Reclaim the Name
And in Antioch the disciples were first. . .
· The name Christian is losing its significance.
o We water it down saying anyone who celebrates Christmas is a Christian.
o “I am a Christian, I’m just not sure I believe in heaven and hell,” says one Politician
o “I am a Christian, I just don’t go to church, read the Bible, share my faith.” If you are a Christian doesn’t a love for Jesus lead you to do these things?
· Overreacting and abandoning the name – for something else “Christ-follower”
· Let’s reclaim the name, giving its rightful Biblical meaning. A name we are proud to wear.
Background of Acts 11
Christian name given by outsiders as a term of derision, despairingly. “Of the party of Christ, follower of Christ, like Christ – that’s what I am!”
What distinguished this group of believers from the rest of Antioch?
I. They preached Jesus as Lord.
“Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (Philippians 2:9–11, ESV)
· Preached – lay people sharing their faith, no “official” church leader recognized by apostles
· Lord – fully God, fully man, Jehovah, YHWH – radical!
II. The hand of the Lord was upon them.
“And I told them of the hand of my God that had been upon me for good, and also of the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, “Let us rise up and build.” So they strengthened their hands for the good work.” (Nehemiah 2:18, ESV)
· God’s power expressed in either blessing or judgment
· Nehemiah – God was with Him bringing success despite obstacles – not easy
· God was at work through these believers
III. They led others to believe in and turn to Jesus.
“For they themselves report concerning us the kind of reception we had among you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God,” (1 Thessalonians 1:9, ESV)
· Believe and turn
· True believing always leads to turning. – 13 inches from heaven
· Repentance – man’s side, change of direction
· Regeneration – God’ side – new heart (John 3:3)
Have you believed and turned? Are people believing and turning because of us?
“Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”” (John 3:3, ESV)
IV. The grace of God was with them.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God,” (Ephesians 2:8, ESV)
· ” (Acts 2:42, ESV) ves on the Word of God.Experienced God’s saving grace
· received the gift of salvationreceived the gift of salvation
· genuiniely savgenuinely saved
· CoulCoulCould give testimony of a personal relationship with Jesus
Barnabas was glad
· People were being saved
· The power of the gospel to change lives was validated
Personal Application: Do you know for certain that you have personally experienced God’s grace by receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? Is your heart made glad when others experiences God’s grace and are saved?
V. They were faithful and steadfast to the Lord.
“For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:3, ESV)
23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose,
23 Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
23 When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.
23 When he arrived and saw this evidence of God’s blessing, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.
23 As soon as he arrived, he saw that God was behind and in it all. He threw himself in with them, got behind them, urging them to stay with it the rest of their lives.
· As Christians, we need to continue to mutually encourage one another to be faithful to God. We need that exhorting of one another.
· Faithfulness to Christ is evidence of our relationship with Christ.
· Remember, as we cling to Him, he holds onto us.
VI. They built their lives on the Word of God.
“So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples,” (John 8:31, ESV)
“And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.” (Acts 2:42, ESV)
· For a year, Paul and Barnabas taught the Word of God
VII. They sacrificially helped others in times of need.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”” (John 13:35, ESV)
What distinguishes you from those that do not have a relationship with Jesus?
Would others look at you and say, “Christian”?
If we lived in a place where it was illegal to be a Christian and your accuser had to prove these seven things were true of your life to condemn you, would you be found guilty or innocent?
Sanctus was an early Christian Martyr. His accusers would free him if he would deny being a follower of Jesus. If he would not, they would torture and kill him. Still, at every turn, his only response was, “I am a Christian!”