Grace Brings Unity

32 Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold 35 and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. [1]

As we look at this passage once again today, it becomes clear that the grace that was upon them all affected their unity.  In this case the unity displayed led them to care for other members of the church in such a way that nobody had a need.  It doesn’t say that they didn’t own anything anymore and thus it is not an encouragement for “forced distribution of wealth.”  It says they sold their possessions to turn them into cash, but this does not mean they never owned more land after that.

The overarching concept was their unity, their being “one in heart and mind,” their fellowship in the Spirit.  If you notice in churches today, you can usually connect the dots with a churches’ unity (or lack thereof) and their generosity or stinginess accordingly.  Mind you, it is not the only litmus test of true unity, but at least one test of it.  We discover that the church in the New Testament continued to be generous in their contributions for the other believers.  This happened when an offering we collected by the Apostle Paul for the believers in Jerusalem.

 

Even the detractors of the early church would say such things of the church’s generosity by such quotes as “behold, how they love one another.”  I believe this example of the generosity shown by the believers of everybody giving so that no one would have need is a general principle we should practice yet today.

 

However, one thing must remain clear; this generosity was preceded by prayer, signs and wonders and the preaching of the word.  I truly believe that if we get this priority right, the spontaneous generosity and care for one another will follow, not in a communal style of living but in a community that is alive with the Acts of the Holy Spirit in the marketplace and in the gathered assembly of worshipers.


[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). (Ac 4:32–35). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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