Teaching and Theology
Redeemer Fellowship stands in a long line of Christian tradition dating back over 2000 years to the life and teachings of Jesus, the Apostles, New Testament writers, and the early Christian creeds and confessions. At Redeemer, we willingly submit ourselves to the teachings contained within the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments, and believe that they are the self-attesting inspired and authoritative word of God, delivered to the church through the organic union of divine and human authorship, with the purpose of revealing God and the good news of his redemption (cf. Luke 24:13-35; 1 Corinthians 15:3-9; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; 2 Peter 1:20-21).
Following in the footsteps of the Reformed tradition, we believe in the centrality of the Gospel, a message of good news birthed in actual historic events (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3-9), divinely orchestrated and eternally decreed by God (cf. Ephesians 1:4). The Gospel is the very power of God to bring about the salvation of his people through the person and work of Christ (cf. Romans 1:16, 17). The events recorded in both the Old and New Testaments reveal the story of God as creator, redeemer and king. Those of us who submit to God through faith and trust in Christ are forgiven of sin and brought into union with him, receiving by grace, his adoption, justification, sanctification and glorification (cf. Romans 8:12-30). We are in turn, incorporated into the body of Christ and equipped, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the mission of God, to share in the life of Christ, by loving God and loving neighbor through both word and deed. Showing the world, and specifically the Jersey Shore, what God is like.
We are Trinitarian in our theology, meaning that we believe that God is one (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4), yet He exists in three distinct persons, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (cf. Matthew 3:13-17; 28:16-20). In the words of the Westminster Confession of Faith, 2.3: “In the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Father is of none, neither begotten, nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father, the Holy Spirit eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son."
In addition to our Trinitarian understanding of the Godhead, we believe that God is holy, meaning that he is set apart and distinct from his creation (cf. Genesis 1:26, 27; 1 Peter 1:16). It is the holiness of God that presents humanity with a problem. Following the Fall of Genesis 3, humanity rebelled against God in an effort to attain glory and autonomy apart from God. As a result of the Fall, the image bearers of God were left broken and without hope. Part of the Good News of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection is that those broken vessels who bend their knee to King Jesus in faith are made holy by the grace and mercy of God (cf. Ephesians 2:1-10) through the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3:3), thus restoring their fallen human natures to what they were always intended to be, royal priests ruling over creation on behalf of God (cf. Psalm 8; 1 Peter 2:9).
This royal priesthood of believers is who makes up what the Apostle Paul refers to as “the body of Christ” (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:27). This body of Christ, or the church, is made up of both Jews and Gentiles from every nation (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 2:11-22; Revelation 7:9-10), and is tasked with bringing the Good News of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection to the world in both word and deed, that they might believe (cf. Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 4:16-21; James 1:19-27; 2:14-26). As a local expression of “the body of Christ," Redeemer Fellowship is called to live out our faith in such a way that the people of Toms River might catch a glimpse of the Good News of Jesus and know what God is like. As our mission statement says, we exist to share in the life of Christ, by loving God and loving neighbor. Our hope is that we would do just that, to the glory of God and for the good of our neighbors and community.
These beliefs (and those articulated in the ancient creeds) are core and non-negotiable when it comes to defining Christianity. In other words, these are issues that we would describe as “closed-handed issues."
However, there are issues that fall into the category of “open-handed issues," which are convictions we hold to as a church, but are not required for our members:
- We enthusiastically embrace the sovereignty of God’s grace in saving sinners. In other words, we believe that salvation is a complete work of God, initiated by the eternal decree of God (cf. Ephesians 1:11; 2:5). We are not saved by works, “lest anyone should boast," but rather we are brought into union with Christ through the sovereign work of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. John 3:3-8).
- We recognize the power and work of the Holy Spirit within the life of the church. In other words, we believe that it is the Holy Spirit who enables the people of God to live a life of faithfulness in both holiness and mission (cf. Romans 8:11). We also acknowledge the continuation of all the gifts of the Spirit referenced throughout the New Testament (cf. Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11; 1 Corinthians 12:7-11).
- We are committed to what Scripture teaches about all of humanity being created in the image of God, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic status, or any other worldly distinction. In other words, there is not one type of people group who is superior; we all bear the image of God and are equal in value and dignity (cf. Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 8; Galatians 3:28).
- We hold to a complementarian view of male and female roles within the context of the local church and home. In other words, we believe that the church is led by a plurality of male elders. Biblical complementarianism teaches that the church most reflects Christ when men and women serve the church and flourish in their gifting, whether that is teaching, leading worship, as deacons, practicing hospitality, etc. (cf. Ephesians 5:21-33; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; 5:17).
- We are passionately committed to the mission of God, both here and abroad, to make Christ known through planting healthy churches, serving the needs of the poor and oppressed, and practicing hospitality with our neighbors. In other words, it is the job of the church to show the world what God is like, that they might believe. We are committed to doing that by planting churches up and down the Jersey Shore, serving the physical needs of those around us in the name of Christ, and opening up our homes and lives to our neighbors, that they might catch a glimpse of the Kingdom (cf. Matthew 28:16-20; Luke 10:25-37; Acts 2:42-47; Romans 12:13).
Finally, there are issues, both theological and cultural, that we believe are matters of opinion and personal conviction, unworthy of dividing over. Things like political party affiliation, particular nuances concerning end-times positions, views concerning Christian liberties, and other such items are issues which offer little by way of missional fruitfulness. We stand with the Apostle Paul, that we should “not quarrel about words, which does no good and only ruins the hearers” (2 Timothy 2:14), but rather we strive to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace…not being haughty” (Ephesians 4:3; Romans 12:16), that we might share together in the life of Christ, by loving God and loving neighbor.