Summary: I want to talk about what Christians should be known for. According to the Bible there are some things that others should know about Christians.
MARKS OF A CHRISTIAN
Acts 11: 19-30
Several years ago Time magazine carried a story about a controversy that once raged in a Waterloo, Iowa courthouse over the question, “What is a Christian?” It all started when a local doctor who had been very wealthy died, and when his will was read it was discovered that he had left a large sum of money to be distributed to the Christians in town, specifically—and I quote, “...to persons who believe in the fundamental principles of the Christian religion, and in the Bible, and who are endeavoring to propagate the same.”
Well, when the will became public, a dispute grew over exactly who in town were Christians and therefore worthy of a share of the doctor’s money. Suits and countersuits were filed, and eventually the court was given the responsibility of settling the issue. Each of the ministers in town who had staked a claim was called in to appear before the judge to be interviewed in order to see if they were in agreement when it came to exactly what, “Christianity’s fundamental principles” were. There were representatives of all the various denominations, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Methodists. In fact, even a few Unitarians showed up.
So, as you can imagine, there was a great difference of opinion in that courtroom about what it meant to be a “Christian.” I’m sure the discussion of who deserved the money was very interesting!
As you probably know, there is STILL quite a variety of opinion as to what a CHRISTIAN is or is not. Many people say being a Christian has something to do with the country you live in.
Seem to believe the political party you choose or the family you are born into determines whether or not you are a Christian. Some people even seem to refer to themselves as Christians by default — they’re not Buddhist or Muslim or Jewish or Hindu—so they must be Christian.
Still, others think only members of their particular denomination are Christians. And that can be very confusing because there are so many kinds of denominations. For example, someone has stated that there at last count there were 267 types of Baptists!
Well, tonight, I want to talk about what Christians should be known for. According to the Bible there are some things that others should know about Christians.
I. Christians Should be Known for their DECLARATION OF THE GOSPEL (19-21)
THEY SPEAK OUT!
The passage begins in verse 19 by reminding us about what happened back at the end of chapter 7 and the beginning of chapter 8.
Do you remember Stephen? He was sharing his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and what happened? He was killed by stoning. And the Bible says that, after his death, a great persecution arose so that Christians fled out of Jerusalem and began going all over the place. So God took what the enemy meant for bad and turned it for good. That’s what verses 19 and following are talking about, the spread of the church as a result of the persecution
Now Antioch was the third-largest city in the Roman Empire only after Rome and Alexandria. It was a big city of some 200,000 people. There were a lot of pagans there, a lot of people who needed to hear about Jesus.
As they fled Jerusalem for our own safety, they took the gospel with us since that’s what Jesus told us to do. So they went as far north as Antioch. Just to give you an idea, Antioch is about 400 miles north of Jerusalem.
As they went, they “preaching the word to no one but the Jews only.” They were unaware of the changes God had wrought through Peter’s experience with Cornelius
But “some” preached to the Grecians - Gentiles, non-Jewish persons. Not only is the gospel being shared with Jews, but also with non-Jews. The Greek word for "speak" (11: 20) is the word for normal conversation. The implication is that these men didn’t preach as orators in the marketplace. Rather, in their everyday contacts, they told others about Jesus Christ.
We all can do what they did. If the spreading of the gospel or the functioning of the church depends on the labors of full-time missionaries or pastors, the ministry will be severely limited. But if every person who has trusted in Christ as Savior and Lord feels the obligation of serving Him and of telling others the good news about Him, the gospel will spread and the church will be built up. Every Christian should sense his or her responsibility to serve Christ and bear witness of Him.
“And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number believed and turned to the Lord.”
How did the church grow? They got the message right and go it out. The Bible says in these verses that they were “preaching the word” and “preaching the Lord Jesus.” The written word and the incarnate word must go together.