The Vision of Redeemer Bible Church: The Fruit of the Gospel for the Good of the World
In John 15:16, Jesus promises his disciples missionary fruitfulness: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide." And in Gal 5:23, the Apostle Paul describes the fruit of the Spirit that will manifest itself in the life of every believer: "The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control." So when we talk about the fruit of the gospel, we're talking about missionary fruit and the fruit of a transformed life.
This is our dream. Like a good farmer, we want to taste the fruit of our labors in the gospel. We want to see people come to understand the grace of God and to walk in step with the gospel. But we don't want this to happen simply for ourselves – for the good of the Christian church. We want to be fruitful for the sake of human flourishing, for the good of all the peoples of the world. The church is the salt of the earth and the light of the world.
Now it's one thing to describe the concept of the fruit of the gospel for the good of the world; it's another to depict it. What would it look like, for example, for us to begin to taste that fruit beginning here in the Twin Cities metro?
Can you picture strong marriages and families increasing? Healthy sexual relationships becoming more and more the norm? More men exercising loving leadership in the home that is so attractive that women embrace it as well? Corruption and greed decreasing in the public and private sectors? More people taking responsibility for the poor? Depressed neighborhoods being rebuilt through cooperative efforts of development? More and more people seeing their work as a calling from God given to them to increase the good of others? Think tanks springing up to explore how to engage in various vocations for the common good? More retirees seeing their retirement as providing new opportunities to make a difference in others' lives? More men and women seeing character as an essential component of real beauty? Unity and cooperation between Christian churches increasing? More and more churches and individuals proclaiming clearly and powerfully the gospel of grace, replacing legalism, moralism, theological liberalism and postmodernism, and cults?
This is the fruit of the gospel for the good of the world.
The Mission of Redeemer Bible Church
Together we will enjoy, embody, and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ so that unbelievers are persuaded of the gospel, believers are built up in the gospel, and culture is transformed by the gospel – to the glory of God.
We believe that these twelve values sum up best what our church is all about. They are the foundation upon which our vision is implemented, as they find their source in God’s unchanging word.
- The Gospel: The gospel changes absolutely everything. It is the good news that the reign of God and His kingdom is at hand by the person, work, and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the solution to all of the effects of sin in our hearts and in the world. (Gal. 2:14)
- The Word of God: The gospel opens our eyes to the truth. The Holy Spirit uses the gospel through preaching, teaching, and discipleship to open blind eyes to the truth of Jesus Christ. It instructs, corrects, and sanctifies our lives, making us more and more like Christ. (2 Cor. 4:5-6)
- God-centered Worship: The gospel makes us worshippers of the true and living God. The Father seeks to transform us into a people who exalt God through Jesus Christ alone. We are committed to God-centered public worship as a congregation, as well as in our families, and in our private lives. (John 4:23)
- Commitment to the Local Church: The gospel is aimed at creating local Christian communities. This leads to the planting and flourishing of local churches. We are committed to teaching and living as a body, serving each other, and serving within our community and cultural context. (1 Thess. 1:8)
- Relational Engagement: Through the gospel we become the people of God, a new community in which worldly distinctions no longer separate us from one another. We are committed to welcoming outsiders and pursuing life-on-life discipleship together. (Gal. 3:28)
- Spiritual Renewal: The gospel brings ongoing spiritual transformation. The gospel is not just for the beginning of the Christian life. Our ongoing fruitfulness ultimately springs from the soil of the gospel itself. We will help each other understand this reality by doing ministry and community with the gospel at the center. (2 Cor. 3:18)
- Leadership Development: The gospel calls people into local church service and leadership. The church has been granted gifts for its edification, as well as leaders, deacons, and elders in the body to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. We will always be pursuing qualified men and women to serve in these roles. (Eph. 4:7-16)
- Bless the City: The gospel changes our attitude toward where we live. God loves the whole Twin Cities metro, including the suburbs. Together we will celebrate God’s common grace toward our city. We will challenge its idolatries and seek the common good for all who live here. (Jer. 29:4–7)
- Personal Evangelism: The gospel in our hearts overflows into extending the Good News to others. We will live not for ourselves alone, but also for the good of our friends, neighbors, and colleagues, cultivating relationships with non-Christians and inviting them to receive the grace of Jesus Christ. (Col. 4:2-6)
- Concern for Mercy: The gospel fosters social good. The coming of the kingdom of God means that we get to taste some of the fruit of Jesus’ reversal of all the effects of the fall. We will vigorously pursue God’s justice for everyone through a vital ministry of mercy. (Micah 6:8)
- Cultural Restoration: The gospel produces widespread renewal. Our Creator calls us to engage and shape the culture by redeeming our vocations, the arts, politics, and other social structures around us. He challenges us to be culture-makers alongside Him with excellence, integrity, and Christian distinctiveness. (1 Thess. 4:10-12)
- A Heart for the Nations: The gospel is good news for all the peoples of the world. It calls us as a congregation to be senders and goers, extending the kingdom to every tribe, tongue, and nation. We will make disciples, baptizing them, and teaching them to observe all that He has commanded. (Matt 28:18-20)
- We believe in the inspiration, inerrancy, authenticity, authority, and sufficiency of Scripture.
- We believe in the absolute sovereignty of the Triune God- God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit.
- We believe in the essential deity of Jesus Christ. His virgin birth, His sinless life, His vicarious death, and His physical resurrection from the dead.
- We believe that Jesus Christ is presently in heaven fulfilling His role as our High Priest and Advocate.
- We believe in the total depravity of man and the necessity of regeneration.
- We believe that salvation is the free gift of God, entirely apart from works, and is possessed permanently by all who have trusted in the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation from sin and eternal life with God.
- We believe that the Holy Spirit is a divine person indwelling all believers. His baptism is the sovereign work of God that occurs at the moment of conversion whereby the Holy Spirit places believers permanently in the body of Christ, the church.
- We believe that the church is made up of all those who have come to God by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone – plus or minus nothing.
- We believe in the personal and imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
- We believe in the bodily resurrection of the just and the unjust; the everlasting blessedness of the saved and the everlasting punishment of the lost.
The initiation rite of Christianity…
The first thing to say about baptism is that it is the initiation rite of the Christian faith (Acts 2:41; 8:12-13, 36-38; 10:47-48; 18:8; 22:16). It marks out the beginning of your journey as a Christian and your connection to Christ and the Christian community. Every journey has a beginning, and for Christianity baptism is it.Immediate...
In the early days of the church, people were baptized as soon as they came to believe the gospel (Acts 2:41; 16:33). In fact, baptism became so connected with a person’s faith in Jesus that there are places in the New Testament where being baptized is synonymous with becoming a Christian (Acts 2:38).For believers…
Every baptism that takes place in the Bible is for those who believe (Acts 2:41; 8:12-13; 9:18; 10:47-48; 16:14-15, 31-33). There is not a single example in Scripture where people are baptized before they believe.Not for babies…
And since the univocal testimony of the Bible is that baptism is for believers, we infer that the baptism of infants is not consistent with Scripture.By immersion…
The term “baptize” means to dunk, dip, or dye. Therefore, sprinkling and pouring are insufficient ways to perform baptisms.A symbol…
The reason why baptism was chosen as the initiation rite of the Christian faith is that it is able to capture the richness of what becoming a Christian symbolizes. There are at least four key elements of the symbolism of baptism:
First and foremost, it symbolizes that Christianity is the religion of grace. It is not about what you do for God, but about what God has done for you in Jesus Christ. The fact that you do not baptize yourself, but that you receive baptism passively, makes this point very strongly.
Second, it symbolizes the believer’s connection to Jesus (Rom 6:1-4). Standing in the water aptly represents your pre-Christian condition. Being dunked under the water is a fitting way to depict dying to sin and self with Jesus as he died for you on the cross. And coming up out of the water dramatically visualizes what it means to be united to Jesus in his resurrection. Just as Jesus was raised from the physically dead, so you have been raised from spiritual death to walk in a new life.
Third, baptism is a fitting symbol for the Christian faith because the forgiveness of sins is often described in the New Testament as a wiping away of all your sins – past, present, and future. Just as water cleanses your whole body physically, so your becoming a Christian means the cleansing of the totality of your life by the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38 w/ 3:19).
Fourth, you are not the only person who has been baptized. You join the community of the baptized – you become connected with those who have become connected with Jesus (Acts 2:41-42).More than a symbol…
And although baptism is a symbol, it is more than a symbol, too. It is what Christian theologians call one of the “means of grace,” which is to say that baptism is something that you experience that strengthens your faith in Christ.Not required for justification…
This is why you should be very skeptical of those who suggest that if you are not baptized you will go to hell. The Bible is clear: it is by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, plus or minus nothing, by which you are justified (declared not guilty in God’s courtroom) (Eph 2:8-9). If you could be justified before God by an act of obedience like baptism, then Jesus would not have had to die for you: “If righteousness comes through the Law, then Christ died for nothing” (Gal 2:21). Salvation is never by works, but only by faith in Christ.Not optional…
But simply because something is not required for justification doesn’t mean it’s not required to be a faithful Christian. Baptism is one of those requirements – a non-saving, but nevertheless, non-optional part of the Christian faith. Many people refer to it as the first step of Christian obedience. Now that you have trusted in Jesus alone to save you from your sins, you follow his command to be baptized (Matt 28:18-20; Acts 2:38).The prerequisite for Communion and entering the membership of a local church…
Baptism is also required to participate in Communion and to enter into the membership of a church.
First, the relationship between baptism and Communion is the same as the relationship between beginning and continuing. Just as baptism is the initiation rite of Christianity, so Communion is the continuation rite of Christianity. And, of course, you can’t continue something you haven’t started.
Second, the relationship between baptism and local church membership is the same. Baptism comes before entering the life of the church.
This is why baptism comes before church life in Acts 2:41-42: “So then, those who had received Peter’s word were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls. And they devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”
- I understand why infants shouldn’t be baptized, but what about young children, like 3 or 4 year-olds?
- I was baptized as an infant. Would it be wrong for me to be baptized again?
- I have friends who believe in infant baptism. Are you saying that it would be wrong for them to take Communion and that you would not allow them to join Redeemer?
- I was baptized as a believer by sprinkling (or pouring). Should I be baptized again?
- My good friend who is not a pastor baptized me. Should I be baptized again?
- I’ve heard baptism called a “sacrament.” Is there any difference between calling baptism a sacrament and Redeemer’s understanding of baptism?
- I was part of a church that taught that the only proper baptism was the one they administered. Does Redeemer teach this? And should I be baptized again?
From the perspective of the New Testament, the only requirement for baptism is a credible profession of faith; that is, that the candidate for baptism gives to the church a believable accounting of their faith in Jesus. Now what is considered believable is directly related to the person claiming faith in Jesus. For example, we believe that a college professor and someone with an intellectual disability can both be genuine Christians; however, if the college professor could only account for his or her faith at the level of someone with an intellectual disability, we would rightly question the validity of his or her claim.
In the same way, even young children can make a credible profession of faith – credible for a young child.
The obvious difficulty here is that children are excellent mimics. They can parrot their parents’ faith quite easily. So we recommend an interview for the child with one of our pastors without the parents present. This gives us the opportunity to question your son or daughter without them having recourse to you for help. At this point, the pastors of Redeemer may recommend delaying your child’s baptism until such a time as the pastors become convinced that your child holds the faith as their own.
Actually, it would be wrong for you not to be baptized again. And the reason for this is that infant baptism is not, properly speaking, Christian baptism. You need to be baptized according to the Lord’s command, which as we explained above, takes place after your profession of faith.
Yes, it would be improper for an unbaptized person to take Communion as per the explanation above. Remember: infant baptism is not Christian baptism. Therefore, regardless of the language used, people baptized as infants were not properly baptized. They should not participate in Communion at Redeemer until such a time as they are properly baptized. Church membership is the same. Those who receive the word are baptized, and it is those who receive the word who devote themselves to the fellowship of believers (= to the Christian community).
With that said, we are not ignorant of the implications of our position, not least that it means that we would not allow a historical figure like Jonathan Edwards (a bona fide Christian), or present-day theologically strong evangelicals like R C Sproul to receive Communion from or to join Redeemer Bible Church. Nevertheless, as sympathetic as we are to the case for allowing brothers like Edwards and Sproul to join our ranks, the teaching of the Bible must prevail. Scripture does not countenance infant baptism.
We would recommend being baptized again, as the mode of baptism is closely tied to its symbolism (see above).
The Bible does not explicitly mandate that an ordained minister perform your baptism. However, it is very clear that baptism was given to the church corporately, not to Christians individually. Therefore, baptisms apart from a connection to a local church move outside the orbit of the teaching of the Bible. So after interviewing you, the pastors of Redeemer may discover that your baptism was given without connection to a local church. In such a case, they may recommend your rebaptism.
Redeemer feels totally comfortable calling baptism a sacrament, as the term has a Latin root that was used of a person’s vow for military service. These days, the word is just a theological term that among Protestants refers to baptism and Communion.
Redeemer would never say that the only valid baptism is the one you receive from our church. Instead, this is the mark of a cult. Assuming that a genuine Christian church according to the biblical teaching given above baptized you, Redeemer will accept your previous church’s baptism as valid.
EVERYONE IS INVITED – IN DIFFERENT WAYS
If you’re not yet a Christian, then you come to the Table not by eating and drinking, but by putting your trust in Jesus alone who died for sinners, symbolized by the bread which is his body and the cup which is his blood.If you are ready to trust in Christ today, consider offering the following prayer to God. The words don’t matter; what matters is the attitude of your heart:
Heavenly Father, turning from my sin, I believe in Jesus Christ – that he lived the life of perfect obedience to you that I could never live, died the death I deserved to die on the cross, and rose again the third day to conquer sin, death, hell, and the devil. Forgive me of my sins. Rescue me from my selfishness. And give me eternal life. Amen.
If you’re a Christian who hasn’t yet been baptized as a believer, you also come to the Table not by eating and drinking, but by remembering all that Jesus has done for you through the gospel, which is the reality that the bread and the cup symbolize. Then contact the church office at email@example.com to receive information on how to be baptized as early as next week. In the meantime, consider offering the following prayer:
Heavenly Father, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever dared admit, but through Jesus, I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope. Thank you that Jesus has paid my debt on the cross, taking what I deserve in order to offer me complete forgiveness. Knowing that Jesus has been raised from the dead, I look forward to being with you forever. Amen.
If you’re a Christian who has been baptized as a believer, then eat and drink at the Table, trusting in the reality behind the elements: that Jesus lived for you, died for you, and will return for you. But before you eat and drink, take a moment to confess your sins to God and to make sure that you have done your part to be reconciled with your church family (see Matt 5:23-24 & Rom 12:18). Then enjoy Jesus and all he has done to make you right with God.WHY IS BELIEVERS’ BAPTISM THE PREREQUISITE FOR THE LORD’S TABLE?
The Bible is clear that before being given a seat at the Lord’s Table, people first believed the gospel and were baptized according to Christ’s command. Acts 2:41-42 is a helpful example: “So then, those who had received Peter’s word were baptized....And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” Receiving the word and being baptized come before participating in the Lord’s Table.
The reason for this is that the relationship between baptism and the Lord’s Table is the same as the relationship between beginning something and continuing something. Baptism is the initiation rite of Christianity; the Lord’s Table is the continuation rite of Christianity. And, of course, you can’t continue something you haven’t started.