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Having Everything in Common

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Being united by Christ in the church, expelling poverty

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Having Everything in Common

Acts 4:32–37 ESV
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36 Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, 37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
One of the things that I love about God’s word, is how when you study it you begin to see connection all over the place. When we understand that God’s word isn’t some disconnected story about many people in different places and different times who all share the same principles of Faith, but rather it is one cohesive story about God revealing himself to humanity, we will start to make some connections that we have failed to see in the past, and all of the sudden the narrative picture in scripture becomes clear in helping us Behold the glory of God!
In the passage we have before us today, for me there is a personal connection with having been taught it in a way that twists scripture. And then there is Biblically sound way of understanding this passage.
For those of you who do not know, I was saved as a teenager in a Word of Faith church. In fact if you haven’t seen American Gospel yet, we will showing it here at the church soon, I’d encourage you to watch it, this would accurately describe the kind of prosperity preaching church I grew up in. In the prosperity preaching churches models for church growth giving money was the key.
Seeing pastors as “The Man of God” to the house or church that they preached at was a very common thought. And those who would come in to preach, special evangelist or preachers from around the country were viewed as even more special than your own pastor. In fact a lot of them claimed to on par with Biblical Apostles who carried authority over the churches and an Anointing for ministry. Why am I telling about this? Because the text we have before us was taught in such a way that people were literally told to throw money at the feet of the Man of God preaching, just like ...
I have been in services where there was a steady stream of people coming up to the front of the room while guys like Creflo Dollar preached, and these people put $100 bills on the steps of the altar until it was so covered with money that ushers had to pick it all up with brown grocery bags because the offering buckets were too small.
With this specific text I remember being convinced that God wanted me to give the church my car. I had 2 at the age of 19yrs old, and I remember wanting to give the church my car so they could meet the needs of needy people… Maybe someone needed a car, maybe they could sell it and provide food for families, who knows, but I didn’t need 2 cars. So went home and got the title to my car and drove it to the church and gave it to the pastor. Now I would say that my desire to give was pur because I wanted to be a blessing to others, yet the way it came about and how the Bible was taught is what was wrong with the whole thing. One of the chief tenants they push is the idea of Blessings… You are blessed to be a blessing so give more money to get more money, and specifically give the money to the man of god or to the pastors and preachers, because they are good ground in which you “sow your seed of faith”.
Now why would I tell you all this? well first off, I’m sure there are some here today who have similar experiences in your past. Also because it is important to understand HOW the prosperity gospel gets the bible so wrong.
Going back to what I said at first… there are connections here that will help us understand how the whole Bible is connected, and we are not the hero’s, God is!
As we break this passage down verse by verse we will see a picture start to come together that paints a beautiful of true Biblical community that are supposed to see in the church. Today’s text will shows us again a Gospel Indicative and a Gospel Imperative. For review, those are big words mean, Something that God does will inform what we do as his children.
First a recap showing a build up to what we just heard read to us.
- Before Pentecost Jesus gives instructions to the Apostles to wait in Jerusalem until the Promise of the Father, the Holy Spirit comes on them to empower them to be witnesses to the resurrected Christ in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth. Jesus then Ascends into heaven before their very eyes. They go back to the upper room along with many other disciples to pray and wait, but fist they pick someone to fills Judas’ spot.
- After 10 days of waiting and praying, Suddenly there is the noise of a rushing wind and little tongues of Fire rest upon the heads of everyone and they begin to speak in other languages. Many people in the city come to see what is going on and Peter stands up and preaches the Gospel to them. He tells them about the resurrected Jesus and that they should repent of sin and put their faith in Christ. 3,000 people are saved!
- Peter and John are going to the temple to pray when they see a lame man begging for money. They pray in Jesus name and God heals him and this causes a big disruption in the temple. Once everyone sees what is going on Peter stands up and preaches Christ crucified again.
- This of course causes the religious leaders, (those who put Christ on the cross) to be furious, so they arrest Peter and John. Yet we are told that the number of believers are now increased to about 5,000 because of this episode. Peter and John appear before the sanhedrin where they are told to no longer teach in Jesus name, to which they reply it is not right for them to obey this command.
Upon their release they join with the church to pray and acknowledge God’s Sovereign hand at work in all this and ask God for Boldness to continue to preach the Gospel. And that brings us to the passage today, let’s look at it...
Acts 4:32 ESV
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
Now when first reading this verse many come to some wrong conclusions about Unity. We think unity is about people who agree on everything, and so there are few arguments among them. When all of us sing the songs we like, do ministry in a way we like best, go to church at the same time in the same place, we then have unity. I mean how else can we “have all things in common” with a bunch of people who are different from us?
As soon as we read this verse we think, how can we do that too? How can we have everything in common? How does a church promote such unity? I mean, isn’t this what we are supposed to do? Be unified?
The Answer to that question… Isn’t this what we are supposed to do?… is NO!
Rather, this is what we are supposed to be, because of who we are now in Christ!
When we make this verse about us “doing” something we start off not understanding the Gospel and end up become religious people who are trying to live up to the standards of the Law. This is a failed attempt and a futile effort that those before us have gone to great lengths to prove cannot be done.
Here is what I mean… Notice the first part of the sentence in this verse...
“Now the full number of those who believed WERE OF ONE HEART AND SOUL”...
Does this sound like something any of us could do??? Only God can do this kind of work in 5,000 people! But it is a picture of True Unity with other believers.

True Unity with other believers is a result of the work of God in our lives

So True Unity with other believers (which is something we are to be and not do) is based off of a Gospel indicative or something that God has DONE!
To be a Christian means to live in unity with God through Christ, and because of this we now live in unity with God’s people… The Church! Our Unity with each other is a result of the Spirit’s work in our hearts as God has reconciled us to himself by the precious blood of his Son Jesus… This is a free gift he offers to us, and it is Good News to sinners who rightly stand in judgement by a Holy God. We are so changed by the Gospel that True Unity becomes who we are not just something we do or strive for.
“One of the ways our faith in Christ is displayed to the outside world is through the visible fellowship of believers with one another.” Al Mohler
And please understand that our Visible Fellowship marked by True Unity and Having everything in Common is centered on Christ!
So people know we are Christians because of our Unity, and we can only have Unity because we are Christians!
1 John 4:19 ESV
19 We love because he first loved us.
What we see in , is what this love looks like in action amongst God people.
shows a Gospel Indicative… look at it again...
Acts 4:32 ESV
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul...
Stop right there and understand the language. One Heart and Soul? Why is this important?
Why doesn’t the scripture say it like this, “ Now the full number of those who believed were in total agreement with each other.” Or, “Now all those who believed were of One Mind”...
This where knowing the Bible matters and why Pastors jobs include the study of scripture. Because this is no common phrase that can be switched in and out without losing significant Biblical Theology.
The phrase “one heart and soul” is typically hebraic, meaning it has deep roots for the Jews who were trying to fulfill God’s Law.
Think about the story of Scripture from the beginning. God creates everything and places man in the Garden, Adam and Eve fall into sin and so pass that nature to everyone born after them. As the book of Genesis unfolds it shows us the depth of this sinful nature and how it separates us from the Holy God who created us. Throughout scripture God enters into covenants with us even though we are sinful and unable to keep his commands. God gives his people his Laws and tells them to keep them and so be blessed or break them and be cursed. And for God’s people it is always a matter of following God Heart and Soul… Look at this...
Deuteronomy 6:4–5 ESV
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
Deuteronomy 6:5 ESV
5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
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Deuteronomy 10:12 ESV
12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,
Deuteronomy 11:13 ESV
13 “And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
Deuteronomy 13:3 ESV
3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
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Deuteronomy 26:16 ESV
16 “This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and rules. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 30:2 ESV
2 and return to the Lord your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul,
Deuteronomy 30:6 ESV
6 And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.
Deuteronomy 30:10 ESV
10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
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The phrase in Acts that they were of ONE HEART and SOUL is so central to the Jew who for thousands of years has been trying to follow God with all their heart and soul and failing.
Throughout the entire OT we see how God’s people failed to follow him and his law with all their heart and soul. The very thing they were trying to do was the exact thing they could never do! And to make matters worse Jesus said that Loving God with all your heart and soul and letting that love impact your neighbors sums up the whole Law and prophets. Look at it...
Matthew 22:36–40 ESV
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
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Wow… all the Law… Some 630 different laws were given, with special focus on 10, and all that the prophets had said and done to demonstrate to God’s people his love for them, could best be seen when God’s people understand that following God is a matter of our heart and soul and how that effects those around us!
This wasn’t just some wording that Luke used to describe things, but rather this is God’s word telling us of how he has finally fulfilled his promise to his people from his prophets...
Ezekiel 11:19–20 ESV
19 And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, 20 that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.
Before we can get all carried away on the extremely generous nature of the early church in selling possessions and land to give to the Apostels that they may eradicate poverty from among them… We must understand that the Fact they are of One Herat and Soul means that God has accomplished a work in his people! This is the Good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ… we will have a new heart… One that will be able to finally obey God’s laws, because we will finally be God’s people!
All this, and I am only a few words into the first verse of the text today… Yet we need to see how what was spoken in the past way back in the OT, and has been the tension God’s people have felt all the way through the course of scripture, is being shown here as accomplished work.
shows a Gospel indicative of One Heart and Soul that will inform the rest of this passage… Now let’s read it again.
Acts 4:32 ESV
32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common.
Did you hear the Gospel indicative that time? What God has done...
How about the Gospel imperative? What are we to do now?

Because God has made us of One Heart and Soul, everything that belongs to us is not our own.

Our clothes, our cars, our homes, our money, our toys and our hobbies… everything we have and all that we are, belong to the Lord because of the work of Jesus that the Holy Spirit has applied to our heart and souls.
When we understand this we will truly have all things in common with other believers. we may not always agree with other believers on preferences and styles of things in this world, but we truly have all things in common… all things that truly matter that is, which is Faith Alone by Grace Alone in Christ to the Glory of God Alone and all this is found in Scripture Alone!
When churches go to the scriptures looking for techniques on how to make people become more unified, they end up trying to get people unified around the pastors vision and completely miss the Gospel. This causes churches today to miss true Gospel Unity built on Sound doctrine and real Gospel preaching of God’s Word.
Too many churches try to get unity by dismissing doctrinal distinctives or softening up hard Gospel realities like the exclusivity of Christ, or the reality of Hell and eternal judgement separated from our God and creator.
“The church in Acts was unified around the gospel and was established on God’s truth.” Al Mohler
They were of One heart and soul and had everything in common because of the Gospel which is God’s truth. So look what is reported next...
Acts 4:33 ESV
33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
What is the central message of the Gospel? What is the most incredible truth of the Good news of Jesus Christ? It is at the center of this verse here...
The Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ!
Don’t get caught looking at the great power of the Apostles… that is what perversions of this text do, they get you off by looking at part of what is being said and reconstruct the rest of the statement around their thoughts. this is not about the power of the Apostles here, because it says with great power they were giving their TESTIMONY to the resurrection of the the Lord Jesus Christ.
And the result of their powerful testimony was great grace… what could all this mean?
What was the evidence of Grace that was upon them? we start all of our elder meetings with what is called evidences of Grace. We talk about how we are seeing the lord work in and through his people here at LWC. It helps us to focus on what is more important than coming to a table and making decision, and that is recognizing that the Lord is working and we are to be co-laborers with him.
What is the evidence of Grace in this verse here? Look back a couple verses...
Acts 4:29–30 ESV
29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
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Did you see what they had just prayed?
the evidence of grace was answered prayer. They had Boldness and with great power they give testimony to the resurrection!
The early church was faced with major threats to the mission of the church in preaching the Gospel and there was clear unity and evidence of Grace in the boldness they had to continue to participate in preaching the Gospel.
It was because of the message they had brought testimony to… the resurrection of Jesus!
When our Joy is in the resurrection of Christ, our lives hold new meaning. We must Behold the resurrection of Jesus as the greatest Joy in our lives! Brother and Sister in Christ, turn your eyes upon Jesus and think of the resurrection… Behold your Savior and savor the emotions that fill your soul as you think deeply on the resurrection of our Lord. When we do that...

Material goods will fade away but finding Joy in the resurrected Christ will last Forever!

Jesus IS ALIVE! He is not dead, God has raised him and he is alive! No matter what happened yesterday, what we face today, or what tomorrow will bring… Jesus is ALIVE!
God did something so extraordinary to save us from our sin, how could we not be joyful in knowing that? This time of year should be one of pure joy, because we are preparing to celebrate the resurrected Jesus who saves us from our sins and delivers us to God in eternity. When it gets close to Easter we should be thinking ab out how amazing this Gospel is that we get to proclaim.
When we have this kind of an attitude about the Gospel, then we begin to see how it effects those who God adds to our family like it did with the early church. We see anything in our hands as belonging to God first and is easily given for the needs of others. That is why we see what happens in the next verse.
Acts 4:34 ESV
34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold
Acts 4:34–35 ESV
34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.
There is a Mutual generosity here that is displayed by the early church. Please notice that this was a voluntary and willing display of generosity.
These people loved the Lord so much, that when it came to those around them who were in need, they simply sold what they didn’t need to help meet the needs of those who were their true neighbors in Christ.
Think about what Jesus said About the greatest commands fulfilling the law and prophets...
Matthew 22:37–40 ESV
37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
Do we not see this as an example in the early church here in this passage?
They were in One Heart and Soul in believing in Jesus Christ, and so had everything in Common, and they loved their neighbors as themselves… and this is evidenced in them selling possessions and giving the money to the Apostles to distribute to those in need.
It wasn’t about them learning to love God and then trying to love their neighbors in an effort to be acceptable to God… That is works based. Rather God enables them to Love him with all their heart and soul and that Love is displayed in their love for those around them.
What am I trying to say?

The Gospel enables a Vertical Love that will empower a Horizontal Love

In a true Biblical Community of Believers that understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they passionately Love God with all their Heart and Soul, and that Love for God fuels a Love for others around them in the Church.
Truly Unified churches of believers will not sit back and watch those around them go without.
True believers, in true churches, are truly generous, because they know that our material gifts are from God and should be used for his Glory!
Knowing the Gospel causes us to Love Jesus more than our Stuff, and will increase our capacity to show real tangible love to others.
So what do we do with all this? How do we apply what we have heard from God’s word today?
If you are here and you realize that you are not in One Heart and Soul with others in this room, it may be because you need to know the Love of God in Christ Jesus for you. That Jesus came to save you from your sins. Your sin is what separates you from and God and his people. God is Holy and perfect and he cannot accept your sinful life that you love. So he sends Jesus to live a perfect life for you… one that you cannot live on your own. Jesus fulfills the Law of God perfectly and then goes to the cross to die an innocent death that he didn’t deserve… We deserve it, but he did not, yet he went in our place. Why? For you to hear it and be changed as the Spirit takes out your heart of stone and replaces it with a heart of flesh because the Kindness of God draws you to Repent and turn from your sin and now love him and walk in faith toward him by living differently in the community of brothers and sisters. So you will be One in Heart and Soul believing in Christ and loving God!
If you are here today and you realize you love God but often do not care about the needs of those around you, it may be that you need a gentle reminder of who you were before Christs love broke into your life and the Spirit applied it to your heart. I would ask you, “Are you One in Heart and Soul with the believers around you?” Do you recognize that you Have everything in Common because you share in Christ and none of us deserve that? Can we repent of sin and look for ways to be mutually generous so that the needs of those around us are met and God is glorified!
3 questions I want us to consider this week in Community Groups.

Question 1 - What does it mean for us to be of One Heart and Soul, and have everything in Common

How do we view our lives and the things that we own? In what ways is our fellowship visible to the world around us? Do we focus on how we are different in preferences or do we focus on our commonality in Christ? Can anyone work really hard to attain this Oneness? Is this a gift from God? What does Unity at Living Water Church look like?

Question 2 - How does knowing the Gospel help us Love God with all our Heart and Soul, and Love others as ourselves?

If knowing that the Love of God was given to us by the Work of Jesus on our behalf as a free gift, then how do we see it working in our life? Does the fact that God loved us first help us to love him back? How do we know we love God with all our heart and soul? And then in what ways do we see that love inform our loves for others? Do we do a good job of taking care of each other? What is our motive for helping each other?

Question 3 - What are the Evidences of Grace in our church currently?

When we see the grace that was on the early church, it was clearly an answered prayer of Boldness in preaching the Gospel despite how they were being treated by the religious leaders. Their evidence of grace was boldness and a continued witness. What do you think is an evidence of Grace at Living Water right now? How can this discussion inform our prayers for our church?
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