The Fourth Sunday after the Festival of the Holy Trinity

also known as the Sixth Sunday  of the Pentecost Season     June 27, 2021

What Is A Christian?

(and how can I be sure I am one?)


Nearly 2 billion people worldwide identify themselves with Christianity, which would

makes Christianity the most widely-embraced religion in the world. That number, however, consists of an astonishingly wide (and quite incompatible) array of self-described “Christians” from Catholicism to Christian Scientists, from Lutherans to Baptists, from Conservatives Christians to Liberal Christians, and from Jehovah’s Witnesses to Mormons.  That’s quite a spread!          

         Webster’s Dictionary defines a Christian as “a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ or in the religion based on the teaching of Jesus.”    While this is a fairly good starting point for understanding what a Christian is, like many secular definitions, it falls rather short of really communicating the Biblical truth of what it means to be a Christian.   The word Christian is used three times in New Testament – specifically in Acts 11:26 (our First Lesson and Sermon Text); Acts 26:28; and 1 Peter 4:16.   Followers of Jesus Christ were first called “Christians” in Antioch of Syria (Acts 11:26) because their teaching, actions, and character clearly identified them with Jesus Christ.

         The term “Christian” was originally employed  by the unbelieving population of Antioch as something of a derogatory name in order to make fun of the  earliest followers of Christ. Literally, “Christian” means “belonging to the party of Christ.” Thus it identifies  someone as an “adherent or follower of Christ” –  which is similar to the way Webster’s Dictionary defines it.

         Unfortunately, the word “Christian” has lost a great deal of its significance and specificity.    Today it is too often used to describe someone who is religious or has particular moral values, instead of to identify a person who is truly a follower of Jesus Christ (in contrast, see today’s Second Lesson – I Thessalonians 1).    Many people (including a large number involved in “cult” groups”) who don’t believe and trust in Jesus Christ as God and Savior still consider themselves to be Christians – simply because they acknowledge Jesus’ greatness as a spiritual teacher,  they belong to a church group, or they have some “Christian” experience in their background.

         But going to church, charitably serving those less fortunate than you are, or being a good person who tries to follow Jesus’ moral example, does not make anyone a real Christian.    As one evangelist once said, “Going to church doesn’t make one a Christian anymore than going to a garage makes one an automobile.” Being a member of a church, attending services, and giving to the work of the church cannot make you a Christian (though it can help you remain one).

         The Bible clearly teaches us that any good works we do cannot begin to make sinners acceptable to God.    Making that point, Titus 3:5 tells us that it is “not because of righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.   He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.”  Consequently, a Christian is someone who has been mercifully born-again by God (John 3:3; John 3:7; 1 Peter 1:23) and who – through Spirit-given faith – has been enabled to trust solely in Jesus Christ as his/her Savior and Lord…….and not in his/her works, emotions, character, sincerity, etc.  

         Going to church, reading the Bible, praying, and even doing good works are not enough to earn heaven for anyone.    Instead, these manifestations of faith are the result of being a Christian, but are not the cause of it (or ones salvation).     Ephesians 2:8 (a part of today’s Children’s Lesson) tells us simply that it is “by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.”  

         A Christian, then, is someone who, in faith, believes that Jesus is truly God and the world’s one and only Savior from sin.   That individual will trust exclusively in Jesus Christ, perfect-crucified-and risen, for full forgiveness of all his/her sin and for a certain place one day in heaven.    Such persons are indeed children of God, part of God’s true family and heirs of heaven, who have been given new life in Christ.  They are marked by a Christian’s love for others,   faithfulness to God’s Word (1 John 2:4; 1 John 2:10), and – through faith – a willingness to follow Christ alone all the way through this life and into eternity in heaven (see today’s Gospel Lesson




Prayer Upon Entering Church  –  Heavenly Father, You showed Your grace by bringing me to faith in Christ through the work of Your Holy Spirit, and then by giving me the blessing of being called Your child.  Though what I offer You today is so small, compared to all You have done for me, please accept my humble offerings of praise and thanksgiving, as well as my gifts.  Also, Lord, help me gladly hear and take to heart the Good News of salvation from sin for me and all people through faith in Your Son, my Savior.  Renew and invigorate me with Your Holy Spirit today and every day, that I might live a confident life of faith and love to Your glory,  and that I might share, by all possible means and at every opportunity, the same Good News of salvation through Christ which has filled my life with peace and purpose.  Amen.



The portions of God’s Word used in this worship flyer have been taken from

The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version    Copyright 2019,  

The Wartburg Project, Inc.   All rights reserved.   Used with permission

Music and lyrics, as needed, are used with permission via #A712831




Pre-service prayer

Pre-worship music                                                                                                     


Let Us Praise The Lord


The Congregation will be asked to rise




Pastor                  We begin this service in the name of the Father

    Congregation      Who gave us our lives through His almighty power.


                 P: And in the name of the Son

                 C: Who redeemed our lives with His precious blood.


                 P:          And in the name of the Holy Spirit

                 C: Who gave us eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus.


                 P:          Amen.


The Opening Prayer


O Lord,    our Maker,    Redeemer,    and Comforter,    we are assembled in Your presence     to hear Your Word    and to offer You our worship and praise.     We pray that You would open our hearts    by means of Your Holy Spirit    so that through the preaching of Your Word     we may be taught to repent of our sins,   to believe on Jesus in life and in death,     and to grow day by day in grace and godliness.    Hear us now, and bless our worship of You today,  for Jesus’s sake.    Amen.


After which the Congregation will be seated for



The Opening Hymn                         Hymn 255   “Open Now Thy Gates Of Beauty”


1 Open now thy gates of beauty;   Zion, let me enter there,

Where my soul in joyful duty   Waits for him who answers prayer.

Oh, how blessed is this place,  Filled with solace, light, and grace!


2 Gracious God, I come before thee;  Come thou also unto me.

Where we find thee and adore thee,  There a heav’n on earth must be.

To my heart, oh, enter thou;   Let it be thy temple now!


3 Here thy praise is gladly chanted;    Here thy seed is duly sown.

Let my soul, where it is planted,   Bring forth precious sheaves alone,

So that all I hear may be  Fruitful unto life in me.


4 Thou my faith increase and quicken;   Let me keep thy gift divine,

Howsoe’er temptations thicken;  May thy Word still o’er me shine

As my guiding star through life,   As my comfort in all strife.


5 Speak, O God, and I will hear thee;   Let thy will be done indeed.

May I undisturbed draw near thee    While thou dost thy people feed.

Here of life the fountain flows;   Here is balm for all our woes.



After which the Congregation will rise



Hear Us and Forgive Us, Lord


    Pastor – The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you.                


    Congregation        And also with you.


    Pastor – God invites us to come into His presence and worship Him with humble and penitent hearts.  Therefore, let us now turn to Him, acknowledging our sinfulness and seeking His forgiveness.


Congregation –       Holy and most merciful Father,     I confess that I am by nature sinful, and that I have disobeyed You in my thoughts, words, and actions; Each day I turn away from Your Will.    I have left undone  those things

which You have asked me to do,    and I have done those things which You tell me not to do.    I do not love You or my neighbor the way I should.     Because of these,    and all of my other sins,    too numerous for me to recall,      I acknowledge that I deserve nothing less than Your punishment      both now and for eternity.     But I am truly sorry for the evil that I have thought, spoken, and done,     and trusting in the perfect life,   and innocent death of my Savior, Jesus Christ, I pray:    Lord, forgive me all my sins,      restore to me the joy of Your salvation,   and strengthen my weak faith through the promises of Your divine Word     that I may obtain Your promised grace.


Pastor –      Find comfort for your souls, then, in these words of our Lord:   “If we confess our sins, God is faithful and just,  and will purify us from all unrighteousness,  because  we have One Who speaks to the Father in our defense — Jesus Christ, the

Righteous One.   We have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.”   And now, upon this, your voluntary confession,  I, because of my office as a called servant of God’s Word,  announce the grace of God to all of you.  And, in the place of, and according to the command of my Lord Jesus Christ,  I forgive you all your sins, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.   May the peace of God be with you.  Amen.



Our Response To God’s Forgiveness


                      ALL sing:               to the tune of “I Know That My Redeemer Lives”


All praise, eternal Son, to You

For Your forgiveness, free and true,

He, who by grace, this truth believes

The blessings of Your love receives


Praise God the Father, God the Son

And God the Spirit,   Three in One,

As ’twas, is now, and so shall be

World without end,  eternally!     Amen.


Lord, Have Mercy Upon Us


Pastor        For all that we need in life, Lord God, hear our prayer. We pray for the wisdom to use everything You have made with God-pleasing responsibility, gratitude and joy:


Congregation          Lord, have mercy upon us!


Pastor        We pray for the steadfast assurance that nothing can separate us from Your love:

Congregation         Christ, have mercy upon us!


Pastor        We pray for the courage to stand firm against the assaults of Satan and every evil:


Congregation         Lord, have mercy upon us, as we place our trust in You.


Pastor        Merciful God, Maker and Preserver of life, uphold us by Your power and keep us always in Your gracious care.


Congregation         Amen.


After which the Congregation may be seated


Feed Us, Lord


The First Lesson                                                                               Acts  11:19-26


19 Now those who had been scattered by the persecution that took place at the time of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. 20 But there were some men from Cyprus and Cyrene who came to Antioch and also began to speak to the Greeks, preaching the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21 The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number of people believed and turned to the Lord.


22 A report about this reached the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to go on to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw God’s grace, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with devoted hearts. 24 He was a good man who was full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a large number of people were added to the Lord.


25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year they met with the church and taught a large number of people. It was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.



The Epistle Lesson                                                               I Thessalonians 1:1-10


Paul, Silas,  and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians, which is in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:    Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.


2 We always give thanks to God for all of you as we make mention of you in our prayers, 3 because we constantly remember before God our Father your work produced by faith, your labor produced by love, and your patient endurance produced by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.


4 Dear brothers, loved by God, we know that God has chosen you, 5 because our gospel did not come to you with mere words, but with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with deep conviction. You yourselves know very well what kind of people we proved to be for your sake, while we were with you. 6 You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you welcomed the word during a time of great affliction with the joy from the Holy Spirit, 7 so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. 8 Indeed, the word of the Lord has resounded from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place your faith in God has become known. As a result, we do not need to say anything, 9 because they themselves inform us about what kind of reception we received from you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. 10 They also report how you patiently wait for His Son from heaven, Whom He raised from the dead—Jesus, the One Who is going to rescue us from the coming wrath.



After which the Congregation will rise for


The Gospel Lesson                                                                             Luke 9:18-27


18 One time when Jesus was praying alone and the disciples were with Him, He asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” 


19 They answered, “‘John the Baptist,’ but others say, ‘Elijah,’ and others say, ‘one of the ancient prophets come back to life.’”


20 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”


And Peter answered, “The Christ of God.”


21 He gave them a strict command not to tell this to anyone. 22 He said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and experts in the law. He must be killed and be raised on the third day.”


23 Jesus said to all of them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. 25 After all, what will it benefit a man if he gains the whole world, but destroys himself or is lost? 26 In fact, whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels. 27 I am telling you the truth: There are some standing here who will certainly not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”        



The Apostles’ Creed


I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.   And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord;  Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost;  Born of the virgin Mary;  Suffered under Pontius Pilate;  Was crucified, dead, and buried;  He descended into hell;  The third day He rose again from the dead;  He ascended into heaven;  And sitteth at the right hand of God, the Father Almighty; From thence He shall come to judge the quick and the dead.   I believe in the Holy Ghost;  The Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints;  The forgiveness of sins;  The resurrection of the body;  And the life everlasting.  Amen.



After which the Congregation will be seated for



The Children’s Lesson                                                                  Ephesians 2:8-10


8 Indeed, it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.


“A Christian is Saved by Grace, to Serve in Faith”


The Hymn of the Day                                   Hymn 488   “Savior, Thy Dying Love”


1 Savior, thy dying love   Thou gavest me;

Nor should I aught withhold,   Dear Lord, from thee.

In love my soul would bow,   My heart fulfill its vow,

Some off’ring bring thee now,  Something for thee.


2 O’er the blest mercy seat,    Pleading for me,

My feeble faith looks up,    Jesus, to thee.

Help me the cross to bear,    Thy wondrous love declare,

Some song to raise or prayer,   Something for thee.


3 Give me a faithful heart,    Likeness to thee,

That each departing day   Henceforth may see

Some work of love begun,   Some deed of kindness done,

Some wand’rer sought and won,  Something for thee.


4 All that I am and have,   Thy gifts so free,

In joy, in grief, through life,  Dear Lord, for thee!

And when thy face I see,   My ransomed soul shall be

Through all eternity   Something for thee.



The Greeting


Grace and peace be yours in abundance, through the knowledge of God and of Jesus Christ, our Lord.  May the God of peace fill you with all joy in believing!   Amen.



Sermon Text                                           Acts 11:19-27 and I Thessalonians 1:1-10

                                                                 today’s first and second Scripture readings


What Is A Christian?


The Post-Sermon Blessing


May the God of peace, Who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus Christ, that Great Shepherd of the sheep, now equip you with everything good for doing His will!  Amen.



We Offer Our Gifts to the Lord


Because we aren’t passing offering plates at this time,

we offer you the following suggestions for providing God with Your thank-offerings

through our ministry:

1) Those present for worship may leave their offerings in the baskets near the exit doors; or

2) You can send a check (no cash) in the mail to Grace Lutheran Church (415 N. 6th Place, Lowell, AR 72745)

2) Or, go online to our website ( and use the giving option there.


After which the Congregation will rise for

We Bring our Prayers Before Our Lord


P O Almighty God, Maker of heaven and earth, You never slumber nor sleep, but always watch over Your whole creation. Bless Your Church that it may always declare Your glory, tell of Your salvation, and make known the treasures You have prepared for those who call on Your name.


C:         Help us, as Your people,    +    to proclaim the truth that there is no other god beside You    +    and to make known to others the story of Your marvelous works.   +     Enable us all to remain fully faithful to Your Word of truth,   +    and in every circumstance, near or far, keep us from physical and spiritual harm.


P For all the blessings You have bestowed on this congregation, we give thanks to You, O Lord. Help us remember each other in our daily prayers.


C:         Send Your Holy Spirit with power among us   +   to strengthen our faith   +   and to equip us for works of service to You.    +    Give us true zeal to work and witness for You.   +    And teach us to warmly welcome all who seek Your mercy in this place of worship.  


P O God, Yours is the glory and power that rules and judges the nations. Where there is division and strife, bring unity and peace. Where there is hunger and thirst, give rain, abundant harvest, and generous neighbors. Where there is prejudice and lack of justice, give understanding, fairness, and trustworthy rulers.


C:         Bless our nation,   +   our President, +   and all who serve in government from the local to the national level,   +   that we who rejoice in Your truth may continue to publicly proclaim the Gospel +   and to serve You without restriction.  


P Gracious Lord, sustain and protect those who whose vocations call them to the service of their country, especially the members of our armed forces .Bless their efforts to establish peace and stability in the world. Sustain them during lonely times;   guard and defend them from all danger.


C:         Be with their families as well,   +     that during their time of separation   +    they may receive support and encouragement from their communities, + and especially from the members of Your Church on earth.


P Heavenly Father, our eyes look to You to send help to all who are in need. Give work, we pray, to the unemployed. Give confidence in Your love to those who are anxious about tomorrow.

C:         Grant strength and patience to those who bear heavy burdens at work,   +   school,   +   or home,   +    and give the peace of Your forgiveness to those who live with regrets over past actions.   +    Grant the comfort of Your Holy Spirit to all who confess You to be the only God,  +   that as they call on Your name they may find rest for their souls.


P O God, before You we remember especially those who are hospitalized or recovering at home – especially for our brother, Fred Cusanelli, who continues to recover at Encompass Rehabilitation Hospital, following heart bypass surgery a week ago.    Grant him relief from his pain, greater strength, protection from all complications and, according to Your will, give him complete healing.   Bless all those among us who mourn the recent and distant loss of loved ones.    Comfort them in their sorrow, sustaining and strengthening their faith in You, the only true, all-wise, and merciful God.     


Please hear us also, Gracious God, as we now take a few moments to silently offer You our own, personal petitions and praises.


Silent Prayer


P Finally, O Lord, into Your hands we commend everything and everyone for which we pray, trusting in  Your wisdom and mercy; through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord, in Whose name we offer this  prayer, and in Whose name we continue now, by praying:


             Our Father,  Who art in heaven    +    Hallowed be Thy name.    +    Thy Kingdom come.  +    Thy will be done,  on earth as it is in heaven.   +    Give us this day our daily bread.  +  And forgive us our trespasses     +    as we forgive those who trespass against us.     +  And lead us not into temptation.     +     But deliver us from evil.    +    For Thine is the kingdom  +    And the power     +  And the glory    +   Forever and ever.   Amen.


Now Dismiss Us, Lord


Benediction –          Brothers and sisters, now go in peace.   Live in harmony with one another.   And Serve the Lord in gladness.


                      The LORD bless you and keep you.

                      The LORD make His face shine on you and be gracious to you.

                      The LORD look on you with favor, and give you peace.   Amen.


The Closing Hymn          “The Time Has Come, O Lord”


The time has come O Lord,   for us to leave this place.

Tend Your sheep, Good Shepherd,   and lead us in Your grace.

Wherever life may take us    as we go our separate ways,

Help us share with others    the things we’ve shared today.


May the peace of God the Father,    and the Love of Christ, His Son,

Guide us in the days ahead,    and strengthen us, each one.

May the blessings of the Spirit  fill us from within.

God bless us and return us. to this fellowship…..Once again.

Amen.   Amen.   Amen.   Amen.   Amen.


silent prayer, announcements, post-service music                                                      





The Past Week at Grace            Worship Attendance: 53     Communed: 41    Online Views: 21

Bible Class: 22     Online Views: 5            Sunday School: 3                     Budgetary Offerings:   $2030

Online Offerings:   $309.27                                Tuesday Bible Study Attendance: 22       


The Week’s Birthday              June 28 – Joyce Skogen


This Coming Week at Grace Lutheran Church

Today                                                                                        Morning Worship,  9:30 a.m                                                                   Fellowship Period, 10:40 a.m.

                           Bible Class / Sunday School – 11:00 a.m.                                       

    Monday     Secretary in the Office, 9:30 a.m. to mid-afternoon

    Tuesday    Morning Bible Study, 10:30-11:30 a.m.

    Saturday   Outreach Calling/Visitation, meet at church at 10:30 a.m.

    Sunday Morning Worship, including the Lord’s Supper, at 9:30 a.m.

                           Fellowship Period, 10:45 a.m.      Bible Class/Sunday School, 11:05 a.m.


Serving Us NEXT SUNDAY (6-15)                  Elders:  John Johnson, Rick Tragasz

Altar Guild – Harriet Johnson, Tina Wambold           Fellowship:   Danielle & Taylor Ashley

Ushers:    Chris Roberts, Eric Lemmon, Fred Cusanelli


Outreach Calling/Visitation this coming Saturday morning, we’ll be making outreach visits, leaving from church at 10:30 a.m. and returning before noon.    If you would be inclined to help (and we really could use your help!), please volunteer yourself to Pastor.


This Week’s Bible Classes ……..In this morning’s Adult Bible Study we are beginning a brand ndw study of Paul’s two letters to the Church in Corinth.    Today we’ll “introduce” our study, talking about the historical and cultural background of I Corinthians and the congregation in Corinth.  We’ll also study the first chapter of this book.   Our overall theme is:    “God’s People in a Hostile Society” (Certainly it’s a fitting study for us all, given the situations in our church and our society today).     On Tuesday morning, from 10:30-11:30 am, we’ll study I Kings 19-20, covering the stories of “wicked king” Ahab and the prophet Elijah.   If you can’t attend in person, do consider participating over the phone.   Call 1-701-802-5405, then dial 7519304#.   We also broadcast class over also.   (Search for us at Grace Lutheran Church & Academy.)


For Daily Devotions sent to Your Computer or Phone consider subscribing to the excellent devotions available from  Go to the drop down menu for “worship” on the far right of the home page.  Devotions can be found there, but at the bottom is a subscribe button.  It delivers those devotions to your phone, computer