They were called Christians

Acts 11:  26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

 An athlete is defined as “a person who is proficient in sports and other forms of physical exercise”.  Many people would say that you are either born an athlete or you are not.  Either you have the “sports gene” or you do not.  There is some truth to this as some people are just born with unfair advantages with abnormal strength, speed or jumping abilities, however it also depends a great deal on the specific type of sport they are pursuing; what is an advantage in one sport is a disadvantage in others.  An athlete’s success is also largely dependent on the effort they put it.  Personally I believe being an athlete is a choice.  I have seen middle-aged people quit excessive drinking and smoking, lose 40 pounds, and run a marathon.  They made a decision that they were going to be an athlete.  They may not be able to sink a basket to save their life, but they could now run 42km, something most of the world cannot do and something they would never have dreamed of before.

As nice as it is to be called an athlete, there is a label that is of far greater eternal value than this. First used in Antioch to identify the disciples of Jesus Christ, the followers of Jesus were called “Christians”.  They made a decision to be followers of Christ.  They weren’t born Christian, rather they were Christians because they accepted Jesus into their hearts.  “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).  We are not Christians because our parents were Christians, because they baptised us as children, or because we were raised as Christians.  No, we must each receive Him as our personal saviour.  Jesus addressed this very question when he walked this earth.  A Jewish leader asked Jesus what he must do to attain eternal life.  Jesus’ answer had nothing to do with the family he was born into rather Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’” (John 3:7)

We must individually recognize that without Christ we are sinners and separated from God because of that sin (Romans 3:23, 6:23; Ephes. 2:12); that God loved us so much that he sent his Son Jesus Christ to die on the cross for those sins (John 3:16) and that he rose again from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:4); that Jesus is the only way to heaven (John 14:6); and, as we have already said, we need to individually accept him into our hearts (Romans 10:10).  When that happens, we too can be called Christians.  It is not as a result of anything we did to deserve it, but rather it is because of what Jesus did for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8).

 This is good news.  This is tremendous news for you and me.  This is why the angels proclaimed:  “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. (Luke 2:10b).  Rather than a matter of performance, something we can never attain, it is a matter of joyfully accepting the wonderful gift offered by God.  If you know Jesus as your personal saviour, thank God for the greatest Christmas gift we could ever receive.  If you have never accepted Jesus as your personal saviour, do it today.  Jesus is the answer to your problems; he is the only answer to your sin, because He went to the cross to bear all your sins.  Accept the most precious gift you could ever possess, a gift that brings great joy and peace.

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