Summary: Acts 11:26 says that believers were first called “Christians” at Antioch. What does “Christian” mean? How can we live up to our name of “Christian.” This is the final sermon in his series on “Names for the People of God.”
Series: Names for the People of God
June 5, 2016
NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available upon request from me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TEXT: Acts 11:26 – “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
JOKE – One time a guy hired a hit man named Arty to assassinate his wife. The guy asked Arty how much he would charge and he said one dollar.
The man said, “Only $1.00?! Arty, is that all you charge?”
Arty said, “Well, I really love my job. I don’t really do it for the money.”
To which the man replied, “You’re hired!”
So Arty followed the man’s wife to a Kroger grocery store parking lot, planning to use his method of choice—choking. When she came out, she had two other women with her, so Arty decided he would choke all three of them, which he promptly did because he loved his job so much.
The police showed up, however, and apprehended Arty and put him in jail.
When the newspaper came out the next day the headline read, “ARTY CHOKES THREE FOR A DOLLAR AT KROGER!”
Well you see, names ARE important aren’t they? That has been our theme in our series on “Names for the People of God.” We looked at the names Believer, Child of God, Disciple, Faithful and Saint.
Our text says that the followers of Jesus, were first called Christians at Antioch. “Christian” has become the most widely used name for the followers of Christ.
But prior to this time in the book of Acts, there was no particular name for those who followed Jesus Christ other than those names believers called themselves (such as “believers” and “children of God”), and derogatory names given by their enemies.
The word in the Greek here is christianos which comes from two Greek words:
• Christos – which was the Greek translation of the Hebrew word for “Messiah,” the long promised one of the Old Testament.
• “–ianos” is a Greek word ending which means “of the band of,” or “one of.”
So christianos means basically, “of the band of Christ,” or literally “one of Christ’s” or simply “Christ’s one.” Isn’t it precious to be so intimately associated with the title of our Savior? If you’re saved today, you’re a “Christ one”—you’re “one of Christ’s.”
Interestingly, the name Christian is only found 3 times in the Bible. However, each time it’s used tells us of a way that we show the world that we’re Christians—that we’re one of “Christ’s ones,”—one of the “band of Christ.”
So let’s look at these 3 passages and learn how the world can tell if we’re one of Christ’s ones.
I. FIRST, WE TELL THE WORLD THAT WE’RE ONE OF CHRIST’S BY THE WAY THAT WE WALK – Acts 11:26 – “And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.”
In the New Testament, how we live is often referred to as how we “walk” in this world. The verses previous to verse 26 tell us some things about the walk of the Antiochians:
• Verse 21 says, “And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.”
That phrase “turned unto the Lord” is important. It implies that when they trusted in Christ to be saved, they had a determination to turn from their sin to serve God.
• Look also at verse 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.”
Barnabas preached to them to “cleave unto the Lord.” In other words, he was telling them not to return to their old life, but to cleave to the Lord and their new life and their new relationship. He was telling them to live for and to honor God rather then returning to their old lives of sin.
So as the citizens of Antioch watched this group of believers, they were impressed that they had a distinctive lifestyle. And their conclusion was, “These are Christ’s ones. They’re like Christ was!”
So, one way the world can tell that we are Christians is by the life that we live—how we walk in this world.
One sure way to turn people off to the Gospel is to be a hypocrite. Nothing hurts the name of Christ more than Christians who claim the name of Christian, but deny their Christianity by walking as the world walks. To be a Christian means to be holy, to be loving, to live as a servant—because those three descriptions describe how Jesus lived.