Acts 26:1,2 & 24-32
In the 26th Chapter of the Book of Acts the Apostle Paul was on trial or ready to be tried for being a disciple of Jesus Christ. In verse one and two he said; “Then AGRIPPA said unto Paul, Thou art permitted to speak for thyself. Then Paul stretched forth the hand and answered for himself: I think myself happy, king Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews:” Then to verse 24: “And as he thus spake for himself, Festus said with a loud voice, Paul thou art beside thyself, much learning doth make thee mad. But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus: but speak forth the words of truth and soberness. For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely, for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner. King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest. Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian. And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds. And when he had thus spoken, the king rose up, and the governor, and Bernice, and they that sat with them: And when they were gone aside, they talked between themselves saying, This man doeth nothing worthy of death or of bonds. Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.” That’s reading from Chapter 26 of the Acts of the Apostles verses 1 and 2 and then verses 24 through 32 of this chapter. For my message today the subject of my message today is “What it means to be a Christian”. The word Christian is only mentioned three times in the New Testament and that may surprise because we use the word freely and we use it out of context as to look at or to someone in the scripture that is not a Christian. But what is your answer this morning in just what it means to be a Christian and just how do you feel about what it means to be a Christian? I am a Christian I believe in being a Christian and I believe in the Christian walk of life and I believe in the Christian church the New Testament Church and we believe the Baptist church is the New Testament Church and thus a church made up of Christian people. So then what is a Christian? The bible like I said didn’t mention the word Christian but three times however there are many verses that incorporate the description of a Christian in the New Testament and I won’t be able to talk about all of them here this morning. But actually to be a Christian one must first be a disciple of Jesus Christ. The scriptures make many references to the disciples of Jesus Christ. The disciples were both made my Jesus and his forerunner John the Baptist. And speaking of him the bible refers to him as a disciple of John. Jesus’s disciples one time went to him and ask him “art thou he that should come or should we look for another?” And John said “go tell them I am the one God has sent me from heaven to preach the gospel.” To be a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ means what? I ask you this morning what does it mean to be a believer or a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ? One man said to me about another he was on vacation in Florida and he went out to eat and he just fell out on the table dead dead as could be. And a man with him said “he was a believer in Jesus Christ” that’s wonderful and you couldn’t say anything better. What does it mean to be a believer in Jesus Christ the disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ? Well the word disciple means one who can teach and one who puts into practice the resemblance of the wife of somebody else. The disciples of Jesus Christ were first called Christians at Antioch of Syria which was the second New Testament Church ever to be. They referred them to be because of their resemblance to Jesus Christ himself. Sometimes I think we use the word a little lightly when we refer to some as Christians when we know they are not living Christian lives and otherwise when they are detracting people of the teachings and life of the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact some people will say to us when we talk to them about being a disciple of Christ a Christian they’ll say “I’m better than some of your church members.” Well you see they’re looking on the outside and the Lord looks on the inside. They can’t see that pearl on the inside. But anyway that’s what they’ll say. But a disciple of Jesus Christ is first a believer. You can’t be saved you can’t be a disciple and you can’t be a Christian without believing and let me say to you there are two steps in believing. Paul wrote to the Hebrews and he said “it was impossible to please God without faith.” And then he said “he that cometh to God must believe that he is” let me say that’s not saving faith. That’s not saving faith but that’s believing in God that he exists that he’s real that he is somewhere and he can help you if you come to him. He that cometh to God must believe that he is. Secondly that he is a reward-er if them that diligently seek him. So people when they are convicted of their sins seek the Lord Jesus Christ that is they have already from a mental standpoint believed in God Almighty. Jesus said this about some of the people that were kin to him he said “you came to me but you didn’t believe in me” in other words he was saying they rejected him. But as many of you that believe he said to them gave me the power to become the sons of God. So they first believed that God was real and then secondly he gave them the power to repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. So to be a disciple or to be a Christian you must first believe. I believed in God before I was old enough to know anything about being lost or being saved. I believed in it basically because my parents taught me that because I was carried to Sunday school and to church. And then I believed in it because my church taught me that and my preacher preached that but I wasn’t saved. It wasn’t until I was eleven years old until I completely convicted of my sins and trusted in the Lord. So the first thing is to believe in God. You can’t be saved without believing in God. You will not listen to the word of God which God has chosen to use to convict people of their sins until you believe there is a God. So secondly when we believe there is a God and we listen then “faith cometh by hearing” the bible said. So when the word of God is preached and somebody witnesses to you about the Lord and you listen with that inside ear and you hear and become condemned convinced of your sins which leads to repentance towards God. God commanded that all men everywhere to repent of their sins. You can’t be saved until you have repented. The Lord won’t hear you when you pray for forgiveness of sin until you have been repented of your sins and then when you have repented of your sins you can trust in the Lord Jesus Christ with confident faith with all of you faith until you’re saved. So what does it mean to be a Christian a disciple of Jesus Christ? It means you believe in God and that you have repented of your sins and it means you have trusted completely and totally by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul the apostle used these words said “if any man be in Christ” now Bro. Brooks and Bro. Philips father used to use this term and it’s correct. And Bro. Brooks would say of this when he was talking about Jesus Christ he would say “I in you and you in me” that is if any man be in Christ a disciple of Christ a Christian and then he said a new creature a new creation. A new creation is performed in being born again in the family of God a recreation not of the outside but of the inside. The carnal man is not subject to the new birth. The carnal man is not subject to the law of God but the soul of man the inward man is that which is subject to conversion. And so when we are born again into the family of God and we become a disciple of God Paul said old things are passed away and all things are made new. So when we become a disciple when we’ve become a Christian a new creation has taken place in us and we have witnessed old things passing away and old things become new. I’m going to use a personal reference one of my good old members that has since passed away at Green Valley Bro. Dalton Bennett. When Bro. Dalton would testify he was raised in the church there but he was not a member there and didn’t get saved until he was about 50 years old. But he told me about an occasion when he was a young married man he left Horseshoe Bend and went to Arizona and worked on the railroad. Well while he was there he went to a place that wasn’t very nice and he was divulging with the people there and a fellow came by and said Bennett don’t you come back tomorrow night. Well he said the fellow that I am I got ready and went back the next night and that night the man didn’t say anything to him that night. But when he and his wife came home they came back to Green Valley and he got saved. Now this is what I was getting to. He said when I got saved he said the Lord made a change in me. He said he had a lot of bad habits. You see we all have some bad habits when we are sinners. Just to mention a couple of his habits he said I was a drinking man and when I got to drinking I would become a cursing man. But when I got saved the Lord took those bad habits from me. If any man be in Christ he’s a new creature old things have passed away and behold all things have become new. He spoke boldly about the Lord removing those bad habits. I went down to Sellars Funeral Home in Mt. Juliet to hold a funeral and she was raised right over here but the house is torn down now. And he lived over on this side but when he was a young man he told his brother that when he got old enough he was going to marry that girl and when he got old enough he did marry that girl and she became a Christian and he is a Christian. But standing there before her casket in the funeral home he held up his hand and said Bro. Gentry you can believe this or not believe it but it’s the truth. He said after I became a Christian and professed religion I had a place on my hand and it wasn’t getting any better. So I went to a doctor or two and then he said I said under my breath without saying it out loud I said Lord you know I believe in you and you know that I am yours Lord but if it’s your will remove this place on the back of my hand. Well he said I forgot about it for a day or two but then I looked at it and it was gone all of it was gone. And I said Lord I thank you. And then he said to me if you don’t want the Lord to help you then don’t ask him sincerely but if you ask him believe that he will. So it was a great witness for me and that he was saved and that he believed in the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So what I’m talking about to be a Christian that old things have passed away. You know the songs sound different when you get saved and the message sounds different when you get saved. Do you know why? You’re not afraid anymore honey them songs stir up fear in the hearts of the unsaved. The message of God Almighty brings condemnation on condemnation to those who are unsaved their afraid. One of the prophets said the sinners in Zion are afraid. If you are here this morning and not saved you’re afraid not of me or not afraid of the church members but afraid of facing God Almighty and death as you are. If you are a real disciple a real Christian you are not afraid because when the love of God was shed abroad in your hearts by the Holy Ghost which was given us that love took away all fear and it gives you confidence to face death and the judgment and the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. As a Christian as a Christian we ought to resemble something of the life of Jesus Christ. I know we are not as he was the bible teaches us to be perfect as he was also perfect. The word perfect means to be complete. None of us in the physical body will be completely perfect or above the sins that are common to man but we’ll have them as long as we live. But when I tell people that when the soul of man is saved it’ sealed we call it once saved always saved and that it never sins. And they look at me startled and do you know why they look at me that way? It’s because they have professed religion they have professed salvation with a mental attitude and not with the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ in their hearts. Once you have come to the knowledge that you are saved by the witness of the Holy Spirit then you’ll be able to understand what it is to be converted. So to become a disciple of Jesus Christ one must believe one must repent and one must believe on the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So looking like Jesus the bible teaches us that he was an example of the best Christian though the bible doesn’t refer to him as a Christian but it does refer to him as the son of God and the savior of all men. When people get saved they become a disciple of Christ and thus a Christian and as a Christian we begin to imitate his life as much as we can. In imitating his life the bible said that Christ suffered for us having us leaving us an example so Jesus did suffer for us. His suffering was not for his sake he had already been in heaven he was already the son of God he was already the heir of God and everything that he had. But he suffered for us and for as much as he suffered for us the bible said it’s not only given to you to believe on him but also to suffer for him. Paul used these words “and yea all that live Godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” Honey if you live the life walk the walk and talk the talk then honey you’re going to be persecuted. But put it to death and go on and serve the Lord. So he suffered and we’ll also suffer for him. Not only will we suffer for him but we’ll also be a witness for him of his death burial and resurrection that he might forgive us of our sins. I tell you I believe with all of my heart that Jesus came and he suffered and died on Calvary’s cross and the bible says he was buried and on the third day he rose again from the grave. Paul said “I preach to that that also has received and that Christ died for our sins.” And according to the scriptures he was raised the third day. And so that is so much the truth. The bible tells us in the first chapter of the Book of Acts where the bible was talking about the disciples and he said “ye are both witnesses of me both in Jerusalem Judea and Samaria and unto the uttermost part of the world.” If we are real Christians and if we are genuine disciples we will witness about our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. If we love our children you won’t be talking to a stranger long before you say “let me tell you about my grandchildren or let me tell you about my children.” You tell them because they’re yours in birth and you tell them because they’re the good things of your life. If we are the children of God and if we are the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ and if you are genuine you might meet up with a stranger and say “let me tell you about my Savior the Lord Jesus Christ.” Honey there’s a lot of things to tell and it will take you a while and you can tell your experience which is like no other but yet is similar to everybody’s and in witnessing about the Lord Jesus Christ if the person is saved then they’ll appreciate that but then if they’re not saved it will be a witness against them or a witness for them that they may turn to the Lord and finally be saved. Paul the Apostle witnessed to Felix and I’ve told you this before but he witnessed about righteous and temperance and judgment to come. Honey he was a great witness the Apostle Paul when he witnessed this man began to tremble and it wasn’t that he was afraid of the Apostle Paul but he was under arrest but he was under the authority of Felix. But the reason he was trembling was because Paul was witnessing to him something that he knew nothing about. And he was not ready to face judgment eternity and death as he was. So he said to Paul “go thy way and I’ll call for you at a convenient season.” Honey the convenient season was right then. But he put off the Apostle Paul he put off the invitation of the gospel he put off the invitation of the Holy Spirit and said no. The bible does not record that he ever called for him. It does not record that he ever got saved thus we surmised that he died in his sins and he went out into eternity without the Lord and moved into eternal damnation. So we witness with our mouth and our tongue witnesses to people about Jesus Christ and it witnesses that Jesus Christ is the savior of the world. I’m glad we have come into the Lord’s house this morning in as Christian people we’re given the opportunity to witness for the Lord and they might hear something this morning and be saved. The third thing I want to mention is when we become genuine Christians born of the spirit of God we set our affections on things above. Now the Apostle Paul used these words to the Romans “and be not conformed to this world but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind for it is the good and exceptional will of God.” May our minds and our hearts be not conformed to the perishable things of this world but may we have on our hearts the eternal and spiritual things that God Almighty has for us. It thrills me when I can set my mind totally on the good things of the Lord. My salvation and the joy of my salvation and the afterlife and the going to heaven and being with the Lord through the endless ages of eternity and living in the house of God forever and forever more. So we should be like minded as Christ that is our minds should not be conformed of this world but set on things from above the eternal things. Let me say to you that the bible said to Jesus when he saw the multitude he had compassion on them. There’s not a lot of compassion in this world and you all know there’s just not a lot of compassion in this world. If we’re going to be like Jesus if we’re going to be Christians and if we’re going to be Disciples we are supposed to show compassion. Jesus went into the sinners house the Pharisee’s house and it said of the Pharisee’s house at that time wanted to accuse him because he went to eat with a man that was a sinner and he said “they that are whole” and that means those that are saved do not need a Savior because they’re already saved. But he said they that are lost and we’re glad to be able to join in with the saved this morning. But honey our greatest opportunities our greatest need as a Christian and as a church are those that are unsaved and I’ve got to hurry on with my sermon this morning. But Jesus said to the New Testament church to go and teach all nations and translated it means to go into all the world and make disciples. That’s right and make disciples and there’s one church that did that they went and made disciples. Now the commission that we know better is not only given in Matthew but also in the 16th chapter of the Gospel According to Mark Jesus was given the same commission but he used a few different words but he said “go and make disciples and he that believeth and baptized shall be saved but he that believeth not shall be damned.” Now some people have a little problem with that and they say that the work is not finished in the new birth until you have baptism. But I will say to you that Jesus explains it correctly in the last phrase of that verse “he that believeth not shall be damned”. We believe we’re to go make disciples and then baptize the disciples in the name of the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit. So we are to show compassion and we are to show understanding and let me just touch briefly on it that I believe that Christians ought to look like Christians. Now you may feel different than me on that but I think we are to use Godly apparel and I think we are to speak that becometh the gospel of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But that doesn’t mean we have to be sour and it doesn’t mean that we can’t smile but what it does mean is that we are not to take our Lord’s name in vain. Not in front of our friends or in front of sinners or in the public. But be careful of sound speech the bible uses the words seasoned with salt and that’s the way it ought to be. Jesus in his ministry healed people of their sins and he fed them that was hungry and he taught them who were unsaved the plan of eternal redemption. And then finally and I’ll close my message Jesus said that by this shall all men know by this that ye are my disciples. I’m going to ask you what is the one defining thing to the world that we are as disciples. He said “if ye have love one for another.” Honey people are looking at us and they’re watching our every move and our greatest demonstration of our Christianity that which we say we are as Christians is to show our love one for another and then for the unsaved world that is out there. What does it mean to be a Christian? Sometimes we sing an old song titled “I’d rather be an Old Time Christian than Anything I know”. Honey the old time Christian and the new Christian is so similar in every way. We have similar experience and we have the same savior and we all experienced the love of God and the witness of the Holy Spirit when we get saved. I want you to take home with you the thought of what it means to be a Christian and then challenge you not just in word but indeed be a Christian in every day of your life.
Blog Post 020611 – What It Means To Be a Christian – Acts 26: 1, 2 & 24-32 – 4263 Words