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THE FIRST CHRISTIANS

Who is a Christian? What does the name Christian mean? When was the first time the name Christian was used? What does it mean to say, “I am a Christian?” Christian is found only three times in the Bible:

  1. Agrippa: “Almost thou persuadest me to be a Christian” (Acts 26:28).
  2. if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed” (I Peter 4:16).
  3. The disciples were called Christians, first in Antioch” (Acts 11:26).

The people in the city of Antioch daily watched and talked about the difference in the lives of the people who followed Christ. Ten years had passed since the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but the people continued to follow Him. The people in the city called these followers Christians, because they were different in their ways, actions and lives. The followers of Jesus Christ were first called Christians in the city of Antioch about 42 AD.

What is a Christian? The name Christian means Christ-like. A Christian is a follower of Christ. The first Christians did not call themselves Christians but their name was given to them by others. The first Christians were good examples. The leader was a man named Barnabas, who was a good man full of faith (Acts 11:24). Barnabas was one of the first major leaders of the early church.

A Good Christian – The greatest testimony to the world is a changed and consistent Christian life. The greatest hindrance is Christian who live the same as the world. Not all saved people are good Christians. The first Christians suffered much because they were Christians. Many died because they said, “I am a Christian!” Christians should be as as Barnabas, “He is a good man, full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.”

Are You A Good Christian?

  1. Are you saved? (Romans 10:9)
  2. Have you been baptized? (Acts 2:38)
  3. Do you faithfully attend church services? (Hebrews 10:25)
  4. Do you give of your time – money for the work of God? (II Cor. 9:7)
  5. Do you practice worldly, sinful habits? (I Cor. 6:19; Rom. 6:16)
  6. Do you daily read your Bible? (II Timothy 2:15)
  7. Do you daily pray to God? (I Thessalonians 5:17)
  8. Do you practice Christian living in your daily life? (Joshua 1:8)
  9. What do other people have to say about your life? (Matthew 5:16)
  10. Would you be ashamed to meet the Lord today? (I John 2:28)

Illustration: In a Communist country, soldiers went into a church and demanded the people to leave. An officer stood at the door and asked each person, “Are you a Christian?” In order to have freedom, he demanded each person to spit upon a picture of Jesus and deny Him. The soldiers waited with guns ready to kill those who refused to deny the Lord. The first man looked at the soldiers, bowed his head with fear, denied the Lord and spat upon the picture. Three other men followed the same example. Finally, a young girl came to the door. She looked at the soldiers and looked at the picture. She wept, took the picture in her arms and said, “I love Him, I cannot deny my Lord.” She waited for the soldiers to shoot but the officer was touched and said, “I have never seen such faith. Free the girl, and kill the four men.” He saw true Christianity. The world needs to see that Christian faith is real.

THE CHURCH

Upon this rock I will build my church” (Matthew 16:16-18). The church is built upon the rock or profession that Jesus is the Son of God. Church is from ecclesia (Greek) means to call out from. Christians are called out of the world and one day Christians (church) will be called out of this world (Acts 15:14; I Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Church Building – A church building is a place where Christians meet to worship Jesus Christ. It is the plan of God for Christians to build local churches to evangelizing the world with the Gospel. In Bible days, churches were established in most major cities. The letters from Paul were written to local churches or Christians in certain cities. Examples:

Churches of :

  • Thessalonians = I Thess. 1:1
  • Colosse = Colossians 1:2 …
  • Rome = Romans 1:7
  • Corinth = I Corinthians 1:2
  • Galatia = Galatians 1:2
  • Ephesus = Ephesians 1:1
  • Philippi = Philippians 1:1

Why Join A Church? In school a person learns reading, writing and arithmetic. He grows mentally. In special schools or colleges a person is educated to serve better professionally. In church, a Christian learns the Word of God and grows spiritually. The textbook and authority of the church is the Bible. In church a Christian is taught into maturity to serve the Lord for the purpose of reaching the unsaved world (Mark 16:15; Romans 16:5). You need a church more than the church needs you. Every Christian should join and be faithful to a Bible-believing church.

The purpose of the church is to…

  1. Worship God and glorify Him (Ephesians 1:4-6).
  2. Evangelize the world with the Gospel (Matthew 28:19,20).
  3. Teach and instruct Christians (Ephesians 4:11-15).
  4. Witness continually (Acts 1:8).
  5. Continue preaching God’s Word until the Lord comes (II Timothy 4:2).

Church Fellowship – It is important that Christians worship together to become a strong group. One man cannot make an army. The church members work together as a team to do the work of the Lord. Christian fellowship is important (I John 1:7; I John 1:3). Christian fellowship is a time to be together, talk together, walk together, pray together, sing together, laugh together, learn together, weep together and worship together. Christians should belong to a local church and be faithful to all the services (Hebrews 10:25). In church, we learn to: Suffer together (Philippians 3:10), Rejoice together (Romans 12:15), Comfort one another (I Thessalonians 4:18), Bear one another burdens (Galatians 6:2), and to Grow together (II Peter 3:18).

How to Become a Church MemberAfter a person is saved, he should become a member in a local Bible-believing church. Believers in the New Testament were immediately baptized and were added to the church (Acts 2:41-47). “They continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). You usually can join a church by one of three requirements (Note: Some churches vary with policies. (see a pastor/deacon/leader)

  1. Baptism by immersion (after salvation).
  2. Statement of faith (testifying you have been saved and baptized).
  3. By letter from another church, to confirm fellowship from that church. (…continue next page)

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