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What is Reformed Faith

The Presbyterian Church in America has made a firm commitment on the doctrinal standards which have been significant in presbyterianism since 1645, namely the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. These doctrinal standards express the distinctives of the Calvinistic or Reformed tradition.

Among the distinctive doctrines of the Westminster Standards and of Reformed tradition is the unique authority of the Bible. The reformers based all of their claims on “sola scriptura,” the Scriptures alone. This included the doctrine of their inspiration which is a special act of the Holy Spirit by which He guided the writers of the books of Scriptures (in their original autographs) so that their words should convey the thoughts He wished conveyed, bear a proper relation to the thoughts of other inspired books, and be kept free from error of fact, of doctrine, and of judgment--all of which were to be an infallible rule of faith and life. Historically, the concept of infallibility has included the idea of inerrancy.

Other distinctives are the doctrines of grace, which depict what God has done for mankind’s salvation:

  1. Total depravity of man. Man is completely incapable within himself to reach out towards God. Man is totally at enmity with God, cf. Romans 3:10-23.
  2. Unconditional election by the grace of God. There is absolutely no condition in any person for which God would save him. As a matter of fact, long before man was created, God chose or predestined some to everlasting life. He did this out of His mere good pleasure, cf. Ephesians 1:4-5.
  3. Particular atonement. God in His infinite mercy, in order to accomplish the planned redemption, sent His own Son, Jesus Christ, to die as a substitute for the sins of a large but specific number of people, cf. Romans 8:29-30.
  4. The irresistible grace of God. This is the effectual work of the Holy Spirit moving upon a particular person whom He has called, applying the work of redemption, cf. John 3:5-6.
  5. The perseverance of the saints. This is that gracious work of God’s sanctification whereby He enables a saved person to persevere to the end. Even though the process of sanctification is not complete in this life, from God’s perspective it is as good as accomplished, cf. Romans 8:30, 38-39, and Philippians 1:6.