Summary: 1. God wants us to be united (vs. 32). 2. God wants us to be unselfish (vs. 32b & 34-35). 3. God wants us to be unleashed (vs. 33). 4. God wants us to be uplifting (vs. 36-37).
The Most Heavenly Place on Earth
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Aug. 4, 2013
*We used to go to Heavenly Ham a good bit. And the ham was very good, but I wouldn't say it was heavenly. On Friday I plugged the word "heavenly" into Google and got over 51 million hits. You can go to the "Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort" in California, the "Heavenly Café" in Florida, and the "Heavenly Cupcake" store in San Diego. Now, all of those places may be five star, first class establishments, but they're not really heavenly.
*Can we find at least a little bit of Heaven on earth? -- The answer is yes, because the Lord's church is on earth. And the most heavenly place on earth ought to be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ!
1. The early church helps us see this truth here in the Word of God, and first we see that God wants His church to be united.
*As vs. 32 says, "The multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul." The early Christians were together in their hearts, together in their souls, together in their thoughts and in their feelings, together in their wishes, hopes and dreams.
*God wants us to have that kind of unity and harmony, but that can be hard because, well because we are people. That's why Frederick the Great once said, "The more I get to know people, the more I love my dog." (1)
*We people can be difficult. Think about it this way: Who is the person you love most in this world? Men, if you are married, the correct answer is: "Your wife."
*But do you get along with your wife all the time? Do you get along with the person you love the most all the time? Probably not. And if that is true, then how can you expect to get along with the rest of us all the time? The answer is: we can’t.
*And by the beginning of Acts 6, there were already some problems in the early church. But here is the truth: Christians ought to get along better than anyone else in the world! That's because we have the mind of Christ, the love of Christ, and the Spirit of Jesus Christ living in us.
*Christians also ought to get along better than anyone else, because our love for one another is one of the greatest witnesses we have to this lost and dying world. In John 13:34-35, the Lord expressed it this way on the night before the cross:
34. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.
35. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.
*The most heavenly place on earth ought to be the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. That's why God wants His church to be united.
2. He also wants us to be unselfish.
*This truth is clear to us in the last part of vs. 32, which says: "Neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common."
*God wants His people to be unselfish. We see this truth again in vs. 34-35:
34. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,
35. and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.
*There is no Biblical evidence that these drastic measures were taken in the other New Testament churches. In fact, the other churches later took up collections for the church at Jerusalem. But here you had a difficult and desperate situation. These Jewish Christians had come to Jerusalem from many different nations. They came for the Feast of Pentecost, and expected to soon go home. But they got saved and stayed.
*On top of that, persecution was just around the corner. In fact, the persecution had already started to a degree. Even before the cross, John 9:22 tells us that the Jewish rulers had: "Agreed already that if anyone confessed that (Jesus) was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue."
*And John Gill explained that being put out of the synagogue at the extreme meant "that and he might neither hire, nor be hired; and the other people did not trade with him, nor did they employ him in any business, unless in very little, just to keep him alive. Being put out also meant that his possessions could be confiscated." (2)
*The situation was grave in Jerusalem. And the principle for us is that as the Lord leads, we should generously help those who are in need. God wants all believers to be generous givers: giving our time, giving our talents, giving our tithes and offerings for the glory of God.