SUBJ: The biblical significance of the
followers of Christ being called Christians along with all the
implications of identity with Christ and His people.
AIM: That we might live up to all that
the word implies and be willing to give definition to the distinction we
claim as the disciples and followers of Christ.
INTR: The word Christian is used in a
variety of ways and has come to mean less as a result of this in that,
the more common a term and the laxer the distinction the less impact it
1. The word we read as "Christian" simply means "follower of
2. While that is simple enough, it follows that we should
pursue the implications of "they were called," and to consider who
applied the name.
3. The claim is often made of being a Christian
while the things that define the term are missing from those who are
making the claim. I will focus the texts and their implications.
THESIS: True Christians may be
identified as such without calling themselves by any name. They will be
identified by their devotion to Christ and the works they walk in as
those things in which they were created.
I. First called
Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26)
1. It is agreed by most that the
origin of this first action is uncertain - whether self-designated or so
called by their enemies, the name has stuck.
2. There are plausible
arguments for both in that,
1) Those assembling at Antioch were from
a mixed group of Jews and Gentiles and the name may have been taken to
assure a united approach to their ministry and fellowship.
2) But the
fact that they bore the distinguishing marks of being the followers of
Christ may have triggered the contempt for them in being identified with
3) If that were the case, it would be more truth in the mouths
of the enemy such as were uttered at the cross.
3. It is to be
recognized that men are given to taking titles to themselves and when
this is done in pride the result is never good. We might consider
4. It is when we note both the origin and the
actions of these people that we see something of the genuine.
had come from other areas and probably because of persecution.
They were in unity in following Christ and it would have clearly
distinguished them from the culture in which they lived.
5. The term
has, in many cases, become a term of convenience in the absence of
demonstration. Why do we not say I am a follower of Jesus Christ my
II. Almost a Christian (Acts 26:28)
1. Paul had been
incarcerated for a few years now and was given an audience with the
Jewish King Agrippa (an appointment of Rome) and it was he who uttered
1) Paul had related the account of his encounter with
the Lord on the road to Damascus (read Acts 26:14-19).
2) We note
that therein was an account of the Gospel hope as well as Paul's
personal commitment to the serving of Christ (he was not disobedient to
the heavenly vision).
2. It is certain that Agrippa used the term in
contempt while commending Paul's effort- Paul was both persuasive and
3. Again, we note the identity of Paul with Christ as well
as his devotion to service that bore no appeal in the heart of this
4. Paul had earlier left Felix trembling and now he would
leave Agrippa moved but not persuaded of the Gospel of our Lord.
III. Suffering as a Christian (1 Peter 4:16)
1. Jesus warned the
Apostles that "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it
hated you. (John 15:18)"
2. He continued in that context: "If ye were
of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of
the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world
hateth you. (John 15:19)."
3. There was open rejection of Christ from
the beginning and the accounts continue through the continuing story in
the acts and with multiple confirmations in the Epistles.
early "Christians" were open and vocal as to "whose they were and whom
1) They were neither aggressive beyond declaring the
message nor apologetic in displaying the life of Christ as the way.
2) Christ was seen in them and it was Him they hated. It was the
believers that were visible to them and thus, their hatred for Christ
was executed upon them.
5. We are given occasion thereby to rejoice:
"If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the
spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil
spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. (1 Peter 4:14)" S.F. "And
they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were
counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. (Acts 5:41)."
should be called Christians for a reason that is visible to all - we are
followers of Christ. The result may be that we will be rejoicing with
those of old that we have been with Jesus and He is with us and we are
hated for it.