Sunday, December 16, 2012

5 Benefits of Growing Up in a Traditional Reformed Church


Some people love traditional Reformed churches. Some people despise them. Some people are indifferent. I’m in the first group. Though this is not a comprehensive list, here are five important reasons why I love the traditional Reformed church:

      1.      The Gospel: I have heard constant, God glorifying, Christ exalting, gospel preaching in nearly every traditional Reformed church I have set foot in. I learned (and learn) about my sin, my whoredom, my lack of faith, my hardness of heart. But I learn also of Christ’s perfection, Christ’s union with me, Christ’s pursuit, God's mercy, God’s grace. I’ve been overwhelmed in two ways in the Reformed Church: One with how terrible and deplorable and disgusting I am to God, but also how much God loves me in Christ despite myself, and says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” In traditional Reformed churches, I’ve learned to rest on Christ.

      2.      Expositional Preaching Through Books: In nearly every traditional Reformed church I’ve been in, the Pastor never gets on a hobby horse topic. Presented is not ten ways to a better marriage. There aren’t five steps to using your money well. There is application, but it’s in its proper place. In Reformed Churches I have received the whole counsel of God, working through the nitty-gritty passages that no seeker-sensitive Church would dare to touch.

      3.      Catechesis: From the time I was a young child, I was answering questions that told me about who God was. “Q. Why did God Make you? A. For his own glory.” I had the knowledge implanted in me, and it was worked (slowly) into the heart by the Holy Spirit. I have been privileged to go through the Belgic Confession, the Heidelberg Catechism, and the Canons of Dordt,  and Louis Berkhof’s Summary of Christian Doctrine in catechism classes. My Elders and Pastor cared enough to teach me these things. They cared enough to answer questions. They cared enough to teach me what they believed were faithful summaries of Scripture. They knew that for something to drop into the heart, that is, to be known with the entire being, it must come through the mind. I love God today because of who he is, and because of what he has done. Both of these things I have grasped with the mind. The Spirit applied them to know why it mattered.

      4.      Seriousness of Worship: There is a certain seriousness in coming to worship in traditional Reformed churches. Worshiping with the sense of reverence and awe, in the splendor of holiness. This has nothing to do with the holy hardware hanging up on the church walls, pictures, crosses, the beauty of the building etc. This has to do with God’s character. The splendor of his love. The sheer awesome wrath with which he judges the wicked, and the glory of the gospel through which he loves those whom he has foreknown. In worship God himself stoops down to impart his Word to us. Through a close proximity with God, because of the dialogue that happens between God and his people, I learned that God isn't like any god you tamper with. He’s not a cosmic bellboy. He’s the God of the universe, and I am a worm. Though I sin heinously, yet he loves me still.

      5.      Hospitality: Throughout my college years, so many Reformed people have opened their homes to me. I think perhaps the greatest condemnation from other Christians about certain Reformed churches is that they should act instead of signing a check. In my experience, however, Reformed people have shown kindness, hospitality, and patience. They have shown that their faith is not dead. They have shown that good works accompany a true faith. How wonderful to be in a denomination (I am a member in the United Reformed Church) which takes the command of hospitality seriously. In my estimations, in traditional Reformed churches I have been invited over to people’s homes (or gone to fellowship lunches) more than 30 times through my college experience. 

2 comments:

  1. All of these things exist in great traditional Reformed churches :) This is definitely what we experienced in Lynden and Escondido, and other churches on the West coast, and are so thankful for that. Sadly, I have to say not all traditional Reformed churches are like this. I'm glad you have heard the gospel in every Reformed service you've been in, but I have heard (again, very sadly) actually MANY URC sermons where Christ was not preached. You wonder, how is this possible?? We NEED to keep the good news of Christ's work for us central, every Sunday.

    I'm glad that the gospel was point #1 in your post. We need more like-minded men to go to seminary and into the ministry and keep the gospel of Christ central (#1), in the preaching through the Word the whole counsel of God (#2), and the rest of these points of yours follow! I'll use LURC as an example. We've really seen how especially in Lynden, the preaching of Christ had the direct outcome of the maturity of desire to teach & learn more of the faith and of the Word, to keep our worship simple and faithful to the Word, and to practice hospitality/true fellowship. I realize that LURC's not without problems; every church has them. But we are so immensely thankful to have been part of a church that powerfully communicated the gospel twice a Sunday, and truly demonstrated the beauty of the body of Christ living and worshiping together.

    When Norm & I know--however imperfect and constantly under attack--how wonderful church CAN be, we're inspired in countless ways, as we venture forth into more "unknown" URC territory, to keep Christ central in our convictions and conversations, and to have a love for the people such as we were shown when we were new. I saw how the people of LURC loved because they really understood how Christ first loved them.

    We're SO thrilled for you & Christine that you're planning to go to WSC, Mark! May the Lord richly bless you in your last year of preparation for seminary!

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    1. Hey Rosanna! Thanks for the comment! You said, "Sadly, I have to say not all traditional Reformed churches are like this." Totally agreed, and actually I've been in some that I'm thoroughly disappointed by, which is why I said "nearly every Reformed church" has had Christ exalting, God glorifying preaching. Some seem to have last something of their vitality and purpose, but on the general whole, most are wonderful places to worship. Of course, you and Norm can speak better to that because you've traveled to so many places! The LURC is a very special church. Really liked your second to last paragraph! Keep Christ central in our convictions and conversations! Christine and I are VERY excited attend WSC.

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