1. The Apostles' Creed
The statement below is a timeless summary of the key teachings of the Christian faith. It is called the Apostles' Creed, not because it was produced by the apostles themselves, but because it contains a concise summary of their teachings.
believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator 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 to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to 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,
(*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places)
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
2. The Reformed Faith
Reformed churches stand in the tradition of the Reformation, a movement of spiritual revitalisation, which took place in western Christendom from about the early sixteenth century to the mid-seventeenth century. This reformation began with the most well-known of the Reformers, a German monk named Martin Luther, who strongly believed that we are only made right with God by faith in his Son, Jesus Christ, and not by any good deeds we may do in this life.
From the Reformation emerged five “solas”:
1. Sola Scriptura (”by Scripture alone”): The Bible alone is our final authority and sufficient for all of life’s matters.
2. Sola Fide (”by faith alone”): We are declared right by God and saved by faith alone. While we are called to live holy lives as Christians, good deeds are not required for salvation.
3. Sola Gratia (”by grace alone”): Grace means that God has saved us according to his own favour alone, not based on any achievements or good deeds we have performed.
4. Solus Christus (”Christ alone”): Christ alone is the mediator between us and God. We are able to be reconciled into a right relationship with God only by the life, death, and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus Christ.
5. Soli Deo Gloria (”glory to God alone”): Since God is the one who has saved us, by giving us the gift of his Son, Jesus, and the faith needed to believe in him by power of the Holy Spirit, we owe all glory to God alone.
During the Reformation, the church moved from the monastery to the market place. Christian understanding and practice were taken from the professional priesthood and given to individual believers. The placing of the Scriptures into the hands of ordinary men and women has had profound implications for western culture.
To mark the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, Rev Ian Hamilton delivered a series of five lectures entitled -
Three distinctive features mark a Presbyterian church:
A. Connectional: Each individual congregation is governed by elders who meet in a body known as the Kirk Session. The local elders meet with other groups of elders from different congregations in a body called the Presbytery in order to motivate and encourage local congregations. Delegates from the Presbyteries meet together annually in a large national gathering known as the General Assembly, which supervises the interests of the whole church and is the final court of authority.
B. Covenantal: We strongly believe that God has always worked through covenants. An example of this is the view that God has promised to bless the family unit, and that the children of Christian parents are special and privileged. That privilege is marked by the baptism of infants.
C. Confessional: A full statement of our beliefs as a church can be found in the Westminster Confession of Faith. This is a credal standard which was drawn up at Westminster between 1643 and 1645. Each office bearer in the Free Church of Scotland commits himself to knowing and abiding by the tenets of the Westminster Confession of Faith, which are based on the Bible.