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Disciples’ Identity

by | Sep 18, 2014 | Blog, Community, Mission, Redemption, Theology, Worship

#3 in a series on 1 Peter…

What disciples look like

Over the next four weeks, we will be taking an in-depth look at what a disciple looks like from 1 Peter 2. Who better among the New Testament writers to show us what a disciple looks like than one of the men who walked with Jesus for three years? So, I’m very excited about this opportunity for us to learn what a disciple looks like from this great letter.

Our Disciple description will center on four things:

  • Gospel Identity: A disciple has a new identity as a child of God rooted not in our performance or obedience, but in Jesus’ work in our place for our sin.

  • Compelling Community: Peter describes the church as a house of living stones built to worship God. A disciple is not an isolated stone set off in the yard as art. Rather, a disciple belongs with other living stones.

  • Redeemed Worship: A disciple has been brought out of darkness not simply to enjoy the light, but to proclaim the excellencies of the one who rescued us. We were made and remade to worship.

  • Peculiar Mission: A disciple lives as an alien and stranger in the world. Our lives are to be marked by our love for Jesus and His people.

Gospel Identity:  vv. 1-3

When thinking about a description of a Disciple, we must begin with identity. Who are we? How do we determine this? Now, if we just start with 1 Peter 2:1, we can drift into the thinking that Christianity is all about a moralistic need to be better people. Peter seems very concerned with our feelings, our behavior, and our attitudes. We are commanded (not encouraged) to put these away. Imperatives (what we do) in the Bible are always grounded in indicatives (what has been done for us). In other words, we obey from our gospel identity, not for our identity.

Peter writes his letter to those who are “elect exiles” who have been “born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” We are “a people for God’s own possession.”  Peter roots the disciple’s gospel identity as one who has been saved and now belong to God as his prized, chosen possession. This is our identity.

Crucial to this issue of identity is that we understand that this gospel identity is not based on our performance for God, but on the performance of Jesus in our place for our sin. Peter tells us that “Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God.” Our gospel identity is based neither on our performance nor our perspective, but on Jesus’ work in our place for our sin.

Gospel Identity and Gospel Living

Again, the imperatives in the Bible are always grounded in indicatives. 1 Peter is no different. Our gospel identity motivates and empowers gospel living. In our passage there are three imperatives that flow out of our gospel identity.

  • New Appetites:  As born again children of God, we have been blessed with a taste of something glorious–the kindness of God. We have tasted his kindness in bringing us from death to life, unwanted to wanted, needing mercy to receiving mercy. We have tasted his goodness and we want more. A disciple’s identity as a child of God who has tasted the kindness of God grants us a new appetite for this thing we have tasted. We know what kindness tastes like and we want more of the thing that brought us to life. Notice that this kindness is tasted in the word of God that has caused us to be born again. And, like a newborn baby, we long for this pure spiritual milk. Our Gospel identity creates new appetites. We want more and more of this goodness we have tasted.

  • New Expectations: Peter then shows that our gospel identity should guide our expectations for our experience as a disciple. As we long for the milk of the word in the gospel, this same gospel that brought us to life will cause us to grow up into salvation. Don’t miss this. The same gospel that brings us to life makes us grow up. We never outgrow the gospel. As a disciple, we have an expectation that we will grow in our salvation.

  • New Obedience: The commands of the Bible are always grounded in the gospel truths of the Bible. What we are to do is always based on what God has done for us in Christ. Our gospel identity as a born again, prized possession of the King has implications that we will do what the King says, not so that we can be a child of the King, but because we already are (and forever will be). So, the call to “put away” what doesn’t resemble our King is a call to gospel obedience from identity, not for identity.

A disciple has a gospel identity because of the work of Jesus. Our gospel identity prompts gospel living with new appetites, expectations, and obedience. If you have further questions about what it means to be a disciple or about how to better understand your gospel identity, please speaks with your community group leader or one of the pastors.

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