This is the first of four booklets: Gospel,Church,Doctrine & Theology, and Covenant Membership. These booklets are designed as an introduction to Redeemer Church, and is required for those who wish to become a covenant member.
This first booklet is a basic introduction to who we are, what we believe, what we do, and lots of why we do it. We trust that this resource will answer some commonly asked questions about the gospel of Christ, the body of Christ (church), the mission of Christ, and how that all is displayed at Redeemer Church.
Please read each booklet before the session discussion and thoughtfully answer the questions at the end. During your study, please write down any additional questions you have. We will strive to make the discussion beneficial. It is our hope that they will feel more like exploratory discussions than lectures.
Through reading the material provided and discussing it, we hope you will begin to see how we understand our values, our doctrinal convictions, how we do ministry, and what our mission is in this world.
It is very likely that some of your more specific questions may remain unanswered and new ones will be formulated. Knowing this, we encourage you to freely ask any question during the study for clarification or contact any of the pastors to obtain the answers for discussion.
WHAT IS THE GOSPEL?
Spend any amount of time here at Redeemer and you will find that what we preach and teach is the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Gospel affects everything we do at Redeemer.
Central to our understanding of what it means to be a local church is the reality of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the message that Jesus saves sinners from death to life. Because Jesus saves sinners, we understand that there is nothing we can do to earn His love or His salvation. A Message from God
What exactly do Christians mean when they talk about the “gospel of Jesus Christ”? Since the word “gospel” means “good news,” when Christians talk about the gospel, they’re simply telling the good news about Jesus! It’s a message from God saying, “Good news! Here is how you can be saved from my judgement!” That’s an announcement you can’t afford to ignore.
God The first thing to know about the good news of Jesus is that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
Everything starts from that point, so if you get that point wrong then everything else that follows will be wrong. Because God created everything—including us—He has the right to tell us how to live.
It is crucial to grasp this in order to understand the good news about Jesus. To understand just how glorious and life-giving the gospel of Jesus Christ is, we have to understand that God is also holy and righteous. He is determined never to ignore or tolerate sin. Including ours!
When God created the first human beings, Adam and Eve, He intended for them to live under His righteous rule in perfect joy—obeying Him and living in fellowship with Him. However, when Adam disobeyed God, and ate the one fruit that God had told him not to eat, that fellowship with God was broken. Moreover, Adam and Eve had declared rebellion against God. They were denying His authority over their lives. It’s not just Adam and Eve who are guilty of sin. The Bible says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Sin is the rejection of God Himself and His authority over those to whom He gives life.
Once you understand sin in that light, you begin to understand why “the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).
That’s not just physical death, but spiritual death, a forceful separating of our sinful rebellious selves from the presence of God forever. The Bible teaches that the final destiny for unbelieving sinners is eternal, active judgment in a place called “hell.”
But… Jesus Christ
The word “Christ” means “anointed one,” referring to anointing a king with oil when he is crowned. So, when we say “Jesus Christ,” we’re saying that Jesus is King!
When Jesus began his public ministry, he told the people, “The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe the good news!” (Mark 1:15)
As Jesus died on the cross, the awful weight of all our sins fell on His shoulders. The sentence of death God had pronounced against rebellious sinners struck. And Jesus died. For sinners like you and me!
But the story doesn’t end there. Jesus the Crucified is no longer dead. The Bible tells us that He rose from the grave. Jesus’s rising from the grave was God’s way of saying, “What Jesus claimed about who He is and what He came to do is true!”
What does God expect us to do with the information that Jesus died in our place so we can be saved from God’s righteous wrath against our sins? He expects us to respond with repentance and faith.
To repent of our sins means to turn away from our rebellion against God. Repentance does not mean we’ll bring an immediate end to our sinning. It does mean, though, that we’ll never again live at peace with our sins.
Not only that, but we also turn to God in faith. Faith is reliance. It’s a promise-founded trust in the risen Jesus to save you from your sins.
If God is ever to count us righteous, He’ll have to do it on the basis of someone else’s record, someone who’s qualified to stand in as our substitute.
That’s what happens when a person is saved by Jesus: All their sins are credited to Jesus who took the punishment for them, and the perfect righteousness of Jesus is then credited to them as they place their trust in what he has done for them!
That’s what faith means—to rely on Jesus, to trust in him alone to stand in your place and win a righteous verdict from God! This results in a changed person with changed motivations and values. We believe this good news is not only what saves us, but also what sustains us.
As individual Christians, we have the privilege of responding to Jesus as a living sacrifice living out the Greatest Commandment and the Great Commission with our time, treasure, and talents.
Corporately, our grace-based response consists of what we call our values(which are listed on pages 10-12).They are the way we live out the truth of the gospel together as a church.
HOW THE GOSPEL DEFINES US
WHO WE ARE
By now you probably have noticed that we believe the gospel is the greatest good news! That is because the gospel is the news of our Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
One of the most important things about us, is that we are not the ones to define who we are, Jesus is. So everything put forth in this material is an effort to explain what the Bible says about who God is, who we are, and how we are to live in light of these truths (Romans 8).
In this material you will find information about what we believe, how we work, what we do, and how one becomes a covenant member here at Redeemer.
In this resource you will learn a lot about who we are as a church at Redeemer. The most important, though, is that we are sinners saved by grace and, baptized disciples of Jesus Christ.
Names are important. In them we find meaning, identity, and distinction. Some names are unique; others are common. Some names are inherently strong; others are superficially weak. Some names can propel you forward and push you outward; others can hold you back and stunt your growth. All names serve as the introduction, the first impression, the process of setting the stage.
A name immediately reveals something to the curious and serves as a monument to the familiar. To the curious, a name provides a glimpse of who or what you are and in some way, distinguishes you from who or what you are not. For the familiar, a name provides a history; it retells a story, it serves as a reminder of why we are here.
We chose the name Redeemer because we believe Christ (our Redeemer) is the most important person of the church, and His gospel is central.
Isaiah 44:6 tells us, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god.”
Also, when we talk about our Redeemer we are acknowledging a theological truth—we are redeemed by Christ our Redeemer.
By grace, through faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ, we are redeemed to who God created us to be. Trusting in Jesus’ death on the cross means finding our identity in Jesus’ life—we are “born again.”
Being born again is through the work of the Holy Spirit, which is also referred to new birth or regeneration (John 3:1-15). Our rebirth is distinguished from our first birth, when we were conceived physically and inherited our sin nature (Psalm 51:5). The new birth is a spiritual and heavenly birth that results in our being made alive spiritually. Man in his natural state is “dead in trespasses and sins” until he is “made alive” (regenerated) by Christ (Ephesians 2:1).
The Bible teaches that: “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is with this truth in mind that we see an important work for believers, to be on mission together.
OUR MISSION To know Christ our Redeemer and to make Him known.
Christians are not made new and then left to wonder or wander. No, together we are given a great mission by our Redeemer. Jesus was clear in the gospels about what that was supposed to look like.
We believe that mission statements can be lengthy, extra-Biblical, and very confusing to both congregants and visitors. With this in mind, the statement above is a simple summary of what we believe is stated in the Great Commandment and Commission.
In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus was asked what the great commandment in the Law was. His answer is found in verses 37-40.
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” In these verses we find these two truths of know Christ and make Him known:
At the end of verse 40, Jesus says, “On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
The only way we can love the Lord our God and love our neighbor is if we have believed upon the Lord Jesus Christ. Without His saving work loving God and others is impossible (1 John 4:8). So it first begins with Him saving us by Himself, for Himself, from Himself, and to Himself. *[More on this later in booklet 3].
It is then that we are able to make Him known. We believe this is accomplished through sharing the gospel (evangelism) and serving others (outreach) because of how the gospel has changed us. These are both ways in which every believer should seek to “love their neighbor as themselves.”
The second place we see the instruction to know Christ and make Him known is in Matthew 28:18-20. The difference in this passage is that the instruction is reversed. (This is because in Matthew 22 Jesus is instructing non-believers and in Matthew 28 He is instructing believers).
In Matthew 28:18-20 Jesus is instructing His disciples. This is where we find the Great Commission. Jesus tells them that because He has all authority (He is sovereign over all things, in heaven and on earth), He is sending them out.
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The commandment is given to first know Christ and then make Him known. We see below that the great commission is given later as an instruction to make Christ known and know Him.
Making disciples is the mission of the church. And we believe that Jesus gives a sufficient outline of how that works.
So disciples are those who follower Jesus Christ. They have believed upon Him, they love Him, and they live for Him. Essentially, as we like to say, they are those who desire to know Christ their Redeemer and to make Him known.
The mission of the Church universal is to glorify God by making disciples through the gospel of Jesus Christ. God’s mission and the mission of His Church are inseparably linked. If God’s mission is to be glorified through the redemption and reconciliation of a people, the Church’s mission must orient around the glory of God and seek to glorify Him through redemption and reconciliation.
The mission of the Church is highlighted in 2 Corinthians 5. As those who have been reconciled to God through the gospel of Jesus Christ, we are now ambassadors of reconciliation to a lost and broken world. We plead, urge, implore, reason, pray, serve, preach, teach and gather to see God glorified through reconciliation.
As a church, we see several values that help keep us focused and centered on living gospel-centered lives. This does not mean that we do not value anything else. It simply means that these values are the core of what we value and focus on together.
A gospel-centered church understands that change of any kind, especially authentic heart transformation, cannot happen apart from the gospel of grace. A gospel-centered church focuses on the gospel in all areas of the spiritual life of the church – prayer, teaching, worship, discipleship – all of this happens by the grace of God available because of the sacrificial death of Jesus to save sinners from death to life.
The gospel is not the ABCs of the Christian life, but the A to Z. Therefore, our values are all centered around the gospel of Jesus Christ and derived from the Word of God.
Gospel-Centered Preaching Everything we teach and preach at Redeemer is centered around the Word of God. This is why the exposition of scripture is the primary way in which the Word is taught on a weekly basis. It is truth exposed, expanded upon, and explained.
Gospel truth brings God and His Word to the people. God’s Word distinguishes the Christian message from other religions, philosophies, or ideologies that make truth claims about meaning and purpose. Gospel truth is not another ideological alternative; it is submission to the absolute truth of God, foundational to all of life.
Gospel truth is not purely a set of historical facts, it is truth personified in a man. Gospel truth is news of what God has done to accomplish salvation through Jesus Christ in history.
Gospel discipleship begins by God’s Lordship in our lives. Before giving His disciples the great commission He told them in Matthew 28:18, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
God conforms us to the image of His Son, calling us to a life of total submission to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This means that a disciple of Jesus Christ is one who is completely surrendered, committed, and sold out in life to Him.
Gospel living is a life of self-denial lived for the approval of God, not men. Gospel living is a life of humility, sacrificing the pleasures of the world to love and serve. Gospel living is a life of continuous worship, glorifying God in everything big and small. Gospel living is a life on mission, fulfilling His call to go into the world and make disciples. Gospel living is a life where Jesus is the supreme hope in all of life and death.
Gospel community brings people to God. God creates men and women in His image to live in community together, imitating the eternal relationship shared by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Gospel community is a gathering of people in loving submission to one another, fulfilling their God-intended role to serve as unto the Lord. Gospel community proclaims their faith in gospel truth by how they actively love through fellowship, ministry, and discipline. Gospel community exists as an expression of God’s Kingdom on earth.
Gospel evangelism brings God and His good news to the world. We believe we are instructed to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all people” (Mark 16:15).
Gospel evangelism calls the people of God to step into the market place, the workplace, the surrounding communities, and the ends of the earth. Gospel evangelism calls on all disciples to make disciples.
Gospel evangelism moves us from being inward focused to missionary minded. Gospel evangelism is about remembering that this is not our home. We are given a mission while we are on this earth—which is to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all people”.
In the next booklet we will discuss how the gospel is displayed in the life of the believers gathered together. This is important in our study because the gospel is not just good news that saves us but also good news that guides us.
That means that when we are saved, we are not just saved from something (the wrath of God) but saved to something (His family, the church).
What thought, idea, or statement in this booklet stuck out to you most?
In your own words, what is the Gospel?
Have you personally walked through the Gospel; repented and believed upon Jesus (trusting in Him) for salvation (Mark 1:15, Rom. 10:0-13)?
If you have made a confession of faith have you talked with a pastor or fellow believer to affirm and celebrate this with you?
Why is it important for us to know Christ and make Him known?
Which of our values stands out to you and why?
What do you think it means to be centered on the gospel?