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Sometimes words or phrases come to represent the person who speaks them. Whenever my 3 brothers and I hear someone say “Oh my aching back” we immediately think of our dad. We heard him say it whenever things went wrong, which usually involved something that we had done. When I hear someone say If you can’t’ say something good, don’t say anything” I think of my grandmother. She certainly lived that sentiment.
- When I hear someone say “Remember who you are”, I think of Carvin and Mary Crapps. Whenever we left to go somewhere else, Mary would send us on our way with this admonition. I had never heard it before, but I certainly came to recognize the wisdom of that advice.
God wants us to remember and live according to “who we are”.
I. We are Christians: Acts 11:26 … So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
A. The word “Christian” appears only three times in the New Testament – Here in Acts 11:26;
- · Acts 26:28 – 28 Then Agrippa said to Paul, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”
- 1 Peter 4:16 – 16 Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.
1. The term “Christian” (Christianos) signifies “an adherent of Jesus” – Vines NT Dictionary). Sources suggest that the first use of this designation was as a term of derision by the Gentiles towards Jesus’ followers. This is not substantiated in the text of the Bible, but Peter’s use the word is set in context of responding to persecution, as he calls on Christians to not be ashamed. (1 Pet. 4:16)
2. But there is also indication that God had chosen prophetically to call His people by the name of His Son. The prophet Isaiah spoke of a time when the people of God would be called by a new name: Isa 62:2 “The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name.” The fulfillment of this prophecy fits well at Acts 11:26 – The first recorded instance of a Gentile congregation. The verb here points to a divine calling as God Himself appointed the name through the exaltation of Christ to the throne of the Kingdom (think of name in the sense of authority). At any rate, the Christian accepted the designation as a title of honor, and as Peter admonished were willing to suffer even death to claim it.
B. What does it mean to live as a Christian? The word Christian in the Bible does not describe an affiliation to any human organization, or religious institution. It does not describe a democratic set of values or political persuasion.
1. To live as a Christian is to be willing to go wherever and as far as Jesus Himself went. Look again at Peter’s words in 1 Peter 4:1-2 – “Therefore, since Christ suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves also with the same mind, for he who has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, 2 that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh for the lusts of men, but for the will of God.”
a. To live as a Christian means demands the mind of Christ. It means developing a mindset that is focused on doing the will of God than on the will on men (especially my own will)
2. Peter’s admonitions here all point to living in accordance with the name of Christ: look at vs. 4-16
- To live as a Christian demands that I love others – (vs. 8);
- minister (serve) others (vs. 10);
- speak the very words of God (vs. 11);
- and partake of Christ’s suffering (v. 13)
- And in all this I glorify God in this matter of being a Christian.
II. We Are Believers: Those who belong ot Christ are also called “believers” in the Bible. Acts 5:14 – 14 And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.
A. Although belief (or faith) can exist in differing levels, the terms believer and unbeliever are used to designate those who are either in Christ or out of Christ. 2 Cor 6:14-15 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever?
B. As believers, the Lord’s people are characterized by faith, or trust in God above all else. This faith comes through hearing the word of God taught, read and contended for (Jude 1:3)
C. It is not surprising that as believers we are called upon to “walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7 – For we walk by faith, not by sight.) Every moral decision of the Christian is not just a call to believe in God, but to believe (trust) God enough to obey Him.
1. Paul told Timothy to “be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Tim. 4:12).
III. We Are Disciples: We noticed in Acts 11:26 that those who were called Christians were first known as disciples. When Saul of Tarsus was converted he eventually tried to join himself to the congregation at Jerusalem. Acts 9:26 – 26 And when Saul had come to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, and did not believe that he was a disciple. What was about Saul that the Christians at Jerusaelm were unsure about? That he was truly a disciple. Was he a Christian (like them) or not?
A. To be a disciple is to be a follower, learner, or student of someone else. The disciple was not just an intellectual follower, but one who attempted to mimic the lifestyle of his teacher. Luke 6:40 – A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
1. We cannot be a disciple apart from learning what Jesus teaches (studying the Bible). John 8:31-32 – 1 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
2. But Jesus also made it clear that discipleship demanded hard choices of commitment and obedience. Luke 14:26-27 – 6 “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and sisters — yes, even his own life — he cannot be my disciple. 27 And anyone who does not carry his cross and follow me cannot be my disciple. What choices have you made that would show you to be a disciple of Jesus?
IV. We Are Saints: 1 Cor. 1:2 – To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours.” The term saint is often used in the Bible to describe the Christian. This word does not designate a special kind of Christian or one who is sinless, nor is it an arrogant profession of perfection or superiority.
A. The word saint means “one who is set apart”. It shares the same root (hagios) as the word “sanctified”.
- Did you know that the word “saint” is used 34 times in the O.T. to describe God’s separated people?
- It most specifically portrays the Christian’s relationship to the world. The Christian is set apart, both provisionally and practically. 1 Peter 2:9 – 9 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1. To be a saint is to have answered a call. Both in Romans 1 and 1 Corinthians 1 Paul says that the Christians were “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7; I Cor. 1:2) The call under consideration here is the call of the Gospel message. One becomes a saint by responding to the gospel of Jesus in obedience.
2. To live as a saint is to live a consecrated life, as one who has been separated from the world on purpose. The saint refuses to engage in sinful conduct of a previous lifestyle. As objects and days were set aside to be used for God’s service in the O.T., so today the church is the temple of God made up of consecrated priests who are wholly dedicated to God’s work. Eph 5:2-5 – 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. 3 But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; 4 neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. 5 For this you know, that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. This termdoes not describe a non-committed Sunday-morning church-goer who is indistinguishable from his pagan neighbor.
V. We are Brethren: Romans 8:29 – 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. The word brother (along with the associated designation of sister) is not a title but a characterization of how we are related to each other. We can view this from both a universal and congregational perspective.
A. Universally the church is called the household (family) of God, signifying our mutual relationship to God, our Father. Eph 2:19 – 9 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, Later in chapter 3 Paul describes the church as a family in heaven and earth, named after God. (Eph. 3:15)
B. Congregationally Paul commands Christians to relate to each other as members of a local family. 1 Tim 5:1-2 “Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity.” T
1. This relationship is one of affection and special consideration that demands that we look out for each other.
- Heb. 10:24,25 “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
- 1 Pet 3:8-9 Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous; not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing.
- This special consideration forbids Christians from taking each other to court to settle their differences. 1 Corinthians 6:5-7 – 5 I say this to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you, not even one, who will be able to judge between his brethren? 6 But brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers! 7 Now therefore, it is already an utter failure for you that you go to law against one another. Why do you not rather accept wrong? Why do you not rather let yourselves be cheated?
2. This relationship also denotes equality. Jesus forbid His followers from placing some above others.. Matthew 23:6-8 – They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren.
3. Consider the glorious privilege of being called a brother by Jesus. Heb. 2:10-11 – 10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. 11 For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, All that I have done wrong and Jesus is not ashamed to call me His brother! That is love. What a family.
Conclusion: Do you know who you are? Are you remembering who you are as you live in this dark world?
- Col 1:10 – that you may walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him..
- 1 Thess 2:11-12 – as you know how we exhorted, and comforted, and charged every one of you, as a father does his own children, 12 that you would walk worthy of God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.
Are You a…
- A Believer?
- A Disciple?
- A Saint?
- In God’s Family?
- A Christian?
Can God call you by these names? Respond to the call of the Gospel.
Believe in Jesus Christ; Repent of your sins; Confess Jesus before Men; Be Baptized.