Doctrines and Beliefs
The Five Solas
The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church is rooted in the Reformed tradition which arose from the Protestant Reformation. The Reformers, having returned to Scripture, attempted to carefully and faithfully rebuild the church upon the teachings of the New Testament. The five solas of the Reformation reclaimed the biblical view of:
- Sola Scriptura:
“Scripture alone” is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian. The Bible is God’s inspired, inerrant, infallible, all sufficient word. Scripture alone can utterly bind the conscience of believers (2 Timothy 3:16).
- Sola fide:
“Faith alone” is important because it is one of the key points that separate the true biblical Gospel from false gospels. At the very core of this tenet is—on what basis does God declare man justified (man made right with God)? Scripture makes it very clear that, no human being is ever justified in God’s sight through his own attempt at law keeping (Romans 3:19-20).
- Solus Christus:
“Christ alone” accomplished our salvation by his historical and mediatorial work (Hebrews 7:14; Hebrews 7:24-25; Hebrews9:24). His sinless life and substitutionary atonement alone are sufficient for our justification and reconciliation to the Father.
- Sola gratia:
“Grace alone” acknowledges that the Bible teaches that the totality of our salvation is a gift of God’s free grace. As it says in Ephesians 2:8-9, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” It is the acknowledgement that salvation from the wrath of God is based on God’s grace and mercy and not on anything good in us.
- Soli Deo Gloria:
“To God alone be the glory” is the goal of life; moreover, all glory is to be given to God. Particularly, salvation, sanctification, and glorification are accomplished through God’s will and action not man’s effort, even including the good works of men (Ephesians 2:10). The idea of soli Deo gloria is found in 1 Corinthians 10:31.
The five solas of the Protestant Reformation offered a strong corrective to the faulty practices and beliefs of the time, and they remain relevant today. We are called to focus on Scripture, accept salvation by grace through faith, magnify Christ, and live for God’s glory. These form the basis of Protestantism as much as they do for the Reformed tradition.
- Total Depravity
- Unconditional Election
- Limited Atonement, or, better, Particular Redemption
- Irresistible Grace
- Perseverance and Preservation of the Saints
These five distinct points of doctrine derive from the decision of the Synod of Dordt (1618-19), popularly known as the Canons of Dordt, on the five main points of doctrine in dispute in the Netherlands .
Although this was a national synod of the Reformed churches of the Netherlands, it had an international character, since it was composed not only of Dutch delegates but also of twenty-six delegates from eight foreign countries.
The Synod of Dordt was held in order to settle a serious controversy in the Dutch churches initiated by the rise of Arminianism. Jacob Arminius, a theological professor at Leiden University, questioned the teaching of Calvin and his followers on a number of important points. After the death of Arminius, his own followers presented their views on five of these points in the Remonstrance of 1610. In this document and later in more explicit writings, the Arminians taught election based on foreseen faith, universal atonement, partial depravity, resistible grace, and the possibility of a lapse from grace. The Synod of Dordt rejected these views and articulated the Reformed doctrine on these points, namely, unconditional election, limited atonement, total depravity, irresistible grace, and the perseverance of saints. These points of doctrine are based entirely on the Bible, and refute Arminian theology which is, at the heart, synergistic, relying on a cooperative effort between man and God.
Regulative Principle of Worship
Put simply, The Regulative Principle of Worship states that the corporate worship of God is to be founded upon specific directions of Scripture. In the public worship of God, specific requirements are made, and we are not free either to ignore them or to add to them. As the Westminster Confession of Faith states in Chapter 21, section 1, “The acceptable way of worshiping the true God, is instituted by himself, and so limited by his own revealed will, that he may not be worshiped according to the imagination and devices of men, nor the suggestions of Satan, under any visible representations, or any other way not prescribed in the Holy Scriptures.”
This link will allow you to see additional information about worship at Faith Presbyterian.
The overarching theme of the Bible is the concept of God’s kingdom, and how God administers his kingdom through covenants. Through covenants God condescends to reveal himself to humanity. The entire history of the Bible is divided into just two covenants: the “covenant of works” in Adam and the “covenant of grace” in Christ. The covenant of works was God’s arrangement with Adam and Eve before their fall into sin. The covenant of grace governed the rest of the Bible. All stages of the covenant of grace were the same in substance. The stages differed only as God administered his one covenant of grace in Christ in various ways throughout biblical history. Biblical covenants emphasized what was needed at specific stages of God’s kingdom by advancing the principles of previous covenants. God started with Adam to reveal his own kingship, the role of humanity, and the purpose he had planned for the earth (Genesis 1–3). These principles were then carried forward as God promised stability in nature for humanity’s service in Noah’s covenant (Genesis 6, Genesis 9). God further enhanced his previous covenants by promising that Abraham’s descendants would become a great empire and spread God’s blessings to all other nations (Genesis 15, Genesis 17). God built on these covenants by blessing Israel with his law in the days of Moses (Exodus 19–24). Every previous covenant was taken to new heights as God established David’s dynasty and promised that one of his sons would rule in righteousness over Israel and over the entire world (Psalm 72; Psalm 89; Psalm 132). All Old Testament covenants were then furthered and fulfilled in Christ (Jeremiah 31:31, 2 Corinthians 1:19–20). As the great son of David, His life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return eternally secure the transformation of the entire earth into God’s glorious kingdom.
Vocation: The Theology of the Christian Life
That is to say, Christians have neither jobs nor careers; they have vocations (callings). The term “calling” deals with how God works through human beings to bestow his gifts. The best biblical expression of this concept in Scripture is found in 1 Corinthians 7:17, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.” God gives us this day our daily bread by means of the farmer, the baker, the cooks, and the clerk at the checkout counter. He creates new life — the most amazing miracle of all — by means of mothers and fathers. He protects us by means of police officers, firemen, and our military. He creates beauty through artists. He heals by working through doctors, nurses, and others whom he has gifted, equipped, and called to the medical professions. He proclaims his Word and administers his sacraments through the calling of pastors. He cares for his sheep through the calling of pastors and ruling elders.
Before God, all biblically lawful vocations are equal. Our standing before him is based solely on Jesus Christ, our sin-bearer, our redeemer, and our righteousness. But as we receive God’s grace in Christ, we are then sent into the world to live out our faith in the daily routines of ordinary life — that is, in our vocations. The purpose of every vocation is to love and serve our neighbor, and God is in it all.
A Confessional Church
Faith Presbyterian is a confessional church, meaning that we adhere to a written confession of faith that we believe is a good and accurate summary of the Bible’s teaching.
Our foundational doctrinal statements are found in The Standards of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, which we hold to be “the system of doctrine which is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone” (Associate Reformed Synod, May 31, 1799). From time to time position statements are written to address specific topics of concern.
Our confessional standards consist of the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Larger and Shorter Catechisms. Acceptance of every confessional distinctive is not a requirement for membership at Faith Presbyterian. You may become a participating member by affirming the evangelical distinctive that salvation is accomplished by grace alone through faith in Christ alone. Officers of Faith Presbyterian must adhere to the doctrine taught by the Westminster Standards according to the Form of Government of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.
We also affirm and use the doctrines of historic Christian orthodoxy defined by the Apostles’ Creed, as well as the ecumenical councils of Christian history known as the Councils of Nicea, Chalcedon, Constantinople, and others. These historic council doctrines include affirmations of the Trinity, the deity of Christ, and the atonement of Christ.
Our foundational doctrinal statements, confessional standards, and historic orthodox Christian creeds allow our congregation the necessary framework to grow in a biblically sound knowledge of our Lord.