What’s A “Reformed Church?”

Posted by Rural Missourian on Feb 13th, 2009

Some of you in commenting on my last post on The “Agrarian” Minded Church, asked me what I meant by a “reformed church.” It’s a great question that I felt be best answered in another post, rather than as just a passing comment, though my meager answer below does not do it justice, by any means. Simply put, a reformed church is one that subscribes to the “Reformed Faith,” which says far more than what appears. As I acknowledge there are variations to the position I hold, I ask my fellow brothers and sisters that ascribe to the Reformed Faith to grant me some room here in presenting (from my postmillennial-covenantal worldview) a brief, very limited description of the “Reformed Faith.” My intention here is to help give understanding to my previous post on the “Agrarian” Minded Church, and not to start a massive diatribe or debate. It would take several lengthy posts to even begin to address the rich theology and glorious history behind the Reformed Faith, which unbeknownst to most Americans today was very common among the churches in America in its early days. It was the Reformed Faith of the Puritans, Pilgrims, Baptists, and other Calvinistic minded churches that established the early communities and colonies that eventually formed our country and the one that guided our founders to give us biblically constituted forms of government that establish executive, legislative, and judiciary branches (Isa. 33:22) as checks and balances against civil tyranny.

The Reformed faith was born of the Great Reformation that took place in Europe between the 1300’s and 1600’s and spread as light to the shores of America. Its foundation is based upon the Doctrines of Grace, otherwise referred to by many as Calvinism, which emphasizes that salvation is all of God’s grace, the sole work of the Holy Spirit unaided by any human effort or cooperation. Because fallen man is born dead (not mostly dead) in his trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1-3), an enemy of God by virtue of his inherent depraved nature (Rom. 5:10, 8:7), he is utterly unable to choose life, thus, regeneration precedes both faith and conversion (Rom. 8:29-30, Eph. 2:4-10), and not the other way around as is taught in the doctrine of Decisional Regeneration, where the unregenerate man decides to exercise faith, which action leads to the Lord regenerating him.

Reformed theology employs a covenantal approach to understanding Scripture, where the Lord is Sovereign over all aspects of His creation, where Jesus Christ, King over all rulers and High Priest of the New Covenant, is seated at the right hand of Father on His throne in Heaven, exercising all authority both in Heaven and earth over all powers, principalities, rulers, and over every name that is named.

Most regrettably, however, the Reformed faith over the last several generations has for some become a tradition where application is wanting, though its organic concept stems from the biblical mandate that the Lord’s people in every generation are—by God’s grace as He works in them both to will and do according to His good pleasure (Heb. 13:20-21)—to reform all of their ways according to the Word of God, the standard for the whole of man for the whole of life, as they love God in keeping His commandments (1John 5:2-5).

The worldview born of the Reformed Faith is not one of doom & gloom and pessimistic fatalism, but is hope filled, proactive, though decidedly sober, that unreservedly advances the cause and crown rights of Christ in preaching and living out the glorious Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Neither is it a pie-in-sky worldview that sees the world through rosy glasses, since it is also biblically covenantal, which means that the Lord is faithful and just to judge His people when they rebel and break covenant, just as He blesses them when they obey and keep covenant with Him. The testimony of God’s people under both the Old and New Covenants shows a history of ups and downs, which reflects their battle with the flesh Gal. 5:16-17, where at times they flourish in obedience and only to be followed by times where they drift into generational sin and fall into captivity (a covenantal sanction) under their enemies (which is where I see American Christendom today). I highly recommend that the reader carefully read Nehemiah chapter nine, since it details the up and down history of Israel and, most importantly, gives the reason and the solution, a return to faithful covenant keeping, which the Lord mercifully works in them.

But as I am covenantally postmillennial in my worldview, I see the present dire circumstances of our nation’s rapid plunge into economic chaos and cultural destruction, not as the cataclysmic end of a world ostensively ruled by the devil (for he has already been dethroned – John 12:30-32, 16:7-11, Heb. 2:14-15), but as the Lord’s just wrath and sore chastisement (covenantal sanctions) upon America for the generational covenant breaking of American Christendom, which turned its back on Him (particularly His commandments) to embrace the peace and prosperity of our nation’s wicked economic system (Deu. 23:6, Ezra 9:12-15) that now enslaves the American people under perpetual debt (just as Thomas Jefferson warned us).

Being the ever faithful covenant keeper (Deu. 7:9-10, Psa. 103:17-19, 2Cor. 1:18-22), the Lord without fail keeps His word with His people throughout all their generations. Though we are discovering just how much that can hurt (Jer. 30:12-17, Heb. 10:29-31, 12:5-13), it is truly good news, as well, for He is merciful with His people and does leave them under His judgments without tangible hope (Psa. 35, 103: 8-19)!

Jeremiah 29:10-14

10 For thus says the Lord: After seventy years are completed at Babylon, I will visit you and perform My good word toward you, and cause you to return to this place.11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.12 Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.13 And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.14 I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will bring you back from your captivity; I will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will bring you to the place from which I cause you to be carried away captive.

 

Now if God was this merciful with His people under the Old Covenant, how much more merciful is He under the New Covenant, which is far better being based upon better promises (Heb. 8:6)? Contrary to popular theological pessimism, there is a biblical remedy for our dire circumstances, as there has always been for the Lord’s people when they find themselves under the yoke of the wicked (because of their generational disobedience). If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chr. 7:14). Contrary to Hollywood disaster movies where salvation and restoration happens overnight, the healing of our nation, the Lord willing (which I think He is as demonstrated throughout history), will not happen over night nor without tremendous painful cost for the consequences of our generational sins will take some time, likely a few generations, to work through (Psa. 99:8).

In attempting to answer the question first posed I know that I have likely opened the door to many more questions and plenty of doctrinal challenges, which goes with the territory. I hope, however, that I have given enough to the reader that they might know what I mean in an overall sense by a reformed church. As you can see I by no means made the attempt systematically. As there is such diversity among reformed churches, I have purposely left out church polity, worship and liturgy styles, practices, etc. Here is a link to a website where a number of articles have been posted on the subject: Reformed Theology. Here is also a link to great website on the Puritans and Puritanism, A Puritan’s Mind. — The Rural Missourian

5 Responses

  1. Dedra Galyon Says:

    Thank you, dear Brother, for the excellent summary of our faith. Solo Deo Gloria!

  2. Bob Mothershed Says:

    Great links. I have never found Five Solas before so was happy to add another great resource to the list. We continue to pray that many more will consider well the historic faith and abandon the wretched false-revivalism of our day. We also pray that the Church would repent of her ways. Our Pastor is forever emphasizing that the duty is ours, not the citizen of San Francisco ( though we pray for their repentance also), but primarily it is we, the Church, that have broken covenant and brought these things on ourselves. We wait earnestly for the mercy of God to be renewed upon us.

  3. Claudio Gomes Says:

    Thank you for your time in answering our question!

    Claudio.

  4. Robert Says:

    My journey into the gospel has landed my firmly in the lap of reformation theology.

    I always wondered why I had to leave churches and why the church we see today looks so much like the world.

    I believe the Lord is leading me to the answer: It is Christ and Christ alone. It is Christ who determines whether we truly believe, not us (John 2:25).

    Confidence in a past decision and not an ongoing work of God in one’s life is a tragic deception in my denomination (SBC).

    It explains alot.

    We have been moving toward self-sufficiency in regards to food production for the last couple years.

    I would like to be able to say the recession is for the world, but I’m not there yet. But he impact for us is minimal as we are debt-free.

  5. Matt Davis Says:

    “I highly recommend that the reader carefully read Nehemiah chapter nine, since it details the up and down history of Israel and, most importantly, gives the reason and the solution, a return to faithful covenant keeping, which the Lord mercifully works in them.”

    Verse 38 – In view of all this, we are making a binding agreement (covenant), putting it in writing, and our leaders, our Levites and our priests are affixing their seals to it.

    This is our 3rd son’s (Nehemiah) namesake. It is our prayer that he will, through multi-generational faithfulness, work to lead God’s people back to faithful covenant keeping.

    Another great link is Monorgism.com. It has been a blessing to me in moving into and through the Reformed faith.

    I hope all is well with the Saints in Rayville. God Bless.

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