Identity - Who we are
In the gospel of Jesus, we are new creations
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you...
The Church Makes Disciples
LEARNER/DISCIPLE: We are disciples of Jesus who take responsibility for our growth in the gospel and the growth of others, disciples making disciples.
As a young man Jesus grew in both height and wisdom. He learned from local religious teachers, by living in community, and through regular times of listening to God. Jesus called others to follow his ways, to be his disciples and live in obedience to all that God commands. He then sent these followers out to make new disciples. We believe we are also called to be followers of Jesus who take responsibility for our own development and the development of others. This includes being personally formed by the truth of the gospel and regularly speaking the gospel to others so they can be rescued from sin and selfishness, and grow up into maturity in Jesus Christ.
(Luke 2:52; Matthew 28:18-20; Ephesians 4:11-13; 2 Timothy 2:2)
Baptize Into the Name of…
Jesus’ commission was to make disciples. This begins with us leading people to faith in Jesus and all he had accomplished on our behalf. To accomplish this we must be a people who are continually submitting our lives to the gospel and growing in our ability to speak the gospel fluently. As the gospel is shared and the Holy Spirit brings about repentance and faith, people become Jesus’ disciples who now have a new identity. We need to establish people in this new identity as God’s Gospel People. The way Jesus commanded us to do this is through baptism – we are to baptize into the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Baptizing people into the name of is about establishing them into their new Trinitarian Identity. In Christ, God is our Father and we are His Family; Jesus is our Lord and we are His Servants; the Holy Spirit is our Guide and Sender and we are His Missionaries.
1 Peter 2:9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Peter also reminded the church of their identity before he exhorted them to the work of the Gospel. He states that the church is God’s chosen race – God’s family; a royal priesthood sent as missionaries and ministers of reconciliation (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17-20); and a holy nation of servants with Jesus Christ as Lord.
Jesus also commanded that these new disciples be taught to obey everything he had commanded these first disciples. This certainly included the command to make disciples. It also included all the other commands that Jesus had given. We believe the order of this commission gives us the order of formation for a follower of Jesus – We make disciples by leading people to faith in Jesus (EVANGELISM), forming them in their new Trinitarian identity (ESTABLISHING), and training them to obey Jesus’ commands out of love for God (EQUIPPING).
All three of these identities define our vertical relationship to God as Worshippers who submit to God and our horizontal relationship to people as Disciples who make disciples. We submit to God in light of Who He Is (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), What He Has Done and Is Doing (Loves Us, Saves Us, Sends Us) and Who We Are in Christ (Sons, Servants, Sent Ones).
The Church is God’s Chosen Family
FAMILY: We are all children of God who care for each other as a family.
We are God’s chosen people – His family – set apart to live in such a way that the world would know what he is like. Through faith in Jesus we believe we are Children of God and brothers and sisters with each other. As God’s family we see it as our obligation to personally care for the needs of one another – both physically and spiritually. We disciple, nurture and hold each other accountable to Gospel life together. We do this through regularly gathering together for celebration, consistent involvement in a DNA group and loving others in the path of our life like the Father loved us.
(Genesis 12:1-3; John 1:12-13; Romans 12:10-16)
We submit to God as our Father and love one another as brothers and sisters.
Worshippers: We worship God as Father
We are God’s Children (John 1:11-13) who are adopted and fully accepted and loved apart from any good behavior. When I believe the Gospel I know I have a perfect Father who loves me and accepts me not because of what I've done but because of what Christ has done. This leads me to worship God as Father and obey his word because I love him. I don’t obey God in order to be loved by him. I obey God because he loved me while I was still his rebellious enemy.
Disciples: We show ourselves to be Jesus’ disciples by our love for one another
As children of God we love one another as brothers and sisters. Jesus said this is the way the world will know that we are his disciples – by our love for one another. Paul said we were to be imitators of God as dearly loved children who love one another (Eph 5:1-2). The primary means by which we show the world what God is like and give tangible proof of the Gospel’s power to save is through our love for one another. If we don’t love one another, we show that we don’t know and love God (1 John 4:7-21)
The Church is made up of Jesus’ Servants
SERVANT: We are servants of Jesus who serve Him by serving others around us.
Fully God–fully human, Jesus took on the posture of a servant. He gave his life, even unto death, so that others could experience salvation, peace and restoration. Jesus said, “I am among you as one who serves…” All those who follow Jesus are called to serve in the same humility. For us this means joyfully submitting to Jesus as Lord, to the leaders he has placed over us and to each other as we also serve whomever God brings into our lives. We do whatever He leads us to do, whenever He tells us and wherever He wants us to do it.
(Matthew 20:25-28; 25:31-46; John 13:1-17; Philippians 2:5-11; 1 Peter 2:16)
We submit to Jesus as Lord and serve one another as though we are serving Jesus
Worshippers: We submit to Jesus as Lord
If I believe the Gospel, I am being set free from slavery to false gods that keep me imprisoned, don't feed me and eventually beat me to death. All of us are serving a master or many masters. The question isn't “Am I a slave”, but “Who am I a slave to?” When I believe and live out my gospel identity as a Servant of Jesus, he is my master and he sets me free to live life as it should be lived. I now belong to him as His Servant and whatever I do, I do as unto Him (Matt. 25:40). My service and sacrifice for Jesus my Lord unto others is my spiritual act of worship.
Disciples: We lead people to Jesus by living as Servants displaying his rule and reign in our lives
As the servants of Jesus we are a holy nation – a city within a city. We give a foretaste of what the eternal city will be like under the rule and reign of Jesus Christ. Living as servants to the King who serve others as he served us, presents a tangible witness Jesus’ kingdom and to the power of the gospel to change us. We serve in such a way that it demands a Gospel explanation – lives that cannot be explained in any other way than by the Gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus. Our humility points to his ultimate humility. Our servant hood is led by the Servant of all. And our sacrifice is motivated by the one who gave up his life for us. If we don’t serve others as Jesus served us it is because we have forgotten how we have been served by him, or we don’t really know him in the first place (Matt 25:31-46).
The Church is sent by the Holy Spirit as Missionaries
We submit to the Spirit as our Sender and Leader and are empowered to show and share Jesus to others
MISSIONARIES: We are sent by the Spirit to restore all things to God through Jesus Christ.
God sent Jesus to Earth to take on human form and live within the culture. He worked, ate and interacted among the people; living in such a way that those around him could see and experience what God was truly like. Jesus came so that all people, places and things could be restored to a right relationship with God. In the same way, we believe we are missionaries sent by God’s Spirit into our culture to restore all things to God through Jesus. We live this out through involvement in a missional community.
(John 1:14; 20:21; Colossians 1:19; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21)
Worshippers: We submit to the sending and leading of the Spirit
If I believe the Gospel and can call God my Father it is because God has given me his Spirit (Romans 8:14-17). After Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father sent me I am sending you”, he breathed on them the Holy Spirit. Then, when he commissioned his disciples to be his witnesses, he told them to wait for power from on high (Acts 1:8). He was referring to the Holy Spirit that the Father and Son would send (John 14:16; 16:7). Just as Jesus was sent by the Father, empowered and led by the Spirit, now we are sent as his missionaries by the same power and leading of the Spirit (Matt. 3:16-4:1; John 20:21). If we have the Spirit of God it is so we might be the children of God who accomplish the mission of Jesus by the same Spirit that sent and empowered him.
Disciples: We are sent and empowered by the Spirit to share and show Jesus to others
As missionaries we are sent to share the truth about God’s love for the world through the sending of His Son. The Spirit has been given to us so that we can know what is true of Jesus (John 14:26; 16:12-15), live fruitful lives as evidence of the gospel’s power to change (Gal. 5:16-24), be empowered to share it boldly (Acts 4:23-31) and trust that he is the one who convicts the heart and gives new life (John 3:4-8). All fruitful missionary work is a result of being people who are born of, filled with, and led by the Spirit. If we are not living lives as missionaries fulfilling Jesus’ mission it is either because we don’t have the Spirit or we are grieving the Spirit, living in disobedience to what he is leading us to do.