The First Christians

What Kind of Christians Should We Be Like in the 21st Century?

Acts 11:19-26

DATE: 21 July, 2002  AM         PLACE: BBC Blarney


I.         Introduction (Isa 61:1,2; Acts 11:26)


A.      The name “Christian” is a unique name – it is a title, like president, or Irish

B.       It is something that we take for granted today – 2,000 years down the road

C.       But at first, it was a rare thing, and a great thing to be called a Christian

D.      Today, it’s the greatest title any mortal man can earn: Christian - like Christ

E.       Obviously, these people at Antioch were just what Jesus wanted – and he proved it when someone came along and said, “You’re one of THOSE, those Christ-followers aren’t you?” “You’re just like Jesus!” AMEN!

F.       Most of you could give testimony that you are saved, born again, blood-bought, adopted in the family of God! AMEN!

G.       But I want to ask, are you Christian? If you are, are you like the 1st Christians?

H.      I want to study what is the life and attitude of a Christian this morning!


II.       Message – The First Christians (Acts 11:19-26)


A.      The First Christians Were Scattered (11:19) not well organised!


1.        A Holy Spirit filled life will get you into trouble sometimes

2.        This scattering was God-ordained (Acts 1:8; 8:1-4)

3.        God intends for the Gospel to get out to the whole world

4.        And if we are not going, or sending, then He will get us going, or sending!

5.        The SCATTERING of churches is a good thing


a.       Mega-churches are only entertainment centres today – can’t preach doctrine for fear of upsetting the multitudes

b.       Having headquarters and major church organisations make modern churches too top-heavy, and sluggish, and very self-centred

c.       Jerusalem was like that up until Acts 8

d.       Christ however had died for the whole world! All 6 billion of them!


6.        Christ’s design is for a church in Blarney, in Mallow, in Macroom, in Youghal, in Kinsale, in Cork city centre, etc! As well as in Sligo, and Clifton, and Castle-Martyr, and Athlone, etc!


B.       The First Christians Were Preaching (11:19,20)


1.        Preaching means PREACHING - These people PREACHED the Gospel


a.       Not eloquently, or stylishly, or politically correct

b.       But with power and authority that it was the TRUTH


2.        Preaching needs examples. These people had great examples of preachers


a.       Jesus obviously – the greatest preacher ever

b.       John the Baptist

c.       Also, Peter on the day of Pentecost and for months after

d.       And Stephen just back in Acts 7


3.        Preaching has Two Main Ingredients - Notice what they preached:


a.       They preached THE WORD (2Tim 4:2)


1)       They got up and held a Book in their hands, and ignored experience, and feelings, and visions, and told the wonderful story of Jesus FROM the BIBLE (as with the Ethiopian Eunuch)

2)       Every page, every prophecy was related to Jesus (Act 10:42,43)


b.       The preached the LORD Jesus


1)       Not just places, and Bible stories

2)       But brought everything back to the cross, and showed how Christ


a)       Was God come in the flesh out of love for our lost condition

b)       Fulfilled God’s requirements for salvation

c)       Took the punishment for every sinner

d)       Now lives as our one and only mediator, able to save anyone


c.       You can’t get any better preaching than that!


4.        Preaching needs an Audience - Notice their audience at first


a.       They preached to the Jews only – they went into Synagogues

b.       Why? They related to their own kind first – only natural

c.       The Jews were to be the first to hear the Good News

d.       But Christ had also commanded them to break through the barriers


5.        Preaching causes Accidents – you can’t always control who hears you


a.       These preachers and soul-winners started talking to Grecians


1)       They were Jews who were not Jewish, but lived like Greeks

2)       They SHOULDN’T have been bothered with


b.       Yet the Grecians here got saved by the hundreds!

c.       Isn’t it wonderful how accidents occur in the ministry!?


1)       People get saved in the Lord’s Supper remembrance!

2)       People get saved at the breakfast table!

3)       People you would never imagine would ever be interested, turn around, and get saved! Like the Philippian Jailor!


6.        Preaching is THE most exciting thing to do folks – you never know how it will work out, but you know it WILL work out (Cf 1 Cor 1:17,18)


C.       The First Christians Were Successful (11:20,21)


1.        This is God’s kind of success here


a.       Lots of people believing on the Lord

b.       “Trimming” their lives in line with the word of God, and life of Jesus

c.       There is no greater thing than to see:


1)       A household saved, following God’s word and the life of Jesus

2)       A grown man, humbling himself and turning his life in the direction of obedience to God’s word, and living like Jesus

3)       A rebellious teenager getting right with God - following the Lord


2.        The reason for their success was that the Lord was with them


a.       Example of Lincoln (Darkest days of Civil War, I hope God is on our side, to which Lincoln responded, I’d rather be on the Lord’s side)

b.       As God was with John the Baptist (Lk 1:66) – had His hand upon him

c.       Self evident this response was of God – not self-generated, or faked


D.      The First Christians Were Scrutinized (11:22,23)


1.        The believers in Jerusalem was sceptical of just “anybody” getting saved


a.       Thought people had to be brought through a load of training, and instruction, and had to become real Jewish before they could become believers in Jesus

b.       Peter had just reported that THAT was not so in just the previous verses – about Cornelius

c.       But the general consensus was that people shouldn’t be able to just get saved that easy – it is true that people need to know some facts


2.        So, the apostles, and the elder believers send Barnabas 400 miles North to Antioch to see what was “really” going on

3.        Principles:


a.       When you get saved, and sold out for the Lord, 3 people will watch


1)       The unsaved will watch you like a hawk

2)       Other believers will watch you as well, to see if you are a “flash- in-the-pan” where you are just doing something to get attention – so many come out to church and think they will get an audience

3)       Your family also will watch to see if this is just another “fad”


b.       So: Don’t mind people – just worry about pleasing the Lord! Prove your commitment to the Lord – stay faithful to Him


E.       The First Christians Were Spiritually Hungry (11:23-26)


1.        Barnabas Sees - Saw the evidence of the Grace of God in their lives


a.       No tongues, or miracles

b.       Just changed lives – only by the grace of God

c.       Saw God’s supernatural enablement – WITHOUT big-name preachers, or evangelists, or ministries


1)       Just had a Book

2)       A Saviour

3)       A preacher burdened that they would grow for God


2.        Barnabas Preaches 3 things – these people can’t get enough preaching!


a.       Cleave unto Jesus – like a man and a woman does from marriage on

b.       Have Christianity with purpose


1)       Don’t ever let it become a ritual, or just a ceremony

2)       Make everything you do count for the Lord’s glory and honour


c.       Live your life with all your heart - passion


3.        Barnabas Gets Saul


a.       Saul was discouraged – had headed back home to Tarsus


1)       Saul was able to prove Jesus was the messiah

2)       Able to stand up against persecution

3)       But was constantly hunted, hated and feared

4)       He had to be let down in a basket one night out of Damascus

5)       Even the believers were wary of him


b.       Barnabas knew that Saul needed to see something great happening

c.       So, back they both come, and started up a Bible Institute, and Bible Classes, and Discipleships, and almost every night, met with the believers, teaching them, and training them to follow the Lord!

d.       This event started a love affair once again in his life with


1)       Soul-winning

2)       And ultimately with world-wide Missions


III.     Conclusion – Things we need to ponder


A.      The First Christians Had Certainly Earned their Title (11:26)


1.        These people get the greatest title any mortal man can earn – Christian – like Jesus Christ

2.        Someone placed the name on them – they did not take the honour to themselves

3.        These believers were: Saved, Assembled, Trained, and Soul-winning

4.        They were just what Jesus wanted – and he proved it when someone came along and said, “You’re one of THOSE, those Christ-followers aren’t you?” “You’re just like Jesus!” AMEN! Are YOU a “Christian”?


B.       Earning our Name through Scattering – Missions and church planting

C.       Earning our Name through Preaching – keep the message Bible & about Jesus

D.      Earning our Name through Real Success – changed lives!

E.       Earning our Name through passing Any and All Scrutiny – don’t shy away

F.       Earning our Name through Staying Spiritually Hungry – Love good preaching, love learning this Book, love serving the lord, and love God’s hand on you!