Are you a Christian?
It is sometimes an interesting thing to consider how nicknames come about. I remember having some nicknames in grade school that made absolutely no sense to me. I have made mention to you before that originally, the name Christian was meant to be a derogatory name toward the believers in the city of Antioch. The Apostles sent Barnabas up to Antioch to see if the news they were hearing was accurate. When Barnabas gets there, he is overjoyed by the work that is being accomplished there, and he also realizes that some help is needed. So he goes to ask Paul to come to Antioch to help in the work there. Antioch was the 3rd largest city in the Roman Empire (Rome, Alexandria). One of the prominent features in Antioch was the Temple of Daphne. Like any other pagan temple, what went on in the name of religion would turn our stomachs this morning, and we would simply label the activities there as unrestrained wickedness (the morals of Daphne was a phrase that alluded to complete depravity). So when the hand of the Lord was on the city of Antioch and many people were coming to Christ, and then Barnabas and Paul showed up to further instruct the people in the Word. As the pagan temple worshippers learned that the believers were against their idolatrous practices, they began to mockingly call them Christians. Little Christ’s. Belonging to or of the party of the Messiah. Thus far they had been called: Believers, followers, disciples, saints, and brethren. But now they were being called Christians—of Christ they spoke, of Christ they sang, and for Christ they lived.. It is similar to being called a Bible thumper, Holy Roller, or a Jesus freak. It’s amazing to me that the word Christian which was given to us by the world has become the word that we most likely associate ourselves with. This word Christian is now one of the most abused, and misapplied terms in all of religion. Everyone is convinced that they are a Christian. Because I go to church, because of the way I live, because of what I have learned, because of what I have done. I would like to take a few minutes and discuss the circumstances of why they were first called Christians in Antioch in a message I have called, “Are You a Christian?”
1. They were converted. It was done through preaching. We try to never minimize the importance of preaching in this place. We believe that it is the preaching of the Lord, the Cross, the reality of sin, and the penalty of sin, that grabs the attention of the hell bound sinner.
1 Corinthians 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Because there are those that will be looking for a sign or for wisdom, it is imperative that we keep Christ the center of the message.
1 Corinthians 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. When you preach Jesus, you include many things in your preaching. You preach that He was the Son of God, that He was born of a virgin, that He lived a sinless life, that He paid for our sins at the Cross, that He rose again the 3rd day.
Acts 20:21 Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
And when a sinner is confronted with the truth of the Word, a decision must be made. Either acceptance, or rejection. Sometimes there will be much rejection before there is finally acceptance. Acceptance leads to belief. Belief is another word for faith, and we cannot come to the Lord outside of faith.
Ephesians 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Romans 10:9-10 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
Not only did they believe, but they turned unto the Lord. That means that they turned away from something. In other words they repented. A change of mind that results in a changed life. They were different now. Christ said, “except ye repent.” You come to Jesus in belief that He can save you, allow Him to change you. A new creature doesn’t stay in chains to his old habits and desires. Our want-to’s ought to change.
2. They were committed (22-23). Cleave unto the Lord. Adhere to, stick yourself against Jesus. We drift into to trouble when we say we are Christians and try to practice without cleaving to Jesus. We must walk with Him. We must walk with Him, even when the teaching of the Bible goes against our grain.
Proverbs 4:23 Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.
John 8:31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
Barnabas was a shining example of what commitment looked like (verse 24). God has been using godly men for our examples for our learning. Noah was committed to the plan of God, Abraham was the friend of God, David was the apple of God’s eye, the disciples, the Apostle Paul.
1 Peter 2:9-12 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation. If you are commited to Christ, your actions will speak louder than your words. We should be committed to Jesus because He gave it all for us.
Tommy was raised in a poor home. His mother was very ill and bed ridden. When her birthday was coming up, he wanted to something very special for her. He sold papers on the corner, and collected soda pop bottles to gain money. When her birthday arrived he had $3.50. He went to the florist and told his story. The florist was touched by the account and he picked out 12 of his finest carnations, wrapped them in green paper and sent Tommy on his way. In the excitement, Tommy ran out into the street and the horrifying sound of screeching tires followed by a loud thump was heard. In the hospital, Tommy wanted to speak with the officer, whispered some words in his ear. Policeman goes to home with the broken bouquet. I gave all I had so you could have these. Are you a.