THE MEANING OF THE WORD "REFORMED"
It would be wonderful if every Christian church could simply be labeled “Christian,” meaning “followers of Christ.” And ideally every Christian church should also be known as “Bible believing” because the teachings of Christ are only found in the Bible. But the reality is that over the centuries some “churches” drifted away from biblical teachings. Also churches sometimes divided from one another due to cultural differences or internal struggles.
The largest division in the once-unified Christian Church occurred in the 11th century, when the churches in eastern Europe divided from the churches in western Europe. In the East the churches became known as “Orthodox” and in the West they continued to be known as “Roman Catholic.”
Another major division occurred in the 16th century. A Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther appealed to the pope to return the church back to teachings and practices clearly taught in the Bible. But the pope refused and excommunicated Luther, who then began new churches. This has become known as the “Protestant Reformation.” We get our name “Reformed” from that word, “Reformation.”
The word “reformed” means that something had to be re-formed or re-shaped, brought back to its original form. Over the centuries Christ’s Church had become “deformed” in many ways. Roman popes and councils had twisted and distorted many Bible teachings. By God’s grace, Luther and other preachers “re-formed” the Church.
Today, “Reformed” churches emphasize teachings which we believe stand at the very centre of Bible teaching. For example, we affirm the absolute power and knowledge of God. We refer to this as the “sovereignty of God,” that God rules as sovereign King over all things, including our salvation. In the words of Romans chapter 9 we are like clay in the hands of the Divine Potter. (See also Ephesians 1:1-14; 1 Peter 1:1-12; etc.) Likewise, Reformed churches emphasize the effective application of Jesus’ death and resurrection to believers. God the Father credits the righteousness of Jesus to those who trust in Christ so that in God’s sight we appear blameless before Him (see Romans 4-5; 2 Corinthian 5:11-21; Philippians 3:1-11; etc.)
Another main emphasis in Reformed churches is how God’s covenant of grace made with Abraham and his descendants is fulfilled in Christ. (See Genesis 12:1-3; 17:1-14; Galatians 3; etc.) In that covenant, God the Father promises us many blessings in Christ. As God’s covenant people, we live in committed marriages, in loving families, and in strong churches. Parents are expected to raise their children according to the Bible, and the entire covenant community assists parents in this God-given task.
Reformed Christians seek to bring the light of Christ to all areas of life. We have a calling not only in our churches and families, but we have a calling to be salt of the earth and light in the world (Matthew 5:14-16; 1 Timothy 2:1-4; etc.) Thus, Reformed Christians have built Christian schools for children and care facilities for the aged and disabled. We engage in poverty relief and community development in our cities and in many parts of the world. Jesus is Saviour of the world, and we seek to minister in His name to our world.