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You Bunch of Christians!

Acts 11:19-30

 

Antioch was a wicked city…3rd largest in Roman Empire, w/ population of half a million…known for gambling, prostitution, pagan worship.  This was a place in the world that the gospel needed to go!  We are to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world.  If the church would reach out to the darker areas we would see that our light shines more brightly in that darkness!  The more rotten a city is, the more that salt is needed!

        Ill.—SBC mtg. in Las Vegas a few years ago…they were criticized, but while there they evangelized an area that needed it!

 

Antioch was the Las Vegas of the Roman Empire for sure!  But how did God get these believers there?  Did they all win luxury vacation packages thru a sweepstakes drawing?  Transferred by jobs?  No!  The tool God used to get them there was persecution.

v. 19        Persecution!  They were running for their lives, under the threat of death!  They knew if they stayed in Jerusalem they would be stoned, beheaded, or burned at the stake.  So, they left all behind and ran to Antioch. 

        What did they do there?  Have a pity party?  Sit around and lick their wounds?  No!  They started a church and started spreading the gospel!

v. 21        Isn’t that wonderful?  God’s Word was on their lips and God’s hand was on their work!

 

THESE PEOPLE EXEMPLIFIED CHRIST SO MUCH THAT THEY WERE CALLED CHRISTIANS HERE AT ANTIOCH!

 

What a wonderful label, tho’ given to them in a derogatory sense…and yet you and I should wear it as a badge of honor!

 

Christian = Follower of Christ, imitator of Christ, or, little Christ.

 

It’s worthwhile for us to examine now what qualities they possessed that caused those in the region to label them as Christians.

 

One preacher asked, “If you were taken to court and accused of being a Christian…would there be enough evidence to convict?”

 

Do you and I have the right to call ourselves Christians?  Are we truly cut from that same cloth?

 

These disciples reminded the locals of Jesus Christ because:

 

1.     They witnessed like Jesus.

v. 20        “preaching” isn’t a reference to what I’m doing right now…the word actually means “evangelizing”.  It was a lifestyle 24/7, not just 11 am on Sunday…everywhere they went they were talking about Jesus and promoting Jesus!/asking people about their spiritual condition, beliefs.

        And that reminded the locals of Jesus…for everywhere He went His chief concern was the souls of men.

Jn. 4—woman at the well:  Jesus went out of His way to talk to her about her soul!

Nicodemus, who came to Christ under cover of darkness one night…Jesus talked to him about his soul.

Rich Young Ruler who asked “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”…Jesus talked to him about his soul.

        The disciples did the same thing, and it reminded that town of Jesus!

 

Let’s say I’m a prosecutor, and I call you to the stand now and ask you, “How many people did you witness to this week?”  If your answer is zero, well, better proceed w/ a different question, there’s no evidence yet to help me convict you as a Christian!

Jesus said in

Matthew 4:19

    Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.

He didn’t say I might, or I will make some of you…or your pastor, a fisher of men…

It’s not a gift, it’s a command. 

        Most of us are content to be “keepers of the aquarium!”

 

Christian means follower of Christ.  So, even if you’ve been saved, I ask you, are you a Christian?  Are you following Christ?

 

The gospel in 2 words:  Come” and “Go”.  Jesus says for us to come to Him and then to go and tell others! 

 

Churches today have a lot of hugs inside but not many heart aches for others outside.  We’ve become a “holy huddle”…we’ve forgotten why we exist.

Luke 14:23

    Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.

        “Compel” is a strong word meaning “do whatever it takes” to get them in here!

 

Most churches are like the little boy whose mommy called to him saying, “get dressed, we have to go somewhere”.  “I ain’t goin’!”  She replied, that’s not right, son, it’s…

You ARE not going, we ARE not going, I AM not going…understand?

        “Yes ma’am, sounds like ain’t nobody going!”

 

Listen, when it comes to soulwinning in the church today, ain’t nobody going!

I can’t find one verse in the Bible where lost people are commanded to come to church…but I can show you hundreds of verses where you and I are commanded to go out and get them!

 

Bottom line:  we just don’t care…we’ve become so self-centered that we’ve lost our compassion and our vision for the lost!

Psalm 126:5-6

    They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.  He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

 

See Jesus today in

Mark 6:34

    And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd…

 

See Paul in

Romans 9:3

    For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh.

[I would go to hell for them if they’d only get saved!]

 

See Jeremiah the Prophet in

Jeremiah 9:1

    Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

 

Now, when’s the last time you wept over a lost soul?!  When did you last cry bitter tears over your unsaved family members who are bound for hell?/lost friends are heading down the highway for hell?

 

Have a lack of compassion lately?  Confess it to God today as a sin.  Here’s a great tragedy:  A dry-eyed church in a hell-bent world!

 

True story:  September 1985 a celebration at a New Orleans municipal pool. The party around the pool was held to celebrate the first summer in memory without a drowning at any New Orleans city pool. In honor of the occasion, two hundred people gathered, including one hundred certified lifeguards.

As the party was breaking up and the four lifeguards on duty began to clear the pool, they found a fully dressed body in the deep end. They tried to revive Jerome Moody, thirty-one, but it was too late. He had drowned surrounded by lifeguards.

Why were the disciples called this name, “Christians”?  Because they witnessed like Jesus…

 

2.     They discipled like Jesus.

v. 22-23   They had a specialist.

  • They dispatched a man, Barnabus.  It was his job to reproduce himself in those new converts!  Make it your job!
  • They designed his mission, v. 23—“exhort” means “encourage”…Barnabus means “son of encouragement”…our job is to encourage them along!

 

Here’s a blessing for you:

v. 25-26   This Saul is the man later named Paul, the Apostle…how many of you are thankful for his ministry?  You should be!  He’s the reason you’re saved today, humanly speaking.  Paul took the gospel to Europe which is where we got it…it was Paul who wrote by inspiration ½ of the N.T.!

        If you thank God for Paul, you have to thank God for Barnabus, for as v. 26 says, he mentored Paul for a whole year at Antioch!  Now that’s a Christian…discipling like Jesus!

 

When Saul got saved, he went back to his home at Tarsus for 10 years!  When Barnabus saw all the new converts in Antioch, he said, I can spend a year w/ them, but I’m gonna need to mentor somebody else to take my place when it’s time for me to leave.   So, he went all the long way to Tarsus, and recruited Saul to be his assistant. 

        And Saul became Paul and little did he know but Paul became the greatest missionary/evangelist in history!

 

Barnabus gave him a year of his life…much like Jesus, who preached to multitudes on a few occasions, but for the most part, spent his 3 years of ministry pouring Himself into 12 men who then turned the world upside-down!

 

Why were these disciples called the name “Christians”?

They witnessed like Jesus, they discipled like Jesus…

 

3.     They gave like Jesus.

v. 27-30   Here’s these new believers taking up a sacrificial collection for those in need.  Folks, that’s just like Jesus, who gave everything!

 

Ill.—little boy, Sunday afternoon, crawled up on daddy’s lap and asked, what is a Christian? 

        Well, son…and he described these concepts.  Then his heart broke when his son asked…

        “Daddy, have I ever seen a Christian?”

 

Maybe you’ve been saved, but, are you a Christian?  Not just in name, but are you a follower of Christ?

 

If accused of being one, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

 

 

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