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"For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12).


The R.C.U.S. traces its roots back to the time of the Reformation (1517-1648), a movement in history concerned primarily with determining the ultimate authority of faith and life.  At the time, many in the church believed that the ultimate standard to be the teachings and traditions of the Roman Catholic church.  However, others (the Reformers) believed the ultimate standard to be the Word of God contained in Scriptures of the Bible. 


When Martin Luther pinned his 95-Theses to a church door in Wittenberg in 1517, tensions between these two positions escalated very quickly.  Soon other Reformed voices were lifted up: Zwingli in Zurich, Calvin in Geneva, Elector Fredrick III, Olevianus, and Ursinus in the Palatinate, de Bres in Belgium, et al.

1483-1546 - Martin Luther (Germany)


1484-1531 - Ulrich Zwingli (Zurich)


1536-1564 - John Calvin (Geneva)


1515-1576 - Elector Fredrick III (Palatinate)


1522-1567 - Guido de Bres (Belgium)


1534-1583 - Zacharias Ursinus (Palatinate)


1536-1587 - Caspar Olevianus (Palatinate)

Adopting the Scriptures alone as their ultimate standard for faith and life, the Reformers soon discovered that many of the teachings of the Roman Catholic church were contradictory to what the Scriptures taught, for example:  


  1. Salvation was by grace alone, rather than by our works.  

  2. Salvation is through faith alone in the finished work of Christ alone, rather than through faith in ourselves.  

  3. All of life is to be lived for the glory of God alone, rather than for the glory of men or even the church. 


Having discovered such contradictions and many more, the Reformers sought to “Reform” the church by bringing it back into conformity with the Holy Scriptures.  Thus giving all glory to God rather than men or the church. This task of Reforming the church required that the church return to explaining and teaching the Scriptures alone, rather than the traditions and commandments of men.  Moreover, the Reformers strove to do so in clear and concise terms and by making the Bible available for all people to read, even children. Hence, the great confessions and catechisms of the Reformed faith were forged.

1536 - John Calvin published The Institutes of the Christian Religion


1559 - Elector Fredrick III gathered the Reformed teachers Caspar Olevianus, Zacharias Ursinus, and a host of other Reformers to his schools in the Palatinate


1561 - Guido de Bres published The Belgic Confession of Faith in Belgium


1563 - The Heidelberg Catechism was published in the Palatinate


1618-1619 - The great Synod of Dort meet in the Netherlands, concluding their gathering with the publication of the Canons of Dort, while also affirming the teachings of both the Heidelberg Catechism and the Belgic Confession of the Faith 


Present Day - These last three of the documents mentioned above continue to this day to form the subordinate doctrinal standards of the Reformed Church in the United States, of which Covenant Reformed proudly belongs.  They are called “subordinate,” because we acknowledge that, while these standards are accepted as being true to Scripture and as such have binding authority in the R.C.U.S., we wholeheartedly concur with our Reformed forefathers, the Scriptures alone remain the ultimate authority for faith and life.


Distinctives of Reformed Theology

The Sovereignty & Providence of God

Reformed Theology affirms that God rules over His creation with absolute power and authority.  He is never surprised, frustrated, or defeated. Indeed, “all things come not by chance, but by His fatherly hand.” (H.C. 27)

“The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.” (Acts 17:24–25)


The Doctrines of Grace

Reformed Theology emphasizes humanity’s total depravity and God’s providential, gracious choice in the election of some to eternal salvation.  

“In love he predestined us for adoption to himself as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.”(Ephesians 1:4–6)


Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross to bear the wrath of God on behalf of His people actually atones for the sins of those the Father has chosen.  The Holy Spirit’s effective calling in regenerating grace overcomes sin and accomplishes God’s sovereign purpose. God’s people have assurance so they, “may be patient in adversity, thankful in prosperity, and for what is future, have good confidence.” (H.C. 28)


Cultural Mandate

Even though God providentially decrees our justification and sanctification, we are responsible to use our gifts for His glory: 

“…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”(Philippians 2:12–13)


Covenant Theology

The Bible teaches that God established a covenant with His people.  This covenant is a special relationship between God and His people; a promise from God to be their God and for them to be a people especially for Him.

“For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”(Jeremiah 31:33)


Another distinctive of Covenant theology is its recognition of the continuity of the one overarching Covenant of Redemption revealed throughout Scripture and worked out through the promises of God in the covenant of works before the fall (Gen 2:17) and the covenant of grace after the fall (Gen 3:15); being progressively revealed thereafter from Adam, to Noah, to Abraham, to Moses, to David and was finally fulfilled in the New Covenant, sealed by the precious blood of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.


Covenant Baptism

Within the continuity of the covenants, we see that the infants of God’s people also belong to the covenant people of God and that God’s promises have always been to them, no less than to their parents, and by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, they are ingrafted into the Christian church. (Gen 17:7; Acts 2:39)



Confirmation is a sacred right in the RCUS church, whereby the youth of the church receive instruction in the doctrines and duties of the Christian religion in preparation for becoming a communicant member and rightly partaking of the Lord’s Supper.  (1 Cor 11:27-29) 


The Emphases: 


  • The providence of God over all things

  • The free grace of God in salvation

  • And the calling of God to influence every area of life with the gospel of Christ for His glory


Our hope at Covenant Reformed is that this introduction to some of the distinctive doctrines of the Reformed faith will move you to desire to grow with us as we too grow to know God through Christ and glorify Him in all that we do.


1618 - 1619

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