Acts 4:32-35

The Book of Acts   •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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In this passage, Luke is going to remind us of the character and heart attitude of these early believers. They had an incredible sense of fellowship and oneness. Since this is the second time such radical sharing is mentioned, we should regard it with importance.

1. They were completely unified. (Acts 4:32a)

Acts 4:32 CSB
32 Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common.
They were of one heart and mind. This is a deep sense of unity. Today, in many circles, followers of Jesus are not known for being of “one heart and mind”. Sometimes churches are known for being more contentious than unified. There are the old jokes, unfortunately with some truth to them, about churches dividing over the color of the carpet. Churches have fought over whether there should be pews or chairs and then about what color they should be.
There is the story told about a church business meeting where the issue of buying a new chandelier was being discussed. One person stood up and said, “I am against it for three reasons. One, nobody can spell it. Two, nobody in the church can play it. Three, what we really need in the lobby is better lighting.”
One of the keys to unification is leadership. In the Gospels, it was often noted that the disciples argued among themselves.
Luke 9:46–47 CSB
46 An argument started among them about who was the greatest of them. 47 But Jesus, knowing their inner thoughts, took a little child and had him stand next to him.
Apparently, they argued over this twice because it is noted again in Luke 22:24-27. However, now they are a unified group and their sense of unity spread to the entire church. When leaders are united it helps others be united as well.
The words “One heart and mind” is a comprehensive unity. There was a spiritual unity and a unity of commitment to the mission. There was only one agenda.

2. They shared generously with one another. (Acts 4:32b)

Acts 4:32 CSB
32 Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common.
We spoke about this previously, but it is important to point out again. This was not socialism or communism. This was not a top down system of controlling the means of production. This was voluntarily desiring to meet the needs of others. The apostles didn’t tax people to get them to give. People wanted to give because they didn’t want anyone to be without. The sharing of property was not legislated or commanded by leadership. They didn’t renounce the concept of private ownership. Rather, they recognized that all they had came from God. Likely, there were wealthier members of the church who had extra. They sold some of the extra to meet the needs of the poor. We will look at this more when we reach chapter 5 of Acts.

3. The apostles stayed on mission. (Acts 4:33)

Acts 4:33 CSB
33 With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them.
The message of the gospel continued to be proclaimed. They continued to proclaim the resurrection of Jesus Christ. This was the one thing they were commanded not to do, but they did it anyway. They couldn’t help but speak of the risen Lord. It was and is good news! Death has been conquered. Your sins have been paid for by the blood Jesus. They way to God is through Jesus Christ.

4. Wealthy believers voluntarily sold possessions to meet the needs of the poorer believers. (Acts 4:34-35)

Acts 4:34–35 CSB
34 For there was not a needy person among them because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed to each person as any had need.
This selling of land was something that was ongoing. When a need came up, the believers did what was necessary to meet the need. This was something the believers wanted to do for each other as the Lord led them to do so.
I think it would have flowed like this. A need in the group is reported. The brothers and sisters begin to pray about meeting the need. God laid it on someone’s heart to meet the need. The property is sold and the proceeds are brought to the apostles for distribution to those in need.
In the early days, the apostles administered the funds, but eventually this was not the case. They would appoint trusted men to tend to the needs of the congregation.
One of the things we need to remember is that community life is not an end to itself. Notice in the verses, sandwiched between the lines about community life is the declaration of the primary mission. They were all about proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Group unity centered around the gospel mandate. This was a witnessing community.
I want to go back and address the subject of unity again. Here is a question we need to consider.

How do we maintain the biblical standard of unity?

Ephesians 4:3 CSB
3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
There is much to be said about this and I wrote a book on it. :)

1. Humility (Phil 2:1-11)

Philippians 2:5–8 CSB
5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus, 6 who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be exploited. 7 Instead he emptied himself by assuming the form of a servant, taking on the likeness of humanity. And when he had come as a man, 8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death— even to death on a cross.
We need to adopt the mindset of Christ. Christ’ submission to the will of the Father and his humility is presented as the model for us to emulate. Humility is a necessary ingredient to unity. There will be times when we annoy others or are annoyed by others. There will be things we don’t like. However, we must be patient with one another and bear with one another in love. A humble person doesn’t insist on having their own way. We should be willing to sacrifice non-essentials for the good of other believers. What are some non-essentials we could give-up for the benefit of other believers?

2. Prioritizing (Eph 4:3)

Ephesians 4:3 CSB
3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.
I think this is especially important for leaders. It is of vital importance for leaders in the congregation to prioritize and make unity a primary concern. Leaders cannot settle for anything less than unity.

3. Gatherings (Hebrews 10:25)

Hebrews 10:25 CSB
25 not neglecting to gather together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day approaching.
Meeting together should be a regular occurence. I am thankful we can do this Bible study live. Even if we are in separate locations, we are still gathering together. Gathering together is how we forge and maintain unity. We can’t get tunnel vision and lose sight of the importance of being with each other. Spiritual accountability is fostered when we gather together.
As a matter of fact, you can help me with this. Invite others to meet with us and let us know you are here participating in the Bible Study. If you don’t see someone here, reach out to them or let me know so I can reach out to them. It is important we stay connected. God willing, this time of physical separation will pass soon.

4. Essentials (Eph 2:2)

Philippians 2:2 CSB
2 make my joy complete by thinking the same way, having the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
We have a spiritual unity in Christ. There are things which are essential and things which are not essential. Worship and prayer are essential. Unity and prayer go hand in hand. The authority of God’s Word is essential. We must be committed to the truths of God’s word. The mission of spreading the gospel is essential. Teaching what Jesus taught his disciples is essential. It is around these essentials we find our unity.

5. Agreement (Acts 6:5)

Acts 6:5 CSB
5 This proposal pleased the whole company. So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a convert from Antioch.
Notice I say agreement and not compromise. I don’t think we should work toward compromise. Have you noticed in a compromise no one really ends up happy? Each side gets a piece of what they want, but no one is really happy about it. I don’t think we should work towards compromise. I think we should work toward agreement. We strive for agreement over a course of action. This is what happened when they realized some people were going unserved. They didn’t compromise. They worked for agreement and found something that would please the whole group.
Unity takes work and sometimes we are impatient for wait on the Lord to gain unity. Lack of unity stunt our spiritual growth, hampers our mission, and damages our passion.
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