A. Text: Acts 11:26.
B. The word “Christian” appears three times in the New Testament – Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16.
C. Yet this is not the only word used in the New Testament to describe the Lord’s people.
E. Each term used to characterize the Lord’s people tells us something we need to know about what Christians are. We lose something important if we fail to understand these terms and fail to use them.
F. What then can we learn from the following four names for Christians in the New Testament?
“To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours” (1 Corinthians 1:2). Cf. Ephesians 1:1; Philippians 1:1; etc.
Saints are those who are “sanctified” or “set apart” to be the Lord’s special (“holy”) possession – 1 Peter 2:9.
As SAINTS, the Lord’s people are characterized by HOLINESS.
Some things are “fitting” for saints, and some things are not – Ephesians 5:3,4.
We must give conscious thought and effort in maintaining our special character before the Lord – 2 Corinthians 7:1; 1 Peter 1:13-16.
“So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).
To be a disciple is to be a follower, learner, or student of someone else. Christians are the Lord’s learners!
The Lord wants us to learn three things from Him:
1. Knowledge. Understanding and wisdom about what to do and how to do it.
2. Character. Development of the inner traits of character possessed by the Lord Himself.
3. Competence. Skill and ability in living and serving as a Christian.
As DISCIPLES, the Lord’s people are characterized by KNOWLEDGE.
On the Lord’s Day, it is the disciples who come together to eat the Lord’s Supper – Acts 20:7.
It requires “discipline” to be a “disciple.” We will not come to know what the Lord wants us to know without making a serious commitment to the process – 1 Corinthians 9:27. Cf. John. 8:31; 13:35.
Outline by Gary Henry http://www.wordpoints.com Sermon 0016 – Page 2
1. Counting the cost of discipleship. Cf. Luke 14:28.
2. Making the commitment to be a disciple. Having counted the cost, we must actually pay the price!
“Be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).
As BELIEVERS, the Lord’s people are characterized by FAITH.
1. It is not surprising that we are called believers — the gospel is referred to as “the faith” (Jude 3).
2. It is essentially our faith that makes us what we are as Christians – Romans 1:16,17.
We are those who “walk by faith” (2 Corinthian 5:7). Our lives are built on trust.
“We are bound to thank God always for you, brethren, as it is fitting, because your faith grows exceedingly, and the love of every one of you all abounds toward each other” (2 Thessalonians 1:3). Cf. Romans 8:29.
1. The relationship of siblings denotes affection – 1 Peter 1:22. Cf. 2 Corinthians 13:11.
2. But it also denotes equality – Matthew 23:8. Cf. James. 2:1.
Being brethren adds a special dimension to even the ordinary blessings of life. Cf. 1 Thessalonians. 5:26.
C. Being brethren ought to make a huge difference when disagreements arise. Cf. Genesis 13:8.
1. Among brethren, the relationship is more important than any personal disadvantage.
2. A brother would rather “be defrauded” and quietly suffer wrong than engage in a warfare that would dishonour the family – 1 Corinthians 6:5-7. James 4:11,12.
3. Brethren are “swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath” (James 1:19,20). Cf. 5:9.
D. As BRETHREN, the Lord’s people are characterized by LOVE. Cf. Colossians 3:12-15; 1 John 3:14; 4:20,21.
Four Biblical Names For Christians
Speaking of the so-called “Christian graces,” Peter said, “If these things are yours and abound . . .” (2 Peter 1:8). With respect to the four qualities above, we may ask ourselves:
1. Are these characteristics ours:
a. Holiness (as saints)?
b. Knowledge (as disciples)?
c. Faith (as believers)?
d. Love (as brethren)?
2. Are we growing and abounding in them? Is our “progress . . . evident to all” (1 Timothy 4:15)?
a. If we would be the Lord’s church, we must not only adopt the outward forms of the church found in the New Testament; we must also develop the inner character of Christians in the New Testament.
b. Knowing that we described in these four ways ought to help us in setting our spiritual goals for the future
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