Pembroke Bible Chapel

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Pembroke Bible Chapel Doctrine

Most individuals associated with the Brethren assemblies today are generally unaware of the history of the Brethren movement, both positive and negative. Many brethren and non-brethren Christians have various misconceptions as to the origins and teachings of the Brethren.

Furthermore, there has been a considerable drift in the doctrinal position within the Brethren assembly movement, as there has been amongst many other groups. A key area where this is seen is in the drift from a literal, Dispensational view of the Scriptures towards a figurative, Reformed/Covenantal, law based view of the Scriptures. This has resulted in a drift from the centrality of the cross for both salvation and sanctification to a man centered focus.

Many publications and articles have been written in recent years describing Brethren distinctives but there is a decided lack of availability of material on the underlying foundational theological perspective upon which these distinctives are based.

What follows is an overview of the doctrinal position of the Pembroke Bible Chapel. It is believed that this is consistent with historical brethren teaching as found in the Bible.

Doctrinal Perspectives

The Pembroke Bible Chapel is an open or independent assembly; we accept born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ into our fellowship on the basis of their profession of faith.

We are essentially independent and fundamental in our beliefs.

1. The Word

We take the Bible in its normal literal, historical, and contextual interpretation.

  • The entire Bible is understood in a literal sense except where there are obvious figurative descriptions.
  • Contextually, the Old Testament promises predict the coming of the Deliverer of mankind, the Gospels provide His credentials, and the New Testament Epistles provide teaching for His church. In order to correctly understand the Bible, it is necessary to understand the fundamental differences between the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church.

The Bible is the rule of life for every aspect of our assembly.

The Bible takes precedence over historical church interpretations and creeds.

2. Salvation

  • Salvation is made possible only through the death and shed blood of Christ on the cross. The value and extent of His sacrificial atonement is not limited in any way.
  • All men are sinners by nature and by practice - that is firstly, they enter this world in a state of separation from God, with a sinful nature inherited from their forefather Adam, and secondly, they are sinners because they sin of their own choice.
  • Man does not have unrestrained free will but is subject to the sovereign will of God in connection with both salvation and sanctification. We are neither Armenian nor strict Calvinists; the former being man focused; the latter fatalistic.
  • Salvation is made individually effectual through faith in Christ's substitutionary sacrifice. Repentance, the changing of one's mind, is integral to believing and is not a separate activity.

3. Classic Dispensationalism

Our theological framework for interpreting the Scriptures is Dispensationalism. For the history of dispensational theology click here.

Dispensationalism is distinguished by several key principles.

  • A clear distinction between God's program for Israel and God's program for the Church, and thus a clear distinction between law and grace.
  • Covenant promises to Israel are unconditional and eternal.
  • A consistent and regular use of the normal historical, geographical, literal principle of interpretation.
  • The understanding of the ultimate purpose of God as His own glory rather than the salvation of mankind. Thus the focus of dispensationalism is God oriented.
  • The church is a distinctive organism. The church does not begin until the day of Pentecost, during the NT era. This also means that the church did not exist in any form in the OT.

Another feature that is associated with dispensationalism, though not so commonly recognized, is that Christian growth or sanctification is based on our identification with Christ's death and resurrection which effectively deals with our old nature.

4. Identification Truths for Spiritual Growth

The basis for all growth is the principle of our identification with Christ and the cross. Click here for details.

For more information on this doctrine see the references page. The best overall presentation of these truths is given in the Green Letters. Two parts of this book are on the reference page: "Principles of Spiritual Growth" , and "Reckoning for Spiritual Growth" by Stanford. Several other excellent reference books on this subject are "Romans Verse by Verse" by Newell, "The Normal Christian Life" by Nee, Bone of His Bone by Huegel, Born Crucified by Maxwell, The Law of Liberty in the Spiritual Life by Hopkins, and What is Man? by Austin-Sparks, the latter giving a detailed discussion of the body soul and spirit.

Our identification with Christ includes the following principles:

  • The believer's old self, his Adamic nature, was crucified with Christ on the cross some 2000 years ago. This is to be reckoned as true. (Romans 6:6)
  • The believer was raised from this death and given a new nature, and made a new creation, which is alive to God. This is to be reckoned as true. (Romans 6:11)
  • The believer is joined to the risen Christ and is now positionally and spiritually with Christ in the heavens seated at the father's right hand. (Ephesians 1:3, 20; 2:6; Colossians 3:1)
  • The believer is to recognize that he is now under new ownership and as such he is to offer himself exclusively for God's use. (Romans 6:13, 19)
  • The believer is to be experientially directed by the Holy Spirit in every area of life. This means we recognize that we, in and of ourselves, can do nothing. (Romans 7 and 8)
  • Our old self, must stand aside and allow Christ to work in and through us. (Galatians 2:20)

These growth truths are integral to

  • Our deliverance from the reign of sin and the old man;
  • Our freedom from the principle of law;
  • Our position of full assurance, complete acceptance, and rest in the Lord Jesus at the right hand of the Father; and,
  • God's efficacious purpose in conforming us to the image of His Son.

5. Future Events

The next event on God's timetable is viewed as the Rapture of the church.

We hold to a future literal 7 year Tribulation and literal 1000 year Millennium. These two events are primarily related to national Israel.

6. The Church as Distinct from Israel

The church is completely distinct from national Israel. For a comparison see Table 2 here.

We are under the headship of Christ and in no sense under any of the covenants.

7. The Covenants

God has entered into several covenants with man on the earth.

Two were unconditional covenants between God and all mankind, one through Noah and one through Abraham. The Noahic Covenant was an agreement never to destroy the earth again by flood. The Abrahamic Covenant was a promise to bring blessing to all the nations of the earth.

One Covenant was conditional between God and Israel through Moses. This Mosaic Covenant is the only conditional covenant; conditioned on Israel keeping the law of Moses.

One covenant has yet to be fulfilled. It is an unconditional covenant between God and national Israel to be implemented in the future Millennial Kingdom. This New Covenant will be inaugurated and fulfilled at the second coming of Christ. It is strictly an earthly covenant. It will be God's absolute rule of law on earth under the King.

The believing Church, although now physically present on the earth, is seen by God as now positionally present with Christ in Heaven. This is a living relationship between Christ Himself and His heavenly people. The church, individually and collectively, is indwelt, directed, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. To see the relationship between the church and the covenants see Table 1 here.

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