In Psalm 19, David writes, "The rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether." We believe God has revealed His perfect will for our salvation in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament. We confess our faith using the Apostles' Creed each Lord's Day. As a church of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Synod, we subscribe to the Standards of the ARP, including the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechisms. The following statements are provided to give further insight and understanding into what is taught and practiced at Calhoun Presbyterian Church.
What is the Gospel? Start Here
God's Revelation, the Word of God
Ordinary Means of Grace
The Five Solas
The Five Points of Calvinism
Gospel is a word meaning "good message" or "good news" and it is the single most important communication we, as humans, can ever receive. It is a God-sent message, something that no human could ever devise, because the Gospel contains a promise so astounding: God has made provision for sinners to be reconciled to Him in the death of Christ (Col. 1:21-22, 1 John 4:10). Because of His staggering holiness and our wretched sinfulness, none could ever approach God. We would be consumed by His righteous wrath against sin. Our rightful condemnation leaves us eternally cut-off from the living God. Yet God, because of His great mercy, provided a perfect Redeemer to suffer in our place (Eph. 2:4, Gal. 3:13, 1 Pet. 2:24). That Redeemer is Christ, Who shed His blood upon the cross to satisfy God's righteous judgment against our sin. That is why the Gospel is such good news; Christ took the penalty for the sins of His people upon His head so that they could be reconciled to God! Those who had been God's enemies may now be transferred into His glorious kingdom because of what Christ accomplished by His substitutionary death. Christ also rose from the dead to confirm both His triumph over evil and His absolute sufficiency to Redeem His people, even through death.
These sayings are sure. The Gospel is news because it is an eye-witness account of what really took place in history. Now, because Christ lives, we are made partakers of the Gospel and of Christ's salvation when we believe the truth of it and receive Christ by faith (Romans 10:9). Receiving Him means putting your trust in Him as your only hope for salvation. Forsake pride and vanity, repent of your sins, and cling to Christ by faith as your strong Advocate before God the Father. He will not cast you out, but will raise you up on the last day (John 6:37, 1 John 5:13).
We uphold the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament to be the sure revelation of God's will in all things concerning our salvation. In other words, God is not silent, but has spoken to us in words we can understand, through prophets and apostles, a revelation that is perfect and complete. The Bible is unlike any other book; it is a Word from beyond this world. God Himself, in His Word and by His Spirit, bears witness to us that it is to be treasured and trusted.
The authority of the Holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed, and obeyed, depends not upon the testimony of any man, or Church; but wholly upon God (Who is truth itself) the Author thereof: and therefore it is to be received, because it is the Word of God. (WCF, I.IV)
The Word of God is to be believed and esteemed as the only rule of faith and life. We are therefore committed to understanding, teaching, and conforming to the whole counsel of God in all things, that we might be conformed more closely to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29), Who is the Word of God made flesh (John 1:14). What's more, any committed student of God's Word will confirm that, the more they mediate upon and study the Scriptures, the more consistent and majestic God's Word becomes in their eyes. If you would like greater assurance that God's Word is reliable and worthy of your trust, ask God's Spirit to assist you as you read, study, and hear it preached. Christ prayed to the Father for His disciples, saying "Sanctify them in the truth; Your Word is truth," (John 17:17).
Isaiah the prophet records for us the Word of the Lord declaring, "I am the first and I am the last; besides Me there is no god," (Isa. 44:6). There is but one God only. Yet, as the Scriptures reveal from beginning to end, God is three in His Personhood. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are each equal in power and glory, yet distinct in properties pertaining to their Person. Christ has said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," (Matt. 28:19). Notice the Persons are three, but the Name is singular. One of our standards, the Westminster Larger Catechism, summarizes this reality in these words: The Scriptures manifest that the Son and the Holy Ghost are God equal with the Father, ascribing unto Them such Names, attributes, works, and worship, as are proper to God only, (WLC, 11).
No earthly analogy can capture the truth of the Trinity, because the Trinity of our God is not represented very nearly in any created thing. This is not to say that the Trinity is a contradiction of logic. God is one in a different way than He is three. He is one in essence, three in Person.
Why is the doctrine of the Trinity so important? Why is it something we are willing to break fellowship over? Because, if the doctrine of the Trinity is distorted, the Gospel is distorted. The doctrine of the Trinity is so important because the Persons of the Trinity have each acted in accomplishing our great salvation (Gal. 4:4-6). It is of absolute necessity for us that God the Father decreed our salvation, God the Son redeemed us by His blood, and God the Holy Spirit brought us to faith and repentance, sealing us to be the Lord's. To diminish the Divinity of any of these Persons is to dismantle salvation.
How could sinful man ever hope to approach our holy and righteous God? We justly deserve His condemnation (Rom. 5:18). We have no ground on which to appeal to God. We have no possible terms by which we could hope to gain an audience with Him. Amazingly, God has graciously condescended and bound Himself to His people through covenant (Dan. 9:3-15). Covenant is word for a binding relationship, established by God, with promises including blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience.
In the Bible, God has made two covenants with man: one has been called the Covenant of Life and the other, the Covenant of Grace (WCF VII). The Covenant of Life was broken by Adam and Eve when they sinned against God, and still condemns all their posterity to death (Rom. 5:12). The Covenant of Grace was announced shortly after Adam and Eve's fall (Gen. 3:15) and was developed and revealed throughout ages of promise, faith, law, sacrifice, and, finally, through full redemption in Christ (Heb. 9:15).
Understanding our position in the Covenant of Grace, God's unbreakable oath to His people, is of inestimable worth and comfort. In disobedience to God's covenant there is bondage, confusion, and death. In obedience to God's covenant, by faith in Christ, there is liberty, peace, and everlasting life.
Ordinary Means of Grace
God's desire for His people is that they might be conformed more and more to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29). This process is also called "sanctification" (1 Pet. 1:2), with the Holy Spirit leading the believer out of their bondage to sin and into life and holiness (Rom. 8:12-17). The way this happens is no mystery, it is not reserved only for the "super Christian", and it is not usually the result of a dramatic, spiritual episode. Our sanctification occurs as we faithfully avail ourselves of the means of grace, which are fairly ordinary.
The Larger Catechism is helpful here, asking, "What are the outward means whereby Christ communicates to us the benefits of His mediation?" and responding, "The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicates to His church the benefits of His mediation, are all His ordinances; especially the Word, Sacraments, and Prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for their salvation." (WLC 154, cf. Acts 2:42)
There's no complex program here. Our Lord sustains and increases the faith of His people through ordinary means, over time. So much of the New Testament teaching on spiritual growth is formed in agricultural language. Galatians 6:8 teaches us that the one who "sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life". If a believer desires to reap the things of the Spirit, let him or her sow the things of the Spirit by faithful observance of God's sustaining means of grace.
The Five Solas
Sola is Latin for "only". These five commitments have been developed from the writings of the Reformers, as they sought to bring the Church back to the foundation of the Gospel of free grace, according to the teaching of the apostles.
- Sola Scriptura: Ruled by Scripture Alone
- Sola Fide: Justified by Faith Alone
- Sola Gratia: Saved by Grace Alone
- Solus Christus: Redeemed through Christ Alone
- Soli Deo Gloria: All to the Glory of God
These commitments reinforce the Bible's teaching that justification (right standing with God) is a grace from God that is not earned but given, at the expense of Christ's suffering and death, and received by faith alone. This stands in stark opposition to any man-exalting view of salvation, because faith is a gift of God and not a work of man (Eph. 2:8-9).
The Five Points of Calvinism
When speaking about Reformed theology, mention must be made of 16th century French theologian John Calvin. From his writings and analysis of Scripture, his followers developed the following tenets to describe the monergistic (unilateral) nature of God's salvation.
- Total Depravity: Scripture teaches that we come into this world corrupted by nature and dead in our sins (Rom. 5:12, Eph. 2:1). Without the power of the Holy Spirit the natural man is senseless to the message of the Gospel (Mark 4:11f) and completely unable to respond with faith. Sinners will never come to saving knowledge of Christ without God making them alive and sensible together with Christ (Eph. 2:4-5).
- Unconditional Election: God has elected some for glory and others for destruction (Rom. 9:15, 21). This was decreed before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4-8), based solely upon His good will, and not upon anything discernible in the creature.
- Limited Atonement (Definite Redemption): Christ died for those whom God gave Him to redeem (John 10:11; 17:9). Christ died for many, but not all (Matt. 26:28). There is nothing hypothetical or potential about Christ's atonement, but it was just and perfect in its efficacy for the elect.
- Irresistable Grace: People savingly come to Christ when the Father draws them (John 6:44) and the Spirit of God leads God's elect to repentance (Rom. 8:14). Like natural birth, once God's Spirit makes someone alive with faith in Christ, they cannot choose otherwise.
- Perseverance of the Saints: Saints (all those whom God has saved) will not fail to persist in God's grace until they are glorified (Rom. 8:28-39). The work of sanctification which God has begun in His elect people will continue until it reaches its fulfillment in eternal life (Phil. 1:6). Finally, Christ promises that He will lose none of His people—not one—but will raise them up on the last day (John 6:39).
Much more could be said about each of these doctrines, the way they summarize the teaching of Scripture, and build upon one another to present a consistent view of God's sovereign work in salvation. For a far more comprehensive introduction, see these resources on Reformed theology.
The household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 1 Tim. 3:15
This Lord's Day
The Lord has appointed one day in seven that we might rest, worship, and be renewed in spirit. It is a gift and an honor to worship God corporately and publicly upon the Lord's Day.
Sunday School - 9:30 AM
Morning Worship - 10:45 AM
Associate Reformed Synod
The Associate Reformed Synod is a historic, evangelical Christian denomination that has been preaching the Gospel of Jesus
Christ for over 200 years in this country. The Associate Reformed denomination is member of the North American
Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC).