Westminster Assembly

Westminster Assembly

Acts 6:4

"But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the Word."



1 Timothy 4:6-16

" If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained. But refuse profane and old wives' fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach. Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." 1 Tim 4:6-16 (KJV)

"May I Introduce....The Reformed Faith" A New Series on the Basics of Reformed Theology By Shane C. Montgomery

Sunday, October 16, 2011
  The Reformed Faith, or Reformed Theology depending on how you wish to look at it, might be a new concept for many of you.  I run into a lot of folks who have never heard of it and have no idea what it is or what is behind it.  I would very much like to introduce you, if you have not met as of yet, The Reformed Faith. I wish to begin a new series on the Basics of the Reformed Faith, what does the Reformation Theology entail?   Is it some new idea in theology?   An upstart underground denomination taking off in the U.S.?   Or is it a cult, say like Mormonism or Jehovah Witnesses?  

    Well, it is none of the above, first off, it is not new by any means, it is in fact older than all the other denominations, you can even say it is older than the Roman Catholic church which has been around for nearly ever!   Reformed Theology has been around since the very first years of the Christian Church, it really has, it was the very first teachings in the early church, these teachings are better known as The Doctrines of Grace, which is the very same teachings made popular by Christ, His disciples, mostly John and Paul, all of whom taught the Doctrines of Grace, which is nothing more than sound orthodox teachings of the Bible.  That's it in a  nutshell!  

    The name "Reformed" actually goes back to the great Reformation which began in Wittenberg, Germany on Oct. 31, 1517 when a local theology professor, and one time monk, Martin Luther wrote up a list of 95 disagreements that he took issue with the then mostly corrupt Roman church, (Catholic with a capitol C)  the word "catholic" simply means, universal, so it was intended to be the "Church Universal" meaning the same church all over the world, and it pretty much was at least in the Roman way, but the pope and several cardinals, bishops and the like began to become evermore corrupt and money hungry, the last straw being the selling of indulgences to mostly peasants in order for the pope to raise money to rebuild the main cathedral.  A man name Tetzel was the best at selling these papers (indulgences) that were promissory notes to get you or a loved one out of Purgatory quicker and into Heaven faster, and if you know your Scripture you will notice, Purgatory is not mentioned and does not exist and that God does not need to bargain with anyone.

   But these indulgences were very successful in raising money for the pope and this was mostly the final straw that broke the monks back, and Martin Luther took a stand, later men, sent from God like, John Calvin, Heinrich Zwingli, Martin Bucer, Phillip Melanchthon, Theodore Beza and many others picked up the torch that Luther ignited and carried it onward.   A generation later the English, Scottish, Dutch and American Puritans took things to the next level, they insisted they were carrying on the teachings of Calvin, and for the most part they did, but in some instances they were way off from what Calvin taught in some areas, especially Election and Predestination, but they were not wrong, just slightly off his true teachings.   All in all though the Puritans did help spread the Reformed beliefs and helped to maintain proper worship, sound doctrine, the sovereignty of God, Justification by Grace Alone and the basis of Scripture Alone (Sola Scriptura). These were overwhelmingly the teachings that this country was built upon.   The vast majority of the early American settlers were Reformed (Calvinist).

  After the Puritans men such as Jonathan Edwards carried on the teachings but by this time the Reformed views were slowly giving way as the majority to the Arminian beliefs which robbed God of His glory and sovereignty, they taught a Synergism (Man does his part, God does his part) in salvation, whereas the Reformed view taught a strict Monergism, which states that all of Salvation, from Foreknowledge of the individual to Justification to the on-going Sanctification and finally ending in Glorification of the person, all this was all, completely Gods doing.  This is the Doctrines of Grace, we are saved totally by God, when we are in a sinful state, unworthy of salvation but given it freely by a gracious God.

   These Reformed teachings began to lose ground in the 1700s more and more to Arminian teachings and forms of worship, by the likes of poorly trained and confused preachers like Charles Finney who also taught that man chooses Christ and salvation when the Bible says "No man is righteous, none do anything good" and are incapable of choosing Christ, Christ must chooses the sinner and does all the work of saving him.  Finney who was very popular in the mid 19th century went as far to teach that Christ died on the cross for no one but Himself, that He did not atone for anyone but Himself!  This is pure blasphemy but thousands bought into his heretical teachings and they continue to to this very day and see Finney as an early forerunner of their faith.  He did so much damage to the American church and he is still causing havoc today.  His teachings were blasphemous and heretical and robbed God of His Sovereignty, Providence and Glory.  Preaching a Man Centered gospel over the true Christ Centered Gospel of the Bible.

  They also teach that man has Free Will to do what he likes, either to sin or not to sin, to choose Christ or not to, and we know this to be an error.  Reformed theology states what the Bible states, and that is that God saves us wretched sinners all by Himself and from His good graces and for His good glory and pleasure and that we have no will so free to do anything other than sin!   Scripture states this to be true.  One of the biggest and most damaging lies is that of "Open Theism" which states that God is not controlling things here on earth, that He cannot see through time, that He does not see into the future and He does not interfere in men's actions and choices.   This theory makes God out to be a bumbling, mistake making god who cannot control His own creation and they go as far as saying that He makes poor choices at times and repents of the mistakes He makes.  God does not make mistakes, He is perfect in every way,  and He does not stumble around Heaven hoping He is doing the right thing, He cannot do anything but the right thing, He is glory defined and Holy, Holy, Holy and He is in complete control of the universe which He created and sustains every second of every day.   God sees through time and space as well as through history, He knew us before the foundations of the world and He knows each and every believer who will someday be saved by Him, even if they will not be born for another 2,000, 3,000 years.  He knows and has ordained each of our lives down to the smallest of details, nothing happens that He has not ordained to happen.

   In the 1800s men like Charles H. Spurgeon in London and J.C. Ryle to name a few picked up where the Puritans left off and helped to restore much of the ground lost to the Free Willers.  In the early 1900s men such as the great A.W. Pink, Martin Lloyd Jones, Gerhadus Voss, Cornelius Van Til took over from men such as the great A.A. Hodge, Charles Hodge, B.B. Warfield and other Princeton scholars who helped bring the Reformed tradition back to the American churches.   I might have some of theologians out of order, but that is not so important, just that you know the chain was never completely broken at anytime.

  In more modern times, starting around the 1950s we were blessed with men like the great mind of J.I. Packer, and a little later, men such as John Stott, R.C. Sproul,  Michael Horton, James Montgomery Boice who wrote one of the best and easiest to understand books on the Doctrines of Grace, (a must read) and others such as the very strong preaching of Paul Washer.  The Reformed faith is in very competent hands right now, in addition to some great minds that God has blessed us with, we are seeing more and more young men coming up in seminary, college and some still in High School who are working on carrying on Reformation Theology to the next generation.  I have met many of these Young Reformers and I am very excited about what God has planned for them in the future.

    If you would like to know more I could recommend several great books, but it would be easier and quicker for me to suggest some authors to read, first the late James Montgomery Boice, read his "Doctrines of Grace" and next, Michael Horton, R.C. Sproul, J.I. Packer and Dr. Joel Beeke are all great teachers, any of these guys are great, some of the very best scholars and theologians are no longer with us, they are worshiping our Lord in Heaven now but they are great and edifying reads, A.W. Pink who never caught on in his own day, left us in 1952 or so and is just amazing in his teachings, a real man of God and one of the best teachers.   J.C. Ryle and Charles Spurgeon are must reads, Spurgeon is more of a devotional man along the lines of the Puritans who will often seem dry and repetitive, but great reads, with Ryle you just cannot go wrong, I rank him up with A.W. Pink as possibly the two best writers.

    I should apologize, as I write this I do it from no new research, just with the off the top of my head thoughts, sure, it could be much better but it will serve its purpose to encourage you who are not familiar with Reformed Theology to look into it, it is simply wonderful and it maintains the God honoring, reverence that Scripture has taught from day one.

   I hope you will take my recommendations to heart and read some of these men, you will love the Puritans, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, John Owen and the like are so inspiring!   Pink and Ryle will open your eyes like never before and will have you digging in your Bibles with a new found hunger for truth.  May God bless your personal studies and may these great men of God help you as much as they have helped me in my on-going sanctification.   We are all expected to grow, to mature in our faith, to grow in the knowledge of God and in His Word, Will and in His Son Jesus Christ.  God never meant for us to remain spiritual infants, He wants us to understand His Will and His Word and to grow to become mature believers and to help train up others to be as well.  
Study hard brothers and sisters!  
May you find in these Reformed men what I found and may you be blessed for it.

Be Holy!


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