The Book of Acts Chapter 4 Part 3
Introduction: A key idea in the book of Acts is that we should be witnesses of the Lord wherever we go. Today, we hope to discuss provision.
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Read Acts 4:32-37
3. The Provision. The unity of the believers is noted. There was a great sharing among them. Some sold their land or possessions and placed it at the Apostles feet.
In this section of the book of Acts these offerings were used to help insure that none of the believers were in need. Joseph or Barnabas is introduced as one of those who sold a field and brought the proceeds to the feet of the Apostles.
- Christian unity. Notice in vs. 32 of this section of the book of Acts the united of heart and mind that was experienced in the early church.
Also, notice in Ephesians 4:11-13 that one of the chief duties of the Pastor is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, until there is noted united of faith, knowledge, and maturity.
Christian unity is important because we can do better together than we can separately. It is important because God desires us to have it; consequently, when we don't have it, we are living in sin.
Essential ideas in developing unity include making sure everyone believes the same thing, as it relates to one's salvation – accepting Jesus as one's savior by faith.
We can work on oneness of mind and knowledge by attending the same training, classes, and Bible studies – Membership Orientation, Discipleship Orientation, Training Union, teaching notes, etc.
And then unity of maturity comes by way of us actually doing what we have learned because of our faith in Christ. Let's work on Christian unity.
There are too many who united around the wrong thing – friendship, common enemy, or simply ethnicity. And then there are too many who don't unite at all. They are lone rangers and easy pickings for the devil.
If those who understand would move in the right direction, it would move those who can be persuaded to move with us, and it will leave those who will not be persuaded, no matter what we do.
In order for the church to be what we and others need for it to be, unity must be addressed.
- Giving as stewards towards needs. Notice in vss. 32-35 of this section of the book of Acts that the people gave to a common good, so that no one would be in need.
First, receiving the gospel nurtures a giving spirit. Accepting the One who gave His life for us nurtures a spirit within believers that urges us to give at least 10% of our income.
Where there is no giving spirit, one may do well to go back and review one's salvation. There are many who like church but have not accepted Christ.
In fact, believers realize that to a significant degree, we are simply following the instructions of the Owner, when we give. Believers are stewards, not owners.
The Owner, God, wants us to give what He has placed in our trust for the needs of especially those other believers who are in need. It takes a certain amount of maturity to realize that we are stewards and not owners.
Second, there is a great difference between being in need and being in want. Too many of the foreclosures and repossessions of our day have to do with confusing what we need with what we want.
The church in this section of the book of Acts was concerned with needs – food, clothing, shelter – not wants – hair, nails, designer clothes, etc. Let's work on giving as stewards to the needs of especially other believers.
Our benevolent fund, scholarships, and donations move in this direction. However, it is obvious that there is so much more to be done, in this area.
- Keeping first things first. Notice in vs. 33 of this section of the book of Acts that the ministry was moving forward with great impact.
If we are not careful, we will swing from being a stingy or broke church to being simply a social service organization.
At our best, we equip believers to be able to stand on their own two feet with a sensitivity for the less fortunate, instead of perpetuating "soup kitchen" type services.
If a person really accepts Jesus as savior and lord, that person will find so much more than the hope of golden streets and pearly gates.
In Jesus and the word of God, we discover principles like "if we don’t work, we don't eat," the idea of being profitable for the Lord, and the notion of blessing the least of Jesus' brothers and sisters.
Let's make sure that we keep godly evangelism and edification as the chief priority of the church. From this priority grows need meeting ministries like emergency services, marriage enrichment, economic empowerment ministry, and so much more.
- Godly perspective on leadership and money. Notice in vss. 35, 37 of this section of the book of Acts that the money was placed at the Apostles feet.
On one hand, it makes good sense to have checks and balances as well as separation of duties for the sake of financial integrity in the church.
To be clear, it makes sense that Pastors do not have too much to do with counting and withdrawing money that is given for the sake of the church.
But on the other hand, if a person is not trustworthy with money than they are surely not to be trusted with God's word.
There is something wrong when Trustees, who rarely come to prayer meeting or Bible study, have access to over a million dollars, Deacons, who are supposed to be almost as holy and mature as the Pastor, have access to less than $15,000 of benevolent funds, and the Pastor, who is supposed to be super holy, has access to no money.
Under our talk of accountability is often a lack of trust. The early church trusted God enough to give sacrificially to the God sent leaders. If your leader cannot be trusted with money than he/she should not be trusted to feed and lead.
Let's work on demonstrating our trust of God by giving as the Bible teaches. A part of biblical giving is making sure you have trustworthy people handling the money.
Because the devil helps us misunderstand teaching points like this, let's make sure we are clear. The Pastor of most churches have more important things to do than to count money and put it in the bank. Other honest people can do that.
However, when it is time to review reports, make spending decisions, and things of this matter, if the leader cannot be trusted with these matters then you may have the wrong leader. Find one who you believe God is controlling.
- Proper recognition of special giving. Notice in vss. 36-37 of this section of the book of Acts that Joseph/Barnabas was known for his sacrificial giving.
First, I know without asking that God will bless Joseph at his level of faithfulness. In this section of the book of Acts it appears that Joseph was well off and decided to give a piece of property to the church of his day.
God will bless him for his kindness and will bless us as we do likewise. More of us need to include the church in our estate plans. Second, notice that Joseph's name was called and the act that he performed.
When people do such great acts of kindness, we should at least say "thank you" in a significant way. However, often the Pastor doesn't call names and give amounts, because baby Christians are so easily offended and distracted.
To call the name of one who gives a great offering to the church is to risk being accused of only caring about those who give big money. There is the risk of being accused of favoritism.
The lack of name calling often leads to people not being inspired by the act of faith, because they don't know about the act of faith.
Such an immature culture impedes and puts a stumbling block in front of passages like Matthew 5:13-16 that teaches that we ought to be able to do our good works in front of people, so that God can be glorified.
But thank God, even if Luke didn't call Joseph's name, God had it on record anyhow. Let's work on developing a culture that allows for proper recognition of great work.
Conclusion: Let's work on being witnesses of the Lord wherever we go. God has much for those who obey His will.
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