Viewing Some Of Church History

One of the most significant aspects of church history, is seen in a view of the so-called "Brethren Movement" of circa 1800 AD. Most Christians today have never heard of it and just continue with the various denominations and new sects being formed every year. Here is a helpful paper to show something of this revival formed in 1827, which was a faithful endeavor to return to the authority of Holy Scripture and express the truth given of "one body in Christ" in the world.

More on this subject can be found through the web site at if one would like to study and learn more of God's intent for the church, which many of us desire.

- BobL

Understanding Early Brethren History

By Robert DeWitt, 9/08

Christians ought to understand church history and recognize that the major denominated sects, which were formed by true believers after the Protestant Reformation from the Roman Catholic Religion ---circa 1500, did not have easy access to the Holy Scriptures, and most people were not literate; and they should see how the public church formed around doctrines learned from the RC religion in over 1000 years of bondage and oppression. The gospel message was revived by God and faithfully preached by a few faithful saints, but church truth was not known until God's next revival in the early 1800's. One can read more details on this history from other papers in the Christian Counsel Collection - CCC.

That recovery of church truth in 1827 was like unto the protest in circa 1500, which was more than desires of faithful men, and was a restoration of the gospel message by God of His Word to man out of the so-called "dark ages". God then began to call faithful believers out of the various denominated sects in the early 1800's (which had developed in form like the Roman religion with rituals and hierarchy); and with exercise to return to His Word and dependence on the Holy Spirit (Matt. 18:20). There were those who came together in homes in Ireland and England in simplicity like the early church, just as members of the "one body" (I Cor. 1:2; 12:12), to just continue "steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers" (Acts 2:41-42). They recognized the priesthood of believers (I Pet.2:5-10). This was a new work and revival by the Spirit and much sound ministry was written, which is available today. A lovely fellowship prevailed. The movement was blessed and spread rapidly to revive precious truth, which stood apart from the various denominated sects with their ceremonies, rituals, programs, and continued hierarchy, etc.

I think we must realize as one of those early brothers said: "...our first assembling was really marked as a small company of evangelical malcontents". There were a number of saints exercised in the 1800's about leaving the religious establishment in the world, and after the first formal gathering in 1827 Godly and learned brethren studied the Word as to church truth, and were thus able to set forth the intent of God for the church. New gatherings in Ireland and then England were such as malcontents trying to be free of the liturgy and doctrines of men. They knew something was wrong, but did not fully understand the Word. God's testimony in accord with the Holy Scripture began to be cohesive thereafter.

J. N. Darby had much gift to teach and in prophecy and was well educated --having understanding more thoroughly to "all the counsel of God", I see. One can read more about this brother in other papers we have. Other faithful brothers joined in support of fundamentals of the faith, but not all the early brethren who owned the work of revival were able teachers. Some of these got off on erroneous ways and concluded things not sound. Some divisions resulted in the formative years. We surely must not follow the writings of all of those early brothers. The important thing for us today is to not be unduly occupied with the brothers who ministered, but in appreciating that revival and discerning the ministry and comparing with the Scriptures. We find sound ministry there from the founding servants: J. N. Darby, J. G. Bellett, G. V. Wigram, W. Kelly, C. H. Mackintosh, and perhaps one or two others, though no one is perfect. Some other writers have set forth un-sound ministry about this revival to divide and promote their own interests.

I believe one needs to lay hold of church truth as given, appreciate the foundation of the faith, and then take a stand for the Lord expressing the "one body", not following prominent men and their ideas. God will lead and keep us if we cry to Him for help. We will then be able to mature in the faith and go on in happy fellowship with faithful saints in the world.
ADDENDUM 7/10: This is a foundation truth which is important to see. Some of us believe and hold to that good revival of God in 1827 ---generally known as "the Brethren Movement", and thus see our place as maintaining that work of recovery by God. We are often called by names by those who still believe in the barriers of sectarianism, but such is not true to the Word of God which does not give the church a name. We should only be believers gathered together to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone as in the beginning, and as being one in Christ we thus don't need a name.

Why was a church revival necessary? As stated above, the saints in those early years through the Middle Ages were limited in their understanding, and most did not have the written Word, so they could only speak of the gospel, which they knew as being "born of the Spirit". The revival of the nineteenth century brought forth what the church is and the believers' place in it, and united them as one testimony in the world, looking forward to our unity in heaven forever. This is all a safeguard against error, and keeps us going on in conformity to the mind of God through His Word. So, when there is dissention and separation we find that false teaching begins to rise up as the flesh asserts itself.

Some faithful ones we know are simply continuing on together by the grace of God. Does one know about this universal fellowship? The saints are not perfect, but God's path is a perfect way as expressing the truth of "the one body", which should not be divided. One may write to Bible Truth Publishers for sound literature and ministry on church truth. - RLD

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Rob Fall's picture

very interesting.

Hoping to shed more light than heat..