Summary: Acts Series: 21st Sermon--3 Expressions of Harmony in the Early Church
Harmony of the Early Church
Joke—lady in church called long distance friend, so distressed/hatfields and mccoys-deacons fighting-w/ pastor!-people hate each other/…well, let me add it to our church’s prayer list—what’s the name of your church?/…Harmony Baptist!
Harmony ought to be more than just a name, but what God sees when He looks inside the church!
3 Expressions of Harmony in the Early Church:
1. The Expression of Experience
Where it all begins…
v. 32 “believed”
Nowadays, when someone gets saved we say they became a “Christian”, but the early church called them “believers”.
For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
This verse deals w/ the difference between head knowledge and heart knowledge. [18” difference!]
Not mental assent [believe the facts of salvation]
But a heart knowledge [the faith of salvation]
Salvation is so much more than just walking an aisle, or filling out a card, or praying a prayer…it’s a belief of the heart…it affects you, there’s a commitment!
Ill.—will that chair support my weight? [will the cushion even move?!] …should I just stand here and think it will?
I can believe in my head it will support me, but it doesn’t matter until I sit down…put my heart into it!
What does this have to do w/ Harmony in the church?
I love the name of our church…a place called Grace! And it takes grace to get along in the church and to go fwd. as a church. So we need members that have grace operating in their life…meaning: they have been saved! And a high percentage have not been!
It’s no accident that in v. 33b it says what it does! [look!]
We all may have our tiffs, but you can’t stay that way if grace is operating in your life. You’ll make it right or move along.
The early church had Harmony of Experience…not all the same testimony, experience, feelings, etc. at moment of salvation, but all had the born-again experience!
Second expression of harmony…
2. The Expression of Giving
v. 34-35 Communism? No! It was voluntary, and the motivation was love. They were persecuted and lost everything often when they got saved. Christianity was birthed in the catacombs, not the cathedral!
This was done at a very specific time in history for a specific purpose…but it illustrates to us what sacrificial giving really is!
It’s how God’s work goes forward. I started out afraid to talk about money, but I’ve been learning that I’m failing our church not to, and that a great joy I can share w/ others is to teach them the grace of giving…and sacrificially, at that!
Ill.-- Man named William/16/left home w/ all he owned in a bundle/trade was making soap/met riverboat captain who said, son, someone will soon be the leading soapmaker in NY, it might as well be you. Be a good man, give your heart to Christ, pay the Lord all that belongs to Him, make a good soap and give a full pound.”
Got job at soapmaking co./tithed on income/became partner/then sole owner/10% of profits off the top…20-30-40…finally, 50%/died…William Colgate.
Henry Crowell “The autocrat of the breakfast table”
Contracted tuberculosis as boy/unable to finish school/heard D.L. Moody preach/was stirred…he said, “Lord, I’m not called to preach, but I can be a successful businessman/give generously to the work of the Lord”/bought a run-down mill in
Ravana, OH (Quaker Mill)/in 10 years Quaker Oats had become a household name/started giving 10% (increased to 70%, which he maintained for next 40 years)
These men possessed the gift of giving.
Definition: the special ability to prosper financially, and give liberally to the work of the Lord.
“So, that’s why I don’t tithe…I don’t have the gift of giving!”
Hold on! Don’t confuse the gift of giving w/ the grace of giving.
Every believer is expected to exercise the grace of giving by obeying the command to tithe on their increase.
The gift of giving goes far beyond the tithe. They see the tithe as only the minimum/starting point/launching pad.
James Cash Penney—90% of profits to Lord
God gives the gift of giving to people that He knows He can trust to be a vessel that He can flow His resources THRU.
Realizes all he has belongs to God…and his God can ask for any and all of it any time he wants to.
Understands they have a God-given ability to prosper/wisdom/health/talents/shrewdness
Has attitude of river…not a reservoir.
We need gifted givers to pick up slack and make up difference as some simply will not tithe.
(smallest # of any gift…special ability)
Do your giving while you’re living…you can’t take it with you.
Joke—man wanted bag of life savings left in attic above him when he died/…knew I should have put it in the basement!