Reformed Distinctives
It is important to distinguish between fundamental, essential doctrines that Scripture defines as necessary to be believed for salvation (if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and shall believe in your heart that God hath raised him from the dead, you shall be saved) and secondary doctrines (such as baptism, church government and eschatology) concerning which sincere believers may come to different interpretations of the Scriptural teaching without departing from the Christian faith. What is often called the Reformed faith encompasses the many Biblical teachings as they were recovered during the Protestant Reformation. While everything Scripture teaches is important and much needed in our day, we do not believe it is necessary to understand or hold to all these teachings in order to get to heaven, nor even to be members of this church. However, these teachings are what distinguishes us from other Bible-believing Protestant churches.

What is Reformed Theology?
Reformed theology takes its name from the Protestant Reformation that took place in the sixteenth century when the church was reformed to be more Biblical in its teaching and practice. It has also been called “Calvinism” after John Calvin, who so clearly and systematically taught these doctrines in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, and “Augustinianism” after Augustine, who defended these doctrines in the fourth and fifth centuries. It might also be called “Paulinism” because though it is taught throughout the Bible, it is especially emphasized in the epistles of Paul. While our preference would be to eschew all "isms" and simply call ourselves Christ followers or Christians, out of deference to others who believe differently but still claim the name of Christ, we use the name reformed to describe ourselves. 

Emphasis: the supremacy of God
The supremacy (or sovereignty) of God in and over all things is the focal point of scripture. Before the creation of this world, God ordained all that would come to pass. He owns all things, has rights of ownership over all things, and controls all things according to His will (Genesis 50:20; Isaiah 46:10; Daniel 4:25, 35; Acts 2:23; 4:27-28; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11).

God's Grace in Salvation
God's supremacy in all things is true in the matter of salvation as well. This Scriptural teaching has come to be nicknamed “the doctrines of grace” because they emphasize that salvation is by grace - God's unearned favor - alone. Man only comes to God after God has first worked in that particular person's heart to draw him (John 6:44, 37). 

These doctrines are frequently summarized as follows:
Total Inability of Man
Every mere man since Adam is born with a sinful nature (Romans 5-12) and sins (Romans 3:23). No man can please God by His actions (Isaiah 64:6). No natural man understands the things of God (l Corinthians 2:14). He does not desire to come to God (John 1:13; Romans 3:11). He does not have the ability in himself to accept Christ (John 6:44, 65; Ephesians 2:1, 5). Every part of man including his will, emotions, intellect, and body, are corrupt and suffer the effects of sin.

Unconditional Election
Left to themselves, all of fallen mankind would choose to reject God; the end result would be that every last one would end up in hell. But God graciously elected (chose) to draw some to Himself through the Holy Spirit. This election was unconditional in that there was nothing in us to merit our being chosen.
See John 6:37-39; 15:16; Acts 13:48; Romans 8:28-30; 9:11-23; Ephesians 1:4-5; 1 Thessalonians 2:13.

Definite Atonement
Having thus elected some to eternal life, God sent forth His Son to secure their salvation by His death for their sins. Both Calvinism and Arminianism agree that the atonement is sufficient to pay for the sins of everyone in the world (it was an infinite payment), and that it is efficient only to those who accept Christ (only their sins will be forgiven that they may be in heaven). Where they differ is on the intent of the atonement. Arminianism says that Christ died to make it possible for all men to be saved but did not actually atone for all the sins of specific people. We believe scripture states that Christ specifically died to save God's elect (see Galatians 1:4; Matthew 1:21; Romans 8:30) and that his death actually and specifically atones for all their sins.  If Christ’s death atoned for the sins of all mankind, then everyone’s debt has been paid and God could not justly send anyone to hell. But people do go to hell, therefore Christ’s death did not atone for the sins of all men.

Matthew 1:21; Luke 19:20; Galatians l:4; and 1 Timothy 1:15 teach that Christ died not just to make salvation possible but to actually save sinners. Matthew1:21; John 10:11, 15, 26-28; Romans 8:32-33; and Ephesians 5:25-27 teach that Christ died for a particular group. Romans 8:29-30; and Ephesians 2:4-10 teach that God's work of salvation is an unbroken chain .

Irresistible Grace
When God does something, the result is certain. When the Holy Spirit inwardly calls a person to believe, that person comes to Christ. We should not picture the person coming against His will. Rather the Holy Spirit creates a new heart (i.e. the work of regeneration which Jesus compared to the wind in John 3) and so changes and motivates the man's will such that he now desires and loves that which he before hated.

Shorter Catechism # 31: What is effectual calling?
A: Effectual calling is the work of God's Spirit, whereby convincing us of our sin and misery, enlightening our minds in the knowledge of Christ, and renewing our wills, he doth persuade and enable us to embrace Jesus Christ, freely offered to us in the gospel.

See John 1:13, 6:37, 44; 10:16; Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 2:8-10; James 1:18.

Perseverance of the Saints
Those whom Holy Spirit regenerated and brought to faith in Christ will be kept by Christ (Jude l; 1 John 5:18) with the result that they will continue in the true faith and grow in Christ. He will not fall away and be lost. They have eternal life now, forever.

See John 6:39; 10:28-29; Ephesians 1:13-14; Philippians 1:6; 1 Peter 1:4-6.

Those passages that seem to speak of Christians falling away and being lost refer to mere professors, not true professors, of the faith. These professors are members of the visible church through baptism, but they are covenant breakers and not members of the invisible church.

Perspective
Some have difficulty understanding this teaching, others become unsettled by it, and many fight very hard against it. We believe much of this opposition arises because these scriptural truths directly confront man's sinful desire to put himself on God's throne.Even Christians often have a humanistic viewpoint of the universe. We see ourselves, not God, as the center of all things and we rebel against the idea that we were created solely for God's glory. Only as we submit to God and His Word can we accept the idea that we are but clay pots made by God to use as He desires (Romans 9:18-24). When we grasp that, then our praise to God truly becomes overwhelming as we thank Him for all the unmerited riches that He has graciously bestowed on us undeserving sinners. 

While we must always stand for all that the Bible teaches, we also acknowledge the need to speak the truth of Scripture in love and wait for the Lord to open hearts (II Timothy 2:23-25) in his time.

Suggested Reading for Further Study
Thomas & Steele, The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented
Loraine Boettner, The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination
John Murray, Redemption Accomplished and Applied
Robert Raymond, The New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith
John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion
The Westminster Confession of Faith

RememberThem

  • "And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled." ~ (Rev 6:9-11)