This giving to the church, initially for the people, was given to the church for the people, but there were some other things going on here. At this point, again, the church is not moving out into the world as the Lord commanded. Jesus said, go into all the world, and they're just huddled in Jerusalem. There's no outreach.
There's only internal care. 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. And with great power, the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord. Jesus, and great grace was upon them all.
Nor was there anyone among them who lacked, for all who were possessors of land or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of the things that they sold and laid them at the apostles' feet. And they distributed to each of the apostles' feet. And they distributed to each of the apostles' feet. And they distributed to each of the apostles' feet. And they distributed to each of the apostles' feet. And they distributed to each as anyone had need. Moses, 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.
Well, a lot's going on here. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the book of Acts and what is happening in this section, a brief review, the apostles, the hand-picked men of Jesus Christ, these particular two of the twelve, Peter and John, were going to the Jewish temple during the hour of prayer. And they were met there at the gate by a lame man who was lame all of his life, he was in his 40s, and he was begging. And Peter said, Silver and gold have I none, but what I have I'll give you in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk, and the man was healed. Well, that drew a lot of attention, and that gave Peter an opportunity to preach the gospel.
He preached Jesus Christ. Well, the authorities didn't care for that, and they had those two men, Peter and John, arrested. And while they could not deny that a miracle was done, they ordered Peter and John to not mention the name of Jesus again and not to preach in his name. And Peter responded, well, you do what you got to do, we're going to do what God tells us to do, and he left it at that. And so they then severely threatened them even more, and Peter and John, though it's not recorded, I know this is what they said, yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever, we're going to keep preaching.
Of course, they were not, no evidence of them being snarky or rude, but they just stood their ground. And they go back to the church, they don't go home first, these two men released from an overnight in the jail, they go to the church, the bride of Christ. I think it's something very wrong when we refer to the church as a campus. The word is a very special word, it is linked to the word Lord, kyrios, the hero of the church. The name means something, the sanctuary, this is not an auditorium, this is the sanctuary, this is where we come because God has arranged this for us, and we grow, we find strength spiritually which gives us strength in every other area of life that God wants us to have if we will avail ourselves, at least by depending on him.
Words mean something, and we should not trivialize that. Well, I digress just a little bit, coming back to this, they go to the church and there they prayed, in Acts chapter 4 and verse 29 we read, this is what they were praying, Now Lord, look on their threats and grant to your servants that with all boldness they may speak your word. And then verse 31, And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. So they asked God for boldness to speak in the face of these threats, and God granted it. And that's now what is happening in Jerusalem at this time as people are coming to Christ, they're getting saved. They were getting saved since the day of Pentecost when Peter stood up and preached and the Holy Spirit came upon the church.
That moment created this moment. All that preaching and all those converts that had converged on Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, many of those converts stayed in Jerusalem, and then they had needs. Those needs had to be met. They had to eat.
They had to find shelter. This was a big issue in the church. Luke doesn't really give us much comment.
He just lays it out for us, and so we'll pick it up there and we'll try to color in the blanks, or not the blanks, but we'll color between the lines. Verse 432, 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.
Well, what's characterizing this time of need is this lack of material possessiveness. People weren't, oh, this mind is, you know, there was this spirit of grace. Now here are two possibilities, again, of why this is happening. The first one that some would say is that the Christians were, or the Jewish converts from Judaism to Christianity were being cut off by their family members and by the places of employment and lost income. The problem with that is the church is not yet persecuted in Jerusalem. At this time, the authorities opposed the apostles, but the common people approved of the Christians. Going back to Acts chapter 2, verse 47, Luke tells us what was going on when these Christians were being converted, when these people were being converted to Christianity, praising God and having favor with all the people, and the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved. So persecution is not causing this. Nothing else is causing this need for these urgent needs to be met.
Incidentally, the title of this morning's message is Urgent Needs. Coming back to this, these converted Jews that remained in Jerusalem from Pentecost, this shows up in Acts chapter 6 when the Hellenistic Jews had a quarrel about the Jerusalem Jews getting the handouts first. The Hellenistic Jews are Jews that speak the Greek language, but not the Hebrew, and they're not from Jerusalem.
They're from other parts of the world. They're Jewish, and they're converted, and this is how we know that this was a problem here because this daily distribution of food was to help bring relief to those who had come to Christ and not returned home, at least not yet. Things are going to get worse for the Christians in Jerusalem. They're going to get worse not only because of the overcrowding, but because of the coming persecution and also because of the famine that will come. Those things will happen. The persecution is coming sooner. The famine is coming later. So we need to go back to some of the other sections of Scripture to get a handle on exactly what is going on here. Otherwise, it puts a lot of questions in our head, and we walk away saying, boy, that doesn't seem sustainable. I don't know.
I can't live like this, and is this right? Well, we have to address it. Christians meeting urgent needs, of course, is a big part of our faith. James writes, well, what good is it if you say to someone who's hungry, oh, be warm and be filled and be blessed and walk on about your business, but don't give him anything to bring relief? And so that's what we're finding here. We're finding the Christians living this out. There were those that had needs, and they're not saying, oh, Lord bless you, and going about their business.
They were taking steps to address these needs. And the Spirit of the Lord was moving in their hearts, even though we have no commandment to do this direct commandment, indirect, yes, love, but no direct commandment. The well would soon run dry. You just can't sustain this kind of giving. And we'll get briefly why this is not communism, and it's not socialism. It is love, and it is nothing but love that was driving this at this time. Again, when the persecution comes, things will be even more radical, but the Christians will be pushed out of Jerusalem because of the persecution that the apostles will remain. And so this was a loving movement, but in reality, in an imperfect world, you cannot sustain this.
There has to be a source of supply, or else the well runs dry. Eventually, the apostle Paul mainly had to strictly regulate church giving. Now, this is not church giving yet as we know it.
It is part of it, but it's not the whole story. So let's look at what Paul has to say. Paul says to Timothy, because they didn't know how to do church. All these Gentiles coming into the synagogue-based church, they were bringing their pagan ways with them, and they were bringing wrong ways with them, and that's why we have these letters of Paul and the other apostles too. And Paul says, do not let a widow under 60 years old be taken into the number, not unless she has been a wife of one man, and then he goes on to itemize other things. The standard was very high, and what he's talking about, this number is the number of those who are receiving financial assistance.
And when you read it, you say, that eliminates almost everybody. They don't have family members, okay, but if they got family members, let their family members take care of them. Don't burden the church.
Very serious business. Titus, another pastor Paul wrote to in chapter 3, and let our people learn to maintain good works and meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful. Our people to meet urgent needs. He did not say, and let the church meet urgent needs.
I don't know, it sounds insensitive, but it's not. The other way around is breaks the church, creates a spirit of, makes parasites out of people, some people, if done wrong, creating this balance of care in the midst of urgent needs, but not all needs, is something we should understand from scripture, and not just because our heart wants to do something. That can be a trap. It's good that your heart wants to do something and is moved, but that's not enough, or else God wouldn't have given us brains to be able to reason through them.
Well, you feel it, just go do it. You don't have to think it through. It won't affect anybody else. You know, that's why we have county ordinances, where you just can't do certain things on your property in certain circumstances because, you know, when it rains, where's the silt going to go?
You know, it could go down and, you know, silt up someone else's pond or some other thing. There's people involved in life, and we can lose sight of that very quickly. Jesus said, for the poor you have with you always, there'll always be those with needs.
It's not going to stop until he returns. And so when I say that the Bible teaches that we're not to try to get the church to give what you personally may be called to give. John in his first letter, he says, but whoever has this world's goods and sees his brother in need and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in that guy, in him? But John is saying on an individual level, if you see a need and you can help that need and you're moved in the spirit to help, then do it. What I've seen over the years is people come, the church has to do something.
No, why didn't you do something? I'm not saying people are always, you know, wrong or negative or anything like that when they make this appeal. They just don't understand what the scriptures, how the scripture lays this out. Well, that's why he himself has given some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastor teachers. And I believe pastor teachers synonymous and not a second group there, although we certainly do have teachers. The children's ministry, incidentally, this church has enjoyed a lot of men teaching in our children's ministry.
And I have always been impressed by that. I think it's very good that the children see men and women loving on them in the presence of God, deliberately from God's word, that there's the question marks are taken away as to what's going on in the church. Some kids go to church, it's just a babysitting center.
Here you go back there. If you're a teacher and you're not prepared, those kids are going to gobble you up. They know their Bibles. Their mom and dad are home, you know, you're going to take that guy down if he doesn't know this verse. And anyway, the second Thessalonians, just to put the brakes on some of this Paul was doing, we commend you this.
Pretty intense, right? New Testament commandment. If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. If he will not work, if he chooses, I don't want to work, I'll just receive. That's a parasite. And the Bible forbids this.
That's actually sort of a death sentence, is it not? Then don't feed him. If he won't eat, he'll starve until he's either going to go work or we'll have one less need.
You say, well, now that sounds pretty harsh, I didn't write it, I like it, I like that it's here, it brings relief. Well, then there's so many different circumstances, we're not getting to people who actually have needs now. And they don't always have to be urgent for us to help people. If someone's in need and we can help, we do it. What we don't do is clobber the church over the head.
We get phone calls here. People saying, hey, can you pay my electric bill? No.
Blink. Not even nice, yeah, anyway. The scriptures disagree with that. First Timothy is, Thessalonians, as I've mentioned, teach on these things. This same apostle Paul that put serious restrictions on church giving to the needy, the same man is the one that rallied the Gentile church to send financial aid to poverty-stricken Jerusalem. And you've got to say, well, why again, this is years later after the section in Acts, why the Jerusalem Christians struggling financially? And Pentecost is the place that produced all of the converts who decided to stay and then struggled.
Life is real, serious business, and you can't hide behind religion to get away from the laws in a cursed world. You might say, well, some of them weren't planning it through, were they? Well, that might be true.
But this is the record we have, and this is what we have to evaluate alongside of life where we live today. And, you know, it's very easy to say, well, we have enough social programs that can handle things. That's not always true. That's true in a lot of cases. But there are other cases that are genuine needs, and the social programs just mess it up.
You know, they put all these little laws on you and restrictions, and then you have a genuine need, and they're not helping you. Well, I remember before this, when this church used to meet in those apartments across the road there, just about five or six of us, those were hard times financially. And God sent a brother who was part of the little fellowship, and every now and then he'd slip a check under the door of something that would help.
God put that on his heart, and God put it on my heart to cash that check. I'll never forget it. This brother was here last Sunday worshiping with us.
I'll never forget it. I won't go around saying, hey, it's him. God will do that when he gets there. So these needs, the Holy Spirit knows how to talk to people, and he knows how to move us if we're willing to be moved and we're willing to listen and we have the means. And I can also add in this church, we have some generous people here.
We have people that give large, and it is always a blessing to see that. I don't know who they are. I never want to know who they are. By the time we get to heaven, I won't be interested in that part. But that is the work of the Holy Spirit, and we should not undervalue it. This giving to the church initially for the people was given to the church for the people.
But there were some other things going on here. At this point, again, the church is not moving out into the world as the Lord commanded. Jesus said, go into all the world, and they're just huddled in Jerusalem. At this point, there is no outreach.
There's only internal care. Well, a church wants to have outreach. A church wants to have some method of reaching out from itself. For us, radio has been very good. We have a much larger congregation in the airwaves than we do physically in the building.
In Florida, there's some in Ohio, and here in Virginia, it's been very good. And that's outreach. It's not cheap, and I'm not whining about the price.
I think it's worth it. A laborer is worthy of his wages. But we're always looking to do more, and that's why we have some outreaches coming up. We do not want to be just huddled in together doing our thing, and that's it, although we have our distinctives. We have a directive from God to the pastor, and that moves out to the congregation. If the congregation is leading the pastor, fire that pastor. He's not a pastor. I don't know what he is. He's a speaker of something. This is not, then, a pulpit.
It's a lectern. The word of God, the man of God, is to know the state of the flock. He is to lead the flock.
This is biblical. We never read of Paul asking anybody, what do you think I should do? When it came to ministry, I mean, he might have said, you know, I don't know, what should I get? The vanilla or the chocolate, you know, but when it came to preaching the word and ministry, he got his orders from God, and it works wonderfully.
The church at Laodicea in Revelation 7, the nauseating church, and that's what it is on the other hand, that was the people's church, and they did what the people wanted, and Jesus said, hey, I'm outside trying to get in, and you're all in there just doing your thing in my name, and I have some objections for you. Anyway, coming back to verse 32, now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul. Well, this is what Jesus asked the Father twice in one prayer, and when those kind of things happen, there's an emphasis that we should not dismiss. Once Gospel chapter 17, truly this is the Lord's prayer, whereas Matthew 6 gives us the prayer from Jesus to the disciples, our Father who ought in heaven, which every Christian should memorize. It is the template for prayer. Calibrate your heart, get it right first, who are you addressing, and who is he? Our Father who is in heaven, holy is your name.
It is a big deal. Well, when Jesus prayed, he said to the Father, now I am no longer in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to you, holy Father, keep through your name those whom you have given me, that they may be one as we are one. That's the first part of that prayer, first time in that prayer that he asked for unity amongst his believers, and then it continues in verse 22 of John 17.
That was verse 11, here's verse 22. And the glory which you gave me, I have given them, that they may be one just as we are one. Christ said, I want the church, I want the assembly of believers, not just this universal church, which is global and covers every age of human history from the church age on, but also the local church. And it's, you know, you get a little disturbed when you hear, well, the church is everywhere. Yeah, it is everywhere, but there's also a local church, and without that local church, that church everywhere will die. And so they're both a big deal, but let's make sure we don't put the cart in front of the horse. The local church has got to be strong in first, and then the other will come as a product of that.
So twice he asked for unity amongst believers, he continues here in Acts 4 32. Let me pause here for a minute. Now I might be going a little fast for some of you.
I don't know how to slow it down, except to say that you can, the recorded, the messages are recorded. There's a lot of information in the scripture. God has a lot to say to us, and it is, none of it's casual. All of God's word is deep and demanding. His criteria is high.
It is so high we can't reach it without His grace and kindness, but we can glean so much from what God has made available to us that we are far better off than we ever would have been without it. God does not say, look, you know I love you, guess about everything else. He has it not only written down in blood and sweat, He's preserved it.
And so if you're sitting there saying, man, this is like phantasmagoria, this stuff is just flying out at me. That's the Holy Spirit saying, you got a lot of catching up to do, you're out of shape. You got to get in shape. You have to start getting into my word, take a little baby bites at first, and you will grow stronger and I will use you. It's not enough to be loved by God. I want to be used by God.
I want Him to use me up without burning me out. You've been listening to Cross Reference Radio, the daily radio ministry of Pastor Rick Gaston of Calvary Chapel in Mechanicsville, Virginia. As we mentioned at the beginning of today's broadcast, today's teaching is available free of charge at our website. Simply visit crossreferenceradio.com. That's crossreferenceradio.com. We'd also like to encourage you to subscribe to the Cross Reference Radio podcast. Subscribing ensures that you stay current with all the latest teachings from Pastor Rick. You can subscribe at crossreferenceradio.com or simply search for Cross Reference Radio in your favorite podcast app. Tune in next time as Pastor Rick continues teaching through the book of Acts, right here on Cross Reference Radio.
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