April 08, 2016

UNITY IN THE LOCAL CHURCH...



WHAT A CHURCH!
Acts 4:32-37


In some ways the very first church in Jerusalem serves as a model, both with regards to the essential activities that constitute a church (2:41-47) and, secondly, with regards to the behavior of a local body of believers. Because of dispensational considerations today’s local church cannot expect to duplicate everything we see in that early church, but, by God’s grace and the fullness of the Holy Spirit we should strive to more closely approximate it. TODAY’S TEXT REVEALS A CHURCH CHARACTERIZED BY:

1.   UNITY (32a)
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul…”(Cf. Psalm 133-:1-3; CONDITIONS FOR SUCH UNITY: If, with all our hearts we are loving HIM as we ought, then, He, being our first love (Revelation 2:4,5), will teach and unify us in His truth and by His Spirit. Loving Him results in our loving one another. Local bodies of Christ need to see this as intrinsic to not only their unitedness, but their effectiveness for Christ. As many freckles, if united, make a gorgeous tan :-), so many individuals, working in unity (and unity does not dispel diversity in disputables) become beautiful for Christ.)

2.   MUTUALITY (32b)
“…neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.” (This is not Communism. Read chapter 5:4 where what they did was voluntary.)

3.   EFFECTUALITY (33)
“And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.” (Read chapter 5:12ff to get a glimpse of the ununsual power display in the early church by the Apostles. Due to dispensational considerations not everything in this history Book is for duplication in today's church, but we should desire and pray for greater approximation to much that the early church did.)

4.   COMMUNITY (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…” (Again, Cf. 5:4. The love of Christ so permeated the believers that they truly cared for one another. Let us remember that all we have and are is of the Lord. We don't even belong to or own ourselves (cf. 1 Cor. 6:19,20).

5.   HUMILITY AND LOCAL CHURCH PRIORITY (35)
“…and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.” (Notice how an isolationist individualism had no grip on these believers. Their stewardship was to, through and by the Apostles, or the local body. It's hard to let go and allow group action make the final decision.)

6.   A GODLY PERSONALITY (36,37)
And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,  having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.” (Can we ever over evaluate the power of the good example? Dale Carnegie once remarked, "As a boy in the middle west, I used to amuse myself by holding a stick across a gateway that the sheep had to pass through After the first few sheep had jumped over the stick, I took it away; but all the other sheep leaped through the gateway over an imaginary barrier. The only reason for their jumping was that those in front had jumped.)

-dick d christen