Which articles do Reformed Theologians say are always part of our salvation?

(For instance, I have heard recognized figures teach that saving faith will always carry with it a recognition of the Deity of Jesus Christ. And I’ve heard them say it is not necessary to believe in election.)

EDIT: Including an answer, we believe it will be limited to things that affect Romans 10:9, etc.

King James Version

9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

This would mean faith and trust in a false Christ would make a reformed person think someone is not saved (hence Christ’s Deity is an example). Are things not embracing the true Christ the only heresy impacting Romans 10:9 and salvation? Also I wonder which aspects of Christ they would say must be accepted.

  • By accompany saving faith do you mean "following after" or commensurate with? Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 12:28
  • @MikeBorden I guess Im asking which belief could someone espouse where core reformed theologians would say, “According to my understanding, having that belief means you are not saved” Such as Jesus being Satan’s brother or He didnt come in the flesh. Absolutely core necessary stuff.
    – Al Brown
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 12:41
  • Hyper-grace theology says you can be born again (indwelt by the Spirit, etc.) and demonstrate zero change in lifestyle. Is this an example? Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 12:56
  • @MikeBorden Wow hadn’t heard that. There is a big distinction: 1. What is really needed for salvation? 2. What facts would make a reformed theologian be able to “officially” say, “That person is not saved, and in this case it can be known. We know because he believes ______.” Might be a small category of beliefs, but I know it includes the person not accepting the Deity of Christ. But that’s the question, whereas what you wrote brings up whether any behaviors (or lack of) could make us know.
    – Al Brown
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 13:10
  • Like in Galatians I think it is, he tells them “the false gospel youre teaching wont save anyone”.
    – Al Brown
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 13:12

1 Answer 1


The usual go to verse for what is the essential doctrine that a person must believe is something like John 3:16, 1 John 5:1, or Rom 10:9:

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame (The New International Version. (2011). (Ro 10:9–11)

The main concept is that while man had fallen into a state of sin and damnation a Messiah from God (and so yes the fact that this Messiah Jesus is God, as born of a virgin and the Holy Ghost, is included) – came to be a sacrifice for sin, so that by believing and thus receiving this gift, we become children of God. So it is faith in God joined in humanity in Christ, by the work of his mediation for the recovery and salvation of sinners, that is sufficient to save anyone:

the Lord Christ, in the work of his mediation, as the ordinance of God for the recovery and salvation of lost sinners, is the proper adequate object of justifying faith
(Doctrine of Justification by Faith by John Owen page 89)


So, as unto his death, “God set him forth to be a propitiation,” Rom. 3:25. “He spared him not, but delivered him up for us all,” Rom. 8:32; and therein “laid all our sins upon him,” Isa. 53:6. So he was “raised for our justification,” Rom. 4:25. And our faith is in God, who “raised him from the dead,” Rom. 10:9. And in his exaltation, Acts 5:31. Which things complete “the record that God hath given of his Son,” 1 John 5:10–12.
(The works of John Owen. (W. H. Goold, Ed.) (Vol. 5, Justification by Faith page 92))

Where this clear line might become more gray is that one can speculate who believes this core doctrine and who does not based on other believed doctrines or not. But this is not differing in what doctrine saved a person, but how is it possible they can believe this when believing also in another thing. For example as an exaggeration one could not believe the devil should be worshiped while also believing this. Or one could not believe that serial killers are without guilt, while also believing in Christ.

I have never heard anyone think one must understand the doctrine of election to believe in Christ. I think there are no other major doctrinal requirements among reformed theology but the debate comes more about the amount of virtue in a persons heart after faith. Do they show signs of loving God and the neighbors? This becomes the pertinent question for how can you love God if you do not also love his children?

As a final note, one more serious way of jeopardizing this basic faith is to add another requirement to believe in someone else. For example if one were to add a necessity to believe in another Prophet, or a Pope, or some guy who say he is important called 'Fred', 'Billy", or 'Joe', who claims to have received some new truth from an angel, then such faith will not save anyone because genuine faith in Christ must not only be in him, but in him alone:

8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be under God’s curse! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let them be under God’s curse! (NIV (Ga 1:8–9).

  • Thanks, great. 🙏🏻 And definitely focuses what Types of things could matter - even in theory. One other area I can think of is believing in Christ means believing in the True Christ. I think it’s Galatians about a false gospel and Lord. (?) For example if someone claimed to fulfill all of what you wrote and then added, “And since Im Mormon this Christ Im trusting is defined as a created being, ultimately related by blood to Satan.” Or maybe saying Christ didnt come in the flesh. But which details matter there, And is that the only area that intersects with what youre saying?
    – Al Brown
    Commented Sep 12, 2021 at 13:50
  • 1
    @AlBrown - yes anything that drills a weird hole into the basic gospel as you described.
    – Mike
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 0:27
  • Ive been listening to many sermons by Tim Schmidt on itunes etc “audiosermon” from firth bible church. He’s first person ever to make me see damnation having any sense and seeming real and not seeming stupidly unjust etc. Not that it’s up to me, just saying. That said, I find it interesting they say so clearly “eternal life” and never quite clearly say individuals punished forever. (Isnt eternal punishment eternal life too, not per the usage). Totally changed topic, but per your answer
    – Al Brown
    Commented Sep 13, 2021 at 15:29
  • @AlBrown - well sure, the wicked also have a resurrected body to endure an eternal torment. So its duration is eternal but the quality is more like an eternal death (rather than a life) due to the abscence of God in their endless existence.
    – Mike
    Commented Sep 14, 2021 at 3:30

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