children are taught at these schools by highly skilled teachers who use innovative and progressive digital learning methods.

Many of our members, especially those who work in family businesses use the latest technologies available as well as computers and phones at home, work and school just like everyone else.

Do members have radios, television or computers?

Along with many persons in the wider community we are concerned about content coming into our households that is corrupting or damaging to children and vulnerable younger family members. Most members would use computers at home, work or school, with appropriate internet filtering. TV and radio are not used, except in an educational setting at school, due to the fact that it is very difficult to filter out content.

Is it true Brethren don't pay tax?

This is completely false. Brethren members are subject to the taxation laws of the country they live in just like any other member of the general public. Many Brethren own businesses which are operated within the framework of all current applicable laws in the country of operation, including taxation, employee benefits and safety requirements with no special exemptions, tax or otherwise.

The Church does not own or operate any businesses and taxation fraud is regarded seriously and would be a basis for excommunication from the Church.

Does the Church donate money to conservative political parties?

The Church itself does not and has never made donations to any political party.

At times, church members have exercised their democratic right to make public statements or donations to individual politicians, this is their own matter.

Women in the church

What is the position of women in the Church?

The role of women in the Church is very important including direct involvement in the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) and selection and announcing each hymn at every gathering.

The spiritual influence for good that the women “sisters” provide is highly valued amongst the congregation. In the Bible the moral equivalence of a husband and wife; Prisca and Aquila is very notable.

Why do Brethren ladies wear head scarves?

Scripture enjoins that every woman praying with uncovered head causes herself shame and for this reason Brethren women wear head scarves whilst attending church services.

It is common for Brethren ladies to wear a ribbon or headband when out amongst the general public.

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