(Taken from What is a Reformed Church by Malcolm Watts)
God’s Covenant of Grace
A Reformed church understands that a covenant is at the heart of God’s relationship with man. Therefore, Reformed churches emphasize the unfolding and developing of God’s covenant of grace. John Murray called covenant theology “a distinguishing feature of the reformed tradition.”16
Biblically speaking, a covenant is an arrangement into which God enters for the benefit of men and women. The Reformers recognized the importance of this concept, and made free use of it in their sermons and writings.
The Covenants of Works and Grace
There are two covenants that relate to eternal life. They are usually referred to as the covenant of works and the covenant of grace, the former being that bond established with Adam, the representative of mankind, and the latter being the bond established from eternity with the Son of God, the representative and surety of God’s elect.
Proclamation of the Gospel
A Reformed church is committed to the work of bringing the gospel of salvation to the unconverted, not only in its own vicinity but also in other areas of the country and in other parts of the world. Historically, reformation and evangelism have gone hand in hand.
In 1559, Protestants in Sweden took the gospel to the people of Lapland, and in 1562, French Protestants evangelizedFlorida and, afterwards, Carolina. In 1566, the church in Geneva sent fourteen missionaries to spread the Christian faith in South America. Later, the Pilgrim Fathers became missionaries. Arriving at New Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620, they soon organized a mission to promote the conversion of the Indians.
Consecration of Life
A Reformed church will encourage the spirit of true devotion, which will find expression in lives wholly consecrated to God. Calvin’s emblem was a hand holding out a heart to God, and his motto was, “I offer my heart to God as a sacrifice.” Writing of the Christian life, Calvin remarked, “We are not our own, we belong to the Lord. We are not our own. Let our reasons and our wills then never predominate in our thinking and in our acting.... Let us then forget ourselves as much as is possible.”21
That is the spirit of the Reformation. Those possessing it are willing to be mastered by God. What does the New Testament say? “For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live there- fore, or die, we are the Lord’s” (Rom. 14:8). In another epistle, we read, “Ye are not your own.... Ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). If a church is really biblical and Reformed, its members will be fully committed to Christ. The time has come for self-examination. Do we sincerely love the Lord? What kind of service do we offer Him? My friends, could it be that we are Reformed in name only?