The Apostles Creed
The Nicene Creed
The basic creed of Reformed
churches, as most familiarly known, is called the Apostles' Creed. It has
received this title because of its great antiquity; it dates from very early
times in the Church, a half century or so from the last writings of the New
I BELIEVE IN GOD the Father Almighty, Maker of Heaven and earth.
I BELIEVE IN
JESUS CHRIST, His only Son, our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit and
born of the virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified,
died, and was buried; He descended into Hades*. The third day He rose again
from the dead. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God
the Father Almighty. From there He will come to judge the living and the dead.
I BELIEVE IN THE HOLY SPIRIT, the
holy catholic church**, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the
resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen
*We have replaced the word hell
because we believe it to be more Biblically sound.
**The word "catholic" refers not to the Roman Catholic Church, but to the
universal church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Definition of the
Council of Chalcedon (451 AD)
WE BELIEVE IN ONE GOD, the Father
Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, of all things visible and invisible.
AND IN ONE LORD JESUS CHRIST, the
only-begotten Son of God, begotten of His Father before all worlds, God of
God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one
substance with the Father; by whom all things were made; who for us and for
our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Spirit of
the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius
Pilate; He suffered and was buried; and the third day He rose again according
to the Scriptures, and ascended into heaven, and is seated at the right hand
of the Father; and He shall come again, with glory, to judge both the living
and the dead; whose kingdom shall have no end.
AND WE BELIEVE IN THE HOLY
SPIRIT, the Lord and giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son;
who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified; who
spoke by the prophets; and we believe in one holy catholic and apostolic
church; we acknowledge one baptism for the remission of sins; and we look for
the resurrection of the dead, and the life of the world to come.
The Westminster Standards
Therefore, following the holy
fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same
Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in
manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and
body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the
same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all
respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father
before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for
our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ,
Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion,
without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of
natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the
characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form
one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but
one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even
as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ
himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.
What does it mean to be reformed?
(Taken from "Statement of Belief and Practice" Christ Covenant Church,
- It means to affirm the great "sola's"
(Latin for "only") of the Reformation. Look
for a children's song.
- Sola Scriptura...Scripture
- Sola Gratia...Grace Alone
- Sola Fide...Faith Alone
- Soli Christo...Christ
- Soli Deo Gloria...To the
Glory of God Alone
- See the Solas summarized by the Cambridge Declaration of 1996
- It means to
affirm and promote a profoundly high view of the sovereignty of God.
- It rejects the extremes of
Deism and Fatalism and sees God as actively involved in His creation,
governing and overseeing all the affairs of men. cf. Psalm 115:3;
Job 34:14-15; 37:6-13; Daniel 4:35.
- It means to
affirm the doctrines of grace...to see God as the author of salvation from
beginning to end.
- The acrostic TULIP
is the most familiar way of delineating the doctrines of Grace.
While this acrostic is well known, there are more helpful means of defining
and articulating what it is we mean by the "doctrines of grace." A brief
summary statement of each of these five doctrines follows.
- By "total depravity" what we
are to understand is that man is utterly lacking in his ability to (in and of
himself) respond to the good news of salvation through Christ alone.
That is why some describe this first doctrine as "total inability." It
does not mean that human beings are as wicked or evil as they could possibly
be; it simply says to us that every faculty of man's being has been horribly
affected and "deadened" by sin in the fall of Adam. The whole man - his
mind, his heart, and especially, his will - has been so affected by the fall
that he is in a state of utter and complete inability to comply with God's
commandments. cf. Romans 1:18-32; 3:10-18; 5:12-19; Ephesians 2:1-3;
- "Unconditional election" (a
doctrine often misunderstood and misrepresented) teaches us that a gracious
and loving God has "out of mere grace, according to the sovereign good
pleasure of His own will, chosen from the whole human race...a certain number
of persons to redemption in Christ... Those chosen were neither better
nor more deserving than the others..." (Canons of Dortrecht, first main point
of doctrine, article 7). God's election unto salvation is unconditional
in that it is not predicated on anything we do (not even our "choosing") or
anything we are. It finds its basis in our sovereign God's mere good
pleasure. When properly understood, this glorious doctrine strikes a
death blow to all human pride as well as the pervasive sense of
self-sufficiency, characteristic of mankind. cf. John 15:16; Acts 13:48;
Romans 8:29-30; 9:10-13, 16; Ephesians 1:4-5, 11; II Thessalonians 2:13; II
- The third doctrine of grace, "Limited Atonement", while fitting nicely
into the TULIP acrostic, is less than helpful because of its
"limitations." If not properly explained, it can easily lead one to
conclude that God is limited, that He can only save some. Thus, terms
like "particular redemption" or efficacious atonement" are better descriptions
of what this doctrine actually entails. Very simply, limited atonement
or particular redemption teaches us that Christ's atonement, the redemptive
nature of His death on the cross, was for a particular people. It was
for the elect of God and only for the elect. It was "limited" in that
sense and in no other. cf. Isaiah 53:11; Matthew 20:28; John 6:37-39;
- "Irresistible Grace" has been referred to by some as "effectual call" or
"efficacious grace," that is, it effects or accomplishes God's desired end.
It is the doctrine that teaches us that God, through the agency of
regeneration, replaces our heart of stone with a heart of flesh, thus causing
the elect of God to be perfectly willing and desirous of receiving Christ unto
salvation. Irresistible grace does not suggest either raw determinism or
God forcing us to believe in Him against our will. Rather, this doctrine
teaches us that salvation is all of grace, the grace of God applied to
unregenerate men and women resulting in a change of their "want to." As
God gives this grace to sinners, they willingly choose to believe and receive
(John 1:12). However, without the application of this grace, none would
choose to believe. cf. John 1:12-13; 5:25; 6:45; Acts 16:14; Romans
- Perseverance of the saints
- The final doctrine of grace (Perseverance of the Saints) is one of the
most precious and freeing truths in all of Scripture. It gives assurance
to the child of God that God is indeed able to save from first to last, from
beginning to end. C. H. Spurgeon, in refuting those who argued that one
can never be absolutely sure of his or her final destination, once said, "I
grant that my atonement, or bridge to heaven is more narrow than yours.
However, yours only goes half way across the chasm and mine goes all the way.
In our scheme, the sinner must furnish the other half." Perseverance of
the Saints (sometimes called "preservation" of the saints) teaches us that the
child of God will persevere, he will be preserved in his faith because it is
God who has begun that good work and He will bring it to completion
(Philippians 1:6). Once again, salvation is seen to be entirely of God,
from first to last. cf. Psalms 37:28; Isaiah 45:17; Matthew 10:22; John
6:37-40; 10:27-30; 17:9-18; Hebrews 7:25; I John 2:19, 25
- It means to be
creedal...to affirm the great creeds of the historic, orthodox church.
- The history of God's people is replete with "creeds" (statements of
belief) from the earliest of times. The Shema of Israel as
recorded in Deuteronomy 6:4-5 is but one OT example. I Timothy 3:16 is a
prime illustration of a NT creedal affirmation. Romans 10:9-10
underscores the importance of creedal and confessional statements. By
affirming the great creeds of our faith we are effectively joining the
confessional statements. By affirming the great creeds of our faith we
are effectively joining the venerable communion of saints, ritually confessing
our solidarity with the Church of all ages.
- The Apostles' Creed (see above)
- The Nicene Creed (see also above)
- The Definition of Chalcedon (see also above)
- It means to be
confessional...to affirm one or more of the great confessions of the
historic orthodox church.
- While it is undeniably true that the Bible is entirely sufficient
for the whole of life, we must, nonetheless, acknowledge that problems arise
when people begin to discuss what they believe is or is not included in the
teaching of Scripture. Thus, it is simply not enough to say, "I believe
in the Bible." Confessions of faith, catechisms and the like, give
definition to our understanding of what the Scriptures teach. A
confessional standard is helpful in at least the following ways:
- A confession allows us to express our faith with precision. We are
not at the mercy or the vagaries of subjective and individualized readings of
- A confession allows us to defend a particular faith. It is
very hard to defend a faith that is not agreed upon beforehand.
- A confession allows us to establish an objective basis for doctrinal
- A confession organizes and systematizes what will and will not be taught
to our children.
- A confession allows us to standardize what will be the doctrinal basis for
our decisions. Without this safeguard, every individual's private view
of Scripture becomes the legitimate source for Christian behavior. The
Bible teaches otherwise (II Peter 1:20-21).
- A confession serves to act as a yardstick by which to measure the leaders
for the Church. Churches without a confessional standard must rely on an
intuitive process instead of an objective format when selecting Pastors,
Elders and Deacons. Churches without a confessional standard often have
later found themselves regrettably surprised by what their leaders really
believed. A confession of faith informs the Church in advance as to what
its leaders will teach.
- The Westminster Standards
- The Westminster Confession of Faith (see link above)
- The Westminster Longer Catechism (see link above)
- The Westminster Shorter Catechism (see link above)
- The London Baptist Confession of Faith
- The Three Forms of Unity
- The Belgic Confession of Faith
- The Heidelberg Catechism
- The Canons of Dortrecht
- It means to be
covenantal...to affirm the great covenants of Scripture and see those
covenants as the means by which God interacts with and accomplishes His
purposes in His creation, with mankind. The Scriptures contain
numerous examples of God "covenanting" with man, establishing and ordaining
a variety of covenants. Having said that, the Reformed tradition
perceives all of these covenants as falling under three broad covenants.
- The Covenant of Redemption - The Covenant of Redemption is that
pre-Creation "agreement among the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in which the
Son agreed to become a man, be our representative, obey the demands of the
covenant of works on our behalf, and pay the penalty for sin, which we
deserved." (Wayne Grudem) cf. John 3:16; Romans 5:18-19; Galatians 4:4;
Hebrews 2:14-18; John 14:16-17, 26; Acts 2:33
- The Covenant of Works - The Covenant of Works is that pre-Fall
agreement between the Lord God and Adam in which Adam was promised blessing
and life upon obedience to the terms of the covenant and cursing and death
should he disobey the terms of the covenant. "The requirements of the
(covenantal) relationship are clearly defined in the commands that God gave to
Adam and Eve (Genesis 1:28-30; cf 2:15) and in the direct command to Adam,
'You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the
knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of
it you shall die' (Gen. 2:16-17)." (Wayne Grudem) The Covenant of
Works ceased to be in effect after the fall. cf. Hosea 6:7
- The Covenant of Grace - The Covenant of Grace is that covenant by
which a gracious and loving God works out the amazing plan of redemption in
which sinful and rebellious people may once again be restored to communion and
fellowship with Him. This covenant is made possible only through the
passive and active obedience of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is entitled a
"covenant of grace" because it is predicated entirely on grace - that is,
God's unmerited favor toward those whom He redeems. cf. Genesis 17:7;
Jeremiah 31:33; 32:38-40; II Corinthians 6:16; I Peter 2:9-10
- It means to take seriously
the Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20...to affirm the primacy of mission
and understand that mission.
- It means to have a distinctly
Christian worldview that permeates all of life.
- Some elements of a Christian worldview:
- An affirmation of the sovereignty of God
- An affirmation of the sufficiency and relevance of God's Word for all of
- An affirmation of the necessity of absolutes
- An eternal rather than merely a temporal perspective
- The rightful division of authority (spheres of authority)
- The sanctity of life
- The priority of vocation/calling
- Questions to help develop a distinctly Christian worldview
- Why is there something rather than nothing?
- How do you explain human nature?
- What happens to a person at death?
- How do you determine what is right and what is wrong?
- How do you know what you know?
- What is the meaning of history?
For further reading, an excellent treatment on what it means to be
reformed can be found