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Acts 4:32-5:16

The Spirit of Truth

  • Rich Jones
  • Weekend Messages
  • March 1, 2014

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth. But truth is not just the sum total of what someone knows, truth is what God desires in the inner man. In other words, God wants us to become true and authentic and sincere in our faith. Having a heart filled with truth and having a loving relationship with God are what will be discussed in Acts 4 and 5.

  • Sermon Notes
  • Scripture

The Spirit of Truth

Acts 4:32-5:16 

After the church was born in Acts chapter 2, it began to grow exponentially as they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to teach the word of God with boldness. 3,000 became believers on the day of Pentecost. Then, after Peter and John healed a man who was lame from birth a great crowd gathered and Peter explained the promise of life and 5,000 more came to faith in Jesus Christ.

As we come to Acts 4:32, we see the early church taking on another interesting dimension; they began to share their lives together communally. They were of one heart and soul together and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.

All who were owners of lands or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales and lay them at the apostles’ feet. This would then be distributed to each, as any had need.

There is a lot that could be said about these verses and it’s important we understand what God would want us to apply out of this chapter. One thing is for certain, these verses have been distorted and misused by church leaders with wrong motives. You can imagine how a church leader might use these verses to compel people to do something similar today.

First of all, there’s a vast difference between what was happening in the early church in these chapters and the intent of modern pastors, particularly televangelists, who use these verses for their own purposes.

In the days of the early church that we see in these chapters, they were living communally. They would sell their own private land or houses and then take their meals together, and literally share their lives with all things in common.

Probably the best example of that today would be a Jewish kibbutz. That is an example of true communal living. In a kibbutz, no one has private ownership, but everyone in the community owns everything together. They eat together, they work together and they share their lives together.

You might be interested to know there was something like that in Oregon in the late 60s and early 70s. It was born out of the Jesus People movement of California. They had about 90 acres of land near Dexter, Oregon. There were over 100,000 people involved with 175 communal houses.

Modern prosperity preachers most certainly don’t want to take responsibility for meeting everyone’s needs, they just want people to sell their lands or houses and bring the money to them. If you think there’s something wrong with that picture, you’re most certainly right. What’s wrong with that picture is what’s wrong with our human nature. Greed.

It’s human nature, or the flesh, that causes the modern church to do some very worldly things. There are conferences, books and articles written that suggest modern gimmicks to get people to give financially. For example, there is the “Lotto tithe.” Then there’s the “giving dance;” just use guilt. But don’t forget the 90 days to get a blessing guarantee. No thanks.

In the days of the early church, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and there was a sense of awe among all of them. At some point, human nature would become a factor, and that is certainly part of this story in the book of Acts as well.

Jesus called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth. But truth is not just the sum total of what someone knows, truth is what God desires in the inner man. In other words, God wants us to become true and authentic and sincere in our faith.

I. Fill Your Heart with Truth

A. Have all things in common with God

Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

  • Mammon will always tell you to crave more mammon, but God will always tell you to trust God.

Matthew 6:33, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”

  • In a right relationship to God we say, “I’m just a steward of what God has entrusted to me. God is the owner, I’m just a steward. I want to honor Him with how I live my life.”
  • In other words, it’s having the attitude of saying, “God, we’re in this together; I’ll trust that you’ll provide what I need, and I’ll consider all things as belonging to You.”

Luke 12:6, “Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings? Yet not one of them is forgotten before God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are more valuable than many sparrows.”

B. Be filled with the Spirit of truth

  • The problem with Ananias and Sapphira was that they did this to impress people; to make themselves appear as though they were giving all when in reality they were only giving a portion.
  • There was no obligation to do this at all. They didn’t have to sell their property, they didn’t have to give all; they didn’t have to give any. So why lie about it? Peter points out that Satan filled their heart.

  • Jesus spoke boldly about those who would only have outward appearing righteousness. If your heart is being filled by the Spirit of God, then He is pouring truth into your soul. Truth is a transforming power.

Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18 Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed…

Illus – We’ve all seen the candidate running for public office who suddenly makes a point of being spiritual; or the salesman that finds out you’re a Christian and immediately starts using Christian-ese.

Illus - I remember when I was 16 and just got my driver’s license. My friend wanted me to drive into town and hang out, so I lied to my dad by making myself look righteous; I said I needed to help change his flat tire. Fortunately my dad heard the whole conversation and called me up short.

  • The church was being filled by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit God is doing the work of making us true.

Psalm 51:6, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.

Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”

II. Relationship to God is a Love Thing

Illus - Another time when I was 16, I used to work very late at a restaurant. A different friend convinced me to pick him up after work and drive around. Little did I know that that night would change my life.

  • What I would say to my parents? “I suggest you tell them the truth,” the police officer said. What do we tell God when we blow it? Answer: the truth.

A. Don’t test the Spirit - trust the Spirit

  • When Sapphira came in three hours later, she also lied and Peter replied, “Why did you agree together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test?”
  • How do we test the Spirit of the Lord? When we deliberately go against His will and then say essentially, “Let’s see what He’ll do.”
  • It’s similar to when a child tests a parent by knowingly going against the parent; testing to see what will happen next.

Illus – At one point our youngest adopted son from Russia got frustrated over something and said he wanted to go back to Russia. He wasn’t prepared for mom’s reaction.

  • The opposite of testing the Spirit is trusting the Spirit. What does that mean? It means understanding that He has an important role in our spiritual life.
  • Jesus said to the disciples that it was to their advantage that He ascend to the Father so that He would send the Holy Spirit, the Helper.

John 16:7, “I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

John 16:15, “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.”

  • Trusting in the Holy Spirit is to receive the instruction that He brings; the conviction that He brings, and the transformation that we might be more like our Lord Jesus.

2 Corinthians 3:17-18, Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. We all… are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.

Galatians 5:22, 25, The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace… If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

B. Don’t fight against God

Illus - That reminds me of a funny story about a man and his wife that were awakened at 3 AM by a loud pounding on the door. The man gets up and goes to the door where a drunken stranger, standing in the pouring rain, is asking for a push…

Illus – Anyone who has been in a wrestling match with God will tell you that this is not a good idea. 

Acts 4:32-5:16    NASB

Chapter 4

32 And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them. 33 And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all. 34 For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales 35 and lay them at the apostles' feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need. 36 Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. 

Chapter 5

1 But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and kept back some of the price for himself, with his wife's full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles' feet. 3 But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God." 5 And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it. 6 The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.
 
7 Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 And Peter responded to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?" And she said, "Yes, that was the price." 9 Then Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out as well." 10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things.
 
12 At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon's portico. 13 But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. 14 And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. 16 Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
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