There is Power in Unity!
(Acts 1 & 2)
By Rev. Ruben Rivis
Key verse: Acts 1:14
I¡¦ve always been fascinated by the early church as described in the book of Acts of the Apostles. The early church was a strong and powerful unit of simple, ordinary and like¡Xminded people who loved God with all their heart. This is evident through the testimony that the early believers left an example for us to follow.
If we take a closer look in the book of Acts, we¡¦ll see that the early church believers were doing some amazing things:
„X They were anointed and full of the Holy Spirit
„X They were preaching the Word of God with boldness
„X Miracles, Signs and Wonders followed the preaching of the Word
„X Thousands were being saved and added to the church
„X People gave themselves, their possessions to the cause of Christ
They were so united and they were so filled with the Holy Spirit that they turned their known world up¡Vside¡Vdown for Jesus Christ.
As we read through the book of Acts we cannot but be challenged to ask ourselves: why are we not seeing the same power of God operating in our church today?
The Bible declares that Jesus never changes, He cannot change: ¡§Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.¡¨ (Hebrews 13:8) God never changes. If God doesn¡¦t change and if God is the same:
„X Why are we not seeing the power of God at work in the church?
„X Why are we not seeing people being saved?
„X Why are we not seeing miracles, signs and wonders?
God is not dead! He does not change! He is the same! We seem to know so much more, these days:
„X We have more information than ever before
„X We have greater teaching than ever before
„X We have more people than ever before
But somehow in our churches today are missing some of the basic elements that existed in the early church. Such as love, fellowship, unity demonstration of God¡¦s power, just to mention a few.
I believe there are many aspects of the early church that contributed to its success but today I want to highlight on one aspect and that is: ¡§UNITY¡¨.
In the book of Acts there is one phrase, which appears again and again, and that is the term ¡§one accord¡¨. The early church was in one accord, was united and had things in common.
The phrase ¡§one accord¡¨ is actually repeated 11 times in the book of Acts and only one other time in the New Testament.
The early church was in one accord and I believe that unity was one of the reasons why the blessing and the power of God, was upon it. The believers had one mind, one purpose, one heart and this contributed to their spiritual success.
If we want to see the power of God manifested in our churches today, we need to be a church that is of one accord, a church bases upon the unity that the Spirit of God brings.
In Psalm 133 the Bible says: ¡§1 How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! 2 It is like precious oil poured on the head, running down on the beard, running down on Aaron’s beard, down upon the collar of his robes. 3 It is as if the dew of Hermon were falling on Mount Zion. For there the LORD bestows his blessing, even life forevermore.¡¨ (Psalm 133:1¡X3)
The Bible says that the Lord commands His blessing on the church and that God¡¦s blessings come upon the people of God that are united.
I believe that the greatest challenge for the church of Jesus Christ today is: that of brothers and sisters that come from different walks of life, dwelling together in unity. People who coming from all walks of life, transformed by God, living in unity, wow, now that¡¦s powerful. That¡¦s the church of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The early church, was a united church, was a church in one accord and today I want to highlight three areas of the kind of unity that was in the early church, and I believe is greatly needed today in our churches:
1). United in Prayer
There is a story in the Old Testament about a great army that came against King Jehoshaphat (you could read the entire story).
2 Chronicles 20:2¡X4 ¡§2 Some men came and told Jehoshaphat, "A vast army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Sea. It is already in Hazazon Tamar" (that is, En Gedi). 3 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the LORD, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the LORD; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.¡¨
It is important to know, that we also as a church today are involved in a battle, this battle is of a spiritual kind. The battle that we are involved in as a church is between the kingdom of Satan and the Kingdom of God.
But here in 2 Chronicles, the people of Judah and Jerusalem were united together to seek God through prayer and fasting.
There will be times when the church today is going to experience crises and these battles are not going to be with people but they are going to be battles in the heavenly places, between the forces of darkness and that of the Kingdom of Light.
These are the times when the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, needs to be united in prayer. The church needs people like Jehoshaphat that will lead us into prayer and seeking God.
The people of Judah not knowing what to do, they put their faith in God who was able to deliver them. God spoke to Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah, saying: ¡§¡KThis is what the LORD says to you: ’Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.¡¨ (2 Chronicles 20:15)
Why do we need to be united in prayer? We need to be united in prayer because we have understood that the battle is not ours but the Lord¡¦s.
One of the aspects of unity in the early church was unity in prayer. Do you remember when the 120 were in the upper room, the Bible says in Acts 1:14 ¡§They all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.¡¨
When Peter and John were released from prison the Bible says: ¡§¡Kthat, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which has made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that is in them.¡¨ (Acts 4:24)
When the early believers were in one accord and in one place praying, something happened in that place. God came down by His Spirit and the place where they were gathered shook from its foundation.
If there is something that the church needs today, more than ever before, it¡¦s to be united in prayer. The church needs to cry out to God with one voice recognizing that without the power and the presence of the Spirit of God, the church is powerless and ineffective.
Everything we do must be immersed in prayer. It is the time for the church to again begin to understand the need for prayer and unity, and cry out to God for His provision, blessing and power.
The second thing we find about the early church is that they were united not only in prayer, but also in vision and in purpose.
2). United in Vision and in Purpose
Acts 2:1 says that: ¡§When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.¡¨
Here was a group of people who were different in many ways, but now, we find them in one accord, united in purpose to see the fulfilment of the promises of God to them. The people were united in purpose.
The church today, needs to be united in Vision, Purpose and Direction, more than ever before. The moment we loose sight of the purpose that God has for His church, we will begin to turn on each other.
What is the purpose of the church?
1. The church is to be a place where:
„X We worship God in spirit and in truth
„X We grow and mature, become more like Jesus
„X We encourage and build one another up
„X We minister and serve
2. The church is to be a place that reaches out:
„X To those who are perishing
„X To those who are hurting
„X To those who are lost and without hope
We are to reach the lost at any cost. We are to reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ the only Saviour of the world. Let me say this:
a. The moment the church looses sight of the vision and purpose that God has given,
b. The moment the church looses sight of the kingdom values,
c. Then division will begin to creep into the church.
Proverbs 29:18 ¡§Where there is no revelation (Vision), the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.¡¨
The early church was united in Prayer, in Vision and Purpose and was going in the same Direction. The third aspect is that the early church was united in faith.
3). United in faith
Acts 5:12 ¡§And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s porch.¡¨
If you read this passage you see that the unity contributed to, many being added to the church and many were being healed and set free by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Where there is unity in the body of Christ, there is an environment created for faith to be released.
In the gospel of John, Jesus prayed for His disciples and the church, saying: ¡§that they may be in complete unity and that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.¡¨
In other words, Jesus prayed that they might be one. WHY? So that the world may see the unity within the church and know and believe that God has sent Jesus Christ to be head of the church.
„X Where there is a church in unity
„X Where there is a church in one accord
„X Where there is a church that stands united in faith
Many will be saved, and many miracles, signs and wonders will be performed in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Signs and wonders will follow the preaching of the Word of God, Amen?
There is power in unity. The early church demonstrated this, as they remained in one accord.
The enemy knows that there is power in unity. That is why he is the master of division. His job is to kill, steal and destroy. He uses misunderstanding, conflict, he uses differences to divide the body of Christ and thereby weaken it.
I pray that God will unite our hearts, our mind that we will be a church in one accord. The unity in the church does not just happen; it happens as we the body of Christ make every effort to pursue unity, and where each member does his/her part.
The Bible says in Ephesians 4:3 ¡§Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.¡¨
One of the reasons why the early church was so effective was because it was united. I pray that we will be united, united in prayer, united in vision and purpose and united in faith.
There is something powerful that will happen when the body of Christ is united together and in one accord.
Jesus declares in Matthew 18:19 ¡§¡KI tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.¡¨
As we fulfil God¡¦s Word, God will pour out His blessing on His people, and nothing will be impossible for us. As we unite ourselves, God is with us and He will command His blessing upon the church.
By Rev. Ruben Rivis