Acts 11

* Peter's defence. (1-18) The success of the gospel at Antioch.

(19-24) The disciples named Christians, Relief sent to Judea.


1-18 The imperfect state of human nature strongly appears, when

godly persons are displeased even to hear that the word of God

has been received, because their own system has not been

attended to. And we are too apt to despair of doing good to

those who yet, when tried, prove very teachable. It is the bane

and damage of the church, to shut out those from it, and from

the benefit of the means of grace, who are not in every thing as

we are. Peter stated the whole affair. We should at all times

bear with the infirmities of our brethren; and instead of taking

offence, or answering with warmth, we should explain our

motives, and show the nature of our proceedings. That preaching

is certainly right, with which the Holy Ghost is given. While

men are very zealous for their own regulations, they should take

care that they do not withstand God; and those who love the Lord

will glorify him, when made sure that he has given repentance to

life to any fellow-sinners. Repentance is God's gift; not only

his free grace accepts it, but his mighty grace works it in us,

grace takes away the heart of stone, and gives us a heart of

flesh. The sacrifice of God is a broken spirit.
19-24 The first preachers of the gospel at Antioch, were

dispersed from Jerusalem by persecution; thus what was meant to

hurt the church, was made to work for its good. The wrath of man

is made to praise God. What should the ministers of Christ

preach, but Christ? Christ, and him crucified? Christ, and him

glorified? And their preaching was accompanied with the Divine

power. The hand of the Lord was with them, to bring that home to

the hearts and consciences of men, which they could but speak to

the outward ear. They believed; they were convinced of the truth

of the gospel. They turned from a careless, carnal way of

living, to live a holy, heavenly, spiritual life. They turned

from worshipping God in show and ceremony, to worship him in the

Spirit and in truth. They turned to the Lord Jesus, and he

became all in all with them. This was the work of conversion

wrought upon them, and it must be wrought upon every one of us.

It was the fruit of their faith; all who sincerely believe, will

turn to the Lord, When the Lord Jesus is preached in simplicity,

and according to the Scriptures, he will give success; and when

sinners are thus brought to the Lord, really good men, who are

full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, will admire and rejoice in

the grace of God bestowed on them. Barnabas was full of faith;

full of the grace of faith, and full of the fruits of the faith

that works by love.
25-30 Hitherto the followers of Christ were called disciples,

that is, learners, scholars; but from that time they were called

Christians. The proper meaning of this name is, a follower of

Christ; it denotes one who, from serious thought, embraces the

religion of Christ, believes his promises, and makes it his

chief care to shape his life by Christ's precepts and example.

Hence it is plain that multitudes take the name of Christian to

whom it does not rightly belong. But the name without the

reality will only add to our guilt. While the bare profession

will bestow neither profit nor delight, the possession of it

will give both the promise of the life that now is, and of that

which is to come. Grant, Lord, that Christians may forget other

names and distinctions, and love one another as the followers of

Christ ought to do. True Christians will feel for their brethren

under afflictions. Thus will fruit be brought forth to the

praise and glory of God. If all mankind were true Christians,

how cheerfully would they help one another! The whole earth

would be like one large family, every member of which would

strive to be dutiful and kind.
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