Last time we began a series of short articles taking an overview of the Reformed Presbyterian Church. We looked atthe three words in our short popular name. The official name of the denomination is the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America Old School. At least this is how the Internal Revenue Service identifies us. We said the term Reformed refers to the important fact our church is reformed in teaching or doctrine. First of all, this means the church holds to the teachings of the Bible handed down to us by the Protestant Reformation. Traditionally, we say the Protestant Reformation began when Martin Luther (1483-1546) posted 95 statements for debate on a church door in Wittenberg Germany. The date was October 31, 1517. Men such as John Calvin (1509-1564) carried the Reformation forward.
Almost a hundred years later the Reformed Faith, as it is called, was summarized in the historic Westminster Confession. This Confession, to which the Reformed Presbyterian Church presently holds, was written by a group of godly men who met in London in Westminster Abby between 1643 and 1648. The Westminster Confession was adopted as a faithful summery of the teachings of the Bible by Presbyterians and Congregationalists in England, Scotland, and America. Anglicans were also Reformed in doctrine although they held to The Thirty-Nine Articles. There were and still exist not only Reformed Baptists but Reformed Methodists. The latter designation seems like an oxymoron to us. For three hundred and fifty years the Westminster Confession of Faith remained one of the principle documents outlining orthodox Christianity. All of the churches of early America were Reformed in teaching.
We may also summarize the Reformed Faith may in three important ways. First, as the Bible does, the Reformed Faith holds to the absolute sovereignty of God over all of creation (Psalm 135:5-7). The apostle Paul puts it succinctly in Ephesians 1:11, “We have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will.”
Second, since the Sovereign Lord works out all things in His creation on the basis of His own will, divine sovereignty includes salvation (Romans 9:16). Because all human beings are sinners (Romans 3:23), because sinful human beings naturally reject the overtures of God (Romans 8:5-8), God must and does initiate salvation (Ephesians 1:3-4). He sovereignly regenerates His people (John 3:8) and reserves a place in heaven for them (1 Peter 1:3-4). All those born again of the Spirit trust in Christ for their salvation (1 John 5:1) and seek to purify themselves from sinful behavior (1 John 3:2-3). How glorious.
Finally, the Reformed Faith understands our relationship with God in terms of covenant (Matthew 26:27-28). The covenant is the Covenant of Grace. God first verbalizes this covenant in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15). God commits Himself to save His people through Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:21, John 3:16). Jesus Christ enters the world to fulfill the terms of the covenant (Psalm 40:7-8, Hebrews 10:5-9). God the Father delivers the promised people into the hands of God the Son (Psalm 2:8, John 17:9 & 24). The Holy Spirit applies the covenant to men and women through the empowered preaching and witness of the disciples (Acts 1:8). Those brought into covenant relationship with God trust Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8). They are obliged to serve Christ (John 14:14) and they do serve Him (Ephesians 2:10). This is The Faith of the Bible, the Reformed Faith.