Christian Identifying Marks – 139

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After the stoning of Steven, the early church experienced persecution. Acts 8. Christians were driven out of Jerusalem. A number of them passed through Antioch, a large city of about a half million people in southern Turkey. They shared the Good News only with Jews. But then the Hellenist believers came through, preaching the Lord Jesus to the Hellenists in Antioch. Hellenists were Greek speaking Jews who lived somewhat according to Greek ways. The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to check things out.

Do you know what he found? Acts 11:23 says ‘…he came and saw the grace of God.’ He was glad, and exhorted them to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose. He was telling them to KEEP ON BELIEVING. Don’t go back.

Believers were first called Christians at Antioch. Meaning, “Little Anointed One.” For the first time, believers in Jesus had an identity of their own apart from Judaism.

So what characteristics do you suppose marked an early Christians? Well, let’s start with the name Christian. That was a derogatory name given believers by the Greeks and Romans! Why?

Perhaps they were telling everyone that Jesus, THE Anointed One, saved them and cleaned them up and was living IN THEM. That they were joined together with Jesus, THE Anointed One. They were living lives centered upon – the Christ – THE Anointed One.

Jesus was on their lips. Something like followers of sports teams today. True example. I asked my lovely wife Mary about the Green Bay Packers (point to Hat). I got a 12 minute dissertation concerning their performance this year! Followed by another 10 minutes of comparison with the Pittsburgh Penguins of hockey. A 4 word question with a 22 minute reply!

So let’s say the joy of Jesus had filled these Antiochians and everyone was hearing about THE Anointed One, JESUS! Oh, and if you ask Mary about Jesus, be prepared to stay awhile!

I’ll be sharing other passages with you in the next Hank’s Place. In the meantime, dear believer, don’t be ashamed of your faith in Jesus. Let the anointing of the Anointed One flow through you unhindered. Let him flow – to help you – help others – COME ALIVE!

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