We have historical roots in the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. The Reformation of the church that then took place involved a recovery of biblical teaching that had been denied or obscured by the man-made traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. The following themes express such teachings which were again seen to be of such critical importance that they formed mottoes or slogans capturing the foundational and essential faith commitments of the 'Reformed' church. These themes which we whole-heartedly believe are:
The Bible Alone "Sola Scriptura"
Grace Alone "Sola Gratia"
Faith Alone "Sola Fide"
Christ Alone "Soli Christo"
To God be the Glory Alone "Soli Deo Gloria"
The Bible Alone - Sola Scriptura
The Bible is God's Word, giving us a unified, perfect and complete revelation of God and all that pertains to our salvation. It is without any error and is the final authority for what we are to believe and how we are to live. Therefore we must reject the teachings of tradition, psychology, science, church pronouncements and anything else whenever such teachings conflict with this infallible Word. Furthermore, since God's revelation in the Bible is complete, we deny that any claims of receiving dreams or visions, hearing voices, speaking in tongues or prophesying involve continuing revelation by God. (See Luke 16:17, II Timothy 3:15-17, Isaiah 8:20.)
Grace Alone - Sola Gratia
The grace of God is His unmerited or undeserved favor towards the sinful and miserable. Our natural condition as sinners who have fallen from the perfection in which we were created in Adam is so depraved and desperate that the only way anyone is ever saved is by God's grace alone. No one is either willing or able to do anything to truly contribute to their salvation and so escape eternal destruction and misery in hell unless God intervenes. All people are spiritually dead unless the Holy Spirit imparts new life and gives 'new birth.' For this reason Christians take no credit for their faith or good works but confess that it is God's grace alone that makes them different from those who are unbelieving and ungodly. This biblical teaching is explained fully in our Canons of Dort. (See Romans 9:15-16, John 3:5-7, I Corinthians 2:14; 4:7.)
Faith Alone - Sola Fide
When God gives His saving grace to sinners, they come to trust in the wonderful person and saving work of Jesus Christ as the only basis for the forgiveness of sins and acceptance with God. Although God's grace includes the renewing work of the Holy Spirit compelling them to turn from sin and begin to do good works, such repentance and good works contribute nothing toward a right standing with God. It is this trust, or faith, and faith alone which joins them to the merits of Jesus Christ. Good works are the result of their acceptance with God, and not the basis for that acceptance. (See Ephesians 2:8, Galatians 3:10-11, Romans 3:28.)
Christ Alone - Soli Christo
Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate, is true God and at the same time, true and perfectly righteous man. He lived a sinless life. He then died as a sacrifice for sin. He conquered death by His resurrection. He now rules from heaven, where He also intercedes for His church until He comes again as Judge of the world. He is a perfect and complete Savior and Mediator. Therefore there is no need to seek assistance and grace through any supposed mediation of angels, saints, priests or through Mary, the mother of Jesus. To do so is to follow man-made superstitions and to deny Jesus Christ. Furthermore, since salvation is through Christ alone, there is no salvation for those of other religions or forms of spirituality until they turn to the only Savior and become Christians. (See Matthew 1:21, John 14:6, Acts 4:10-12.)
To God be the Glory Alone - Soli Deo Gloria
The Triune God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness and truth. He is the sovereign Creator, Ruler, Lawgiver, Redeemer and Judge. All things were made by Him and for Him. He works all things according to His purpose. None of His purposes fail and they all serve to bring honor and glory to His Name alone. Exclusive devotion to this infinitely glorious God is our supreme calling and ultimate happiness. The desire of the Christian is expressed in the words: "Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory." (Psalm 115:1). (See also Isaiah 45:22-23, Romans 11:36, I Corinthians 1:26-31).
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