What is a reformed church?
Reformed churches believe that God is sovereign over all things and that all glory belongs to Him. Sometimes the Five Solas are used as shorthand for the Reformed faith.
Sola Scriptura - Scripture Alone
This is the foundation for the entire Reformation. The reformers believed that God's Word stood alone above church doctrine as the only rule for faith and life. All who hold to the reformed faith believe that Scripture is the final test for all matters and that we can learn the will of God for our lives by studying it.
Sola Fide - Faith Alone
Faith is the instrument that God uses to save. It is not faith and works together but faith alone. This is counter to the Roman Catholic teaching that faith working through love saves - we believe that justification is solely on the basis of faith in Christ.
Sola Gratia - Grace Alone
Grace is the basis for salvation. God, in his love and kindness, is gracious to save. He does not look into the future to see if we will have faith, nor does he rely on good works to merit salvation. He, solely of his own free will, saves by grace.
Solus Christus - Christ Alone
Jesus Christ alone secures our salvation by his death, burial, and resurrection. No other mediator or helper is needed. His sacrifice is sufficient and needs no aid. This strikes at the heart of the sacramental system of Roman Catholicism.
Soli Deo Gloria - Glory of God Alone
God alone gets all the glory for salvation and all else that He does. He is without equal and does not share His glory with others. This doctrine keeps us from boasting in ourselves or our salvation since it is His grace alone that saves.
These are the foundational issues of the reformed and protestant faith. This is what we, as a Westminster Standards church, believe and teach.
There is much more the reformed faith than five quick quotes. In future posts we will look at more of what makes First Presbyterian reformed.