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All Things Common (Acts 4:32-5:11)

May 14, 2014

Reflecting on the Passage:

Here at East Point Church, we have begun a new sermon series entitled “Acts: The Spirit and the Church in the World“. This week’s sermon illustrates how Christ makes the community of believers unique. Elder Ducanson emphasizes that the power of the Holy Spirit provided unity for the early church, despite Satan’s attempt to sow discord among the believers. The focus of this sermon is on how unity was a distinctive mark of the early church and how the Holy Spirit reveals the hearts of men.

Unity among the Believers

20140311-184658.jpgNow the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles ‘feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need (Acts 4:32-35; ESV).”

Unity is a valuable asset to have when trying to accomplish something, whether good or evil (cf. Tower of Babel, Genesis 11:1-11). This unity was unique because it was grounded upon a shared belief in Christ.  Likewise, these earlier believers understood God’s love and mercy toward them, hence, them giving their testimony. They were not hesitant to share what they had with those in need. Furthermore, the Holy Spirit empowered them to give beyond social class or status, so that none lacked among them (Deuteronomy 15:4-11; 2 Corinthians 8:1-15).

The Holy Spirit Reveals: The Heart of Barnabas

Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles ‘feet (Acts 4:37; ESV).

Jesus Christ was perfect in His speech, conduct and love for people, yet He knew what was in man (John 2:24-25).  Nonetheless, Jesus commended His cousin, John the Baptist for His faithfulness in proclaiming the message of repentance (cf. Matthew 11:11). Luke follows Christ’s example, by commending Barnabas for his generosity. The Holy Spirit revealed and exposed Barnabas’ heart by leading him to sell what he had for the sake of Christ and His Church.

The Holy Spirit Reveals: The Heart of Ananias and Sapphira 

But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles ‘feet. But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to GodWhen Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his lastImmediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last (Acts 5:1-4, 5, 10; ESV).

In contrast to Barnabas, the Holy Spirit also exposes the issues of Ananias and Sapphira’s heart.  Elder Ducanson stresses the fact that Satan used their greed, pride, and deceit, to respond to Barnabas’ generosity with a feigned act of generosity (cf. Judas Iscariot and religious leaders). Ananias and Sapphira did not really intend to give their resources because they reluctantly held back. They loved the praise of men, but did not love their fellowman or woman enough sacrifice themselves for the good of the community. Lastly, their heart was exposed when they tried to deceive God the Holy Spirit by bearing false witness, placing them under His swift judgment (Proverbs 19:5; Galatians 6:7).

Do you fear the Lord?

God is to be feared, He is Holy and will punish sin (Exodus 34:6-7). Satan always looks to cause division amongst the unity of believers.  His strategy is to cause disunity and he uses whatever means necessary, whether lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes or the pride of life (Matthew 4:1-11; 1 John 2:15-17).  However, Christ has promised that He will not leave His Church in the hands of Satan. To let sin go unpunished is to let Satan cause disunity and disruption in the Church. Christ said He will build His church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18).

Has the fear of the Lord filled your heart today? Do you see yourself at the mercy of Christ for salvation? Sin and the holiness of God is nothing to toy with. The judgment of Ananias and Sapphira was swift because the purity of the Church was at stake. Christ loves His bride, so much so, that He gave His life for Her that when He returns He will present Her to Himself without spot or blemish, ready to be received in His Kingdom (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Listen to this week’s full sermon for free.

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