Summary: This morning I want to look at Acts 4:32-5:16 because it is the best possible way to communicate what the Holy Spirit wants to enable our congregation to do - before He can guide us on to all that He intends us to do in the world.
LIBERATED FOR LOYALTY
This morning I want to look at Acts 4:32-5:16 because it is the best possible way to communicate what the Holy Spirit wants to enable our congregation to do - before He can guide us on to all that He intends us to do in the world.
In the previous chapter we saw the gift of boldness that the Holy Spirit gave the disciples for their witness. Now we turn our attention to the blessing He helped them to be to each other.
The courage the disciples displayed outside their own fellowship was dependent upon the quality of life they experienced within their own fellowship.
This passage has a cause and effect progression of thought. In beginning, I'd like to start backwards and give a brief statement about the effect...
In a very stirring way Luke describes the effectiveness of the church. There were signs and wonders done among the people of Jerusalem. Power was being released through them.
Changed lives, reconciliations, healings, and joy were the evidence of a church alive with the Holy Spirit. The church was growing and dynamic. Wouldn't you like to be a part of a church like that?
The church was a vital movement. That's the effect. What was the cause? Now we are ready to go back to the beginning of the passage for the answer.
Luke tells us about an essential ingredient of a great church...and that is an unlimited commitment to Christ and to each other which is expressed in unrestrained loyalty...not only to the Lord - but to one another.
Within this passage we've find a moving narrative description of this ingredient and also two illustrations...one to show what loyalty really is, and the other to alarm us as to what happens when it is lacking. The first is very positive and the second is equally negative.
READ v. 32-35 ......In chapter 5, Luke uses the word "church" for the first time. The verses we just read are an excellent description of what the word meant to him.
Originally, for the followers of Christ it meant an assembly of believers gathered together for prayer and fellowship. The idea developed of their being called out by the Lord, called into oneness with Him, and called into the world to serve.
Do you remember that Paul was Luke's teacher in the faith? And when Luke uses the word church it carries with it all the implications of Paul's teachings. Paul's favorite phrase was "the body of Christ."
In I Corinthians Paul explains how the members of the physical body are interdependent upon each other...and uses that as an example of how Christians are to be mutually dependent upon each other.
There are four things that were part of the loyalty of the members of the church to one another. They were of one heart, one soul, one blessing, and they were all rooted in one great conviction.
The heart, kardia, is used by Luke in the Hebrew sense meaning reason, emotion, and will. It stood for a person¡¦s entire mental and emotional activity.
But why did Luke add soul? The soul is the life spirit in a person which can be touched and quickened and then filled by the Holy Spirit.
So in a nutshell, what Luke was saying was that the early Christians has their minds, emotions and wills open to each other...and by the Spirit each one enabled oneness with the others.
The one thing about which they were one heart and soul was the resurrected Christ who lived in them. That prompted them to know that all they had and all they were...belonged to Him.
No one said that what he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. That's a shocker for the "what's mine is mine" Christians we have today.
And yet, sharing our material blessings may be the least of our difficulties with this passage. These early Christians had "all" things in common.
To be of one mind is to have the mind of Christ in common...not our ideas about Him, or even our carefully polished theology...but our very heart and soul.
That means our inner selves...our thinking and feeling. We can be supportive of each other only if we know what's going on inside each other. And the handle of the door to our lives is on the inside. We must ƒawantƒ` to be known.
One of the finest gifts we can give our church is our openness to talk about what we are thinking and feeling. Because it's then that our intellectual difficulties we have in growing in the faith can be given the insight and experience of others who have struggled with the same doubts.
How we are feeling about ourselves, other people, and life in general affects everything we do and are. So often we greet each other and say, "How are you"...and the answer is always "Just fine or I'm hanging in there"