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Sermon 11 - Acts 11,26 - Whats In A Name - 9-5-04

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1.      ((illus)) "What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."

2.      These words from Shakespeare’s play, Romeo and Juliet

a.    not only ask an important question,

b.    but also imply an interesting answer.

3.      The answer which Shakespeare assumed is probably the same answer you would find prevalent today.

a.    Most people would say that there is really not much in a name.

b.    After all, a rose would smell as sweet no matter what you called it.

4.      So, what’s in a name?

a.    Do names matter then?

b.    Or are they unimportant?

c.    ((illus)) One summer, my daughter taught the 4-year-olds at vacation Bible school. The first day she gave everyone yarn necklace nametags to wear around their necks. After the recreation time, one little girl, whose name tag had slipped behind her, came running up to my daughter and excitedly proclaimed, "Teacher, Teacher, I lost my price tag!" Sandra Hanson, Rosemont, MN.

5.      Regardless of what some may think, there is much, Biblically speaking, involved in names.

a.    As we open the pages of the Old Testament, we find that names are very significant.

b.    Names mean something.

c.    Here in our text, we come upon a name by which we are all known today as believers in Jesus.

6.      Acts 11:19-26 (NLT) (page 938)

19 Meanwhile, the believers who had fled from Jerusalem during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. They preached the Good News, but only to Jews.

20 However, some of the believers who went to Antioch from Cyprus and Cyrene began preaching to Gentiles about the Lord Jesus.

21 The power of the Lord was upon them, and large numbers of these Gentiles believed and turned to the Lord.

22 When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch.

23 When he arrived and saw this proof of God’s favor, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.

24 Barnabas was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and strong in faith. And large numbers of people were brought to the Lord.

25 Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to find Saul.

26 When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching great numbers of people. (It was there at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)

7.      What is the name by which we are all known as believers in Jesus?

a.    It is the name Christian.

b.    Our text says, :26 -  (It was there at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.)

8.      What does it mean to you to be called a Christian?

a.    Do you understand the significance of bearing the name of Christ?

b.    Does it mean the same thing to you as it did to those early believers.

c.    Is it a badge of honor or an embarrassment?

9.      In order for us to know what it means to be a CHRISTIAN we must understand:


Acts 11:26 (page 938)



a.    We need to understand that in the Bible, NAMES ARE SYMBOLIC

i)        Scripture, names have meaning for the individual.

ii)      The essence of the individual was captured in the name.

¨      When God created Adam, He gave him that name because it means "man."


¨      Eve was created. Her name means "mother of all living."

¨      God brought the animals to Adam and his task was to name them all. I’m sure their names had something to do with the characteristics of each creature.

iii)    In the Old Testament we see parents choosing names for their children in order to reveal a nature.

¨      Jacob was so named because he had his hand on his brother Esau’s heel. Jacob literally means "heel-catcher."

¨      His brother Esau (hairy)was so named because he was red and hairy.

¨      Judah means "praise." Samuel means "asked of God."

iv)    We find God changing the names of certain people in the Old Testament.

¨      Why did He do this?

¨      He did it to show that their lives now had a new direction, a new meaning, a new nature.

(a)    Abram was changed to Abraham, which means "the father of a multitude.

(b)   Sarai was changed to Sarah, which means "princess."

(c)    Jacob’s name was changed to Israel because he was a "prince with God."

(d)   Simon’s name was changed to Peter, which means "rock."

(e)    Saul’s name was changed to Paul, perhaps in honor of his first convert, Sergius Paulus.

v)      In the Bible, God’s names are revelatory of His character.

¨      God is revealed to us in Scripture by His names. They show us His nature.

¨      He is El Shaddai, the Strong One.

¨      He is El-Elyon, God Most High.

¨      He is El-Olam, the Everlasting God.

¨      He is Jehovah Jirah, the God Who Provides.

¨      He is Jehovah Rophe, the God Who Heals.

¨      He is Jehovah Shalom, the God of Peace.

¨      He is Jehovah Sabaoth, the Lord of Hosts.

¨      He is Jehovah Shammah, the God Who is There.

¨      He is Jehovah Nissi, the Lord Our Banner.

¨      And He is Jehovah Roi, the Lord Our Shepherd.

¨      In Isaiah chapter 9 verse 6 it says of Christ that "His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace."(NASB)

vi)    The names of our Lord Christ abound in Scripture.

¨      He is the Second Adam, our Advocate, the Alpha and Omega, the Ancient of Days, the Amen, the Author and Finisher of our Faith, the Blessed and Only Potentate, the Captain of our Salvation, the Chief Shepherd, the Cornerstone. He is the Dayspring, the Desire of the Nations, the Faithful Witness, the First and the Last. He is the Good Shepherd, our Great High Priest, the Holy One of God. He is the Great I Am, the Judge of Israel, the King of the Jews, the King of Saints, and the King of Kings. He is the Light of the World, the Lord of Glory, the Lord of Lords. He is the Messiah, the Mediator between God and Man, the Man of Sorrows, yet, the Mighty God. He is the Prince of Peace, the Resurrection and Life, the Rock of our Salvation, the Rose of Sharon, the Root of David, the Savior of the World. He is the Shepherd and Bishop of Souls, the Son of Righteousness, the Son of Man, and the Son of God. He is Shiloh. He is the True Vine, the Truth, the Witness, and the Word of God. He is the Lamb of God, and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. That’s who Christ is.

¨      Someone has counted and has said that there are 256 names for Christ in the Scriptures.

¨      ((illus)) I heard of one small boy who had asked his parents about the name of God and after hearing a long explanation that God was called by many names such as Jehovah, Lord, and Father asked, “Could I just call Him Steve?”

vii)  What’s in a name?

¨      There is much in a name.

¨      Names in the Scripture were symbolic.

¨      ((illus)) Gwen, a SS teacher for 4 year olds found that out when a little boy showed up for her class for the first time without any name tag. Gwen managed to get his first name, but couldn't find out his last name. "Brian, what's your daddy's name?" she asked. "Daddy," he replied. She tried again, "Brian, what's your mommy's name?" "Mommy," he answered. Suddenly she realized exactly how she could get the answer she needed. "Brian, what does your daddy call your mommy?" His face lit up. With a grin and a deep voice, he replied, "Hey, Babe."


-          SYMBOLIC


b.    But names in Scripture are also SIGNIFICANT.

i)        ((illus)) Take marriage.

¨      In marriage, the wife takes the name of the husband.

¨      That is so because it is a covenant relationship.

¨      In so taking of the name of her husband, she identifies as one with him in this covenant.

¨      To call ourselves by a name IS TO IDENTIFY OUR ALLEGIANCE.

(a)    The word “Christian” has the “ian” ending which means “belonging to”

(b)   A “Christian” is someone who belongs to Chirst.

(c)    It was used here, first, as a derogatory term, but there was good reason and it stuck.

¨      We all have family names which identify us.

¨      MELCHIOR = My King Is Light

ii)      If we are in a civic club, such as the Lions, we identify ourselves by that name.

¨      We call ourselves by names to IDENTIFY OUR ALLEGIANCE, OUR LOYALTY.

iii)    When we come to Christ,

¨      we are baptized in the name of the Lord.

¨      We call ourselves "Christians," and so, identify with Christ.

iv)    Names do mean something.


¨      The old adage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me" is simply not true.

¨      Good names give us a positive self-image; and bad names strike at the heart of who we are.

¨      THE CENTRAL TRUTH in regard to names is that names are both symbolic and significant. They tell us who we are. They identify our allegiance.


In order for us to know what it means to be a CHRISTIAN we must understand:

A CENTRAL TRUTH - allegiance



a.    One of the Ten Commandments says, "Do not misuSe the name of the Lord your God…." (Exodus 20:7)

i)        We remember the KJV - Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain…

ii)      Were you aware that it is possible for believers to take the name of the Lord in vain?

¨      You might say, "Certainly. Believers can curse."

¨      But that’s not what I’m talking about.

¨      As a matter of fact, I’m not sure that cursing is all that God had in mind when He gave this commandment.

(a)    Most people who curse don’t even realize what they are saying.

¨      I believe it’s possible to take the name of the Lord in vain without ever speaking a word.

¨      In fact, believers are the ones who are more in danger of taking the name of the Lord in vain than unbelievers.

b.    The Bible says that we bear His name.

i)        We are exhorted to be faithful to that name.

¨      In Revelation 2:13 it says, "I know where you live—where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name."

¨      Revelation 3:8 says, "I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name."

¨      Speaking of heaven in chapter 22, verses 3 and 4 it says, "No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads." We are identified with the name of Jesus Christ.


i)        The Bible teaches that we can dishonor His name.

ii)      His name can be profaned or defiled by our disobedience and unfaithfulness.

iii)    Every believer needs a consistent testimony in daily living.

d.   The Bible teaches us that the goal of every believer is to be conformed to the image of Christ.

i)        As we seek His face, by studying His Word, as we walk in obedience and faithfulness to Him, as we daily surrender to Him and live in conformity to His Word, we will give forth a visible testimony of the grace of God.

ii)      We will walk worthily of our calling as Christians.

iii)    "And they were called Christians first at Antioch."

iv)    We are still called Christians today.

e.    ((illus)) One of my favorite stories is one about Alexander the Great. Alexander was a brilliant strategist and a mighty conqueror. He was not only a leader of men, but he was fearless in battle. Often times, he would charge forth leading his men, riding his mighty horse, Busephalis. He would hurl himself headlong into the fray and be standing when everyone else had fallen. He was a courageous man. There was not a cowardly bone in his body. He conquered the known world of his day. And it is said of him that he wept when there were no more lands to conquer.

The story is told of him sitting in judgment on the battlefield. There he was judge and jury. His word was law. When he had spoken, it would be done. There on the battlefield, he would take his seat, flanked on either side by his most trusted officers. Before him would be brought all of those with charges against them. Many times his judgment could be extremely harsh, especially in those situations of desertion.

Before him one day was brought a young lad. He was a fair-haired youth and very young. Alexander asked what the boy’s name was. The officer presenting him said, "Alexander, sir." At once, the great general’s countenance softened. It was as if he was flattered that the boy had his name. His men breathed a sigh of relief. Perhaps there would be some leniency for this young man, whatever his crime. Alexander inquired as to the nature of the charge against the young lad. His officer replied, "Cowardice, sir. He fled in the heat of battle." The once soft countenance of the great general was suddenly transformed into an intense, tight-jawed grimace. Looking the boy squarely in the eye, he said to him deliberately, "Son, what did you say was your name?" The lad replied, "Why, Alexander, sir." Speaking again to the boy, this time in a louder tone he said, "Young man, what did you say was your name?" The young man answered in a stutter, "Why, uh-uh Alexander, sir." To that answer, the emperor bolted off his throne and grabbed the terrified young soldier and said to him, "Young man, change your behavior or change your name!"


1.      Is it possible for us to take the name of the Lord in vain?

2.      Might the Lord be saying to us, "Christian, change your behavior or change your name?"

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