To put this blog post in perspective, let me just share a bit of my background. Both my parents became children of God in the Reformed tradition. Their faith grew as they poured their lives into ministry and missions. When my Dad felt called to leave his teaching occupation, and enter the pastorate, he started studying at a Reformed Seminary. However, as he was studying Scripture, he started to become convinced of the Biblical teachings in regards to being filled with the Holy Spirit and miraculous healing. He eventually joined an independent Bible College in the Charismatic tradition.
I was born when my Dad had already made the move from the Reformed to the Renewal flow. As a result, I grew up in a Charismatic church. Only in my 20’s did I start to be exposed to the Reformed tradition through friendships, missions, sermons and books. A whole new world opened up for me, and here are some of the most important things I’ve learned from my Reformed brothers in the Lord.
- They tremble at the Word of God
God speaks through Isaiah, “…this is the one to whom I will look: he who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2b ESV) By reading works in the Reformed tradition, God started to expose my carelessness and biases when approaching the Word of God. My Reformed brothers do not come to the Holy Writ to quickly get a word for the day, or to get five verses which validates their position.
No, they come before the Holy Scripture and pray, ”God, I tremble at Your Word. Speak to me through Your Word.” And then they allow God to speak to them by doing proper exegesis. They don’t skim over an agonising piece of Scripture (e.g. Job; Matthew 23; Romans 9) which does not fit their preconditioned theology. Never, they let this uncomfortable text confront their false beliefs, their skewed picture of God and their hidden idolatries.
2. They encourage deep thinking
The apostle Paul writes to Timothy, “Think about what I am saying, because the Lord will enable you to understand it all.” (2 Timothy 2:7 ERV) I can only speak for the Charismatic movement which I am part of. But many times we seem to think feeling is more spiritual than thinking. And sometimes we even feel guilty for thinking differently about a certain passage of Scripture than our specific flow’s consensus.
Thankfully, I have observed from my Reformed brothers that they model and promote deep thinking, humble questioning and articulate reasoning about the Word and the world. As we can see in the verse above, God does not do the thinking for us. No, as we start the work of thinking, God comes and gives us supernatural understanding. We need both: thinking (on our part) and revelation (on God’s part).
3. They connect us with our roots
Jesus says, “Every teacher of religious law who becomes a disciple in the Kingdom of Heaven is like a homeowner who brings from his storeroom new gems of truth as well as old.” (Matthew 13:52 NLT) The amount of written works produced by the Reformed tradition about our Christian heritage is staggering. Many a scholar or pastor or layman has delved into history in order to bring to life the writings and lives of Christian heroes of the past.
We owe a great debt of gratitude to every theologian or minister who took the time and ink to record the words and acts of past saints. Through this literary treasure we start to realise the greatness of God’s redemptive story, and the miniscule part we play in the larger scheme of Heaven’s saga. Let us learn to measure our words and actions against the Holy Bible, and the cloud of witnesses (the saints of old) surrounding us. As we do this, we will be humbled and encouraged to depend on His grace to finish the race.
There are many more things I am learning from my Reformed brothers, but time prevents me to elaborate. Suffice to say, I believe God wants all of us (different denominations / flows / etc.) to learn from one another. As we do, Christ will command greater blessing on His Bride, the Church.
Watch out for part 2: What can my Reformed brothers learn from the Charismatic tradition?
Let us pray:
Our Father in Heaven, bind us together as brothers from different backgrounds
May we learn from each other as we journey together
Let us keep Christ at the Centre
Let us proclaim Good News unashamedly
Let us run to finish well
By Your grace alone