What do we mean when we say we are a "Reformed" Church? Part 5 of 10 - The Glory of God Alone

[Editor's Note: Read part 1part 2part 3, and part 4 of this series.]

We believe that God is holy and sovereign over all!

Reformed Christians believe that God is holy. This has four really important implications. First, God is unlike anything else. Second, God works all things for his own glory. Third, God is Lord over all. And fourth, all forms of work are good and should be carried out for God's glory.

The Holiness of God

God is unique and therefore precious. God is uncreated, and so he is a qualitatively different being than everything else that exists. God created all things, and everything depends upon God for its existence. God depends on nothing. Everything God has made can be broken down into parts and exists in time, but God is spirit. Even though mankind bears God’s image and was made to reflect him, we always do so as creatures. We can only reflect or image God analogically, that is, in a similar though different way.

The Glory of God Alone

Because God is holy, because God is precious and unique, God alone is worthy of worship, of our displaying and making known his beauty.  In fact God himself works ultimately for his own glory. Reformed Christians believe that God is three persons and that each person has always acted out of love for the other persons of the Trinity. Each person has given himself to the others in order to display the beauty and goodness of the others. Creation itself is a drama that is intended to show the beauty of God, with each person working in their own way to display the beauty of the others. So Reformed Christians believe that the ultimate purpose of creation is the glory of God.

The Sovereignty of God

One of the ways that God differs from us is that he is Lord over everything, over creation and salvation. As creatures we are finite, limited, dependent. But God stands over all things, directing, controlling, and bringing them to pass in a certain way according to his will and purpose to bring glory to himself.

This rule includes the decision to save specific sinners among fallen sinful humanity from his wrath against sin.  Before God created all things, he determined to create a world to display his glorious love, grace, goodness, and justice. So he determined that there would be a rebellion among his creatures invoking his wrath, but that he would save sinners by grace. So God chose out of a fallen humanity a group of people to rescue through his Son. We call this election. God chose which sinners would receive his grace in Jesus Christ, and he destined or determined, before the world began and before any person had done anything, that the Holy Spirit would irresistibly call them, make them alive, bring repentance, and preserve them in faith throughout their lives.

This disturbs some people because it can appear that we are just pawns in a game of fate. It contradicts our understanding of human freedom. God’s freedom is unique. It is an unconstrained freedom. Our choices are always constrained by outside forces and by our finiteness. God’s freedom gives us the type of freedom that we do have, the freedom to do what we want. But we must remember that as sinners, we are not free to want the right things. We are slaves to sin. We can only sin, and so God rescues sinners by making them new so that they can believe in Jesus and be saved. And anyone who is made new and who believes in Jesus Christ can know that God has set his love upon them.

Everything Belongs to God

Because God is sovereign over all things, we are obligated to work for his glory in every aspect of life. This reality destroys any division of life into spiritual and secular activities or into sacred and profane spaces. Each person is given a different calling in God's good creation, and every lawful calling is a valid and wonderful way to pursue glorifying God. Reformed Christians deny any claim that pastors or missionaries have a higher or more spiritual calling than farmers, engineers, or artists. God is Lord over all these forms of work, and each must be done to glorify him. 

Reformed Christians believe that God is holy, that he works all things for his glory, that he is sovereign over all creation, even over matters of salvation, and that all work should be done to God’s glory.

[Editor's Note: Read part 6part 7part 8part 9, and part 10 of this series.]

Sermon Discussion: Luke 12:1-12 - The Fear of Man and the Fear of God

Here are some questions to consider and discuss together as we share life in our home groups.

  1. What was the main point of the sermon? How was the sermon outlined? Were there questions or insights you had while listening that weren’t addressed?
  2. What is the fear of man? How have you seen the fear of man operating in your own heart and life? Take some time to confess sin and repent together.
  3. How does the fear of man lead to hypocritical religion? What warning does Jesus give concerning hypocrisy?
  4. When we fear man, what does that suggest we believe about God? Why is it so easy to forget the holiness of God? How can the truth of God’s holiness be a weapon in the battle against the fear of man?
  5. A common phrase in many Christian circles says that “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life.” In light of our passage, why does this phrase fail to do justice to the love of God? How does the assurance of God’s love empower bold witness?
  6. What does it mean that Jesus is our advocate? Why is this a powerful weapon against the fear of man?
  7. In the past, how have you understood Jesus’ teaching on the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit? Have you dealt with fear, insecurity, or anxiety because of this teaching? What is the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and what is the blasphemy of the Spirit? In what ways do Jesus’ words actually provide comfort for believers?
  8. Take a moment to pray for the global church, especially for those believers who are daily experiencing violence and oppression for their faith. Have their been times when you were “put on trial” for confessing Jesus? What was that like? How does Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit help kill anxiety when we are answering hostile questions about our faith?
  9. As a community, how can we be arming one another with these weapons to fight against the fear of man and walk faithfully and courageously in the fear of the Lord?