The Gift of Harmony

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The church will enjoy harmony and favor when they rely upon the Holy Spirit to unite them.

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Acts 2:42–47 NASB95
They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles. And all those who had believed were together and had all things in common; and they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing them with all, as anyone might have need. Day by day continuing with one mind in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number day by day those who were being saved.
Introduction: Recently my family had the privilege of visiting the NC Museum of Art in Raleigh where we toured one of their special exhibits of modern art called “You Are Here: Light, Color, and Sound Experiences.”
I’m not necessarily a fan of modern art. Many of the paintings that are done now look like someone took one of the Ruffin brothers paint brushes, dunked it in paint, and slung it on the canvas.
However, this exhibit was different. Many of the pieces used technology and light and sound to create their works of art. Some were fascinating and a one was offensive. (It did have a warning)
The piece that caught my attention most was one by Janet Cardiff called the Forty Part Motet. The media used in the piece was sound.
As you walk into the exhibit room, you will see a ring of 40 stereo speakers arranged in an oval shape facing toward the center of the room. The speakers are playing a recorded piece of 16th century music composed by Thomas Tallis called “Spem in Aluim” and it is sung by the Salisbury Cathedral Choir.
Cardiff recorded each singer with an individual microphone and each singer’s part is played through just one of the speakers. By the way, the music itself was originally written in Latin for 40 male voices organized into eight choirs of five speakers. (Penny is ordering the sheet music for the choir next week.)
You could choose to sit in the center of the room on benches and immerse yourself in the rich blend of voices or you could move about and position yourself in front of a single speaker causing one voice to stand out or in front of a group of speakers.
Here is a brief video about the artist and her creation. YOUTUBE VIDEO HERE.
As I was studying for my message today, I thought of this exhibit and this piece of music. It reminds me of the harmony that existed in the early church and what life in the church ought to be like for us. You see music, is the assembly of different notes, different pitches and tones, arranged in such a way so as to produce a unified song. We call it harmony.
Those believers that numbered over 3000 at that time, with different personalities, desires, and backgrounds, experienced a unique unity which I believe was a gift from God. Their unity could be best described as a state of harmony.
Scripture says that within their fellowship, they continually devoted themselves together to the Apostles teaching, that they were together and they had all things in common, and that they were of one mind.
Let’s look at this passage together.
One such conflict happened in when there was a dispute over how resources were distributed between the Hellenist and Hebrew widows. This led to the church calling out deacons who handled this task.
However, the Holy Spirit kept them together…supernaturally.
Let’s look at this passage together.

The Spirit of God Unified Them (vv. 42-46)

There is a Greek term that is used in verse 46 that we translate, “with one mind” or “with one accord.” which we need to understand if we are to understand the kind of unity that existed in the early church…it is the term, “homothumadon”
Not don’t go to sleep on me here because the key to unlocking this passage is understanding this word.
It is a compound of 2 words…
“Homo” - which means the same
“Thumos” which is an adverb denoting unity of a group and means with the same emotion, same passion, of one accord.
This term is used 10 of 11 times in the book of Acts…but specifically applied to the unity in the church 5 times and it helps us understand the uniqueness of their community.
It can also mean, to rush along side in unison…that is where the musical image comes in. A number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone.
That does not mean that there was a total absence of conflict in the early church…there were a number of times when contentious issues arose which threatened to split the fledgling church.
That does not mean that there was a total absence of conflict in the early church…there were a number of times when contentious issues arose which threatened to split the fledgling church.
One such conflict happened in when there was a dispute over how resources were distributed between the Hellenist and Hebrew widows. This led to the church calling out deacons who handled this task.
However, the Holy Spirit kept them together…supernaturally. All of them…over 3000 people at this point and soon to grow to 5000 by chapter 4.
Hello? These days, it’s hard to keep 50-75 people unified in a church.
Illus. Two congregations located only a few blocks from each other in a small community decided to become one united, and thus larger and more effective, body instead of two struggling churches. But the merger did not happen because they could not agree on how to recite the Lord’s prayer. One group wanted “forgive us our trespasses,” while the other demanded “forgive us our debts.”

The Spirit of God Magnified Them (v. 47a)

The reason is that we have failed to see the supernatural nature of their union. Homothumadon was a gift of God through the Holy Spirit to the church. It can’t be generated, fabricated or duplicated.
James Edwards pointed out that homothumadon is a “unity that comes from outside ourselves rather than from any denominator common to ourselves.”
This church will never have that kind of harmony based on the fact that we are a Baptist church.
This church will never have that kind of unity based on the fact that most of us live in the same county and the same area.
This church will never have that kind of unity based on the number of years that our names have been on the roll.
This church will never have that kind of unity because of our constitution and bylaws or our form of church governance.
The Early church experienced that kid of unity because they made prayer the foundation of everything that they did.
Acts 1:14 ESV
All these with one accord were devoting themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.
Acts 4:24 ESV
And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them,
Acts
;
Most modern churches - including ours - make prayer an afterthought.
Everything that this early church did was done in one accord…they prayed together in one accord…the had fellowship together and experienced community because they were in one accord…the praised God together in one accord…they experienced miracles together because they were in one accord…they raised up and sent out missionaries in one accord…and according to , they glorified God together with one accord. (KJV Mouth)
I’m convinced that we don’t have this kind of unity because we don’t seek it from God.
I’m also convinced that if there were homothumadon in a local church, they would never have contentious business meetings, or split decisions. By the way, I’m still trying to find that chapter in the New Testament where the early church had business meetings.

The Spirit of God Magnified Them (v. 47a)

In verse 47, it says they were “praising God, and having favor with all the people.” The word for favor is the same word we use for grace. This is the very same kind of favor that is spoken of in of the Bby, Jesus.
Luke 2:52 ESV
And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man.
Whenever a church is experiencing Homothumadon unity, God highlights those people before their community…he magnifies their church before the watching world.
Whenever a church is experiencing Homothumadon unity, God highlights those people before their community…he magnifies their church before the world.
Warren Weirsbe wrote: The church in Acts had a powerful testimony among the unsaved Jews, not only because of the miracles done by the Apostles, but also because of the way the members of the fellowship loved each other and served the Lord.
Jesus reminded us of this truth in
John 13:34–35 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34 ESV
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
A church that experiences Biblical harmony will have a powerful testimony before lost people.
What do the lost people in our community see when the observe us? Do they see a church serving together in harmony? Do they see us loving one another in our actions?
Warren Weirsbe wrote: The church in Acts had a powerful testimony among the unsaved Jews, not only because of the miracles done by the Apostles, but also because of the way the members of the fellowship loved each other and served the Lord.
If we want to find out the truth, we need to ask them because we are biased. But we will never ask because we don’t want to know the truth. That is why churches die because they never want to stop and ask the hard questions.
A church that experiences Biblical harmony will have a powerful testimony before lost people. What do the lost people in our community see when the observe us? Do they see a church serving together in harmony? Do they see us loving one another in our actions?

The Spirit of God Multiplied Them. (v. 47b.)

Our church will enjoy harmony and favor when we rely upon the Holy Spirit to unite us together.

The Spirit of God Multiplied Them. (v. 47b.)

Not only were these believers magnified in the eyes of the lost, they were multiplied as God saved the lost through their witness.
Notice first of all who it was that added those being saved to the church…it wasn;t the apostles or even the church members - it was the Lord. God alone adds people to his church.
Geoff Thomas wrote: If you had children you loved deeply, and you decided you had to give them up for adoption, to which home would you choose to add your children? You say you would give them to people you trusted, to people who would raise them properly, teaching them the truth, people with whom your beloved sons and daughters would be safe, so that they would be children loved and cared for by these people. You wouldn’t give them to bullies, and abusive parents, and racists, and show-offs and cynics about all that is good and lovely.
God does the same with his children. He isn’t going to send them to a church that is divided or a church that will neglect their care. He wants these children cared for, loved and discipled. That takes effort and energy. It doesn’t by sticking them in a spiritual nursery with a bottle of milk letting them fend for themselves.
And it’s a good thing that God is the one who adds to the body of Christ. If we had the power to do that, we would only add, the wealthy, the beautiful, the well connected.
I’ll never forget what pastor E.V. Hill said back in 1999 at the Billy Graham School of Evangelism. We need to become Highway and Hedges Christians…instead, we are out there looking for the Phds, the three piece suits and the BMW’s.
Our job is to become the kind of church to whom God will entrust his own children.
The Lord added to their number day-by-day those who were being saved. That is what happens in a healthy church. The same could be said of this church if we took discipleship seriously.
God however, used this church as part of his desire to reach the lost. It took both their visible witness - that is, how they lived their lives before the world - and their vocal witness to accomplish this miracle.
The majority of those saved didn’t get saved through the preaching of the apostles, they were saved by the efforts of the members to share the gospel. The lost saw their verbal witness match their visible witness, they came to Christ.
The progress and growth of the church is either helped or hindered by the witness and testimony of it’s members.
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