John Calvin agreed with Martin Luther's Protestant Reformation Movement (1500s). Not only did he agree with Luther, but he also refined Luther's theology, by adding transformed views of the very nature of God and His relationship with mankind.
This led to the birth of 'Reformed theology', which stresses on God's supremacy over everything. According to this theology, the sole purpose of humanity is to glorify God and enjoy fellowship with Him for eternity. However, it was only in 1706, that the first American Presbytery was set up at Philadelphia by Rev. Francis Makemie.
Basic Presbyterian Beliefs
✦ Presbyterians believe that the Bible is the revelation of God's truth in the written form, and has been inspired by the Holy Spirit. They also stand by the infallibility of the Bible, and its supreme authority on matters of Christian faith and way man is expected to live his life on earth.
✦ They believe in the Holy Trinity, which means they believe in One God, who exists as one unit, with three persons: Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit, who although are three different persons are one unit. For example, consider the structure of an atom.
An atom comprises protons, electrons, and neutrons. Now, although, protons, neutrons, and electrons have their own identities, they form one unit called the atom, such is with the Holy Trinity.
✦ They believe that the whole of mankind is born in sin, due to the sin committed by Adam. Thus, all are sinners and have fallen short of the glory of God. The penalty of sin is death, which means man is due to die. Thus, even if you are born into a Christian family, it doesn't mean you will go to Heaven.
Jesus Christ conquered death, by shedding His blood for us sinners on the cross. He who had no sin, took up our sin on the cross and wiped them away from our lives. Jesus is the way, the truth and the life. It is only through faith in Jesus Christ that we have eternal life.
✦ They believe that there is nothing man can do to save himself from eternal death. Salvation is God's gift, given through faith in Christ Jesus. Often people believe that by doing good works one can attain salvation. However, Christianity is not about doing good works and increasing golden points in heaven.
To be saved all one has to do is believe in one's heart that Jesus is Lord, and confess it with one's mouth. It's as simple as that! We are saved by grace through faith and not by our good works or individual merit.
Once we believe in our hearts and confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord, we are saved! God sends the Third Person of the Holy Trinity to dwell in us. Thus, in every believing Christian lives the Holy Spirit, who guides, comforts, corrects, etc., through each step of the way.
The Holy Spirit fills a Christian's heart with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. Moreover, the Holy Spirit is the One who enables a Christian to smile even in the midst of a storm, and the strength to press on through horrendous times.
✦ Presbyterians also believe that Jesus Christ will return one day (the day and time is not known), when He will judge all of mankind and take His people with Him. However, till the day Jesus comes or till the end of one's human life, God's children are to live for the glory of God, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ.
Presbyterian beliefs Vs.Christian Denominations
Presbyterians follow the reformation theology set by John Calvin. This theology focuses on the supremacy of God in our lives and how our prime purpose of existence is bringing glory to God. Moreover, attributes like God's power, majesty, holiness, sovereignty, righteousness, love, grace, etc., are also emphasized upon.
Presbyterians form a government body that lays stress on the active, representational leadership of priests, as well as congregational members. In this Presbyterian system of church government, laypersons are elected by the people, and are known as elders.
These elders along with the ministers or priests exercise leadership, discipline, and various other responsibilities for the betterment of the church. These elders are both elected and ordained, wherein, by being ordained they are set apart officially for the service of God.
Take any Christian denomination and you will find that the basic Christian beliefs are the same. The foundation is the same; Jesus Christ is the truth, the way and the life, and it is only through Him that we are saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8).
No matter what Christian doctrine you hear around you, test it with what the Bible says. Any teaching, concept, or theory that contradicts what is stated in the Bible is not to be accepted. Often people give up on Christianity after a bad encounter with Christians.
Check for yourself what God says about Christianity in His Word. We all have everything we need to live with, but nothing to live for. Trust Jesus once and you will find what your heart was longing for all your life.