“What is R…UF?”

Will Barbour  |  August 19, 2019

“What is ‘rough’?” "What does RUF stand for?" "What does reformed mean?" If you’ve been around Reformed University Fellowship, perhaps you have asked or been asked some of these questions.  We have all asked at some point what RUF stands for, and we have probably wondered what “Reformed” truly means.  

So, what does “Reformed” mean? And what implications does being Reformed have for how we view ministry?  

Some people point to the famous conclusions of the Synod of Dort, which are summarized with the acronym TULIP.  Another helpful way to summarize what it means to be Reformed is through the Five Solas—“we are saved by grace alone through faith alone on the basis of Christ alone, etc.”  Perhaps a helpful one-sentence summary of what it means to be Reformed is to believe and live out the truth that our God is radically in control of all things.  From the roots of time past to the furthest stem at the end of time, He is sovereignly guiding…all…things.  

So if God’s control is what it means to be Reformed, what does that have to do with how we approach the college campus?  Here are 3 quick implications: 

1)We can rest 

RUF’s first presupposition is that “God is at work” on whatever campus we find ourselves.  He has gone before us and prepared whatever conversations we will have (Deut. 31:8).  He has done the work already!  And because he has done the work we can lay the whole burden of “saving the campus” off our own shoulders.  We can work hard knowing God’s purposes to save and redeem can never fail.  I’ve been a campus minister for 2 months, and I can already feel the undercurrent of temptation to believe this whole thing rests on my shoulders.  Praise the Lord that He is ultimately the one in complete control.  I can rest in that truth. 

2) We can genuinely enjoy ministry 

I think Sammy Rhodes is correct that every person is either doing ministry or manipulation with those he or she seeks to minister to.  This can be particularly apparent when we are meeting with potential financial supporters—do we want their souls to be rooted in the gospel more than we want their money transferred to our account?

But if our all-loving God is in control, manipulation is pointless because we can’t fool Him, and we can’t manipulate Him, the one in the driver’s seat of the cosmos.  If we are on this rollercoaster of life where God has designed every unexpected turn and up and down for his glory and our good (Rom. 8:28), then we can enjoy the ride knowing we are safe!  We can trust his good design for our stories and others’ stories too.  We don’t see the finish line, but our Savior does.  

3) We should be bold in evangelism

Finally, because God is in control, RUF should be bold in reaching out to the lost.  Spurgeon compared a sovereign call to minister to non-believers like fishing with the assurance that some fish will be caught.  Since God has already hand-picked some students for salvation (Eph. 1:4), we can have confidence and expectancy when we share the gospel afresh.  Who knows who He will bring to Himself this semester!

As you enter the campus as a campus minister, campus staff, or college freshman this new semester, you can rest in the reality that the Lord, your Maker and Redeemer, holds the semester ahead in the palm of his hand.

by: Will Barbour, RUF Campus Minister at East Tennessee State University