by Barry York
Some see the word “Reformed” in our name and think it means “new and improved.” That is, our church must have been formed by breaking off of an existing Presbyterian church and town and “re-forming” as a new church. Actually, our congregation has this word in our name because we belong to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, a denomination that has existed for over 200 years. The Reformed Presbyterian Church originated during the time of the Protestant Reformation when there was a recovery of Biblical truths regarding salvation. Primary among these truths was the teaching that it is only by grace alone that a sinner is saved.
To be reformed is really synonymous with the Biblical, and to declare that as the church we are those who are Trusting Christ for our Salvation by Grace Alone.
What is the importance of emphasizing that
it is by grace ALONE that a sinner is saved?
The contemporary, evangelical church in America is relying more on methods and manipulation to fill the pews rather than the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In so doing, it is also relying more on man’s strength and wisdom rather than God’s grace to save sinners. This is causing a tragic distortion of the Gospel, as many place their trust in human ability rather than in God’s mercy.
This trend can be seen in the statistic that 87% of American evangelicals endorse the statement that “God helps those who help themselves.” Yet the Gospel is the message that God helps those who cannot help themselves! So concerned are some about the loss of this truth that a group of influential leaders from evangelical churches and institutions gathered together and produced a statement call The Cambridge Declaration. In part they state:
We deny that salvation is in any sense a human work. Human methods, techniques, or strategies…cannot accomplish this transformation. Faith is not produced by our unregenerate human nature.
What does is mean that it is by God’s grace ALONE that a person is saved?
Note that the Bible gives a 3-fold answer from Eph. 2:8-10
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us.
Grace is God saving man from his sin
“For it is by grace you have been saved…”
The Bible teaches that because mankind fell into sin with Adam, we are spiritually dead to God (Eph 2:1-3). This means we have no ability to please God or obey His laws, and therefore live under wrath and the judgment of hell (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 2:5-6). However, God rescued His elect people by sending His Son to suffer for their sins on the cross. This means of salvation is the only way men and women can be saved.
Grace is God giving man his faith
“through faith – and this is nor from yourselves, it is the gift of God…”
Yet so dead is man’s heart in his sin, he cannot even believe on the Gospel without God bringing it to life first. By the same power He used to raise Christ from the dead, God through His Spirit brings to life everyone who believes on the Gospel (John 3:3-8; Ephesians 2:4-5; Titus 3:5). Faith is a gift from God given to sinners on whom He has set His love so that they can believe.
Grace is God creating man for good works
“not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.”
Though man cannot do good works to be saved, a believer does good works because he is saved (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20). A true believer will behave as a new creation by the power of God’s grace as he lives in obedience to God’s ways (1 John 1:6-10). The church then is those elect believers who are saved, believe and live solely by the grace of God.