Summary: How can I be a disciple who makes a difference? 1. By the grace of God (vs. 21-23). 2. By firmly gripping the Lord (vs. 23-24). 3. By going where the Lord leads (vs. 22 & 25-26). 4. By gathering together with other Christians (vs. 26).

Be a Disciple Who Makes a Difference!

Acts 11:21-26

Sermon by Rick Crandall

Grayson Baptist Church - March 23, 2014

*Think about someone who has been a blessing to you. It could have been today or back when you were a little boy or girl. Surely there have been many blessings in our lives, more than a few people who have made a difference in your life.

*I was blessed by the sympathy cards we read after we got home Friday night. And it might have been three, but I think it was four different men who offered to give me a ride to the airport last Monday.

*Godly, Christian people have made a difference in our lives countless times, and our world needs more Christians like that, Christians like Barnabas in the Scripture tonight. How can we get there? How can we be disciples who make a difference?

1. First church: It's by the grace of God.

*We can make a difference only by the amazing grace of Almighty God! Barnabas clearly saw God's grace at work in Antioch. As vs. 21-23, say:

21. . . The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.

22. Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.

23. When he came and had seen THE GRACE OF GOD, he was glad. . .

*Barnabas saw the grace of God and we can see it too. We can see God's grace when He used a terrible persecution to spread the good news of Jesus Christ. The devil was trying to crush and kill the young church. But it was as if God blew on a dandelion, and scattered the good news seed all over that part of the world. Then a great number of people got saved!

*But we can also see God's grace when even one person gets saved, because no one has ever been saved except by the grace of God. As Paul told the church in Ephesians 2:8-9:

8. . . By grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

9. not of works, lest anyone should boast.

*Joseph Thayer defined God's grace as "His good will to us, His merciful kindness by which God, exerting his holy influence upon souls, turns them to Christ, keeps them, strengthens them, increases them in Christian faith, knowledge, and affection, and kindles them to exercise the Christian virtues. . ."

*Of course, the greatest place we can ever see the grace of God is on the cross of Jesus Christ! By the grace of God, Jesus died on that cross to take the punishment for our sins. God's grace is needed by all, and it is available to all who will trust in the Lord.

*Pastor Martin Dale remembers a time when Billy Graham was on French TV. That French commentator said, "Dr. Graham, the whole of France is watching you. You have two minutes to prove to us God exists."

*Billy Graham replied: "I can't do that, but I can tell you what I do know. "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life." (1)

*Grace really is G.R.A.C.E. -- "God's Riches At Christ's Expense." And by the cross of Jesus Christ, we can have all the grace we need.

*James Kennedy certainly knew about the grace of God. Dr. Kennedy was one of the greatest pastors of our day. He started "Evangelism Explosion" which helped many people come to Christ. Dr. Kennedy also took a very strong stand for family values.

*But back in the 1950's, James Kennedy was an instructor at an Arthur Murray dance studio. He also led a drunken, immoral lifestyle. When James started dating a Christian girl, she asked him, "Where do you go to church?" He replied, "Nowhere. You don't have to go to church to be a good person." Then, with an air of arrogance, he said, "You can be a good Christian without going to church!" But the girl wisely replied, "No you can't!"

*Years later, Dr. Kennedy said, "That was the first time anyone had ever challenged my little pet saying. I was taken aback, and it made me re-think everything I believed."

*A week later, Kennedy was asleep in a drunken haze. When he woke up, he heard a preacher on the radio. He got up to turn it off. But before he got to the radio, he heard the preacher ask this question: "Suppose that you were to die today and stand before God, and he asked you: 'What right do you have to enter my heaven?' What would you say?"

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