“All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”
Good morning. Just so, you know, it happens at some of the front row pews up here as we had the video with Holly sharing her beautiful story, pastor mark leans forward to me and says, you know, you’re wearing the same shirt.
This is a dark gray. That was a dark blue. Don’t worry. I got him back after he called Rio the 10 month year old, a 10 year year olds.
What goes around, comes around.
You caught it too, didn’t you? Yeah, but he said it during prayer. So we couldn’t say nothing. Right? I know. So a couple of weeks ago, a few weeks ago I was in Boston. My buddy is a coffee guy and he started for. Specialty coffee shops. And there’s a convention that happens every year. And this time it was in Boston.
It’s the number one, north American largest specialty coffee convention. And whenever you get people around a certain idea and they’re really crazy about it, usually they use. Specialty. They’re very excited. And so we went up to Boston, met our friends up there and got a chance to jump into the coffee world for a little while, while we were there, we bought a $16 cup of black coffee.
Now, if you ask me it didn’t taste anything better than a 1575, but you know, $16 cup of coffee, but we jumped into the coffee world. And actually we got an Uber driver at one point, and that was my buddy and I were in the Uber. And this guy was in his sixties and talking, just telling his story and very friendly, which was nice to hear.
And just, we started talking about coffee because Boston’s all about coffee on this weekend. And he said, have you ever had a God shot? Now, I don’t know where to go in this conversation immediately because a God shots, God shot sounds like something spiritual, but also sort of sounds like a drug reference.
So I didn’t know where we were going. So I kept quiet and my buddy who knows exactly what a God shot is, they got going back and forth. A God shot is the perfect espresso shot. It is something that happens very rarely in someone’s life. Apparently in the coffee world, this person said he’s had two different God shots.
And he went on to describe how beautiful and pure these shots of espresso are. And I’m sitting there saying, don’t say espresso and don’t say espresso. Right. But listening to him, talk about it. He said this line, he said it was so sweet. It was like a honeydew melon, six hours before it goes. Oh, that is very vivid.
Like the God shot is the perfect shot of espresso. It’s not normally what the guy would receive or what you might receive when you make your espresso. But it is the goal. Our text this morning is the God shot. Of new Testament church. Our text this morning is what I believe is the sweetest moment in the history of the church.
As we’ve been going through the book of acts, it is we come to this perfect church scenario in acts one. We see Jesus ascending into heaven saying, stay here. I’m going to start something I’m sending your holy spirit acts two. The holy spirit comes and the church begins and acts two, three, and four. We have these sermons that mark the beginning of this church and activities going on.
And as pastor mark said, a couple of weeks ago, what’s going to happen in four through seven. There’s this warn, the empire strikes back and opposition comes against the church. And pastor Mike led us into one of those oppositional moments last week. But in this little section that we have acts two through four, and I believe climaxing in this.
Section in chapter four, we have this incredible, perfect view of what church is the impurities and environmental threats have not diluted. The God shot of church. Institutional complexity have not complicated it for the moment. No one is getting harmed and everyone is getting helped. There is no presence of church hurt, abuse, gossip, or hypocrisy.
The church will not stay ideal for long in our new Testament, but here we have a picture we can enjoy and learn from. Join with me, acts chapter four, reading in verse 32 through 37. Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul. And no one said that any of the things that belong to them was his own, but they had everything in common and with great power, the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ and great grace was upon them.
There was not a needy person among them for as many as were owners of lands and houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid them at the Apostle’s feet. And it was distributed each as they had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas, which means son of encouragement, alleviate a native of Cyprus, sold a field and belong that belong to him and brought the money and laid it at the Apostle’s feet.
Pray with me this morning,
Laura, we come as a group of people who are not a part of a perfect church. We don’t come to, uh, the reality of this in our current day, always this reality would not stay in the book of acts, but for this moment, we pray that you might help us catch a greater appetite of what it means to follow you together in Jesus name.
Amen. A few things that this early church that we see this beginning, this honeymoon church is marked by the first thing is unity right out of the gate. The text says having the hope of one heart and one mind, the full number of those who believed were of one number. Every single one of them were of one heart.
And one mind the early church was marked by. We will see an ax, just how important that this unity is. We will see that throughout the new Testament, the primacy of this unity and this calling of the church. Now we live in a world in a culture, which is marked by individualism, and we can tend to think of our faith that way too.
It’s between me and God that we’re doing an individual sport, but our faith new Testament wise is far from personal in acts. We see that the life of following Jesus has everything to do with living together in love. Most of the new Testament books are not written to individuals telling them how to know God on their own.
They’re written to communities of people called to know and love God to. Here’s what Paul writes in Philippians, a beautiful passage. If you’ll flash that up on the screen, Philippians two says, therefore, if you have any encouragement from being United with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any common sharing in the spirit, if any tenderness of compassion, if you’re experiencing anything from God at all, Paul says, then make my joy complete by being like-minded having the same love being one.
In spirit. And one in mind, harkening back to this passage, do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, rather in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests, but each to the interests of others, the life of Christ, the life of knowing God is demonstrated in a team sport.
This is not individual clarinet players. It is to be part of an orchestra and a faith development. As we grow and understanding our, the new Testament call, we go from an ecosystem to an ecosystem. We learned that it’s not just about me. It’s not just about my story. It’s learning that yes, there is my individual story going on, but it’s part of a larger.
Whole, we are not individual plants, but part of a larger ecosystem. And that is the beautiful goal of new Testament. Christianity is that it’s done together. First are one. Unity is having same heart and mind. Secondly, we see the unity requires trustworthy leadership. There’s a lot of money going on here and there’s people selling of their land and selling of their homes and they’re bringing it and placing it where twice it says at the Apostle’s feet, the leadership that is given here, there’s a lot of potential for scandal.
There’s a lot of potential. There’s probably not a ton of checks and balances that have already been written into the code of the new Testament church. This is happening quickly. But the leadership by God’s grace, as it begins is deeply trustworthy. They are not out for personal gain. They also are testifying about Christ and not about themselves.
Check out verse a 33 with great power. The apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus Christ and great grace was upon them. All. We don’t see in this early church, like man, they were just the best preachers. They just had the most dynamite music or like they had these great, uh, youth directors and, and men’s ministry people.
And it’s not the leadership in the early church. The beauty of the leadership is in their trustworthiness and that they kept to the simplicity of it being about Jesus Christ in Corinthians. Paul is defending his apostleship defending that he is a church leader. And he goes back to speak up and uses afraid a phrase of coming back to the simplicity of Jesus.
Trustworthy leadership is not about themselves, but about the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Notice in that passage or in the passage of the apostles are not named, but the holy spirit is Jesus Christ is third. They were aware and committed to the needs of the people for them to distribute the need to people.
The, all of the people were not aware of the need. They came and brought the, my tooth, the apostles and the apostles, the church leaders were the ones who knew and helped with the church need. I couldn’t help, but think about John 10, 14, where Jesus says, I know my sheep and my sheep know me. There is a beautiful unity of one heart and one.
And a beautiful unity that is brought on because God had raised up trustworthy leadership. Third thing with the unity, their unity is demonstrated by their sacrificial commitment to one another, which is significant, right? I mean this, this whole, and we’ll talk about the generosity of all in a minute, but their commitment was such that they looked at their land, they looked at their houses and they’re like, okay, yeah, I have some commitment here, but that commitment is smaller than my commitment to these other people.
These are people who earned this money, who bought these fields, who inherited these homes possibly from generations before. These are not the rulers of the world. This is early Jewish group of people that are living in Roman captivity. They are taxed and controlled by Roman law and yet their commitment.
To each other was deep enough to offer this level of sacrifice more than their stuff they’re committed to each other. But more than that, more than their idea of what church should be. Like, none of these people know what church should be like, right? This is not, there’s no manual. There’s just Jesus, the apostles, this great movement by the holy spirit.
There’s some miracles that start happening and there’s some persecution. That’s the whole recipe, right? There is not much in the cookbook for the church, but these people, their commitment was not to how they thought church should be done or shouldn’t be done. But their commitment was to one another. My throughout different personality profile, different things that I’ve done.
I almost always score in the ideal category. Not like my personality is ideal. That was not on purpose, but that my personality is, has like, I’m an idealist. So some people see the cup half full. Some people see the cup half empty. I see if we took your cup and my cup and we combined here and we poured it in there and we could eventually make lemonade.
I don’t know, like, that’s my, what’s the perfect possible situation. And when I got assigned this text, acts four, I looked at it and I just thought, oh, I hate preaching acts to an X four because it messes me up a little bit. It hits on those ideals. A lot of us, when we read the acts for people giving up their stuff, No one in need people selling an offering to each other.
Some of you are like, okay, where is he going to take this? Right? And some of you are, it hits this place of longing of just so wanting to be a part of a people that love and sacrifice for each other on that level. That’s where it hits me. And it hits this place of somewhat sadness. Right? Hope but sadness.
I can be frustrated. That’s how I would feel. If I was in the church of Corinth, the church of glacier, the church of Philippi of any of the seven churches in the book of revelation or any other place in the book of acts, I can feel lost in my ideals. I can close my eyes and be frustrated and say, why can’t we look at.
Instead of opening them, looking at someone else’s eyes and say, how can I be present and love you? Well, a person that’s been influential for me as a man named Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who, if, you know, his story had to navigate church in Nazi Germany and was not a person who just believe in peace for peace sake.
He was eventually charged and hung by the Gestapo in 1945. And, um, but in his writings, he talked about what it would mean to live among and be the church. And this quote has meant a lot to me for over a decade, says this, those who love their dream of a Christian community more than they love the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community.
Even though their personal intentions may be ever so honest, earnest and sacrificial. It is not, we who build Christ builds the church. Whoever is mindful to build the church is surely well on the way to destroying it for, he will build a temple to idols without wishing or knowing it. We must confess. He is the one who builds do what is given to you and do it well.
And you will have done enough, enough live together in the forgiveness of your sins. Forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts, unity is built not on just trying to replicate the perfect God shot. It’s built in the every day of loving and forgiving. One another. Secondly, first we see this unity.
Secondly, we see this radical generosity, this almost what seems to be uncomfortable generosity. Um, there’s a. Written by Bert. Bernie may talks about this. Who’s the president of Wycliffe Bible translators. And there was a woman named Eunice pike and Eunice was pioneer missionary from this to the of people.
She and her friend were these first missionaries to translate the Bible in the 1940s to the Mazza tech people. And she found and fell in love with many things about these people. But one of the things you said was when she worked with the Mads tech people, it found it hard for one person to share the gospel with the other.
And she said, this Yuna said this odd behavior stems from the concept of limited good. The people believe there is only so much good, so much knowledge, so much love to go. To teach another means to drain yourself of knowledge, to love a second child means you have to love the first child less to wish someone well have a good day means you have just given away some of your own happiness, which cannot be required.
This is from the idea of limited. Good. And it’s an idea that isn’t just in the mass of tech people, right? Honestly, all economic theory is based on the scarcity of resources. All economic, um, philosophy is trying to figure out what do we do? With the limited amount of good with the limited amount of food, uh, limited we’ve made budgets because we have a limited amount of money.
We are trying to figure out what do we do with our limited natural resources. We understand this way of thinking that there’s only so much good to go around. And so we want to make sure we hold onto it. Radical generosity comes from the belief that there really is enough to go around. Early new Testament church.
And in this situation was not filled with only people who had it together or only people who had a certain wealth economy when it talks about that, that those who had, and those who didn’t have in there was enough to go around. It’s talking about real people in a real place who believed a real radical Christ, who says there is enough to go around this community, believed and talked about the, talked about the resurrection.
They dared to believe if they followed and lived with this Christ, that there was enough to share this radical trust in Jesus led to radical generosity. And very simply, this is how we know, right. We know how much that we trust God with our resources. I know how much I am trusting God with my resources, by how joyfully.
Right. That’s how we really know whether we’re trusting. Right. We know when we know how tightly our fist is, by how easy it is to pull something out of it, radical generosity is this handed belief that God has enough to go around. That does not mean we don’t operate with wisdom. It does not mean that we give without knowledge of where it’s going, but it does mean that generosity can be painful and incredibly joyful.
Secondly, just a reminder that Jesus talked about money more than heaven. I believe as we’re talking about generosity and we’re talking about our resources, we can talk about are the stuff we own, or we can be talking about our time, our talents, our giftings there’s many resources that each of us have at our disposal.
But this text, if we’re staying true to this text is talking most specifically about money. Yes. Resources include other things, but it’s talking here about money. I just want to lay out six principles that. Many people talk about their benefit. They’ve received from a man named Randy Alcorn by most Randy Alcorn talks about the treasure principles.
This book is actually going to be talked about potentially in the fall with our generosity principles team, but just six, six things to, as we think through our own sense of stuff, all what we own the matures we have, because I don’t think it needs to be a, when we own things, when we have money, it’s not a, it needs to be a guilt thing it, or like, oh man, what is it that God required?
Well, it needs to be a thought through thing. It needs to be a thing that, that we meet love and wisdom together. And here’s some great principles by Randy Al corny lays out six and the treasure principle keys. And it’s a good book to look at. If you get a chance, number one, remember that God owns everything and I’m his money manager.
Number two, my heart always goes to where I put God’s money. Number three. Heaven and the future new earth, not this fallen. One is my home. Number four. I should live not for the dot, but for the line, meaning not for this, what Paul calls this temporary place, but for eternity number five, giving is the only antidote to materialism.
And number six, God prospers me not to raise my standard of living, but to raise my standard of giving
radical generosity is a deep part of this union together that we see in acts chapter four. And lastly, we’ll conclude with this last thing we see in the text is this vulnerability. Uh, vulnerability to let the needs be known, check out the text here. It says God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them that there were no needy persons among them.
From time to time, those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money in the sales were put at the Apostle’s feet and it was distributed to anyone who had need implicit in this text is the fact that people let their needs be known. It is often easier to give to someone else’s needs than to be open about our own, but the reason they were able, they were able to be a community like this because they were willing and humble enough to come with the gift of their needs.
Unity together would not have been as sweet. If people held back the gift of their need, I’m reading a book called you’re only human by Kelly Capek it says how your limits reflect God’s design and why that’s good news. And he writes this at some point in the course of the course of life, we’ll expose what we then receive as painful truths.
We are not the best, the brightest, the most able, there are always stronger, more beautiful, more brilliant people. At some point, the elution comes crashing down and when it does, it can have devastating consequences. As a college professor, he writes, I frequently see young adults coming to terms with these difficult facts that had been in various ways, hidden from them, but no helicopter or even bulldozing parent can protect the child forever.
Each of us must face our limits and weaknesses at some point, whether we want to or not. And when we come to those, God allowed graces of our need. It allows the church to function as the church by giving our need. Once another fundamental to the gospel is that we are a people in need of salvation from God, right?
We got that. We offer our sacred need to him saying we can not do it on our own. That is core of what it means to know him. It is also so important of what it means to operate together as a. To offer what we don’t have. One of the most dark, unwanted and beautiful lessons of my life was to understand the connection between need and love because I want to love, but I don’t want to need.
And until I really learned my own sense of need, I didn’t really know what it means, what it truly meant to be loved. This is tough for many of us who don’t want to be on the needs side of anything. We don’t want to have emotional needs, spiritual needs, relational needs, physical needs. They’re vulnerable.
They’re scary core to this Christian narrative. Is the acceptance that we are people in need. What we need in the church is not more giants and warriors, but simple human beings who accept where they are not giants or warriors. The early church had the gift of people who embraced their need. We need in various ways, we have our wounds, our lack, our cross, our poverty.
It is in these places that the church can be. The church Jesus came to meet. Those needs you and I have them. And so often the way he provides meeting of needs is one to another. So let’s get over the fact that we don’t like that we have needs and start letting each other help for some of you, the greatest way this text can be applied.
Is not to sell your land and your house, cause you don’t have one or not to go out and give a generous gift. And maybe that is where God puts on you today. That that is your calling. But so for some of you the most sacred, the most holy the most special gift that you have is offering your need to someone else in the church.
We don’t have the God shot church. We won’t have it. I’m really glad for my Uber driver, but he didn’t stop drinking espresso just because he could only find two God shots in his life. We can learn from it and lean into it and to give along with Christ our best shot, where you stand. As we received the benediction this morning.
You are loved. You are seen, you are known, you are wanted by our Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ. This is true as individual people knowing and seeking him. This is more true as a community of believers for the hurting. May you find a soft place to land with God’s people with patient understanding for the lonely, may you find in this imperfect place, imperfect but lasting friendship for those with extra may you give with joy because the needs are many for those in need.
May you be brave to let us know? May we be a place that’s not lost an ideal? But caught up in our love and commitment to one another. May we believe that in our king, there is enough to go around. Great to be with you this morning. Thank you. We are dismissed.