Summary: The filling of the Spirit was evidenced in the early church in their unity and their attitude toward their possessions.
A few weeks ago we began looking at the book of Acts, when the Christian church first began, and the power of God’s Spirit was with the people. I want to challenge all of you to read the book of Acts during the summer. It’s 28 chapters long, if you read one chapter a day, you could have it done in less than a month. Normally I would give you a month, but I realize it’s the summer so I’m giving you a break, I’ll give you the whole summer. Why the book of Acts? Because over time we begin acting as though God only works today in the ways we personally have experienced God in our past and therefore we limit what God wants to do through us right now. Yes, we believe in our heads that God does wonderful things because we’ve read it in the Bible, or we’ve heard of His Spirit working in other people’s lives and places around the world, but because we haven’t experienced it, we don’t really believe in our hearts that it will happen here at our church or with us. If we haven’t experienced a miraculous healing, we don’t expect much of God now even though we pray for it. If we haven’t seen God change or transform people in a long time, we just assume people will continue to trickle in to the church if at all and maybe find faith. If our experience of church in the past is not even close to the love and fellowship the first Christians experienced, we think all churches are this way. Or perhaps we don’t want it to be that way because we are afraid it might require us to change our ways or priorities. Reading the book of Acts will inspire you and challenge you by raising your vision for what could and should be if we allow the Holy Spirit the freedom in our life and the church.
In this morning’s verses we see what happens when people allow the Holy Spirit to work in their life. In the previous verses we are told the Christians were together praying, particularly for boldness and for God’s healing, miraculous work, and the place they were meeting shook, and it says “they were filled with the Holy Spirit”, and they all they spoke the word of God boldly. The Holy Spirit came, people prayed for and received the filling of the Spirit and what happened? Did people get healed? Did people start speaking in tongues?
In our passage this morning there are two marks of people filled with the Spirit; 1) we are of one heart and mind, and 2) we do not consider any possession as our own, rather we give to those in need.
1. Being of One Heart and Mind Together
It seems like it’s the nature of human beings to be self-centered. We like to have things our way, and when they don’t go our way we get upset. We like to have our opinion and share it, and when people disagree with us we like to argue.
This passage is remarkable because you have over five thousand Christians together filled with the Holy Spirit, and not only are there no arguments, bickering, whining and complaining, they are actually getting along with each other, and enjoying each other’s company. Think about it, when was the last time you got your own family ready for church without an argument? Imagine getting all the Christians of Emmet County together for worship, eating together, day after day after day. Sounds great doesn’t it, well maybe for about the first day or two, until people start complaining; why do all the Catholics want to keep sitting, standing, and kneeling all the time, could someone tone the Pentecostals down, they’re so excited they’ve been singing for the last hour straight, would the Baptists quite talking about getting everyone saved, then the others are complaining about us Methodists because we want to start a committee to look into the complaints and report back in a month.
We can joke about our differences, but do you see what I’m saying? Even as Christians we don’t seem to be able to get along with and work together. And yet Jesus’ prayer for us shortly before his death was that we would be one. This is part of Jesus’ prayer:
John 17:20 "My prayer is not for them [disciples] alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, 21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Jesus’ prayer was that we would be so close to each other, that we would be one, as close as the Father is to the Son. How close is that? He also prayed that we would be in him, which is to say we would be in close relationship with God. The loser we are with God, the closer we are with other Christian believers. It’s impossible to be close to God and out of sync with our brothers and sisters in Christ. However the closer we are with each other, Jesus said it would prove to be a witness to the world because they would see there is something different about our relationship with each other that they would believe Jesus truly is the Son of God because it is impossible to explain the behavior in any other way.