The Way Of Christian Sharing - Acts 4:32-37 NIV
#1 - The basis for Christian sharing: _________________ .
“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” Acts 4:32 NIV
As Americans we struggle with this concept. It goes against the grain of independence, capitalism. There is a socialist, communal aspect to this. Because of where we are right now in the political realm, we can’t help but think that this is a political slant toward socialism. Could Bernie Sanders and the far left progressives be right? Is this what the Bible advocates? In a word, no! The basis for the way the church operates is not equality (all have the same), it’s unity! “One in heart and mind."
ONE IN HEART = _____________
“And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34 GNT
Being “one in heart” is not an emotional, feely, mushy, I love you because you love me kind of love. We’ve talked before about the 4 Greek words for “love” - eros, phileo, storge, and agape. This kind of love we have within the church for one another is agape. It’s God’s love. It’s impossible without God. Impossible without the Spirit of God living within each of us. When I have God’s Spirit within me and you have God’s Spirit within you, there is a natural agape love attraction between us that goes beyond human norms and explanation.
ONE IN MIND = ______________
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 NIV
Do you realize just how much God values your togetherness as a church family? (chosen, royal, special) We talk a great deal about how much He values each one of His children. But this verse reminds us that we have a together purpose that we cannot accomplish by ourselves. Together we declare the praises of Jesus. Makes such a difference - literally like night and day difference. Together we bring God’s light into this dark world. One at a time vs. all together is like the difference of one candle vs. a huge bonfire. Each one counts. Each one is necessary. Together is key!
#2 - Jesus’ resurrection ________________ everything.
“With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.” Acts 4:33a NIV
The key verb here is to testify. They are not preaching or teaching the resurrection of Jesus like I do with you today. Remember that these apostles are eyewitnesses to Jesus’ resurrection. Upward of 500 people saw the resurrected Jesus and none of them more often than the apostles. Recall that by this point there are more than 5,000 male Christ-followers. So most didn’t eyewitness Jesus after his death. Perhaps most did not even know or hear Jesus teach during his lifetime. What was most powerfully persuasive was their testimony - their eyewitness!
Question: Don’t you think that today people want to know this too?
“For Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. He must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.” 1 Corinthians 15:20, 25-26 NIV
That if Jesus’ resurrection were not just a myth but truth in fact - that this changes everything? That the ultimate conclusion of this truth is that death no longer is the ultimate victor? Let’s put this together - what is the most powerful persuasion? A preacher? A teacher? Or a friend who has been changed by the life of Christ inside of them? Friend wins always! Now, let’s combine this eyewitness testimony with one more evidence:
#3 - Evidence of the Apostles’ testimony: ________________ .
“God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them.” Acts 4:33b-34a NIV
If Jesus’ resurrection is real AND if this real truth REALLY DOES CHANGE everything - then there should be a difference in the people who follow The Way, who claim Christ lives inside of them. Their nature should be changed. And this should be seen on the outside in how these people act. Outside actions are the evidence of inside change. Everyone knows that people are naturally selfish, focused upon themselves and their families. If suddenly people begin to share with others in their church to the extent that there were no needy persons among them, then that very seen fact points to the truth of the other unseen fact - Jesus is risen. Everything is changed. Death no longer reigns!
#4 - How it worked: (two keys to understanding this)
_____________________ donation as needed.
“For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them and brought the money from the sales…” Acts 4:34b NIV
This is why this is not socialism or communism. This is why this is not political. There is no enforcement to do this from the outside. No one is making anyone sell land or houses. They one do it because they want to. It is voluntary. They are indeed changed by the living Spirit of Christ within them. They desire to obey the agape love of God within them. Also note that this is not all the time or every day. It is “from time to time” as in whenever it was necessary. No deeds of ownership changed hands. There was no enforced redistribution of wealth to be all equal. Some people owned more than others. But when necessary, property was sold to race money to take care of those in need.
_____________________ distribution by the church.
“… and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.” Acts 4:35 NIV
The sales of land or houses was the voluntary act of individuals. But the distribution of the money to those in need was done by the church. The money was brought to the apostles’ feet.
There are 2 good reasons for this.
1st - it is the church acting in the name of Christ that takes care of the needy. This points the way back to the evidence of the change that has come about because of the resurrection. Because the church stopped doing this, governments come in the church’s place and act. All governmental-political systems do this imperfectly and always with rancor and division because its imperfectly based on the goodness of people rather than the goodness of God!
2nd - individuals can act foolishly or be fooled. Bringing to the feet of disciples the church can act together - with corporate reasons bathed in prayer.
“Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”), sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” Acts 4:36-37 NIV
This was the example of this done right. Next week we see the example of this done wrong.