Summary: “Christian” is one of the most abused words in our language. It is often used to signify people who are non-Jewish, non-Muslim, or nonheathen. It doesn’t necessarily mean, “Those who profess to believe in Christ.” All you have to do to have this hit ho
The People Called Christians
“Christian” is one of the most abused words in our language. It is often used to signify people who are non-Jewish, non-Muslim, or nonheathen. It doesn’t necessarily mean, “Those who profess to believe in Christ.” All you have to do to have this hit home is to watch a news broadcast. For instance, just recently on the Today Show the lead story on the national news was that the Miss World pageant was being moved from Nigeria to a safer location in London, England. The move was the result of days of fighting between Christians and Moslems. The Moslems were rioting because a commentator had said that if Mohammed was alive he would have taken a wife from among the beautiful contestants. Also, they objected to the way that contestants dressed to display their figures. Several hundred died before the pageant was moved. The pictures of rioting and dead bodies were accompanied by the dialog where the combatants were described as Christians and Moslems. Actually, Nigeria is a country with very few Christians. The fighting was more accurately between Moslems and non-Moslems.
To be a Christian means much, much more than to believe in one God, to live in a so-called Christian nation, to have a King James Bible on your coffee table, or to attend one of the main stream Christian churches. Well then, what is a Christian? Let me define a Christian for you. He or she has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, which comes from faith. They have received the Holy Spirit and been baptized into the church of Jesus Christ at the moment they believed. That is a Christian, but we can’t stop there, because there is also Christian living, which is the visible indication that change has taken place in the life of the individual.
Christian living is obedience and love: obedience to the will of God, which is found in the Word of God; and love for God and for others.
A Christian will most likely be a member of a local Church and will partake of the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper. The individual Christians are the Church and they will do everything in their power to bring others into the Church so that they can also experience Salvation and Christian living.
Now, I hope that I don’t shock you with what I am going to say next. Many Churches have no right to the name Christian. I have read that 60% of the ministers in one of the largest denominations state that they do not believe in the virgin birth of Jesus Christ. To deny the virgin birth is to deny what Christ said about Himself, and to deny the biblical record and it destroys the very foundation of Christian faith. The virgin birth is an absolute essential to being a true believer.
There are also many other things being taught from pulpits that are false. Here are just a few:
First: Salvation is by faith plus baptism, or by faith plus church membership, or by faith plus good works.
Second: The Bible is the Word of God, but so are other books such as the Book of Mormon or the Koran.
Third: There is new revelation from God. God has spoken to me or I have had a vision from God.
Forth: I have been given special powers or abilities from God. You don’t need to go to God, just come to me for blessings and healing.
Fifth: Send me an offering and you are sowing a seed that will come back to you many-fold.
Sixth: The preachers or priests of our denomination are given insight from God that normal people never get.
Seventh: Jesus was a prophet, but He wasn’t God.
Eighth: It doesn’t make any difference what church you go to; they are all the same.
Have you ever heard these statements or maybe some like them? They cause confusion and they detract from the true mission of the church, which is to proclaim the Gospel. Many non-Christians look at what the churches are doing and saying and they conclude that Christianity is nothing more than a social club. What a sad, sad state of affairs! They have observed moral weakness in some who call themselves Christians. I am not saying that Christians should live perfect lives, because I know that’s not possible. But, if they aren’t taught the truth, what hope do they have to express the truth. The problem is that they have been subjected to a weak belief that is no different from the non-Christian world, except in name.
In Acts, we are observing the New Testament church; it was strong, alive, confident and different from other religions. Our text today is Acts 11:19-26. There we read: