What Is the
Testament prophets cried out to Judah concerning the great dangers they
faced: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast
rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no
priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also
forget thy children" (Hos. 4:6). Amos warned, "Behold, the days come,
saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine
of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of the hearing the words of the
Lord" (Amos 8:11).
concern is that the situation in our day and in this land is truly
similar to that in the days of the prophets of old. The Times
stated in its 30 January, 1993 issue, "What is the true situation [in
England]? Believing, worshipping Christians are a tiny handful of our
nation. Ninety per cent or more of our citizens have virtually no
knowledge of Christianity." That is a sad commentary. Of that "tiny
handful" there are wide divergences of belief. There is surely a great
need that the Reformed faith to be proclaimed.
Why is the
situation as it presently is? We live in the "last days" (Acts 2:17).
During this period of time, the Word of our Lord is being fulfilled that
many depart (I Tim. 4:1) and the love of many "waxes cold" (Matt.
24:12). Within the world itself, there is the gross materialism which
has poisoned society. There is the mad rush for more and more
entertainment—often of the most abominable sort. The scoffers continue
to mock, asking, "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the
fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning
of the creation" (II Pet. 3:4).
in the churches is almost as bad. Apostasy abounds. There is mass
defection from the "old paths" (Jer. 6:16). There are the "wolves in
sheep’s clothing" (Matt. 7:15). Scripture’s prophecy is being realized:
"Of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw
away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30). There is growing pressure again
for union of all churches and denominations. Doctrine is considered
irrelevant. "New" theologies arise. The sheep, it would seem are about
to be devoured by the ravening wolves. Our assurance then can only be in
Christ’s Word, "No man can snatch them out of my hand" (John 10:28).
distressing times, the Word of Christ comes though loudly and clearly,
"Behold I stand at the door and knock ..." (Rev. 3:20). Even as He once
before stood at the door of the church of the Laodiceans, calling out
the faithful who remained in that apostate church, so He calls still
today. God’s people hunger for the Word. Many are not being fed. They
are receiving "stones for bread." Christ calls to come out and sup with
Him around His Word which abides forever.
of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church, seek to form a link between
all those who love the Reformed faith and desire still the "old paths."
We desire to establish, where such is possible, churches which will
boldly proclaim the old truths.
What is the
"Reformed" faith? By "faith," we refer to the body of truth which is set
forth in Scripture itself. We speak of the "Reformed" faith not as
though it is some sort of substitute for scriptural faith. There is,
after all, but one objective set of truths which is presented in
"Reformed," we would distinguish ourselves from others who in one way or
another deviate from the "faith" set forth in God’s Word. We hold to the
truths of Scripture as that has been summarized systematically in the
Westminster Standards and the
Three Forms of Unity, i.e., the
Heidelberg Catechism, the
Belgic Confession, and the
Canons of Dordt.
is the Reformed (that is, scriptural) faith?
Sovereignty of God
foremost, the Reformed faith emphasises the sovereignty of God. Does
this distinguish it from others who likewise teach the sovereignty of
God? Yes it does. We are convinced that the Reformed faith maintains the
truth of God’s sovereignty consistently. All Christians surely would
agree that God is sovereign. He rules over all. Yet repeatedly one
encounters doctrines and practices which contradict the truth of God’s
sovereignty. In order to satisfy human reasoning, there have been those
who insist on the "free will" of all men to accept or reject the Christ
as they will. There are those who present a Christ who knocks at the
sinner’s heart’s door, pleading for admittance (misquoting Rev. 3:20).
There are those who teach that the final number of the elect of God is
determined not by God from eternity, but by the activities of man. There
are those who teach that God loves all people—yet that finally He casts
some into hell. Others would teach that because of the love of God for
all, He can cast none into hell.
faith consistently maintains the sovereignty of God. He has created in
six literal days (Gen. 1), and continues to sustain all of His universe.
He directs and controls also all moral, rational creatures. He has from
eternity determined to save some (the elect) through the blood of the
Lamb (Eph. 1:4) and determined that others would be cast into hell in
the way of their sins (Rom. 9:22). Never does God relinquish any aspect
of His rule in any sense. All of the doctrines of the church of Christ
must conform to that. The church may not "adjust" the sovereignty of God
to accommodate man’s idea of what is just and right. Rather, man’s
confession must conform to the great truth of God’s sovereignty. (In
this connection, we highly recommend the Baker edition of Arthur W. Pink's
stirring book, The Sovereignty of God).
of the sovereign God is derived not through man’s searching, but by the
revelation of God Himself. The Reformed faith holds to the inerrancy of
Holy Scripture, to its infallibility and inspiration. It is the
"God-breathed" Word (II Tim. 3:16) spoken by Christ (John 1) so that we
might know and understand that which God would reveal of Himself.
Without that Word we could have no certain knowledge. With it, we have
reliable and sure testimony concerning God and concerning His Son Jesus
Christ, and Christ’s work in redeeming and delivering His church.
Covenant of Grace
faith holds to the great truth of the "covenant of grace." We briefly
state our own convictions concerning Scripture’s teaching in this
of grace must be understood in light of the Trinity. The Triune God
(Father, Son and Holy Spirit) eternally communes within Himself
perfectly. It is a communion which beggars human description and goes
beyond human understanding. Yet that truth of covenant communion with
Himself is the basis of the covenant of grace. The Triune God eternally
determined to reveal outside of Himself the glory of communion as it
exists within Himself. He determined to show in the highest possible way
a communion with an elect people chosen eternally in Christ,
understanding of this work of God ties together the various wonderful
truths of Scripture. The word of God shows that this covenant is
"unilateral," that is, established not between two parties, but by God
Himself directly (Gen. 15:17-18). It is an unbreakable covenant in that
when God establishes it with His people, it continues to all eternity
(Gen. 17:7). This covenant is not some sort of arrangement whereby God
gets His people to heaven, but it is the end or goal which God has in
mind (Gen. 17:7). It is the covenant which God is pleased to establish
in the line of generations (Gen. 17:7). It has been truly said, "He
gathers His seed from our seed." Not all born of believing parents are
part of that covenant (Rom. 9:13). But the spiritual seed are saved
(Rom. 9:7). God does bring in others from heathendom—but then
incorporates also their spiritual seed into the body of Christ (Acts
Points of Calvinism
faith often is associated with what are called the "five points of
Calvinism." Those "five points" by no means exhaust the Reformed faith.
Nevertheless, these do mark a distinct difference between it and
Arminianism which has infected most fundamentalist churches.
points are remembered by many through the use of the acrostic: TULIP.
The "T" is for total depravity. This is the scriptural teaching that man
is born dead in sins, unable and unwilling to any good whatsoever (Rom.
3:10). All are guilty of the first sin of Adam (Rom. 5:12). All only
transgress the law of God by nature (Rom. 3:23). From this follows
several conclusions. One can not "offer" to a dead sinner salvation in
Christ. Nor can such a one be "invited" to accept Christ or admit Him
into his heart. His state is such that spiritual activity is impossible
on his part.
represents unconditional election. From before the foundation of the
world, God has chosen unto Himself a people in Christ (Eph. 1:4).
Together with this fact, God has also determined to cast others into
hell in the way of their sins (Rom. 9:21-22). That this eternal election
is "unconditional" means that God chose not because He foresaw that one
would believe, but that one believes because God chose him (John 10:26;
is for limited atonement. The atonement is the payment made by
Christ for the sins of His people (Matt. 1:21). That it is "limited" is
not to teach that Christ’s atonement lacks anything. Rather this
presents the scriptural fact that atonement is limited to God’s elect or
chosen ones (John 6:44).
speaks of irresistible grace. This emphasizes that when God draws His
people unto Himself, they do and will come (John 6:37). They come not
involuntarily, but willingly. Nevertheless, His grace is of such power
that the will of His elect is made subservient to His will.
The "P" is
preservation of saints. This means that one who is chosen, called, and
drawn to Jesus Christ, will also remain in the faith and will surely be
brought to glory. These saints can sin grievously and fall for a time
into certain sins. But God brings them back to Himself. Those for whom
Christ died will surely be saved (Phil. 1:6; Rom. 8:29-30).
Doctrines of Grace
faith consistently holds to the "doctrines of grace." Again, these are
doctrines of Scripture. The terminology serves to emphasize the glorious
fact that salvation is wholly the work of our God—not the work of man or
of man cooperating with God. We are justified by grace through faith
(Rom. 3:24). Those justified have had their sins fully paid for through
Jesus’ precious blood (Rom. 5:1). And those for whom Christ died were
chosen from eternity by God. All of salvation is wholly the work of the
sovereign God. There is then no room for boasting (Eph. 2:9).
faith follows the practice of the baptism of believers. This has
consistently been the practise of Reformed believers from the day of
John Calvin. This baptism is based upon the truth of God’s
covenant—established in the line of the generations of believers. Not
all those baptised are saved (Esau who received the sign of circumcision
was not saved [Rom. 9:13]). But because God establishes His covenant in
the line of generations (Gen. 17:7; Acts 2:39), these also receive the
sign of that covenant and of the righteousness which is by faith. This
is consistent also with the practices of the apostles who baptised
believers and their households (Acts 16:15; I Cor. 1:16; Acts 11:14;
faith maintains creeds as expressions of what it confesses that
Scripture teaches. Creeds are not to be regarded as infallible. They
nevertheless identify and distinguish that which is Reformed from that
which is not. The Reformed have written down, often after great
struggles and horrendous persecutions, the truths which they believe
Scripture assuredly teaches. The creeds point out how the Reformed
differ from others who likewise claim to maintain Scripture. By means of
the creeds, children of believers are taught the doctrines of Scripture.
By means of the creeds the churches show to all in the world what they
believe and teach.
faith maintains the necessity of regular worship each Sabbath. It is not
of a mind to minimise or neglect the worship of Jehovah in regular
services. Rather the joy of the Reformed is to fulfil the mandate of the
fourth commandment and the teachings of Scripture by gathering each
Sabbath to worship God’s Name. They gather not to be entertained, but to
glorify the Name which is above every other name.
faith maintains also the scriptural teaching that the preaching of the
Word must come out of the church through men called by God to serve in
this important position (Rom. 10:15). The preaching is to be the central
element of worship. It is called in Scripture the "foolishness of
preaching" (I Cor. 1:21), but at the same time it is the God-ordained
way of saving sinners and strengthening saints (Rom. 10:14).
faith does not lead men to be careless or profane. This faith does not
hold that one can "sin that grace may abound" (Rom. 6:1). Because one is
chosen eternally of God, and because Christ died for him, there must
evidence of godly fruit. True thankfulness must be seen—otherwise there
is no evidence of eternal election. God has chosen His people unto good
works (Eph. 2:10) and in order that we should be holy and without blame
before Him (Eph. 1:4). There must be no alliance between light and
darkness, between the Christian and the world (II Cor. 6:14). The
"antithesis" must be evident-the distinction between the good and the
evil is to be seen in the Christian’s life.
faith firmly believes in the calling of the church to go out into all
the world to preach the gospel. It will have nothing to do with a
"hyper-Calvinism" which would neglect this great task of the church.
Jesus Himself mandated the disciples, and then the church, to go into
all the world to preach the gospel (Matt. 28:19). Though it is surely
true that God will save His people whom He has chosen from eternity, it
is likewise true that He has determined that this is to be done in the
way of the faithful preaching of the gospel both within the church and
on the mission field. God alone knows those who are His. The church goes
forth under Christ’s mandate in order that those chosen of God may also
be brought to the cross of Jesus Christ.
faith looks forward confidently to the soon return of our Lord Jesus
Christ on the clouds of heaven. In Matthew 24 Christ speaks of signs
which precede His return. We see those signs being fulfilled today. We
do not know the day or the hour of His return, but we know that it must
be at hand. This ought to impress the church with the urgency to carry
out its tasks faithfully to the end. It must preach the Word; it must
evangelize; it must teach the children so that they may be prepared for
the evil days which come upon the church. And the earnest prayer of the
church is for Christ’s coming: "Even so, come Lord Jesus, quickly!"
The above is
not designed in any way to be an exhaustive treatment of the "Reformed"
faith. It should however, give a "thumbnail" description of that faith
which has been held so precious through the centuries. On the basis of
the glorious truths for which many gave their lives, we also would
desire to seek fellowship with those who love these same truths so as to
encourage and strengthen one another in the most holy faith.