One title is not enough to describe the followers of Jesus Christ, so the Bible, and in particular the early chapters of the book of Acts, offer a variety of such designations. Here are four that we should be proud to use that define our identity in Christ:-
1 – Believers.
We are informed that the “believers” met together regularly, worshipped in the temple courts, ate together in their homes, shared their possessions with each other (Acts 2 v 42 – 47) and were one in heart and mind (Acts 4 v 32.)
So what actually is a believer? It is someone who TRUSTS or who has faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 10 v 9), as illustrated by the Ethiopian eunuch before he was baptised (Acts 8 v 27) and the answer given to the Philippian jailer regarding becoming a follower of Jesus – “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household” (Acts 16 v 32)
Challenge – Are you a believer who has trusted in Jesus?
2 – Disciples.
We are informed that in Jerusalem the number of” disciples” was growing (Acts 6 v 1 & 7); that there were “disciples” to be found in Damascus (Acts 9 v 1 – 2 & 19) as well as in Joppa (Acts 9 v 36 & 38.)
So what actually is a disciple? It is someone who is being TAUGHT as illustrated by the twelve disciples chosen by Jesus (Luke 6 v 12 – 16.) They learnt from his teaching, as well as from his example; they were able to ask him questions and enjoy intimate fellowship with him; as well as being given ministry opportunities, despite being spiritually dense from time to time!
Challenge – Are you a disciple who is being taught enabling you to grow and mature?
3 – Saints.
We are informed that the followers of Jesus in Jerusalem (Acts 9 v 13) and Lydda (Acts 9 v 32) were known as “saints.” And it is no coincidence that the Apostle Paul in his letters to the churches often refers to followers of Jesus as “saints” (Romans 1 v 8.)
So what actually is a saint? It is someone who is committed to TRANSFORMATION, to becoming gradually more like Jesus, as illustrated by the holy life of Stephen (Acts 6 & 7) and the call to grow an abundant harvest of spiritual fruit that transforms the character (Galatians 5 v 22 – 23.)
Challenge – Are you a saint in whom the tarnished image of God is gradually being restored?
4 – Christians.
This term is only ever used on three occasions in the New Testament, it being a derisory nick names that originated in Antioch (Acts 11 v 26.) It soon became established being used by King Agrippa (Acts 26 v 28) and by the Apostle Peter to describe the persecuted church (1 Peter 4 v 16.)
So what actually is a Christian? It is someone who will experience TRIBULATION because their life is centred on the person of Christ, to whom they belong completely and utterly, bearing gladly the persecution that comes because of his name, as illustrated by the early church itself (Acts 8 v 1.)
Challenge – Are you a Christian who is suffering tribulation, because you belong wholeheartedly to Jesus?
Theme: “Titles that testify of Jesus”
Reading: Acts 9 v 32 – 43
Preacher: Chris Hughes
Led by: Chris Hughes