Delivered on July 10, 2016
Acts 2:42-47 ( NIV ) Fellowship Of The Believers
42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47 praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.
It’s been said that the church is like a family. I’ve always wondered about this because some of the families I know don’t function all that well. In fact, there were times when I was growing up that I wasn’t the best brother to my sisters, or even the best son to my parents. And then, Jesus comes along and teaches us how we are to function as a church, as a family of believers. Having that fellowship the God desires among His children.
Let us take a look at how the “Early Church”, was able to make this type of fellowship possible. As we go through these verses, lets us spend this time in Acts 2:42-47. I want you to notice the first part of verse 42: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship…” The Greek word fellowship means to “share something in common.” The rest of the passage fleshes out this concept as we learn that they were “all together” (verse 44), they met together in the temple courts (verse 46), and they ate together. This are something that we still do, like what i had mentioned last week, food is never a problem, we love to meet and eat.
Take a look at verses 44-45: “All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need.” Of course...the last last part of this verse is something that many churches do not do anymore “selling their possessions”, but we do keep a church bank account where we get from our tithing, and offerings, to use as needed among the saints. That is why we have our monthly meetings to see if there is a need to be meet, or see if God wants us to move in a certain direction. Meaning, what or where does He want the Fil-Am Baptist Church to be.
“All the believers were together and had everything in common”, Now...we may all believe in one thing, and that is our belief in Christ, we we’re all baptized under one baptism, that is the One the thing we have in common. But, we all function differently. What i mean is, some are more open, nicer, friendlier, some are more active on the needs of the church, and some are not. And that is okay,..God created you and i differently.
To grow in faith and to fulfill the mission Jesus has given us, we must regularly gather together for instruction, encouragement, and most importantly in prayer. God never calls any Christian to a solitary life of faith.
Even though we’re all different, it is God that made us that way.
You and I were created for a community. That’s why our topic today is so important. You and i were made to have godly relationships, to serve one another, to share the things that we have, to build Christ into the lives of the people around us, to have a type of relationship where you can entrust the secrets of your hearts to one another and to laugh, praise, pray and cry with others. Many if, not all, ( I’m hoping all ) experience that each and every time that we meet.
Now... here’s a weird truth about you and I. While we long for fellowship, we also run from it. It has been said that when humankind fell from grace, we inherited not only a tendency to hide from God, but a tendency to hide from one another as well. We struggle with conflicting desires. On the one hand, we desire to be close to one another, and on the other, we want to hold others at arm’s length. We have learned to be suspicious of other people’s motives. Simply because there was a time when we got hurt, disappointed, and at times we’ve been taken advantage of and we fear being burned again and so we live inside barriers. These barriers effectively insulate us from one another, and becomes difficult to have a true fellowship in the Church.
Jesus prayed for you and i as mentioned in...
20 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; 21 that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.
But for this to happen, many barriers have to fall down. Suspicion has to be replaced with openness, uncertainty has to be replaced with willingness, and fear has to be replaced with love. On the day of Pentecost, that is precisely what happened.. the barriers came falling down. The Holy Spirit of God moved in and produced a wonderful unity in that first group of believers.
Our text today describes the extent of that unity as it existed at the very beginning. For a while, they were allowed to live in the glorious oneness which only the Spirit can produce. I believe this sense of community can be recaptured today when we allow Christ to be Lord, and surrender to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our personal lives.
Now...i truly believe, that Fil-Am baptist church, is a church of unity. We are not perfect, but what church is? We are in no way close in comparison to the early church, but i know that God is still working in us, and He will never fail. I also know that God is doing great things in our small church, and will continue to do so, as long as we follow His lead.
32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 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.
These verses gives us an inside look at how the church cared for each other, having fellowship among believers. In this passage, we’ll see 3 different degrees of their unity they had a mystical unity, a ministerial unity, and a material unity. We’ll also discover three timeless principles that can help us experience that same depth of unity today.
As we look at this passage of Scripture before us, let’s see what kind of community the Holy Spirit produced in this young church and what kind of community He can produce for the Fil-Am Baptist Church. Let’s begin by looking at 4:32: “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.”
When the Holy Spirit of God took charge of the lives of these believers on the day of Pentecost. 1) He produced a mystical unity among them. In the first part of verse 32, we read that the believers were of one heart and mind. They were experiencing a oneness, a unity which they could never have produced on their own. Mystical meaning the Holy Spirit. The diverse multitude that had gathered from all nations and tongues had been melted together by divine love into a union which was mystical in nature and divine in origin. Those things, which before had divided them, being different, now faded away into insignificance. They had met the Lord. They were together and they were one.
Notice the three words mentioned in the first part of this verse: “believers,” “heart”, and “mind.” Without these three, having fellowship would be hard to accomplish. Unity was evident in these three areas. It was a unity of faith, “without faith, it is impossible to please God”, a unity of emotions, and a unity of will. Notice that the "believers" were one. They were one with each other because they believed the same thing. They had placed their faith in Jesus and now were attempting to live out that faith. What type of faith? Faith that is aimed only to please God. Again...There can be no fellowship, without correct belief.
1 John 1:7
7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
It is only as we walk in the light of the truth of God’s Word that we can enjoy true fellowship with one another. A common faith unites you and I. They were not only united by their faith, they were also united in heart.Their faith had brought them together and now their every desire was to follow Jesus Christ. They desired to express His love and to share that love with every human being they met. What had begun in faith had made its way to their hearts. They not only believed it intellectually and accepted it by faith, but they knew it to be true experience. Because of the love of Jesus for them, they had fallen in love with Him; and along with Him, every other believer as well.
They could express the love and care and concern for one another freely and openly. The barriers had fallen down and they were one...one in faith and one in heart.
But they were also one in mind. The mind has to do with our decision making processes. They not only believed the same things, and had a desire to follow Jesus, they made a decision to do so together in community with one another. They decided to follow through on what had happened to them. They were willing to acknowledge Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and all the other believers as their family. If we, as the Church that belongs to Jesus Christ, ( Fil-Am Baptist Church )are ever going to express the unity of the Spirit, we must not only desire to do so, we must decide to do so.
They had made this decision and they declared it publicly. It says, in the last part of verse 32, "No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had." They acknowledged to one another that they were one. They said, "What’s mine is yours; what’s yours is mine. We’re together in this thing." That indeed is a powerful acknowledgment of unity. Only God could do this. This was a Spiritual unity something born of God, begun by the Holy Spirit and carried on in His power.
Is it possible to have this same kind of unity today? I believe it is. But it’s something which can only be done by the power of the Spirit of God working in the hearts of people committed to Him. People who truly belong to Him. We can experience this kind of unity when we yield to the Holy Spirit to produce it in us. Yield in total submission to the Creator. Now...let me give you a principle based on the fact that we have been united mystically by the Holy Spirit. If we want to experience what the early church did, then we must value community over isolation. The early church wanted to be together. They wanted to be connected with one another.
Do you value fellowship over isolation? Are you committed to your brothers and sisters here? Even when they do stuff you don’t like? When you’re hurting, are you willing to swallow your pride and talk to a brother or sister about it? Are you available to have someone else confide in you, or have you effectively isolated yourself from others? Now...keep in mind, sin is what separated our relationship from our God. And sin, will still be the reason we break fellowship with one another. Even in the early church, they had to deal with sin.
5 But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. 2 And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? 4 While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things. 6 And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.
“And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it”, Total opposite of what we have read from the previous verse right? Acts 2:45 “They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need”. The value was not the issue here, it was the lie! Ananias withholds part of the sale price while claiming to contribute it all. Now...Ananias and his wife have the right to keep it all, all the proceeds from their land, since the land and the money was theirs. Their sin was their deception. They tried to deceive the church. “why has Satan filled your heart to lie” v3, and also v4
“You have not lied to men but to God.” Peter tells Ananias, that he has lied to God, by lying to the church. Another opposite of being in unity, having one thing in common. Sin broke our fellowship with our God, sin breaks the fellowship in our homes, sin breaks the fellowship in the church. Same fate came upon his wife Sapphira...
8 And Peter answered her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?”
She said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband. 11 So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.
The instantaneous, divinely inflicted death of Ananias and Sapphira are not typical of the judgments mentioned in the New Testaments. There were deaths caused by illness due to sinning. The temporary blinding of Saul, who we know best as Paul. Some of the Corinth church suffered illness and even death for abusing the Lords Supper. But more typically in our time, Christ’s church maintains its purity among the fellowship of believers, by orderly process of church discipline, leading if necessary, to excommunication of the member who is caught and proven to be sinning.
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That quote says it all, cant really argue with it much if it was true. But we all know that, we will all stand in front of God one day and give an account for all that we’ve done.
Now...There is nothing quite like a church that is united in Gods purpose. If we want what the early church had, then we must value what God has started in us. Keeping the fellowship among believers, by being obedient to Gods commands. In this area of unity and purpose, it is so vitally important that we understand our place of decision. We should always be lead by the Holy Spirits power, and not by our emotions. We need everyone on board, pulling together, sharing the load. We must decide to do so. It really goes back to the word devoted in Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer”.
We need to be completely committed and sold-out to the fellowship. We must decide that we are going to give more than our spare time to the endeavor, that we will be supportive, involved, active participants in the task God has called us to.
Fil-Am Church, what happened in the life of the early Church can also happen to us. We can be filled with the Spirit’s power, united in one vision, united in one purpose, united in our love and concern for one another. We can become people who make a difference in this world, if we are people in whose lives Christ has made a difference. We can enjoy the unity of the Spirit, the power of God, and effective ministry as we allow Christ to live His life through us.
Lastly, I will end with this quote from Charles Spurgeon...
Let us not forget why we were saved, let us not be conformed to the ways of the world, and let us continue in the path that God has already set before us. Then and only then, can we be a church, like the “Early Church” which was called to do Gods will and be a church that is pleasing in His sight. Amen!!!
Pastor Richard Santos
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