What is Free Reformed
THOSE of us who belong to the Free Reformed churches are often asked this question, or one like it, "In what way are you different from other Reformed churches?" This is a brief summary of what the Free Reformed churches stand for.
AS the name Reformed indicates, we wish to be known as churches standing in the historic faith of the Reformation of Calvin, Luther, Knox and the other Reformers. And indeed our churches have their roots in Reformed churches whose people have a tradition closely related to English Puritanism. Like the Reformers, we desire to bow under the authority of God's holy, divinely inspired and therefore, inerrant Word. We want to be churches which are truly Biblical and in accordance with the Reformed Confessions of Faith. We have no extra-creedal pronouncements, but simply wish to adhere to the faith of our fathers which they summarized in The Belgic Confession of Faith, The Heidelberg Catechism and The Canons of Dort.
WE don't see the church as a social, political, cultural or even religious organization, although believers certainly have a task in the world. The Church is the body of Christ and the temple of the Holy Spirit. It is in the world, but not of the world, in order to preserve and proclaim God's Word. A true church is known by the pure preaching of the Gospel and its worship is governed by the Word of God. All things contrary thereto are rejected and Jesus Christ is acknowledged as the only Head and King of His Church.
ACCORDING to Christ’s command, it is the task of the Church to go "into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned." (Mark 16:15,16) Preaching is, therefore, the most important task of the Church, since it has tremendous implications for man's eternal destiny. Central to the preaching is the sovereignty of God and the divine authority of Scripture, election and the necessity of regeneration, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ, and the Holy Spirit, Who makes us partakers of the righteousness and holiness of Christ.
WE strongly maintain the necessity of experiencing what is believed and confessed. We are adverse to any kind of idealistic covenant teaching. The covenant of grace is established with believers and their children. Every covenant child is heir to the blessings of the covenant, yet these blessings are not received automatically, but only in the way of true conversion to God. The baptized member must become personally active with the promises and demands of the covenant in order to come to experience its saving benefits. This means that we do not assume that everyone who belongs to the visible church is saved. Realizing that there is much chaff among the wheat, we urge everyone to examine himself or herself whether he or she is in the faith. In our preaching, therefore, we tend to look at the congregation realistically, rather than idealistically and aim at a discriminating ministry, applying the Word of God so as to give everyone his proper portion. True preaching,we believe not only expounds the Scriptures, but it also applies the Word of God to the hearts and lives of the hearers, distinguishing between the converted and unconverted.
DO you still ask, “In what way does Free Reformed differ from other denominations?”
WE do not say that there are not individuals and congregations in other denominations who preach and practice the doctrines of Scripture purely. But, it is becoming more and more rare to find a whole denomination which is consistently Biblical. We do not maintain that we are perfectly pure; we have many shortcomings and sins to confess as individual members, congregations, and as a denomination. But, in view of what is going on in other denominations, we do not believe we are allowed to unite with such larger bodies, and we must continue our separate existence. As descendants of those who became “free" from hierarchical and apostate denominations by ejection and secession, we dare not forfeit our heritage for the sake of an unity that is not based on the Bible.
WE are small and insignificant in the eyes of the world and the "Church," but we do not wish to be sectarian or independents. As congregations we exercise mutual fellowship, counsel and discipline through Synodical meetings, and we adhere to the Reformed system of church government. We wish to be faithful to the Word of God and desire to be churches which faithfully proclaim His Word.
OUR congregations, made up of people with different backgrounds and nationalities are one in this. Small as we are and separate, we are united to all who have like precious faith, who bow before the absolute authority of the infallible Word of God. We look and pray for that day, for which Christ prayed in His high priestly prayer, when "they all may be one."