1 Peter 2:9-12 reminds us of the purposes of the Church:
- ďChosen and savedĒ: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God Ė God has made us his people through his Son.
- ďWorshipĒ: that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Godís grace is purposeful Ė we are called to worship him in all things.
- ďWitnessĒ: Live such good lives Ö that they may see your good deeds and glorify God. God wants his Gospel to be seen, heard and believed by the lost.
nurturing the church to maturityin order to
bring others to Christ
- Have worship services which honour God and which faithfully and effectively present Godís Word.
- Have effective leadership which equips people for their service and leads them toward maturity in Christ.
- Demonstrate devotion to prayer in all aspects of church life
- Have small groups as context for pastoral care, support, nourishment and prayer.
- Own pastoral care as the work of the body, and stimulate all people to be fully developing disciples.
- Have effective youth and childrenís programs which nurture toward faith and maturity.
- Hold outreach as a primary calling and minister accordingly
- Stimulate compassionate response to local, national and international needs.
- Require best use of peopleís gifts and church resources, through faithful and intentional stewardship of our financial resources.
Various aspects of church life change from time to time: different opportunities arise, certain weaknesses may either develop or be overcome. The values that drive the church and shape its expression, however, will rarely change. These values are neither to be contrasted with our statements of faith or seen as reinterpreting them. Instead, they are the way we give practical expression to what we believe. They flow out of our beliefs and they filter all we seek to do.
R E D L A N D S
Radical Gospel Focus
The good news about Jesusí death is Godís means to transforming human lives, their society and their world. This message has been entrusted to the church. As good stewards we must communicate this good news passionately and effectively. Everything we do, every attitude we hold, every goal we aspire to must contribute to this grand endeavour (Rom 1:16-17; see 1 Cor 9:7-27).
We value service in the likeness of Christ who came not to be served, but to serve. We value the humility and grace which sees people gladly discover, develop and deploy their gifts for the good of Christís body. We strive for excellence in everything we offer in service to God and others (Matt 20:26-28; Rom 12:5-8; 9-21; 1 Cor 12:4-11; Mal 1:6-14).
We value a heartfelt, generous, and compassionate response to local, national and international needs (Gal 6:9-10).
Lost people matter to God. Consequently, we are Godís co-workers in bringing people from darkness to light in the Gospel (Luke 5:30-32; Luke 15; Matt 18:14; 1 Tim 2:3-4; 1 Cor 3:9; 2 Cor 6:1; Matt 28:16-20; Acts 1:8).
This witness involves presenting clearly the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all we do (1 Cor 9:12, 16, 22). It involves doing this in a way that the people around us can best understand (1 Cor 9:19-23).
Love & Unity
We embody love which looks to the interests of others. This is the distinguishing mark of the Christian. It characterises the ministry of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Love will permeate every aspect of our church life (Phil 2:4; John 13:33-35; 1 John 3:11; 1 John 4:7-12).
We embody love which strives for unity and peace in the body of Christ. We prize that which builds the body and builds it up (Eph 4:1-3; 1 Cor 12:7, 31; 1 Cor 14:12).
We value Christian life and expression which has both integrity to the Gospel and integrity in the lives of those who believe in Jesus Christ. The Gospel brings real hope to real people in a real world (James 2:1-26; Matt 6:1-24).
We want to see the growth of the Body, Jesusí new community, so it more and more reflects Godís will for the church. At every level of church life we seek to build the body so it increasingly reflects Godís will for his Church (Eph 5:25-32).
We value each and every memberís growth in faith and devotion to Jesus their Saviour. It is normal for a believer to seek continuous spiritual growth (Eph 4:17 Ė 5:2; Gal 5:22-23), and to move toward maturity in Christ.
It is normal for the body of Christ to grow in number as more people come to believe in Jesus Christ (Col 4:2-6; Matt 28:19-20; Luke 15)
We value effective, excellent and faithful leadership as the God honouring mechanism for growth in believers and the church in general (Acts 20:28-31; 1 Tim 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet 5:1-4). This leadership will be modelled on Jesusí servanthood (Matt 20:20-28). Christ-like submission is the means to responsible relationships in church, family and individuals contexts (Eph 5: 21Ė6:9; Col 3:12Ė4:1)
We value communication in public worship meetings that communicates Gospel realities and the eternal truths of Godís Word in language and forms readily understood by the world around us (1 Cor 9:12b-27). We do this so the Gospel can be clearly and effectively heard.
Our beliefs are outlined in the statements of faith our church subscribes to:
- The Heidelberg Catechism
- The Belgic Confession
- The Canons of Dort
- The Apostlesí Creed
- The Nicene Creed
- The Athanasian Creed
It is not really necessary for us to add to these documents, as they adequately summarise what we believe. For those who seek a brief indication of the major teachings of these statements of faith, we refer to ďWhat We BelieveĒ (below).
What we Believe
In a world where so many things are changing we really need to know what the Bible says. At Redlands CRC our statements of faith provide detailed explanation of our views (these are available on request). This brochure is offered as a brief summary of our views in ten key areas. We hope itís helpful. If you want further clarification weíre more than happy to discuss these things with you.
Father, Son & Holy Spirit
The Bible tells us that God is three-in-one, or ďtrinityĒ. Father, Son and Holy Spirit are individually both God and Lord. They are coequal and co-eternal with each other. They can neither be blended nor divided. Each is fully God in their own being and essence. As humans, we cannot possibly comprehend the profound mystery of the Trinity, but because thatís what the Bible clearly says, we humbly accept it. This is the eternal God who has planned the rescue of his universe from before the dawn of time. All Christian churches accept and uphold this teaching from the Bible.
We believe Jesus is true man and true God. He is the eternal second person of the trinity, without beginning or end. He took on the human nature, and was born in Bethlehem around 5 BC. The New Testament tells us that Jesus died by crucifixion around 33 AD, that he rose again on the third day, and returned to his father forty days later.
His mission was to absorb the sin of his people, and pay its full penalty. Because he was true God he was able to withstand the full weight of Godís anger: He is the ultimate sacrifice. Because he is true man he is our perfect representative: He is able to give us ultimate, everlasting life, and bring us back into relationship with God. His victory over sin and death means he is the most powerful person in the universe. As such he has both the right and the desire to rule all people and the universe.
When God created our universe it was ďvery goodĒ. Human rebellion, however, has brought sin, failing, frustration, pain and despair to our world. The pollution of this fallenness has penetrated every aspect of humanity and our world. Human will, behaviour and thought have all been affected. The ugly consequence is that all people now live in rebellion against God Ė whether they realise it or not (all have sinned). Without Godís intervention, they have neither desire nor ability to worship him or honour him, and are headed for eternal separation from him.
God Initiates Rescue
God is a gracious creator. While human sin grieves God greatly, he is not prepared to leave people in their rebellion Ė lost people matter to Him. The Bible tells us that God has always planned the rescue of human beings and their universe. From the very beginning, the Old Testament reveals Godís promises to send a rescuer, or messiah. The New Testament tells us this rescuer is Jesus Christ.
Godís ability to save and rescue people out of their rebellion is absolute and limitless. Even though human rebellion has polluted every aspect of who we are, Godís gracious initiative will always win. He acts in human lives, opening the heart, mind and soul. His Holy Spirit enables us to hear his word, see our real condition, and turn to him in faith. Godís plan to choose and rescue people is so powerful that nothing can frustrate it, break it, or dissolve it. As a result, anyone who trusts in the rescue Jesus has won on the Cross, and who acknowledges Jesus as leader and master of their lives, can be confident that their forgiveness and eternal life is guaranteed. Thereís simply no way God would have sent his dear Son to rescue people unless his plan to rescue his people was assured of victory.
This forgiveness and eternal life is our saving Godís gift: it comes by grace. We cannot earn it by our attempts to live a good life. Even those things we would identify as being most noble and selfless are still polluted with our rebellion and failing. So they can never bring us into relationship with God. The only way to enter this relationship is by trusting in Jesusí rescue, and asking him to rule our lives.
Godís word is the basis of our confidence. The Bible is trustworthy and authoritative. God used many different people to write all the various books, but the Holy Spirit remains the primary author. He worked in the lives of these people, used their varied personalities, perspectives and life contexts and yet kept them from error as they wrote what he moved them to say. As a result, when we open the Word we can be confident that God speaks through it, as clearly and authoritatively as ever.
This is why preaching, teaching and sharing the Word takes central place in the life of our church and its ministries. Like a lamp to a dark path, the Bible gives us all we need to understand God and his plan of rescue in Jesus Christ, as well as telling us how to live for God in his world.
Even though the word ďchurchĒ is often used for a building, the Scriptures show that the church is people - Godís people. Itís significant that while Godís rescue impacts individuals, he does not want them to be isolated and alone. He draws them into the Church, the family of Jesus Christ. His intention is for them to be a new community, expressing Godís original intention for human relationships. The church is to be marked by love. This will be expressed in worship of God, a desire to see people come to trust him, and a commitment to nurture Christians in their faith. These three elements are central to our mission here in Redlands.
When the church is all itís called to be, there is no better place, no better family or community on earth. Churches that live out Godís great command (to love him with all their being and to love other people as themselves), and who shoulder Godís great commission (to make disciples of all nations) will shine the wonderful light of Godís kingdom into the darkness of human hearts and their world.
Godís people Ė his church - are called to worship and honour him in all of life Ė not just on Sundays. God wants our lives to match our words. The Bible talks about Godís people being both salt and light. They are called to add goodness to the world by developing it in away that honours him. They are called to work against the spread of evil and unbelief. They are called to make the good news of his rescuing work in Jesus known to all.
We are happy to express our unity and solidarity with all Christians and other churches. The best way for this to come to expression is in shared commitment and understanding of the Gospel. The love Christians have for one another is a powerful witness to a watching world.
While the word ďworshipĒ gets us thinking about what happens on Sunday, Godís word reminds us that worship is really an ďall of lifeĒ response to Godís goodness and grace (Rom 12:1-2). We are called to show our faith and honour Jesus Christ in every aspect of life (eg.Col 3:17 Ė 4:1). ďWorshipĒ is everything we do to show our thanks for all God has freely done for us and given us in his Son, Jesus Christ. The way we do our work, how we conduct our finances, how we spend our time, in addition to how we honour God at church Ė all of it is worship.
In terms of Sunday worship meetings, we have an enduring commitment to keeping the word of God central in all we do. We start with the word. We finish with the word. The preaching of the word is really the focal point of our services. We do this because God speaks to us and leads us through his Word. Our church vision, our shared expectations, the manner and style of our Sunday celebrations are built on foundations drawn from Godís word.
When people come together to worship God they are there to reflect his glory back to him. He is the focus, not people, nor their needs. Labels like ďtraditionalĒ and ďprogressiveĒ are immaterial when the Gospel is the focus of all we do. So we are called to yield our individual views, preferences and expectations to the Gospel, and to keep God and his grace the central reality. We are firm in the belief that doing this will result in greater unity in the Body of Christ, and a more determined commitment to realise our mission in the Redlands region.
The Holy Spirit
When Jesus returned to his Father he sent His Holy Spirit as comforter and counsellor (John 14). The Holy Spirit lives in all who believe without exception. His task is to continue Jesusí work of transforming the lives of believers, to open their minds to the truth of the Word, and to be Godís presence as he lives in them.
The Holy Spirit freely distributes gifts to all who belong to the Church, Christís body. These gifts differ from person to person, and are to be used to build others up, to spread the Gospel, to address peopleís needs, and to develop Godís world in accordance with His design (1 Cor 12). Only when Godís people use their gifts fruitfully will the church increasingly move toward mature expression of what God designed it to be (Eph 4). Accordingly, it is every believerís responsibility to discover their gifts, develop them, and use them to honour the Lord and build the church. Redlands CRC runs several programs to assist people in this.
The best indicator of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer is commitment to the Spirit-revealed Gospel and the presence of all the Spiritís fruit in their lives (Gal 5:22-26).
In Baptism God promises to be the God of his people and the God of their descendants (Acts 2:37-41). The water used in baptism points to the reality of the cleansing work Jesus has done on the Cross. It also assures us that Jesusí death is effective in bringing full forgiveness for all our sin. Some have referred to Baptism as a Ďsign which pointsí, and a Ďseal which verifiesí. The Bible makes it clear that children are part of Godís covenant community. In baptism they are rightly identified with that community (eg. Acts 16:13-15; 33-34; 1 Cor 1:16). A childís baptism does not imply a child has faith, or that their parentís faith is somehow passed to them, nor does it guarantee they will have faith at some later date. Baptism guarantees the promise of God to be their Lord and Saviour. As such, baptism draws children toward a faith response where they accept and own the promises God has made to them.
When adults are baptised, the message is the same. They are assured of Godís promise of love and forgiveness, and drawn toward deeper commitment. Thereís hardly a better reason for celebration in the church than to see these promises so clearly displayed, and better still, accepted. Our typical method of baptism is sprinkling and pouring, but the mode is not important. What is important is what baptism signifies: the certainty of Godís promise of forgiveness and cleansing in Jesus Christ.
The Lordís Supper is the churchís meal of unity in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like baptism, the Supper points us straight to the certainty of the promises of God, and the truth of what he has done for us in Jesus Christ (1 Cor 11:23-26). As truly as we see bread broken and wine poured, so truly did Jesus Christ absorb all the anger and wrath of God for our sin and rebellion. This makes the Supper a celebration of forgiveness, and a means of strength for following Jesus.
The Supper is only open to those who have a living relationship with Jesus Christ (1 Cor 11:27-29), and who place their total confidence in him. Jesus always welcomes to the fellowship of his table all those who are sincerely sorry for their sins and who renew their promise to live a godly life.
Baptism and the Lordís Supper are the two sacraments that Jesus has commanded in his Word.
The same Jesus who returned to the Father almost 2000 years ago will come again. At that time the whole universe will be purged of all fallenness, rebellion, sin and evil. The Triune God will be acknowledged by all creation as True King and Ruler of all. The universe will be restored to perfection, and our Father will wipe every tear from our eyes. Gone will be mourning, crying and pain. Godís justice will ensure that all wrongs will be made right. This wonderfully recreated universe, and every creature in it, will only honour God all the time. This is the life, the relationship, the community, the justice, the peace, the world we all deeply long for. It is already guaranteed because Jesus Christ has risen from the dead. Those who honour Jesus today are assured that his grace will make them part of his new universe.
Until Jesus returns, our calling as Godís people is to show Godís true design for life, even in our fallen world and as best we know how. Until he returns, and in His grace and power, we are increasingly to come under his Lordship, to seek a strong, healthy and vibrant church, and to work for the overthrow of every work of the evil one.