I. "AND THE MULTITUDE OF THEM THAT BELIEVED WERE OF ONE HEART AND ONE SOUL."
A. In the psalms, David said, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell together in unity."
B. In the proverbs, Solomon wrote:
These six [things] the LORD hates: yea, seven [are] an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that devises wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness [that] speaks lies, and he that sows discord among brethren.
C. Paul wrote to the Romans:
Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which you have learned; and avoid them.
D. I believe that God works in the environment of love and unity.
1. Paul urged the Ephesians to the unity of the Spirit.
2. How tragic when a body is split by party strife and spirit.
3. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and declared that this was a mark of spiritual carnality. Some were saying, "I am of Peter," others, "I am of Apollos," while still others were saying, "I am of Paul."
4. It is interesting that Jesus threatened to remove His presence from the church of Ephesus if they did not return to their first love.
II. "THEY HAD ALL THINGS COMMON."
A. A few things to note about this.
1. Nothing is said as to whether this was a command of the God.
2. Nothing is said about the Spirit leading them to this activity.
3. In fact even the opposite seems to be intimated by Peter in his questioning of Annanias. "While you owned it, was it not yours, when you sold it, was it not in your power to do with the proceeds what you wished?" No one told you to sell it, no one required that you bring the money in.
B. Many times people are like sheep, and they follow the leader. They often are responding to peer pressure.
1. One person does it and the others follow their lead.
2. I have noticed that when someone gets up and leaves the service before the end, that usually two or three others will then get up and leave. They are emboldened by the action of one.
C. I am not certain that it was God's requirement that they do this, or even if it was God's will.
D. Many times people do things out of emotional excitement.
1. It is exciting when God has done a work in your life, or in the life of a loved one.
2. I had a man came in one day with his checkbook in his hand, his son had been saved from drug addiction, and was going back to college, and incidentally is presently pastoring a Calvary Chapel. He was so grateful that he wanted to give an offering to the church, he asked, "How much do you need?" I answered, "Nothing." He said: "Come on now, every church needs money. How much do you need?" I again answered, "Nothing." I knew that the man was touched in his heart by what God had did for his son, and would have written a generous check because he was so emotionally grateful for what the Lord had done, but I did not want him giving out of emotion so I told him to go home and pray about it and the Lord would show him what to give.
E. This was a time of great emotional excitement in the church, and many people were responding emotionally.
F. Look at all the problems that this movement ultimately caused.
1. In the very next chapter we will see that the first problem was the hypocrisy it engendered.
a. Though it was a magnanimous demonstration of love, and certainly an ideal of everyone sharing equally, yet it is not something that was practical because of the nature of man.
b. It was almost like trying to set up the kingdom of God without the King.
c. These things will certainly be instituted in the kingdom of God. It will be a share-and-share alike,
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
Wherefore do ye spend money for [that which is] not bread? and your labour for [that which] satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye [that which is] good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.
d. It will work in the kingdom age but presently ungodly men are always ready to take advantage of Christian charity.
2. The first dispute that the church had to face came from the distribution of this welfare program.
a. In the sixth chapter we will see how it created division because they did not feel the money was being distributed fairly.
b. How many times money has caused problems in the church.
c. If the church becomes blessed financially there often seems to develop power struggles as people want to control how the money is spent.
3. Finally it was a financial disaster. When the money ran out, people did not have the resources to take care of themselves because they had sold their properties, and the church no longer had the finances to support them.
a. It is possible that they felt that the coming of the Lord was so close that they did not need their property.
b. It is important to remember that Jesus said, "Occupy till I come."
c. In subsequent years, Paul will be calling on the Gentile churches to give offerings to support the poor brethren in Jerusalem.
III. NOTE THEIR PRAYER IN VERSES 29, 30. GIVE US BOLDNESS TO SPEAK THE WORD, STRETCH FORTH YOUR HAND TO HEAL, THAT SIGNS AND WONDERS MIGHT BE DONE IN THE NAME OF JESUS.
A. Note what happened.
1. "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection."
2. God answered their prayer.
B. Great grace was upon them all.
1. What an exciting time in church history, when God is moving among His people, pouring out His power and grace.
IV. LUKE TELLS US A LITTLE MORE OF HOW THIS SELLING OF GOODS WENT.
A. In the beginning, no one lacked.
1. This was much like a pyramid scheme, as long as you were adding new members it would grow.
2. The rub comes when no new resources are coming in, someone is going to get hurt.
B. In the end, everyone lacked.
C. I sort of chuckle when I hear people say that they do not believe in tithing, but that they believe in the New Testament way of giving.
1. Here is the New Testament way of giving. They went out and sold all of their possessions and laid the money at the apostles'feet.
V. WE ARE NOW INTRODUCED TO THIS MAN BARNABAS. EVIDENTLY HIS NAME WAS ORIGINALLY JOSES, WHICH IS THE GREEK FOR THE HEBREW JOSEPH WHICH MEANS ADDING. BUT NO DOUBT BECAUSE OF HIS NATURE, THEY CALLED HIM BARNABAS WHICH MEANS SON OF CONSOLATION.
A. We find that he is just that.
1. In the 9th chapter when Paul returned to Jerusalem after his conversion on the Damascus road, the church in Jerusalem was very hesitant about receiving him into fellowship. We read:
But Barnabas took him, and brought [him] to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
2. When Paul had been basically snubbed by the church and had returned to his home in Tarsus as they seemed not willing to make a place for him in the church in Jerusalem, we read:
Now they which were scattered abroad upon the persecution that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the word to none but unto the Jews only.
And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus.
And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.
Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.
Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.
For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.
Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul:
And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught many people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.
3. He was chosen by the Holy Spirit to accompany Paul on the first missionary journey.
4. Evidently not chosen by the Holy Spirit to accompany Paul on the second missionary journey.
5. An interesting thing, though known as Barnabas the son of consolation yet there came a time when the dispute between Paul and him became so great that they parted company.