Pathway Statement of Faith
What Is “Reformed?”
For a year and a ½ our family lived in Austin, TX. There we learned to speak southern in greeting others. “How y’all doing?” we’d say greeting dear friends. As we moved back north to the Midwest, we received some strange looks as we continued with our southern greeting. The Midwest speaks English. The deep south speaks English. But they speak with different accents and phrases.
That’s a good comparison to use when talking about different groups of Christians. We all speak the same language in any case, but we speak it with different accents, phrases, and emphases. At Pathway Church we speak with a Reformed accent. Here’s what that means.
Reformed Christians emphasize the Bible as the foundation of all we believe and do. That means that we are reformed or reshaped by what God’s word says, not by someone’s opinion, or by tradition, or by what the modern culture suggests. The only opinion that matters and is trustworthy is God’s. We learn His thoughts by what He says in the Bible. From that holy book we learn about God, ourselves, the world, and the relationship between God, ourselves, and the world.
The Bible tells us much about God: how He worked in the past and in the present. Reformed Christians read the Bible and spot a huge theme: God is in control! He is sovereign: the One who is ruling and the One who is in charge. That means no matter what the front page of the newspaper says, the world is not spinning out of control God has all things in His hand. He will work everything out according to His divine plan.
One of the most important things under His control is salvation. God does the work of saving us from sin. He provides a Savior. We can’t save ourselves. We don’t earn or deserve eternal life (salvation) with God in heaven. Our salvation is a gift-“by grace through faith,” says the Bible- because of the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross. God’s control over our eternal destiny is the source of great comfort! It doesn’t depend on my good works (which are never good enough) or my feelings (which are bound to vary). Salvation depends on an all-good, loving, merciful, sovereign God who never changes.
When Reformed Christians read the story of the Bible, we also notice a thick thread running through the Old Testament (first ½ of Bible before Jesus came to earth) and the New Testament (Jesus’s coming): the concept of covenant. God makes covenant promises with Noah, Abraham, David, and his Old Testament people Israel. Even when humans don’t hold up their end of the agreement, God is faithful to His promises. Amazingly, God includes His New Testament people, the church, in his Covenant as well. God promises to be our God, and that we will be His people. He makes that promise to all believers in Jesus and to our children.
Because God is in control, provides a Savior from sin, and makes a covenant to be His people’s God, He expects us to live lives that align with the value system of the Bible. The 10 commandments is the main value framework for living life God’s way. In addition He calls us to take that value system into every area of life; home, work, recreation, studying, meal time, relationships, etc. . . . We do all for the glory of God. And this sovereign God is building a kingdom here on this earth. It’s not a sovereign nation type kingdom, but a kingdom of believers throughout the world called” the church” who share salvation in Jesus Christ and are God’s co-workers at witnessing to His Jesus and His value system. God not only saves people from hell, but also redeems all aspects of life: movies, music, politics, the world wide web, etc. . .
This opens up an exciting world of possibilities for Pathway Church. God uses believers in a wide variety of jobs and callings. It’s Pathway church’s responsibility to worship Him on Sunday, then spread His values, and witness to His being the rest of the week.
One way to explain “Reformed” is to go back in church history and explain the connections between the churches of our accent. But Reformed ideas aren’t really just associated with a certain set of churches. We have a relational, living faith that transcends history, tradition, and creeds. We emphasize the Bible as God’s word, a sovereign God, salvation by grace alone, God’s covenant faithfulness, and His coming kingdom and our role in it. This is our accent. We love Him and serve Him.