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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Before they were Christians (Pt.2)

(Part 2)

Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. -Acts 11:25-26

Those who eventually became known as Christians in Antioch had something interesting in common; they had all been discipled. For an entire year they assembled with other believers and were taught by the Apostle Paul. This commitment to the doctrine of Jesus Christ garnered them more than just an education; but also a reputation.

Those who observed these disciples recognized from their speech, behavior, and beliefs that they were becoming more and more like Jesus:

A disciples is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.-Luke 6:40

Daily they were growing into His likeness. The same is still true today, if you will focus on being a disciple; soon you will be identified as being like Jesus. People will recognize your faith by what they see and hear, not by what you try to make them believe about you.

So how does one become a disciple of Jesus Christ? True discipleship always begins with repentance and forgiveness of sins; we must turn from those things that separate us from the presence of God and receive the gift of forgiveness offered to us by Jesus on Calvarys cross. We must confess that He is now Lord of our life and identify with His death, burial, and resurrection through water baptism.

Disciples then live by the Word of God:

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.-John 8:31

Disciples look to Gods Word for direction; understanding that His Word is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.-2 Timothy 3:16-17.

Disciples strive to live in unity and love one another:

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another-John 13: 34-35

Finally, disciples lead fruitful lives:

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples.-John 15:8

Remaining connected to Christ will produce a lifestyle that glorifies God and causes others to glorify Him:

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.-Matthew 5:16

The word Christian was never intended to be used as a designation, but rather as a description. To those in Antioch a Christian was a proven disciple of Jesus Christ.

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church

Before they were Christians (Pt.1)

(Part 1)

Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many  people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.-Acts 11:25-26.

If Acts 11:26 teaches us anything it is that you cannot be known as a Christian until first you have become a disciple. A friend of mine, commenting on this passage made this observation:

Before they were Christians, they were disciples. Before there was a label, there was content. Before there was identification, there was substance.-Pastor Mark Russell

It is worth noting that the disciples did not call themselves Christians, but rather they were labeled as Christians by those, who, upon observing their lives derived that they were more than believers in name only; but rather were a people who subscribed to the teaching and lifestyle of Jesus Christ. They were not observed as being religious, like the Pharisees or Sadducees. Instead they were recognized as becoming more like Jesus Christ; and because of this were labeled as Christian.

Unfortunately the word Christian has lost much of its significance. Being a Christian, today, has become a label we use to differentiate ourselves from atheist and other religions. We have generalized the word Christian so much that many people believe they are saved or right with God based solely on the fact that they identify as being Christian; although they have never repented of their sins and have made no real confession of faith in Jesus Christ. 

Jesus never intended for us to become Christians. In fact, when Jesus commissioned the apostles in Matthew 28 he told them:

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.-Matthew 28:19-20.

Go and make disciples Jesus told them! The world will never recognize you as a Christian, if Jesus does not first recognize you as one of his disciples.

Pastor Scott Burr
Dayspring Community Church