Once I was invited to a party where nobody knew each other. And as we came in the door, they gave us a name tag. But it wasn’t our name tag. It belonged to somebody else in the party, and you had to find out who the name tag belonged to. Well, names are important. And the greatest name that you’ll ever wear is the name of Christ. He was given a name above every name. But the question is, can you wear his name tag? Are you a Christian? Are you living as a Christian? And what does it mean to be a Christian?

ROBERT >> Once I was invited to a party where nobody knew each other. And as we came in the door, they gave us a name tag. But it wasn’t our name tag. It belonged to somebody else in the party, and you had to find out who the name tag belonged to. Well, names are important. And the greatest name that you’ll ever wear is the name of Christ. He was given a name above every name. But the question is, can you wear his name tag? Are you a Christian? Are you living as a Christian? And what does it mean to be a Christian?

SINGING>> Speaking the truth, speaking the truth,
speaking the truth in love.

ROBERT >> Did you know that the name Christian only appears in your Bible three times? I want us to look at those three places where we see the name Christian so we can understand what it means to wear the name of Christ, to be a Christian.

The first place that we find this name in the Bible is in Acts 11:26. I want to read the last part of that verse with you today. Here Luke writes, “

And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” You see here that this was the first time that the disciples of Christ were called Christians. But really, this is the fulfillment of a prophecy that Isaiah had made a long time before.

I want us to turn back to Isaiah chapter 56. And Isaiah, he speaks to the people of Israel who had forsaken God. They had gone after other gods. And the judgment and the condemnation of God was coming down upon this people. Their city was going to be destroyed. They were going to be taken captive. And so God speaks of a new day and a new name that he’ll give for his people.

Look with me here in Isaiah 56:5. “Even to them I will give in My house and within My walls a place and a name better than that of sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.”

You see here that Isaiah speaks of a new name. Israel means the prince of God. But God’s people were going to be given another name, a new name, an everlasting name. And I want you to notice it would be given in his house.

But then turn forward just a little bit to Isaiah 62:2. He tells us a little bit more about that name. Here he says, “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.”

Here we see that this new name that God would give his people was going to be after the Gentiles had seen the righteousness of God. And as we look in Acts the 11th chapter where the disciples were first called Christians, we see that by this time, indeed the Gentiles had come to see the righteousness of God.

You see, the gospel of Jesus Christ had gone forth in Acts the 2nd chapter, and the Jews were there gathered on the day of Pentecost, Jews from all over the world, and they became obedient to the gospel. The church had its beginning. But I want you to notice that it spread from Jerusalem to Judea, and it continued to spread north to Antioch of Syria. And that’s where we find ourselves here in Acts 11:26. If you’ll notice that verse again, at the beginning, 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 there and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.

So when we think about the name Christian, what are we talking about?

Well, we’re talking about those disciples who had been gathered there in the church in Antioch. The name Christian belongs to disciples. Those are those who are learners. Those are those who are followers of Jesus Christ. It belongs to those who are a part of the church of Christ that you read about in your Bible, like that church at Antioch that consists not only of Jews, but now also of Gentiles. And so when you think about the name Christian, you’re talking about those not only who belong to Christ, but are learners and followers of Christ, who are members of his church.

In Matthew the 28th chapter, where Jesus was about to ascend back into heaven after his death, after his resurrection, he told his apostles to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them. And there we learn a little bit more about how to become a Christian. Because you see, a Christian is a disciple. A disciple is one who has been baptized, one who has been taught to observe the commandments of Jesus Christ.

And as the apostles went forth in obedience to that command, we read about it in Acts chapter 2. I want to look there with you for just a moment a little bit closer. And do you remember on that occasion when the Jews had gathered for the feast of Pentecost that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the apostles and gave them great power?

And they began to preach about the death and the burial and the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

They proclaimed him as their Lord and their savior. And you’ll notice here in verse 36 as Peter concludes his message to the people, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”

And it was right here that the people spoke out. In verse 37 it says, “Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?”

You see, these folks were pierced by the preaching of the gospel. And they realized now that they had put to death their Messiah, the one they had long been waiting for to save them and to deliver them. And they wanted to know then what to do.

What could they do to be forgiven, to be right with God, to be a part of his kingdom, his church?

And look at the answer that Peter gave them here in verse 38. “Then Peter said to them, Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.”

And so Peter plainly tells them if you realize that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, if you truly believe in him and trust in him, then you’re going to want to turn away from your sins. You’re going to want to make that decision to repent in your heart, and then to be baptized for the remission of your sins so that you might be forgiven, so that you might receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Well, the people, many of the people responded very favorably to the words of Peter.

Look what it says in verse 41. “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”

Right there in verse 41 we read about the beginning of the church. It began with these three thousand souls, who having heard the gospel of Christ, turned from their sins and were baptized in the name of Christ so that they might be forgiven. And you know, when we hear that same word and we respond in that same way, we become a part of that same church. In fact, this is what was happening then.

Look in verse 47, the last verse of this chapter. We see they were, “Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”

The gospel continued to be preached, people continued to obey that gospel, and God was adding them to his church, just as he still doing today as that gospel continues to be preached even to this very day. That’s how we become a Christian. That’s what a Christian is. A Christian is a disciple of Christ, one who’s been taught the gospel of Jesus Christ and has responded in obedience to that gospel. Surely we can see that the name Christian does not belong to the little children who have not yet been able to learn, who have not yet been able to yet be taught and to come to understand and to believe on Jesus Christ; and not only believe, but also be ready to make that decision to repent and to obey his command to be immersed in water for the forgiveness of their sins. Oh, the children are innocent, the children are safe, not yet accountable to the gospel. But we see that if they want to be saved, they must come to that knowledge of the truth and obey from the heart the gospel of Jesus Christ, being baptized into Christ. And that would then make them a Christian, a member of Christ’s church.

Certainly we can also see today that a Christian is not just anyone who may call themselves a Christian. If they have been taught the man-made creeds and doctrines of many churches in the world today but have never heard the pure gospel of Jesus Christ and obeyed it in accordance with the teaching that we just read here in Acts chapter 2, just saying they’re a Christian would not make them a Christian.

No, a Christian is a true and genuine learner, follower of Jesus Christ who’s been obedient to the gospel, as we read about here in the scriptures. But now I want you to notice something else about being a Christian. If we’re going to truly be Christians, we must be committed to Jesus Christ. Let’s go to the second place that we read the name Christian.

Look at Acts 26:28. “Then Agrippa said to Paul, You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

Here we read about one who was almost persuaded to become a Christian. He was not a Christian, he had not yet become a Christian, but he was almost persuaded. This was King Agrippa. King Agrippa was passing through the city of Caesarea. And this was the very place where the apostle Paul had been imprisoned for his faith under the Roman governor, Festus.

And if you look back in chapter 25, notice what it says here in verse 22. “Then Agrippa said to Festus, I also would like to hear the man myself. Tomorrow, he said, you shall hear him.”

You see from this passage that when Agrippa heard about the apostle Paul, that he wanted to hear from him. He wanted to hear what he had to say. He was at least curious about this gospel of Jesus that Paul was preaching. And as we look over in Acts the 26th chapter, we see that the apostle Paul was very happy to give his defense of the gospel. Not so much defending himself, though he was on trial before Festus, but defending the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Let me read with you Acts 26:22-23. Here it says, “Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come, that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

You see, the apostle Paul spoke to Festus and to Agrippa and to the others that were gathered that day. He spoke to them about Jesus Christ, the one whom the prophets spoke of, who Moses spoke of, the one that all the Old Testament scriptures were pointing to, Jesus the Christ, how he would suffer, how he would die, how he would be raised again. He spoke to them the saving gospel. But I want you to notice that this one, King Agrippa, he was curious, had now been moved to become actually convinced about who Jesus was.

Look with me in verse 26 of Acts 26. Here it says, “For the king, before whom I also speak freely, knows these things; for I am convinced that none of these things escapes his, attention since this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know that you do believe.”

Here we can see very clearly that this one who had started out being curious about Jesus is now convinced that Jesus is the one the prophets spoke of. He understands this because he had heard about it, he knew about it. This wasn’t something that had been done in private in some corner. No, Jesus had gone out in the public, and Jesus had taught the people, and Jesus had performed great miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit, and Jesus was crucified in the eyes of the people, and Jesus was buried in that rock-hewn tomb that was sealed and guarded, and it became empty on Sunday morning, that third day. Jesus Christ truly did die for our sins and was raised again to give us the hope and the assurance of eternal life. And Paul said I know that you believe, Agrippa. Agrippa had moved from being curious to convinced about Jesus Christ. But he was not committed.

Here’s that sad verse that we read about in verse 28 we read just a moment ago. Let’s read it again. “Then Agrippa said to Paul, You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

You see, until our faith moves us to obey, we’re still lost in our sins. Until we come to trust in Jesus Christ enough to do what he’s told us to do in order to become a Christian, we’re still lost in our sins. We cannot yet wear that name tag, I’m a Christian.

In John 12:42-43, we read about some who came face to face with Jesus, and they had to make a decision whether or not they would become his followers and his disciples.

I want you to notice what it says about these in John 12:42. “Nevertheless even among the rulers, many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”

Did you see what it said about these rulers of Jesus’ day? They believed in him. It says that they believed in him, but because of the Pharisees, because they were afraid they would be cast out of the synagogue, they would lose their place, their power, their position among the people, they would not confess Jesus as the Christ. They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. There are many things sometimes that stand between those who believe on Christ and obeying Christ. And I don’t know what’s standing between you and your obedience to Christ today, but if you have not yet obeyed him, I hope you’ll see that the most important thing you can do is become a Christian.

In James the 2nd chapter, I want you to notice something that James tells us there beginning in verse 14 of James chapter 2 to help us to see that we’re not saved simply by a believing faith. We must trust Christ enough to obey him.

Now notice what James says about it in James 2:14. “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith, but does not have works? Can faith save him?”

Obviously, that’s a rhetorical question that implies a no answer. That kind of faith can’t save anybody. If we have a faith that does not move us to work the work of God, then it can’t save us.

He goes on to say in verse 17, “Thus also, faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed, even the demons believe and shudder, as James goes on to say here.

Notice what it says in verse 19. “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe and tremble!”

Yes, it’s not enough simply to say I believe in Jesus Christ. We must be obedient to him.

I want to notice verse 24 with you of this chapter. You see then that a man is justified by works, and not by faith only. Justified means to be made right with God, just as if I’d never sinned. But that’s not by faith only. But it’s when faith works the works of God. You see, Jesus Christ is the author of eternal salvation as Hebrews 5:8-9 tell us. But it goes on to say he’s the author of eternal salvation to all those who obey him. If you believe in Jesus Christ, if you trust him, what he did for you at Calvary to save you from your sins, then you must be obedient to the gospel.

Jesus said in Matthew 7:21, “Not everyone that says to me Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven.”
V We can’t just say Jesus is my Lord. Me must demonstrate that by our actions. As he asked in Luke 6:46, Why do you call me Lord, Lord, and not do the things which I say?

Jesus challenges every believer, If any man comes after Me, if any man would come after me, would follow Me, let him take up his cross daily and follow Me. Let him deny self, he says. Take up your cross daily. Follow me. That’s what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, a committed disciple of Jesus Christ.

That’s what it means to be a Christian. As he went on to say in verse 24 of Luke 9, “He that would save his life shall lose it, but he that would lose his life for My sake shall find it.”

You see, we’ve got to exchange our life, the life we want to live, for the life that he wants us to live. And that brings me to my final point this morning. A Christian is willing to suffer for Christ.

In 1 Peter 4:16 we find the very last place in the Bible where the name Christian appears. Here it says,” Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, then let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter.”

Yes, here Peter calls for us to suffer as a Christian. Not for doing evil, not for doing wrong, but because we’re following Jesus Christ. And we should not think that a strange thing. We don’t like to think about it at all, but we shouldn’t think it strange for the Christian.

Back in verse 12 of 1 Peter 4 he says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed you also may be glad with exceeding joy.”

Yes, we’re going to suffer if we’re Christians; but let’s remember, in that suffering, we honor God, we honor Christ, we glorify him. Just as those first-century Christians, so all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution, 2 Timothy 3:12. Someone once asked, if you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you? And I think that’s a great question.

Are you a disciple of Christ, a true follower of Jesus?

Are you a committed disciple, obedient to Christ in everything?

Jesus suffered for us, leaving us an example, that we should follow in his steps. Are you willing to suffer for the one who suffered for you?

Remember, there’s a blessing in suffering for Christ. Jesus said, Blessed, blessed are those who are persecuted for My name’s sake.

And he went on to say, “Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven. Indeed, our light affliction for the moment works in us far more exceeding an eternal weight of glory,” 2 Corinthians 4:17.

Or as Paul said in Romans 8:17, “I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glories which shall be revealed.”

Are you a Christian?

Have you become a Christian?

Are you living the Christian life?

Do you know that blessing, and do you have that joy, that hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ?

SINGING>> Years I spent in vanity and pride,
caring not my Lord was crucified
knowing not it was for me he died on Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
pardon there was multiplied to me;
there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.
Oh, the love that drew salvation’s plan;
oh, the grace that brought it down to man;
oh, the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
Mercy there was great, and grace was free;
pardon there was multiplied to me;
there my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.

SINGING>> I know that my redeemer lives and ever prays for me.
I know eternal life he gives from sin and sorrow free.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives;
I know, I know eternal life he gives;
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.
I know that over yonder stands a place prepared for me,
a home, a house not made with hands, most wonderful to see.
I know, I know that my redeemer lives; I know, I know eternal life he gives;
I know, I know that my redeemer lives.

ROBERT >> I hope that you found today’s lesson helpful. And to help you in your continued study, we’d like to offer you a free copy of today’s lesson. Thankfully, members of churche of Christ make these materials available to our viewers absolutely free of charge, and all you have to do is contact us, let us know the name of the program you’d like to have a copy of. You can see the title of today’s program on your screen. Lets us know the format in which you’d like to have it. You can have the program in the form of an audio CD or a DVD or a written transcript. You can have any of those formats, again, free of charge. It won’t cost you a thing. You can contact us in a number of ways. We have an 800 number that’s a voice mail system where you can leave the pertinent information.

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SINGING>> Sing to me of heaven, sing that song of peace.v From the toils that bind me it will bring release.
Burdens will be lifted that are pressing so,
showers of great blessing o’er my heart will flow.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.
Sing to me of heaven tenderly and low
till the shadows o’er me rise and swiftly go.
When my heart is weary, when the day is long,
sing to me of heaven, sing that old, sweet song.
Sing to me of heaven, let me fondly dream
of its golden glory, of its pearly gleam.
Sing to me when shadows of the evening fall,
sing to me of heaven, sing the sweetest song of all.

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