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Are We Christians or Disciples?

Jul 27, 2021
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Are We Christians or Disciples? 
Antioch was the third largest city in the Roman Empire, and it sat 300 miles north of Jerusalem in what is now modern day Turkey. It was a very diverse city and very cosmopolitan. It was known as “The Home of the Gods” because of all the idolatry and worship that went on there. It was a place of darkness, and it was in this city that a church became the launchpad for missions. This was the church that was home-base to Paul. It was also the first time the church was actively and strategically seeking out Gentiles to evangelize.
Acts 11:20 shows us that “men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists (Gentiles) also, preaching the Lord Jesus.” The body of Christ is always the BEST WAY to spread the gospel. It is way more effective that way than just a select few. These men:
Spoke – “chatted” about the Jesus
Preached – intentionally shared the gospel
This church opened their hearts to the nations and they knew their audience. They didn’t speak of Jesus as Messiah because it wasn’t a Jewish audience. Instead, they spoke of Jesus as Lord. The people of Antioch were required to say “Caesar is lord” often. In return, Caesar promised peace to the land. Rome was very tolerant and would let the people worship anything, but only under the banner that “Caesar is lord”.
Many came to the Lord during this time as “the hand of the Lord was with them”, and news made its way back to Jerusalem. The church sent Barnabus, who was from Cyprus, to encourage the new growing church. Barnabus quickly went to Tarsus to get Paul, and the two of them discipled the people. They not only encouraged them, but they taught them Scripture (v 25) for a “whole year”.
Verse 26 says, “And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians”. This means that they were living so differently from the culture that their lifestyle aligned them with the teachings of Jesus. Verse 27 shows us that they were compassionate and generous.
To Discuss Today:
1. What are you a disciple of? (hopefully Jesus is a part of your answer, but what else are you aligned with?) How do people know you are aligned with these things?
2. What does the phrase “You can be a Christian without being a disciple” mean? How does this phrase align with your lifestyle?
3. How does the phrase “You can’t be a disciple without being a Christian” point to your lifestyle? How does the culture feel about this statement?
4. You will radiate Christ in the darkness of the culture. Who or what is an example of this in your life?