Perry Duggar |
A unified church will experience the Spirit’s work through generosity, holy living and spiritual miracles.
Church Empowered – Message 5
October 18, 2020
I. Introduction: Continuing our series, Church Empowered.
A. As we consider returning to on-site worship, discipleship and fellowship, my hope and prayer is that we recognize what we have missed is being separated from each other.
- My purpose in preaching through Acts at this time, is that when we come back together as a congregation, we will strive to more closely resemble the biblical model for a church community in a culture that is moving away from faith-based morality.
- The title of today’s message is Oneness.
- Theme verse: Acts 4:32 (NLT)—All the believers were united in heart and mind. …
- Oneness = a strong feeling of closeness in the Spirit, producing unity of thought, feeling and belief.
- Oneness results from finding our identity in Christ, instead of our background, race, ethnicity, gender, social status, political affiliation, sports team, or any organization.
- We will examine some outcomes from the functioning of a unified church.
II. The results of oneness in the church… (Acts 4:32-5:16; C/R: John 17:21;
1 Corinthians 12:13)
A. #1 - Sacrifice practiced. (Acts 4:32b-37; C/R: John 13:35; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Philippians 2:3; 1 John 3:17)
- The church experienced startling growth as a result of unity of belief and purpose expressed through prayer and Spirit-filled, bold preaching. (Acts 4:31)
- Another effect of being united in heart and mind was appreciation to God for salvation and provision, also concern for each other, including each other’s needs. (Phil.2:3)
- Acts 4:32b (NLT)—…And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.
- When we are filled with the Spirit, we become aware that everything we possess was given by God and belongs to Him, so we don’t grip onto it selfishly for security.
- If I truly think that what I view as mine was actually entrusted to me by God, I will be willing to use it in ways that would please Him, including sharing with others.
- Acts 4:33 (NLT)—The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, [Though instructed them to stop.] and God’s great blessing was upon them all.
- When we are surrender to the Spirit’s leading to serve God with our lives, we experience the blessing, the grace, of God, which provides us peace, contentment, security.
- Acts 4:34-35 (NLT)—34There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.
- The loving unity of the church was expressed in the voluntary sharing of material possessions—significant ones, not only unused, unnecessary, extras! (John 13:35)
- Many of these new believers may have come to Jerusalem for Pentecost and remained to be taught by the apostle’s instead of returning home; others may have lived in or near Jerusalem, but they lost their jobs because of their faith, and some may have been ill or disabled; whatever the reason, they needed the church’s support—and received it!
- An example of generosity: Acts 4:36-37 (NLT)—36For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi [priestly tribe] and came from the island of Cyprus. [Not Israel.] 37He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.
- APP.: Do we see others in need as our responsibility to provide? Are we willing to sacrifice finances or personal possessions for others?
- Our willingness to sacrifice for others is an indicator of our appreciation to God and our love for others. (James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:17)
- Since March, we are collecting 20% less than our budget needs (which was reduced by $400k from 2019 budget). We will be short more than $1 million unless our giving increases. This will impact our ministry significantly. We cannot reduce the $864,000 given to children in India and will affect our ability to begin a free medical clinic.
- APP.: Will you ask God what you should give and then begin doing so? (2 Corinthians 9:6-13)
Another result of oneness in the church…
B. #2 - Sin confronted. (Acts 5:1-11; C/R: 1 Corinthians 5:12; Galatians 6:1-3; James 5:19-20; 1 John 5:16)
- Then a bad example: Acts 5:1-2 (NLT)—But there was a certain man named Ananias who, with his wife, Sapphira, sold some property. 2He brought part of the money to the apostles, claiming it was the full amount. With his wife’s consent, he kept the rest.
- Guided by the Spirit, Peter saw through the pretense and confronted the sin.
- Acts 5:3-4 (NLT)—3Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself. 4The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!” [Any sin against the fellowship of believers is sin against God!]
- Ananias lied to the church, but also the Holy Spirit and broke the Word within him by proudly pretending to give all the proceeds of the sale. (He must have declared it!)
- He wanted the reputation of gracious generosity (spiritual status) without the sacrifice.
- This dishonest pretense was hypocrisy, which breaks relationships in a church, introduces mistrust, tarnishes the witness of the church in the community. (Matthew 6:1-4)
- Hypocrisy, claiming to be something you are not or believing something you do not, grieves (Ephesians 4:30) the Spirit with and quenches Him (1Thessalonians 5:19) in a church body.
- Acts 5:5-6 (NLT)—5As soon as Ananias heard these words, he fell to the floor and died. Everyone who heard about it was terrified. [Why? Awe for judgment of God] 6Then some young men got up, wrapped him in a sheet, and took him out and buried him.
- Due to the hot climate in Palestine, it was customary for burial to take place the same day; especially when someone died because of divine judgment. (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)
- Acts 5:7-10 (NLT)—7About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8Peter asked her, “Was this the price you and your husband received for your land?” [Peter gave her an opportunity to repent and tell the truth.]
“Yes,” she replied, “that was the price.” [Continued the deception.]
9And Peter said, “How could the two of you even think of conspiring to test the Spirit of the Lord like this? [Personally, and in the church.] The young men who buried your husband are just outside the door, and they will carry you out, too.”
10Instantly, she fell to the floor and died. When the young men came in and saw that she was dead, they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
- Were these two Christians? I think they were. They lied to the Spirit, which implied that they possessed Him; and God was disciplining them to produce a pure church.
- This was God’s judgment, taking the lives of sinning believers to prevent the damaging influence on other Christians and on the church’s witness. (1 Corinthians 11:27-32; 1 John 5:16)
- This couple was presenting a sacrificial spirituality that they didn’t possess—a pretense that would promote spiritual dishonesty in the church and mockery in the community.
- Acts 5:11 (NLT)—Great fear gripped the entire church and everyone else who heard what had happened. [All saw that God viewed sin seriously.]
- The church was not designed by God for each of us to “mind our own business.”
- We are responsible to provide for physical needs for each other, but also to encourage spiritual growth, which will require humble confrontation. (Galatians 6:1-3; James 5:19-20)
- Loving people doesn’t means tolerating their sin; true biblical love seeks the best for other believers, which is to help them walk with God in greater intimacy.
- APP.: Am I willing to humbly confront sin for the good of the sinner and the church?
A third result of oneness in the church…
C. #3 - Signs performed. (Acts 5:12-16; C/R: Matthew 10:5-8; Mark 16:17-18; Romans 15:18-19; Hebrews 2:3–4)
- Acts 5:12a (NLT)—The apostles were performing many miraculous signs [semeion] and wonders [teras] among the people. [dunamis = a work of power is the other]
- These works of power confirmed God’s truth and the apostle’s as His messengers.
- Acts 5:12b-13 (NLT)—12b And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. [portico or porch, east side of temple] 13But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them.
- Unbelievers in the area had great respect for these followers of Jesus, their commitment to their beliefs, and the power of God displayed through them, but they did not join because they did not want their sin judged—especially so severely, with death!
- Acts 5:14 (NLT)—Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord—crowds of both men and women.
A church that is holy and loving—toward God
- and people—will attract people who want to seriously seek God and live transformed lives with other committed Christians.
- Acts 5:15-16 (NLT)—15As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats [rich and poor] so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. [Believed Peter had divine power, even in shadow; no evidence anyone healed.] 16Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.
- APP.: Some of us may doubt miracles are occurring today, yet, many of you indicated two weeks ago that you had personally experienced a miracle. I want to hear about it!
Text “Miracle” to 864.640.4888 to receive a link to form to submit your story, or
Visit brookwoodchurch.org/miracle to locate the form.
- I believe a unified and morally pure church filled with committed Christians will see the power of God displayed among the body and through it to the community. Let’s do it!
- Spiritual practice: Think of resources God has given you (ex.: money, possessions, also talents and time). Give something you possess to a person or organization who could benefit from it.
- Memory verse: Acts 4:32 (NLT)—All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.