Summary: EVERY FOLLOWER OF CHRIST SHOULD KNOW WHAT A CHURCH NEEDS TO EMBRACE AND DO IN ORDER TO REALLY WORK FOR CHRIST
THE FOUNDATION FOR EFFECTIVE MINISTRY
Acts 4:32-37 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles' feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need. 36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles' feet.
PROPOSITION: EVERY FOLLOWER OF CHRIST SHOULD KNOW WHAT A CHURCH NEEDS TO EMBRACE AND DO IN ORDER TO REALLY WORK FOR CHRIST
INTRODUCTION: I RECENTLY SAW ON A WEBSITE THIS SIMPLE FORMULA – A GENEROUS GOD PLUS A GENEROUS CHURCH EQUALS GENEROUS PEOPLE.
INTERESTING THOUGHT! THAT REAL GENEROSITY BEGINS WITH GOD, AND WITH IT REFLECTED IN THE CHURCH, WILL RESULT IN INDIVIDUAL GENEROSITY
JAMES BOICE, IN HIS COMMENTARY ON ACTS CALLS THIS PASSAGE, “THE CHURCH AT WORK”
TRANSITION: AS A MATTER OF URGENCY FOR THE LIFE OF THE CHURCH, LET US LOOK AT WHAT HIS PASSAGE HAS TO TELL US ABOUT WORKING AS A CHURCH,…..
WITHIN THE EARLY CHURCH THERE WAS:
I. A FOUNDATION OF UNITY – 4:32
a. “ALL THE BELIEVERS WERE ONE IN HEART AND MIND”
i. LITERALLY THIS READS, “THEIR HEART AND SOUL WERE ONE.”
ii. IT THE CORE LEVEL THERE WAS UNITY.
1. COMMITTED TO THE SAME THINGS
2. THINKING THE SAME WAY
John 17:20-23 "My prayer is not for them 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. 22 I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: 23 I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
iii. NOT CONFORMITY UNITY OR ORGANIZATIONAL UNITY
iv. A UNITY PATTERNED ON THE UNITY OF GOD HIMSELF.
1. ALL PARTS OF THE TRINITY WERE A TRI-UNITY – SAME ATTRIBUTES AND PURPOSE.
2. ALL PARTS OF THE TRINITY EXPRESSED THEIR UNITY IN A VARIETY OF FUNCTION.
3. THE UNITY OF THE TRINITY IS SEEN IN ITS PURPOSE!
UNITY IS ESSENTIAL FOR ANY EFFECTIVE WORK FOR CHRIST!
b. THERE WAS A UNITY OF BELIEF
i. CHRIST DIED FOR THEIR SINS – EVERYONE IN THE EARLY CHURCH BELIEVED THEY CAME INTO THE BODY OF CHRIST THE SAME WAY.
ii. CHRIST ROSE FROM THE DEAD AND IS EXALTED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD THE FATHER. THE WORK OF CHRIST IS DONE; COMPLETED. THERE IS NOTHING ELSE THAT NEEDS TO BE DONE!
iii. CHRIST COMMISSIONED THEM – ALL 5000 OF THEM (ACTS 4:4). TO GO AND REACH OTHERS FOR CHRIST. WOW, AND TODAY WE SEEM TO WANT TO GIVE THIS OVER TO JUST A FEW – NO WONDER THE BODY OF CHRIST IS STRUGGLING!
iv. CHRIST IS RETURNING AND WILL REWARD THEIR FAITHFULNESS. THE EARLY CHURCH WAS LOOKING FOR CROWNS TO THROW AT THE FEET OF JESUS, AND THE PRESENT CHURCH IS NOT CONCERNED WITH COMING UP EMPTY HANDED!
II. A CONVICTION BEYOND DOUBT
a. OUR CONVICTIONS ARE OUR MOTIVATORS
b. THE CONVICTION OF THE EARLY CHURCH IS SEEN IN THEIR ACTIONS
i. THE CONVICTION OF THE EARLY CHURCH COMPELLED THEM TO GIVE ALL.
1. NO ONE LACKED
2. NO ONE HOARDED
3. NEEDY RECEIVED WHAT THEY NEEDED
4. GODLY EXAMPLES WERE EVIDENT
ii. THE CONVICTION OF THE EARLY CHURCH COMPELLED THEM TO IGNORE THREATS AND PERSECUTIONS.
iii. THE CONVICTION OF THE EARLY CHURCH COMPELLED THEM TO KEEP GOING!
Acts 4:19 But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.
III. A TOTAL SURRENDER TO CHRIST
a. THE EARLY CHURCH KNEW CHRIST AS LORD SO THEY GAVE THEMSELVES AS SERVANTS
b. VERSE 33 SPEAKS OF GREAT POWER. IT WOULD BE INTERESTING TO ASK WHAT THE SOURCE AND EFFECT OF THAT GREAT POWER WAS.
i. SOURCE – EASILY THIS IS GOD HIMSELF, ACTING THROUGH THE GOSPEL.
ii. EFFECT – A CHANGED LIFE.
1. IF WE SAY WE BELIEVE AND OUR “BELIEF” DOES NOT RESULT IN A LIFE LIVED DIFFERENTLY FOR CHRIST, DO OR DID WE REALLY BELIEVE.
2. FRUIT, FRUIT, FRUIT!