The Reformed Faith

Regretfully, there are as many views of the Christian Faith as there are leaves on a tree. To the best of my understanding, that view known as "Reformed" is the most biblical.

What is the Reformed view? To put it briefly, what distinguishes the Reformed Faith from other Christian viewpoints is its conviction that God is fully God – free from all influences and restrictions apart from his perfect and eternal nature. He affects all and is unaffected by any. That is what we mean when we say that God is the LORD. What I love about the Reformed understanding of the Faith is the way it exalts God above all. No view of God is greater. That is why I also believe no view is more biblical.

What we are saying is  that God rules over everything, that he is the source, the goal and the ultimate cause of everything in existence and everything that occurs. Like all of creation, man was made by God and for God, and is ever subject to God. Even when man exercises his creaturely freedom, he is never free of of God. God's freedom is by far and wide greater than man's. It incapsulates, defines and uses man's freedom for God's own purposes. Somehow, even in the worst circumstances, God is accomplishing his good, perfect and acceptable will. In hidden, inscrutable ways, God uses man's freedom without disaffecting it.

Our salvation is the fruit of that inscrutable, gracious control: enslaved and corrupted by sin, we cannot choose to repent and believe the Gospel until God gratuitously moves in our hearts by the Holy Spirit and brings us to do so. He gives us what he requires of us: faith is a gift of God. Repentance is given by divine, condescending kindness.

Our security, therefore, does not lie in the measure of faithfulness we are able to maintain. Fickle as weather and fluid as water, we would be lost if it were not for the sustaining grace of God and for his kind stubbornness, leading us on until we are finally redone into the image of his Son our Savior. Our salvation, from beginning to end, is of God. If we have been predestined to be conformed to the image of God's Son, we shall be so conformed by the power of God, exercised through the Gospel. Our security is thus not contingent on anything but God's ability to accomplish all he has set out to do. What a sweet, precious thought! What a comfort and a source of strength in our struggles! What a gloriously divine response to our faliures!

Other aspects of the primacy of God are also vital to a Reformed understanding of the Faith. For example, Reformed Christians affirm that God's primacy expresses itself in the fact that mankind is bound to and will be judged by the moral standards God has established in his word. As a result, Christians love and seek to obey those standards as the inevitable consequence of their salvation. The standards are clear and consistent. They are altogether just. Here is a solid foundation for human life in every aspect. We need not grope after Truth; it awaits us in Scripture. God has provided us with a sure guide.

God's primacy also expresses itself in the fact that the word of God, properly explained and understood according to its native meaning, is the means by which Christians come to know God's will, and that any other presumed authority is to be measured by that standard. No other authority can equal that of the word of God. In this way, we are neiher subject to dictatorial bodies - religious or otherwise - nor let loose to be the victims of our whims. There are rules for understanding the Bible, and everyone is meaningfully able to follow them, even if men differ as to the extent of that ability.

It seems to me that every other view of the Christian Faith diminishes God, reduces his power, limits his government and ultimately transforms him into a heavenly lackey of human aspirations. It transforms our salvation from a reality secured by the blood of Messiah and assured by the workings of the Holy Spirit into a potentiality that depends on our prowess. The Gospel is no longer seen to be the power of God unto salvation; it becomes God's best effort to save those who wish to be saved, and who are able to maintain the potential salvation God has provided.  Ultimately, Jesus is viewed as having secured the salvation of none; he merely made salvation possible.

That is not the kind of Gospel we need.

Thankfully, it is not the kind of Gospel the Bible proclaims.

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