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What does it mean that you are "reformed"?
January 7, 2013

What does it mean that you are "reformed"?

One of the questions we are most asked is, “What does ‘Reformed’ mean?” It’s a good question and one that deserves a thoughtful answer, because it gets to the heart of who we are as a church. The word actually grew out of the 16th century era known as the Reformation. God raised up some mighty men to challenge the religious status quo and bring the church back to the true faith. Since that time, the word Reformed has been used to underscore a particular outlook in relation to God and His world. In one sentence I would say it like this: Reformed refers to a God-centered way of thinking about the world that culminates in Jesus Christ.

First and foremost, Reformed emphasizes a God-centeredness. God is seen as central and foremost in all of life. The purpose of human beings is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. To glorify means to exalt, to honor and to esteem highly. We preach and teach much about His majesty, beauty, greatness and grace. The result is a high view of worship. It is the Lord who takes the initiative in all that we enjoy, both the common blessings to everyone and the special blessings of salvation in Jesus.

This kind of thinking is directed at the world and is meant to develop an all embracing world and life view. Reformed people not only see God as the God of salvation, they see Him as the God of creation. He wants His people not only to think and live in terms of being forgiven people, but also to think and live in terms of simply being people.

God made our world and set human culture in motion, and He is interested in all we do in the family, the workplace, school, politics and the church. Life under God has unity to it because God is the Author of it. So, winning others to faith in Christ is a high priority for Christians, but not to the exclusion of cooking, doctoring, building and playing. All is part of a good creation that is to be lived before our Maker and is to be received and nurtured as a gift and vocation from Him.

Finally, the Reformed outlook sees the coming of Jesus Christ as the culmination of all of history. All that God has planned for his people and this world finds its center in Christ. Prior to His coming, everything pointed to Him, and now, after His coming, everything is complete in Him. Jesus died and rose again and is now extending God’s kingdom by capturing hearts with grace. He will one day come to honor his people, conquer his enemies and renew the earth. Meanwhile, Jesus is the center of Christian ethics.

In short, we desire to exalt God’s glory, study God’s Word, live in God’s world and adore God’s Son. While not exhaustive, these elements are crucial in understanding the meaning of Reformed. It is our privilege to uphold them, teach them and model them.

By Dr. Ruffin Alphin, Senior Pastor of Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church. (Used by permission.)

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