Updated: Mar 23, 2019
by Dave Miller
When our church trains old and new followers of Jesus how to make disciples we always begin with identity. Dr. John Ewart says:
“We are telling people what to do, when they don’t know who they are.”
Who we are determines how we think, what we do, and with whom we spend time. As followers of Jesus, we determine to think like Jesus, to do as Jesus, and spend time with Jesus because he is the perfect example of what God expects of his image-bearing ambassadors. So let’s return to the white board once again and connect a few dots between Jesus, image bearing, and ambassadors of God. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21 is a great place to start:
For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).
Jesus through his death, burial, and resurrection has provided a way for us to be re-created into the Genesis 1 image of God. “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation” (2 Cor. 5:17). This is what you were made for. The Apostle Paul goes on to write in Romans 6: 1-12:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old selfwas crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.
Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.
Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions.
This is your identity, Christian. We are dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus Christ. “We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.” This identity affects everything about us, therefore we do not let sin reign in our bodies, but instead, like Jesus, the life we live we live to God.
Now we have come full circle to see the perfect image, perfect life, and perfect sacrifice of Jesus in chapter 3.
Jesus is the perfect image-bearing ambassador.
We no longer look to our identity in Adam for direction. We don’t follow our own ways. We don’t follow our emotions. We don’t follow our culture. We don’t follow the ways of the world. We follow Jesus. Paul once again makes the connection for us in Romans 8:28-29:
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
We follow Jesus because in him we are new creations called according to the purposes of God. Remember God’s purpose is to receive Glory (chapter 1). God’s glory is most clearly seen in Jesus Christ the God-Man (chapter 2). Jesus’ purpose was to do the will of the Father by seeking and saving the lost (chapter 3). We, the lost, are broken image bearers in need of re-creation and reconciliation. Jesus made a way through his life, death, burial, and resurrection for us, by faith, to become a new creation and be reconciled to God.
Since Jesus is the perfect image-bearing ambassador, we can understand Paul when he wrote, “For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son.” God desires you to live as his image-bearing ambassador, so who better to conform us to than Jesus?
When we become like Jesus we are becoming everything God intended for humanity to be.
Let that set with you for a moment.
When we follow Jesus we become as he is, which means we become what we were re-created to be, image-bearing ambassadors (i.e. fishers of men). When you love God, all things work together for the good, and God defines the good, that we “be conformed to the image of his Son!”
Conforming to the perfect image of Jesus, the God-Man, is the point of disciple making.
Romans 8:28-19 ties the creation covenant of Genesis 1, to be fruitful and multiply, to fill the earth, and to subdue the earth, directly to the saving work of Jesus. If Jesus was to be the perfect man, then Jesus must fulfill perfectly the commands given to man in Genesis and rescue him from the effects of the fall in Genesis 3. This is our Lord and Savior, the God-Man, Jesus Christ!
Through Jesus, the whole earth will be filled with re-created image-bearing ambassadors.
God will not stop until his original plans are fulfilled. We have seen the end of the story, Jesus the perfect God-Man seated upon the throne receiving worship due him and the whole earth filled with priests (image-bearing ambassadors) from every tribe, tongue, and nation giving the King the worship he deserves.
Paul tells the church in Philippi:
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6).
He tells the church in Thessalonica:
"Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming our Lord Jesus Christ. He who call you is faithful; he will surely do it” (1 Thess 5:23-24).
No wonder Paul also tells the church in Rome:
“And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Rom. 8:29). 
Becoming the new creation Jesus has declared us to be is the most glorious worship we could ever give to the Father.
Everything truly has changed because of Jesus.
Up Next: How are you a new creation?
Until there's #NoPlaceLeft...
Italics added by the author.
Calvin/Armenian debaters, don’t let the arguments for or against your system of soteriology miss the current point that through the gospel we are restored to the original purpose for our lives.
Sentergy: When Jesus, People, Practice and Theology Collide
Chapter 1: The Glory of God
Chapter 2: The Glory of God in Jesus
Chapter 3: The Glory of God in the Gospel
Chapter 4: The Glory of God in Disciple Making
Chapter 5: If You Love Me You Will Obey What I Command
Chapter 6: Monday Morning Disciple Making
Chapter 7: Monday Morning Disciple Making Part 2
Interlude: The Father's Heart
Conclusion: The Lump In Your Throat