The Scriptures : The Basis of Reformed Doctrine
Below are listed some basic doctrines of reformed Christianity . Most questions are taken from The Shorter Catechism of the Westminster Assembly (1640's)
I . The Absolute Sufficiency of Holy Scripture for all matters of faith and practice
Q2 : What rule hath God given to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him?
A : The Word of God, which is contained in the Scriptures of the Old & New Testaments, is the only rule to direct us how we may glorify and enjoy Him
Eph 2.20, 2 Tim 3.16 , 1 John 1.3, Luke 24. 25-27 & Rev 22.19
II. The Triune Jehovah
Q 4: What is God?
A. God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.
John 4:24, Job 11:7-9, Ps. 90:2, James 1:17, Exod. 3:14, Ps. 147:5, Rev. 4:8, Rev. 15 :4, Exod. 34:6.
Q 6 : How many persons are there in the God-head?
A : There are three persons in the God-head; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.
Matt 28.19 & 1 John 5.7
III. The fall of man, whereby he has wholly lost all ability of will to any spiritual good accompanying salvation
Q : 18 Wherein consists the sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell?
A : The sinfulness of that estate whereinto man fell, consists in the guilt of Adam's first sin, the want of original righteousness, and the corruption of his whole nature, which is commonly called original sin, together with all actual transgressions which proceed from it.
Rom 5.19, Rom3.10, Eph. 2.1, Ps 51.5 & Matt 15.19&20
IV. Unconditional Election [ or choosing from the mass of humanity ] & V. Particular Redemption [ Or Christ's redemption of the elect only ]
Q : 19 What is the misery of that estate whereinto man fell ?
A : All mankind by their fall lost communion with God, are under His wrath and curse, and so made liable to all miseries in this life, to death itself, and to the pains of hell forever.
Gen 3:8, 10, 24 Eph. 2 : 2-3 Gal 3: 10 Lam 3:39 Rom 6:23 Matt 25 :41,46.
Q : 20 Did God leave all mankind to perish in the estate of sin and misery?
A : God, having, out of His mere good pleasure, from all eternity, elected some to everlasting life, did enter into a covenant of grace, to deliver them out of the estate of sin and misery, and to bring them into a state of salvation by a redeemer
Eph 1.4, Rom 3.21 - 22 & John 10.14-15.
Q : What offices does Christ execute as our redeemer ?
A : Christ, as our redeemer, executeth the offices of a prophet, of a priest, and of a king, both in His estate of humiliation and exaltation
Acts 3.21-22, Heb 5.5 & Ps 2.6
Q : 25 How does Christ execute the office of a priest?
A : Christ executeth the office of a priest, in His once offering up of Himself a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice, and reconcile us to God, and in making continual intercession for us
Heb 9.28, Heb 2.17 & Heb 7.25
VI. Effectual Calling [ An act of the Father's free grace whereby He irresistibly calls out the elect by His Spirit to fellowship in the Son]
Q67 (larger catechism) : What is Effectual Calling?
A : Effectual calling is the work of God's almighty power and grace [a], whereby (out of His free and special love to His elect, and from nothing in them moving Him thereunto [b] ) He doth, in His accepted time, invite and draw them to Jesus Christ, by His word and Spirit [c]; savingly enlightening their minds [d], renewing and powerfully determining their wills [e], so as they ( although themselves dead in sin) are hereby made willing and able freely to answer His call, and to accept and embrace the grace offered and conveyed therein [f].
[a] 2 Tim 1.8-9, [b] Rom. 9. 11, [c] 2 Thess. 2.13-14 [d] 1 Cor. 2.10 [e] John 6.43 [f] Phil. 2.13
VII. Justification by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ.
Q : 33 What is Justification?
A ; Justification is an act of God's free grace, wherein He pardoneth all our sins, and accepteth us as righteous in His sight, only for the righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and received by faith alone.
Eph 1.7, 2 Cor 5.21, Rom 5.19, Gal 2.16 & Eph 2.8-10
VIII . Final Preservation [ True believers , by God's grace, never finally, totally and irrevocably fall away from the faith]
Q : 36 What are the benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption, and sanctification?
A : The benefits which in this life do accompany or flow from justification, adoption and sanctification, are, assurance of God's love, peace of conscience, joy in the Holy Ghost, increase of grace, and perseverance to the end.
Rom 5.1-2, Prov 4.18, John 6. 37 & Rom 8. 38-39
IX. The Last things
Q 38 : What benefits do believers receive from Christ at the resurrection?
A : At the resurrection, believers being raised up in glory, shall be openly acknowledged and acquitted in the day of Judgment and made perfectly blessed in the full enjoying of God to all eternity
1 Cor 15.43, Matt 10.32, 1 John 3.2, 1 Thess 4.17 & 2 Thess 1.7-10
X. Church Government
Jehovah's ultimate purpose for creation and the church
"....That in the dispensation of the fulness of times He (that is the Father) might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are in earth; even in Him" Ephesians. 1.10
The head of the universal church is the ascended Lord Jesus Christ
"I (that is, Jesus Christ) am He that liveth, and was dead and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen ; and have the keys of keys of hell and death" Rev. 1.18
" And hath (that is, the Father) put all things under His feet, and gave Him (that is, Jesus Christ) to be head over all things to the church" Eph. 1.22
Christ's Vicar on Earth is the Holy Spirit
" And I will pray the Father, and He shall send you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, neither knoweth Him ; for He dwelleth with you, and shall be with you" John 14. 16-17
"But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have had said to you" John 14. 26
see also 2 Thess. 2. 3-12
That part of Christ's body on earth [ the church militant ] consists of all who are united to Him by faith.
"I am the vine and ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing". John 15. 5
" And hath (that is, the Father) put all things under His (that is, Jesus Christ's) feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all". Eph. 1.22-23
The Priesthood of all believers, consisting of....
[a] The abolition of the outward & temporal priesthood resulting from the fulfillment of the priestly office by Christ.
" By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they ( the old testament priesthood) truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death : But this man, because He continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him, seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them. For such an high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; Who needeth not daily as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for His own sins, and then for the people's; for this He did once when He offered up Himself." Hebrews 7 22- 27.
[b] The spiritual participation of all believers in Christ's priestly office.
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light." 1 Peter 2 :9.
The scriptures indicate certain practical out-workings resulting from the headship of Christ and the ministration of His Vicar (the Spirit) which should be manifest in His body ...
[a] Public Worship
The preaching of the word, prayer, the breaking of bread [the Lord's Supper] & the giving of tithes on the first day of the week.
"And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached to them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight." Acts 20.7 [also Acts 2.42 & 1 Cor. 16.2 ]
The singing of psalms
"..but be filled with the Spirit; speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord" Eph. 5. 18-19
NB. spiritual songs = psalms 120-135 [ songs of degrees ] while hymns = Passover psalms [ 113-118] -see Matt. 25.30
The head covering of the woman in worship as a sign of subjection & for the the sake of the angels
" Neither was the man created for the woman ; but the woman for the man. For this cause ought the woman to have power [a covering] on her head because of the angels" 1 Cor.11. 9-10
NB. Because the use of a veil is the natural interpretation of these verses to a significant number of Christians - those Christians who feel such an interpretation to be "weak" should nevertheless submit to it for the sake of love [Romans 15.1-3].
[b] Christian Subjection
"Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone : and if he shall hear thee thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not here thee, then take with thee one or two more, then in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church : but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen and a publican." Matthew 18: 15-17
".....Yea, all of you be subject to one another, and be clothed with humility : for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble." 1 Peter 5:5
"Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves : for they watch for your souls, as they which must give account, that they do it with joy, and not with grief : for that is profitable for you". Hebrews 13. 17
"Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed then eve" Timothy 2. 11-13
"A man that is a heretic, after the first and second admonition reject; knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself." Titus 3.10-11.
In summary, let what the Apostle noted of the Colossian church be noted in all churches today...
"...For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ" Col 2. 5
[c] Note on the regulative principle of worship
God has intended that His worship be regulated by the second commandment. Calvinistic churches have held to the regulative principle of worship, as a natural consequence of this commandment. This principle states that God is to be worshipped only in the way He has specified, everything else being forbidden, whether expressly stated as forbidden or not. The use of instruments and uninspired / non- Psalter hymns in formal New Testament public* worship has been seriously questioned on the basis of the regulative principle.
*N.B. Many have extended this to formal family worship