“Those who have received salvation are to attribute it to sovereign grace alone, and to give all the praise to Him, who makes them to differ from others.” —Jonathan Edwards
This site is primarily about three things – Reformed Theology, Creationism, and the return of Jesus Christ. First, let’s consider what makes the Reformed Church different from today’s typical Evangelical Church.
First, the Reformed Church is different from the evangelical church in its preaching.
Reformed preachers don’t preach topical sermons. They preach through the Bible, passage by passage, line upon line, precept upon precept, one verse at a time. They use what is called the “grammatical-historical” approach to interpret the text. That is, they delve deep into the grammar of the original language and the historical context of the writer to try and understand what he is saying to his readers. Moving from passage to passage in this way keeps the preacher from straying from the original intent of the author. This also keeps him from reading his own biases into the text. The result is that the word that is preached is the Word of God in the truest sense, i.e. a genuine word from God and not the preacher.
Second, the Reformed Church is Different From the Evangelical Church in its Application of the Word of God.
Evangelical churches often work backwards from application to exposition. They start with their conclusion and then back it up with texts from the Bible. This is called “proof texting.” As with any argument, starting with the conclusion means you exclude whatever texts don’t support your thesis. That leaves scripture wide open to misinterpretation. But if you start with the text and draw out the application through the exposition, you are far more likely to come up with the meaning God intended to convey. Often, the application has become so obvious by the time the exposition is done that it requires no additional explanation.
Third, Reformed Preachers Avoid Personal Anecdotes.
Very rarely will you hear a Reformed preacher tell some significant or interesting or amusing tale. While doing so might perk up the interest of the audience, it limits the significance of the lesson to only those who can relate to the preacher’s experience. Leaving out personal anecdotes makes the message more relevant to people of different cultures, times and places. For instance, a Charles Swindoll message may strike a chord with a modern, affluent, suburban American, but it would seem alien to an Indonesian Christian who lives in a primitive Muslim culture. However, the message, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” preached by Jonathan Edwards in the eighteenth century still grips the heart today.
Fourth, While Spiritual Growth is Certainly a By-Product of Reformed Preaching, it is Not the Focus.
Reformed theology focuses like a laser on the person and work of Jesus Christ. It is forever fascinated with the grace of God in providing salvation for a fallen humanity. It doesn’t ever “move on” from salvation to spiritual growth, because salvation is a continuing process that is not dependent on a one-time decision but a constant renewal by the Holy Spirit. It never stops exploring the depths of God’s grace and mercy in redeeming creatures who were only fit for destruction. As an evangelical, I had lost my sense of wonder at God’s saving grace as I pushed forward with my “spiritual growth.” As a Reformed Christian, I was re-captivated by the unfathomable riches of God’s grace in saving me.
Fifth, Reformed Theology Does Not Distinguish Between Salvation And Sanctification.
The two are part of the same continuum from spiritual death to life to glorification. Salvation necessarily produces a life of obedience to God’s word. Absent spiritual fruit, there is no reason to believe there ever was salvation in the first place. The evangelical church, on the other hand, often distinguishes between “salvation issues” and obedience. If you “accepted Christ as your Savior,” misbehavior might result in loss of rewards, but never make you forfeit your salvation. That is why so much disgraceful behavior is tolerated in the evangelical church. It is also why there is little or no church discipline and why the outside world often views the church as a bunch of hypocrites.
Sixth, Reformed Worship Tends to be More Reverent.
Church is a place that is set apart for the express purpose of worshiping God. It looks different from the typical places people go for work or school or play. It sounds different. Sometimes it even smells different. Like the Jewish temple of old, it is a place designed especially for worshiping God. Seeker-Friendly evangelical services, on the other hand, tend to be casual and friendly to appeal to the tastes of a culture accustomed to comfort, convenience and entertainment. Even their sanctuaries with their auditorium-style seating, big stages, contemporary music, sophisticated sound systems, professional musicians and polished speakers resemble the venues of playhouses, movie theaters, and auditoriums where seekers go for entertainment. So people who live their lives to fulfill their own desires feel very comfortable in a seeker-friendly service. That is the reason why my former wife and her boyfriend began to attend the largest and most well known evangelical church in the Chicago area after they hooked up. They knew they could blend in without drawing disapproval.
Seventh, Evangelism is Not a Matter of Human Persuasion, But the Natural Outcome of Teaching and Preaching.
Reformed believers do not share their personal testimony or use an abbreviated gospel presentation to win people to Christ. They just take every opportunity to bear witness to the truth and leave the results to the Holy Spirit. Pastors don’t do altar calls and believers don’t seal the deal with a prayer of salvation so they can take credit for the eternal destiny of some soul. Since the natural man cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit, human persuasion is of no value in producing conversions. Only if the listener is moved by the Holy Spirit, will he respond in faith. If he doesn’t, there is nothing the one who shares the good news can do but pray for him. This relegates the one who shares the gospel to the role of an ambassador who is delivering a message on behalf of the sender, not a salesman who is trying to make a quota. So how does Reformed Theology change one’s perspective?
Eighth, Reformed Theology Produces Continual Joy.
I am sure you have witnessed the joy of a newborn Christian when he first comes to faith and then seen how it wanes as the years go by. He loses the sense of wonder at God’s grace and the thrill of the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. The Reformed believer never loses that initial sense of wonder and awe. It just keeps on growing. Like the Apostle Paul he can “comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge” (Eph 3:14-19). Why? Because he understands how utterly lost he really was without Christ and how hopeless he was to do anything about it. If one believes that salvation is a matter of exercising his own free will to choose Christ, then once that choice is made, its on to the next thing. But when you realize that you would be on your way to hell if God had not chosen you before the foundation of the world and that you could do absolutely nothing to influence that decision, then you are forever grateful that God chose you.
Ninth, Reformed Theology Produces Confidence in Our Position in Christ.
If, as the apostle Paul says, God chose us when we were alienated from him, then, now that we belong to Him, what could we possibly do to drive Him away? As he so eloquently says in Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” On the other hand, if you believe it was your choice to follow Christ in the first place, then there is no guarantee that you will not abandon him at some later point.
Tenth, Reformed Theology Produces Strength for Trials.
Nothing can tear us out of God’s grip. He began a good work in us and he will finish it (Phil 1:6). If Jesus is advocating for us at the right hand of God, who will bring a charge against us (Rom 8:33)? So no matter what trouble comes our way, we know that we will be able to come out with our faith in tact at the other end. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.“ (Rom 8:37). Why is Paul so sure? Because “For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom 5:7-8). If he died for us while we were sinners, why would he spare us any spiritual blessing now that we have been reconciled to him? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” (Eph 1:3)
Eleventh, Reformed Theology Produces Holiness.
Once you understand that Christ allowed himself to be separated from the Father he so deeply loved to suffer the awful rejection that we so richly deserved, you will think long and hard before doing anything that would hurt him. “For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Heb 6:4-6).
Twelfth, Reformed Theology Crushes Pride and Exalts God.
Romans 1:28-32 says, “And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done.” You can lead what you think is a perfectly moral and upright life, but if you do not acknowledge God, then as far as He is concerned you are no better than those who are “…gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless” (Rom 1:29-31). Why? Because the fact that God sent his Son to die for you when you were in such a debased state should produce a deep sense of gratitude and humility. If it does not, then you have committed the greatest sin of all – unbelief.
Thirteenth, Reformed Theology Emphasizes Discipleship Rather Than Works.
Those who believe they can make some contribution to their own salvation inevitably end up relying on their own efforts to assure their salvation. Evangelicals say they believe in salvation by grace and not by works but they constantly strive to validate that faith through a program of works. These works take the form of evangelistic meetings, Christian counseling, support groups for various problems and small groups for fellowship. The relationship between the people in these groups often lasts only as long as the program. After that, the leaders move on to the next session and the next group.
Reformed believers, on the other hand, emphasize long term spiritual growth through ongoing discipleship based on the ministry of the word of God and prayer. Problems, whatever they may be, are dealt with in the context of these relationships, not some shared issue. The objective is growth in Christian character, i.e. sanctification, not overcoming some problem.
God was faithful to me by showing me the riches of his grace through Reformed Theology.
I might have turned my back on God when the church turned its back on me, but instead God brought men like John MacArthur, R.C. Sproul and Allistair Begg into my life. You see, I never blamed God for turning his back on me. Through all my hard times, my name was always written in His book of life. For as the apostle Paul says, “He chose us in Him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” (Eph 1:4).