Church Christened (26b)
In the eleventh chapter, the church is christened. I like christening boats better than babies. While neither boats nor babies have much to say about it, boats remain boats, babies grow up to be sinners. People need to be born again. Having said that, it is in this chapter and in Antioch that the believers are first called “Christians.” We have been called Christian’s ever since.
There is a baptism of water that ceremonially marks our salvation, but that is no substitute for the baptism of the Holy Spirit (v. 16) that is from above and necessary to become part of the true and invisible church. There is the local church and then there is the universal church. One might enter the local church and never be part of the other. Just because our name is recorded in the baptismal records of some sect or synod does not insure salvation. There is a book of life in heaven that records the names of those who have truly repented of sin and have truly bowed in their hearts before the name that is above every name.
When we see evidence of the “grace of God” (v. 23) we should be glad. This is the gracious spirit of the New Testament Church. The believers discovered that they were not the only ones experiencing the blessing and grace of God. Do we rejoice when we hear that God is moving, working in, or blessing the “other group” down the street or across town? Nothing less than grace will make that possible. The temptation is to be less than excited. The temptation is to qualify the name Christian or take another.
The New Testament Church is made up of Christians. Anyone who has been born-again by faith in Jesus Christ alone is a Christian. No one could ever be more, and woe to that man on judgment day who is less.